Tag Archive | biography

It’s About Time: proper formatting of the Timelines in the Legendary Women of World History series

The Legendary Women of World History series is the best selling narrative biography series written by Laurel A. Rockefeller. With the exception of “Boudicca, Britain’s Queen of the Iceni,” each biography features a detailed timeline designed to help streamline the main narrative by keeping most of the dates out of the story.  The timelines are designed to be as easy to read as possible, offering the maximum of information with a quick scan of the page.

For that reason, the timelines do not use the standard date format.  In the USA, the standard date format is (including all possible variables):

  • Day of the week
  • Month
  • Date
  • Year
  • Time of day.

Listing historical events this way however would be confusing and make it very difficult to locate a specific event.  For that reason, I use the following structure and organization in each timeline:

  • Year usually followed by BCE (Before the Common Era — aka “BC”) or CE (Common Era — aka “AD”)
  • Season (if known) OR
  • Day of the month (if known) AND
  • Month.

Events occurring in the same year are organized from the most general to the most specific in chronological order.  For example:

  • 1619; King Louis XIII and Queen Anne of Austria finally consummate their marriage four years after their wedding.
  • 1619, 10th February; Christine Marie of France marries Victor Amadeus of Savoy.
  • 1619, 22nd February; Marie de Medici escapes Blois and establishes her new court in Angoulême. Charles d’Albert de Luynes begins working with Bishop Richelieu on a diplomatic solution to the Medici problem.
  • 1619, spring-summer; Bishop Richelieu arrives in Angoulême to negotiate with Marie de Medici in person.
  • 1619, 8th July; the marquis of Thémines, captain of Queen Marie de Medici’s guards challenges Seigneur Henri de Richelieu to a duel, killing Richelieu. The family debt from both François and Henri du Plessis passes to Armand Richelieu to discharge and repay.
  • 1619, 10th August; thanks to careful negotiations by Bishop Richelieu, Queen Marie de Medici and King Louis XIII sign the Treaty of Angoulême. Du Luynes assigns Richelieu to de Medici’s court to contain and control her.

As you can see from this example from “His Red Eminence,” the year 1619 was a busy year filled with events we both know happened sometime that year but no more specific than the year, one where we know within a six-month span approximately when in the year it happened, and several where we know the exact date.

Though other countries structure their dates differently than in the United States, it is very important for each translated edition to follow the same structure as I present in the English in order to preserve this organization of events and keep it as readable as possible.

 

 

 

Lyrics: Aux plaisirs, aux délices (Pierre Guédon, 1566 to 1620)

Red Eminence webThe next song to appear in “His Red Eminence, Armand-Jean du Plessis de Richelieu” is “Aux plaisirs, aux delices” by Pierre Guedon, one of the most popular song writers of King Louis XIII’s reign. In the book Anne Rochefeuille sings it as she plays it on the harpsichord, but you will most often hear recordings of it performed with baroque guitar.

 

Aux plaisirs, aux délices (Pierre Guédon, 1566 to 1620)

French:

Aux plaisirs, aux délices, bergères,

Il faut ètre du temps ménagères,

Car il s’écoule et se perd d’heure en heure;

Et le regret seulement en demeure.

A l’àmour, aux plaisirs, au bocage

Employez les beaux jours de votre àge

 

Les ruisseaux vont aux plaines fleuries,

Cajolant et baisant les prairies,

Le doux zéphir parle d’amour à Flore,

Et les oiseaux en parlent à l’aurore

 

Maintenant la saison vous convie

De passer, en aimant, votre vie.

Déjà la terre a pris sa robe verte,

D’herbe et de fleurs la campagne est couverte.

 

Ce qui vit, qui se meut qui respire,

D’amour parle, ou murmure, ou soupire;

Aussi le coeur qui n’en sent la peinture,

S’il est vivant, il est contre nature.

 

http://www.lieder.net/lieder/get_text.html?TextId=103608

Belle Qui Tiens Ma Vie Lyrics

Red Eminence web

At long last it’s here! “His Red Eminence, Armand-Jean du Plessis de Richelieu” is the latest biography by Legendary Women of World History historian Laurel A. Rockefeller. Eight songs appear in this epic tale of the most influential politician of modern France.  Here is the first song you hear, “Belle Qui Tiens Ma Vie” by Thoinot Arbeau.

 

Belle Qui Tiens Ma Vie (Thoinot Arbeau)

French

Belle qui tiens ma vie

Captive dans tes yeux,

Qui m’as l’ame ravie

D’un souris gracieux,

Viens tôt me secourir

Ou me faudra mourir.

Viens tôt me secourir

Ou me faudra mourir.

 

Pourquoi fuis-tu, mignarde,

Si je suis près de toi?

Quand tes yeux je regarde

Je me perds dedans moi,

Car tes perfections

Changent mes actions

Car tes perfections

Changent mes actions

 

Tes beautés et ta grâce

Et tes divins propos

Ont échauffe la glace

Qui me gelait les os,

Et ont rempli mon coeur

D’une amoureuse ardeur.

Et ont rempli mon coeur

D’une amoureuse ardeur.

 

Mon ame voulait être

Libre de passion,

Mais l’amour s’est fait maitre

De mes affections

Et a mis sous sa loi

Et mon coeur et ma foi.

Et a mis sous sa loi

Et mon coeur et ma foi.

 

Approche donc ma belle,

Approche-toi mon bien,

Ne me sois plus rebelle

Puisque mon coeur est tien,

Pour mon mal apaiser

Donne-moi un baiser.

Pour mon mal apaiser

Donne-moi un baiser.

 

Je meurs mon angelette,

Je meurs en te baisant.

Ta bouche tant doucette

Va mon bien ravissant.

