I love this time of year. Christmas. All the scurrying about, sending out cards, decorating our houses, shopping, cooking, baking —you know what I’m talking about. But what I really love is watching television, specifically watching Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a Wonderful Life. These are love stories told with a sprinkle of stardust, a sense that magical things can and do happen, all within the context of real life. After watching these movies, I am convinced there are happily-ever-after’s despite the everyday muck. There is nothing our heroes can’t overcome. You root for them through their trials and your heart bursts with their triumphs.
Which brings me to my new favorite Christmas story: Eternal Love by Louis Moore.
This book is really a long short story. The man who wrote it, Louis Moore, is ninety-eight years old. He is a Chinese-American gentleman who wanted to honor his late Japanese-American wife, Nellie, by writing their love story. I heard about this book in a round about way. It sounded very sweet, very nice, but I really didn’t have the time to read—I was working on my own book. But then I learned that what this book was about: Mr. Moore’s 74 years of marriage to a woman he adored. It just so happened I was celebrating my 44th year of marriage to a man I adore. So, instead of spending a couple of hours with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed in It’s a Wonderful Life, or working on my own book, I sat down with Eternal Love and read about a love story for the ages.
Lou and his wife faced prejudice on many fronts, rejection from his family. They built businesses and lost them, they moved more than once, they had professional set-backs, and Lou sometimes wondered if he had the ‘right stuff’ to succeed. Throughout the telling of this story, Mr. Moore shines a light on his wife with the wonder of a man truly, deeply in love. He writes about Nellie’s good humor, the kindness she showed to everyone who crossed her path, her intelligence, her beauty, and, the greatest gift of all, the love she had for him and the confidence she gave him.
What I am sure the author doesn’t know is that in the telling of Nellie’s story, Louis Moore revealed himself to be a man of manners, a hard worker, a man who got up even if he was pushed down. Above all, he was devoted to his wife and loved her beyond reason.
This book was shiny and bright because every word was chosen with care, every thought, observation, and aside moved the story ahead with purpose. Eternal Love was like opening a Christmas present I will use all year long. I will remember to write to my story, I’ll remember to write with verve, and I will remember—if I ever find myself peeved at my husband—to follow Louis Moore’s advice for a happy marriage. Be kind, be courageous, have eyes for no one else but your spouse because together you can accomplish anything.
Thank you, Mr. Moore, for a wonderful story of love written just in time for Christmas. Eternal Love is magical.
I’d like to give you a special Christmas present too. Check out my December newsletter for your FREE BOOK, the best recipe for Oreo pie and some other fun stuff. Wishing you all the best of the season.
Every writer is subject to the influences of their time, influences that shape their work in some way. From Stephan King’s brand of horror—which he’s said was influenced by the pervasive fears of the cold war — to the oh so mannerly and delicately choreographed plots of Regency era literature, a reader can feel the spirit of the author’s era. I think that’s why I love H. G. Wells and his manly adventurers whose waistcoats and stiff collars are never out of place despite the monsters and hazards that beset them, and they always have time for a full service tea.
Covid is the strongest influence on us at present, changing behavior at a really basic social level, and I am eagerly anticipating how that will be reflected in contemporary fiction. Each genre presents a host of different affects to play with. How will full dress PPE impact the mystery and crime genre? With my mask in place, my sunglasses on my nose and a cap on my head, I am hard to recognize. Add gloves to that, and I don’t have to sweat over fingerprints. And if you’re not short and a touch chubby like me, it would be easy to quickly blend in with the (6 feet apart) crowd and make a smooth getaway. Does anyone want to get near enough to grab a suspect?
Science fiction, viewed through this lens, might use the long-lasting effects of a worldwide pandemic in interesting ways. The population has been decimated, but the disease is at last eradicated. Does the population retain a fear of personal distance? Does it become ritualized? Do they formalize ways of washing their food, like futuristic raccoons? Has public dining or public attendance at an event become distasteful, and if it is replaced, what with? That could be really fun.
Fantasy always gets a lovely reality pass. That’s part of why we love it. Fantasy isn’t required to reflect anything about the real world. But again, every writer is working through the lens of their own reality and all these new behaviors and social concerns are bound to be reflected somehow. Maybe it’s a race of creatures that are forever shunned—The Cooties. You can’t ever get close to them or they will sicken you, but the hero requires the help of those outcasts and so the taboo has to be overcome. It could be that a virus has been locked in a magic cave and as the ultimate weapon, it must be guarded by the heart of a dragon. The influence of this pandemic will be in there somewhere.
Then there’s Romance! I am especially eager to see how this genre deals with our current reality. One of the hallmarks of Romance fiction is its timeliness. We never tire of boy meets girl stories set in the shared here and now. These are tales that reflect our contemporary social and moral norms with the clarity of a mirror image. How will masks and gloves and 6 feet apart influence a love story? How will a chance meeting play out? Is love at first sight possible?
I have complete faith in Romance authors to create inventive and realistic approaches to this current social reality. I haven’t come across any yet. I may not have looked hard enough, but if you know of a romance in the time of Covid, I hope you’ll share it with me. I can’t wait to read it.
I first discovered the Titanic nestled among paperback romance novels on a shelf in a small library branch near the sea.
‘A Night to Remember’, that wonderful tome definitive of all things Titanic, had found an unlikely home among princesses and maids. I imagine the Walter Lord book was shelved there by a fussy librarian because of its provocative title, but oh, what a lucky break for me.
I was thirteen and living in a small beach town on the coast. Every day that summer I’d walk to the small library branch and take out as many books as they’d let me. Then I’d walk down to the beach and sit under the boardwalk, listen to the roar of the pounding surf, eat strips and salsa, and read.
Read… read… read.
