Category Archives: MY RAMBLINGS

The Author Roost – Book Spotlight: Fire and Ash-Gift of the Gods, Book 3 by Thomas J. Berry

The Hist Fic Chic is proud to welcome Thomas J. Berry, author of “Fire and Ash: Gift of the Gods, Book 3”, to the blog today! As a part of her blog tour, his book is in the Featured Spotlight (The Author’s Roost) and you have a chance to read an excerpt from his amazing story below.

AUTHOR BIO

Thomas Berry received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from St. Bonaventure University. He takes pleasure in extensively researching both historical fiction and non-fiction stories. In his spare time, he enjoys long distance running and has completed several marathons. He currently lives with his wife and children in New Jersey. You can learn more about Thomas and his historical novels at his website, www.thomas-berry.com.

Author’s Social Media Links:

TwitterInstagramGoodreads

If the encrypted links fall off:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TBerryAuthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/history_writer

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55692764-gifts-of-the-gods

Book Title: Fire and Ash

Series:Gifts of the Gods, Book 3

Author: Thomas J Berry

Publication Date: 10th October 2020

Publisher: BookLocker 

Page Length: 450 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Twitter Handles: @TBerryAuthor @maryanneyarde

Instagram Handles: @history_writer @coffeepotbookclub

Hashtags: #FireandAsh #HistoricalFiction #AncientGreek #CoffeePotBookClub

BLURB

Five men and women in Ancient Greece are set on a dangerous journey of self-discovery during the bitter conflict of the Peloponnesian War.

While mighty Athens struggles to rebuild after a devastating campaign abroad, the feared warriors of Sparta prepare to deliver the final blow in a decades long war. No one is safe anymore as the conflict shifts across the Aegean to the shores of wealthy Persia. Old colonies, once loyal to Athens, are eager to rebel and the Great King is willing to pay anything to regain his control over them. These coastal plains set the stage for massive battles and heartbreaking defeats. This time there will be only one true victor.

The news coming out of Sicily ripples across the cities of Ancient Greece like a thunderbolt and it is left to the poor and desperate to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. One young mother is suddenly faced with a horrible tragedy and struggles against all odds to make a new life for her family. An eager boy looking for adventure enlists in the new Athenian ranks but finds life on campaign a lot more than he bargained for. A Spartan officer in the twilight of his years struggles to adapt to a young man’s army and an exiled Athenian strives to earn his way back into the graces of his beloved city. The harem girls in a Persian court meet a handsome foreigner and one risks everything for a chance at love.

As the conflict between Athens and Sparta builds to a final showdown, five men and women struggle to come to terms with their changing world. What will they find in the ashes when peace finally comes?

BOOK EXCERPT

Cries erupted around her, one overlapping the other in a ceaseless frenzy. The soldiers had the leader they most desired and, in that moment, sought a course of action that would satisfy their bloodlust. “Kill the bastards! Democracy reigns!” “Take the battle to the oligarchs!” “Free our families!”

This time Thrasybulus could not contain them, and she realized now there was only one man who could. She looked up at the dais and her heart skipped a beat as Alcibiades smiled, held up his arms, and spoke in short, commanding sentences. After a few minutes, the people calmed down to a reasonable degree, yet there was still a tension in the air. Anger bubbled to the surface like spouts of lava, exploding in small outbursts throughout the Assembly. She was surprised how quickly it had spread among the populace.

“The Council of 400 has control of Athens for now!” the new supreme commander announced, “but they will not hold sway for long. I understand your feelings and I share them! I would like nothing more than to walk up to the walls of the city and take back what was once ours! However, my first duty is to prosecute this war we find ourselves in! Furthermore, it would a very grave mistake to attack the capital right now. Look who sits at Miletus and watches our every move!”

The crowd began to murmur among themselves, trying to piece together what seemed so obvious to the General. He paused for a moment and she saw him glance down at her from his perch above. She returned his smile but could do little to aid him now. Alcibiades had created a monster of his own making and now he had to ride it out until only one of them was left.