À ce coup mes esprits

Sont tous d’amour épris

À ce coup mes esprits

Sont tous d’amour épris

 

Plutôt on verra l’onde

Contremont reculer,

Et plutôt l’œil du monde

Cessera de bruler,

Que l’amour qui m’époint

Décroisse d’un seul point.

Que l’amour qui m’époint

Décroisse d’un seul point.

 

English

Beautiful one who holds my life

Captive in your eyes,

Who has ravished my soul

With a gracious smile?

Come to my aid

Or I must die.

 

Why do you flee, dainty one,

If I am near you?

When I behold your eyes

I am lost inside myself

Because your perfection

 

Your beauty and your grace

And your divine ways

Have melted the ice

Which was freezing my bones

And have filled my heart

With a loving ardour.

 

My soul wanted to be

Free of passion,

But love became master

Of my affections

And put under its law

My heart and my faith.

 

Come near, my lovely one,

Come near, my [dear one],

Do not resist me further

For my heart is yours,

To relieve my ills

Give me a kiss.

 

I die, my Little Angel,

I die when kissing

Your mouth so sweet.

My very lovely one,

With that touch my spirits

Are completely lifted in love.

 

Sooner will waves

Flow backwards

And sooner will the moon

Cease to shine

Before the love which conquered me

Wanes a single iota.

 

http://www.users.on.net/~algernon/bellequitiens/translation.html

November New Releases

Good morning!  My apologies for not posting since August. But when you see the results, I’m sure you will forgive me.

Hypatia of Alexandria webOn 1 August I took up a challenge I honestly did not think possible:  write “Hypatia of Alexandria” and release it before the first week of December.  Why did that seem so difficult?  Consider this:  it took nearly a year and a half to research and write “Empress Matilda of England” (LWWH book 7). And while it’s true I wrote Boudicca in less than a month (still my best-seller), Boudicca had ONE appendix in its initial release.  Hypatia has THREE.

And so I put aside the blog and really focused on writing.  In the middle of that I was a guest on the “Condensed History Gems” podcast hosted by Jem Duducu (@historygems) and Greg Chapman (@CondensedHist). Those interested can listen to my guest episode.

Persistence pays off and thanks to a lot of long days and nights, I succeeded in finishing Hypatia in September, allowing me to focus on the editorial and promotional work so essential to a successful book launch.

arban saman webIn the middle of that I had a bit of an attack of life, both personally and spiritually. Rather than blog about it, I decided to express what was in my mind in the form of historical fiction.  “The Arban and the Saman” takes me back to my roots in Chinese/East Asian history. The story begins in the year 1211, just five years after Temujin becomes Chinggis Khan when the Mongols first invaded the nuzhen (Jurchen) homeland. This is roughly the time period I played when I was a re-enactor in the Society for Creative Anachronism when I was known as “Biya.”  Biya means “the moon” in nuzhen/Jurchen/Manchu and it’s one of the few characters from the original nuzhen language used in the Jin dynasty that survived decades of warfare against the Mongols.

“The Arban and the Saman” explores the subject of soul mates and soul family. It’s a deeply spiritual historical romance that takes you far more intimately into my own life experience than really any other book I’ve written to date. In the book I take you into what it was like during some of my “near” death experiences and what I experience when I meditate.  I take you into Asian medicine. And yes, I challenge you intellectually to think about the subject of soul mates, soul family, and reincarnation and our assumptions about them.

It’s a beautiful story and one I hope you will enjoy.  And yes, that model on the cover is me.  The photo was extracted from a musical performance I gave near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the winter of 2006.

To my great surprise I finished and published “The Arban and the Saman” on 1 November, 2017 and released it immediately with the promotional blog tour scheduled for February 2018 in celebration of Chinese New Year: the Year of the Dog.

Hypatia of Alexandria launched on 10 November 2017. The promotional blog tour for Hypatia begins on Sunday 19th November, 2017.

Defend the light candle 2Prizes will be given during both blog tours.  For “Hypatia,” three lucky winners will “defend the light” with special votive candles, plus one grand prize winner will receive a signed paperback copy.

rose quartz pendants

To celebrate the magic and mysticism of “The Arban and the Saman” three lucky winners will each receive a beautiful rose quartz pendant. The grand prize winner will receive a selection of Chinese teas from http://www.enjoytea.com.

Happy holidays! Thanks for reading! And don’t forget to always DEFEND THE LIGHT of knowledge and wisdom.

The Peers of Beinan: A Literary Journey

Castle Fantasy BackdropThere is a lot of science fiction on the market from independent authors published these last five years since I first published “The Great Succession Crisis.”  It is a crowded field where it is easy to get lost in. As with many popular genres, a huge number of books seek to emulate the plot and character elements of mega hits on the assumption of that what works for one highly profitable author must work for them as well. We’ve seen this with “Twilight” style paranormal romances.  We’ve seen this with “Five Shades of Grey” styled erotica.  The list goes on and on.

As moderator of a book promo group on facebook, I get to see the copycats almost ad nauseam. Books all look the same after a while. And while the premise of copying another’s ideas is repulsive to me as both a science fiction author and as a dedicated historian, I do genuinely see some success in these authors following those formulas — if the measure of success is Amazon rankings in any event.

But open these books and the blandness of copycatting shows itself. The writing lacks the sort of literary luster of the books and authors whose work holds the test of time. That is, perhaps, the best distinction one makes between commercial and literary fiction.  Commercial fiction is about today’s sale.  Literary fiction is about creating timeless works of art.  My fiction is literary fiction.

