This is to inform you of the reason why ENCHANTÉ has been away: A “sabbatical” forced by accumulating events that prevent us from writing. However, we will be back in September-October, God willing – insha’Allah. Meanwhile, we will post some photographs from our past blogs, including ‘Mars Man’, with whom we started our blog. Mars Man may return to our blogs now that Mother Earth is moving onto them with the new Space Force.
Below are ‘identity’ photographs: from age 7 to ?, each one representative of a decisive period in the life of ENCHANTÉ.
Moving into the space age, below are Katharine, Mars Man’s earthly wife and anchor at OMAHA TV, and Mars Man in his Mars capacity of Mars City TV anchor. Next is Space Scooter One, with which Mars Man descends to Mother Earth, to spend time with Katharine and their mixed offspring, and do interviews on OMAHA TV in his Earthly Costume, as shown on the last picture.
Pictures are worth one thousand words!
Till soon with more of our picture album of previous blogs.
It’s summertime and everyone is on vacation. So it’s a time to be quiet and reflect on things. The things I would’ve liked to do but didn’t. The things I could’ve done but didn’t. The things I should’ve done but didn’t. The things I should NOT have done but did. Oh boy, the list goes on and on. And there I am, looking at the blue yonder, the waves rippling over the azure lake, the swan coming by to chat, my watch staring at me as if it wants to stop.
I would love to play piano like Amad Jamal but I can’t. I would love to play tennis like Louis Federer but I can’t. I would love to write like Nora Roberts, but I don’t.
I did play classical piano pretty well but it faded: at a certain stage I noticed that I made no progress anymore. Stuck. Maybe I hated practice. Clearly, I didn’t yearn to get better at it and reverted to playing jazz all the time, which I did all right. My passionate Paris girlfriend and classical pianist, Geneviève, told me there was nothing wrong with that (See Some Women I Have Known – http://amzn.to/1QIL94B). I would’ve liked to play more tennis but back injury, tendonitis, and work priorities all fought against me. But I did complete an all right career and after 50 years of interesting work worldwide, I am now finally retired with a healthy savings account. So I should be happy, no?
Yes and No. I can’t sit still, hate to play golf and am too lazy to go hiking. So why not do some writing? The only thing you have to do is dream up a story, type it down on a computer, and post it on Amazon, is it not? Millions do. Easy, no? Well, not so. It’s like my tennis, like my piano, you must practice to get good at it. Know your words, grammar, syntax, and idiom. And what about my “content mind,” do my stories appeal to today’s readers? And what about my “craft mind,” do I use the right words, have the right rhythm, do I create sparks in my sentences, are my characters alive?
When I read, I use a notebook to write down words I don’t know or find interesting to remember. I underline sentences that I consider well-written. In the hope they stay with me and spark a good sentence of my own one day. The problem is that, as a non-native English writer, the words do not immerse in me as they do with a native writer who grows up with them. For him/her, words have acquired a lifelong meaning and feeling, are associated with memories, education, and experiences.
When I read in Dutch, my native language, I feel the meaning of words so much better because I grew up with them. They became my treasured treasure that I’d pick from whenever needed, and they spring up in my mind automatically when I need them. A native English writer acquired a similar treasure and can even “make up” words, something I’d never dare to do in English because it would almost certainly be wrong and scrapped by my editor.
As a funny example, I read the other day that “she wore a teddy.” Something to do with a teddy bear?
Since I did not know what a teddy was, I consulted Webster, which needed 20 words to explain its meaning! Probably any American knows from childhood what a “teddy” is (my wife, who is British-educated, did not even know!), and they would immediately associate it with their mother or sister, or perhaps a girlfriend (better). That sort of words is their permanent vocabulary treasure.
And so I go on, still learning to use idiom, syntax, and vocabulary. In addition to Some Women (in which Piano John confuses playing sheet music with playing between the sheets”), I wrote Enchanting The Swan (in which grad students and musicians Paul and Fiona agree to marry but evil blocks their love —http://amzn.to/1LPFw5o ). I am currently working on a third. Every day that I work on the “craft mind” I realize how little I know and how more I have to learn. I started doing this much too late. Young writers go through the same learning process, and they will also take time before they write their first good book. Even John Grisham and Stephen King (“On Writing”) admit that. But I started at the end of a long career, and won’t have that “luxury” of time to succeed. That’s why a well-known agent, Paul Levine, called me a “young writer” despite my white hair.
It’s “Spellbinding,” as Barbara Baig calls it (Writers Digest Books). Word(worth) reading!
See you next time and happy reading/writing.
The Christmas and New Year period is a great time to read or gift a few heartwarming stories to suit the holidays!
