Tag Archives: The Hist Fic Chic

Author Takeover with Jim Metzner

In conjunction with The Historical Fiction Club on Facebook, I welcome to the blog, Jim Metzner, during his author takeover on Monday, June 7th. If you would like to join the takeover, please join the club here: The Historical Fiction Club

Author Bio

Jim studied acting at Yale Drama School and enjoyed a brief career working as a singer-songwriter in London, opening for TRex, Free, and Pink Floyd! He has been producing sound-rich audio programs since 1977, including Pulse of the Planet, which has been on the air since 1988 and is now heard widely as a podcast.

For many years, Jim produced features and commentaries for All Things Considered, Marketplace, Weekend Edition, and other public radio programs. He has recorded all over the world and received major grants from the National Science Foundation, NASA, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Grammy Foundation. Stories about his work have appeared in Audio Magazine, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, National Geographic, The Today Show, and the CBS Evening News. His forty-year archive of sounds is now reposited in the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

A bee-keeper and avid fly-fisherman, Jim resides in New York’s Hudson River Valley with his wife Eileen.

For more information visit jimmetznerproductions.com and sacredmoundsnovel.com

Buy the Book: https://www.amazon.com/Jim-Metzner/e/B087CB75ZT

Book Blurb:

“This is a rollicking, thought-provoking, rollercoaster of a novel. It’s time traveling on steroids, but it asks big questions. Bravo!” – Ken Burns, filmmaker

“A rich, complex tale of supernatural heroism. The novel folds ancient traditional wisdom into the seams of its story with the author’s well-honed narrative skills, delivering the tastes and flavors of its mingling times and cultures with ease and aplomb. One ends up feeling not like an onlooker, but an active participant in the events. The book, from this perspective, is hard to put down. It’s a page-turner, but an intelligent one; one that asks more questions than it answers and left, for one, this reader hoping for a sequel.” – Lee Van Laer, Senior Editor, Parabola Magazine

“The tribe’s descent from late prehistoric mound builders connects the Natchez people to one of North America’s most intriguing puzzles. Archaeologists know how the earthworks were built, but excavations cannot reveal what these monuments meant to the native people who built them. With Sacred Mounds, Metzner embraces the mystery to weave a story across time and cultural boundaries.” – Jim Barnett, author of The Natchez Indians: A History to 1735

“Awesome! Jim Metzner has imbued a page-turner of a book with esoteric truth half-revealed behind a somewhat violent drama. There are keys to a meaningful life hidden behind the carnage. A great read. Can’t wait for the movie!” – Lillian Firestone, author, The Forgotten Language of Children

BOOK REVIEW – “Essex” by Tony Riches

BOOK REVIEW

The Earl of Essex. Well, what can I say? I began this book knowing full well the story of this high-spirited ambitious young man fawning after a much older Queen Elizabeth I, but I have to say that Tony Riches has excelled in really giving life to this notorious man in history. There were times I truly felt a sense of compassion and empathy for him, for his vainglorious attempts to prove himself in the eyes of the Queen, and then his failure to learn from his mistakes. Over and over and over, again. He was a man on the brink of glory, but never reached the clouds, ultimately falling into the precipice of his own making.

I loved this book and it is one I could read again and again. This is the first time I have read any of Tony Riches books and I know it won’t be the last. All of his books are on my to-read list and I foresee a binge read in the near future! Tony Riches’ books are a must read for anyone who wants an excellent historical biography about figures in the Tudor era.

I received a copy for an honest review from The Coffee Pot Book Club.

Book Title: Essex – Tudor Rebel

Series: (Elizabethan Series, Book 2)

Author: Tony Riches

Publication Date: 9th April 2021

Publisher: Preseli Press

Page Length: 352 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

ESSEX – Tudor Rebel 

(Book Two of the Elizabethan Series)

By Tony Riches

(Blurb)

Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, is one of the most intriguing men of the Elizabethan period. Tall and handsome, he soon becomes a ‘favourite’ at court, so close to the queen many wonder if they are lovers.

