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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Serious Writing and Not So Serious Writing For Fun

I do a lot of serious writing.  I have written nonfiction here:

and I have been the runner up in a writing contest here:

and I even get a little quote in Susan Bordo's "The Creation of Anne Boleyn" not that I really wrote anything, I just answered a question.  So that's my more historical sort of serious side.  I also write this blog, occasionally, admittedly I don't update nearly as often as I should.  What can I say, I'm busy being a mom and a teacher and a wife and a million other things.  Then there is the dorky side of me.  Besides Anne Boleyn and historical fiction novels I have a small obsession with The Hunger Games.  I love all three books in the trilogy.  Katniss and Anne Boleyn are my heroes.  I like shooting a bow and arrow.  I think learning how to throw knives well would be really awesome.  I own throwing knives and throw them at the fence in my backyard.  I get regular updates from fan sites on my facebook page. I have the same sort of obsession with Lord of the Rings, hey, I like well written original stories with characters that are well rounded and realistic in that they think and react like real people to stressful situations.  Lately I have been doing some not so serious writing.  It's kind of pointless, but it's an amazing way to write background stories for characters that I love but did not create.  It's a way to create new characters and put them in a world that I find totally interesting but did not make up.  I have been writing (gasp and cringe) fan fiction.  It's really fun.  Normally I would turn my nose up and sneer at someone who did such a thing, like the woman who wrote those horrible 50 Shades books.  I'm not sure what that story had to do with Twilight but I understand it started as a piece of Twilight fan fiction.  I've never read Twilight and I admit in a very ashamed way that I looked at 50 Shades to see what all the hype was about but got bored after about 20 pages.  I can't deal with weak, submissive, groveling female protagonists.  Especially in badly written porn novels being sold as romance, a sadistic and abusive romance at that.  Please give me an outspoken dignified queen or a deadly unwilling killer any day.  But I digress...

I have learned that there are some different types of fan fiction, most of which I do not like.  There are the types that pair different characters and make them have some sort of romantic involvement.  Dumb.  There are the retellings of the original book from a different point of view.  Dumb, we already heard the story once.  There are those that take the characters and throw them into some sort of modern day high school or a situation that involves a boy band.  Very dumb, so stupid that we cannot even comment.  Then there are some really good stories, authors who take the characters who were not fleshed out in whatever novel that they came from and give them a personality and a story to tell.  Authors like Gethsemane342 (everyone uses a pen name)
who writes beautifully haunting stories that leave you in tears and begging for more.  So, in an effort to fulfill my never ending need to write I've been having fun writing in The Hunger Games fandom.  I don't know whether I am ashamed or proud.  I have a little following, which I am proud of.  I get awesome reviews, which I am proud of.  But it's fan fiction, which sort of makes me feel like a total dork.  But whatever, it's really fun.  So here are my stories,
two of them are in a state of perpetual progress.  What do you think, is it a terrible thing to write fan fiction?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Awesome Anne Boleyn Video

One really awesome Anne Boleyn/Tudors video created by me.  Some places are a little jerky but hey, I'm not a pro or anything!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Review of The Sumerton Women by D.L. Bogdan

Attention historical fiction lovers!  D.L. Bogdan, author of Secrets in the Tudor Court and it's prequel, Rivals in the Tudor Court has brought readers yet another book that brings the characters within it to life with a vibrancy and depth I rarely see.  Bogdan's latest book The Sumerton Women tells the story of Cecily and Mirabella Pierce; two women whose lives intertwine to create a relationship of love and loathing that perhaps only true sisters could understand.

Young Cecily Burkhart is first introduced to the Pierce family when she is orphaned during the sweating sickness of 1528.  The Pierce family is kind, welcoming Cecily with open arms as a daughter, sister, and future wife to the heir to the Pierce fortune, Brey.  Cecily quickly warms to her new family and learns the joys and torments of having siblings, finding in the Pierce children Brey and the eldest Mirabella the brother and sister she never had.  Brey is an open and loving child who quickly becomes Cecily's constant companion whereas Mirabella is difficult and intense; filled with a burning desire to become a nun.  The family chaplain, Alec Cahill is the family's spiritual advisor as well as the children's beloved tutor.  Father Alec must guide the Pierces through the tumultuous reign of Henry VIII and help them weather the religious changes forced upon the country by his break with Rome and later the ascendancy of his protestant son Edward VI.