“I could tell you to launch every trireme in the harbor tomorrow morning and we’ll undoubtedly bring the new government to its knees! But we have more pressing enemies here on these very shores! The moment we are gone, the Spartan fleet will sail in and take everything we have! They would control every colony, conscript every able man into their ranks, and steal every daric coin from our meager coffers! That is exactly what I would do in their stead! Worse, they will take that tremendous armada and sail north for the Hellespont! Those single-minded ravens will blockade the narrow passage from the Black Sea and stop all the grain shipments sailing for Athens! We will regain political control, yes, but our families would be strangled and weakened by a merciless adversary! Death by starvation would be our only future! That is not something I could ever permit! You have honored me today and I will lead you to victory! Have patience and give me a little more time. That is all I require!”

The mood of the soldiers seemed to calm down as they digested this sobering observation. A few still called for an immediate attack but they were quelled by others agreeing with their new commander. Timandra realized she was holding her breath and let it out slowly, feeling nervous tension flow out with it. Alcibiades had handled the immediate problems, but she knew he would soon be faced with larger, far more serious ones, albeit of his own making.

He informed the assembled men it was necessary he return to Sardis immediately and confer with Tissaphernes. “There is much preparation to contend with, but the satrap will be forever in your debt when I enter his gilded hall as supreme commander of Athens’ mighty fleet! When I am satisfied that all is ready, I shall return and together we will put an end to Sparta’s plans!”

With that, he gave the dais back to Thrasybulus and stepped off the platform to a rousing ovation. Timandra clapped as well but her mind was reeling at the recent turn of events. The people wanted a savior and they had chosen someone who cavorted with not one but two enemies of the state! They wanted a beacon for democracy, and they placed their trust in a man who had single-handedly destroyed it. They sought a great leader who will steer them on a righteous path yet ordained a felon wanted for Sacrilege and sentenced to death if he ever returned home. He was an ambitious general who brought Athens shame and death abroad yet had risen to the supreme command of their fleet once more.

Alcibiades had told her several times over the last year that he would one day return to Athens. While she always considered it a pipe dream, she had to admit that he had somehow pulled off the impossible. There were challenges ahead and she had no idea how he would meet them. Timandra allowed herself a moment to relax and take it one day at a time. For now, he was the man in charge, and she was at his side absorbing all the accolades with him. It was a surreal feeling!

Buy Links:

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CAAmazon AUBookLocker

If the encrypted links fall off:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/GIFTS-GODS-Fire-Ash-3/dp/1647188911

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1647188911

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Gifts-Gods-Fire-Thomas-Berry/dp/1647188911

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/GIFTS-GODS-Fire-Ash-3/dp/1647188911

BookLocker: https://booklocker.com/books/11259.html

JOIN THE BLOG TOUR FOR MORE INFO ON THE AUTHOR, CONTESTS, & MORE!

THANK YOU, Thomas, for stopping by the blog today on your blog tour!! I wish you much success on this incredible book!

D. K. MARLEY

Author of “Blood and Ink”, “The Fire of Winter”, “The Prince of Denmark”, and “Child of Love & Water”

For those following the tour, click here for the next stop:

HOSTED BY Mary Anne Yarde’s THE COFFEE POT BOOK CLUB

THE WHISPERING BOOKWORM – November 30th

THE HIST FIC CHIC – December 1st

LINNEA TANNER’S OFFICIAL BLOG – December 2nd

THE WRITING DESK – December 3rd

LET THE WORDS SHINE… – December 4th

MJ PORTER’S OFFICIAL BLOG – December 7th

OH LOOK, ANOTHER BOOK! – December 8th

CANDLELIGHT READING – December 9th

ZOE’E ART, CRAFT, AND LIFE – December 10th

BROOK’S SCROLL – December 11th

I Adore “The Hollow Crown”!!

There is a good thing about getting sick. You are forced to lay in bed or on the couch and binge watch some really great shows (plus do some writing if your brain can focus out of the fog of pain).

I must say, I am completely and utterly enamored with the portrayal of these Shakespeare plays on BBC. And I came across them quite by accident a while ago, while researching some things on Shakespeare for my novel, The Prince of Denmark. Needless to say, my husband thought I lost my mind when I jumped up from my sickened state yelling, “Hurry up, buy this for me! I just found this on Amazon and I need this now!!”

