Archive for 2020

9/14/20, Unnatural Disasters

Posted on September 14, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Well, the world is definitely spinning out of control. After months of ‘low Covid numbers’ in France, the masses of people who went on holiday, particularly in the South of France, were careless, didn’t wear masks, paid no attention to the Covid rules, hung out in crowded bars, and on the beaches, and even went to nightclubs—–they then came back to the cities, Paris included, brought Covid home with them, along with their suntan lines and sand in their shoes, and have spread the virus, gotten lots of people sick, creating the second wave that everyone has feared for months. The numbers in France are higher than they were at the worst of the pandemic in the beginning (in March), BUT the big difference is that there are far, far fewer deaths than there were 6 months ago, and the hospitals aren’t crowded (yet, some doctors say). As a result of the very low death toll, and the ICU’s not being crowded (in many cases, because young people are getting the virus, and for the most part they seem to have lighter cases, although not always), the government is not re-confining people with the severe measures of last Spring, and are reminding us to wear masks, social distance and wash our hands. The belief is that if we follow those simple rules, we will be able to bring the virus to heel, and get the numbers down again. But we’ve taken a big step backward in several countries, as a result of carelessness during the summer vacations. Which makes it all the more crucial, that people follow the rules now, so we get things back in control as quickly as possible. Other European countries are facing the same problems as France after summer vacations. In the US, the numbers are slowwwwwlllyyyy coming down, but not fast enough. New York has done a masterful job driving the numbers down (and have instituted stringent quarantine rules for anyone entering the state of New York, especially from California). Other states haven’t fared as well, or been as serious with their rules.

 

We have to be REALLY good now, and careful, to get the virus in Control. It’s worth the sacrifices we have to make to achieve in it. The better behaved we are, following the rules, the more lives we will save, and our own.

 

Getting things in control seems to be our biggest challenge: Covid, and now the fires blazing out of control on the West Coast of the US..

 

I long for the time when I reported to you on Fashion Week, and haute couture shows, art fairs, and auctions and new fashion trends coming in. Now it’s all serious stuff—with a little fun still thrown in occasionally. ArtParis is one of my favorite art fairs, they have wonderful fun stuff, and don’t take themselves too seriously, so there is an interesting mixture of serious art contributions, and some lighter more commercial pieces. I always find something I love there, which is not always true at the other art fairs.

 

The ArtParis show is always in April, at a time when I need to be in the States, both for my family and my work. This year, due to Covid, it was postponed from April until September—and the fair actually happened last week, at the Grand Palais in Paris, a big airy venue, big enough to avoid crowds, with almost no foreign attendees, except from within Europe. With international borders still closed (much to everyone’s chagrin), There were fewer art dealers represented at the show, and fewer spectators, but I enjoyed the show thoroughly. I bought a small photo of a Louboutin shoe and hung it in my daughter Vanessa’s room, and it looks just right, with a little touch of fun!!! So art is not dead, and fun is not dead. It was a little shot of normalcy last week, despite the rising numbers in France. And we can ALL use a boost right now, some cheer, and something lighter to think about,!!

 

And other than that very welcome bit of relief, the fires on the West Coast, and particularly in California, mesmerized us all week on the news, in Europe too. The statistics are brutal.

 

In California alone, 7,718 fires have erupted during this fire season so far.  At this exact moment, 45 major fires are burning, of which 28 of them are major complex fires not contained at the moment.  3.2 million acres have burned and are continuing to do so, unchecked. The fire zone extends from the most Northern part of Washington State all the way down to the Mexican border, with the air quality so toxic that you can’t open a window or leave your home in some places, or even walk your dog. Three layers of smoke are being held down by a heavy layer of San Francisco fog. So the smoke is trapped and can’t escape. As you can see by the photographs taken from my San Francisco home last week, at noon, it is as dark in the daytime now, as it is at night. Last week a ghoulish orange flow hung over the city, like Halloween gone mad. How much more can people endure? We can endure as much as we have to.  We can’t give up now, but it is certainly not easy for many people to hang in. Jobs, children, school, money, It’s hard to make the best of it. But we have to.

 

So we’re coping in the moment with Covid, AND the fires. The fire statistics and projections are not good today, and the Covid numbers aren’t encouraging either. But sometime, somehow, somewhere, some way, the fires have to be put out, and we have to win these battles. For the safety and security of our small circle, our bigger world, and the entire world. We can’t give up, no matter how dense the smoke is beyond our windows, or how high the virus numbers.

 

And for the people on the West Coast, they are facing a double challenge, doubly confined, for the Covid virus, and for the fires.

 

Even more shocking, although the Northern California fires were started this time by lightning in summer storms, some of the southern California fires were started by careless humans during social events that got out of hand.

 

Mother Nature is a hard taskmaster, and can be merciless at times. The past few weeks have been hard. The photographs tell the story. And firefighters have been brave and relentless fighting the fires. Eventually, the smoke will lift, the air will clear, the fires will be contained, and in time a vaccine will be found for the Covid virus. But in the meantime, these have been some very, very hard weeks, with the fires added to the virus. My prayers and compassion reach out to all the people so tragically affected.

 

This will be a better week. It HAS to be.

 

much love, Danielle

 

 

 

9/7/20, Happy Fall!

