Archive for 2020

2/10/20, The Big V

Posted on February 10, 2020

 

Hello Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week, and a busy one, and this is a big week for some people, for many people: Valentine’s Day!!! My week is off to a great start: today, Monday, is the birthday of my youngest son, Maxx. He was the best Valentine’s Day gift, EVER!!! So Happy Birthday, Maxx!! We’ll be having dinner together tonight, with our family. And Friday will be a very big day for some people, and a lucky one. Valentine’s Day can go either way, it can be memorable and heartwarming, a non-event, or even heart-wrenching and disappointing.  That all depends on who you love, and whether they come through and make an effort or not. This is a particularly interesting year for Valentine’s Day since it’s Leap Year, and according to tradition, a woman can propose to a man on Leap Day, February 29th (which only happens once every four years), so hang onto your hat, here comes Valentine’s Day.

 

I have always believed, particularly in my writing, that people haven’t changed in centuries, nor the issues that really matter to us: concern for our kids, the importance of our loves, our relationships, our worries about jobs, money, friends, family, health, the loss of loved ones, etc. The costumes may change over time, but the things we care about haven’t changed, although more complicated in modern times. It’s what makes my books timeless, because we care about all those same things, just as our ancestors did.

 

A couple of things have changed noticeably in very recent times, which make love, or relationships, challenging to find.  It’s more about how we meet each other than how much we love each other.  Most people today, especially ‘Millennials’ (in their twenties and thirties) want jobs with ‘flexible hours’, which means working all or mostly from home, which sounds cool at first, and has its definite downsides. It used to be when you went to school or university, you met and saw lots of people every day, the influx of people in your life was constant, lots of people in and out, and lots of opportunities to make new friends and fall in love. The same was true at work, depending on your job, there was a constant flow of new faces, new people, new opportunities. Today, many people get an education on line, and many, many people work from home. It’s considered desirable. No fuss, no muss, no bother, you don’t have to wear makeup, look nice or even comb your hair. You can work at home in your pajamas with your computer, but the downside to that is huge: you are isolated and alone, no new people in your life, or very few. And most communication happens by text now: so not even a human voice all day. The result is that many more people are depressed because of that isolation. And I know how challenging working like that is. Because I work at home in my pajamas too. It’s certainly convenient, and I get a lot of work done, but the isolation can be very challenging. And it’s not necessarily good for us when the only person we see all day is the Fed EX or UPS delivery person to sign for a package!!! And a big source of new people (and potential loves) is removed when you work at home. And there is no one there, not even a friend of the same sex or semi-stranger to say that you look great today, or even ask you how you are. We all need an influx of humans and human contact in our lives.

 

The second big change of style is again very typical of Millennials, but has spread to many/all generations. Since the traditional ways to meet people have changed (school and work), and computers and the Internet have taken over our lives, a LOT of people meet now on line. That is a HUGE change in our habits and mores now, for everything!!! You don’t have to go to a store, you can buy anything you want on line, from groceries to cars. You can find a new home, do all your shopping, meet a new person and fall in love, all on the Internet. I have personally always thought internet meeting and dating extremely dangerous—-there are some seriously terrifying, dangerous and even criminal people out there, and there is no screening process, you can meet an axe murderer—but you can meet scary people at a dinner party too, or on a bus. But what internet shopping and dating has changed is how we view the selection process. And I do know several people, at every age, who have met and married as a result of on line dating, and are very happy. But I’ve also watched people, again at every age, swipe their way through the process at full speed. This is a visual generation that moves fast, look, check out, like, don’t like, move on at lightning speed. It’s kind of a merciless unforgiving process….”Ugh….don’t like his/her ears….chin…nose….too fat…tooo short….too tall….looks dumb…yuk, bald….or weird hair….wrong neighborhood….” It sucks the humanity right out of human contact, I can’t even focus fast enough to make decisions that fast at the speed they do. You don’t hear a voice, you don’t see them move, you don’t feel that incredible flutter in your stomach when someone different and special walks into a room. If they don’t pass muster in a fraction of a second before you swipe on to the next one with better hair and a better chin, they’re dead in the water, and gone forever off your screen. I find that scary and incredibly limiting. It’s like shopping for fruit in the produce section….too soft, too hard, too green, too ripe….gone. Wow!!! You will never know who they really are at that kind of speed. While not wasting a second, we are losing life-altering opportunities. We learn to forgive people their funny ears, or thinning hair because they have qualities we learn to love, that just don’t show up between swipes in an 80th of a second.  The three men I have loved, and was married to for a relatively long time in each case (9, 8, and 18 years) stopped me in my tracks when I met them, they each had something very special, an ephemeral quality, an unseen chemistry, and I knew each of them for a long time (years) before anything happened between us (but there was always that chemistry, that feeling that they were important and special to me, which eventually proved to be true, and I loved them deeply).

