Tag Archives: The Hist Fic Chic

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

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.

“The Paris Affair” by Susanne Dunlap – A HistFicChic Review

“The Paris Affair” by Susanne Dunlap is the third installation of the Theresa Schurman Mystery Books, and an exciting tale of intrigue during the reign of Marie Antoinette. Amid the sensational rumours surrounding the Queen, Theresa, an accomplished violinist and god-daughter to Haydn, is sent to France by Antoinette’s brother, Emperor Joseph II of Austria, to uncover the source of the circulating pamphlets blasting his sister.

Theresa is swept into a world of mystery while escaping the pressing decision of marriage to a Hungarian Baron, and she finds herself in the position as bookkeeper to the Queen of France’s milliner, Rose Bertin. Along the path of unravelling the puzzle, she encounters the Chevalier de Saint-George, a black man of extraordinary skill with both the violin and the sword; as well as someone from her past – Captain von Bauer, a man who annoys her, yet entices her. Music is her passion, solving mysteries is her skill, in this novel set in the turbulent city of eighteenth-century Paris, a time when rumours and scandal kill.

Being the third installation in the series, as a stand-alone book I must admit I was a bit confused at the beginning, so I do recommend reading the first two in the series before beginning this one. The outset assumed a person already knew the relationship between Theresa and the Emperor, as well as the love/hate relationship betwixt her and Captain von Bauer. That aside, the external conflict thrust upon her by the Emperor, as well as the internal conflict she has of whether to marry or not, sweeps you right into the story, continuing on into the thick of palace intrigue and murder.

This novel is perfect for a mid-teen to young adult wishing to delve into the world of historical fiction with a mix of mystery as the sentence structure is simple and the grammar is attuned to that age level with incredible skill. In other words, expect more of a Phyllis Whitney-style rather than Tolstoy, which is well in introducing young readers to the world of historical fiction.

What I liked: First, the cover is amazing!! Kudos to the designer!! Second, I loved the way the book handled the matters of prejudice during the time period, and the injustice; as well as the passion for the incredible music of the era. The book was easy to read, and I finished in one sitting.

What I did not like: I must admit, I am more of a Victor Hugo-girl when it comes to French Historical novels, so my preference for a thick, voluminous, and wordy story was not fulfilled with The Paris Affair; which, is not a bad thing, just not for me. I wanted more conflict, more internal dialogue, more tension, and more roller-coasters of passion. I loved the characters and the storyline, I just felt a craving for more.

Chickie’s Writing Tips #1

I am at a loss for words, and here I sit trying to write a post for this blog. I mean, I’m not really at a loss for words but you know how it goes when something moves you beyond anything you hoped for and you are dying to tell someone. That is where I am at after attending an online Zoom workshop from Free Expressions Seminars and Literary Services by Donald Maass and Lorin Oberweger.

I knew it, of course, that it would be exactly what I needed to bump up my writing for my new work-in-progress; after all, I attended a 10-day workshop over 14 years ago where Lorin was one of the instructors. The experience and the knowledge gained resonates even to this day.

So, I determined that this topic is the very first in my “Chickie’s Writing Tips”. As a writer we often do not do very many things for ourselves except sit in a room alone and type away at the keys to bring our story to life, maybe sipping our favorite coffee or tea with a pup or kitten at our feet. We push ourselves to flesh out the characters and scenes in our head like some Dr Frankenstein pulling the handle and praying a jolt of electricity will bring it all to life. What I have found is that sometimes that jolt comes in the form of a well-renowned workshop where you immerse yourself in learning before writing, or during your writing.

I say, well-renowned, since I have heard of workshops that just do not deliver and left some of their patrons feeling deflated about their prospects of being a writer; but, if you attend one under the tutelage of some high-profile names in the industry, I think it is a safe bet that you will come from that classroom refreshed and electrified.