The truth is far more complex, as each has what the other yearns for. Robert Devereux longs for recognition, wealth and influence. His flamboyant naïveté amuses the ageing Queen Elizabeth, like the son she never had, and his vitality makes her feel young.

Robert Devereux’s remarkable true story continues the epic tale of the rise of the Tudors, which began with the best-selling Tudor trilogy and concludes with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

Buy Links:

This novel is free to read with #KindleUnlimited subscription.

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/bwo16Y

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09246T7ZT

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09246T7ZT

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B09246T7ZT

Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B09246T7ZT

Author Bio 

Tony Riches

Tony Riches is a full-time UK author of best-selling Tudor historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the history of the Wars of the Roses and the lives of the early Tudors. Tony’s other published historical fiction novels include: Owen – Book One Of The Tudor Trilogy, Jasper – Book Two Of The Tudor Trilogy, Henry – Book Three Of The Tudor Trilogy, Mary – Tudor Princess, Brandon – Tudor Knight and The Secret Diary Of Eleanor Cobham. 

Social Media Links:

Website: https://www.tonyriches.com/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/tonyriches

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tonyriches.author/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tonyriches/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tonyriches.author/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Tony-Riches/e/B006UZWOXA

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5604088.Tony_Riches

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR

BOOK REVIEW – “The Testament of Mary” by Colm Toibin

I took some time to truly think about what I wanted to say about this book. This is difficult. To be honest, I bought the audio version solely on a whim and because I adore Meryl Streep. I thought, “Well, anyone who was able to get her to narrate a book . . . well, this must be astounding!’

However, I must admit there was several times I almost stopped listening, not because of the narration (which was perfection), but for the storyline. While I must give kudos to Colm Toibin’s originality, I have to say that I was quite taken back by portraying Mary as a cynic who often time appears not to have a clue what is going on with her son. While true, many of his family did not accept him as the Messiah, Mary was not one of those. In reality, she “kept all these sayings in her heart” KNOWING who he was, and BELIEVING in him. Mr Toibin’s writing style is unique, told in a continuous breath of Mary’s thoughts, and was sometimes confusing and tiresome. From a historical POV, perhaps this might be referred to as alternative history, at least in my opinion. I did not enjoy it, save for the exquisite voice of Meryl Streep.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EHNSNO6

Under the Light of the Italian Moon by Jennifer Anton – BLOG TOUR and GUEST POST

Today’s guest post is written by Jennifer Anton, the historical fiction author of Under the Light of the Italian Moon. I’d like to welcome Jennifer to the blog today and wish her much success on her blog tour. For additional stops on this tour, please scroll to the bottom and see information.

Jennifer Anton on How Mussolini’s Fascism Impacted Women

Since 2006, when I started researching my grandmother’s life in Italy, I’ve come to learn a lot about life for girls and women under il Duce. Life was not easy living under a dictator, yet we rarely hear about history from a women’s point of view. Instead, we hear about great battles, war hero soldiers, millions dying while men vie for power and other men race with guns and bombs to stop them. While the women suffer, outside of the decision making of heads of state, watching their children starve and attempting to hold families together. Such was the case for the women of Italy and the focus of my debut novel, Under the Light of the Italian Moon

When I was born, an article in a local paper featured my birth and the advancements in 1977 technology vs. my great-great grandmother’s experience in rural northern Italy. Adelasia Dalla Santa Argenta was a professionally trained midwife, known as La Capitana. She was a bold woman willing to risk a bullet during WWI to aid in the birth of a child. A story lingers in the town of Fonzaso about a doctor coming to get her in the middle of the night. He asked her if she had her gun. She replied, “I don’t need a gun. I have my cross.” She knew she couldn’t trust men, but she could trust her faith. 

Poster of il Duce’s local fascists in the town of Fonzaso, Italy

As a practicing midwife in the interwar years, the policies of il Duce would have directly impacted her trade. ONMI (L’Opera nazionale maternità e infanzia) which launched in 1925, would have been seen as a positive government investment in the health of women and children. A midwife would have welcomed it. But she wouldn’t have wanted the control that came along with the benefits. Mussolini was famous for his 1927 Ascension Day speech, where he made it clear that an Italian woman’s job was to provide babies for Italy. Population increases would mean an expansion of his empire and military. A woman’s body became a vessel for the state. 

