Monches Artisans Holiday Open House

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The holiday season is upon us and it’s time to deal with the hassle of Christmas shopping. But finding the perfect gift shouldn’t be a hassle. The best way to  to check off the people on your Christmas list, while enjoying some holiday cheer, is to visit local shops, holiday fairs, and open houses.

 

Not only do you avoid the crowds and chaos of the large department stores, and malls, but you help to make the holidays a little brighter for local business owners and artisans.

 

And face it, isn’t a beautiful, hand crafted gift more special than a mass manufactured item?

 

Here’s a wonderful opportunity for you to do just that this weekend!

 

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31st Annual
Monches Artisans
Holiday Open House

December 5-7, 2014 (at most locations)
9:00-5:00

Join in and celebrate! With map in hand you’ll be guided on a driving tour through the historic Monches and Holy Hill area to visit artist studios, quaint shops, farms and inns.

 

Friday, December 5th through Sunday December 7th will mark the 31st year that artists in the tiny artist community of Monches, 30 miles northwest of Milwaukee, will open their doors and welcome visitors for a weekend of holiday cheer.

 

The 2014 tour will include a pottery studio, an art glass studio, an outdoor metal sculpture gallery and a rural inn and vineyard featuring seasonal wines. Monches Farm will be offering fresh handmade wreaths, holiday greens and a shop brimming with antiques, unique gifts and seasonal décor.  A local church will also be hosting a craft fair on Saturday.

 

The drive-it-yourself tour will take visitors along rustic roads through the scenic area surrounding the renowned Holy Hill Basilica. Refreshments, seasonal music and outdoor bonfires will welcome visitors at several of the stops along the way.  The tour runs from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Maps will be available at each of the tour stops and HERE.

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I will be at Paul Bobrowitz Spectacular Sculpture talking about Charles Dickens, his book “The Christmas Carol,” and his influence on the Christmas we celebrate today. Signed copies of my books, including “Christmas Carole,” will be available for purchase.

What better stocking stuffer, or teacher’s gift than a Christmas book signed by the author?

I will have several yummy treats that you may have found in Dickens time for you to taste, along with wassail to warm you up.

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Plus you will have the opportunity to purchase many beautiful items and gifts made by talented local artisans!

I truly hope you can make it to this wonderful holiday event!

 

 

Road Trip Day 12 and 13

This is the last leg of our journey across the U.S.  We left Tunica, Mississippi, drove back through Tennessee, and north into Missouri. We only had one stop planned for this state – The Gateway Arch which is the centerpiece to the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.

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I had a feeling of nostalgia when we arrived. I’d been here once before. I was only two years old, but I have a distinct memory of my father holding me in his arms and showing me the newly built arch. I also remember that we couldn’t go up in the arch because it wasn’t actually finished. I was interested to find out if this memory was correct. It turned out it was. The arch was completed in 1965, but  was not open to the public until the tram that takes visitors up the arch was installed in 1967. I would have visited in 1966.

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I wasn’t the only one who had been here before. Charles Dickens  visited St. Louis in 1842. The Gateway Arch a memorial to the westward expansion of our nation. It’s where Lewis and Clark started their expedition in 1804 to explore and map the west. To Mr. Dickens, St. Louis was the west.

Here are some of Dickens’ own words about St. Louis.

“In the old French portion of the town the thoroughfares are narrow and crooked, and some of the houses are very quaint and picturesque: being built of wood, with tumble-down galleries before the windows, approachable by stairs, or rather ladders, from the street. There are queer little barbers’ shops, and drinking-houses too, in this quarter; and abundance of crazy old tenements with blinking casements, such as may be seen in Flanders. Some of these ancient habitations, with high garret gable windows perking into the roofs, have a kind of French shrug about them; and, being lop-sided with age, appear to hold their heads askew besides, as if they were grimacing in astonishment at the American Improvements.”

During his stay, Mr. Dickens went on a jaunt to see the prairie (Looking Glass Prairie in Illinois, but in the end was anything but impressed.

