Mary Kistel

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Hi, Jericho Members—looking forward to being part of your community. Struggling a little bit setting this up, but hopefully I’ve got it now. I’m an ex-high school English teacher turned grandson tutor and loving the free time to finally write—in the throes of an historical fiction novel now. I live in Fort Myers, Florida but was drawn to your group because I spent 10 years in England growing up in the Oxford area—lived in Chacombe and Chesterton—and attended Brackley Girls High School in the early 70’s. Yes, I’m ancient. 

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Thank you for this post. The only Koontz novel I’ve read was The Watchers. I felt manipulated, though the concept of dogs with high IQs was fascinating. My Sheltie is brilliant—but these dogs were over the top. That novel was over the top, and the definition in the first paragraph of this one seems a little arrogant to me. I love Colorado but not tempted to read this story.

Added a comment to Six Poles 

This makes me laugh—my favorite thing on ”chips” is the Brit salt & vinegar.

Interesting blog as usual, Harry! Just read Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano and was amazed at how effectively she head hopped. Chapter 1 covers passengers boarding an airplane and the reader enters the thoughts of at least twelve passengers and learns about all the people and situations they’re thinking about as they’re seated. In Chapter 2 we enter the head of a rescue worker at the scene of that plane’s crash with only one survivor—youngest boy from a family of four. The rest of the novel is in Edward’s head and how he copes—alternating with continued chapters of the soon-to-be dead passengers thoughts right up to the point of their crash. The reader is not allowed to write them off (as I started to once I knew they were dead) and all the information has connections and a point—and the point is to care.

We process so much data daily—I think we can handle complicated view points if they’re effectively written. Some read to kick back and chill and don’t want the convolutions—I get that. However, I never mind a gripping story well told—the more detailed the better!

Love this analogy:

“On the left was a Scylla of lower priced dishes that could suggest a penny-pinching lack of flair; and on the right was a Charybdis of delicacies that could empty one’s pockets while painting one pretentious.”

Armor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow

Added a comment to Six Poles 

The devil is certainly in the details, but I don’t know if my brain can handle one more thing to check…🤯! Hold the mayo—please—on everything except coleslaw. Fresh pineapple? Wonderful!

Beautiful paintings, children!! You are blessed in your parent-teachers!!

Two episodes into Lupin—a French series on Netflix based on Maurice Leblanc’s Arsène Lupin, Gentleman Burglar—love the details in this production!

Working title: Parallel to Macbeth (historical fiction told in alternating father/daughter viewpoints--worried about male perspective and italicized first person thoughts inside third person point of view)


From Chapter 2: Forres, Scotland (Spring 1053)

With preparations inundating the castle, Iain was thankful to be leaving. Battle tactics were his expertise, and in Scone, the war council would listen. He knew he could count on support from Glamis and Fife. In Forres, however, respect was superficial. Around the King, Catherine’s aura lingered, determined to see his ruin. Mercia looked more like her each day. This morning when he lifted her from the floor, Catherine stared back. He rolled his neck and shoulders as he neared the royal cabinet.

Ghosts of the past still hovered, fertile from accusations spewed in dying breaths. Iain’s chest tightened. Forced by father and king into such a marriage. His throat dry and hands damp. Months of screaming tirades. Iain stopped before the king and bowed.

“Your highness.”

“Trouble in the village?”

“Yes, my king.”

“Our hearts ache for dear Mercia. How does she fare? Give us an account.”

Iain felt the weight of the assembly. “My liege, I request to speak privately.”

“As you well know, Lord Lennox, the best way to stem gossip is to speak openly.”

Time had not been kind to Duncan. Wrinkles, moles, and weakness gave away the power he grasped with skeletal fingers on the arms of his judgment seat.  Pray tell, good King, of your great wisdom—father of a son kidnapped by a self-serving thane you so foolishly loved.

Iain bowed and spoke. “After our preparation at the forge, we went to the home of my guard, where Sister Áine brought Mercia to help care for the dying widow. We spied two Norse warriors moving in and disrupted their plans." 

“Then why was Mercia covered in blood?”

“Norse blood from my sword, Good King, not Scottish.” Her virginity’s intact, my liege—unblemished for your son.

Hahaha!! There was a surgeon in my town called Dr. Butcher.

Love your blogs, Harry. This made me think of Dickens’ Aged P—loved that name when I was 15, not as fond of it now!! When I began planning for my novel—set in 11th century Scotland—all I kept thinking of was living in England when I was in first form and riding the bus every morning listening to the mandolin and Rod Stewart’s raspy voice as the sun rose over the Cotswolds (seriously the same song just like Groundhog Day)—I wanted my character to be Maggie—but I do have more sense than to use an overused name for a Scottish female. I decided on Mercia because my character’s lineage is from the Kingdom of Mercia on her mother’s side, and the English name helps to add to the outcast feeling she has in Duncan’s court. It also carries a subtle connection to the mercy she needs to show her father by the end of the story.  

Ouch, Sarah! The most difficult part of this process is how terrified friends and family look at you if they suspect you’re going to talk about your novel…or, heaven forbid, ask them to read it. I’ve had to join a group in England (from Florida) for validation—humiliating, yet in a crazy way, liberating!! Thank you, thank you, Jericho Writers, for being here (there)—I’m desperate—I must write, I will write—I‘M A WRITER—it’s what I do!

Kind of doing my own thing there--have to teach The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver in a few weeks and thinking about nature taking over man-made things--things that man screwed up! So "compulsory" is for paths you have to stay on when there are signs that say "Keep on the path" or "Keep off the grass." Yes, needed "chairs" in the sentence! Wanted a Hedon's sword feel to the vines hanging over the rigid man-made path--was not successful! Loved trying, though, and love seeing all the different interpretations and reactions. Kudos to you for all your insightful comments--thank you! 

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Mary Kistel
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