The Peers of Beinan Series is everything I love about the classics. As a free thinker and intellectual with a life-long passion for learning, it has never been my habit to follow the crowd – on anything. Whatever was “hot” or “trendy” was never of interest to me.  I always liked to be different. On occasion what I’ve liked and what the greater society is into have coincided — but never by my conscious design and rarely in precisely the same way.

I started my writing career with the Peers of Beinan because I saw an America becoming more and more socially and politically divided, an America where it was becoming more and more difficult to engage in civil conversations about the stuff that matters. I saw an America that was increasingly creating false equivalences between fact and opinion and where acts of hate against those who are different was going unpunished and ignored. Sound familiar?

I wanted to engage in an honest discussion with people about the subjects that matter to me most. Looking to the great science fiction/fantasy authors I like best — Gene Roddenberry, Dorothy “DC” Fontana, Ray Bradberry, Frank Herbert, Issac Asimov to name just a few — what I noticed is they often tackled some really big social and sometimes political subjects in their books — without offending people in the process.

I wanted to do the same.  I wanted to talk to people and encourage people to really think about things that matter to me. And I wanted people to open their minds to ideas and possibilities that put a different way to them they would never listen to.

And that is, in essence, what the Peers of Beinan Series is. It’s my reaching out across the universe and saying “this is important, please think it about it” from a group of stories that don’t ask that question directly of people.

house-personal-heraldry-collage

In personal interactions I am known for my point-blank directness. I don’t play the stereotypical gender roles game — not any more at least. And so I am “bold” as a woman and a writer. The Peers of Beinan is less point-blank than I usually am. It seeks to provoke thought without being confrontational. And just as important to me personally:  it seeks to bring you hope. For in the greatest darkness and despair, there is always Light. That’s how I overcame the great adversities of my life and how you will too.

 

History Profile: King William II (Rufus)

270px-William_II_of_EnglandDate of Birth: circa 1056

Place of Birth: Normandy

Date of death:  2 August 1100

Spouse: none

Issue: none

Successor:  Henry I

Openly homosexual and sceptical of the church in a time where questioning Church doctrine was almost unheard of, King William II was the favourite son of his father, William I (the Conqueror).  In 1087 William inherited the throne of England from his father; his elder brother Robert received Normandy while his younger brother Henry received money. A warrior like his father who stammered when he spoke, William worked to extend his father’s conquest of England into Wales and Scotland.  He forced King Malcolm Canmore of Scotland (of Shakespeare’s “MacBeth” fame for his death at MacBeth’s hands) to swear fealty to him and acknowledge him as overlord.  In Gwynedd Wales he retained King Harold Godwinson’s puppet King Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, using him to displace King Gruffydd ap Cynan and force him into exile in Ireland.  In 1093 in Deheubarth, William II’s knights killed King Rhys ap Tewdur at the Battle of Brycheiniog, forcing his four sons into exile, including Prince Gruffydd ap Rhys (the future husband to King Gruffydd ap Cynan’s daughter, Princess Gwenllian).

William Rufus ordered the construction of some of the most famous and infamous castles in all of Wales including Chepstow Castle (1087, the year of his coronation) in Carmarthanshire and Pembroke Castle (birth place to Prince Gruffydd ap Rhys and Princess Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd’s descendent, King Henry VII) in Pembrokeshire in 1093.

In England William Rufus was a passionate hunter who continued his father’s cruel Forest Laws (of Robin Hood fame) and extended them.  It was his love of hunting that opened the door for his younger brother Henry.  On 2 August 1100 under mysterious circumstances King William was struck in the lung by an arrow.  Walter Tirel is given the blame for firing the deadly arrow; many believe it was done on Prince Henry’s orders as a way of getting rid of a violent, impious, and almost universally hated king.

 

Though most people consider Henry I’s descendent King John the most hated king in medieval history, the prize rightfully belongs to King William Rufus whose wars and violent nature not only made him the bane of most English women and men but set the stage for the challenges still experienced forging a united kingdom out of England, Scotland, Wales, and northern Ireland.

History Profile: King Henry V of England

330px-King_Henry_V_from_NPGDate of Birth: 16 September 1386 at Monmouth Castle, Monmouthshire, Wales.

Date of Death: 31 August 1422 — dysentery contracted while on campaign near Paris, France.

Spouse:  Queen Catherine de Valois (married 6 June 1420)

Issue: King Henry VI of England — House Lancaster

King Henry V of England is one of the most celebrated of English monarchs.  Immortalized by Shakespeare in “Henry V,” the myth created by the play conceals the real person whose short life was characterized by bloody warfare, a ferocious temper, and vindictive violence.

King Henry was thirteen years old when his father, Henry Bolingbroke successfully wrestled the throne of England away from his cousin King Richard II to become King Henry IV.  Very soon after his father’s coronation, Owain Glyndŵr declared himself Prince of Wales and commenced one of the most successful wars of independence against English colonization in Welsh history.

Schlacht_von_Azincourt

The Battle of Agincourt. 26 October 1415.

Not surprisingly, King Henry IV sent Prince Henry to Wales to crush the Glyndŵr revolt, suffering personal injury when a Welsh arrow struck him in the face.  Prince Henry responded with brutal vengeance in a pattern seen throughout his life, especially in his campaigns in France while king.  King Henry V did not believe taking prisoners of war; those who surrendered after a defeat could expect to be executed. Henry believed that any person who challenged his authority, even when forced into military service against him, was a threat to his life and his crown. This included the women and children living in the towns and cities Henry laid siege to.  It was a bloody reign.

Learn more about King Henry V through the eyes of his relationship with his queen consort in “Catherine de Valois.”  Available in digital, paperback, and audio editions.

Introducing History Profiles

I am pleased to announce a new column is coming to this blog:  history profiles.

