Friday, January 26, 2018


Artist: Franz Xaver Winterhalter  
According to Wikimedia Foundation,
faithful reproductions of two-dimensional
public domain works of art are public domain".

"This photographic reproduction
 is therefore also considered
 to be in the public domain
 in the United States."
For some time I have been wanting to celebrate the PBS "Masterpiece" series, Victoria, tracing the history of Queen Victoria's leadership as Queen of England. Well, this is the day.

I've always been fascinated by the Victorian Era — witness the name of this blog. Most of the Era's appeal for me has been the sense of mystery shrouding stories that feature swirling fog, the clatter of horse hooves and carriage wheels on cobblestone streets, gaslit street lamps, women wearing long dresses with bustles and hats with veils. I've been a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's consulting detective Sherlock Holmes, whose adventures take place in the Victorian Era, and  I've been equally drawn to Wilkie Collins's gothic-flavored mysteries, The Woman in White and The Moonstone. But it wasn't until I wrote my own mystery set in the era (Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, a middle-grade novel) that I had to do my own research on the Victorian Era. (And what a surprise that was! How strange that I had forgotten it included Jack the Ripper.)

I knew next to nothing about Queen Victoria herself, except that she lived for a long, long time and that she and her husband, Albert, were devoted to one another, which isn't always the case in royal families. (Years ago, my brother and his wife, who lived close to London, had taken me sightseeing on a trip and pointed out the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens.)

And then Season I of Victoria came on last year, and I was hooked. I had always been intrigued by Queen Elizabeth Tudor (who, alas, did not have such a happy love life), but I had no idea what an fascinating ruler Victoria was and what a fascinating life unfolded for her from the moment she became Queen at age 18. (It was probably fascinating from the get-go, but the series begins with the death of her father.) There were attempts on her life. Attempts by a relative to have her removed as incompetent and unstable so that he could have the throne instead. Political intrigue milled all around her by those hoping for control or at least influence. Even motherhood was fraught with intrigue: who would inherit if she and the baby died, etc.?

Well. Season II arrived a couple of weeks ago, and it does not disappoint. (I haven't been this hooked on a series since Downton Abbey.) The cast of Victoria is superb: Jenna Coleman is wonderful as the young and maturing queen. Convincingly she develops from the teenager who ascended the throne, married, and became a mother, while navigating the political minefields in Season I to a ruler juggling motherhood, wifehood and the weighty business of running a country with a steady hand in Season II.  Tom Hughes is the perfect match for her as Prince Consort, Albert: romantic, supportive, yet firm and independent-minded. Rufus Sewell is moving as Lord Melbourne (who actually advised her to get married while being in love with her himself). There is a large supporting cast who have starring scenes of their own in a variety of subplots, and the acting shimmers on all sides.

Thank goodness the Queen lived and ruled for such a long time! That means (I hope) quite a few more seasons of Victoria.

How about you? Are you hooked on a particular TV series? Are you fascinated by a particular period of history? A famous historical figure?

Celebrate the Small Things  is a blog hop co-hosted by Lexa Cain at: Lexa Cain,  L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge , and Tonja Drecker @ Tidbits Blog(You can go to any of these sites to add your name to the links, if you want to participate.)

Friday, January 19, 2018

Celebrating Art, Writing, Blogging, and Breaks from Alll Three

I'm celebrating the "art spirit" this week. Yesterday was Art Club again, but no pictures of their work yet, because the kids got so fixated on their little masterpieces that they didn't finish in time and are going to finish them next week. I love this class. I love their commitment. Parents came to pick them up, and stood around waiting, while the kids hunched over their easels, until I finally said, "Let's make next week a finish-up week," so they (and I) could go home. These are the new easels we have this year, thanks to the South Natomas Community center. We purchased them at University Art Supplies on J Street for an unbelievably affordable price. Then I used the backs of art tablets and clips to provide a solid backing for their work. They can clip the canvas to it and have a stable surface to work on.

I'm also celebrating being back to work on a novel I started years ago that involves a ghost. I got through the whole story once, but then bogged down half way through the re-write because of a character who took on more importance and who would change many scenes, and I hadn't envisioned those scenes. So it's been cooking this long while. This week I've been working on the characters' back stories and also different kinds of timelines: one for simple events that took place in the world around them (politics, disasters, etc.) that some would remember, and then the general timeline of events plus births & deaths of characters, and then the timeline of the story itself, when it starts, when it ends, and marking birthdays celebrated or holidays and a funeral that occur within that space, ages of the various characters at the time of the story's present. It's a lot of work before I start the new rewrite, but it feels wonderful, because all the characters have come alive for me again. I feel like they are right next door — although in another century.

I'm also celebrating that I feel so much more focused after a long writing "drought" where nothing was happening. That's right. No writing. No blogging. Just the minutiae of everyday life. It seems to have been beneficial.

How about you? What are you celebrating this week? Are you working on a WIP? Enjoying respite from your writing projects? Discovering new hobbies? Just taking it easy? Any one of those can be so enriching.

Celebrate the Small Things  is a blog hop co-hosted by Lexa Cain at: Lexa Cain,  L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge , and Tonja Drecker @ Tidbits Blog(You can go to any of these sites to add your name to the links, if you want to participate.)