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How to Use a Novel as a Guidebook

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

Nicholas Noyes of the NY Times recently wrote a column by that name. He describes the fascinating of following in the footsteps of Oliver Twist–having seen the film as a 5-year-old. An American who grew up in London, he found new eyes as an adult by traveling Oliver’s journey.
My historical novels known as The Justine Trilogy are anchored in real places and times. Whether in Cairo (The Cairo Codex), Italy (The Italian Letters) or Taos (A Rapture of Ravens), each site is real–there for the picking, pleasures to be harvested. Delectable visits into living history. My posts entitled 72 Hours in Cairo (Parts 1-3) take you on that journey. Several posts on Italy and Taos tantalize you, I trust, to journey there.
What is your favorite historical novel? Have you planned that trip as yet? Add it to your bucket list.

Posted in A Rapture of Ravens, Book Tour, Egypt, Etruscans, Fiction, Florence, history, imagination, Italian Letters, Italy, Rome, Taos, The Justine Trilogy, Travel, trilogy, writing | No Comments » | Leave a Comment

Creative Confluence…what is it?

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

When I shifted from non-fiction to fiction 10 years ago, I was convinced that I needed to start with a clean slate; in other words, not attempt both at the same time–as though they were separate streams of consciousness. My colleague and I had not quite finished Women’s Ways of Leading at the time, but we rushed to finish. After all, in fiction there is surprise, and scenes, and tension, conflict and sex, while in non-fiction…few of the previous approaches are usually present.

When my colleague Mary recently said that my non-fiction (in a new text entitled Liberating Leadership Capacity) had benefited from the writing of The Justine Trilogy, well, I had to reexamine my assumptions. Was there more of a confluence than I imagined? I am using “confluence” here to mean the processes of merging and emerging. This is what I notice: language flows more easily, like rivers coming together; language choice is more poetic; cognitive dissonance echoes tension; touches of mystery and romance provide glimpses into wisdom.

Would I advise dappling in fiction and non-fiction at the same time? Sure–it’s a fertile playground. An adventure. Camus might call it absurdism, but writers have often created reciprocity between and among novels and essays.

We are off to Washington, D. C. for the release of the new text–then to New York to see our granddaughter and a few plays….

Posted in Book Tour, creativity, Fiction, Leadership Capacity, non-fiction, shifting genres, The Justine Trilogy, writing | No Comments » | Leave a Comment

Two Weeks from Today: The Release of a New Leadership Book

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

Hi and happy St. Patrick’s Day,
On April 1, Liberating Leadership Capacity: Pathways to Educational Wisdom will be released. Published by Teachers College Press at Columbia University, and co-authored with Diane Zimmerman and Mary Gardner, this book is my 8th book on leadership. This venture into leadership has been a thrilling journey as it has afforded an opportunity to combine and reposition my thoughts on Constructivist Leadership and Leadership Capacity. Andy Hargreaves has written the Foreword.
On April 10 at 12:30 at the AERA booth # 401, Convention Center, Washington D. C., the authors will sign the book that can be purchased at 20% off. Whether you are working in the field of leadership formally, or curious about the direction of the field, you will find this book full of stories, complexity science, international successes and conclusions on the emergence of wisdom.
Coming tomorrow: Creative Confluence.
Liberating Leadership Capacity

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The Thrill of Taos

Friday, June 5th, 2015

Returning to Taos is like returning to a home that never was…meaning that it has always seemed like home, but I didn’t grow up here. However, Morgan and I have spent many, many months here over the past five years—years bringing us into intimate contact with the balmy air that caresses our skin, the full moon rising over the Sangre de Cristo (isn’t there a full moon every night in Taos?), a scattered mosaic of clouds in a big sky over Sacred Mountain, the rich blend of cultures led by the Tiwa of the Taos Pueblo. More than a thousand years of history.

Much has happened in these five years: The D. H. Lawrence Ranch is now open—Kateri Tekakwitha is an authentic Saint—The World Heritage Taos Pueblo and Rancho de Taos Saint Francis Church continue to attract people from all over the world—The Egyptian Revolution took surprising, and not always pleasing, turns—the Taos economy is on the upturn. Tonight, the grandchildren of the original Art Colony founders describe 100 years of creative impulse here. Tomorrow, we hear the story of the 400 years of shared Native-Hispanic-Anglo history. Music is in the air everywhere you turn.