Photo of Fonzaso (rights given by Giovanni Battista)

Nina Argenta and Adelasia Dalla Santa Argenta

Women were discouraged from working outside their homes and families. Abortion was banned. Contraceptive education was made illegal; even explaining natural birth control methods was against the law. But il Duce’s Battle for Births never saw its intended outcome. Mussolini couldn’t control everything inside the homes, in the bedrooms of the women he called on to provide the babies. Midwives had a level of control and influence even he could not penetrate.

Mussolini convinced the masses with a crowd-drawing bravado. He used violence via his black shirts, who visited naysayers with forced castor oil cocktails until they cramped into submission. He discredited the press in order to rise to control. “Il Duce ha sempre ragione.” Il Duce is always right. Women watched husbands leave for war, held the home front as towns were bombed and Nazi’s occupied with violent atrocities. 

All of my female ancestors dealt first hand with Mussolini’s masochistic reign. They survived two World Wars and with a strength not of guns or brute force, but of resilience and a fierce will to survive with their families. These women are unsung heroes, and they should not be forgotten. 

Book Title: Under the Light of the Italian Moon

Author: Jennifer Anton

Publication Date: 8th March 2021

Publisher: Amsterdam Publishers

Page Length: 394 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction/Biographical Fiction

BOOK BLURB

A promise keeps them apart until WW2 threatens to destroy their love forever

Fonzaso Italy, between two wars

Nina Argenta doesn’t want the traditional life of a rural Italian woman. The daughter of a strong-willed midwife, she is determined to define her own destiny. But when her brother emigrates to America, she promises her mother to never leave.

When childhood friend Pietro Pante briefly returns to their mountain town, passion between them ignites while Mussolini forces political tensions to rise. Just as their romance deepens, Pietro must leave again for work in the coal mines of America. Nina is torn between joining him and her commitment to Italy and her mother.

As Mussolini’s fascists throw the country into chaos and Hitler’s Nazis terrorise their town, each day becomes a struggle to survive greater atrocities. A future with Pietro seems impossible when they lose contact and Nina’s dreams of a life together are threatened by Nazi occupation and an enemy she must face alone…

A gripping historical fiction novel, based on a true story and heartbreaking real events.

Spanning over two decades, Under the Light of the Italian Moon is an epic, emotional and triumphant tale of one woman’s incredible resilience during the rise of fascism and Italy’s collapse into WWII.

Buy Links:

Amazon: getbook.at/JAnton

Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/3n1nDqC​ 

Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/under-the-light-of-the-italian-moon/jennifer-anton//9789493231009

Bookshop.org (U.S. only): https://bit.ly/3ofS39T

I am Books Boston: https://bit.ly/2Z0mWUO

Author Bio

Jennifer Anton is an American/Italian dual citizen born in Joliet, Illinois and now lives between London and Lake Como, Italy. A proud advocate for women’s rights and equality, she hopes to rescue women’s stories from history, starting with her Italian family.

Social Media Links

Website: www.boldwomanwriting.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/boldwomanwrites

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jenniferantonauthorpage

Instagram: www.instagram.com/boldwomanwriting

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/janton1468/_created/

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jennifer-anton

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Anton/e/B08RL6HBDN%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

Goodreads: https://bit.ly/2XsHt3F

Youtube: https://bit.ly/3i9XvZA

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

Thank you for stopping by today, Jennifer, and I wish you well on your blog tour!!

D. K. Marley

The Hist Fic Chickie

TO SELF-PUBLISH OR NOT SELF-PUBLISH, THAT IS THE QUESTION!

So this is a question many writers have, to self-publish or to go the traditional route of looking for a mainstream or small publishing house to accept your manuscript?

Here is the reason I chose self-publishing over the traditional way: Many of you may have read my post about grief (and if not, here is the link) and you may have read about my interaction with my once-in-a-lifetime meeting with the literary agent of my dreams in my post about “other Shakespeare authors,” but if you have not read either of those posts, here is a summary of why I chose self-publishing.

