Art in Historical Fiction Interview Series featuring Michael Dean

IHogarth_PBLast week was week three of the “Art in Historical Fiction Interview Series” at the Historical Novel Society. Michael Dean was the featured author and his biographical novel depicting the 18th century life of British painter and engraver William Hogarth in I, Hogarth.

Don’t miss this interesting interview!

Click here to read!


An Interview with Heather Webb BECOMING JOSEPHINE

350 josephine 3 LRThis Valentine’s Day I’m pleased to introduce and welcome to my blog author Heather Webb and her debut novel Becoming Josephine. A historical about the life of France’s beloved Josephine Bonaparte and her famous and heart-wrenching love story with Napoleon Bonaparte.

Through concise storytelling and cleaver descriptions Webb brings to life Josephine and her plight.

Q: What sparked your interest in your protagonist, Josephine Bonaparte?

The idea for this novel came to me in two parts. I taught a unit about the French Revolution in my high school French classes for several years, which sparked my interest in the time period. Yet despite my teaching, I knew little about Josephine and I “discovered” her later. Ultimately she was a minor player in a sea of France’s most famous and infamous people during the Revolution—at least until Robespierre fell and the Directoire took over the government.

When I began to feel the pull to writing a book, I had a dream about Josephine. Strange, but true. From the very first biography I read, I was hooked. Her vivid childhood home, her adaptable nature and courageous spirit had me enthralled. Her rich life story set to the backdrop of the chaotic Revolution and the opulent Napoleonic Empire cinched the deal.

Q: Will you share with us one of your favorite things about Josephine?

There are so many things I love about Josephine—she was a patron of the arts, an enthusiastic botanist, a fashion icon, but the most captivating things about her to me were her adaptable nature and courageous spirit and her generosity to everyone she knew. I also enjoyed reading about her tumultuous love affairs!

Q: What was one of her eccentricities that is little known?

She chewed sugarcane as a kid and her love of sugar never went away. She had quite a persistent sugar tooth.

Tarot of Lovers - Copy

The Tarot de Marseille is one of the French standard patterns from which many tarot decks of the 19th century and later were derived. This card is L’Amoureux (The Lovers).

Q: Uniquely you have focused on Josephine’s use of Tarot cards, where did you uncover this intriguing detail?

It’s in a lot of the research, believe it or not. She used her cards faithfully and found relief in reading their messages, particularly during some of the more tumultuous times of her life.

Q: What archival documents did you reference to help create the Martinique  sugar plantation scenes of the novel?

I read many documents on JStors, a journal database, that focused on sugar plantations specifically, but also I have a Master’s Degree in Latin American studies and have spent time in the jungles of Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico for my field work so I know exactly what a jungle smells, sounds, and feels like. I’m very familiar with the histories of the region.

Q: Okay, I have to ask: fact or fiction on the sponge cake guillotine heads? If true, where did you discover such a deliciously gruesome minutia?

That was fiction! I made it up in this crazy head of mine. As a matter of fact, it was one of my favorite scenes to write because I’m a foodie so I REALLY enjoyed being creative there.

Q: What interesting tidbits did you discover in your research but could not include in the book, but can share here?

There’s so much! The French Revolution itself is a gold mine of fascinating and horrifying facts, but also with Josephine and Napoleon’s lives, I left so much out. If I had incorporated it all, it would have been a four book series. For example, Napoleon massacred whole peoples and I don’t go into that much at all in the book. Also, he fell in love with Maria Walewski, his Polish mistress who was already married at the time, and impregnated her. All of the Bonapartes led intriguing lives with some really incredible stories.

As for Josephine, she collected artworks of all kinds and was the patron of many females artists in her day. In terms of her sexual life, she truly loved Hippolyte Charles and spent quite a bit of time with him—much more than I gave her credit for in Becoming Josephine. In addition she went on dozens of pilgrimages like every queen before her, but gave away jewels and money to the poor at each of her stop

Q: What is your writing process?