What perspective does time provide? Five years, 100 years, 400 years, a thousand years. A spiral of wisdom that is Taos.

The people of Taos have been so welcoming that the writing of A Rapture of Ravens: Awakening in Taos emerged with ease from the minds and hearts of these generous folk. Many of them will gather Friday, June 12th, at 6:30 at the Mabel Dodge Luhan estate for the “world release” party.

Posted in A Rapture of Ravens, Book Tour, D.H. Lawrence, Egypt, Florence, Frieda Lawrence, history, Taos, The Justine Trilogy, writing | No Comments » | Leave a Comment

Serendipity – A Writer’s Journey of Discovery

Sunday, April 19th, 2015

It all began when, as a young girl, I hid Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence under my mattress (who didn’t?). Women in Love and other Lawrence novels, short stories, and poems followed, keeping my infatuation deep in my consciousness. But it was not until my husband, Morgan, and I wandered into a bookstore in an Etruscan ruin in Italy in the mid-80’s and discovered Etruscan Places that Lawrence became an obsession. His unforgettable perspective on the Etruscans explained the heretofore unexplainable about these mysterious people.

Years passed. After all, I wasn’t a novelist as yet. I was busy with non-fiction writing –then moving in Egypt. Cairo fully captivated us. Old crypts and earthquakes and religious tensions demanded my attention. It was inside the crypt that had allegedly been home to the Holy Family that the first novel in the Justine Trilogy took form.

After giving birth to The Cairo Codex, I discovered that D. H. Lawrence was still waiting in the wings. But it was not until my protagonist Justine climbed into her grandmother’s attic in Fiesole that I found The Italian Letters. I know this may seem strange, but I didn’t know what she would find until old lace began to rise from a trunk untouched for 80 years.

These letters led me into Taos, New Mexico, and A Rapture of Ravens: Awakening in Taos… to be released May 12. My life as a writer has been one serendipitous event after another.

Next week: Why Taos?

Posted in A Rapture of Ravens, D.H. Lawrence, Egypt, Etruscans, Fiction, Italian Letters, Italy, Taos, The Justine Trilogy, tombs, Travel, trilogy, writing | No Comments » | Leave a Comment

A Rapture of Ravens: the Prologue

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

ARaptureofRavens-sm I will never forget one thing. In Winter time, when you go to
Wounded Knee, never dig deep into the snow. All you will do is
find the blood left by your family before me. Think only of
them and say, it is a good day to die!
-Tashunkala (Little Horse), SihaSapa Lakota

February 3, 2011
Justine stood at the frosted window in flannel pajamas, an Indian blanket curled around her like a cocoon, curtains drawn to reveal an island of lights on the Taos campus of the University of New Mexico a half-mile away. A meteor streaks by and disappears into a palette of stars, a mere sliver of moon hung in the eastern sky. Barely 5:30 a.m., she hadn’t slept since Amir’s 2:30 call. In a couple of hour, the mantle of snow on the Sangre de Cristo Mountains would turn shades of mauve in the early morning light.
Revolution day all over again. She held her steaming coffee cup with both hands, the noise of the television in the background. Without turning, she listened to the sounds of men and women flooding into Tahrir Square in Cairo. It was Wednesday.
All Amir had said before the line went dead was, “I love you, Justine. It could be today. Then I’ll be home . . . . ” It could be today, which could only mean one thing: Mubarak was expected to step down. The revolution would achieve its goal: the end to a brutal thirty-year dictatorship. Justine felt a tension in her gut—could it be so easy? Could Mubarak be brought down in less than two weeks? Perhaps, but not likely.
The possibilities were promising, yet she was gripped by deeply unsettling fears for Amir, his leadership role with the youth of Egypt placing him at great risk of being arrested. The turmoil in the Middle East was unprecedented, clearly, so perhaps none of the old rules applied. This is a new game, in a new world bursting from the ground up, a popular revolution quickened by social media. But then what? She knew that if Mubarak were removed, Egyptians would still have the military and the Brotherhood, since no one else was as organized. Perhaps with Amir’s help, those who led the January 25th revolution would form themselves into a focused political movement. Perhaps.
Justine gripped the blanket more firmly around her chilled body and returned to the kitchen for the last dregs of coffee. On the couch, she curled her stocking feet under her and stared at the screen. Tahrir Square was crowded with thousands of Egyptians chanting, “Down with Mubarak,” arms flailing the air, placards in Arabic demanding the president’s resignation. The crowd throbbed, like a singular heart beating in concert.
Her vision was captured by a familiar-looking figure in the throng. While the images were nearly indistinct, she recognized his gait, his posture, even his profile. Amir! She smiled involuntarily to see that he was wearing the Kokopelli scarf she’d given him for Christmas. It must be Amir. She couldn’t be wrong, could she? He was facing west, toward the burned-out Hilton, leaning into a small group of four or five men.
From the edge of the screen, men rode swiftly into sight on sturdy Arabian horses and lanky camels, clubs swinging above their heads, then coming down to strike indiscriminately into the swarm of young people.
Suddenly, one of the camel riders rushed in his direction, charged with intent as though he knew his target. Amir didn’t see him. Justine jumped to her feet, spilling her coffee, turning over the coffee table. “Amir! Amir!” She was with him in the middle of the grassy square, screaming, warning him. Two men in the crowd pointed frantically and raced to pull the hoodlum from his camel, but too late. The club crashed against Amir’s head. She imagined blood spurting into the electrified air. As the rider lifted his club for a second blow, he was pulled from his camel and beaten into the ground.
Bloody Wednesday had begun.

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Frieda Lawrence & Her Great Granddaughter-a Taos Tea

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

My excitement mounds as I consider returning to Taos for the world release of the third
novel in The Justine Trilogy: A Rapture of Ravens: Awakening in Taos. In June, 2015.
Meanwhile, I gazed on with envy as the community threw a luscious tea for Frieda Lawrence’s great granddaughter this week at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House. See the engaging blog and photos by Robert Cafazzo:
http://twograces.blogspot.com/2015/02/high-tea-with-joanna-great-grand.html

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Book Passage and The Italian Letters

Monday, January 5th, 2015

Welcome to the New Year, which I welcome with optimism and anticipation.
This coming Thursday, January 8, I will be speaking about The Italian Letters at the extraordinary Book Passage in Corte Madera. I’m delighted by positive feedback about this novel, the sequel to the award-winning The Cairo Codex.

This year will also host the release of the third novel in the Justine Trilogy, A Rapture of Ravens: Awakening in Taos. The world release will be in Taos, New Mexico, in June, 2015.

My resolution…to read and write good novels!

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Who was the Virgin Mary? Really?

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

The identity, personal diary, and genealogy of Mary of Nazareth and her son, Jesus, are expressed in the first two novels of the Justine Trilogy: the award-winning, The Cairo Codex and The Italian Letters (release, October, 2014). Perfect Christmas presents. The third in the trilogy, A Rapture of Ravens, will be released in June, 2015.

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The Italian Letters in San Francisco

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

On Friday evening, November 14, at 7:00, I am talking about and reading from The Italian Letters in San Francisco at Books, Inc., Opera Square, 610 Van Ness. This will be a Champagne Launch and you are all invited.

Why is this so special? Books, Inc. is the West’s oldest independent bookstore with 11 stores in California. Amazingly, their “origin dates back to the Gold Rush Days of 1851 when Anton Roman struck it rich in Shasta City, California, and set himself up in the business of selling books. That small bookstore was moved, bought, sold, burned, rebuilt, renamed and became Books Inc., as we know it today, in 1946.”

On December 9, I’ll have the pleasure of sharing The Italian Letters with the community of readers at the Palo Alto Books, Inc.

Check out booksinc.net and join us.

Posted in Book Tour, Books Inc., creativity, D.H. Lawrence, Etruscans, Fiction, imagination, Italian Letters, Italy, tombs, Travel, trilogy, Vatican, writing | No Comments » | Leave a Comment

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