Posted on September 7, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you had a good week, and a fun holiday weekend. As usual, I have no idea where the time went. Time whizzes by, and weirdly, I find that it goes even faster than usual during the pandemic. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking, wanting to hurry up through these hard chapters, and get to easier times and a happier ending to the story. We’ve had plenty of time to think deep thoughts, while in confinement, cleaned out our closets, garages, and basements, caught up on projects we’d been putting off, got to spend an unusual amount of time with our children—many of us, others haven’t been as lucky, and haven’t seen our kids and families in months (I’m in that category, unfortunately),—-so enough already. We are all ready to see the pandemic end and get back to normal life.

 

The numbers have gone up again in Paris, probably due to people moving around over the summer, having too much fun and being less careful. The South of France, favorite summer vacation spot, became a hotbed of people crammed into bars, not wearing masks, crowded on the beaches, and enjoying too much unprotected nightlife, and then travelling back to wherever they came from, taking Covid with them and spreading it around. The same thing happened in Spain with an influx of people from other European countries. And in the US with people going to vacation spots and being less careful, particularly young people. So now, everyone has to get more serious again and be more careful.

 

The big change in the Covid numbers is an important one: even when the number of people testing positive for Covid has gone way up in some areas, the death rate is way down, and hospitals are not being inundated with severe cases. So we are learning how to treat it better, and in many areas, those most testing positive for the virus are very young. We are all eager to see this end.

 

I’ve always found September to be an exciting month, with heightened activity and lots of energy after the summer. It’s a ‘back to school’ feeling I’ve had all my life, even as a young child, and past my school days. September is exciting, we start new projects, go back to work with a fresh eye and new perspective. The weather is crisp, and we rev up our engines to get going again.

 

Labor Day officially marked the end of summer, so now we’re all back at work, some kids are back in school, others are following their classes remotely, people are embarking on new projects, it almost feels like a whole new year in September. I love that feeling!!

 

I was very excited to know that yesterday, my new Hardcover ” Royal” was #1 on the Combined Print and eBook list on the New York Times list of bestsellers. Wow!!! What a cool way to start off the fall season. it never gets old, it’s ALWAYS EXCITING to have a book high up on the bestseller lists, and know that the book is doing well. It’s incredibly gratifying and encouraging to know that you love the books and are enjoying the current one!! It’s always a Thrill!!!  I hope you get a chance to read it soon, if you haven’t yet.

 

And on a personal level, my daughter Victoria has a Labor Day birthday, and we did a Face Time call, where I had some presents for her in Paris, and I stacked them up, and she told me which to open, which I did, as she watched. And now I’ll send them to her, and bring some home with me when I see her again. It was fun opening presents together.  And would be a lot more fun if we were actually in the same room together. We will be again soon, I hope. This was only the second birthday in her life that I wasn’t with her. I usually fly in to be with her, but that’s still too complicated and risky right now.

So the Fall is off and running. I hope yours is off to a good start, and that this will prove to be a wonderful Fall for all of us, full offun times, good health, and unexpected blessings!!! Have a Great Week!!!

 

 

love, Danielle

 

 

8/26/20, Taking Action

Posted on August 31, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

Life goes on, with the Covid numbers rising in some places, due to good weather, a need to get out and have some fun and find some relief from the past 6 months, or due to summer travel and vacations. We need to continue to be careful so we can keep a lid on things, and get the Covid numbers (of new cases) down. The ‘good news’ relatively speaking is that there are fewer hospitalized and critically ill cases, and markedly fewer deaths, worldwide, in part because the majority of cases now are among young people—-who think they are invincible and often aren’t careful enough. We are ALL vulnerable to the Corona Virus, young and old, rich or poor, whatever our color or nationality. We need to be careful and follow the rules (simply put: Wash hands, Masks, Distance), for our own sakes, and that of others.

 

I think the hardest thing that we are all coping with now, and one of the most anxiety producing, is Uncertainty. How long will this go on? Will it get worse? Will there be a second wave? How bad will it get? Will we get sick? Or our loved ones? Will it affect our jobs, our lives, our economy, our health long term? Or will we be one of the lucky ones who are less affected, or not at all? None of us saw this coming. And in March, when it began to impact us, No one expected (or at least I didn’t) that 6 months later, it would become a way of life, and a threat to life as we know it, in every town, village and city, every country around the globe. No country, people, or family has escaped its impact. No one knows how long it will go on. It may just wear itself out, or we may still be battling the same issues a year from now (I hope not!!), but it is the not knowing, the uncertainty of what next week, next month, or next year will look like that I think makes us all nervous and anxious. We all like knowing as much as we can about the future, to reassure us. And for once in our lives, we know nothing about that future. (I love to plan everything, so for planners like me, the constant uncertainty, and plans that go right out the window every day, is an agony.) And the only people who speak with absolute certainty are the alarmist doomsayers who predict terrible things—-when in fact they know as little as you and I do about what’s going to happen. No one knows. It feels like jumping out of an airplane and free-falling, wondering if and when our parachute will open. This crisis WILL end. But we don’t know when. So everything feels uncertain and scary. We all like to have control over our lives and our destiny, and right now we have none. The uncertainty affects everyone, it makes some people panic and others grumpy. We are all scared to some degree. We just have to hang on, be as safe as we can, and wait for it to end. It WILL end. We just don’t know when. And we have to cope with the uncertainty as best we can. Maybe good things will come of this in your life. Maybe a fantastic opportunity will come your way that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Good things can come from this as well as bad. It’s good to remember that too. We cannot see the future. Life right now is a trust walk of massive proportions, worldwide.