First and foremost, I love the idea of going the traditional route. I have many friends who I met during the writer’s retreat I attended who are published authors and secured their book deals from publishing houses. I say, more power to them!

I attended the Writer’s Retreat Workshop in Erlanger Kentucky in 2006 and found myself completely inspired and on fire to finish my first novel and find an agent and trudge through the mire of the publishing industry. Honestly, I was excited and very naive. Two years after that I attended the Writer’s Conference in Myrtle Beach South Carolina where, as I mentioned before, I had the chance to sit down with the literary agent of my dreams. I found her online and researched her background before I went, so I knew what kind of books she took on, but I never in a million years would have thought she might pick me out of the thousands of people at the conference to sit down and have lunch with. But, she did!

What I learned from the talk with her? I have to be honest, I left the conference very dejected and disillusioned because I learned that sometimes you have to learn to be commercial to be accepted rather than rely on your heart, which is hard to take as an artist and writer. I know this isn’t always the case because there are numerous writers out there still making a living on their art and some are far from commercialized.

I continued on after the conference, another two years went by and I finally secured an agent in New York. Again, the naivety on my part blasted me full in the face. Although my agent loved my work and claimed to have sent out my manuscript to numerous publishing houses, every time I asked for verification, well, needless to say, I never got a letter, an email, nothing to confirm what he told me he was doing. All his emails ever said is “St. Martin’s” said no, “Doubleday” said no, and on and on and on…

By that time, I already started work on research for my second and third novel, but my heart just wasn’t in it. I shelved everything from 2011 to 2015 and took up another of one of my favorite hobbies – photography – and my husband and I moved to the Georgia coast. We became wedding photographers and within three years we were voted #2 best wedding photographers in Jacksonville Florida on Thumbtack.com! I also took my artistic and love for storytelling into my photography and started delving into conceptual work. One of my photographs was accepted into an outdoor exhibition in Lithuania, two of my pieces were mounted in a gallery in Houston Texas, an another in Orlando Florida.

And the bottom fell out of my life. February 2, 2015; the most horrible day of my life. The day I lost my daughter and her husband by the hands of a drunk and drugged driver running from the police. They were only one mile from their home. The 20-year-old idiot traveled at 85 miles an hour down the wrong side of a four-lane highway and took them in an instant. He walked away with a scratch on his leg and is now serving 30 years in prison. But my life changed forever. My life, my husband’s life, my son’s life, forever snatched away and we now serve a life sentence of pain and sorrow.

Now it is 2018 and I am slowly climbing out of the despair and depression hole. I don’t think I will ever fully recover, of course, and I acknowledge this fact. I acknowledge that no matter what I do from this point on, nothing will ever return to normal. I am a part of “that group” now. I am now a mother who peruses the MADD website and who will forever carry a hollowness in my heart.

This brings me to the final reason I chose to self-publish. Disillusionment with the whole publishing industry to begin with, and now, grief overtakes me. We are not promised tomorrow. None of us know from one second to the next if we will get that horrible phone call or have a police officer walk up and knock on your door at five o’clock in the morning with a box of your child’s belongings.

I am content to write for my health and sanity and artistry and love. Whether I ever sell one book or a million matters less to me now. Death brings things into perspective in the most tragic way. I choose to do what makes me happy for I have so very few happy days now. Writing makes me happy, or rather a distracted peace I should say. Anything which distracts me from this hole in my heart and life I soak up like a sponge.

And why am I sharing this? Because as writers we often look for acceptance through our writing. We look for another person to connect with, someone who sees the world as we do through our words, and when another person does that there is a measure of joy and happiness which links our art to the world. My advice now to my younger self and to any other young (or old) writers out there looking to plunge into the mad mad mad world of traditional publishing? Let me first say that I am not against it and if you are one of the fortunate ones to hook a deal from a major or small publishing house, yay for you, but for the vast majority of writers who will never see a book deal I say: write for you. Write for your own heart and write what you love.

