Thursday, 28 March 2013

Guest Post - Petrea Burchard

 I have a very special visitor on my blog today, one whom I don't need to explain as she has done so in her post in the most touching way.  
Welcome Petrea, and I hope my readers enjoy her post as much as I do.

Networking is Giving by Petrea Burchard

When I visited England's Hampton Court Palace in 1999, I was intrigued that a few Grace and Favour residents still lived there. I mused about the place and finally, years later, began to research it. The library is my friend, but Google and I are also close, and with its help I found online treasure: the Brimstone Butterfly, a prolific blog about the grand houses of England.

Caro Riikonen began blogging as The Brimstone Butterfly in 2009. During her visits to the great houses she took pictures and shot video. She asked questions and befriend staff, gaining access to places most of us will never see. Fortified with information, she wrote rambling yet snappy posts about the history, décor, and intrigue of places I've longed to visit. Nineteen of those posts are about Hampton Court, her favorite.

The Butterfly's blog didn't receive a lot of comments but I couldn't resist gushing. We struck up an occasional, warm correspondence. I hoped to travel to England again someday, when  perhaps Caro and I would visit a great house together.

About a year ago, Caro didn't post for a couple of months.

Then came a final post, from her friends. Caro had killed herself.

In tears, I Googled her name. Among other things, I found an article about the inquest and a thoughtful post by an author and blogger named Anita Davison.

As I had searched for Hampton Court, Anita was researching Ham House, a Jacobean mansion on the Thames, when she came upon the Brimstone Butterfly's inquisitive photos and saucy posts. I imagine the friendship she struck up with Caro might have been a bit like Caro's and mine: not close, but congenial. "We never met," wrote Anita, "but not only will I miss her blog, I will miss her too. Goodby Caro, and though you may not have known it, you were appreciated." She was. She still is.

I left a comment on Anita's post. She emailed me. A year later, we're still friends. I've already read her Duking Days: Rebellion, and her latest, Royalist Rebel, is at the top of my "to be read" pile.

To make friends one must give as well as receive. In Camelot & Vine, my novel about an American actress who falls through a gap in time and saves King Arthur's life, the protagonist is no good at making friends because she thinks only of herself. But by the end of the story, the most important thing to her is to serve her friends, even if they will never know what she's done for them.

Caro will never know what she did for so many of us. Her blog is like a box of precious gems. Every time you open it you find a jewel you hadn't known was there, and (wonder of wonders!) it's yours. Caro gave these delights freely to us all. She also gave me a friend.

Remember the early days of the internet, when some said an online friend wasn't "real"? Don't you believe it. When Royalist Rebel came out, in a showing of support Anita's online friends posted about her book on their blogs. Now she has invited us to post on her blog in return. She's a perfect example of how to give as well as receive. These days we talk a lot about networking. Well, networking is giving.

I hope to visit England again soon. When I do, I'm not leaving until Anita and I visit one of the great houses together. Maybe two. When she shows Ham House to me and I drag her along to Hampton Court, we will think of Caro.

Petrea's Website 

Camelot and Vine Blurb

Lying is second nature to Casey Clemens, whether she's hawking cheap products on national television or talking to her mother on the phone. Casey's got a decent condo, a cleaning lady, and a rich boyfriend (never mind that he's married). If Casey feels dissatisfied, all she has to do is fantasize about her hero, King Arthur. 

It feels like an acting career, sort of, until the day before Casey's 40th birthday, when she loses everything she never cared about, falls through a gap in time, and accidentally saves the real King Arthur's life. He's grateful, but he has enemies. War encroaches, and an actress with an honesty problem has no place in a war camp. Not if she wants to make it back to the 21st century alive. Not that she could go back if she wanted to. Not that she wants to.

See Anita's Review of Camelot and Vine on the Historical Novel Review Blog


Ginger Simpson said...

Wonderful blurb...makes me want to read the book. If only I didn't already have 300 plus on my Kindle. I just had to stop by and tell you I read Anita's review and I definitely have to fit this book in somewhere. :)

She definitely is a kind and sharing friend, which I why I've loved her for years. I dream of going to England to meet her in person one day, unfortunately, I'm already older than dirt, so I suppose a dream is all it will be. :)

TheChieftess said...

A lovely tribute to Caro...and Anita!!!

Shell Sherree said...

Petrea and I met through blogging and this post of hers is a beautiful instance of why I adore her so. {This and her puppy dog Boz. He rocks.} I've read Camelot & Vine and loved every moment of the journey. And it's lovely visiting you, Anita. I hope you and Petrea get to visit Ham House and Hampton Court together {and it sounds like Caro would be ever so chuffed}.

Petrea Burchard said...

Thank you for posting this, Anita! I'm very grateful.

And thank you, Ginger, Chieftess and Shell for your comments. Don't give it up, Ginger, a vacation in England might be just the thing to make you feel young!

Anita Davison said...

Hi Jennie, and it was a lovely post wasn't it? Petrea's book is worth a read too. It's a different take on the traditional King Arthur theme and - she told me to imagine Sean Bean as Arthur - a bit razzled but still sexy! I hope you appear on my blog someday too with your debut novel!

Petrea Burchard said...

Well, I imagine Sean Bean, but feel free to imagine anyone you like....