He did, and we spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday night watching the series The Hollow Crown: The War of the Roses, which covers the plays Henry VI, Part One and Two, and Richard III. We were both speechless after watching them.

I thought I would post the brief synopsis of the series for anyone who reads this and is looking for a 16th-century story told about 15th-century history.  When Shakespeare wrote these plays the history was only about 200 years old. My husband said it would be like writing something today about the history that happened in the early 1800s. Interesting, huh?

Here is the synopsis:

These three screen adaptations, Henry VI in two parts and Richard III, tell the story of The Wars of the Roses, an exceptionally turbulent period in British history. Shakespeare’s plays are filmed in the visually breathtaking landscape and architecture of the period. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Hugh Bonneville, Judi Dench, Michael Gambon, Sally Hawkins, & Sophie Okonedo, these exhilarating and emotionally charged films feature some of Shakespeare’s most eloquent and powerful language.

Don’t even get me started on how I feel about Benedict Cumberbatch. And he plays Richard III…. need I say more? As well as, Judi Dench and Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham of Downton Abbey plays the Duke of Gloucester and Lord Protector of Henry VI).

In other words, history synopsis goes like this: Henry IV seized the throne, thus the throne of England passed to his son, Henry V, and on to Henry VI; but there were other claimants to the throne who had better right, such as the Duke of York who claimed right not only through his father but his mother, as well; and the Duke of Somerset who claimed right through the third son of Edward III, his great-grandfather). Although, Henry VI still had right from the same third son of Edward III (his great-great grandfather). So, the throne switched from hand to hand over 40 years. Much to-do about a red rose and a white rose, a lot of blood spilled, wars fought, back-stabbing women, ambitious men, and all for the one English throne. Take a break from “Game of Thrones” and watch the history of the real-life game of thrones!

And here is the link on Amazon if you are interested in buying (which I most heartily recommend!!)

The Hollow Crown: The War of the Roses

Oh, my! As I was looking up the link for this one, I just discovered that there is a first season of The Hollow Crown!! Jumping up and down, again!! Wanna guess what I will be doing this weekend?

Echo

A brief blog today as I sit and watch the rain….

Echo

Fire, Earth, Wind, Water: elementary elements essential to our existence. Wrapped in a continuous circle enveloping our lives and falling like unsure tears, soaking into the fertile soil, sprouting seeds, bending to the warm breath, heating to excess, ambitious infernos eating our days, until the first drops scatter down, sizzling to quietness the blaze, the peaceful patter before the downpour, the nourishment before the echo.

Thank you for reading my blog… more to come!!

D. K. Marley

‘Fearless Women and Dangerous Passions’- Meet Autumn Bardot

Visit the Facebook Group “The Historical Fiction Club” on October 26th to enjoy Autumn’s Author Takeover day filled with fascinating posts, giveaways, and a chance to ask her questions!!

Link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/historicalfictionbookclub

Autumn Bardot writes historical fiction and more about fearless women and dangerous passions. 
She has taught literature, writing, and the magic of words for more than sixteen years. Autumn was the guest author on Stoya’s Book Club, has an article on writing erotica in BooksbyWomen.org, and has been featured on several podcasts. She is currently writing her next novel and working on a series for new writers on her YouTube channel.

Autumn has a passion for history and a special affinity for the unsung courageous females that history neglects…or misunderstands. Autumn lives in Southern California with her husband and ever-growing family. She wishes she was one-tenth as brave as the women she writes about. 

YouTube channel: About section

WRITING. AUTHORING. Exploring the power of words. Find quick tips and author advice. Discover how to amplify character, conflict, and emotion. Learn about the writing craft and bookish tricks. Welcome beautiful writers, I’m Autumn Bardot, author of traditionally and indie published books. Nine to date. Another on the way! I’ve taught writing and literary analysis for more than 16 years, so my approach to writing comes from both academic and real-life experience. 

THE IMPALER’S WIFE

A young woman is swept into a life of intrigue, revenge, passion, and betrayal when she falls for the world’s most notorious prince, Vlad Dracula. 

The year is 1464. King Matthias controls Hungary, his family, and the fate of the world’s most notorious political prisoner, Prince Vlad Dracula. 