That literary agent told me no one reads anything having to do with Shakespeare and to a major publishing house, oftentimes, Shakespeare is taboo, but this is what I love. Writers should write what they know and what they are passionate about. I love all things Shakespeare, so this is what I write. I am not a commercial writer and I never will be, for I refuse to become a lemming writer who runs headlong into the ocean of erotica, or gore, or horror, or vampires, or werewolves, or whatever trend moves the reading nation.

My daughter would have loved my novels, and for me, that is enough.

Thanks for reading!

D. K. Marley

The Mind of a Master Discussing a Master

I decided to do some research on the editor of my grandmother’s college book “The Complete Works of Shakespeare”, and get an idea of the man behind the research done in the preface and introductory analysis of each play, and I have to say, I am astounded.

Wikipedia describes him as the foremost authority on Shakespeare and Milton of his time.

Here is the Wikipedia description of him: Hardin Craig (29 June 1875 – 13 October 1968) was an American Renaissance scholar and professor of English. In his 65-year academic career, he served on the faculties of eight different colleges and universities, published more than 20 books as either author or editor, and was one of the few Americans to be elected to the Royal Society of Literature in Britain.

I thought how interesting it would be to continue posting direct quotes of his from the book while adding my own annotations in parentheses since it seems my blog is becoming more and more Shakespearean by the day. Or at least it is starting that way since I have the intention of delving more into Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, as well as some of my other favorite authors: C. S. Lewis, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ken Follett, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Rosalind Miles, Daphne Du Maurier, The Bronte Sisters, and Jane Austen.

Shakespeare seems to be a good start to this blog, so I hope you enjoy the journey through Shakespeare, to feel the intensity my own heart feels for the plays and the passion that the words of the Bard can portray in these modern times.

(I love these words of Craig’s): “One does not approach Shakespeare as one approaches authors less well known, authors to whom the track has been opened mainly by historical scholars. The road to Shakespeare is a well-traveled highway. Every modern person who has any pretense to culture knows something about Shakespeare and considers himself in some sense an authority in the interpretation of such characters as Hamlet and Shylock, and usually has a firm rooted opinion that Shakespeare was a self-made man with a proclivity for deer-stealing. To ask a person if he knows anything about Shakespeare is to ask him if he belongs to a respectable family and has had any care in his upbringing. No author ingrained in popular thought as Shakespeare is, no author whose words are proverbs for daily use, can be properly studied without some attention to such questions as how he got into print and how his fame grew and thrived through the centuries.”

(Ah, so true…. opinions about Shakespeare are as common as the noses on people’s faces… and those of wanting to debate whether or not he indeed wrote the plays is becoming more and more common. There was a time when I believed he did not write the plays, but as the time passes, I have come to realize that my belief came simply from my in-depth research into my own novel “Blood and Ink” which delves into the possibility of Marlowe being the actual writer of the plays of the First Folio. When Craig says ‘Every modern person who has any pretense to culture knows something about Shakespeare and considers himself in some sense an authority in the interpretation of such characters as Hamlet and Shylock, and usually has a firm rooted opinion that Shakespeare was a self-made man with a proclivity for deer stealing,’ a smile came to my face. There is such a sacredness for those of us who love Shakespeare, especially those of us passionate about the man and the works, and after immersing into learning the beauty of his words and genius, we indeed feel like we have a firm rooted opinion and consider ourselves in some sense an authority in the interpretation of much of his characters and words.

But, in reality, none of us lived during the 1600s. None of us have had the opportunity to interview the very man, so all the authority and opinions any of us feel like we have, they are indeed just opinion and our own interpretation of our idea of what he may have meant in certain passages, what provoked his thoughts to write quips or scenes or develop certain characters, and what in his background added to his ability to create the incredible blank verse we are so fortunate to have before our eyes in this 21st century.

I have found that as an author myself, experience adds much to writing. My thoughts as to Shakespeare’s experience sometimes wavers and tick-tocks back and forth like the movements of a cuckoo clock. Sometimes I believe, sometimes I don’t, that he is the actual writer. But again, I remind myself on a daily basis, I am just a historical fiction writer, not a historian. I am content to remain an avid Shakespearean geek and leave the philosophizing of his authorship, his education, and background to those who, in reality, cannot, and will not, ever truly know.