The family travels to London in 1533 to witness the coronation of Anne Boleyn who intrigues Cecily with her determination and her ability to wrest the King from the arms of his first wife Catherine of Aragon.  Tragedy strikes however in the midst of the celebrations when the heir to the Sumerton title, Brey, dies suddenly from a bout of what is most likely appendicitis.  Death continues to stalk to the family when Lady Sumerton ends her life by throwing herself into the Thames following the death of her only son and a night of startling and dark family revelations.  I don't want to give away the entire plot of the book but I will say that the truths that are revealed irrevocably change the family and the relationships of those within it forever. 

Darkness descends upon Sumerton Place after so much death and Mirabella flees to the neighboring convent, taking shelter in the quiet cloister and living the devout and religious life she had always dreamed of. In Henry VIII's England, however, religious houses are rapidly becoming a thing of the past.  Mirabella is not long into her life as a novice nun when the King's soldiers come to disband the abbey and strip it of it's treasures.  Mirabella attempts to make a stand against the King's men only to bring more tragedy upon herself.  Denied her vocation Mirabella spends the next years of her life in turmoil, wreaking havoc on those she loves through her twisted sense of right and wrong and her ardent religious fervor.

Cecily, meanwhile is busy bringing light back into the Pierce family.  Upon the death of her betrothed and her foster mother Lady Grace Cecily instead marries Lord Sumerton.  Somehow she is able to put aside the fact that he has been her adopted father for many years and become the new Lady Sumerton.  Though this would not have been uncommon at the time it is a rather shocking turn of events!  She and Lord Sumerton have several happy years together and a new family is born from the broken hearts and minds of the old.  Father Alec returns as a tutor to the children of Cecily and Hal and all live happily until...  I'm going to leave you guessing!  I will say however that it was a turn of events that I was not expecting!  You'll just have to read The Sumerton Women to find out how life turns out for Cecily, Hal, Mirabella, and Father Alec!  You can buy it here:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Coming Soon...The Sumerton Women by D.L. Bogdan!

Exciting news!  One of my favorite authors D.L. Bogdan is going to send me a review copy of her new book The Sumerton Women!  I can't wait to get the book, D.L. is a master at getting to the heart of a character!  You can view her website and read about the book here:!the-sumerton-women

Bogdan is also the author of Secrets of the Tudor Court and Rivals in the Tudor Court, which chronicle the life of Thomas Howard, the Duke of Norfolk and his daughter Mary.  Both books manage to portray Norfolk as a tortured soul that at times the reader is sympathetic to, not an easy feat when writing about a man who betrayed two of his nieces to Henry VIII and stood by while they were executed.  Kind of a hard person to like you know?  I can't wait to read Bogdan's latest novel and I am sure I will have great things to say about it!

Romantic Drivel and the Reign of a Crazy Woman

I finally managed to pull myself away from the world of The Hunger Games long enough to read some other books. I admit, I'm struggling.  Historical fiction is my favorite genre, but after Katniss I had a hard time finding another lead character who could measure up.  I tried and tried and tried, sampling book after book and finally I found the voice of a character that did not annoy me, because really, after mentally living in Panem for three books it's hard listen to someone moan and groan about petty jealousies.  Before I get into the really good book that I found I just have to comment on a book who's narrator made me ill with their simpering weakness. 