This is a tough question to answer, because I feel I’m always learning and changing to see if new processes will work better for me. What I begin with is extensive research—biographies, journals, nonfiction books about specific subjects I need to learn more about, documentaries, travel. For at least three months I read for hours and hours each day, take notes, and organize a historical outline. From there I devise a scene outline that I put together in a three act structure. It’s a fairly general outline, but it helps me keep track of what goes where. The next step is to work on the opening scene. I’m fairly linear in my thinking so once I start writing I go from beginning to end. I revise from beginning to end as well. With each draft of revisions I focus on one or two aspects at a time and then begin again. When I get close to finishing, I print it out and edit the chapters out of order (reading them aloud) to catch final errors, word choices, and flow.

Q: What are you working on next?

Currently I’m revising RODIN’S LOVER, a novel of Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin—sculptors, collaborators, and lovers—set to the backdrop of the Belle Époque. The novel explores the themes of struggling in the art world, obsession, and madness. It releases in winter of 2015.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Thank you so much Heather for this fascinating interview, and I already can’t wait for your next release!!!

This is a wonderful Valentine’s Day gift for yourself or loved one! Becoming Josephine

300 Heather Webb SmilingHeather Webb grew up a military brat and naturally became obsessed with travel, culture, and languages. She put her degrees to good use teaching high school French for nearly a decade before turning to full time novel writing and freelance editing. Her debut, BECOMING JOSEPHINE, released January 2014 from Plume/Penguin. Her forthcoming novel, RODIN’S LOVER, will release in winter of 2015.When not writing, Heather flexes her foodie skills or looks for excuses to head to the other side of the world. She loves to chitchat on Twitter with new reader friends or writers (@msheatherwebb) or via her blog ( Stop on by! Pinterest:

“Stories of Serendipity: Writing Historical Fiction” Series debuts at the Historical Novel Society!

cascade_tpb coverFor the next seven weeks I will post each Sunday on the Historical Novel Society website a serendipitous story. Sharing an author’s magical tale of serendipity while writing, researching, and publishing historical fiction, along with their speculations as to possible reasons behind such phenomena.

This week’s post features author Maryanne O’Hara and her bewildering accounts while writing and publishing her recent novel Cascade, read on, you’ll be amazed!

Click Here to Read Story!

Interview with Historical Novelist Nancy Rawles

350 Nancy RawlesThis 2013 Independence Day I would like to celebrate writer Nancy Rawles and her historical novel, My Jim. A beautiful book, an important story, this novel is written in the voice reminiscent of oral history of an eighteenth century slave wife, Sadie, whose husband, Jim, flees captivity when confronted with the prospect of being sold; and sails down the Mississippi River with Huck Finn from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

This book will open and pierce your heart, leave you awed.

Q: Will you share with us where the inspiration for your novel MY JIM came from?

I didn’t learn anything meaningful about the history of slavery until I was in college. In grade school and in high school, the whole subject was treated as a tragic, embarrassing episode that need not be explained. Or it was presented in satire, ala Huck Finn. I wasn’t introduced to slave narratives until I was an adult. I still find them to be the most breathtaking and beautiful books I have ever read. But unlike the narratives, which tell the stories of people who escaped, I wanted to tell the far more common story of someone who didn’t, someone who didn’t triumph in the end but who did survive. Her survival was largely due to the fact that she had loved and been loved, so she had experienced a glimmer of freedom that allowed her to keep going after she’d lost everyone and everything.

Q: I love the style of writing you wrote the novel in, it reads like oral history.  How did you come to decide to write in this voice? What challenges, if any, did you encounter when writing it this way?

I wanted My Jim to read like oral history, so I’m glad you’ve found it to be so. I read and listened to many oral My Jim 2histories before beginning to write. I studied the oral histories of former slaves, mostly for the emotional content of what they were saying. I found that they rarely spoke in terms of their feelings, so when they did, it was especially powerful. Mostly, they just reported what happened to them. The language was spare and clipped, as though they didn’t wish to recall a past that was so painful. When I started to write, I paid attention to how the book would sound if it were read aloud. I wanted there to be a rhythm and beat that is more associated with storytelling than with writing. That’s why the only punctuation I used was the full stop, the period. In My Jim, the period serves the same function as a line break serves in poetry.

Q: Also the structuring of the novel is unique, how did you come to organize the book by starting each chapter with a pertinent object? Or what inspired it?