On a regular basis you will be treated to a short (200-500 word) profile exploring the life of a single person from history — female or male — from across world history.

So who would you like to see me profile?  Leave your suggests in the comment box below and I will endeavour to fulfill your request and answer whatever questions I am able to.

Five Facts about Queen Mary Stuart of Scotland You Probably Did Not Know

Mary Queen of ScotsMerry Christmas and Happy New Year!  As the holidays begin to wind down a bit (Yule was Monday Night/Tuesday) I thought I would share five things about Queen Mary Stuart of Scotland (1542 -1587) you probably did not know which I learned researching and writing “Mary Queen of the Scots” for the Legendary Women of World History Series.

  1. Queen Mary was born in December. The 8th of December to be exact.  Upon learning of his daughter’s birth, King James V predicted the ruin of his dynasty because she was a girl instead of a boy.
  2. Queen Mary’s love of her life (as evidenced in the poetry she wrote in French), King Francis II of France was incapable of having children.  As much as Mary loved him, too many generations of close marriage resulted in birth defects making children impossible for the happy couple.  As dangerous as the political situation turned out for Mary after Francis’ death in 1560, had he lived longer the situation would have likely become far worse for Mary and for Scotland as a whole.
  3. Lord Darnley was the healthiest suitor to Queen Mary–but not her first choice.  Understanding her duty to remarry following Francis’ death, Mary actually considered many possible suitors from across Europe.  The 16th century royals however were especially plagued with health issues (including King Edward VI of England whom Henry VIII tried to force Mary to marry).  Unwilling to marry beneath her class, Henry Stewart (also descended of Queen Consort Margaret Tudor) was Mary’s best chance at producing an heir.
  4. Protestant reformer John Knox was both her dangerous enemy and her friend.  True to the complexities of Mary’s court and her life as a whole, Queen Mary found John Knox to be an amiable companion when hunting or shooting her bow despite his efforts to impose radical Protestantism onto Scotland and depose Mary as queen.
  5. Queen Mary’s return from France transformed Edinburgh Castle into the bright and beautiful place it is today. Prior to Queen Mary’s reign Edinburgh Castle was a cold, dark, and dreary place.  This was in sharp contrast with the glittering palaces of Paris where she grew up and eventually reigned (briefly) as queen.  Partially to make Edinburgh Castle a proper and comfortable home for herself, Mary commissioned numerous improvements, adding beauty and glamour that was previously absent in Scottish courts.

 

Mary Queen of the Scots

Learn more about Queen Mary Stuart in “Mary Queen of the Scots, the Forgotten Reign,” book three of the Legendary Women of World History Series.  Available for kindle, Nook, iBookstore, and in paperback on Amazon, and at a retailer near you.

Biography includes comprehensive bibliography, extensive timeline, and translations of Roman Catholic prayers from Latin to English.  Also available in French, German, Italian, Chinese, and Spanish. See https://bit.ly/2IWJeOB for links to non-English editions.

Why some book series should be read in the order written

Goodbye 3D

Good-bye A672E92 Quintus is chronologically the first book in the Peers of Beinan Series. However it was actually written FOURTH of the six books.

I love a great book series.  From the JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings to Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Avalon Series, I find it satisfying to stay within the same world, getting to know characters, places, and events intimately.  It’s one reason why serialized fiction is so popular and entertaining.

Like both my aforementioned literary mentors, I do not write in chronological order.  With the Legendary Women of World History series this makes sense:  each biography is a stand alone book.  The series designation signals consistency in theme and approach to historical data.  But the books themselves are not necessarily strongly connected (the exception:  Mary Queen of the Scots and Journey to Gloriana).

By contrast, the Peers of Beinan Series is much more traditional with the same cultural, historical, and environmental setting across the books.  The books were written in the following order:

  1. The Great Succession Crisis (along with its companion Data Files, now out of print).
  2. The First King
  3. The Ghosts of the Past
  4. Good-bye A672E92 Quintus (most editions integrate The First King into the text)
  5. The Poisoned Ground
  6. Princess Anyu Returns

This means that the bulk of the world building and explanations of the world building are achieved in The Great Succession Crisis and The Ghosts of the Past — much like George Lucas establishes his world building in Star Wars (A New Hope) and The Empire Strikes Back.  Viewers of Return of the Jedi and of the three prequel films are expected to know ideas like Jedi Knights and Sith Lords before viewing these films.

And so does the Peers of Beinan Series.  The result:  a chronological reading of the series as the first reading of the series is a little bit confusing.  Especially with the novellas (Good-bye A672E92 Quintus and The Poisoned Ground) I found myself not re-describing the wheel already built.  And, to risk sounding pompous, I honestly did not expect to need to do so.  These books are for young adults and adults, after all — not middle grade children like the biographies.  So I expect a higher level of education and deductive reasoning/critical thinking skills from Peers of Beinan Series readers than I do with the biographies.  After all, science fiction readers are some of the smartest and best educated of literary audiences.  As lovers of science fiction we expect our books to be factually accurate, imaginative, and thought-provoking.   We expect to be challenged intellectually and emotionally.  As a life-long science fiction fan, I wrote the books that I most want to read myself.

And so the series best makes sense when you read it in the order that I wrote it in with a chronological reading (such as you find in The Complete Series) best for the second and subsequent readings.  In that, I continue to follow the greats I love:  JRR Tolkien, Frank Herbert, George Lucas, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Dorothy “D.C.” Fontana,  J. Michael Straczynski, and Stan Lee.

Read these in the order I wrote them and i know you will love them too!