I read ‘A Night to Remember’ a million times, imaging myself on the ship of dreams wearing an elegant gown and long white gloves, dancing in first class with a handsome gentleman. Then reality would set in and I realized I’d more likely be in steerage since my family came over from Ireland.
The place dreams are made of…
When I was a little girl, I lived with my Irish grandmother for a while and I remember sitting at the big, wooden table with her as she added flour, milk, and herbs to leftover mashed spuds for potato cakes, or wound her blue rosary beads around her gnarled fingers while she spun tales about life in Ireland. Grand times they were, and a lovely thread woven through the quilt of my childhood.
Books were my companions back then and I’d read anywhere, anytime. I read tons of romances, but I’d often end up in the history section of the library looking for more stories about the Titanic. Imagining sneaking into first class and pretending I belonged there. Something I found hard to do growing up since we moved a lot and I was always the ‘new kid’ (I went to fifteen schools before college). I yearned to be among the popular kids at the beach, but somewhere in my heart, I knew the way to better myself was reading and the rest would come later.
Reading was my world.
That became the basis of my heroine, Ava O’Reilly, in THE RUNAWAY GIRL, a girl who wants to better herself by reading books but it’s forbidden to the servants in the grand house in Ireland where she’s in service.
Then when she’s wrongly accused of stealing a diamond bracelet, she escapes.
To the Titanic.
And every tale I’d heard at my grandmother’s knee, every book I’d read, every film about the ship of dreams I’d watched over and over again became the fodder for telling my own story about the Titanic.
Based on my girlhood and love of books.
And the sea.
And yes, romance, too.
And how an Irish girl makes a daring choice on that fateful night when the Titanic hits an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. that changes her life forever…
And mine, too.
Two women hold the keys to his heart. Only one will survive that fateful night…
When Ava O’Reilly is wrongly accused of stealing from her employer, she has no option but to flee Ireland. The law is after her, and she has only one chance at escape – the Titanic.
Aboard the ship of dreams, she runs straight into the arms of Captain ‘Buck’ Blackthorn, a dashing gentleman gambler who promises to be her protector. He is intrigued by her Irish beauty and manages to disguise her as the maid of his good friend, the lovely Countess of Marbury. Little does he realise, that the Countess is also in love with him.
As the fateful night approaches, tragedy strikes further when Ava is separated from Buck, and must make a daring choice that will change her life forever…
A sweeping historical romance set aboard the Titanic, from the author of Her Lost Love (Christmas Once Again).
Praise for Jina Bacarr:
‘A delightful holiday romance that has all the charm of a classic Christmas movie. Christmas Once Again is perfect for anyone who loves a holiday romance brimming with mistletoe, hope, and what ifs.’ Andie Newton, author of The Girl I Left Behind
‘A breathtaking holiday romance that is sure to stay with you long after reading’
‘A mesmerizing holiday romance that is sure to sweep you off your feet and take you away to another place, another time.’
‘A fabulous book you won’t want to miss’
THE RUNAWAY GIRL e-book, print and audio book:
I’m exhausted. I stayed up till 10 a.m. PDT this morning promoting Christmas Once Again on my pub date. It was a blast. My publisher, my editor were right there with me, along with bloggers and fans.
We tweeted, I facebood’d, created Instagram stories. It was wild.
I have to admit, I was nervous. Will readers embrace a time when life was so different? I’ve poured my heart into this story about a time when there were no cell phones, so social media. Kate’s family (the heroine in my story), has a phone, but back then they had party lines. Everybody on the block shared the same phone line.
Neighbors Facebook’d over the fence while hanging out laundry to dry on the clothesline.
Newspapers were the 24-hour TV channels, coming out with Special Editions when important war news broke.
Soldiers and their girls wrote letters to each other. On paper. Words poured out by a lonely serviceman on an atoll in the Pacific or the cold, damp woods of the Ardennes in France. Girls sealed their letters with a kiss with Victory Red lipstick.
That is what I miss most about that time. Letters. Ink may fade, but the words are more powerful today than ever. There’s something cold and distant about an email. A digital fingerprint with printed words that look the same no matter who types them.
But a letter…now that has the personal signature.
The bold writing…looping letters…your sweetheart’s familiar scrawl that tugs your heart when he signs, ‘All my love.’
The smudge of dirty fingerprints that held a rifle and trudged over the beaches of Normandy to protect our country.
Coffee stains spilled from a tin cup when an enemy sniper surprised a young corporal.
Dried blood smeared on the envelope rushed into the mail pouch at the Red Cross camp by a wounded Marine.
And to the soldier, the most important signature of all: the scent of his sweetheart’s perfume. Every tired bone in his body, every aching muscle melt away. He can’t erase the horrors of war, but the lovely scent that is so distinctly hers takes him back home, if only for a few seconds. But it’s enough for him to keep fighting.
And promise he’ll come home to her.
It’s that world I write about in Christmas Once Again.
A journey you won’t forget.
The autumnal equinox is a celestial event that brings together harvest and celebration, symbolizes magick and transformation, and welcomes a balance of light and darkness. It’s a time when those who honor the changing seasons rest and reflect.
Or reap what they’ve sown.
Once Upon an Enchanted Forest, a collection of adult fantasy romances, features ten novelettes centered around one of the most enchanting preternatural beings of the ages: the witch. With lovers, magical forests, and witchcraft, our stories are sure to warm your nights and your dark little heart.
This anthology also includes a new story from the brilliant Juliet Marillier, author of the Sevenwaters Trilogy and many other historical fantasy novels, including Beautiful, an Audible Exclusive, and her coming release, The Harp of Kings.
Now, sit back and let us tell you a tale. Welcome to The Enchanted Forest.
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