Previously on Talea’s mysteries,

Talea said, “I can’t beleve your alive!”

Diamond said, “Talea’s diary.”

Diamond said, “She knows.”

10 years ago,

Diamond said, “Ready to storm the castle?” The lemurs nodded, but when they wreaked havoc,

Diamond realized she made a big mistake.

Diamond said, “You have to STOP, this is wrong!”

The lemurs approached Diamond.

“Wait what are you doing? Oh no they’ve turned on me. If I head into the forest they won’t find me. What was that blur? No matter, I have to leave.”

Meanwhile, in Talea’s dream.

Myoura said to Talea, “Wake up sleepy head.”

Talea said, yawn, “Hi, Mom.”

Myoura said, “Let’s go get breakfast.”

Talea said, “Ok Mom.”

But when Talea and her mom were eating breakfast, the castle was stormed!

But the guards couldn’t keep the castle safe, and the royal family was separated.

And Talea was forced to run!

Then Talea and Diamond woke up from their nightmares.

When they heard a knock on the door, and they panicked, but they got to the door, and it was there Aunt Pearl!

Talea said, “Hi Aunt Pearl!”

Talea and Pearl hugged. Diamond walked over and said, “Hi.”

Pearl said, “Diamond it’s been so long!”

Diamond said, “I’s been 13 Years!”

Pearl said, “So odd.”

Talea said, “I know! Hahaha.”

Diamond wasn’t too happy about Pearl’s visit.

Talea said, “Oh where are my manners, come in, Aunt Pearl.”

Pearl said, “Gladly.”

Talea said, “So this is our house. These are our beds, oh and this our fireplace, we use it to cook food.”

Pearl said, “Nice!”

Talea said, “Are you hungry, Aunt Pearl?”

Pearl said, “I’d love a little bit to eat!”

Talea said, “Great! I’ll whip up some blue berry juice, and soup.”

10 minutes later. Pearl said, “MMM smells delicious!”

Talea said, “Diamond try some, it’s really good!”

Diamond said, “No thanks, Talea.”

Talea said, “Ok, your loss. So Aunt Pearl, where have you been the last 10 YEARS!!”

Pearl said, “So you know I live very very very far away right?”

Talea said, “Yeah, across the world.”

Pearl said, “10 years ago I got a letter saying the castle was stormed, And I got here as fast as I could. I would have been here sooner, but, I live so far away.”

Talea said, “Don’t worry about it, it’s A okay. (-:”

Diamond said, “Well it’s been fun, but I think it’s time for you to go, Aunt Pearl.”

Talea and Pearl said at the same time, “AlREADY??????!!!!!!!”

Talea said, “No n n no she just got here, nope Aunt Pearl is staying.”

Diamond said, “Hey Talea, can I talk to you for a minute?”

Talea said, “Sure.”

Diamond whispered to Talea, “Listen Talea, I’ve got a bad feeling about her, she’s up to something I know it.”

Talea said, “Well you’re wrong!! Listen, you’re the only family member I’ve seen in 10 years!

I need a refresher. )-:<

Diamond sighed, and said, “Well, guess it’s up to me now.”

Talea said, “Sorry about that, Aunt Pearl. Diamond was just umm… was asking if we needed more wood for the fire Hahaha.

Myoura said, “I’m back.”

Talea said, “Yes, I’m back to cooking desert. Hehe blue berry cake. Why don’t you watch, Aunt Pearl? Hehe. (-:>”

Pearl said, “Ok, I don’t see why not.”

Talea looked at Pearl, thinking, “I hope she didn’t see mom.”

If she reveals that mom is alive to Diamond, I can’t imagine what she’d do to me.

But Talea did imagine.

Diamond said, “I can’t believe you lied to me Talea!”

Talea said, “I’m sorry”

Diamond interrupted her, “Don’t Talea. it’s time for you to go. )-:<“

And then she pushed her off a cliff.

Talea screamed. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Talea said, “Oh no.”

Later, Pearl was looking for Myoura in the woods. She said, “Ha found you. (-:<.”