Owen and Catherine: the Love Story that launched the Tudor dynasty

romanc blogfest 2015 small banner

Just then a scream echoed in the forest.  Drawing their swords, Linet and Boudicca charged towards the sound.  By the time they reached the source all that could be seen was Prasutagus, his blood spilling into the ground – as if a year-king killed as an offering to the gods for his people.  Prasutagus looked up, his eyes blurring, “Boudicca?”

Boudicca knelt, weeping, the blood from his chest wound soaking her dress, “I am here.”

“A Roman – scout – I – surprised him.” gasped Prasutagus, trying in vain to tell his wife what happened, knowing the moment he died rage would fill her – rage against Rome.

Boudicca kissed him tenderly, “My love, do not leave me!”  Prasutagus kissed her repeatedly, his eyes fixed on hers until they saw no more.  Feeling his spirit leave his body, Boudicca wept, as if her entire life suddenly passed with him – at least for this moment.  Finally, she rose, helping Linet carry him to their chariot.  With a gentle nudge of the reigns the horses turned for home and the sad work ahead.

—————

Welcome to RomanceFest 2015!  I hope all month long you’ll discover many amazing books from some of the top independent authors in the world.

Complete Series 3D

My contribution to RomanceFest is a bit different.  Rather than offering you the thrilling paranormal science fiction romance of the Peers of Beinan Series, I decided to take a different, much more risky approach.  I decided to make my RomanceFest books CREATIVE NON-FICTION HISTORY for young readers and family audiences.

In the excerpt you just read above and audio excerpt you just heard on the youtube video, you experienced the powerful love between King Prasugasus of the Iceni and his wife, Queen Boudicca.  Boudicca is remembered every year in King’s Cross London for destroying the Roman cities of Camulodunum (originally the capital of the Trinovantes, the southern neighbour to the Iceni in what is now Essex), Londonium, and Saint Albans in the year 61 CE.  Typically she is portrayed as a vengeful shrew getting back at the Romans for publicly flogging her and raping her two daughters (aged 10-12 years old).  I took a different approach with the biography, one intensely grounded in archaeology and one taking a broader look at the cultures of ancient Britain.  Boudicca:  Britain’s Queen of the Iceni is creative non-fiction history for young readers and families at its absolute finest, one benefiting immensely from the dynamic artistry of British voice artist and actor Richard Mann (easily the best English actor you probably never heard of — yet!).

Now I would like to introduce you to Queen Catherine de Valois.  Shakespeare immortalized Catherine in “Henry V,” a play very much taking King Henry’s point of view.  The real Henry and the real Catherine were very different.  In my biography for younger readers and families, you meet the real Catherine de Valois: bright, educated, and religiously devout.  You see her in her historical context as she navigates her father’s mental illness, the French civil war between house Valois and the Duchy of Burgundy, and her brother Charles’ struggles to become king of France — with a little help from Joan of Arc.

But more importantly, you explore her relationships with King Henry V of England, their son King Henry VI, and the true love she found in Owen Tudor.  It is a beautiful, romantic tale to inspire generations of girls and women.

I am pleased to announce that in May or June 2015 Richard Mann and I will release the audio edition of Catherine de Valois on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.  So take a listen to the above audio book excerpt, then download your copy of Catherine de Valois on Amazon.com, Barnes/Noble, Smashwords, or Ibookstore.

 

Enter to win a free copy of Catherine de Valois! Winners announced 31st of May 2015

Saint Patrick’s Day: Celebrating the Myth, Not the Man

Saint Patrick’s Day is a festive day celebrating Irish heritage and culture and Irish-Diaspora around the world. It’s a day when everyone wants to be Irish and wears Irish green. Yet the holiday itself is named for an English Bishop who hated the Irish and did everything he could to destroy and undermine the same Irish culture and heritage most of us today celebrate in his name.

I am 1/8th Irish. As I became more and more interested in my Irish blood, Saint Patrick became of historical interest to me personally. Who-and what-are we celebrating? I’d heard the myths of course about Saint Patrick and serpents, but know from my science background that snakes were never indigenous to Ireland-they are absent from the fossil record and Common Era accounts (see ancient and medieval Irish texts on the subject at sacred-texts.com). So who-or what-were these serpents?

The aforementioned discussion on serpents in Irish culture and history makes that answer plain: it’s a reference to ancient Irish culture, to Irish clans, Irish religion, and Irish heritage. To drive the serpent out of Ireland actually, in its proper historical and cultural context, therefore means “to obliterate Irish culture, religion, and customs from Ireland.” This is hardly a new idea in world history; the Americans did the same thing to the Cherokee, Lakota, Iroquois, and countless other native peoples.

So then why would Saint Patrick, a man so tightly associated with Ireland, wish to, at least mythologically, destroy everything Irish? The answer comes from an examination of the historical person. Brigette de Silva’s paper, “Saint Patrick, the Irish Druids, and the Conversion of Pagan Ireland to Christianity” (strangehorizons.com), provides a fascinating glimpse into the man that lived-as best as we can redact from period sources.

Born and raised to his teenage years in England among the land-owning upper class and grandson to a priest, Patrick was not a religious man at all-until captured by Irish raiders and made a slave. His conversion to Christianity came out of his resentment towards his new life and his master. When he finally escaped from his master, he begged some traders to take him back to England. The traders refused him at first, but then agreed. However, it is unlikely they went to England. De Silva tells us the historical consensus is that he was taken to Gaul where he was either re-enslaved or made part of the group while they raided in Gaul. Regardless which way it happened, it is clear that Patrick was 26 by the time he returned to England to his family. At that time, he decided to return to Ireland to convert them to Christianity. Not long after his return, Patrick was appointed bishop of Ireland and began his work to convert the Irish to Christianity.