I became very taken with the idea of what possessions must have meant to people who were themselves treated as possessions, people who had been stolen and sold and kept and discarded. I imagined that the few things they could hold onto and carry with them must have become enormously important. In the story, the central character is Jim’s wife Sadie. She carries with her – from slavery to freedom – a small piece of his hat, a fruit knife her mother gave her as a child, a shard of clay from a sacred bowl that her master broke to punish her, and the tooth of her youngest child, which she pulled just before he was taken away. These items, along with a few others, she keeps in a jar. They are her secrets, of no importance to anyone but her, until she shares them with her granddaughter to whom she tells her story.

Q: It is a heart touching story.Were there parts difficult to write? If so, will you share with us those parts and why they were so hard to write?

Much of My Jim was very difficult to write. In fact, there are a few segments that I am loathe to even read. Certainly anything that involved the daily torment of working as a slave and the suffering that comes with not being able to protect your family or keep your children close, all of those sections were extremely difficult to write.

Q: Will you share with us your writing process?

Invariably, any book I write involves research, so I research for about six months, just enough to get going, and I use that initial research to develop characters, story, style, and structure. Once I’ve decided these basics, I delve in, working straight through until I’ve got a first draft. If I come to a place in the writing where I don’t quite know what to do, I leave it blank and keep going. The first draft is generally about half as long as the final draft. When I’ve completed the first draft, I know how the book will end. So, I work backwards now, making sure all the proceeding chapters lead to the last one. Then, I identify all of the problems with the story, most of which are structural, some of which involve the plot or the characters. I go back to the beginning. I believe that problems arise because the beginning is not all it needs to be. I rewrite the beginning many times. After that, I spend some more time researching, to fill in the places I left blank and to correct whatever isn’t accurate. Then, I ask a trusted few to read what I have. This usually leads to many additions (where I’ve been too cryptic) and subtractions (where I’ve become attached to words that aren’t necessary to the telling of the story. I do another draft or two, then call it quits. I think it’s important to come to the end of things.

Q: Do you have any mementos or rituals you do before/while writing?

I love to swim, and when I’m trying to solve a problem with a piece of writing, I sometimes swim laps. I let my mind wander as I move through the water. I go places I can’t go when I’m sitting at my desk.

Q: Can you share with us what you are currently working on?

I recently published a rather quirky novel about a public school teacher who’s losing her mind due to the madness that passes for educational reform. It’s called Miz Sparks Is on Fire and This Ain’t No Drill. Teachers thoroughly relate to Miz Sparks, who has to navigate the emotionally-treacherous waters of an urban elementary school. At the same time, she’s facing her own personal crisis, which (as every teacher knows) must be put aside to deal with the struggles of her students. The book is written in emails and text messages and PTA minutes and school assemblies and student newspapers and bad poetry, all the styles of communication you’ll find in a school. So, right now, I’m just enjoying talking to readers about Miz Sparks and about education in general.

 Thank you Nancy for the interview! 

Buy MY JIM (See sidebar for link)!

Interview with author Nancy Bilyeau: Writing About Spirit & Workshopping Novels to Completion

nancyI’ve been awaiting this interview, and I am delighted to present author Nancy Bilyeau, writer of the historical thrillers: The Crown, The Chalice, along with a third novel in- the-works The Covenat.  The series follows the life of an aristocratic young Dominican nun, Joanna Stafford, and her quest to save a legendary crown and to survive the tumultuous Tudor times of King Henry VIII in England.  These are engaging and fast-paced reads.

And The Chalice is currently on e-book promotion for the month of June, don’t miss this amazing deal:  $2.99!

Q: Where did your inspiration for The Crown and The Chalice come from?

Crown cover

1st book in the series

My passion for Tudor history. I’ve been reading about the 16th century since I was 11 years old. When I decided to take the plunge and try to write a novel, I thought it made the most sense to set my story in the Tudor era. I love mysteries and thrillers, so I fused the two genres: historical fiction and thriller. It was important to me to write a female protagonist. Who would be at the center of my thriller? I didn’t want to write about a royal or lady of the court; I was eager to create my own fictional character and for her to be someone original to readers familiar with these types of books. So I came up with the idea of writing about the life of a Dominican novice at the point of dissolution of the Catholic Church. I thought it would yield intense drama, that she is coping with this cataclysmic change at the same time that she is thrust into .I thought it would yield intense drama, that she is coping with this cataclysmic change at the same time that she is thrust into a mystery with a dangerous mission.