Free Expressions offers online workshops via Zoom at the moment because of the Covid-19 pandemic known as the Weekly Writing Webinars, but in normal circumstances supports in-person workshops such as “The Breakout Novel Intensive” by Donald Maass and the “Boni Graduate Learning Retreat”, as well as the “Wake Up & Write Writer’s Retreat Workshop” (the one I attended in 2006). At Free Expressions, they even offer a two-year Story Lab that you can apply for where they help you bring your novel from idea to finished and revised draft, with a view toward big five publication! Ooo, if only my ship was approaching the dock . . . right? Still, if you can afford it, then why not do it for yourself and for the stories begging to be told? I know I would if I could, in a heartbeat!!

So, what do you learn? Well, let me give you an example. Yesterday, I listened to the workshop called “Emotional Tipping Points” given by Mr Maass since I was struggling to push my characters further in the story. Well, I shouldn’t say struggling, I actually need to say I knew there was more there and needed a little jolt to breathe some life into them. The workshop delivered more than what I needed. In just two and a half hours, Mr Maass was able to ask enough questions of me and my characters to flesh them out, as if he reached inside my protagonist’s heart and resuscitated her. Just in the first chapter alone, I discovered ways of turning up the emotional impact for the reader, after all, isn’t that what we are trying to do for them? If a reader cannot connect with your characters, especially with your main character, then how long will they stay with the story? Or even want to read another one of your stories?

I’d love to share some of his questions, but that sort of spoils the fun of the experience, does it not? My advice is to check it out for yourself. This one workshop was only $39, but you can get the whole series for $399.00! A steal!!

So, this is my writing tip #1 – do something for yourself as a writer, sign up for a workshop, and not just any workshop – get the best. To me, the best by far is the ones I mentioned above. You will never regret the investment in yourself and your career as a writer.

Where to sign up?

https://www.free-expressions.com/

Who they are?

Donald Maass founded the Donald Maass Literary Agency in New York in 1980. He is the author of The Career Novelist (1996),Writing the Breakout Novel (2001), Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook (2004), The Fire in Fiction (2009), The Breakout Novelist (2011), Writing 21st Century Fiction (2012) and The Emotional Craft of Fiction (2019).  He is a past president of the Association of Authors’ Representatives, Inc.

Lorin Oberweger is a highly sought-after independent book editor and ghostwriter with almost twenty-five years experience in publishing. Her company, Free Expressions, offers intensive, deep craft workshops nationwide. She’s also known for her one-on-one story mastermind session for writers of all genres of fiction and creative nonfiction.

Lorin’s students and clients have millions of books in print and have been published by HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Scholastic, Simon and Schuster, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Disney, and many other presses. They have also gained representation with some of the industry’s leading literary agents.

An award-winning author, Lorin has co-written and ghostwritten eight books, several for New York Times bestselling authors of fiction and nonfiction. Her work, commissioned by major publishers, has received glowing notices from the New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, NPR, and others.

With bestselling author Veronica Rossi, Lorin is the author of the New Adult books, BOOMERANG, REBOUND, and BOUNCE, published by Harper/William Morrow under the pen name Noelle August.  The novels were praised by Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, among others, and BOOMERANG was chosen as a “new and notable” selection for Target Stores across the US.

The Author Roost -The Incredible Roman Styles of Brook Allen

This feature spotlight is in conjunction with Brook’s author takeover on October 13th at The Historical Fiction Club on Facebook. If you wish to ask her questions or get an insight into her novels, come join the fun here anytime during the day: The Historical Fiction Club

Brook Allen is a historical fiction powerhouse with her first novel, “Antonius: Son of Rome”, winning the gold for 2019 for Best Historical Novel from The Coffee Pot Book Club awards. Now, along with “Antonius: Second in Command”, the second novel in the trilogy, comes the third installment “Antonius: Soldier of Fate”.