Myths on both sides depict Patrick as both more successful than he was and far more brutal. One story speaks of his returning to his former master to force him to convert. However, the story says, the local king recognized Patrick for the threat he presented and, per Irish custom, burned himself alive rather than be force-converted. Other stories credit Patrick with converting large numbers of Irish. Yet de Silva’s research shows none of these claims as historical. Bishop Patrick died in obscurity until others, at the end of the Christianization of Ireland, revised his history and created his mythos.

What we can say for certain is that Bishop Patrick was motivated far more by vengeance and disdain for the Irish in his missionary work in Ireland than we typically associate with Roman Catholic clergy. He is canonized as the Saint of Ireland, yet was a wealthy Englishman. And of course, that most of what we associate with Patrick is myth created decades and centuries later. Like his contemporary, King Arthur, Patrick remains more myth than man in our imaginations. Bishop Patrick was truly no saint and was, ultimately, one of the first missionaries driven by racist impulses.

Alan Turing and The Imitation Game

Turing and CumberbatchI have a new movie obsession.  Yes, Queen Elsa has been deposed!  I am no longer Frozen.  Instead, my heart is taken by the story of a real man whose genius touches all our lives nearly every moment of every day.

 

His name was Alan Turing.  I first heard his name in my cognitive psychology courses at the University of Nebraska.  Turing’s ideas about the nature of thought itself led not only to creation of the first computers, but underscore how psychologists understand how our human brains process information.  The famous Turing test (highlighted at the end of the film as “the Imitation Game”) makes us think about what thought is and how mental constructs relate to one another.  Many computer scientists and social scientists have built upon Turing’s ideas, yet few before or since have made a greater impact on our lives.

 

TuringWhen I first saw the above trailer for “The Imitation Game” I had no recollection of any of this of course.  With the deluge of names that assaults a triple major university student, Turing’s name quickly left my mind after the final examination discussing his ideas in favour of other, more pressing names — like Abraham Maslow and Thomas Moore.  With most of Turing’s achievements still classified until after I received my BA, I had little reason to think of Turing as anything more than one of many brilliant theorists.

That is until last week when I saw “The Imitation Game.”  For those who have not yet seen the movie (and I urge you to do so), “The Imitation Game” tells the story of Hut 8, the ultra classified team led by Alan Turing at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire who broke the unbreakable Nazi Enigma code.  Except no one knew they broke the code — not until 1996 when the National Security Agency declassified important documents from WWII.

CumberbatchThough full of creative licenses that many argue damage the reputation of one of the 20th Century’s greatest minds (see fact check), the film beautifully dramatizes Turing’s close friendship with Joan Clarke, even if it distorts some of its most important details.  You see Turing’s brilliant mind at work with performances that brought tears to my eyes.  Unlike Russel Crowe in “A Beautiful Mind,” Benedict Cumberbatch really made me understand Turing and feel for him very deeply.  Though I would never make many of Turing’s life choices myself, I really came to understand them.  This is a film that inspires you to think about our individual differences and what makes us human.  It is a film that compels us to play the “imitation game,” Turing’s test of what makes a person a person and how life, organic and artificial, thinks and processes information.

 

I am of course not being that specific.  That is because I want you to see this movie without knowing too much about Turing himself.  All I knew coming into the movie was that this film involved Enigma.  I am so grateful for that lack of knowledge.  It allowed me to watch without bias — exactly as Benedict Cumberbatch’s opening voice over from Turing asks us to.

Now that I have seen this movie, it is my absolute favourite.  And did I mention the film score?  I am a huge fan of film scores; this is one of the most beautiful scores I have heard in many years with a satisfying complexity and heavy use of both flute and piano.

 

In a word:  beautiful!

 

 

 

 

Excerpt: Catherine de Valois

Catherine de Valois

Catherine de Valois is a creative non-fiction biography suitable for young readers exploring the life of Henry V’s queen consort, Catherine de Valois.  Caricaturized by Shakespeare in “Henry V,” the real Catherine you meet in this biography was a woman of great intelligence, courage, and conviction.

Available  for kindle and in paperback.  Look for Catherine de Valois in Chinese language edition and in audio edition narrated by Richard Mann later this year.

In this scene from the end of chapter one, Catherine meets King Henry of England for the first time in October 1419.

————————————

“Must we do this, Mother?” asked Catherine, pacing furiously.

“What choice do we have, Catherine?  The blood of the women and children of Rouen cry out for action.  We must meet with King Henry this day or risk further slaughter,” conceded Queen Isabeau, her heart equally furious and grieved at the same time at Henry’s atrocities in Rouen.

“I do not want to meet him!  I hate him!  I have never heard of any living  man being so vile and disgusting to me.”

“It  is  said that he is otherwise to his own English people, that he governs them kindly and with great skill.”

“But what about the  Welsh, Mother?  Was he kind to them when he slaughtered them while his father reigned?” countered Catherine.  “I know it is my duty as your daughter – but you know how I hate violence, especially against  the innocent.  How are the Welsh any different than  us?   All they wanted was to not be slaves to this conqueror.  We of all people understand this!”

Before Isabeau could respond, the door opened.  Jacques de Heilly entered with a bow, “Your Majesty, Your Highness may I introduce you to Henry, by God’s grace King of England.”

As Montjoie stepped aside to take his traditional place one pace behind the queen, King Henry emerged into the room, his eyes immediately fixing themselves on the beautiful Catherine in her embroidered cotehardie and fur-edged side-less surcoat, the royal fleur-de-lys glistening in gold thread on her gown.  For a moment, Henry found himself so moved by  Catherine’s beauty that he could not speak.  Finally after two minutes, the king took a chivalrous bow, “Good ladies, we meet at last!”

Coolly, Catherine curtsied politely,  “Your Majesty.”