Q: While writing The Crown and The Chalice do you feel like you gained any new spiritual insights from researching and creating these books, and if so, how? 

That’s an interesting question. I did not set out to write these books with a religious agenda. For one thing, I don’t have an agenda. I was brought up by agnostic parents and with little sense of a spiritual life. However, it’s more complicated than that. My mother’s family is Irish American; she attended Catholic schools but left the church in her twenties. However, my grandparents babysat me when we lived in Chicago, and when I was an infant, they had me secretly baptized. My grandmother told my mother about it when I was 19. My grandfather had just died, and she was ill—she wanted us to know. Ever since then, I’ve been intrigued by the Catholic Church. When I set out to write The Crown, I had never met a nun. I plunged into years of research, and the more I learned about the women who entered religious life in the Plantagenet and early Tudor era, the more they fascinated me. I met a modern-day Dominican sister; she read The Chalice in manuscript form and gave me some corrections. She’s a very nice, smart person—and funny—and knowing her is wonderful. I have a great deal of respect for nuns, past and present. And I feel protective of them.

Q: Could you tell us more about your protagonist nun Joanna’s Dominican Order during mid-16th century England and the mysticism of the seers you write about in your new novel The Chalice  — are there interesting tidbits you know now but couldn’t include in the novel? 

The Dominican priory in Dartford was a very interesting place. Edward III put time and thought and money into establishing it in the 14th century. I should back up and add that his father, Edward II, made the first initiatives to creating a convent for the women of the Dominican order. He set up endowments and obtained the papal license but was deposed before the sisters could travel from France to England. Perhaps Edward III–who in turn deposed his mother Queen Isabella and her lover and took power when he reached the age of 17 –felt some link to his father and that is what motivated him? I am speculating. Certainly there were other matters of importance in the kingdom, such as invading France and surviving the Bubonic Plague!

chalice PDF IW

2nd book of the series but can read as a stand alone novel too!

But the priory was established in the 1350s. Edward III had a goal of reaching a convent of 40 nuns, but it never quite reached that number. For the next 180 years it attracted women from the gentry and the aristocracy and even the royal family–the youngest child of Edward IV, Princess Bridget, took vows. Dartford earned a reputation for “strict discipline and plain living.” Much of a nun’s day and night was taken up by prayer and service to God. There was a small library there with beautiful illuminated manuscripts. In the larger community of Dartford, the priory played an important role: the sisters taught local girls to read, they gave alms to the poor, and they sponsored an almshouse for those who had no other place to live.

That all came to an end in 1538, when the priory was “surrendered” to Henry VIII and demolished. Everyone was ejected. It was a painful and confusing time. The following year, The Act of Six Articles became law, which forbade anyone who had ever taken a vow of chastity from marrying. Nuns could no longer carry out their vocations, but they couldn’t get married and start families either. There was no place for them in society.

Dominican mysticism was so interesting in this period. I wish I could have found a way to talk about Savonarola in my books. The Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola preached about his prophetic visions to growing crowds in late 15th century Florence—that the corruption of society would be wiped away by the coming of a scourge. When the French king invaded Italy, this was widely seen as fulfillment of Savonarola’s prophecy.

Q: What challenges, if any, did you encounter while writing these books with spiritual foundations? 

I was determined to create characters whose spiritual values were true to the 16th century. I did worry that readers would not be able to relate to Joanna Stafford, especially since I write the books in this series in the first person and you have no choice but to get into Joanna’s head. Not every author goes this route. I have read other novels set in medieval England and the 16th century with characters who are cynical about religion, even agnostic. That is common now, of course, but it really wasn’t a mindset that would have been possible then. Read the letters of the time, or books by the religious such as “The Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena.”

I am happy to say that no one has emailed or otherwise contacted me to say that the books are “too religious.” It’s the opposite, I think readers want to experience a different way of looking at life than we have now.