Brook has a passion for ancient history–especially 1st century BC Rome. Her current work is a trilogy on the life of Marcus Antonius–Marc Antony, which she has worked on for the past fourteen years. The first installment, Antonius: Son of Rome was published in March 2019. It follows Antony as a young man, from the age of eleven, when his father died in disgrace, until he’s twenty-seven and finally meets Cleopatra for the first time. Book two, Antonius: Second in Command, will be published this fall and will detail Antony’s rise to power alongside the notorious Julius Caesar.

In researching the Antonius Trilogy, Brook’s travels have led her to Italy, Egypt, Greece, and even Turkey to explore the places where Antony once lived, fought, and eventually, died. While researching abroad, she consulted with scholars and archaeologists well-versed in Hellenistic and Roman history, specifically pinpointing the late Republican Period in Rome. Brook belongs to the Historical Novel Society and attends conferences as often as possible to study craft and meet fellow authors. Though she graduated from Asbury University with a B.A. in Music Education, Brook has always loved writing. She completed a Masters program at Hollins University with an emphasis in Ancient Roman studies, which helped prepare her for authoring her present works.

Brook teaches full-time as a Music Educator and works in a rural public-school district near Roanoke, Virginia. Her personal interests include travel, cycling, hiking in the woods, reading, and spending downtime with her husband and two amazing Labrador Retrievers. She lives in the heart of southwest Virginia in the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains.

Blurb: Marcus Antonius has it all—power, prestige, a heroic military reputation, and the love of Queen Cleopatra. But as master of Rome’s Eastern provinces and kingdoms, he must maintain peace, and in so doing, he sacrifices his own happiness, yoked within a loveless marriage and an eroding alliance. As Octavian’s star rises, Marcus must compete with his rival’s success, though it leads to an embittered struggle threatening to end their unity.
Once Marcus finally takes matters into his own hands, his fate becomes tied to the East—and Cleopatra. Far from Rome and his seat of power, a horrific campaign to fulfill Julius Caesar’s vision will forever alter him. He is a man torn between two countries and two families, and ultimately—a soldier fated to be the catalyst transforming Rome from Republic to Empire.

Buy here:

A “Peep Show” Book Trailer – The Assistant by Riana Everly

A tale of love, secrets, and adventure across the ocean
When textile merchant Edward Gardiner rescues an injured youth, he has no notion that this simple act of kindness will change his life. The boy is bright and has a gift for numbers that soon makes him a valued assistant and part of the Gardiners’ business, but he also has secrets and a set of unusual acquaintances. When he introduces Edward to his sparkling and unconventional friend Miss Grant, Edward finds himself falling in love.
But who is this enigmatic woman who so quickly finds her way to Edward’s heart? Do the deep secrets she refuses to reveal have anything to do with the appearance of a sinister stranger, or with the rumours of a missing heir to a northern estate? As danger mounts, Edward must find the answers in order to save the woman who has bewitched him . . . but the answers themselves may destroy all his hopes.
Set against the background of Jane Austen’s London, this Pride and Prejudice prequel casts us into the world of Elizabeth Bennet’s beloved Aunt and Uncle Gardiner. Their unlikely tale takes the reader from the woods of Derbyshire, to the ballrooms of London, to the shores of Nova Scotia. With so much at stake, can they find their Happily Ever After?
The Assistant is a full-length JAFF novel of about 90 000 words.

Recipient of the Jane Austen Award from Jane Austen Readers’ Awards.”With a poignant storyline and colourful array of characters…Ms. Everly’s work demonstrates a commanding hold on narrative and history…”Praise for Ms. Everly’s Teaching Eliza:
“With her thoughtful and skillfully-crafted debut release, Riana Everly has created a most engaging and entertaining tale that is sure to charm ardent fans of Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice, and Pygmalion.” – Austenesque Reviews
“Teaching Eliza by Riana Everly is a variation I did not want to put down. I was delighted by every twist that brought Darcy and Elizabeth together and enjoyed the entertaining paths they took when they were parted.” – Savvy Verse Wit
“If you’re looking for a historical romance that’s sharp, well-written, and pays homage to two great works while still offering something fresh and new, pick up a copy of Teaching Eliza.” – Compulsive Overreader