Pearl tied up Myoura and said, “Sorry sis, but I want your life, HAHAHA!!!!(-:<“

Myoura tried to escape, but the rope was too tight. Pearl walked, away laughing, evilly. “HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Meanwhile with Diamond,

Diamond tried to leave the cave, but Talea asked, “Where are you going, Diamond?”

Diamond shifted. “Umm? oh! To get more berries. We used the last of the berries on the soup.”

Talea said, “Oh good.”

Diamond ran out of the cave,

And said, “fewf. What?”

Pearl said, “Sorry sis, but I want your life. HAHAHA!!!!”

Diamond gasped. “I, I have to help her.”

Talea saw all of it. She gasped and said, “She knows.”

                                                                

To be continued…

                                                         

                                                               

photo by Piece of Heart Photography

On U.S. Mothers’ Day weekend, it seems a good time to revisit an article I first posted in July 2012. At the end of the movie I Don’t Know How She Does It (based on the novel by Allison Pearson) the Greg Kinnear character describes his wife (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) as “a juggler.” Words which I found very apropos of my own life nine years ago when I first wrote this post, when my own Mélanie was a baby, and still find apropos today. The words are also apropos for Mélanie Rannoch, Kitty, Cordelia, Laura, and Lady Frances in the about-to-be-released The Westminster Intrigue, which sees Mélanie and Kitty on a mission that ends in a knife fight and coming home to check on their children (for that matter Malcolm and Julien are too – fatherhood is also the art of juggling), Mélanie interviewing suspects while she watches the children play in the Berkeley Square garden, Cordelia hosting a ball while trying to be part of the investigation and parent Livia and Drusilla, Lady Frances getting up early the day after the ball (very unusual for Frances!) thanks to the twins.

I wrote nine years ago that I’m very fortunate that my own Mélanie’s temperament and my own schedule make iteasier than I had anticipated to keep up with my writing schedule while being a mom. But it is a juggling act, I said then, whether that means balancing a baby against my shoulder or nursing while I type one-handed, spooning applesauce while I brainstorm with writer friends, doing a book reading aware on the edge of my consciousness of some tiny squeaks as a friend walks with Mel at the back of the room, holding her asleep in my lap on the red eye while I edit on my iPad, having lunch with my agent and editor with Mel asleep in her carrier beside me.

Today the juggling also involves my job at the Merola Opera Program. As well as taking breaks during precious evening and weekend writing time for “mummy daughter time” . One busy Sunday as I finishing Westminster Intrigue I took a couple of hours off for Mélanie to have a play date and all of us to go swimming, and in the end I realized the break was good for me as well as her and got just as much done as if I’d been at the computer all day – because if I had been, I’d have spent a certain amount of time staring into space or scrolling through social media while my brain searched for the next coherent thought.

I think it’s fortunate that my writing process has always involved lots of thinking and mulling time. I wrote in the original post nine years ago about talking with Veronica Wolff, a wonderful writer, fabulous mom, and great friend, about how we can both only write so many words before before inevitably we need to ponder how to handle a transition, a plot development, an upcoming scene (it’s amazing how something as simple as getting a character into or out of the room can stymie one). And a lot of this mulling is subconscious, so I often find I can work through whatever writing issue is plaguing me during a break with Mélanie. It also can play well with having a second job. By the time I get to an evening of writing, some issues have sorted themselves in my subconscious while spending the day at my other job.

Of course some things fall by the wayside – I said that nine years ago and it’s still true today. I don’t blog nearly as much – I hope to get back to it. Nine years ago, I said some days I don’t look at social media at all and then there are other days when I find the one thing I can accomplish while tending to a fussing baby is updating Facebook and Twitter (fairly easy to do one-handed). Now it’s Instagram too and if all I get to is a social media post it’s because I had a late meeting and then spent the evening with Mélanie. (Since COVID, posting a photo every day has become a routine, because it gives me a reason to get moderately dressed up and do my hair and makeup 🙂 Nine years ago I wrote that that some nights I wonder how writing a book with a baby can seem entirely do-able but fixing dinner with one can seem an insurmountable challenge. Fixing dinner is easier now- and my daughter helps -it’s a fun activity to share. And as for my house – well, my friends can attest that I was inclined to let housework go when on a deadline even pre-Mélanie :-). And that hasn’t changed much in nine years :-).