Q:  Author Stephanie Cowell recently wrote a blog post for English Historic Fiction Authors blog called “Nuns, monks, priests and believers: writing about spiritual matters in English historical fiction,” she wrote: “It is difficult to write about spiritual matters.  They are the most intimate of our feelings and more difficult to express in words than physics…”. What are your thoughts about writing about spiritual matters?

I try to weave it into my characters’ daily lives: going to Mass, making Confession, praying. It frames their worldview. I don’t stop the story for my protagonist to overtly discuss how she feels about God.

Q:  I recently read an interview with you where you mentioned that you wrote The Chalice “workshopping it.” Would you please share with us the process of writing a novel, “workshopping it” to completion.  I was very intrigued when I read this!

I share my work with small groups of other writers, either reading it out loud or sending chapters back and forth online. To me, this is essential. I sometimes feel as if something is coming across a certain way in my story and the reality is—not quite. I need that sounding board to know what is unclear or not paced right or lacking emotion. I revise a great deal, maybe that’s part of being a magazine writer or editor—I like feedback. I can’t imagine writing an entire book in a vacuum and sending it to my agent or book editor.

Q: Do you have any particular workshops you’d like to recommend to writers?

I’ve taken classes at Gotham Writer’s Workshop, there were several great online fiction courses (an advanced one taught by novelist Russell Rowland) and a mystery-writing special class taught by Greg Fallis.

Q: Please tell us about the success process of the Amazon Daily $1.99 special, how did it all go down? Soaring THE CROWN to 1 # status in all literary categories!

That was exciting. In the United States my books are published by Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Amazon decided to make The Crown the Kindle Daily Deal for one day, which means not only that the e-book price is lowered to $1.99 but there is plenty of promotion. I will never forget the experience of watching the number go lower and lower and lower, until it reached No. 1 in America. Not all Kindle Daily Deals make it to No 1, so I am really honored and grateful. To be honest, it overwhelmed me, and the next day I had something of a headache and found it hard to get out of bed. My children were outraged.

The Chalice is part of a different promotion for the month of June: on Amazon in the United States, the e-book costs $2.99. I am happy to be able to deliver this savings. 

Thank you Nancy for this interview and looking forward to your next release of the series! 

 To Buy The Crown and The Chalice click below!

Interview with Historical Novel Society presenter and author Susan Higginbotham

susan_portraitIt is my pleasure to introduce historical novelist Susan Higginbotham, author of 5 novels set in medieval England or the Tudor era. At present she is completing a novel about historical figure Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, in addition to a non-fiction book about the Woodenville family.  She will be co-presenting at the Historical Novel Society Conference this June 21-13 in St. Petersburg, FL:  “The Feisty Heroine Sold into Marriage Who Hates Bear Baiting: Clichés in HF and How to Avoid Them”.


Clichés the bane of every novelist, sounds like a good session!

Q: How do you find the people and topics of your books?

Sometimes a person’s story will intrigue me, like that of Eleanor de Clare
in “The Traitor’s Wife,” my first novel. In other cases, I’ve been drawn
to people who have been misjudged or misrepresented, such as Margaret of
Anjou or Frances Grey. My last novel, “Her Highness, the Traitor,” was
originally supposed to have a single heroine, Frances Grey, but when I
began doing the research, I was so moved by some writings of Jane Dudley,
Duchess of Northumberland, that I ended up giving half of the novel to

Usually, when person’s story keeps nagging at me, I know it’s a sign that
he or she belongs in one of my novels.

Q: Do you follow a specific writing and/or research process?


Susan’s latest release!

I do a lot of my basic research before starting my novel, but I never
really  stop researching as I’m writing. A question will arise, such as
where a person was staying at a particular time, that requires
investigation, or I’ll stumble across something that make me rethink an
aspect of my novel. In my last novel, I ended up having to adjust the
ending in order to accommodate a record I found about Frances Grey’s
marriage date.

In research, I use as many primary sources as possible, and I’ve learned
never to take what I read in a secondary source for granted! I also make
extensive use of articles in scholarly journals–I’ve found that they
often contain nuggets of information that can’t be found in books. They’re
also an excellent source for finding information about lesser known
historical characters.