 

Relationships happen so fast now, they start while you’re internet shopping for them between swipes, begin by text, and often end by text just as quickly. In this case, I like the old style better, it’s way more romantic. And I’m sure people would swipe by me just as fast.  Too fast for all of us. It eliminates that chemistry when you see them, meet them, and hear the sound of their voice, and everything depends on their nose, their chin, or the tee shirt they’re wearing in the picture (ugh, I hate that band!!), so you miss a great opportunity. Personally, I need human contact, chemistry, and lots of time to really get to know them before I love someone.

 

So that’s what you’re up against this Valentine’s Day, a lot more isolation these days, thus fewer opportunities, and you have to hope someone doesn’t swipe past your picture at full speed because you were having a bad hair day in the picture or wearing that sweater you knew you shouldn’t have bought but you did anyway. Or because the details about you don’t sound so great on paper (or on a screen), but you’re a fantastic love-worthy person!!!

 

I hope you get LOTS of chocolates and flowers—-I was proposed to twice on Valentine’s Day, and my youngest son proposed to his fiancée on Valentine’s Day. Those were the best ones ever for me, romantic and wonderful. And I’ve had my share of disappointing, lonely Valentine’s Days too, most of us have. I hope that this is your best one ever, that the person you love loves you equally, and is thoughtful and kind, and I hope all your dreams come true!!!

This Valentine’s Day and always, With lots of Valentine love to you,   Danielle

 

2/3/20, Writing

Posted on February 3, 2020

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’re doing well, feeling well, happy and busy, and that things are happening in your life as you wish!!!

I’ve been working really hard on a new book, a historical novel this time. They are a HUGE amount of work, first gathering the research before I start, so the setting and the times and events are accurate, and to establish the history right from the beginning. Then writing the fictional story set in those times, and weaving the history into it, always the right amount of both. And then after that, more detailed historical research to fill in any holes. And after that, many re-writes. I do at least 3 re-writes on every book, at different stages of the book, sometimes more. It all happens in about a span of two years, or a little more, until the book is ready to be printed and is complete. I don’t like having a span of two years between books, so I am always working on several at once, in different stages. And sometimes the ‘stages’ are quite spread out, so I have time to write another book in first draft between those stages. The system seems to work and is a major juggling act, and it allows me to publish as many books as I do.

 

The historical novels are a lot more work than the others, getting the history and the mood and feeling of the times right. It’s like travelling back in time, whenever I do it, and I need to isolate myself even more for the historical novels, so I’m not distracted by modern times. I have a researcher who helps me gather the information, and then I decide how much of it to use, and what events work best with the story. Writing a historical novel teaches me a lot of new things, just as reading it will do for the reader—-learning about events and people at another time in history. And I often use real people, and songs and books and movies as well as events, to give substance to the time I’ve set it in. I don’t go tooooo far back in history (like Greek or Roman times) or too many centuries back, because then the times are too foreign to us now, and are harder to relate to. A century or two are about as far back as I ever go, or at a time when the challenges in human relations are very similar to what we’re living now.

 

Someone commenting on my Instagram said that they really miss the characters when the book ends. So do I. The characters become so real to me, I work so carefully to build them and make them come to life, that I fall in love with them too (or hate them!!! for the mean ones). And I feel lost for a few days or a week after I finish, as though all my friends have moved away, and I can’t be part of their lives anymore. I’m always happy to find them again when I come back to the book for another re-write. And once the book is absolutely finished, re-written many times, and ready for the book to be printed—-after that, I never read them again.