ENCHANTING THE SWAN ends at Christmas, a moving end which I will not give away here. You can read the novel at http://amzn.to/1LPFw5o and at http://bit.ly/1Kw8gys (Barnes & Noble). Consistent 5 star reviews so far: Dan Dwyer comments: If you like old fashioned romance stories, you will like Enchanting The Swan. Paul and Fiona meet at the College of William and Mary in Virginia where they fall in love after playing “The Swan” by Camille Saint-Saens. There’s more to this story than Dewey eye romance. John Schwartz has written a fine romantic thriller than doesn’t let go until the very end.
Neal Cary, professor and cellist at William & Mary, writes: Enchanting the Swan is a beautiful story — full of suspense, drama, and enduring love centered around music. John Schwartz has created a whole world, and a wonderful escape. The characters jump off the page with such personality and imagery that this book could make a great movie. Enchanting the Swan is a very enjoyable read, and I recommend it highly.
MJM Orlean writes: John writes beautifully – I found the book difficult to put down – an easy read, full of intrigue, love, passion, international travel and dubious banking business, and lots more – a must read.
You can still get it for a good read at the fire place: http://amzn.to/1LPFw5o
or at http://bit.ly/1Kw8gys. ENJOY!
SOME WOMEN I HAVE KNOWN is a memoir /coming-of-age story. Our unforgettable Audrey Hepburn was a central personality in our home and especially for me, as we met as children (she 13 and I 7 ) in Holland well before she became a beautiful and revered film star. Of course, our lives became very different and I only touched hers at her outer sphere, but she did remember me! It is one of the more striking stories in SOME WOMEN I HAVE KNOWN.
You can still get it at http://amzn.to/1QIL94B
Readers seem to like it: Sam writes: This is a heartwarming collection of short stories that portray the path of boy meets world with realism and sensitivity. Perhaps most surprising are the different relationships that each story portrays – some were romantic, while others were more familial or close friendships. Those qualities, combined with the historical backdrop and international perspective, distinguish this book from the more typical and predictable storylines, making it a five-star read!
Kendal writes about the Audrey story: I adore Audrey Hepburn and love to hear new stories about her. Can’t get enough. And this short story was a nice little peek into her life, especially pre-fame, as a young girl… loved it.
Micah Harris writes in similar terms: A pleasant account of an exceptional person. There’s always something poignant about beautiful people recovering from ghastly times. Thanks for the read.
Dan writes: I had read the author’s vignette on Audrey Hepburn a few months ago when I was looking for something short, different and personal because my daughter is a big Hepburn fan. Mr. Schwartz did not fail me then nor has he failed me now with his compilation of the women he has met in his life…One charming and not so charming adventure after another, however, ended the same way until he finally met the proverbial woman of his dreams. She luckily for both shared the same dream.
And how did we!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and pleasant holidays!
John and Joy
THREE THINGS INSPIRED ME WHEN WRITING ENCHANTING THE SWAN: ROMANCE, LOVE FOR MUSIC AND MUSIC IN LOVE. IN SHORT: FOREVER ROMANCE:
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Don’t take me wrong: it is not only love that makes the world go round: pigheaded ultraconservative family rules preventing a SHINING love blossoming from the heart and conceived in music, GREED versus compassion, JEALOUS PURSUIT to snatch away someone else’s love, ABUSE IN MARRIAGE, desperate escape and FINAL REDEMTPION in music: it’s all in ENCHANTING THE SWAN, a love story as no other.
(LEFT CLICK ON PICS WILL ENLARGE THEM ON MOST COMPUTERS. BACKSPACE TOP LEFT TAKES YOU BACK TO THE BLOG)
Paul Cramer, MBA graduate and Fiona Baroness de Maconville, cellist, play The Swan, a famous cello-piece by Camille St. Saëns, before their William & Mary Audience. That’s where their love bloomed: at the Department of Music in the Ewell Hall, located at the College of William & Mary, situated in rustic Williamsburg, Virginia.
Neal Cary, Professor and cellist teacher at the College of William & Mary, writes about Enchanting The Swan: “…a beautiful story — full of suspense, drama, and enduring love centered around music. John Schwartz has created a whole world, and a wonderful escape. The characters jump off the page with such personality and imagery that this book could make a great movie. Enchanting the Swan is a very enjoyable read, and I recommend it highly.”
(If the link does not function just cc it into your URL)
As you see from the back flap, the beginning of their love seems doomed in a bitter family feud of old stiff Belgian nobility with modern times. Fiona, an orphan raised by godparents after her parents died sailing into a storm at the Belgian coast, must break off because her noble godfather wants her to marry into their Belgian circle. At a heartbreaking lunch in a restaurant at the Grand Place in Brussels, The Roi d’Espagne (right on the photograph) she tells Paul she can’t marry him.