Like many historical novelists, I enjoy research as much or more than
writing, so it’s sometimes a matter of telling myself that it’s time to
stop researching and get to writing!

Q: What book was the most fun for you to write?

Probably “The Stolen Crown,” where Richard III is a major character. The
Richard who appears in my novel isn’t Shakespeare’s villain, but he’s
definitely not the nice guy who’s fashionable in current historical
fiction, so he was a fun character to write.

Q: For you, what is the line between fiction and fact?

While readers shouldn’t get their history solely from historical fiction,
the fact is that many of them do. With that in mind, I believe very
strongly in sticking to the facts as closely as possible, and in a
novelist informing the reader in an author’s note when known facts have
been altered. Because there’s so much we don’t know or have to guess
about, being faithful to history doesn’t cage an author’s imagination.

I also believe that authors should avoid tarnishing a historical figure’s
reputation without a sound factual basis for doing so. I’ve read several
novels where various male characters are portrayed as being rapists, for
instance, without any historical basis for such a depiction. It’s usually
a way of making a bad guy even more unsympathetic, and as such is a cheap
and lazy device. We can still have our heroes and villains, of course–but
I think we owe some respect and fidelity to historical figures who can no
longer defend themselves.

Thank you Susan for the interview and see you at the HNS Conference!



Author Interview with Jeanne MacKin

The Sweet By and By

The Sweet By and By

For the next month or so, I will be posting author interviews at least once a week. Today, I would like to introduce writer, Jeanne MacKin, author to multiple books in different genres and a speaker at the upcoming Historical Novel Society Conference in St.Petersburg, FL June 21-23, 2013.  I am attending the HNS Writers Conference and I am thrilled to be going, there’s still time to sign up if you haven’t already done so!

Today’s highlight is Jeanne’s  historical novel THE SWEET BY AND BY. I am intrigued by its subject matter and story line: 

“Is death the end? Do ghosts exist? What is faith? Mackin examines these and related issues in a totally nonmacabre manner, telling in tandem two stories that take place about 150 years apart. In 1998, journalist Helen West, while mourning the death of her married lover, Jude, researches the strange life of Maggie Fox, called the Founder of American Spiritualism. Maggie became famous after 1848 when, with her sisters’ help, she developed a large following eager to contact the spirits of dearly departed loved ones. Helen becomes involved with her subject and with the concept of the possibility of returning spirits. Can they comfort those they love? Can one enter a loving relationship with another before finding closure with the deceased, previous loved one? This well-written tale is sympathetically conceived and entertainingly presented. Recommended. DEllen R. Cohen, Rockville, MD Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc” – Goodreads Review

Q:  What got you first interested in historical fiction?

Probably the stories my family used to tell, about my father getting stuck on the train tracks one Christmas eve, how my grandmother was supposed to be a descendant of Lafayette and my great-grandfather the son of a freed slave; how my brother ran away to the circus and was almost stepped on by an elephant.  The stories always moved back in time and I fell truly in love with that movement into a blurry time before I existed.  The stories left me wanting to know more, and to create my own stories.

Q:  Do you have an anecdote about a reading or fan interaction you’d like to share?  

At my very first reading for my first novel, The Frenchwoman,  when my knees were knocking so badly I actually tipped over a large floor-standing vase of flowers, I ended the question and answer session by saying we could never really travel back to the eighteenth century. Someone in the audience raised his hand and said, “Oh yes, we can.  Your chapter took me there.” I was so flattered, because that’s exactly what I want  my fiction to do, to make people feel as if they are actually there, inhabiting the story along with the characters.

Q:  What are your favorite reads? Favorite movies? Dominating influences?

I read the novels of Jean Rhys over and over, especially Wide Sargasso Sea. That first paragraph, when she creates an entire world with so few worlds, just stuns me every time. And when I was a kid, I read and reread everything by Anya Seton and of course Daphne du Maurier. Fabulous, fabulous writers.

Q:  Is there a writer, living or deceased, you would like to meet?

