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Phillis Wheatley…The first published African-American Woman

September 10th, 2015

220px-Phillis_Wheatley_frontispieceI love history (I don’t think you can write historical romances if you don’t)! I particularly love discovering and reading about interesting people who defied the accepted norms of their time and became more. One of the things I find fascinating is how every age has it’s own version of the previous eras of history. We always get a filtered vision. Most men and women famous in their day are quickly forgotten. Until last week, I’d never heard of Phillis Wheatley, the first African American female published author. I don’t have a degree in Georgian Female authors, but some people stand out. I can’t believe I hadn’t read about her before. Born somewhere in Western Africa around the year 1753, she was enslaved and brought to America on The Phillis. Purchased by Mr Wheatley, a wealthy merchant/tailor, as a servant for his wife, she was named Phillis after the ship. The Wheatley’s 18 year old daughter took it upon herself to teach Phillis to read and write in English…which can’t have been easy as she first had to teach her to speak English. Phillis was an intelligent girl and obviously an eager student. Then the son started helping to teach her. By twelve she was reading Greek and Latin classics. By fourteen she’d written her first poem. The Wheatley’s encouraged her to study and write and eventually helped her to get published (the common process of the time meant authors had to guarantee a certain number of people who would buy a copy ie subscribers). She became famous! In 1775 she wrote a poem to George Washington and the next year he invited her to visit him – and she did! She and her book of poems were lauded by various important men and women of her day. (more…)

History Notes

Who Needs Authentically Styled Regency Shoes? Who Doesn’t?

May 5th, 2015

nankeen-regency-fabric-boot-01-340x340 For all of you Regency shoe lovers…I came across a website today where they sell Georgian authentically styled shoes. I now must get rich because I NEED to have pairs of ALL of them. Heavy sigh! These (pictured) nankeen Regency ankle boots are high high high on the list. They also come in black and another colour I can’t remember. If, like me, you dream of Regency shoes… Have a look at these beauties! The sold out red leather buckle shoes look as if they were conjured out of one of Fragonard’s paintings…Magical!


Book Review: Torn Trousers…

February 24th, 2015

This last year was mostly spent in a miasma of story consumption. I read books like a story-starved creature. The part of my brain that produces stories had malfunctioned. Strangely, It wasn’t writers’ block. I felt nothing as if someone had disconnected the story part of my brain. Then I started meeting up once a week with my friend Gwynn (who’s also a writer) and we’d talk about world events, history, anything that came up as well as discussing stories and writing. (more…)

Book Reviews

Alive and Writing…

November 21st, 2014

Most of the last year feels like a long strange blur spent reading other people’s stories. I have read A LOT of books in all sorts of genres. With my thyroid careening back and forth between under and over active I’ve been living in a creative wasteland. For most of the last six months I couldn’t watch Tv or movies because my brain couldn’t handle the moving images or follow the story lines (very irritating). Thankfully my brain could still read! Finally about a month ago my brain seems to have found an even keel and I’ve been writing again which feels really good. With luck I’ll even finish something in the not too distant future. That’s my goal! I’ll let you know when I’m close to sending a book out into the world. I can only hope it will be sooner than later (if only for my sanity). I have a backlog of characters and stories all clambering for attention. I need to get them thinned out before another crowd comes rushing in. Wish me luck!


Fiction Addiction…Three More Free Stories I’ve Recently Enjoyed

August 9th, 2014

The last few weeks I’ve been consuming other people’s stories like a literary black hole, but it’s priming my writer (I’ve actually cracked open several stories and tentatively started working on them). Here are three more great free stories (all romances in various genres). The links take you to the books on Barnes and Noble, but they can be found elsewhere (I found them on iBooks). (more…)

Book Reviews

Can a Romance Novel Change Your Life…?

July 19th, 2014

Some books we consume as light reading end up catalysts for change in our lives. Laura Florand’s romance novels have fallen into this category for me (I recommended her free story The Chocolate Rose in my last post). In her chocolate series her heroes are French chefs (the stories set in France). I’ve loved all her heroes. Even the book I gave two stars (The Chocolate Temptation) I’ve actually re-read the first half again (and will read again because the first half deserves five stars). Her French chefs are just so captivating I’ll probably break down and buy the rest of the series (soon).

So how can reading about fictional French chefs finding love change one’s life? If you’d asked me this question two weeks ago I would have raised an eyebrow and stared back with a blank mind. I think it was while reading The Chocolate Rose a second time that change set in. The hero is a pastry chef who pours his heart into his desserts. When he offers the heroine something he’s made for her the reader knows he’s offering his heart on a plate though she doesn’t realise this at first. It made me stop and wonder if I’m dishing up my heart for my creative endeavours and if not, why not? There is no point creating anything without passion (without pouring our hearts into it). It’s made me ask myself, do I dish up my heart in my stories? I do! Am I dishing up my heart in my other artistic creations? Hmmm – not all the time! Why not? What do I want to be creating? Does it make me happy to dish up my heart? Yes, but I must feel passionate about the feeding.