Paul joins a financial postgraduate course at the Free University of Brussels for a few weeks in the hope Fiona and her godparents change their mind, but eventually must capitulate, and when offered a promising internship at First Swiss Bank in Geneva he takes it. And off he goes, heartbroken, not knowing this step leads him into lots of trouble. Read the story in http://amzn.to/1LPFw5o
Paul skiing in Swiss Alps
So now you have written a BOOK! That’s how all author consultants, advisers, promoters and websites start. A HUGE INDUSTRY! Some are deft predators out to get money from the thin pockets of innocent writers. It’s an industry full of CROOKS and a few genuine operators.
Many books of all literary genres for sale in a bookshop
I am among those 12 million. Who will find me? That’s the question. Going on the street carrying a board on your back displaying your book? Loading your trunk with copies and stand at a farmers market, yelling “Hey! Buy my book?” Have friends advertising for you?
Please buy my book!
One wonders why everybody wants to write and why some get so desperate.
Dreaming Romance Author and another with Writers Blog
A lot of bad quacking instead of good writing!
So-called Wise People in the industry say, it’s all perseverance, not just talent. Talent is only 10% of the game. Sounds much the same percentage of writing being 10% of “getting read.”
The friendly-looking Predator Promising You the Moon. Write a book in 30days! Only $237! I will promote you for just $14 K!
Go to a bookstore and arrange for a “book signing” hoping that visitors will buy your books with your autograph? I did so recently in Williamsburg in Virginia because my novel Enchanting The Swan starts at the College of William & Mary for the first ten chapters. They wrote an article about it in the Virginia Gazette, even mentioned it on the radio, and I put stickers on W&M boards and had someone announce it on their Law School internal website. I dropped bookmarkers at The Trellis restaurant at the touristic Merchant Square, right at the edge of the W&M campus, with a notice of the book signing the next day. The two main characters have lunch and dinner there from time to time. What more can you do?
The friendly Librarian displaying my dream books
I traveled to Williamsburg in my Jag XK8 (not earned from book writing!), cap down, on October 22, in splendid weather. Still summer, folks! I did a rest stop at a Panera near Fredericksburg to pick up some display boards from my charming publisher and designer, Melanie Stephens of Willow Manor Publishing, one of Some Women I have Known, one of Audrey Hepburn who features in it, and one showing the cover of Enchanting the Swan. I made a second “pit”stop at the Williamsburg Information Center, boasted about my books soon to be signed, and received a sticker “Virginia is for Lovers” in return, which I immediately glued to the back of my Jag. Drivers be better aware of my romantic intentions.
The lovely girl wanting to read Enchanting The Swan: “True, Are you Dutch? ” Oh my, if I had just been a little bit younger…I would have read it for her at her bedside.
It was W&M Home Coming weekend starting October 23 on a beautiful warm day. After a quiet but sleepless night at the Williamsburg Lodge, dreaming of throngs of people standing in line for my books, I settled down at a nicely arranged book signing table at the Barnes and Noble/William and Mary Bookstore. The events manager Beau Carr and his charming assistants Eric and Joanna had done a splendid job. I even got a free coffee!
So as of 10 AM I waited for the throngs of booklovers to come in. The first was John Lindberg, of the W&M Department of Music at Ewell Hall, the unsurpassed percussionist, so-called “retired” but still in full action, who is one of the memorable characters appearing in Enchanting The Swan. I had promised him a free copy but he insisted on buying it. Then a charming lady appeared who wanted to buy a book for a dear friend, who also appears in the novel, but whose name I can’t mention as I would betray her gift. And then nothing. As the hour went by, shoppers smiled at me but went for the William & Mary T-shirts, not my books! Finally some buyers showed up, chatted and purchased a few copies of Some Women and Swan, getting my handsome autograph wishing them a good read. The last visitor was Deb Boykin, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs (Campus Living) and Director of Residence Life, with whom I had a most productive interview during my research at W&M. That was a worthwhile close of my book signing! All in all, a little over 10 books sold (about 3 books an hour, which seems to be the going rate according to knowledgeable sources).
W&M Barnes & Noble Bookstore
After 4 hours I had to pack up to make room for another author. It was award-winning Wilford Kale!
A longtime Williamsburg resident and former Williamsburg bureau chief and senior writer for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, who wrote a magnificent photo book of the History of William & Mary, which I had purchased earlier for my daughter Samantha who studied there. I felt honored to get to know the famous writer. When later in the day I passed by his table, full with W&M and Williamsburg related books, to see how well he was doing, he also complained that everybody went for the W&M T-shirts. Well, if he as an author with much local notoriety did not sell much, I could not feel too sorry for myself.
I left with a last look at the Crim Dell Bridge at W&M. After all Virginia is for Lovers!
Beau Carr of the W&M Bookstore found that I had a respectable showing, despite the surge on W&M clothing! Some did better, others did not. Then I checked back with Judith Briles of the Author University website (http://authoru.org), my favorite, if book signings are a useful marketing tool and the answer was negative. Personally, I believe that seeking your audience through book clubs and speaking engagements increase your book sales more.
All in all, a new adventure. It surely keeps you on your toes!