I have always wished I could have partied with Ben Franklin.  He has been kind of sainted by history, along with the other fathers of the nation.  But he had a great sense of humor and fun, was very sociable and enjoyed good wines and wonderful meals.  I think he would have been the perfect dinner party partner, full of flattery, slightly tipsy, and making naughty jokes under his breath.

Q:  What book was the most fun for you to write?

The must fun was the Louisa mysteries, Louisa and the Missing Heiress, The Country Bachelor, and the Crystal Gazer.  To write them I had to work with Louisa’s fascinating psychology, so that the story lines contained events that would have mattered to her – issues about slavery, women’s rights, poverty – but also included some her light-heartedness and humor.   She also had a taste for the gothic and wrote some pretty racy stuff anonymously and under nom-de-plumes so it was interesting to play with that a bit as well.


Snippet Sundays

coffee and manuscriptVisit today the debut of the first lines from my forthcoming historical adventure novel:  CUT FROM THE EARTH! Welcome to “Snippet Sundays” where I and other writers are posting enticing 6 sentence clips from our books on our author Facebook pages.  This will be an ongoing weekly post for the next  3 weeks on my Facebook page:  byStephanieRenéedosSantos.  I will post in chronological order.

Click, read on, enjoy, leave a comment, and “Like” my writer page!

Happy Birthday Alice Hoffman!

Fiction author — Alice Hoffman — has blessed the reading world with novel after novel.  Her most recent creation —The Dovekeepers — is a literary force, a tempest, a GIFT.

At the end of this incredible story she writes:1 The Dovekeepers

“Once in a lifetime a book may come to a writer as an unexpected gift. The Dovekeepers is such a book for me. It was a gift from great-great grandmothers, the women of ancient Israel who first spoke to me when I visited the mountain fortress of Masada.  In telling their story of loss and love, I’ve told my own story as well. After writing for thirty-five years, after more than thirty works of fiction, I was given the story I was meant to tell.”

As a writer, I got chills when I read this, knowing, sensing the truth of her words — of one’s life potential — to stay open, to receive, to tell the tale you were meant to transcribe — to share.

Happy Birthday Alice Hoffman and thank you for The Dovekeepers — the story you were meant to give the world.

Please visit other folks blog hop post!

1. Sinning Sweetly: A Blog 2. The Queen of the Realm of Faerie
3. Trip the Eclipse 4. Catherine Scully
5. Darlene Elizabeth Williams 6. Bubbles. Deux. Hearts Practical Magic
7. Ruth’s Little Leprechauns 8. Mirren Jones
9. Reason To Believe 10. Consign To Oblivion


Figura de Convite Nobleman I’d like to thank historical novelist Jessica Knauss for sponsoring “The Historical Fiction Blog Hop”, where writers post a 10 sentence excerpt from a book they are working on. It is my pleasure to share from my current work-in-progress, Cut From The Earth, a story of Portuguese tile and its surprising makers — The Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 — and the wisdom of nature to guide and  heal.

It is November 1, 1755, All Saints Day in Lisbon, Portugal — most of the city’s populace is at church or getting ready to go, when “The Great Lisbon Earthquake” strikes with mayhem to follow…


“A jolt shot through Piloto’s body, ejecting the tile from his hand.  It shattered.  He dropped the iron-tongs. They clattered to the floor. Barrels of chalky glazes shook, their thick soups boiling over their rims, mixing paddles churning.  The viscous substances ebbed and flowed: manganese-browns, copper-greens, cobalt-blues, iron-oxide oranges, creating an amalgam of colors on the ground. Rolling pins fell off counters, and ricocheted end on end before congregating in a pile, next to the vats.  Dried goat balls the size of peaches vaulted to the floor, paint squirting out their nozzle ends.  Buckets of paintbrushes careened, the brushes scattering like plucked feathers.  Work pedestals spun.  Small glass jars of pigments vibrated across tabletops; others wobbled off, exploding.  Water spilled from barrel containers, housing gooey slip used to join clay pieces, and formed puddles on the floor’s low spots…”

For more information about the novel please see blog post “The Next Big Thing”  and my “Historical Novel” page where you can read the complete excerpt this clip was taken from and more about the book.
Please visit Jessica Knauss blog to connect with the other authors participating in “The Historical Fiction Blog Hop”! Thanks again Jessica!