There are days when I feel I’m not getting anything done – that was true then and now. But I have written a book and novella every year since Mélanie born. Even the days when I only write a few hundred words add up over the course of a week or a month. Averaging around 1,000 words a day, most days, works pretty well and is doable – even if those words are sometimes written between midnight and 2:00 am. Snatching moments to write is key. I started my new novella on Thursday night while sitting in the car with Mélanie waiting for the wonderful San Francisco Opera Adler Fellows drive-in concert to start while Mélanie watched Carmen Sandiego on my phone (like me she loves spy stories).

When I wrote nine years ago I had just visited the Stanford campus with friends and I showed Mélanie where Mummy was an undergrad. We went to the History Department, where I learned so much that helps me as an historical novelist. But thinking back to those days of balancing classes, rehearsals, an honors thesis, my first novel (which I was co-writing my mom while in school), I realized that the art of juggling is something else I took away from my university years.

Now Mélanie is writing her own stories, which entails a different sort of juggling – finding time when she can have the computer (those are good moments to clean the house). Having watched me write since she was born, she is wonderfully supportive and understanding. The night I was finishing the Westminster Intrigue copy edits she offered encouragement, helped with proofreading (she caught a misnumbered chapter), and shared her precious York mints to keep me going. Writing is so much more fun with her!

How do you balance different elements of your life, whether it’s writing or parenthood or other elements?

                                                                                                     Previously on Talea’s mysteries

Talea couldn’t sleep.

Talea went on a hike to calm down.

Mom!?

Part 5

Talea said, “I can’t believe you’re alive, Mom!”

Myoura said,”I can’t believe you’re here Talea!”

Talea said, “Wait, have you been here all these years?”

Myoura said, “Yes, I’ve been waiting here for you to come all these years. I’m so happy!”

Talea said, “I’m happy too!”

Talea said, “I can’t wait for you to see my home!”

Three hours later Talea said, “We’re almost there. Wait, I forgot something. Diamond lives with me,”

Myoura yelled, “WHAT!!!!!!”

Crows crowed and many flew out of the trees.

Talea said, “I know it’s surprising, but she moved in before I learned—well, you know.”

Myoura said, “OF COURSE I KNOW! HOW CAN YOU STILL LIVE WITH HER!?”

Talea said, “I can’t kick her out, she would get suspicious! Listen, all we need to do is keep Diamond from seeing you, easy-peesy-lemon-squeezy.”

Myoura said, “Fine, but I won’t be able to hide forever.”

Diamond said, “Talea, where are you?”

Talea said to Myoura, “Quick hide!”

Diamond said, “Talea, there you are, where were you?”

Talea said, while panicking, “I was taking a morning walk.”

Diamond said, “Oh well, that makes sense, but why didn’t you tell me before you left?”

Myoura sneezed.

Diamond said, “What was that?”

Talea said, “Achoo! Sorry, that was me, just the winter cold brrrr.”

Diamond said, “Well then, let’s get home before we both catch a cold.”

Talea whispered to Myoura, “Follow me.”

Myoura nodded.

Five minutes later, back home, Diamond said, “I’m going to get some berries. B.R.B.”

Talea said, “Bye, sis, see you soon.”

Once Diamond left Talea said, “It’s safe, you can come out now. Hi, Mom.”

Myoura said, “Hi, Talea! What’s for dinner?”

Talea said, “Berries.”

Myoura said, “Yum!”

Two hours later, Talea and Myoura were talking when Diamond came back. Talea said, “Hide! Oh hi, Diamond!”

Diamond said, “Hi, sis, now let’s start the fire and cook these berries.”

Ten minutes later, Talea said, “They look yummy. I’ll get some water”

Diamond said, “Bye, sis.”

A minute or so later, Diamond said, “What’s this? It’s Talea’s diary I shouldn’t read this, but no, but ok, I’ll just read a page.”

Dear diary

Today was amazing turns out mom’s alive! This is the happiest day of my life!

Talea said, “Diamond?”

Diamond quickly put the book under her bed.

“What are you doing?” said Talea

Diamond said, panicked, “Nothing.”