 

I always prefer to tread lightly in terms of religion. Not everyone believes in God. Some people believe in the Universe, or the forces of good, or whatever one wants to call the good in one’s life. I respect people’s right to have their own source of comfort and their own belief system, whatever it is called. For me, it is God, for others not. It doesn’t matter. We are all in this together, trying to figure out how best to live through it and stay afloat, and keep our hopes up.

 

There is an amazing pastor in San Francisco, at Glide Memorial Church. Reverend Cecil Williams. He is an incredible human being, a man of a great age now, with incredible wisdom. He is a man of strong beliefs, who has turned them into action. He has founded an amazing organization to help the poor, the homeless, the desperate, with housing, education, medical help, a food kitchen that feeds thousands daily. Humane, compassionate, wise, strong, he has touched millions of lives, and I’ve had the privilege of knowing him as an amazing human being for many years. Going to a church service at his church is an incredible experience, I almost always take visitors there, —it doesn’t matter if you believe in God or not, or even if you speak English. The (gospel) music alone would transport you, the overwhelming feeling of love and hope embraces you, and you come out floating, wanting to do some good in the world for your fellow man. Cecil Williams is, in my eyes, a modern day saint, and being anywhere in his presence is a gift, whatever your beliefs, or lack of them.

 

Rev Williams said something which I really love, “We wait for God to act. Maybe God is waiting for us to act.” I love this because it suggests action to solve our problems, not just waiting for a miracle to happen to us, while we eat bonbons and watch our favorite show on TV. We have a part in it, and a role to play. I DO believe in miracles and unexpected good things happening—-and even good things happening from bad things. But I also believe in action, and sometimes while we act (even when we feel paralyzed by fear and think we can barely take another step), the miracles happen then. Bigger than we ever hoped for or expected. Sometimes if we just take baby steps, the big fantastic blessings come. And when I’m upset, or scared, or sad, or anxious, or feel lost, being busy DOING something (anything, even something very small) has helped me.

 

I’ve seen several examples of it in my own life. At 14, my oldest daughter had an accident on her motorized bicycle, weeks before she was to begin high school. She badly damaged her knee, and had a terrible wound. We didn’t know it then, but it was a life changing event. A month later, infection set in and she almost lost her leg. Seven years of excruciating pain, wheel chairs and crutches and operating tables ensued, seemingly hopeless. The nerves in her leg were damaged, and it was thought to be irreversible. She went all through high school and most of college, with incredible determination, and in terrible pain. She couldn’t walk. Finally, the right doctor and her own determination healed her, and at 21, she walked back into the world. Today, she hikes, skis, ice skates, runs, and wears high heels, and is not in pain. But the miracle was not only her healing, or finding the right doctor. The miracle was MUCH bigger than that. Fighting constant pain, and not wanting to live in a haze of pain killers, one doctor said to her :”Find someone suffering more than you are, and help them”. She took it to heart. And at 15, she volunteered (in her wheel chair) at a pediatric cancer ward, and her life changed forever. She fell in love with the work and the dedication, and volunteered at a summer camp for kids with cancer too. From it came a career as a therapist and social worker for children with cancer, many of them terminal. She got graduate degrees from Princeton, Columbia, Stanford and the Sorbonne. Working in pediatric oncology became her mission and her life, and became a passion and a rewarding career once she grew up. After living through her own dark times, of terrible uncertainty, fear, pain and even despair, she helped thousands of children and their families, and eventually she was healed herself. I can’t even imagine the courage it took her to keep moving forward in the darkness of her own experience. It was a lifelong lesson, of courage and an overwhelming demonstration of taking action, when we are at the lowest point ourselves.

 

The lesson it taught stayed with me, and when my son died at 19, I thought of what she’d done with her cancer work. I was in the deepest despair 3 months after he died, and tried to think of who I could help, who was more miserable than I was then. (It was hard to imagine anyone who felt worse than I did then).I reached out to the homeless in the streets of San Francisco, took a van and an employee, filled the van with sleeping bags, warm jackets, knit caps, scarves and gloves, and spent long nights handing them out to homeless people in the worst areas of SF. It grew to a major project, I formed a street outreach team of 12, with 4 vans we filled with desperately needed supplies and drove the streets of SF by night, helping whoever we could. It became 2 foundations, and we did the work anonymously on the streets for 11 years, until I moved away. I have to tell you that it was the most joyous thing I have ever done. It was a project born in the darkest despair which blossomed into a mission of love, which helped thousands of people. I don’t think anything I’ve done, other than having my children, has ever meant more to me. When I felt the least able to, somehow I took action, and it didn’t just help me, it helped thousands of people in desperate need of help. There will always be people in the world more miserable than we are, and reaching out to them is life changing for you and for them. It doesn’t have to be a grand project, or take an organization….reaching out to one sad, lonely, sick or desperate person can change their life and yours, and take the focus off your own miseries. you don’t have to be a modern day saint, or even have religious beliefs, reaching out with a smile, a kind hand, a gesture, rescuing a person, an animal, smiling at someone who may be at the edge of despair and you don’t know it is a form of action that will change your life, and make that day, that moment worthwhile, and give your life meaning. An errand, a favor, a meal handed to a homeless person, a kind word, a moment thinking of their problems, not your own, will make the fear or sadness you’re living with different. It’s a way of taking action, even the tiniest gesture matters, and you have no idea what can come of it, maybe something extraordinary for you or someone else.