 Ilona Szilágy, the king’s cousin, is young and ambitious. Dracula is determined to marry into the family. It is love at first sight, but the king has other plans. The Impaler Prince, however, never takes no for an answer.

This begins Ilona’s journey into the treacherous world of court intrigues, family betrayals, and her husband’s dark desires. Eager to become Vlad’s trusted confidant, Ilona soon discovers that marriage to a man tortured by his past comes with a price.

Woven throughout is a peek into the life and times of one of the world’s most enigmatic and maligned rulers…the man before the legend.

The Impaler’s Wife offers a fierce yet sensuous glimpse into the violent 15th century. 

DRAGON LADY

Prostitution required the violation of my body. Piracy required my soul. The first enslaved me. The second set me free. 

A young girl is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a floating brothel. Xianggu begins as a servant, but soon her virginity is bought by the highest bidder. Ambitious and determined, she learns the business in hopes of earning her freedom from the madam. Her dreams are washed away when a midnight pirate raid changes her life. 

Kidnapped by the notorious Red Flag boss, Xianggu embarks on a journey that demands beauty, brains, and brawn. But Xianggu must do more than learn to wield a sword, sail a ship, and swim across the bay, she must become indispensable to the pirate boss if she hopes to survive.  The winds, however, never blow in the same direction, and Xianggu must make a decision that requires her to battle jealous men, ancient prejudices, and her own heart. 

The triumph of the notorious Zheng Yi Sao is a fierce and unflinching story of how a prostitute became the most powerful and successful pirate in the world.  

In 18th century China, when men made and enforced the rules, the Dragon Lady lived by her own. 

THE EMPEROR’S ASSASSIN (awarded the bronze seal in the historical personage category by Readers’ Favorite )

History claims she is the first female serial killer.

Locusta is the daughter of a winemaker in the Roman province of Gaul. She enjoys the indulged childhood of the elite, her concerns only about the day’s amusements. She rides gentle ponies, attends parties, reads Ovid, and learns the herbal arts from her servant. But the day after meeting her betrothed, Locusta discovers the consequences of possessing such dangerous knowledge. 

Ordered to leave her pastoral life, Locusta is thrust into a world of intrigue, scandal, and murder—where treason lurks behind every corner and defying an emperor means death. Locusta’s life changes forever when a young Emperor Nero requires her herbal expertise and commands her to be his personal poisoner. Caught in an imperial web, Locusta must embrace her profession or die. 

Or is there another way out? 

The history books have nothing good to say about this woman. Or is that because men wrote her story?

Autumn’s Links:

Website: http://www.autumnbardot.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/autumnbardot

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AutumnBardotAuthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/autumnbardot 

Amazon: https://amazon.com/author/autumnbardot 

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/autumn-bardot

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/autumnbardot/

YouTube:  https://rb.gy/6tsx0e

Check out her book trailers here:

http://histficchic.com/the-peep-show-book-trailers/

Quintessence of Dust

Sometimes as a writer the creative juices usually flowing onto the page are dammed by the realities of the world around you. Ambition and creativity sometimes suffer in this way when an artist of any form cannot function unless words or paint or music is flowing without the weight of problems around them. This makes me think of the character Hamlet, who for all his faults and cowardice, possessed a stilted ambition because of the happenings within the walls of Elsinore. Hamlet was a brilliant mind, a man of words who found himself imprisoned within Denmark through no fault of his own except his own need for creativity to reveal his father’s murderer instead of simply peaking up. Thus, does the character reveal a little something about the man who wrote the play? Perhaps, Shakespeare, as well, struggled with life as a writer and actor. Speaking as a writer myself, we live in a world of make-believe, a world of our own creation, and sometimes because of the world’s we create, the attention to detail and human suffering, our eyes appear more opened to the problems of the world around us.

     I don’t know, perhaps it is a curse of creativity. We are mere humans crawling between earth and heaven, striving for the clouds, ambitious creatures seeking fulfillment on a page and acceptance from the world; a world, in truth, that doesn’t care and can pass you by unless you are one of the fortunate ones, the one-in-a-million lottery-hitting authors who snag a huge contract with a big well-known publisher. Yet, even then, yes, even then, does that guarantee happiness and fulfillment?