I am content to revel and relish his words, no matter if they are Shakespeare’s or not. They inspire me… they make me feel happy when the words filter across my tongue. I think Shakespeare would smile at this thought because after all, isn’t that what all of us as authors wish? To one day, five hundred years from now, for our characters and our words to dance through a stranger’s mind and still, after all those passing years, years after we have passed off this mortal coil, for them to inspire another soul and to bring happiness to another human being. That is what Shakespeare is to me.)

Thanks for reading!

D. K. Marley

… AND THE CLICK BAIT WORKED ON ME!

So, I was scrolling through the feed and came across this cute little French Bulldog being hushed by a human finger. Well, anyone who knows me knows that I am easily distracted by dogs. I had to click . . . and I’m glad I did. Turns out, the blog post was by Aaron at Sword and Spectres, another book blogger who was challenged in this game. Even though he did not tag me in the game, I thought, hey, since I am starting author interviews on my podcast, why not start with me?

The rules are apparently: Nominate 10 other bloggers and that you should keep the same questions. Aaron said he would reward himself with a hot cup of tea and a few biscuits afterwards, which was the ultimate in English rewards and stereotypes . . . well, I’m all for that!! As an Anglophile, I will heartily partake of that type of reward.

So, here it goes, and afterwards I will tag 10 other book bloggers to follow suit if you wish.

1) Who is your all-time favourite book character?

Yikes, this is really really hard…. hmmm, I think I’m going to have to go with the character that has stuck in my memory the longest, and that is, Anjuli-Bai from The Far Pavilions. The reason? Well, this book is the book that started me LOVING historical fiction. I read this while in high school. On one of my trips to the local library I decided to randomly pick a book from a shelf and read it. Yes, I randomly picked The Far Pavilions, having never heard of M. M. Kaye from any of my teachers.

Her struggle against prejudice from both sides, from Indians and British, as well as Ashok’s (Ashton Pelham-Martin) struggle felt so authentic and real. Her strength and beauty made me think of India, of Kashmir, of the Himalayas, all encompassed in her eyes. I still think of her character to this day, some 40 years later.

2) If you were stranded on a desert island, which book would you take with you? (Survival books do not count)

A Bible. (Does that count as a survival book?)

3) What’s your most unpopular book opinion?

Not sure how unpopular it is (maybe after this post) but I am not a fan of any of Toni Morrison’s books, especially “Paradise“. Don’t get me wrong, I get it, some truly love her writing style. I admire her as a woman writer and success. Yet, I struggled with the cadence and sometimes felt lost in her words. I’m not sure why because I truly wanted to love her books, after all, everyone else does. I guess it comes down to taste… which, after reading Aaron’s take on The Lord of the Rings (which I adored) I guess it makes sense that that is the reason for so many different genres and literary selections.

4) What’s your weirdest bookish habit?
Hmmm, smelling the pages before I read? Of course, I think a lot of readers do this, so I think I might be in the majority.

5) What character would you bring to a family event as your fake partner?

LOL, not sure this would sit well with my husband but just for fun . . . maybe, well, Mr Darcy is a shoe-in . . . but, then again, how about Hamlet? Or maybe he might be a little too brood-y. I know, Sherlock Holmes!! Especially if he looked and acted like Benedict Cumberbatch. I love the bookish intellectual types and it would be a hoot to see him around my Southern family!!

6) What made you decide to start a book blog?

First and foremost, my love of books, especially historical fiction. There are so many out there to choose from and so many underrepresented authors that I wanted to do what I can to put in my two-cents, for whatever it is worth among the thousands of book bloggers out there.

7) What about reading and books do you love the most?
Escapism. As most people know about me, I adore Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland stories. I’ve been falling down rabbit holes since I was a little girl, creating stories in my head, and LOVING books with a passion. It never fails, if you are having a bad day in dealing with this mess of a world, a good Jane Austen or Bronte book can help you to escape!

