The Blue Chair Blog

It's not just about the novel


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The end of summer

img_1907It’s not quite the end of daylight savings time, but I have brought in most of the outdoor furniture and coiled up the garden hose. The blue chair is still out front in case the weather allows. In the meantime, what are you reading? For entertainment, laughter, and distraction from grim news, I’m reading all the Chet and Bernie mysteries I can get my hands on. For reflection and improved understanding of the world at large, I have been reading Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

 

Writing takes up a lot of my time these days. For news from that neck of the woods, hop on over here.

By the way, are you registered to vote? It’s more important this year than ever.


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A visit to the 18th Century

Poor neglected Blue Chair Blog. I’ve spent the summer months revising my historical novel-in-progress. That work has it’s own website and blog. If you happen to be interested food that might be served at fictional meals in the late Eighteenth Century, hop on over here and read up. Your visit and your comments will be very welcome!


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This is still the Blue Chair Blog

My new website is Of Ships and Sealing Wax but you can still read The Blue Chair Blog!

April 10, 2016 ~ I’m getting set up to post more information about my novel in progress (preview below). My blog doesn’t get much attention at the moment, but it’s still alive. Click on Blog in the menu, or on the link above.

In the meantime, I hope you are interested in learning about Of Ships and Sealing Wax, a novel about the homeward journey of a British Naval Officer at the time of the French Revolutionary Wars. The year, to be precise, is 1795, and Captain Edward Trewin has just set foot on English soil for the first time in 18 months. The hell of it is, he has fallen out with his wife and can’t quite bring himself to go home.

You will be able to read an excerpt on the new site, hear some music of the period (or music that inspired the author) on Spotify, and see some period images on Pinterest.

You can also find me on Twitter and Instagram, or see what I’m reading on Goodreads.

All the best,

Suzanne


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Fire house cats

I have been neglecting the blog in favor of editing these days. Also, it is too cold to even think about sitting in the Blue Chair. Are you on Instagram? I post once in a while, but you can just follow accounts if you want. Every now and then during the day, I check my Instagram feed to take a break or make myself smile. The best part, if you ask me, is following fire house cats like Killer in Bed Stuy. Baby goats are a close second. [Updated.]

All photo credits to @station57cat on Instagram


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Just a little bit brighter

IMG_4573How can we cope with the news during the holidays? Somehow, all of the sad, dangerous, bitter, and mean-spirited things that get reported day in and day out seem to resonate a little more deeply at this time of year. Over on Facebook, a friend mentioned how movies can take us out of ourselves and remind us that love is still, actually, all around. Great reminder. At her suggestion, I sat down last night and watched Love Actually, which is one of my two favorite movies to watch at Christmas. It’s still funny, warm, and sweet — and it’s currently streaming on Netflix, too.

My list of favorite “Christmas movies” is short. But I can think of a few other DVD’s that might brighten your day or mine.

My Other Favorite Movie to Watch at Christmas

My Favorite DVD to Watch at Christmas That Isn’t a Movie

 A Few Movies Guaranteed to Make Me Laugh Out Loud No Matter How Often I See Them

A Couple More Feel Good Movies

This is a short and pretty idiosyncratic selection, but maybe one of these suggestions will make you smile or comfort you this season. Remember, it’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness. I’d love to hear what you like to watch over the holidays!


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Be a poet even in prose

DWJournalI dawdled at Orca Books for a while on Friday before meeting a friend for lunch and, on a whim, I bought a slightly battered little book, Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth. A stamp and handwritten note on the flyleaf revealed it had been purchased at Dove Cottage, Grasmere in 1970. At the time, it cost 45 p. I am enchanted  by it, and inspired. The first few pages of Helen Darbishire‘s engaging introduction, written in 1958, have me in tears. What better source for learning how to describe; describe nature, the natural world, and landscape but also people. She could sketch a character or a first impression indelibly in only a few lines. I bought the book without much investigation because it was cheap and because these early journals are close in date to the period I’m writing about — 1798 and 1800 to 1802. Isn’t it lovely to indulge in an inexpensive little whim and have that whim so well-rewarded? Dorothy did not want to be an author. She did not see herself as a poet. As Miss Darbishire wrote, she was a poet in prose:

There is something . . . that imagination does, the simplest thing, the central thing. It pierces through the familiar surface to something nearer to life itself than what we ordinarily see.

There is only one known portrait of Dorothy, a sad one made when she was quite old, and yet she lives. Not only through her own vibrant words, but in her brother William’s poetry — some of which is clearly sourced from her journals — and in Coleridge’s, too. And from the tender regard both men had for her. “[H]is exquisite sister,” Coleridge wrote, and you have to credit his perspicaciousness: “[H]her person is such that if you expected to see a pretty woman, you would think her ordinary; if you expected to see an ordinary woman, you would think her pretty!”

William Wordsworth was speaking more generally in the following quotation, but these journals are so beautiful, so captivating, that he could easily have been writing of Dorothy:

Of genius in the fine Arts the only infallible sign is the widening the sphere of human sensibility for the delight, honour, and benefit of human nature.

She was a great walker, along with her brother and Coleridge. In 1818, when she would have been about 46, she climbed Scafell Pike (the highest mountain in England at just over 3,200 feet) with another lady, a maid, and a pair of local guides. She never married. She fell ill from about 1829 and eventually her mind grew frail as well.

As ever, all we have is now.

Dorothy Wordsworth on Wikipedia.

Dorothy Wordsworth on The Poetry Foundation website.