The Favored Queen by Carolly Erikson is narrated by Jane Seymour, the third queen of Henry VIII.  I can't stand Jane as a historical figure, her compliance in the downfall of Anne Boleyn disgusts me.  If she had been actively trying to bring her down, as Anne was with Catherine of Aragon I could have at least respected her spunk, but Jane's quiet acceptance and supposed meekness makes me want to vomit.  She's all I never wanted to be.  I usually love Erikson's books and I was really excited when her latest novel hit the shelves.  Imagine my disappointment when it was so annoying that I couldn't even finish it!  It wasn't the writing, it was the character herself.  I was hoping to garner some sympathy for Jane, to be able to find something to like about her.  I didn't.  If anything I dislike her more after reading this book.  I know it's a novel and we as 21st century people have no idea who she really was as a person, but this book made her appear to be even more of a whimpy puppet whose strings were pulled by the men in her life than I already thought she was.  I finally had to stop reading the book, I just couldn't take it anymore.  I truly hope that Erikson's next novel is as enjoyable as her previous ones, because I like her books and I want more of them to read, but not if they are like The Favored Queen.  Give me a woman with some guts to read about please!

So, moving on- the book that I am currently reading and loving is Reign of Madness by Lynn Cullen.  It is told from the point of view of Juana of Castile, sometimes known as Juana la loca (Juana the mad).  Her legend tells of a woman driven mad by love and jealousy who dragged her husband's corpse ascross half of Europe and would allow no women near the body, lest they feel lustful towards it.  One of the major themes of the book is not to believe legends and propaganda that claim to be truth, that they are told by those who benefit from making others see the truth through a distorted lens.  Juana learns this the hard way when her husband Philippe begins to spread rumors that she is mad so that he can take power not only in his own lands but in Spain as well.  Juana also realizes that the stories spread about her mother, and her own beliefs about her are fictional as well.  Isabella of Castile may have been a formidable woman, almost a godess in the eyes of others, but she was as human as the rest of us with all of the weaknesses that come with it.  Unfortunately for Juana she learns this too late; only realizing that her mother had feelings and was not perfect after her death.  So, was Juana the mad woman of legend or was she merely a woman maligned and held captive by her scheming husband?  I have to say, I would love to know...:-)  I can't wait to read another of Cullen's books, The Creation of Eve, which also takes place in the Spanish court.  I'll be reviewing that too!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Nobody Sees Our Hearts Break...Or Our Mental Trauma

I must admit, I took a break from history last week and travelled into the future while reading The Hunger Games series.  I think I am still reeling a little from shock and the raw emotion the books brought out in me.  I was so horrified, so intrigued, so angry, and so absolutely devastated.  For anyone who has not read this series, (and you need to read it now!) it is about a distopian future where two teenagers from each of the twelve districts that the United States has been divided into after a civil war are required to participate in The Hunger Games.  Basically they are thrown into an arena, which could be anywhere, a desert, the plains, mountains, and they must fight to the death.  It is a celebrated annual event in the Capitol.  Some of the tributes have trained their entire lives to fight, others have not since they are chosen randomly in a ceremony known as the reaping.  The entire thing is televised and it is required viewing for the whole population.  The main character, Katniss, defies the Capitol and becomes a symbol for the people's revolt against the horrors which have been inflicted on them.  It is an amazing look inside the head of someone suffering from the nightmare of PTSD and how they must keep coping in order to keep living, even when more violence is forced upon them.  At the end of Mockingjay, which is the last book in the series Katniss's terror is still palpable after almost 15 years.  Her fear for her children, both because of the world they live in and because of her psychological wounds is so intense and so real that it leaves you stunned. 
This video is what really got me hooked and why I started reading the series.  The beginning of it scares me to death, and the end, mmm...I think you just have to see it.  I wish the girl in this video had been chosen to play Katniss instead of the too hot blond babe actress with big lips that Hollywood chose.  This is Katniss and will always be for me.

Now, since I must throw something Tudor into every blog entry I am posting another video that I liked this week.  It does a good job of showing just how many people Henry had executed during his reign, and by that I just mean people he knew personally, it doesn't include all of those he didn't know that he had put to death.  I think the parts with Wolsey and Cromwell hurt the most.  I liked the way James Frain portrayed Cromwell.  He was sort of a frightened little man who liked to appear as if he was in total control of everything and seemed to have no feelings at all until the end of his life.  I feel like Cromwell was much more ruthless in real life but I liked the acting in The Tudors.  You get a good sense of how badly Henry treated everybody in his life, and how it ate at him. Trauma of a different kind, the self inflicted kind, but the scars are still there.