Talea said, “Oh, well, I got the water.”

Diamond said, “Great! So how’s your day been?”

Talea said, “Good, how’s your day been?”

Diamond said, “Good,”

Just before bed, Talea said “Where’s my diary, oh well, I’ll look for it in the morning.”

The next morning, Talea yawned, then said, “Morning, Diamond.”

Diamond said, “Morning? Oh no, I’ve been up all night!”

Talea said, “Well, then you get some more rest and I’ll get breakfast, ok?”

Diamond said, while yawning, “Ok.”

Talea said, “Good.’

Diamond said. “Well, while she’s gone, I should think about what was in her diary. Now I need to figure out if Talea’s on to me or not. To figure out more I’ll read more of her diary

Dear diary

Our Aunt Pearl may visit but haven’t told Diamond yet.

Diamond said, “Well, that’s no help. I’ll read anther page.”

Dear diary

Today I found an iron tree with a secret compartment and there was a chest in it. Tonight I couldn’t sleep. I’ve decided to open the chest. Inside was a note and locket, which had a painting of my family, and the note said that Mom’s alive and that Diamond was the traitor.

Diamond said, “She knows.”

                                                                                                                        To be continued

                                                               Previously on Talea’s mysteries

The tree was made of iron.

Talea laid awake.

Mom’s alive?

Part 4

Talea said, while pacing, “Ok, let’s think about this. Mom’s alive according to Mom, and Diamond is the traitor. Whew, I think my brain is going to explode.”

Diamond said tiredly and while yawning, “Talea? What are you doing up?”

Talea said, “Ummmm……..I was getting a cup of water.”

Diamond said, “Oh, ok,” while yawing. “I’m going back to bed,” yawn.

Diamond lied back down.

Talea went back to bed too. She rolled on her side and quickly fell asleep.

But even though she was somewhat happy, because her mother was still alive, she still had a nightmare.

Talea was 5 again and she was running through the forest. She saw her mom and happily said “Mommy!” She was running to her mom when suddenly Diamond came and Talea’s mom fell off a cliff. Talea said, “MOMMYYYYYYYY!!!!!!”

Talea started to cry when suddenly Diamond pushed Talea off the cliff. As she fell she saw an evil smile on Diamond’s face

Talea then woke up. While breathing fast, she looked outside. Talea decided to go on a hike on the mountains. After walking 10 miles, it was getting bright out. In the horizon’s light, Talea saw a cave and a campfire. Then someone walked out of the cave. Talea said, “Who are you?”

“Talea? I thought you were gone. I’m so happy to see you!” the stranger said happily.

Talea said, “Do I know you?”

Myhrora said, “Don’t you recognize me? I’m Myhrora.”

Talea said, “Wait Myhrora was my…hoh! Wait, are you?” Talea started to smile. “Mom!”

Myhrora said, “Talea! I’m so happy to see you!” while hugging her.

Talea said, “I got your note.”

                                                                       To be continued

                                                             Previously on Talea’s Mysteries

“I thought you were gone. Where you, Diamond?”

“I have my ways.’

“She’s hiding something, and I’m going to find out what.”

Part 3

Diamond said, “Come on, come on, Talea.”

Talea said, “I’m coming, I’m coming.”

While Talea and Diamond were chopping down trees, at Talea’s 5th tree she heard a noise coming from inside the tree. She felt the tree and it turned out the trunk was made of iron painted brown and there was a secret compartment in the tree. Talea opened the secret compartment and there was a small box inside. Talea took the box and closed the compartment before Diamond saw her. Talea wandered if it had anything to do with her family.

Talea said to Diamond, “I think we have enough wood now.”

Diamond said, “Ok. we’ll head back home.”

Late at night Talea laid awake in bed wondering what was inside the box.

Talea got up and opened the box. It was a note and a locket, Talea read the note and it said:

Dear Talea,It’s your mom. If you’re reading this you need to know I found out who the traitor is.

Talea said, “What?

She is Diamond. Be carefu.l I don’t know why she would ever hurt us or the

Kingdom. 1 more thing. I am alive. How do you think I planted this note?

Talea said, “Mom’s alive?”

                                                               To be continued