Henry, normally so confident and proud stammered, “Y-y-you are more beautiful than I ever dreamed!  Truly a vision of all that flowers in France.”

“If you value the beauty of the flowers of France, perhaps you should not have killed so many along the way,” countered Catherine, her rage flaming from her eyes.

Chided, Henry turned to Queen Isabeau, “Your Majesty, you permit your daughter to speak to me like this?”

“Catherine speaks her mind. In that, she is quite her mother’s daughter – and a Bavarian,” smirked Isabeau proudly.  “That you slaughtered our people, we concede.  That we wish to end this war, we fully declare.  But do not think you can force the mind and heart of my daughter in any matter.  Though you may, through the brutality that brings us here together, compel a measure of outward obedience, if it is affection of the mind or heart you desire, it would serve you best to put aside all savage warrior ways and behave yourself like a gentleman.

Henry blinked in shock.  No woman had dared to speak to him so boldly – or venomously.  Rather, he was accustomed to fearful pandering – not the confidence of a woman seeing herself as his equal, “I – I do not know what to say.   I was not born a prince, though certainly I wear the crown more easily than my father.  I,” Henry paused, his pride hurt even as his desire to possess Catherine grew.  Marrying Catherine was his birth right; since the death of Princess Isabella, Catherine’s sister and widow to Richard II, all talk had been across his life of his marrying Catherine. Was it not his destiny to marry Catherine?  Did she not see it the same way?  As his thoughts grew more confused by Catherine’s obvious spite, the rhythm and confidence of his speech waivered, “I have wanted this alliance for many years.  I cannot imagine myself with anyone else.  Yet do  I dream of love, of your love, Catherine.  Will you not be my wife?”

“Not out of love, England, for you are my enemy.  What am I to you but a trophy to your murders?” burned Catherine.

“If I swear on my soul to end this campaign this very day and never again kill, will you not agree to  marry me?”

“If you never kill again – yes – but there are many things you must agree to in order to make this treaty one and whole,” bargained Catherine confidently.

“I SWEAR IT!”

“God will hold you to your vow, Henry of England,” warned Queen Isabeau. “If you acknowledge this and still so swear, then shall we both draw up the formal terms to be signed once they are ready.”

“God hold me to my vow and strike me down in death if ever my hand spills French blood again!” vowed Henry fiercely.

 

Content with Henry’s answer, Queen Isabeau supervised the drafting of the now agreed-to peace treaty. On May the twenty-first 1420 King Henry the Fifth and King Charles the Sixth met in the city of Troyes where they both formally agreed to and signed the treaty. As demanded by King Henry, King Charles gave Catherine to him in marriage in a grand wedding held a few days later on the second of June.

Across the summer and autumn of 1420, Henry and Catherine became better acquainted as they toured together across France over the next six months.  Towards Catherine, Henry expressed the utmost admiration and, if not genuine love, certainly an intense romantic attraction to her.

For her part, Catherine found herself more than flattered at Henry’s attention. King Henry seemed so sincere in how he treated her.  Certainly he was gentle when she yielded to him in wifely duty, despite his fiery temperament.  Still in her heart, Catherine could never forget that this man who caressed her so softly in private was the same man who killed women and children for the crime of being born Welsh or French, his eyes both tender like a baby bird’s – or fierce like a raging storm – depending on his mood.

 

 

Christmas came. Henry wisely decided  their first Christmas as husband and wife should be spent in Paris with her parents and siblings.  As familiar songs filled her ears at the traditional midnight mass on Christmas  Eve, Catherine knelt in silence, the music gone from her heart and reflected in her eyes.  Though she tried for the sake of her people to make truly merry, Catherine found herself sad instead, as if something precious to her was lost, gone forever.

Finally, at the end of January, 1421 they at last arrived at Calais for the crossing to England.

 

Chinese excerpt: Boudicca 《不列颠女王布迪卡》

Boudicca Chinese cover

《不列颠女王布迪卡》是一种创造性的非小说类传记适合年轻读者探索古代世界最伟大的女主人公之一的生命。在 61 CE 布狄卡在什么成为最后的大立场,反对英伦三岛的罗马人征服团结大多数英语凯尔特人震惊罗马元老。

可以点燃在中国英文印在纸上(只有英文),和音频编辑理查曼叙述。

在这个场景中,从第四章,一个虔诚的布狄卡寻求智慧的摩瑞根。

————————————-

爱西尼人度过了两年和平安稳的时光。至今为止,那个罗马城主似乎一直在

履行着他的诺言。但是时间一天天过去,爱丽丝和摩根越来越焦虑不安,因为她

们的预感越来越强烈,可怕的梦境似乎很快就会成真。

布迪卡看着女儿们,她的心也随着她们所受的煎熬而疼痛。终于,在仲夏节

的三天前,她和莱内特驾着她的轻巧战车驶向了一个供奉着摩莉甘女神的小神殿,

那座神殿坐落于她们村庄北边一片葱郁的古老森林里。布迪卡和莱内特不眠不休

地祈祷了整整一天一夜,祈求女神的指引。

最终,黎明的曙光穿过了厚重的树林,鸟儿也从睡梦中醒来。莱内特站起来,

将手放在布迪卡的肩膀上,“殿下,我们必须回去了。”

