The Visitor

Elizabeth Vallone - Raconteur

My tiny family was in Aruba enjoying the sand and surf last Spring. We were there with my beautiful 10 month old grand-daughter. If you are a grandmother you know that when you are invited to vacation with your children and grandchildren, you’re the built-in babysitter.
My husband and I didn’t mind. My petite Natalie was a lovely baby and she took two-hour naps a day, so it was not hard. In fact, we just loved minding her on the beach or at the pool. My daughter and her husband were with us, and sometimes not.
One night we gave my daughter the okay to be away longer than usual. They wanted to go on a sunset cruise and then out to dinner afterwards. After the death of my son, my husband and I don’t socialize much. Having to just jabber and cuddle with a baby was just our speed…

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What to do?

This is the first time that I have completed a work of historical fiction, Heaven, Hell and Hoboken, without having another one already started.  I would like to do a sequel to my Barbarossa’s Princess but the topic scares me.

With Constance de Hauteville, there was a limited amount of information.  She was the richest princess in all of Christendom at her time and she gave birth to Stupor Mundi (the Wonder of the World) but basically there were few facts.  Not being a historian, this worked for me.  I searched diligently for information on Constance and when I got stuck, which was often, I used my imagination.

With her son, it’s the opposite.  There is soooooooo much information.  Many of the descriptions of him personally are grim.  How do you make an antipathetic character palatable?  He did much for the advancement of science, law, literature, architecture, medicine.  Yet he was an extremely violent man.  When he decided he wanted to do something or learn something, the consequences on others was never taken into consideration.

An example: He invited two men to dinner and had them eat and drink heartily.  After dinner he ordered one to go to bed and the other he gave a physically arduous task.  After a certain amount of hours, he had both men killed and eviscerated so he could study the process of digestion.

See what I mean?  What do I do? 

I guess I will have to let the brain percolate while I try to figure out how I want to publish Heaven, Hell or Hoboken.    Maybe something will bubble up.

 

The Visitor

My tiny family was in Aruba enjoying the sand and surf last Spring. We were there with my beautiful 10 month old grand-daughter. If you are a grandmother you know that when you are invited to vacation with your children and grandchildren, you’re the built-in babysitter.
My husband and I didn’t mind. My petite Natalie was a lovely baby and she took two-hour naps a day, so it was not hard. In fact, we just loved minding her on the beach or at the pool. My daughter and her husband were with us, and sometimes not.
One night we gave my daughter the okay to be away longer than usual. They wanted to go on a sunset cruise and then out to dinner afterwards. After the death of my son, my husband and I don’t socialize much. Having to just jabber and cuddle with a baby was just our speed. No stress, no small talk, no expectations.
We pushed the stroller around the complex looking for a convenient place to park the baby and have a bite to eat. We settled on the pool bar since it was rather empty and we could sit in a shady corner. As soon as we sat down, Natalie awoke and she joined us. My husband and I sat across from each other and Natalie was on the end of the rather long table.
Once our meal came, she was grabbing at the food and half went on the ground and half in her mouth. She had quite a menagerie of birds big and small surrounding her high chair, eating her scraps. One large black bird with beady yellow eyes had arrived when Natalie woke up. It decided to sit across from the baby at the other end of the table. This bird sat and twittered and whistled but did not make a move to eat anything on the table or on the patio floor. We wondered just how long he hold out before he would start picking at all the crumbs.
Chatting like mad, this black bird did not move from his seat on the backrest of the chair until we finished our meal, paid the check and put Natalie in the stroller. Then it hit me. It was Natalie’s uncle Robert who had come for a visit.

Listen to Leo

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time” – Leo Tolstoy

I was so challenged by my new manuscript.  To wrangle with three storylines in the hope of weaving them all together into a climax and then an ending was arduous.  I had to take a break from it and somehow God, the Universe, sent me the  messenger I needed to move forward.

In August Rosemarie Ruppino, a friend and phenomenal editor, was able to articulate the problem.  Once I had this information, I knew I could negotiate the maze of issues that needed resolution.  A word here, a sentence there and reworking paragraphs  throughout the entire book was all it took.  It became a question of patience and time and belief in myself.  This is no small task.  Creative people are often plagued with doubt.

“Is it working? Does the reader understand? Are the motivations clear?  Are the movements logical?  Should this paragraph go here or there?

January 2014 was a very snowy month.  I was homebound and it provided with the time to develop the climax and end my story.   Don’t know why the fog that had enveloped me for so long.  I finished my new book, Heaven, Hell and Hoboken. 

I’ve had a few readers review it and their opinions were superlative.  I felt this work was my best and their reviews confirmed what I had been hoping.   Below is a bried summary (which I’ll probably redo 20 times.)


Heaven, Hell and Hoboken
 World War I Hoboken is a time of great upheaval.  The Germans of Hoboken are losing their business, being evicting from their homes; others are rounded up as spies.  At the same time, Italian and Irish immigrants are vying for employment vacancies on the docks, storefronts, businss created by the anti-German sentiment running rampant.  Concurrently, the ILA is trying to gain a stronghold on the Hoboken docks.  Heaven, Hell and Hoboken tells a personal story of a family whose every member is touched by the many changes occuring with the onset of WWI.

Now I face a new battle, the  process of seeking representation.  I guess I need to follow Tolstoy’s advice again.  Patience and time.