8) What is your field of study/desired profession/current profession?
My current profession is as a full-time writer and being the best Nana in the world to my amazing granddaughter who helps me to remember Wonderland. I never went to college or a University since life propelled me down the path of marriage and motherhood. But through the years, I’ve immersed myself in the task of reading and studying as much as I can about the subjects I adore (i.e. Shakespeare, the Tudor era, and writing)

9) What are some book recommendations that became your favourites/obsessions?
I am obsessed with East of Eden by John Steinbeck; and I am obsessed with anything written by Carlos Ruis Zafon. Also, Outlander and The Mists of Avalon, actually all the books by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Zafon’s books are the most recent books that had me just rereading passages for the sheer beauty of the words. Right now, I am also enjoying the new works by Ellie Midwood about Auschwitz.

10) What is the book you shove down everyone’s throat?
My own, of course . . . and definitely, The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruis Zafon.

So, these are my ten things about me. And since I voluntarily accepting this challenge, I am going to opt for not nominating anyone else. However, I’d love for some of my followers who have blogs to do the same so I can get to know you a bit. How about it? Anybody up for following the click bait like I did?

Thanks for reading!

D. K. Marley – The Hist Fic Chickie

How to Enjoy Shakespeare

I found this passage while rereading Hardin Craig’s The Complete Works of Shakespeare and found the words immensely agreeable to anyone who might wonder how on earth to completely enjoy reading or watching the plays of Shakespeare.

There are so many I have heard through the years who roll their eyes and sigh with disgust at the very thought of attempting to read or watch anything Shakespearean. I am not of that opinion, nor have I ever been, but I can see if one is intimidated by the wordage or form or style of his plays and sonnets, how they might shrug off any attempt to give them a try.

The passage reads like this and after meditating on the idea Craig offers, maybe if you are not a Shakespearean fan, maybe this will give you the impetus to give him another chance.

Craig says, “All of this repeats from another point of view an age-old criticism of Shakespeare; namely, that he is an exuberant artist, that he is not restrained and classical. But this exuberance has been his chief source of power; we merely cite the facts in order to control, in the interest of a true and vivid appreciation of Shakespeare, idel and unintelligent speculation on the interpretation of Shakespearean characters and plots. We should learn to surrender ourselves so completely and so intelligently to Shakespeare’s artistic appeal that we, like the audiences for whom he wrote, can enjoy his art in spite of its conventions. In doing this we shall not need commentators who insist forever on doing the work over in needless paraphrases of plot and endless discussions of characters. We should put ourselves, if we can, into a sufficiently receptive mood to enjoy Shakespeare’s appeal to simple emotions,, though in doing so it may be necessary for us to suspend our demand for naturalism and philosophy. We should recognize that what we have is a story, told usually marvelously well, with the somewhat crude device of the Elizabethan stage; and that it is a story which, however replete with originality, was usually already familiar to the audience for which it was written.”

Here, here, I say… bravo!! Shakespeare was the Lin Manuel-Miranda of his day. For those Hamilton fans of the Broadway stage, Shakespeare used the devices common to his day to tell the audiences stories of history, of love, of hate, of violence, of jealousy, of joy, of lust, of betrayal, of innocence, of arrogance, of passion, of the travails of the ordinary man as well as noble. The invention of the human, as we all know is still happening on the Broadway stage and lesser stages around the world. The genius of Shakespeare is seen clearly today in our modern versions of Manuel-Miranda and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Craig also points out: “…the more nearly we can see as Shakespeare meant us to see, the more adequate will be our vision and the keener our enjoyment. Neither the Elizabethan writer nor the Elizabethan audience had a body of ideas like ours, knew what we know or in the way we know it, wanted the same things from life that we want, or thought of drama or life as we think of them… Since Shakespeare did not and could not think and talk in terms of such ideas, he should not be made to do so.”