     For some, I suppose so; yet, we have so many examples of those for whom success did not give them completion. Virginia Woolf clamored for something outside of herself, something that words could not fill. When I look into her sad eyes, I see myself; yet different, because I do cherish life, yet I understand the darkness she carried. She owned the sadness of the world that she carried like a grain sack on her shoulders and ultimately, weighed her down in those waters where she took her life. Hemingway, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Kahlo, Sexton, all found solace in silence instead of the healing power of words and paint.

     There are times I can relate. I refer to the note written by Hunter S. Thompson, author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, where he said, “No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun — for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax — This won’t hurt.”

     Sometimes when you get to the point where you are facing mortality because of middle-age, you do become greedy, or ambitious, for more. And as a writer, especially a writer who has not seen success for the very thing you have strived for your entire life, there is a certain amount of vanity, disappointment and boredom that comes along with the weight of watching the world around you. A creative mind always wants more, more, more. Even for those successful, something lacks in their success. My personal feelings is that those of us of that nature, who find we cannot wake without thinking of words, are looking for a perfection that will never come, and when we finally come to that realization, we either take our own life or we settle into a creative retirement in which we find that the world is not worthy of what we have to say. Many authors disgusted with the world and the politics of publishing slip into a void of anonymity; ‘Bound in a nutshell’ and declaring themselves ‘the kings of infinite space.’

     I find myself greedy for words at this stage in my life, and as I am determined to not travel the path of Virginia, yet I wrestle with the idea of seclusion. Who of us has not considered this? Who of us, this quintessence of dust, has not struggled striving to reach a far off dream? Gloomy words for this wordy passage and this passage of life. Forgive me for these words, but they are the most valuable thing I possess and the only thing I have to share; if anyone is interested.

D. K. Marley

Historical Fiction Recommended Series

I came across this interesting resource dealing with history and/or historical fiction and decided to share the information.

Nathan Wuertenberg is a staff researcher at the Aull Center for Local History, a division of the Morgantown Public Library System. He received his doctorate in history from The George Washington University and is a co-host with Mike McClung of Aull About History, a local history podcast produced in partnership with The Dominion Post.

Aull Center for Local History & Genealogy Research. It’s an annex of the public library in Morgantown, West Virginia.

His blog will appear on the library’s website at http://www.mympls.org/. The first entry is here (http://www.mympls.org/fact-checking-fiction-presidential-history-recommendations-by-nathan/) and the second, which he will be making a TikTok for next week is here (http://www.mympls.org/fact-checking-fiction-haunted-history-recommendations-by-nathan/).

He also has two planned for November, although one of them isn’t strictly historical fiction. The first is about classic novels that were influenced by their author’s experiences in historical wars (for Veterans Day). The second will be historical fiction about Native American history (for Native American Heritage Month).
The link to the Aull Center’s TikTok account where the videos will appear is here: https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMJ5DD7EU/

Grief in a Downpour

Grief. That ugly word. That real word. A word you cannot escape once you experience the reality it brings. I have known loss in my life… grandparents, friends, acquaintances, as all of us have, but when the ugly word comes in the form of the loss of a child, well, there is no comparison.

Five years have passed, five years since that heart-wrenching day where we got THAT phone call. The phone call of your nightmares. The phone call where you insist that the person on the other side of the line is making up a story or dreaming or lying. But they are not. You see moments like this portrayed on TV or in the movies, but when it happens in real life, it is quite different. The shock washing over you numbs every nerve ending in your body and the scream surging inside your lungs cannot find a way to your throat, instead you find yourself shaking and sobbing and pulling the covers over your head.

The very personal details are mine, and even after five years, I cannot find the words to speak them. All the reader of this post needs to know is that if ever you find yourself out at a club or with friends or anywhere that involves alcohol, do not drink and drive, or drug and drive. Read this and think of my daughter. Read this and think of my son-in-law. Read this and think of my grandchild. Yes, three lives taken by one man, no, not even a man, a boy; a careless irresponsible boy drugged up and drunk and speeding away from police. My kids were only one mile from their home, driving home happy and oblivious to the oncoming terror. And it happened, in one split second. They are gone and now, here I sit, typing on my computer and spilling the grief which daily wakes with me each morning.