A “Peep Show” Video – Murder at the Races by Carmen Radtke

Murder at the Races Book Trailer

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Nothing is a dead-cert in a race against a cold-blooded killer …

1931. Frances Palmer is overjoyed when her brother Rob returns to Adelaide as a racecourse veterinarian. But all is not well on the turf, and when a man is murdered, there is only one suspect – Rob.

Frances and her boyfriend, charming night club owner Jack Sullivan, along with ex-vaudevillian Uncle Sal and their friends have only one chance to unmask
the real murderer, by infiltrating the racecourse. The odds are against them, but luckily putting on a
dazzling show where everything depends on sleight of hand is what they do best. But with time running out for Rob, the race is on …

If you love sparkling dialogue, glamorous settings and the charm of the Golden Age mysteries, you’ll enjoy Carmen Radtke’s cozy whodunnits, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Rhys Bowen and Carola Dunn.

Get the book here:

The Peep Show

So, I’ve added a new page to this website and blog called ‘The Peep Show’ going along with my theme of The Hist Fic Chic.

This page is dedicated to book trailers and videos for historical fiction novels and authors, as well as podcasts and Youtube channels.

Sorry to disappoint but no hot chicks here … unless you are looking for the beautiful strong men and women of historical fiction. I mean, come on, how can you resist looking at the alluring eyes of Anne Boleyn or the strong arms of Jamie Fraser on the covers of historical fiction (or sub-genre) novels?

You know what is even more enticing? READING about these amazing people!! So, watch the videos and get some ideas for your next tantalizing read!

If you are a historical fiction, historical romance, historical fantasy, historical time-travel, or any other sub-genre author connected to historical fiction, and you would like to include your book trailer to this site, please contact me at histficchickie@gmail.com!!

Here’s one of mine to get things going:

“Blood and Ink” by D. K. Marley – available in ebook, paperback, hardcover, and Audible.

A “Just Hatched” Book – Dragons in the Clouds by David Blair

How about a little historical fantasy? Check out this new book by David Blair!!

‘’Dragons in the Clouds’’ is an epic adventure that takes place in the land of Albian during a time when Dragons were alive and freely roamed the land.  The people during this time were being devoured by a particularly vicious species of dragon. To protect his people, the ruling King finally orders the total annihilation of all living dragons. A powerful wizard, named Merlinus, who is a friend to the king, does not agree with the King’s order. Merlinus knows all Dragons are not what they seem. So he does what he must to protect a family of dragons that he has befriended. To protect his dragon friends, Melinus performs the spell of weightlessness and tells the dragons to fly up and to hide in the cover of the clouds.  An unforeseen ability of the dragon’s weightlessness spell is that a Dragon’s fire now looks like lightning to the people below, and their roar is like that of thunder. Melinus tells the dragons to live within the clouds and to only come down at night to eat.  Merlinus’ apprentice wants his master’s power and has grand ideas of his own. He has a plan for evil dragons that he has hidden deep within a mountain cavern. Now enters a young boy, who has befriended a very young dragon. The two suddenly find themselves caught between the King’s order and a battle that has begun between two species of dragons. A battle ensues that will determine control of the skies above the Kingdom of Albian.  As a result, Merlinus’ apprentice’s plan has consequences that may bring the Kingdom of Albian and perhaps the very world we live in today, to a devastating end. 

David Blair – I am the creator and writer of, ‘’Dragons in the Clouds’’ My most favorite and influential writer would be and Charles Dickens, All my work has a paranormal feel too it.  I recently worked as a production supervisor  for EnterAktion Studios. I started my story telling at the young age of 14. A student film called ‘’Destination Destiny’’.