“It would be difficult to say why, or how—though it was possibly from having heard and read so much about it—but the effect on me was disappointment.  Looking towards the setting sun, there lay, stretched out before my view, a vast expanse of level ground; unbroken, save by one thin line of trees, which scarcely amounted to a scratch upon the great blank; until it met the glowing sky, wherein it seemed to dip: mingling with its rich colours, and mellowing in its distant blue.  There it lay, a tranquil sea or lake without water, if such a simile be admissible, with the day going down upon it: a few birds wheeling here and there: and solitude and silence reigning paramount around.  But the grass was not yet high; there were bare black patches on the ground; and the few wild flowers that the eye could see, were poor and scanty.  Great as the picture was, its very flatness and extent, which left nothing to the imagination, tamed it down and cramped its interest.  I felt little of that sense of freedom and exhilaration which a Scottish heath inspires, or even our English downs awaken.  It was lonely and wild, but oppressive in its barren monotony.  I felt that in traversing the Prairies, I could never abandon myself to the scene, forgetful of all else; as I should do instinctively, were the heather underneath my feet, or an iron-bound coast beyond; but should often glance towards the distant and frequently-receding line of the horizon, and wish it gained and passed.  It is not a scene to be forgotten, but it is scarcely one, I think (at all events, as I saw it), to remember with much pleasure, or to covet the looking-on again, in after-life.”

Despite his disappointment in the area, Mr. Dickens had planned on visiting St. Louis again during his second trip to America in 1867/68, but poor health and weather prevented the excursion.

 

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So, I’ve brought Mr. Dickens to St. Louis now, and I have to wonder about how the area, that seemed rustic and uninspiring then. would amaze him now.

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Back to the Arch. It is a feat of engineering, and amazing to visit. The tram system is not for those who suffer from claustrophobia, and remind me of Star Trek style escape pods. The ride up is jerky as the pods need to travel in a stair step fashion to make it up the curve of the arch. Once at the top, the view is amazing.

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In lieu of the recent tornadoes in the area, we asked one of the guides about storms and how they affect visitors to the Arch. The gentleman told us that they only close the Arch if there is a tornado warning, although the streamline aerodynamics of the Arch means it really isn’t affected by them. Only steady, sustained winds affect the Arch giving it a sway of nine inches in either direction.  He told us that thunderstorms were fun to watch from up top and he had been up in the Arch during a lightning strike. Where as my friend was adamantly shaking her head no at that idea, I was thinking – cool! I just may have to plan a trip down there when thunderstorms are expected!

We were able to get a good look at the Mississippi River, now flooding it’s banks. At the bottom of the stairs there is a tree-lined sidewalk that is completely under water.

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The white rectangle in the center of the picture is actually the top of a tent that normally overlooks the river.

 

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After coming back down, we checked out the Lewis and Clark museum, and did some shopping. There is one store called the Levee Merchantile that features items that would be available circa 1870. I’m sure Mr. Dickens felt more comfortable here. I couldn’t resist picking up this feather quill. I also bought this Christmas cookbook – not for the vintage recipes, but because the cover looks so much like the cover of my book, Christmas Carole.

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Christmas Carole Cover Design kindle

Did I tell you it looked just like my book cover?

How crazy is that? Not only does it look similar but there’s a quill on my cover and Charles Dickens within my pages!

Tomorrow we’re homeward bound.

Who was Charles Dickens?

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Who was Charles Dickens: the man, the husband, the father? It’s a controversy that will never end. After doing extensive research, I’ve come to my own conclusions which I talk about in the forward to my novella “Christmas Carole.” I believe that Charles Dickens loved his family. It seems that his and Catherine’s personalities were very different, and they were not a good match for each other. I think Mr. Dickens didn’t always handle the pressures of fame, work, worries, and family well and he certainly had flaws, but who doesn’t? I also think, just like today, the things the public think about celebrities are only half-truths. One thing I can tell you with certainty was that Charles Dickens often devoted his time, his craft, and his money to many charitable causes. And no one can deny that he provided the world with quality literature.

Here is the forward to “Christmas Carole.”

There have been many books written about Charles Dickens and just as many opinions as to the type of man he was. There is also much speculation as to the nature of his relationship with his wife, Catherine. They range from a loving relationship between two emotionally damaged individuals, to one of deceit and heartbreak. Given that the accounts written are about someone who was, and still is, a public figure, I can only assume that the truth lies somewhere in between. Since I haven’t lived in his home, I can only speculate. I have come to my own conclusions based on all the research I’ve done, and use that as my basis for the Charles portrayed in this story.

Some things are less debated, and seem fairly clear. Charles Dickens was a brilliant, creative, driven, hardworking man. He was haunted by his experiences as a child, and the time he spent in a boot blacking factory to support his family while his father was in debtor’s prison. He used those experiences in his quest to enlighten the public about the plight of the poor and underprivileged. Those experiences also drove him to succeed, always fearful of living in poverty once again.

Regardless of little education, Dickens was a man of wisdom and great talent. I can only hope I have done the great author justice.

Now in Paperback!!!!

Christmas Carole is now available in paperback for just $5.95! Just in time for Christmas!