I have read so many posts about grief and pinned so many pins over the past five years. One I like particularly says, “There is a word for a mate who loses a spouse, there is a word for a child who loses their parents; but there is no word in the English language for a parent who loses a child.” Why? Perhaps because the pain is beyond comprehension, beyond mere words. Not that the other losses are less, because they are not, but the out of order unnaturalness of losing a child is, well, in truth, there is not a word, or words, to completely explain. All death is unnatural.

So, I wrote a story about my journey. Here I share my words of the day we buried our children. Grief freezes each second of those first days and you become aware of every passing second. I remember every detail. Here is a slice:

Grief in a Downpour

Rain is just rain, unless you have lost a child; unless you have lost children – a daughter, a son-in-law, an unborn grandchild. The vibrations of the drops pelted against my skin as I stepped out onto the sidewalk in front of the funeral home. I stood still, letting each watery bead pop and drizzle, each bead magnifying in my mind like a tsunami surging and cresting around the one thought in my brain. I closed my eyes and tilted back my head; the river from the sky mingled with the ocean breaking through my lashes. The roar of the downpour pressed against me. The greyness shadowed over my shoulder.

In that moment, I saw each solitary droplet, a perfect circle reflecting the world around it; a fleeting flash captured in the essence of liquid. A time capsule. A mirror. An eye on the seconds swimming by – the moving crowd of mourners filing past me out the doors, giving hugs, uttering words and each rushing to their waiting cars as the clouds burst. My gaze fell upon the doe-eyed young mother standing at the curb at the crosswalk, her face full of the future as she stared down at the child in her arms. She pulled the bubbled umbrella closer to shield them from the rain, yet one glistening orb took note of the twitch in her fake smile as she glanced at the business woman darting from the yellow cab. The rain wondered what the young mother regretted as it streaked onto the woman’s back. The woman held her briefcase from the past and above her head, cursing as the slick sidewalk drenched her red-soled shoes and the air frizzed her bottle-dyed hair. The rain broke harder, delighting in the mischievous grin she cast upon the young messenger boy as he sped by on his ten-speed. The rain pondered what she left behind as it beat against the muscles of the rushing guy. He popped a wheelie to the here and now, oblivious to the honking horns, as the oil-slick streets spattered against his calves and his faded blue shirt drank the water. The rain thickened hard against his perseverance, sloshing resistance as he broke through a puddle to send a spray into the opened window of the yellow cab. The rain questioned his carelessness as it slithered down the old cab-driver’s raised fist. The driver rolled up the window against time and youth as a puff of cigarette smoke mingled with the mist and he wiped the residual liquid from his wrinkled brow. The rain clouds rumbled and contemplated what he feared as the droplets beat against the window, unable to reach the young mother and child scooting into the back seat of the now available cab. She shivered from the chill, but smiled and hugged her child close, knowing she had many more miles to go before she braved the storm, before she tasted the stream of time upon her lips, and reached her destination around many corners. Yet, the rain examined her misplaced surety as her eyes touched upon the vision of me standing on the sidewalk. I was once like her, bubble-protected, but now I am a passing vision to her, nothing more; and the rain, a mere inconvenience.

My eyes took notice of the fragility of the weather as they all moved on with their lives; all things replaced with another sunny hue. Time continued forward while my tears flowed into the vacuous depths of the street drains, carrying with them the leaves and the trash of the world. The dirt of my heart. The mire of this sadness. My rain eased to single pronounced droplets from the corner of the awning, plopping onto the glistening concrete and answering my life in a simple resolute response that the details of these horrible days will tear like a daily tornado thru my heart as I travel this lonely path. Each raindrop a detail, each splatter against the pavement – the irony of flowers to brighten a dismal day, the color of my hair graying with the clouds, my husband’s trembling hand clutched in mine, my son’s thunder-filled cry, my daughter-in-law’s rain-shielding hug, my granddaughter’s innocent sunny smile, the grandparents aging with each crack of lightening, and my son-in-law’s parents reflecting back the same dark stormy eyes of loss.