So what else is changing? (more…)

Book Reviews, I've been thinking

Fiction Addiction – Three Free Books I’ve Recently Enjoyed…

July 12th, 2014

The last few months I’ve been gorging on other people’s stories. Perhaps a part of me has been story-starved. Normally when I’m writing I crave non-fiction, but at the moment I crave fiction (like a fiction-addiction!). Perhaps I needed the escape so as to not think about not being able to write because my brain is still not right (I’m off to the hospital in a few weeks for an ultrasound on my thyroid) – in the mean time I have had new stories sprouting in my head and older unfinished ones demanding attention, but it’s like the characters are talking to me while I’m under water. I’m sure they’re frustrated! I know I am. In the mean time I’ve discovered new authors and tried out new genres. I’ve taken to haunting my local library once a week – willing to crack open any cover that grabs my eye. I’ve spent a lot of money buying books, but there are some great free books out there. I had to share my three favorite.

I downloaded mine from iBooks, but you can also find them free on Amazon (and I’m presuming other sites). My links will take you to the UK Amazon site so you may want to go straight to your own if it’s different. (more…)

Book Reviews

A Trippy Trip-Hopping Song…

April 9th, 2014

I was skimming through an online newspaper this morning and read an article about a first novel by a career politician which I had to look up on Amazon (because I’m a curious wench) and someone who gave it a one star sounded a bit snide so I looked up their other recommendations (to see what they actually liked to read) and there were no other books at all (which is suspect) but there was a five star review for a music album by the Amalgamation of Soundz which was described as Trip-hop electronic jazz (or something like that). Not having heard of Trip-hop (because I live in the Twilight Zone) I had to look up the band (it might be one guy playing ten instruments – I’ve no idea). The book wasn’t my cup of tea, but I bought a song and plan to buy more. I bought this one… Enchant me – here’s a link to Youtube – this is the radio version.

The original seven minute version is quite relaxing and works well on repeat (I like listening to songs that work on eternal repeat when I write). Music is very personal. If you don’t like it just roll your eyes at me. Just because the music makes me feel like I’m sitting in a Laundromat looking at old magazines as an extra in a B film devoid of plot or meaning (and enjoying it)…doesn’t mean you have to join me. You might have a laundry phobia. That would be uncomfortable! Perhaps that how Stench punks started? I used to live in a building with some. They were pleasant people – from an olfactory distance. However, if you like visiting Laundromats (even when you have no clothes to wash) feel free to join me in the movie!

Lately I’ve been obsessing over certain smells (imagine being in the grip of an overwhelming compulsion to search out a smell and inhale it and you’ll begin to understand – it’s bad!). I love the scent of an old clean Laundromat, but if I could have any smell in the universe (right now) I’d be inhaling the smell of a diesel school buss – the old ones with green plastic seats (there would be no other people on the bus – it would be full of red rubber balls). I’m sane (at least for a few more days). I’ve even been writing! It feels good.


Interviewed by Romance Magicians…

March 19th, 2014

I’ve been interview by the Romance Magicians! They don’t do tricks – they’re romance writers!

I came across the website back in 2009 and was enchanted by all the different personalities (they’re actually a Southern chapter of Romance Writers of America). It’s a lovely mix of published and waiting to be published writers who take turns writing blog posts and sharing their experiences and knowledge or latest novels. (more…)


Book Review: Just One Damned Thing After Another

March 13th, 2014

Every now and then you come across a book that sucks you in and makes you glad the author has already written several more books in the series, because if she hadn’t you’d probably explode in frustration. This, for me, was one of those books! Having finished the third book in the series (I stayed up all night) I’m now forced to wait…however looooong before the next one to find out what the heck happens next! Be warned the third book ends on a seriously steep cliff hanger. I’d almost call it cruel!

Just One Damned thing after Another by Jodi Taylor is not a Regency romance, but it is a romance set in England (Taylor is English) and it does take place at various points in history (though not the Regency). If it was a movie in England it would get a 15 as there is some sex (though not a lot), but if you love time travel stories that are funny with a romantic element (though there are sad moments too – real life is always a mixture) – if you love fast paced stories that drag you around by the nose…you will LOVE LOVE LOVE this book. It’s also super cheap.

Before you go look it up on your e-bookstore of choice… As Taylor points out, one of the theories of time is that it’s like a flowing river (or something to do with water)… A day or so after finishing the second book I came across this song by The Wallflowers (I’d never heard of them before) called Everybody Out of the Water. It’s like they condensed the series into a song! I should explain that in the lives of the employees of St Mary’s something or someone is ALWAYS exploding, getting burnt/getting burnt down, getting wet or running for their lives. I’ve been listening to this on replay!!! Here’s a link to the song on Youtube!


Book Reviews