 

Right now, in the anxiety of the pandemic, my youngest daughter learned to tie dye some T shirts to keep busy and distracted. I’m watching her one time past time turn into a really fun business for her in the past month. She has taken orders from her friends, their friends, and she has filled roughly 300 orders in the past month. The shirts are really pretty, she’s added sweat shirts, shorts, jeans, and jeans jackets now. But her attempt to keep busy and distracted is turning into a real business for her, for however long it lasts, and she is having a ball with it. Who knows, it may turn into a real business that will outlast the pandemic. But in the meantime, it has turned dark days of fear and uncertainty into busy days filled with joy. It has turned things around for her, and inspires me to watch her.

 

Action. The possibilities are endless. Bake a cake for a neighbour, buy a sandwich for a homeless person, do a project you’ve wanted to do for ages and never had the time. Empty a closet full of junk, and sell it, and your junk may be someone else’s treasures, and make you some money. Make a collage, drop a note to a friend, call an older person who is lonely and has no family, or is far from theirs. Rescue a dog, do some kind of volunteer work, or a paid project, or take a time-out from your own miseries to show a stranger or a friend that you care. Taking action always helps me when I’m at my worst, and most fearful, or unhappy or sad. It’s worth a shot. We’ve got more time on our hands than usual right now. And whoever you help will come back to you a hundred fold in the joy it gives you. And some funny little project like baking cookies, or making jam, or creating something could turn into a lucrative business. I think some important things happen in life, in these weird, unusual circumstances that are presented to us. And if nothing else, it will get you through these scary, uncertain times. While others are figuring out how to cure the virus, and find a vaccine, you can do something that seems to be tiny, for yourself or someone else, and it could turn out to be huge. Working with the homeless was the most meaningful thing that ever happened to me, at the absolute worst time in my life. And a smile and a kind word to a stranger could turn out to be an important moment for you, which turns things around. We have to reach for the opportunities right now, no matter how scared and anxious we are. And that moment you spend doing it, may change someone else’s life, and surely yours.

 

Have a Great week, and seize every opportunity you can. EVERY moment counts, to someone else, and to you.

 

with much love, Danielle

 

8/19/20, Q and A

Posted on August 24, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a great week. I thought you might enjoy this Q and A with with Random House this week about working during the pandemic and my new book Royal.

 

One of the world’s most popular and prolific authors, Danielle Steel, answers our questions from Paris. Get a glimpse at her famed writing regimen, her experience throughout the pandemic, and why she chose to write about the royal family during WWII. Her newest book, Royal, is out now! 

Amy Brinker:  You’re a legendarily hard worker- for you, has work changed during quarantine? 

Danielle Steel:  Work changed enormously during Quarantine. The alarm bells of the pandemic sounded when I was at home in France, and all my children in the States. It was a fairly traumatic decision whether to stay in France, far from my family, (I live in both places), or whether to make a run for it and go back to the States. Travel was already thought to be dangerous, and my kids and I decided it was safer to stay where I was, in Paris. The whole situation was sudden, stressful, and surreal. One of my lifelong fears, dividing my life between two countries, has always been ‘what if there is ever a war?’, and being separated from my children, unlikely as that seemed. And instead, I’ve been separated by 3,000 and 6,000 miles from my children, on the East and West Coast of the US, and I’ve been in Paris since the pandemic began, although we talk on the phone many times a day.

AB:  Are you writing as usual? 

DS:  After I made the decision to stay in France, the solid lockdown confinement took hold, and I spent 76 days alone without leaving my apartment. It was an elegant jail sentence in a very comfortable apartment, but solitude is nonetheless what it is, and a huge challenge. I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to write, and much to my surprise, for the first time in my life, with all that time on my hands, I was too anxious to write. My mind was blank, I was constantly distracted by my fear of getting sick, my fears for my children, and the world. It took me about three weeks to settle down. But what changed during confinement: I had trouble concentrating, my mind felt blank, I felt as though I was working and thinking in slow motion. Discipline is an enormous factor in my work, and I would force myself to sit with a yellow pad, or at my typewriter all day, for 12 hours at a time sometimes, and just couldn’t work. I knew what I wanted to write, but at first it wouldn’t come, and when it finally did, I found I was writing so much more slowly than usual. I had the time and the space, but not the focus for those first few weeks. Too much scary stuff was going on. I would watch the terrifying reports on the news, and was panicked for hours afterward.

Infuriated by my own distraction, I wrestled with it, and within a few weeks, I was writing, not quite at full speed, but close enough. And now, 3 months after we were ‘De-confined’ in France, my writing speed is back to normal. But what I discovered during confinement was how much more than I ever realized, I rely on outside stimuli to fuel me, conversations, exchanges I see and hear between people, things I see on the street, or in a restaurant, items that interest me in the news. I absorb all the things around me, pick them up, and build a book with them, like a bird making a nest. In the silence of my own company, and a world that had come to a dead halt, there were none of the elements I use to add to a book, sometimes without even knowing it. Once I was back in the world again, it all came back in a rush. But during the confinement, I had to work MUCH harder than normally.

AB:  I know you like to stay busy, so how have you been filling the extra time? 

DS:  Despite how distracting it was during the confinement, I wrote an enormous amount eventually, and as I always do, I was working on five different books, in different stages, just as I do normally. In fact, when we got ‘De-Confined’, I actually stayed in for 2 more days, to finish what I was working on. And then I finally got out, to get some air, go for walks, see people, see friends. It was sheer Heaven to be back out!!

AB:  I’ve read that you schedule your work very stringently- can you tell me more about that? 