Shakespeare was and is an artist, a writer, and for most of us who aspire to write even one percent of a tenth as Shakespeare wrote, we can understand the significance of allowing Shakespeare to simply be Shakespeare, the artist, and writer. As writers, we all make allowances for artistic expression and for the most part, seek to align ourselves with our audiences for the sake of commercialization. Five hundred years from now will audiences of that future look back on George R. R. Martin’s book series of Game of Thrones or Ken Follet’s Pillars of the Earth and think, “No, I will pass because the wordage and the style are just too complex or too hard for me to tackle.”

The thought should give us a moment to reflect. Shakespearean plays and sonnets are well worth the time and effort anyone might take to sit back and enjoy, whether by reading or watching. We have enough adaptations on BBC and movies to fill our bellies full of quality Shakespearean meat for any who wish to delve into the buffet without actually sitting down with a book. I have to admit, sitting down with an entire folio of his plays and sonnets is rather daunting, so I have listed a few of my favorite movies, and the links to buy, based on his plays for any who wish to give them him a try (in order from my favorite to least favorite):

Henry V – Kenneth Branaugh
Hamlet – Mel Gibson, Helena Bonham-Carter

Richard III – Benedict Cumberbatch (The Hollow Crown, The War of the Roses)
Henry VI, part 1 and 2 – Hugh Bonneville (The Hollow Crown, The War of the Roses)
Richard II – Ben Whishaw (The Hollow Crown)
Henry IV – Jeremy Irons (The Hollow Crown)
Henry V – Tom Hiddleston (The Hollow Crown)
Hamlet – David Tennant
Romeo and Juliet – Olivia Hussey
Romeo and Juliet – Leonardo di Caprio
The Taming of the Shrew – Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton
The Merchant of Venice – Al Pacino
Richard III – Lawrence Olivier
Hamlet – Kenneth Branaugh, Kate Winslet
Othello – Kenneth Branaugh, Lawrence Fishburne
Much Ado About Nothing – Kenneth Branaugh, Emma Thompson
Twelfth Night – Helena Bonham-Carter
A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfieffer
Titus Andronicus – Anthony Hopkins

I have yet to see an adaptation of Macbeth that I truly enjoyed, save for the possible one made years ago by Roman Polanski, but since it has been awhile since I saw that one, I left it off the list. These are my favorites. (addendum to this post: The newest Macbeth with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard was, in my opinion, visually and intellectually fulfilling!)

So, my advice is to give Shakespeare a try again; who knows, perhaps with these words in your mind, the beauty of his verse may find its way into your mind and heart.

Thanks for reading! Please share and comment if you wish!!

D. K. Marley

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

Book Review – THE GIRL FROM THE MOUNTAINS by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger

The Girl from the Mountains by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger is a haunting reminder how things can progress from idyllic to horrific in the blink of an eye. First off, the first few chapters flowed slowly but methodically, setting the stage for Magda’s transformation of enjoying her serene family life with her parents and brothers to the captivating rush of the last chapters and her full-on resistance against the Nazis. The beauty of any story is to recognize the author’s desire to demonstrate contrast. Christina does this with skill. I liken this story to the movie “A Hidden Life” contrasting love against hatred, morality against immorality, and innocence against guilt. To put this into visual terms, this book is a visual fire, a flame sparked in the beginning, slowly burning in the initial chapters as more and more fuel is added until, finally, the story bursts into a bonfire. Magda never believes she is a warrior, a hero, but she is; a woman who is relatable to women today as well as being true to the time period in which Chrystyna writes. My favourite lines from the book:

“….where Swastika stamped flags snapped salutes to the wind.” (Great alliteration and visual)

“Everything about love requires an act of courage. Absolutely everything. But loving yourself perhaps the most heroic act a person can perform.” (Great line!)

“We all understand the difference between right and wrong. But what if wrong is the law?” (Hmmm, makes you think, huh? Especially in our modern day!)

“I believe a soul can die a thousand times before the body does. That’s a good thing because it means you have the chance to recover. So, today, right now, we must choose to live.” (I have lived this so many times, after losing my kids in death, so this profound statement will stay with me a long time.)

“We are shaped by our circumstances, and marked by our choices.” (Simply put, yes!)

I give this book five stars and highly recommend. Well done, Chrystyna!!

Now available on Amazon here: