Friday, June 15, 2012


The Flower Reader 
ISBN: 0451235819 (ISBN13: 9780451235817)
Edition language: English

Five Stars


Rinette Leslie of Granmuir has the ancient gift of divining the future in flowers, but her gift cannot prepare her for the turmoil that comes when the dying queen regent entrusts her with a casket full of Scotland's darkest secrets. On the very day she means to deliver it to newly crowned Mary, Queen of Scots, Rinette's husband is brutally assassinated.

Devastated, Rinette demands justice before she will surrender the casket, but she is surrounded by ruthless men who will do anything to possess it. In the end, the flowers are all she can trust-and only the flowers will lead her safely home to Granmuir.

From the author of The Second Duchess comes a rich tale of heartbreak and triumph, dangerous political intrigue, and all set in the glitter of the royal court of Mary, Queen of Scots.

The Flower Reader is absolutely a riveting story that will grab you and not let you go. This story is, at heart, a political thriller set in the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots, and begins the day of her mother, Mary Guise, Queen Regent of Scotland, death.

The story is centered on the silver casket, which is given to Rinette Leslie to deliver to Mary Queen of Scots upon her arrival at Leith, Scotland. The casket has letters from Mary of Guise to her daughter but also ledgers of secrets on the lords of the land and quatrains (prophesies) by Nostradamus as to the throne of Scotland, France, and England and guide Queen Mary in her choices. (This is actually not far fetched as many notables and rulers of the day did consult with him as well as receive horoscopes from him).

Secret agents and professional assassins are dispatched to take the casket. The court of young (she is a teenager) Mary becomes a very dark and dangerous place and Rinette, a lady in waiting and the heroine, is the target because only she knows the whereabouts of the casket.

Elizabeth Loupas puts us in the court of the young queen and Rinette tells the events as she bravely fights to keep her family and manor safe and in her control. She bargains with Queen Mary—the casket for justice in the assassination of her husband. That is her focus throughout the story. Revenge for her murdered her husband.

The Flower reader is, by turns sweet and loving, harsh and dark, filled with danger and sometimes brutality. Through it all Rinette’s focus is on finding the safe path. Her bravery shines through the harshness and betrayal she has to face. She is someone this reader cheered for as both Rinette and I tried to discover who was behind it all. I cheered for her happy ending and all the more so because she deserved it, by god.

For me, this was an engrossing tale from start to finish; rich in historical detail but never let up in tension or excitement of the story.

Just excellent.

Monday, June 11, 2012

MONDAY MUSINGS: Insecurities Of Rebuilding

~Start where you are because yesterday is gone and tomorrow hasn't happened.~

Writing is something I've always done both in the work force and for pleasure.
Each is in its own compartment. Both come from a different mindset. Writing is something I do and for me it’s always been relatively easy—depending upon the purpose. I can create a conversational tone in my writing or generate a very specific piece in formal or business English.

IWSG Articles and Participants
I approach writing for business and pleasure in different ways.

I’m very focused and disciplined when working. Most of my professional writing came with deadlines. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with deadlines. I very rarely missed a one. Working to deadlines doesn’t give you time to be stuck. You have to find a way through whatever block there is.

Writing for pleasure has been a different kettle of fish. I’m a bit more freeform—whatever catches my fancy would go on paper. A wisp of a dream I’d developed into a story, something I observed and it created a story in my mind, and what I call my, what would happen if…? When I’d get stuck I’d step away and mull it all over. Sometimes I’d come back to it and write what’s perked in my mind. Other times I’d get bored or lose interest and put it away. Not as disciplined as my professional writing.

Publishing deadlines require focus and discipline. I’ve been a contributor in several essay projects. I've written non-fiction industry oriented manuals. Teaching manuals or creative brochures. Most of these were procedural or writing to capture the attention with a set purpose in mind. Fiction publications were anthologies. Again, I had a deadline. I’ve always found that writing comes with roadblocks and corners to get stuck in. When it’s to deadline my mind finds a way around it.

A few years ago I decided to take my creative writing more seriously and work toward publication. I’ve written several novels. I also have quite a few unfinished manuscripts. Some of the unfinished are experiments in different genres and some are those I lost interest in finishing. I didn’t have a deadline on them so I could play a bit; try different things.

I queried some of the finished work and got some positives back. I had a good writing routine down. I was focused. I had some editing that needed to be done—I hate taking my creative work apart and putting back together.

I had my blog which falls into professional writing, I was attending writing conferences and enjoying the whole learning process. Hey, I even tried an elevator pitch on a story not yet written but I had a preliminary sketch on and the editor said she’d like to see it first before I queried it. That floored me. I was on the top of the world in the beginning of 2010.

Then life went to hell. I mean like a fiery comet zooming for impact. Everything changed in the wake of the crash. Things do come in threes—the tragedy of losing my brother at thirty-nine, my son and his difficulties, then my health self-destructing. Crash and burn, baby. Big time. And there was almost no Phoenix to be reborn.

Some writers are able to write through chaos. I’m not one of them. 
In the beginning of my illness, I would try to write. I’d get so frustrated when the words wouldn’t come. It got to the point that as soon I met with any frustration I’d quit. That became a disturbing pattern.

When writing is something you do without thought, when it comes easy; not being able to write is tough. I’m used to words flowing not hiding like shadows in my mind—you see them, they look real, until you try to touch them and they disappear. Having to stretch or reach for words for even a simple paragraph? You feel like you’ve been amputated.

Things are better. I’m better. But I’ve lost time. I’ve lost focus. The only thing that remains of that positive time is my blog and finished and unfinished manuscripts. Contacts.

I’m working at rebuilding the focus and the writing routine. It’s not easy. The burn of determination hasn’t quite returned but I do see the new growth in development.

I set goals. Baby steps where I was once running. Days of two or three thousand words are replaced with a measly five hundred and some days I celebrate when I accomplish two hundred. I remind myself of those in sports that have suffered a serious accident and what they have to go through to regain lost ground. They have to know how hard to push themselves and that’s a fine line.

Insecurities? You bet I have them. Can I break the pattern of quitting when I get frustrated? Will I be able to regain my joy, focus, and self-discipline? Do I want to? There are days I would tell you no. I don’t want to. Those are the weak days.

One thing I have found is feeling sorry for myself, looking behind rather than forward doesn't get me anywhere good. There is always a choice. I can sit in a huddle and whine or I can work through it and celebrate the success I have. Positive or negative. 

I've always chosen positive.

  • How do you handle life's setbacks?