Subscribe to my newsletter and get a chance to win a book or an Audible edition of the Josephine B. Trilogy

Subscribe to my newsletter and get a chance to win a book or an Audible edition of the Josephine B. Trilogy

 

I’ve a newsletter about to go out, and I want to remind my wonderful readers who aren’t on my newsletter mailing list that you’re missing a chance to win one of my books — or (for the first time!) win an Audible edition of the entire Josephine B. Trilogy. The choice would be yours.

Click here to sign up. (Of course, you can unsubscribe at any time.)

Wonderful early reviews for The Book of Hope

Some readers have received an Advance Readers Copy (an “ARC”) of The Book of Hope, or read a free copy on NetGalley. It’s not possible for them to post reviews on Amazon until publication day, but it is possible to post a review on GoodReads and NetGalley.

It’s exciting (and anxious-making) to see early reviews coming in. My favourite so far is this one from Chelsea M. on NetGalley:

“Loved this read! It had me hooked!” 

Swoon. That’s the best review a book can get, in my opinion. Thank you, Chelsea M., whoever you are.

Beta reader love

Here is a photo of one of my wonderful Beta Readers, Vanessa Van Decker, with the Canadian ARC of The Book of Hope.

 

Vanessa wrote that she was moved to tears to see the book. I myself was moved to tears to see the photo (above) of her smiling face with The Game of Hope in her hand.

Readers are so very special, and my team of young Beta Readers who read and commented on the early drafts of this novel were absolutely amazing.

An idea

Early readers: send me a selfie with The Game of Hope and I’ll post it to my website. A photo of the chocolate madeleines you make would be extra special. :-)

Why pre-order?

Pre-orders inform a publisher that the book is going to sell well, which publishers in turn communicate to bookstores. In short: it’s a very nice thing fans can do to help both a book and an author.

  • Amazon.ca (due out May 1, in time for Mother’s Day, hint, hint :-)
  • Amazon.com (due out June 26, in time for summer reading :-)

For more buying options, click here.

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Was Josepine very promiscuous?

Was Josepine very promiscuous?

The above image is a portrait of Josephine before she met Napoleon.

It is always hard for me to read biographies about Josephine. I’ve yet to read one I don’t have a quibble with. The same holds for a “Great Lives” BBC broadcast I listened to recently on Josephine. It pleases me that Josephine was chosen as one of the “Great Lives,” but there were a number of statements made that I very much question. One statement made was that she was very promiscuous. I ask you: How many lovers does a “very” promiscuous woman have?

How many lovers did Josephine have?

For Josephine, there was General Hoche, and—as is claimed — Director Barras, and — also claimed — Captain Charles.

hoche copy

Portrait of General Hoche.

Although there is no absolute evidence regarding Josephine’s involvement with General Hoche, I personally believe that he might have been her lover. We really know nothing concrete, but Hoche was a lovable, attractive man, and she could very well have loved him.

Barras copy

Director Paul Barras

Regarding Director Barras, the question posed on the broadcast was, “What did she have to offer him?” The question was rhetorical: I.e. nothing, it was implied.

Au contraire. My historical consultant, Dr. Catinat, an authority on Josephine, told me that what Josephine had to offer were connections to wealthy Caribbean bankers, contacts she had made as a Freemason. (Women could be Freemasons then.) Barras, although powerful, was very much in need of financial aid, and Josephine was able to put him in contact with men who could help.

Josephine received money from Barras, no doubt, but Dr. Catinat felt that in balance, Barras was the one who came out ahead. This perspective is never mentioned. Instead, it is assumed that because Josephine was receiving money from Barras, she had to be sleeping with him.

300px-Barras1797

A UK political cartoon showing Josephine and her friend Therese dancing naked for Director Barras, Napoleon looking on.

Several mentions were made of the cartoon of Josephine and her friend Therese dancing naked for Barras, as if this was something that actually happened. They failed to note that the cartoonist was from the UK, which was at war with France. Enemies delight in portraying the enemy in a vile light. Again, while writing the Trilogy, I checked with my knowledgeable French consultants, who declared such stories untrue.

Was Director Barras heterosexual?

Dr. Catinat also told me that Barras was homosexual, possibly bisexual. He had no progeny — in spite of claims that he had many female lovers. I am personally inclined to think that he was more homosexual than bisexual, but there really is very little to go on.

Long ago someone told me that, in her opinion, Josephine was a woman who enjoyed the company of Gay men. Frankly, that rings true to me. Josephine was bohemian, and she loved men and women of the theatre and the arts.

And what about Captain Charles?

Which leads us to Josephine’s third so-called lover: Captain Charles.

Sweet Captain Charles, Josephine’s business partner.

Hippolyte Charles, too, had no progeny — that we know of — and although we know next to nothing about his personal life, in manner he was gay as a tea party. Supremely fashionable, he enjoyed dressing as a woman.

Furthermore, at the time when Josephine was supposedly having a torrid affair with the Captain, she was quite ill, suffering from fevers and violent headaches, likely brought on by a premature menopause (the result of her imprisonment during the Revolution).

The portrait of Josephine as a woman having a torrid love affair at this time is hard to fathom. I don’t know about you, but I simply cannot see Josephine in the bed of either of Director Barras or Captain Charles. And even if I could, would these three lovers make her worthy of the label “very promiscuous”? I think not.

The BBC broadcast mentioned that Josephine was mesmerizing to men. Yes, she certainly was. What they failed to mention is that she was well-beloved by women as well.  As a rule of thumb — at least in my book of Observations of the Human Species — is that a promiscuous, manipulative, calculating woman is given a wide berth by other women. Josephine was trusted by women.

I rest my case.

(For more on this theme, see Josephine: Saint or Sinner? (Who knows?)

What have I been doing?

Other than spending quite a bit of time in Physio Therapy to help my Hip Bursitis (ouch!), I continue to wrestle with the Moonsick outline. It’s a big job, but I’m happy to report that it is coming along.

Great links to share…

The news continues to be dire. I am given hope by the resilience and creative joie d’vivre of the Belgians in their response to the order not to post telling photos to social media during the lock-down. National emergency? Belgians respond to terror raids with cats. This one is one of my favourites:

Cat

This YouTube video of people dancing on a Paris Metro is pure joy to watch.

I belong to a FaceBook group of authors, and now and then one of the members asks for help with coming up with a title. One of the authors posted a link to a Title Generator. It may never come up with a usable title, but it’s fun.

I started writing historical fiction because I wanted to imagine a world “peopled” by horses. I no longer have a horse of my own, and my riding days are behind me, but I continue to be captured by these beautiful creatures. This video on wild horses is stunning.

Have a great week!

The essential first step on the path to publication

New Yorkers

Memory snap-shot: my father at the kitchen table, leafing through an issue of the New Yorker. He turns the last page and pushes the magazine away. “I didn’t get a single one.”

Anatomy of a New Yorker cartoon,” a Ted talk by Bob Mankoff, the magazine’s cartoon editor, is (of course!) quite funny. It is also insightful into how humour works, the creative process, and what it takes to succeed in getting something published.

The New Yorker receives around 1,000 cartoons each week, and only publishes about 17 of them. Mankoff himself had the first 1000 cartoons he submitted rejected. One thousand!

Step one for all creatives: collect 1000 rejections. 

After years of making the New Year resolution to “get something published” — and failing every year — I decided that my resolution was the problem. The following New Year, I instead made the resolution to begin a collection of rejection letters, a collection that I intended to ultimately include a rejection from every literary magazine in North America.

I didn’t get very far, for — ironically — that was the year my Josephine B. Trilogy was accepted for publication. My many rejections had finally paid off.

An essential truth of the writing life is that the path to publication is paved with rejections. Perseverance is the key.

On that sobering note, enjoy a little New Yorker humour:

Happy New Year! May your 2015 be creative and fruitful.


corsets

In Mexico, Italy and elsewhere, one wears red underwear on New Year’s Eve, promising passion in the year ahead. Yellow signifies prosperity, so some wear both yellow and red.

What colour should a writer wear?

Bringing “Sunny Now & Then” to light—the mystery of the writing process

newsletter

I just made a risky move!

To the subscribers of my newsletter, I’ve offered the first chapter of Sunny Now & Then—an unpublished novel I wrote in 1989.

Sunny is an eccentric 80-year-old who is somewhat inconveniently possessed by a spirit. It’s a light contemporary comedy/mystery. If you’re curious, and not a subscriber, sign up here. (If you are protective of your in-box—and who isn’t?—you can always unsubscribe.)

If you are already a newsletter subscriber, I’ll be offering this excerpt of Sunny Now & Then in my next newsletter.

What’s amusing about this early work, I think, is that although Sunny Now & Then is a contemporary comedy, it led directly to the writing and publication of The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. five years later. (I think you can guess who the possessing spirit might be.)

Writing is such a circuitous and mysterious process!

“What am I working on?” Question #2 in the Writers’ Blog Tour

Typewriter

I explained in my last post what the Writers’ Blog Tour is about. Basically, writers answer the same four questions:

Why do I write what I do?

What am I working on?

How does my work differ from other work in its genre?

How does my writing process work?

I answered the first question yesterday, and so, for today, here’s the second:

What am I working on?

Hrtense (francois-gerard-hortense-de-beauharnais

I’m back in the Napoleonic era after more than a decade away, writing about Josephine Bonaparte’s daughter Hortense. It’s a familiar world, but it’s also quite new to me, because this is a Young Adult novel. I’m finding it creatively stimulating to be tackling a new genre.

The novel is written from Hortense’s point-of-view during her teen years, and is therefore an entirely different perspective from that of her mother, who is the point-of-view character of my Josephine B. Trilogy

Delving back into a once-very-familiar world has been an interesting—and pleasant—experience. The late 18th century feels so modern compared to the 17th! (The setting for my last two novels.)

Having previously immersed myself in the Napoleonic era for near-on two decades, one would think I wouldn’t have to do very much research. Wrong! There are new books and studies available, and there’s a ton more information on line. Although I have quite a leg-up (a 556-page timeline—single space, small type—for starters, and stacks and stacks of files), there is no such thing as no need to research. In any case, how can one resist?

For a rich exploration of the answers given by other writers to this and other questions, be sure to check out the links here.

Tomorrow: How does my work differ from other work in its genre? This, as you can imagine, is a thought-provoking question!

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