LISABETTA – a stolen glance
Silent K Editing
October 2021 M T W T F S S 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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
SEEING IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER
Cheers from me and…
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.
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’:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
NEWSFLASH: DESIRED THINGS
In 1927, Max Ehrmann, a wise compassionate man, wrote the ‘DESIDERATA – Latin for ‘DESIRED THINGS’
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.
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:
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 MOVE… SET 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
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.”
‘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:
‘DISAPP’EARRING TWICE’ https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085SYZPGG
Even fictional ghosts can be insistent, but coupled with a hauntingly pushy muse, it was wise for me to surrender to their combined energies and time-slip away these past 18 months to complete a particularly tricky manuscript. No-one warned me how difficult summing up a trilogy was.
Sensitive children often take unintentional words uttered in haste to heart. In my novels: ‘The Unthinkable Shoes’ and ‘Snow Behind the Door’,time-sensitive responsibilities, guilty secrets, and an overwhelming sense of duty motivate the ghosts of a boy and girl, Finn and Snow, respectively, to haunt and taunt, and set themselves free.
Regardless of age, ghosts never haunt without just cause. And they never give up hope.
‘The Unthinkable Shoes’ – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01E4Q95A6 shadows the spirit of Finn Cleary – a boy victim from the ‘Titanic’ disaster. To atone for a dark secret and a wish made in haste, Finn chooses to remain earthbound as the invisible childhood friend of the girl he’d been destined to marry.
‘Snow Behind the Door’, is a work-in-progress, scheduled for release in May 2021. As the prequel to the ‘Bede Trilogy’, it documents the multiple time-slip 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 stately home that has sheltered earth’s time portals, guarded by an ancient line of royal Egyptian cats for thousands of years.
In books one, two, and three: ‘Twinter’, Time Falls Like Snow’, and ‘Tomorrow Again’ ( live on January 18th, 2021, here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B08TGZS6J7), the disgruntled Hall, in the north of present-day England, recruits Snow, and a pair of telepathic twins at odds over logic and metaphysics, to save it from being sold to unscrupulous developers, fulfill an ancient prophecy, and save the planet.
THE AFTERLIFE RULES
Under the laws of reincarnation, both Finn and Snow willingly sacrifice themselves in order to save the ones they love. Both children were locked in time at nine-years of age. Both ghosts narrate their woes from page one:
Finn wants to win his mother’s affection. Snow wants to be reunited with her troubled father.
For seventy years, Snow runs in vain, barefoot through fields of lavender in her nightgown to meet the childhood friend who abandoned her. Finn journeys far to find the shoes that floated free of him when he was pulled from the Atlantic.
May we all run barefoot this summer without wearing masks, reunited with family and friends.