Just click on book cover below to purchase.


“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,” said Scrooge. “But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.”
-Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Carole is a modern day, career-driven woman who has little time for love and even less time for Christmas. While escaping the flirtation of a co-worker and the trappings of an office Christmas party, she meets a mysterious stranger. With this man, she travels back in time to 1843 London. There, she becomes a guest in the home of Charles Dickens, as he writes “A Christmas Carol.” People and events that inspire Mr. Dickens become part of Carole’s life. The secrets she learns about the man, his life, and his writing affect her in ways she could never have imagined.

This novella is a story about love, life, the Christmas spirit, and redemption.

Christmas Carole

 

IT’S HERE!!!!

Christmas Carole

E- book available on Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com (Paperback coming soon!)

Only 99 cents!

 

“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,” said Scrooge. “But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change.”
―Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Carole is a modern day, career-driven woman who has little time for love and even less time for Christmas. While escaping the flirtation of a co-worker and the trappings of an office Christmas party, she meets a mysterious stranger. With this man, she travels back in time to 1843 London. There, she becomes a guest in the home of Charles Dickens, as he writes “A Christmas Carol.” People and events that inspire Mr. Dickens become part of Carole’s life. The secrets she learns about the man, his life, and his writing affect her in ways she could never have imagined.

 

Hump Day

For most people hump day is Wednesday, the day of the week in which one has crossed the center and is now in a race for the finish of the week. For me, hump day is similar, but different.

I wish I could say I was one of those people who are disciplined enough to get their work done well ahead of when it’s needed, but alas, I am anything but. If there’s not some deadline looming over me, I procrastinate. In all fairness, I do lead a very busy life. I have my writing, and all the book events, marketing, seminars and classes that go along with it.  I also work a full-time day job, and have a home and family to take care of. Add in any kind of social activities and don’t forget holidays, and you can understand why I have very limited time to get things accomplished. I can use lack of time as an excuse, but I know myself. I need a deadline, and will dawdle about until I’m in a panic because I’m running out of time.

That goes for everything. I’ve had paint chips taped to my kitchen wall for a year now. It really wouldn’t take much time to actually pick a color and paint the small accent wall. But it will take a party, or inviting someone over that hasn’t seen the house to motivate me, and even then, I can picture myself staying up until midnight the night before praying that it will dry in time for said event.

This month the project du jour is a Christmas novella. My story is  about a modern day woman who once fancied being an author, but had been disillusioned and embittered by life. She meets an unusual stranger and travels back in time with him to 1843 London, where she finds herself the guest in the home of Charles Dickens, as he is in the process of writing his classic “A Christmas Carol.” Once there, Carole (get the pun) learns (you guessed it) the meaning of Christmas from the father of Christmas spirit(s), himself. When I set out to write this Christmas story, I actually gave myself a year. Does it really take me a year to write a novella? Nope. Yet, here I am, on November 28th, racing through edits, hoping against hope, that “Christmas Carole” will be out in time for Christmas.  What does all of this have to do with “hump day” you ask?

Because I’m always writing right up until deadline, there are times when my mouth is telling the public “I will have a new book out for Christmas,” however, I will not have enough written to have any confidence in that statement.  I tell my readers on Facebook to expected it, and only have three chapters complete. I post a flier that promises it’s  “coming soon” at a book signing, and only have five chapters written. I say it to the bookstore owner who will be selling my book-that-does-not-yet-exist, when I have seven chapters written, but still don’t have a clue as to how the story will end. Hump day, for me, is the day when I have enough written, and know enough about where the story is going, that I realize I actually have a chance of meeting my deadline.  It isn’t based on any formula. It’s not based a certain word count. It isn’t even the half-way point. It’s some imaginary point-in-time in which the story is complete in my head, if not on the page, and enough pages are written that I feel I can complete it in time. It’s a feeling in my gut that I have gotten over the hump and I’m cruising for the finish line.

Last week Saturday was hump day. The story wasn’t finished, but it was whole. This past weekend I completed the last chapter, and this week is edit-mania. If all goes well “Christmas Carole will be available as an e-book within a week. Paperback is a bit more of a gamble since I have to depend on editors, on cover design, and on Amazon’s Createspace to get  the book printed quickly, once I approve the proof.

But you know, Charles Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol” in only six weeks, finishing it at the end of November and having the final product in hand by mid-December and that was ages before computers and print-on-demand.  If he can do it, so can I!

So…

COMING SOON! IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS!

Christmas Carole by D.L. Marriott

Sure to be a holiday favorite!