But the clouds roll by and time moves on. This is my reality, this is my rain. There is many days of rain, many storms and each morning I check the weather, each morning I look to the heavens as the sun peeks through the silver-lined clouds and I recall deep inside a distant hopeful dawn. Reaching in my purse, I pull out my sunglasses and cover my puffy eyes, lift my chin and take one step….and another…..and another, till I find the pace that matches the patter of waking to another soft dew-covered morning or falling asleep to another rage-filled stormy night ….and another….and another….and another….and on and on and on. Another yellow cab is coming… another tearful dream-filled night rounding another hopeful dawn…. my daughter is just there…. my son-in-law is just there…. between sleep and awake…. just right around the cloudless corner…..thus, I keep moving forward. I do not give up.

My First Encounter with Shakespeare

My first encounter with Shakespeare came at the age of eleven. My grandmother, an English teacher and writer, introduced me to the works of Shakespeare. She inspired me with her love of books and love of English history and literature. My eager eyes spied a couple of her college books sitting on a shelf while visiting her one summer and my fingers brushed along the shelf, making imprints in the dust bunnies. I slid the books out and sat on the floor in front of the bookshelf and slowly turned the pages, soaking in the beauty of the language into my young heart. It wasn’t until later I realized she had been watching me, and after I returned the books to their hallowed place, she came up, took the books back down and placed them into my hands and said, “Here, these are yours.”

I still have them, to this day, some forty years later, and they hold such a precious place in my heart and in my home. Her gift and those words set my feet on the path of English history, inspiring me to take up my own pen to begin writing the stories floating in my head.

When in school, I adored English literature, the classics, the poets, the playwrights…. everything!

My first attempt at story writing was in eleventh grade when I joined the Short Story Writing Competition for our city. My story came in second place. And then, our school started a small literary magazine and a few of my stories made publication.

My senior year I began my first attempt at a novel entitled “Feringhi” – about a young Indian girl with a British father and Indian mother, set in 1800 Kashmir; a laughable piece, but now looking back on it, a necessary step toward developing my voice.

My next attempt, a sort of romance set in the 1700s during the early colonization of Massachusetts and Georgia and the barrier islands of Jekyll and Cumberland, in the style of one of my favorite authors in my younger days, Victoria Holt, entitled “The Jekyll Child”. Romance, or at least the style of Historical Romance, is not my forte nor my passion.

Later, after reading books such as Rosalind Miles’ “I, Elizabeth” and Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “The Mists of Avalon”, I knew where I wanted to take my writing. Thus, the combination of Shakespeare and learning my own voice, as well as my many visits to London, I arrived at the current air of my novels.

Writers write, and writers write what they know. I never went to college or studied Shakespeare to the extent I wish I could have, but I hope the passion for his works come out in my novels. My grandmother’s book is “The Complete Works of Shakespeare” edited by Hardin Craig and published in 1961 and I thought it might be interesting to blog about things within this book that inspired me, and hopefully will move others and younger ones to look into the incredible words of this genius. I hope my words mingled with Shakespeare’s will find some other eager eyes to pass along my dust bunny soul.

The opening lines of the book read: “In order to fully understand and appreciate Shakespeare, it is necessary to see him as a whole. It is not enough to read individual passages, scenes, and plays as independent units; they should be studied in their relation to the development of Shakespeare’s powers as a dramatist, to the drama itself, and to Renaissance literature. The student who would know Shakespeare needs to know the temper of the Elizabethan age. As the student comes to understand better the meaning that Shakespeare had in his own day he will at the same time, the editor believes, develop a richer appreciation of the qualities of Shakespeare’s genius that have given his work meaning in all ages.”

I wholeheartedly agree. In this world of technology, let none of us take for granted or lose the beauty of his words. Young people today, well not only young ones but all, are inundated with screens – cell phones, computers, movies and TV – but there is something grounding when they are encouraged not to forget the smell of a classic book, the eloquence of a phrase, or the heart-moving verse in a sonnet or poem. This is a legacy, Shakespeare’s legacy, needing to be sounded from the corners of the world.

This is my sounding from this blog and I pray someone hears. If you are out there, listening, I heartily thank you. Now, pick up your own pen and carry on….