 

Writing a book is like having a lot of imaginary friends. By the end of the first chapter I love them and they are real to me. And by the end of the book, I know them really well and what they would or wouldn’t do. Sometimes they have a mind of their own!!!! And they refuse to do what I want them to!!! But eventually, I get a good grip on it, whether a historical or a contemporary book. It’s an incredible joy when it goes well, and I feel so lucky to have a job I love. And thank you for reading them, after all of that hard work!!! You make it all worthwhile for me. The nights are long and the days are hard, and the elation and sense of accomplishment when you finish a book is tremendous!!!

 

I can’t write to you today, without at least mentioning the tragic accident which took the life of Famous Basketball Star Kobe Bryant and his young daughter Gianna, along with another family, and several other people, including children. I ache at knowing Kobe’s widow’s grief to have lost a husband AND a child, and the other family members of the other people and families on board. No loss is easy, and some are unbearably hard. The whole world has grieved these tragic deaths, and the loss of a great athlete and hero, husband, and father. Even in Europe, people have grieved for him, and the others lost. My heart goes out to all the survivors who lost loved ones.

 

I hope you have a wonderful, peaceful, safe week. I hope we’re all grateful for our many blessings, however small they are, I hope that we’re treasuring our loved ones, and grateful for every minute we have with them. My children and I have been deeply saddened by Kobe’s death, and all the others with him.

 

I hope that life touches you gently this week, and that it’s a week of many blessings for you.

 

love, Danielle

 

1/27/20, Writing and vogue.com

Posted on January 27, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

I am busy writing right now, in the meantime please check out this nice piece on vogue.com:

https://www.vogue.com/vogueworld/article/danielle-steel-at-couture-week-paris-history

 

Have a great week! love, Danielle

1/21/20, Happily Ever After, or…?

Posted on January 21, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

The trend in some stores these days is for attentive salespeople to say “How’s your day so far?” It always irritates me, because you know they really don’t care or want to know. How’s my day? I’m always tempted to say something like ‘ let me tell you, I had an argument with one of my children, I scraped my car on the way out of the garage and my husband will have a fit, there’s a leak under the kitchen sink, and the dog threw up all over the new rug. So that’s my day, how’s yours?’  Instead, of course, I just respond “Fine.” So I am tempted to say to you slightly tongue in cheek, “How’s your year so far?” We’re three weeks into it, and mine has been okay so far, but somewhat a mixed bag, like everyone else’s life. Some days are great, and other days are not so great. But 2020 seems pretty decent so far.

 

I’m pretty much a traditionalist, and enjoy certain fantasies. I’ve always been somewhat intrigued by the British monarchy, all the pomp and ceremony and traditions. There is a fairy tale quality to it, although we’ve all read about the bumps and heartaches in the Royal family, from the tragic death of Diana, leaving her two young sons without a mother, to the romps and romances of various young royals, Prince Charles marrying Camilla counter to their traditions about not marrying divorcees, and his waiting an entire lifetime to become king, and steadfast Queen Elizabeth, 93 now, still on the throne and going strong. It is kind of fascinating, and must interest a lot of people since the Netflix series “The Crown” depicting all those dramas and dramatizing and fictionalizing them, has been hugely successful. It feeds into our Cinderella fantasies, with Cinderella marrying the handsome Prince and “they lived happily ever after”. Although in real life there seems to be a lot less ‘happily ever after’, and as many dramas as we all live with. That was the one thing that stood out to me in the series “The Crown”, the royals seemed so unhappy so much of the time, weren’t able to marry who they wanted to, and were bound by restrictive rules and traditions constantly. It sometimes seems very poignant. So being a prince or princess does not appear to be a guarantee of happiness.

 

In that vein, I’ve been intrigued by the struggles of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex now, who appear to have caused an earthquake in the royal family, giving up their titles and royal duties, moving to Canada, and breaking with tradition. We’ll never know the inside scoop on that, and only what we’re told in the press, but just from what we do read, it seems safe to assume that it must be a major upheaval, and I wonder what the Queen really does feel about it, to have her grandson break away, and move away, with his wife and infant son, to start a very different life.

 

As a mother of some young married children, I know it would sadden me if one of my children were to move a continent away, and abandon all of our traditions. In Prince Harry’s case, I am reminded of the late Duke of Windsor, who was briefly king (King Edward), and abdicated and gave up the throne just so he could marry a divorced woman, which was strictly forbidden at the time. I wonder if he thought it was worth it, he always looked sad in photographs from then on, or most of the time. What a huge step that must have been, to give up being king. And since the woman he left everything for was also American, it does remind me of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, although current British laws made it possible for him to marry Meghan, even though she was divorced.

 

It does seem sad to me, and unfortunate, if he is leaving everything to satisfy his bride. It would seem that if one marries into an institution as established and powerful as the British monarchy, one would expect to live within the restrictions of their rules, rather than fight the system, or break away and leave. It must be a tremendous pull and upheaval for the prince, and every member of his family. I’m sure the adjustment was tremendous for an American wife in that very restricted setting, under constant scrutiny, but it seems sad to me that they are leaving, rather than staying and accepting the structure like the other royals.

 

Families are not easy even in ordinary circumstances, and must be far more complicated for the royals. I’m sure all of them are impacted by it. Prince William has said publicly how sad he is to see his brother leave. And they must be particularly close, having lost their mother at an early age.

 

Anyway, no family is exempt from its challenges, and changes. Even the Royals!!! It’s just a little more intriguing when the people involved are wearing a crown!!!

 

I hope you have fun projects up ahead. I’m busy working on a new book. And my latest book “Moral Compass” is doing really well. I hope you read it soon, and that you love it. And in the meantime, I wish you ‘Happily Ever After’ in all your ventures and romances. And I hope your year so far has been great!!! Have a terrific week!!

 

love, Danielle

 

1/13/20, Mickey Madness

Posted on January 13, 2020

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that all is well with you. After the seriousness, stress, and rushing around of the holidays, and the solemnity of not only a new year but a new decade…..a bit of fun.  Sometimes fashion is just plain fun, frivolous, and can even take us back to the innocence and silliness of our childhoods—-maybe with a new twist. Mickey Mouse is the hot new craze at the moment, with a vintage look, brought to us by Gucci, which is all about fun and how imaginative fashion can be.

 

Gucci has done a whole new collection featuring a vintage looking Mickey Mouse, in collaboration with Disney, or licensed by them in any case. And not just for children, but for men and women too. Set for specific release on January 6th, Mickey appeared in the Gucci stores a week ago, and the spark of excitement over it has turned into a roaring blaze. The Mickey collection has the cut and quality and flawless eye for fashion of Gucci clothing and accessories, with a REALLY fun touch. Jeans with a Mickey patch on the back pocket, T shirts in many colors, round neck sweatshirts and hoodies, sweaters, denim jackets and skirts, silk pajamas you can wear out, purses, shoes, jackets, in pastel colors, vibrant ones, or their signature nut brown motif with Mickey Mouse all over it, even watches. And admittedly, with the high quality of Gucci, a serious eye for fashion, and the irresistible Mickey image, it’s not cheap. In fact, it’s pretty expensive. Not as expensive as some recent fashion trends like Chanel’s collaboration with Pharrell last year, which had people lining up in the streets overnight to buy $6,000. hoodies, which were sold out within hours when Chanel stores opened. Gucci hasn’t gone that far, but the entire Mickey Mouse collection is priced at the high end of a luxury brand you can always count on to deliver high quality, and takes full advantage of nearly a century of the world’s love for Mickey Mouse. The collection takes us back to our childhood, while being undeniably fashionable, and the hottest trend in years.

 

And yes, I fell in love with it, and bought some for me, my youngest daughter who loves it too, and even some gifts. If you love Mickey Mouse, you will love every bit of it. The entire collection nearly sold out on the first day, as fashion aficionados and fashionistas waited, panting, for the promised release.

 

Simply put, I love it!!! It’s impossible to resist, and I love the childlike imagination of it. I don’t usually buy ‘trends’, but this one got to me, so I’ll be wearing my Mickey Mouse jeans and T shirt, and even a sweatshirt this season!!! A little levity does one good. So the race is on, and Mickey is winning by a mile this season. It is a super fun start to the New Year!!!

 

Have a fun week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

1/6/20, Family

Posted on January 6, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope the last week has been peaceful and that you got through New Year’s Eve and Day safely and happily. I have to admit, as much as I love Christmas, I don’t like New Year’s.  New Year’s Eve is always heavy with expectation and often fraught with disappointment. Plans don’t work out quite the way we want them to, parties aren’t as much fun as we hope. We don’t have the right date or the right dress or the right plan. And although New Year’s Day is supposed to be a fresh beginning and the start of a whole New Year and clean slate, it’s often also a reminder of what didn’t work out last year. It’s just not a holiday I love!!! Having said that, my New Year’s Eve was surprisingly nice this year. For several years now, I have been alone on New Year’s eve, my kids have left after Christmas by then, so to avoid being sad and missing them too much (after the joys of a full house over Christmas!!), I start a new book every year when they leave, around December 27th—-and by New Year’s eve, I’m deep in the book and forget everything else. This year, one my daughters decided at the last minute to stay until New Year’s Day. She cooked all day on New Year’s Eve, set a beautiful table, with decorations, and provided a really festive happy New Year’s Eve for me, one of my sons and his fiancée, and another friend, and we had a really great time together, unexpectedly, on the spur of the moment. It was the best New Year’s Eve I’ve had in years. None of us had high expectations or elaborate plans, and we had a great time together!!!

 

I was mulling over what to write about today, in the blog, and read a reader’s comment to the last blog, about a minor family argument that turned into a big fight during holiday cookie baking and spoiled everything. And I thought I’d write about that. I’m an only child, so I’ve never had the problems or the blessings of siblings, and my family was tiny (just my father and I, while I grew up). In contrast, with nine children, I’ve been blessed with a big family and have had a front row seat to the closeness of siblings, what a joy it can be, and what a challenge at times. I do find that in big families, kids seem to get along better than in small ones, because it’s such a big group that there are always other options if they’re not getting along with someone. It’s kind of a moveable feast!!!

 

Families are a work in progress. They move, they change, they shift, like the sea or the tides, or the shells on the beach. We’re a close knit family, and are all very close, and spend holidays together, and I think we get along surprisingly well, but in any family, storms can come up, and blow over, or hang around for a while. Someone can make a careless comment and upset someone else without even intending to, or people dig their heels in and disagree over something trivial. I think it happens in all families. There are a lot of personalities involved, spouses and in laws, or siblings, and things get bumpy for a while. What I do find though is that as fast as something can come up and turn into a storm, it can calm down just as fast and hours or days later, it just doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore. I think ALL families go through it, just like no marriage is without the occasional argument. It’s just the nature of humans, and life. And hopefully, love carries the day in the end, and we all forgive each other. So I hope that the cookie baking argument was or will be short lived, and has been forgotten by now.

 

Families have a life force of their own. And the things that drive us nuts at one moment, seem silly a short while later. (And too much alcohol sometimes consumed during the holidays can turn small fights into big ones too)

 

But a little rain falls in the life of every family. And I envy my children the fact that they have siblings. It looks like having a best friend, only better!!!

 

I hope your new year is starting out peacefully, and that the holidays were happy. But if your holidays were a little stormy, I hope the storms clear up soon, and everything will be happy again!!!

 

My new book, Moral Compass, is coming out tomorrow, on Tuesday. I’m REALLY excited about it, and I hope you love it!! I worked really hard to get it right. It’s about how an act committed by high school seniors can escalate into a life changing event and touch everyone around them, parents, teachers, students, friends, even police and a judge.  I think it deals with an important subject, and I really hope you enjoy it and it’s meaningful to you too!!!  And I’m hard at work on new books at the moment. I’m working on a new book, and an outline!! That will keep me out of mischief for a while!!!

 

 

Be well and happy, and I hope that everything is smooth around you!!! Have a great week!!

 

 

love, Danielle