“我们没有办法在即将到来的惨剧中存活下来,我亲爱的朋友——虽然现在

的情况似乎是我们取得了短暂的和平,但是我们都知道,属于我们的战争即将到

来。罗马人并不像我们一样平等地对待妇女,那个城主——保利努斯,他甚至从

没将我当做爱西尼的王后看待过——他认为我只是我丈夫寝宫里的一个私人奴

隶罢了。一旦我的丈夫出了什么事,他们就会将所有东西占为己有。爱西尼人会

重蹈我的族人的覆辙。”布迪卡哭泣道。

“我们不会成为他们的奴隶,我们可以反抗,可以战斗。事实上西边的战争

号角已经吹响,他们会践踏我们的信仰,但是我们不会害怕。我们拼尽所有同他

们战斗,女神会帮助我们。殿下,正如我们所尊崇、所追求的目标:人人自由与

平等!他们认为我们这些体质柔弱的女人生来就低人一等,但是我们知道不是这

样的,我们知道我们都是平等的。诸神会帮助我们打赢这一仗,战神卡姆洛斯会

成为我们的战士!”莱内特的眼中似乎燃烧起了熊熊烈焰。

“卡姆洛斯肯定恨罗马人夺走了他的城市并占为己有,他肯定尤其憎恨在他

的城市建立起的供奉死去的克劳迪亚斯皇帝的神殿。然而神殿还在,我们从前向

他祈祷的地方现在也成为了克劳迪亚斯的祭祀场,却什么都没有发生——这样的

卡姆洛斯战神如何能为我们战斗?”布迪卡问。

“所有的这些都将成为他帮助我们清理个充满罗马人恶臭的城市的理由。当

我们会将这座城市重新贡献给他——当我们获得自由的时候。”

这时森林里突然传来一阵尖叫声。莱内特和布迪卡立刻拿起她们的宝剑向声

音传来的方向冲去。当她们抵达声音的发源处时,只看到普拉苏塔古斯躺在地上,

血流了一地。时间像是过了一年那么久——国王被杀害了,为了他的子民,将自

己作为祭品贡献给了神明。普拉苏塔古斯向上看去,他的眼睛已经变得模糊,“布

迪卡?”

布迪卡哭着跪了下来,任由从他胸前的伤口流出的鲜血染红她的裙子,“我

在这。”

“一个罗马的,侦察兵,我,他没想到我会出现在这里。”普莱修亚斯大口

喘气,想要告诉他的妻子发生了什么事,却无能为力。他知道他一死,愤怒便会

倾覆她——针对罗马的愤怒。

布迪卡温柔地吻他,“亲爱的,我的爱人,不要离开我!”普拉苏塔古斯一遍

又一遍地回吻她,他们一直都专注地看着对方的眼睛,直到有一方再也无法看到。

布迪卡感觉到他的生命逝去的那一刻,悲伤得好像她的整个生命也随之而去了。

最终,布迪卡还是勉力站了起来,和莱内特合力将她的丈夫搬上了战车,指挥着

马慢慢走向家的方向,走向那个悲伤的未来。

几天后,一个二十人士兵小队和五个百夫长带着他们的手下从曾经的爱西尼

人的南边邻国——特里诺万特的首都,现在的罗马首都科尔切斯特出发来到爱西

尼部落。这支队伍对于罗马人而言算是规模比较小的,代表着罗马掌权者希望能

够避免冲突,顺利执行普拉苏塔古斯的遗嘱,取得爱西尼的掌控权的心愿。走在

队伍最前方的是百夫长马库斯·维特斯,他在当地出生,母亲却来自于塞纳河畔

的埃杜维部落。当他来到布迪卡所在的这座军事化防卫的村庄外时,布迪卡不能

自已地盯着这个颇具埃杜维人长相的男人。布迪卡果断拦截他,“来者何人?”

“我,百夫长马库斯·维特斯,代表伟大罗马皇帝尼禄和城主盖乌斯·苏维

托尼乌斯·保里努斯来此。你们的国王已经死去,你们的王国现在属于我们。”

“不,百夫长。我的女儿们和尼禄各自拥有一半。按照英国人的惯例,在我

的子民认为她们具有管理一个国家的能力之前,我,作为王后,作为普拉苏塔古

斯的遗孀,有权接管这个国家。”

“你是个女人,在罗马律法下你没有权利这样做。”

“但在爱西尼法律下我有。”

“现在没有爱西尼了,只有奴隶。”马库斯宣布,并在布迪卡拔出她的宝剑

前抢先将她制住。在其他百夫长的帮助下,马库斯捆住了一直在挣扎的布迪卡和

她的女儿们,并堵住她们的嘴,强迫她们看他们的士兵怎么扫荡整个村庄。每个

爱西尼人都拿起武器,在他们的国王尸骨未寒时毅然决然地反击罗马的入侵,勇

敢地与罗马人战斗,硝烟一片。趁着罗马人的注意力完全被激烈的战争吸引,莱

内特悄悄地逃出村庄向不列颠岛的其他部落示警。

Repost: Awesome Gang Interview of Laurel A. Rockefeller

Here is the Awesome Gang’s interview of author Laurel A. Rockefeller

author Laurel A. Rockefeller in 2012

author Laurel A. Rockefeller in 2012

http://awesomegang.com/laurel-a-rockefeller/

 

An intimate look at my life as a low vision author

This is one of the few pictures of me with a white cane taken in July 2010.  I'm only a size 2 in this picture following three years at the time of taking a very strong prescription migraine medicine that nearly killed me (I weighed just 83 lbs at the time).

This is one of the few pictures of me with a white cane taken in July 2010. I’m only a size 2 in this picture following three years at the time of taking a very strong prescription migraine medicine that nearly killed me (I weighed just 83 lbs at the time).

My dear friend Alexandra Butcher interviewed me this weekend regarding the special challenges I face as a low vision author.  Since I don’t want to be typecast into people’s stereotypes of the differently-abled, I usually don’t talk about my sight loss and my books at the same time.

This is one of the most intimate portraits ever of my life.

http://libraryoferana.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/the-challenges-of-a-blind-author-follow-up-laurel/