DS:  I am always working, writing something, it’s very rare that I’m not writing. My tolerance for not writing is about two weeks, and then I HAVE to get back to work. I’m extremely disciplined about it. I write every day, in some form or other. Work comes first before fun!! I’ve been that way all my life. And when I’m writing a book, during the first draft, I work 20 to 22 hour days so I keep the story tight. (and then sleep for 3 or 4 hours, and go back to the book.)

AB:  How do you attack a new project? 

DS:  When I have an idea for a new book, I jot down notes of the ideas I have, it may be about an industry, or a person, or a theme or an issue of some kind, some thought that comes to me, or something I see in the news. I make notes for a while, and eventually I handwrite an outline, and work on that for quite some time. I also write about the individual characters, getting to know their histories and personalities. And I make notes about the research I’ll need. When all of that comes together and I feel ready, I type an outline, and then work on that for a while, honing it and editing it. I discuss it at length with my editor, and when I think I’m ready to jump, I start the book. Developing it to that point can take many months. And then I write the first draft, and edit and correct that. I do about 4 drafts of a book, over a 2 or even 3 year time span, before it’s ready to be published, adding the research along the way. It’s a long very minute, meticulous process.

AB: Do you always have a few novel ideas in your back pocket for future books? 

DS: I don’t have ideas ‘in my back pocket’, after those first initial notes, either I develop an idea and start working on it, or I don’t. Sometimes I have an idea, and by the next day, I don’t like it, so I don’t pursue it. I know when it clicks for me, and then I start working on it, in the long development process.

AB:  I was surprised to read that you still have self-doubt, considering your long-standing success and popularity. I think that’s actually really helpful for newer writers to hear. What helps you get through that and guides you despite doubt?

DS:  I’ve always worked very hard (and love what I do) and push myself very hard. I try to be better, write better, learn more, improve things, dig deeper about the character studies in the book and to tighten the plot. I think success is to challenge you to try harder and harder, and write better and better, not rest on your laurels and congratulate yourself on how great you are.  I think self-doubt is very important, it keeps you trying harder, striving for something more to give to your readers. I think in almost anything, the day you congratulate yourself on how ‘good’ you are is the day you become less ‘good’ and you lose something important. Being self-satisfied dulls something, and takes away that drive that makes you strive to do and be better each time.

AB:  Your new book, Royal, begins during the Blitz in WWII- did you learn anything especially interesting or surprising?   

DS:  I always learn something new in every book, usually through the research, about an industry, an illness, a phenomenon of some kind,  a war , a place or location, or something more about the interactions between people. There is so much to learn about World War II, that I always learn something new about it that I didn’t know before, and can share with my readers. It’s a fascinating time in history, and with the leeway of fiction, I loved the idea of adding a third princess to the British Royal family, who came to a mysterious end, with unexpected startling secrets that surfaced twenty years later. I loved that idea. And it’s always a huge challenge to make the twists in a plot work and have them both feasible and believable. I fall in love with my characters when I write, and they become real and dear to me. I care deeply about them, which is why my readers care about them. And I think people see themselves in my books, and in my characters—-often living the same challenges and experiences that we all wrestle with, so we can really identify with them, especially if we’ve had a similar experience. And I think we’re all a little fascinated with royalty and royal families, the advantages and disadvantages they live with, so it was both fun and fascinating to write about that. And the research in my books is always as accurate as I can make it. I love discovering details about my characters that make them all the more real.

AB: Royal focuses on secrets, family, and station. Are there any real-life stories that helped inspire this novel or historical figures you wanted to channel?

DS:  No real life characters inspired the book, other than the Royals themselves, both real and fictional. I’m a great admirer of Queen Elizabeth the II of England. In fact, she made two extraordinarily touching, noble, gracious and encouraging speeches during our Confinement in France. Her speeches really encouraged me and boosted my spirits. She was like a wonderful strong, noble courageous grandmother giving us good advice during the pandemic and confinement, and I felt uplifted and hopeful after hearing her speak. There is something special about some Royals, though not all. I tried to capture that in the book. And I hope I’ve provided a story that people will love, remember and cherish.

I’m always deeply grateful to my readers!!!  And also touched when people tell me they loved the books, as I do when I write them.

 

Thank you so much, love, D.S.

8/17/20, Grateful

Posted on August 17, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope that all is well with you, and maybe you’re even managing to go on vacation!! I hope so. (I cancelled my vacation this summer because my kids couldn’t come to France with the borders closed. So our traditional every year without fail family vacation had to be cancelled and I’m working this summer instead) In France, EVERYONE takes July or August off (5 weeks by law) for vacation, so just about everyone has gone somewhere for vacation, and even if they didn’t go away this year, most people aren’t working. But people in France, and in Europe, do everything they can to take a vacation in summer. (In the US, we spread out our vacations throughout the year. But in Europe, it’s July or August). And I hope you’re still following the Covid rules if you’re away on vacation.

 

With people moving around in Europe, a lot of movement between France, Italy, Spain, some to Croatia, and people coming from Germany and England, the numbers have gone up again slightly, and we’ve been warned to be careful, wear masks, social distance and stay out of crowded places. Young people have the hardest time following the rules, and flock to the beaches, bars that are open, and night spots. So the government (and their parents) are reminding them to be careful. More young people than older people are catching the virus now, not always severely, but they can infect others, so EVERYONE has to be careful and respect the rules, not just for their own safety, but for others.

 

There was a massive heat wave in Paris for the last week, over 100 degrees every day, with very little air conditioning anywhere, so we were all frying!!! It was blazingly hot, and Lili, Blue and Minnie were NOT happy. I kept dousing them with water. The temperature has gone down a little now, to ‘hot’, from ‘broil’. And I hear it’s as high as 107 degrees now in parts of California. Long hot summer. And hard to wear masks in the heat, but we have to. I stayed home and did a lot of writing. Most of the time, it was just too hot to go out, so I didn’t.

 

Everyone I know is on vacation somewhere else, but two friends came home, so I had dinner with them (outdoors, in restaurants with outdoor dining, which I prefer in summer anyway, and now with social distancing). Most people will start wandering back to Paris in the next two weeks, and go back to work. And I’ve been working all month (all year). It’s been hot and quiet, and lonely at times, but productive.

 

And as has been the case since the beginning of the pandemic, it all boils down to seeing the glass as half full or half empty—-you can either think of all the things that have gone wrong, all the things we are missing (My kids!!!), all the things that have been cancelled and aren’t happening (concerts, sports, and more importantly many weddings)——OR we can see the unexpected blessings that have come from this, the friendships that have deepened, the romances that have started, (I know several people who have met people and started new relationships since the pandemic began. And a lot of people seem to have gotten puppies), we can be grateful we still have our jobs if we do, or some are hopeful that they’ll find better jobs when all this is over….we can be grateful for the roofs over our heads, for the people that we love and who love us, grateful that we and our loved ones are healthy. There is always a LOT to be grateful for, if you take a good look. And I can already see lessons that I’ve learned as a result of the challenges we face in the pandemic, not necessarily lessons I wanted to learn or volunteered for, but lessons that will serve me well in future.

 

If we can find things to be grateful for, the time will go faster, and the end result will be a lot more pleasant. So I’m grateful for my many blessings. And thank YOU for reading my books during these challenging times. I have a new book coming out tomorrow, on Tuesday, “Royal”. I hope you love it, its historical fiction, about a British Royal family in World War II, whose youngest daughter disappears….and secrets that come to light and are revealed twenty years later. I really hope you enjoy the book and it gives you some happy moments.

 

Thank you for everything, my faithful readers and special friends. I am sooooo Grateful for you!! Have a great week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

8/10/20, LOVE

Posted on August 10, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope you’re hanging in, and actually having some fun, taking a vacation if you can get away, and feeling peaceful and living our current circumstances day by day. There is so much that we can’t control, in fact there is very little we can control about the pandemic, except our own behaviours, being careful, and thoughtful and respectful of others, with social distancing and wearing masks. And sometimes it is a challenge to keep our spirits up. It’s up to each of us to try and stay positive about it, even though that’s not always easy to do. And some days even very hard.

 

This week I was looking for a certain piece of paper. I have a zipped up small leather folder I keep some important papers in when I travel, my publishing schedule, travel schedules, some lists and contact numbers, etc. I was digging through it the other day, and found some old papers tucked away in the back of it that I had saved, and among them one paper with a message that really touched me (I don’t know the source or who wrote it), which I want to share with you. It lifted my spirits immediately, and I hope it will do the same for you. The other thing that I find so apt for what we are living through is the Serenity Prayer. So I will share both with you here, which I hope will offer greater comfort and inspiration than anything I can say.

 

Have a GREAT week!!!

 

love, Danielle

 

 

“LOVE: There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer: No disease that enough love will not heal. No door that enough love will not open.

No gulf that enough love will not bridge. No wall that enough love will not throw down. No sin that enough love will not redeem.

It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble, how hopeless the outlook, how muddled the tangle, How great the mistake, A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all. If you can love enough, you will be the happiest and most powerful being in the world.”

 

The Serenity Prayer: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

 

8/3/20, WTF??

Posted on August 3, 2020

 

 

Hi Everyone,

 

How’s it going? If you’re in the US, the Covid 19 numbers have been very scary. (I watch them carefully every day, reporting on all the countries around the world, and the countries and cities where I have loved ones) Hopefully, it has hit its peak in the US, and things will start to improve now. I sure hope so!!! I’ve given up trying to make plans and am just waiting it out. I hope that by now everyone is wearing a mask!!! In France last week, they recommended that everyone wear one outdoors too. The image of Ernie from Sesame Street kind of sums up how I feel sometimes, and a lot of us do. WHAT happened? How did this bomb hit us so fast!!! The image of Ernie made me smile—it certainly says it all!!!

 

In France, everyone has gone somewhere on vacation, to the South of France, Provence, Italy or Spain. People are moving around, so hopefully that won’t raise the Covid numbers again. Europe is really doing well for the most part, except for some surges in Spain. No one wants to get confined again, so hopefully they’re following the rules wherever they are!! Or we’ll all pay the price for it in a few weeks. I hope not!!

 

Summer vacations are a law in France, and a habit that’s hard to break. By law, people get a 5 week vacation, usually in July and August, and most people seem to prefer August. (Whereas in the US, people spread their vacations out all year, which is better for business).So in France the whole country migrates to somewhere, mostly in August.  I have to admit, it makes me wonder this year. It always brings business in France to a total halt in August. Everything is closed (stores, restaurants, offices), businesses don’t function. Some businesses leave one person to answer phones, but most dont even do that. The whole country hangs out a sign “Gone Fishing”. But this year in particular, with the economy hard hit, most businesses were closed for confinement in March, April, and half of May—-and now, they are all on vacation, for another month or two. And since business is slow right now, with no foreign tourists to support many industries, a lot of people left a couple of weeks early, and they plan to take every moment of their annual vacation, so from July 15 till September 1st this year, the country is shut down. That can’t be good for business, and is bound to hurt the economy. France is full of charm, and the quality of life is wonderful, which makes it so appealing to be here, but maybe this year, vacations should have been shorter no longer??!!! The streets of Paris are empty, especially without tourists, and business is at a standstill.

 

One thing I am really impressed by—–EVERYWHERE!!! How creative and enterprising people have been in the pandemic, and in confinement. I’ve seen fantastic art projects, one of my kids has been making 3D puzzles, my youngest daughter just started a tie-dyed shirt business in confinement in California, and the shirts are gorgeous!!! (See my Instagram). Another daughter had never gardened before, and planted a vegetable garden—the vegetables are fantastic and look like works of art, one of my sons planted a really beautiful herb garden, one son in law has a passion and a talent for cooking, he’s been taking lessons in the pandemic, and the photographs of the food he’s making are gorgeous and look delicious. People are discovering new talents, and discovering new pleasures while trying to stay calm, be patient, and soothe their jangled nerves. I’ve been working on five different books, as I often do, I haven’t stopped writing since the pandemic started. It helps me stay busy, and fills the days while I wait to see my kids again, and keeps business as usual for my publishers and readers, and myself. Friends have become more precious, and out of confinement now, seeing them means more than ever. Other friends who have worked hard and missed time with their kids have gotten to know their kids better than ever before, confined with them, and enjoying special times that might never have happened otherwise. Time has stopped. We have had to reboot our lives, and start again. We have had to learn patience, how to fill our time creatively, develop new ways to work, deepen our relationships, question ourselves about what matters most to us. We have had to face disappointments and loss. One of my daughters has had the huge disappointment of postponing her long awaited wedding twice, a smaller family version several times, and will now have to wait for the big originally planned wedding till next year—-all of which has been very trying. It is as though a big hand clamped down on the world’s clock, and said “Stop!!!” And there are even greater concerns, about our own health, the health and safety of our loved ones, and in some cases the loss of loved ones. But even for families and people who have not suffered the loss of relatives or friends, the changes have been enormous, and the concerns many. How to keep our children safe, worries about finances and jobs. Everyone has been affected, no one’s life is unchanged or untouched. It makes us grateful for the good things, the good times, the good people in our lives, and more aware of what is most precious to us. Some friends have been disappointing, others have been amazing. Some marriages have ended, the cracks in them more obvious in the crisis, and in those cases where a dead relationship has dragged on, maybe best for it to finally end and get a fresh start in life. Other relationships have started or grown deeper. People have fallen in love, maybe faster than they would have otherwise, like in wartime, everything is magnified, the good and the bad. Babies have been conceived. Good things have happened, not just bad. It reminds me of the French saying, “Un mal pour un bien”, good things that result from a bad thing.

 

I think we’re all learning lessons that some of us needed. Maybe there was no other way to learn those lessons except for time to stop, and it has. Like a movie on pause, suddenly everything stops….and eventually, the film will continue, the players will move again, the story will conclude. We can’t fast forward this film. It’s real life, but once life starts rolling again, I think we will each take away lessons that we needed and can use, and memories that will be precious to us. And hats off to those who are making the best of it. We’re all doing the best we can. And at times, it is definitely a “WTF” experience, of how did THIS happen. But we’re living, we’re learning, and I hope and believe that some good things will come of it in the end!!! It is a great deal like a war, with all the extremes that go with it, and the camaraderie of sharing it, and protecting those we love. And we’ll have a LOT to tell our grandchildren one day!!!

 

Have a GREAT week!!! I think that’s possible, even during these challenging times!!!

 

 

love, Danielle

 

7/27/20, Gone Fishing

Posted on July 27, 2020

Gone Fishing……ooops, erghk!!!! Gone writing!!! Much more fun than fishing. I’m working on a book. See you next week!!

Have a great week, love, Danielle

Filed Under Writing | 1 Comment

7/20/20, Vanity Fair

Posted on July 20, 2020

Hi Everyone,

I thought this would be fun. It’s little vignettes of my Paris apartment, from the most recent edition (July/August) of Vanity Fair:

DSteel Vanity Fair

 

Have a wonderful week!!!

love, Danielle

Filed Under Art, Dogs, homes, Paris, Shopping | 2 Comments

7/13/20, Half Empty, Half Full

Posted on July 13, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I hope all is going well for you, that you’re in a safe place, and respecting the rules that have become our norm, in an attempt to stay safe: sheltering in place where advised, social distancing, and masks when told to wear them, and washing our sanitizing our hands constantly. It all makes sense. And the successful results in Europe show clearly that confinement works to bring the numbers down to a safer situation where deconfinement can become possible, and social distancing makes sense, with hand sanitizing, and wearing masks no matter what your political allegiance. It’s all about health and safety now, not getting sick, nor making others sick, and following the rules to that end.

 

Any other year, last week, I would have been telling you about the Haute Couture fashion shows, with all the glitz and glamour, pretty models on the runway wearing gorgeous clothes, against an exciting backdrop. And this week, I’d have been telling you that I was having fun with my kids for our annual vacation in the South of France. And next week, I would have been telling you about the fireworks on the 14th of July, we would have been swimming in the sea, lying in the cabana in the daytime, getting a tan, and enjoying family dinners at night. The good life, in a world we took for granted until recently.

 

Before that, I would have told you about our family Easter brunch, with pastel colored bunnies all over the table. I would have told you how much I love Mother’s Day, and how sweet my children are to me, and how they spoil me. Instead in the pandemic, I am 3 to 6,000 miles from my children, and for the first time in my life, I spent Easter and Mother’s Day alone, and was grateful for a Face Time visit, and they even managed to spoil me long distance on Mother’s Day. They are amazing!!! I missed my daughter’s birthday in LA though in April, and a fun weekend we have every year to celebrate it, and she has had to postpone her wedding twice, a huge sorrow for her. But at least they are all alive, and no one is sick, which is the most important. And I missed the 4th of July too, although way less important to me than weddings, birthdays, and mother’s day.

 

The Big Thrill in my life, and it was a very big thrill was that the day after American Mother’s Day (it was a month later here in France), The De-Confinement began in Paris (after two solid months at home, and I stayed locked down for 3 months, for good measure), stores opened, hairdressers re-appeared, we could leave our homes, and see people, and shortly after, outdoor terraces were opened and you could eat outdoors in a restaurant. And progressively since then, all restaurants are now open indoors and out, offices, all stores, you can walk down the street, or have a friend come to visit, or visit them, with masks and social distancing, and people are good about the rules here. As a result, the number of sick and deaths have not gone up, and remain low. The state of emergency officially ended in France 3 days ago, although we still have to follow the safety rules until September, and perhaps longer. Paris is looking beautiful, and you can travel between European countries now, and between cities. People are going on vacation (I’m not, without my kids. I would be too sad without sharing it with them). And I am so grateful for every moment of health and freedom, after being stuck in my apartment for 3 months. So the glass can very definitely be seen as half full—not fully back to normal yet, because the virus is still lurking everywhere, but we seem to be living with it pretty successfully in Europe.

 

But the hardest part of all this for me is not being with my kids, all of whom are in the States. I miss them fiercely, and am so sad without them, but the situation in the US gets worse every day. I check the numbers every morning and want to cry. The carefree attitude in many parts of the US with no confinement, people not following the rules, no masks, or social distancing, crowding the beaches in Florida and Southern California, and many states not following any rules—–has come crashing down on the US. The most number of sick and dead in the world, the greatest danger, the graphs going up every day. It is dangerous to go there and to be there, and for me personally, the greatest hardship is not being with my kids. Flying back to the US is dangerous, with airports, and being confined in an airplane for many hours, exposed to people who might be coming from anywhere in the world, and could have the virus and not know it. Being in the US is dangerous now, more so than in Europe. So I am still in Europe, where I am safer, but when will I be able to go home, and when will I be able to see my kids and get my arms around them for an enormous hug? Thank God, they are safe, but the country is blazing with the virus. With no end in sight. Europe and Asia have proven that confinement works. Strict confinement, total lockdown for 2 months brings the numbers down to something safe, but most of the US is not confined and doesn’t want to be, so the numbers continue to rise. Many people are following the rules seriously, but so many others aren’t. (Particularly young people, who are a problem in Europe too, and think the rules are dumb and don’t apply to them. But young people get sick too!!) People fight against wearing masks (it’s such a small sacrifice to make for one’s own health and that of others), and social distance is forgotten on beaches and in bars, especially now in warmer weather. Every day, I pray that the numbers in the US will go down, that it will turn around, but for having been cavalier in many places in the US for several months, they are paying a high price now, with so many people sick and dying. And European countries will not allow Americans to enter, because the official numbers are so high.

 

For me, personally and selfishly, it all boils down to when will I see my kids, and when can I go home. The glass looks very empty to me from that perspective. And on the half-full side, life is easy and pleasant in Paris now, I can get my hair done, go shopping (cautiously, with mask and distancing), have lunch with a friend, or walk down the street on a sunny day.  But my kids can’t come to see me, because they are not allowed to enter the country, because of the extremely high numbers in the US—-which is also very hard on the world economy, keeping Americans out of other countries, and foreigners out of the US. We need their business, and they need ours, but the US just isn’t safe right now. At least not yet. And I really hope that changes SOON!!! It depends on each person following the rules to make it safe.

 

I pray about it every day, and maybe you do too. I so much want things to get better in the US, for everyone’s sake, not just for me and my kids. We are going to have to tighten all our rules, deprive ourselves of fun for a while, even wear masks, or do whatever we have to do to make our world safe again. This will end, it won’t last forever, but it will get better a lot faster if we ALL follow the rules, in every country, every city, every town around the world.

 

My prayers are with all of you, that you are safe and healthy. The glass IS half full now in many places, with many freedoms and privileges returned. Even more than half full in some places. San Francisco has done very well in the pandemic, with only fifty deaths, way fewer than other places, but they are still very strictly confined and restricted after 4 months, with no end in sight.  New York has done an amazing job getting the numbers down, and even closed their borders to do so, trying to keep people out from areas that are more severely affected, and demanding that anyone from out of state quarantine for 2 weeks when they arrive. It is severe, but it has helped.

 

Whatever it takes, I hope we get those numbers down all over the US, and make it safe again for everyone, visitors as well as Americans. It reminds me now of the vicious fires that burned all over California, out of control a year or two ago. Eventually, the fires were brought under control. The virus will be too. I’m tired of reading the numbers in the US every morning with a sinking heart and tears in my eyes. I want to see my kids, and I want all of you to be safe, and anxiety-free too. We just have to keep at it, one day at a time, following the rules, until the glass is really full, overflowing with blessings, not half full. I know that day will come. And in the meantime, I am hanging on to hope that it will get better soon.

 

 

Have a GREAT week, a safe, smart, careful, healthy one!!!!

 

 

with all my love, Danielle