Saturday, April 30, 2016

Best A to Z Award Goes to Helen Hollick

 Sharing her April A to Z Challenge with us,
 Helen Hollick
 tirelessly and selflessly gave
 #HNSIndie Historical Fiction Characters 
 a voice on her blog throughout April.

We, their authors, therefore present this 
Best A to Z Challenge Award
to Mistress Hollick with our thanks.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Historical A to Z Challenge by Helen Hollick

 Every day, all during April,
 Helen Hollick
 presents a Historical A to Z Book Challenge on her Blog.
 Look for our Tweets #HSNIndie 

 You will meet Characters from Historical Novel Society Editor's Choices,
speaking to you in their own voices,
telling you about their historical lives
as they step out from the best Historical Fiction novels.

And just to put in a little plug for my own
from which King Aha's Royal Daughter Nefret tells us a thing or two.

Look for her on April 13th.

Also, check out Helen Hollick's books on Amazon US:

LIKE her on Facebook:
Follow her on Twitter: @HelenHollick

April  1  -  Alison Morton: Aurelia (Roma Nova Series)
April  2  -  Lucienne Boyce: Bloodie Bones

April 3   -  Sunday Break - No Challenge - 
                 Conformist or Rebel 
                Jeffrey Manton asks: Which Characters do we Admire? What makes a Rebel?

April  4  -  Man in the Canary Waistcoat by Susan Grossey
April  5  -  Dubh-Linn by James L. Nelson
April  6  -  The Evergreen in red and white by Steven Kay
April  7  -  Fortune's Fool
April  8  -  Gift For The Magus  - Linda Proud
April  9  -   The Love Letter of John Henry Holliday - Mary Fancher

April 10 -   Sunday Break -No Challenge - 
                    But a Fascinating Article by Prof. Nigel Henbest about Halley's Comet

April 11 -   In Liberty's Wake - Alexandra Norland
April 12 -   Jacobites' Apprentice - David Ebsworth
April 13  -  It's my turn: Khamsin's Royal Daughter and Heiress, NEFRET, speaks out.
April 14  -  Luck Bringer - Nick Brown
April 15  -  Murder at Cirey - Cheryl Sawyer
April 16 -   A Newfound Land - Anna Belfrage

April 17 -  Sunday Break - No Challenge - 
                   Enjoy an Interesting Article by Anna Belfrage

April 18 -  Out Of Time - Loretta Livingstone
April 19 -  Pirate Code - (Helen Hollick's Jesamiah Acorne, Pirate Extraordinaire...In his own words)
April 20 - To Be A Queen - Annie Whitehead
April 21 -  The Spirit Room - Marshel Paul
April 22 -  Sower Of The Seeds of Dreams - Bill Page
April 23 -  Tristan & Iseult - Jane Dixon Smith

April 24 -  Sunday Break - No Challenge
                   Alison Morton (An Interesting Reminder about History...)

April 25 -  A Just And Upright Man - John Lynch
April 26 -  Victoria Blake - Far Away
April 27 -  When Sorrows Come - Maria Dziedzan
April 28 -  The FlaX Flower - Amanda Maclean
April 29 -  Sail Upon the Land - Josa Young
April 30 -  OZgur Sahin - The Wrath of Brotherhood

What a great Challenge. Thank you Helen Hollick.

Catch Up on the Alphabet and Meet all these exciting Characters! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The “Other” Sirocco

I knew there were several books out there with that title. (There is even a 1951 Humphrey Bogart movie.) Still, to come face to face with another contemporary Sirocco was a bit startling at first. Naturally, and because of its beautiful cover as well as reading the ‘Look Inside’ on Amazon, I was intrigued enough to buy “the other” Sirocco written by Danielle A. Dahl.
I am so glad I did.

While our two stories are completely different (Danielle’s being a delightful yet heart-wrenching memoir and mine a pure archaeological adventure fiction), we both use the fierce Mediterranean wind as a symbol of foreboding.
I asked Danielle about her life other than what I read in her Sirocco, and she tells us this:
“A voracious reader, I cultivate my passion for the power and magic of words. When asked, ‘Who's your favorite author?’ ‘Steinbeck,’ is my straight-from-the-heart answer. For love of languages, I speak French—but of course. English—indubitably. And Spanish—por quĂ© no?’
“On my time away from writing, I like to paint, take photos, bowl, and hike. Ah, oui! Last, but not least, I'm raving mad about dark chocolate.
“I am a member of the South Carolina Writers Workshop, Sisters in Crime, the National Association of Memoir Writers, the Southern Indie Booksellers Alliance, and the Seneca Writers Critique Group.
“I am also a member of Le Cercle Franco-Americain and The French Underground, both in Greenville, SC.
“Sirocco was finalist in the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards
1) In the Historical Non-Fiction category,
2) In the Historical/Legacy category.
“Two of my creative nonfiction stories appeared in the 2011 and 2012 Petigru Review Literary Journal.
“I won second place in the 2011 Carrie McCray Memorial Literary Awards for nonfiction.
“Lastly, I was semi-finalist in the 2011 William Faulkner Wisdom Competition for a novel-in-progress as well as for a short story.
“At present, I am translating SIROCCO to French and am writing the first draft of MISTRAL, SIROCCO's sequel, depicting the struggle, which I, my family, and over a million others like us, faced after we fled Algeria and searched for new places to call home in France or across the globe.”

Thank you, Danielle, for letting us look deeper into your past. Actually, it struck me that our paths might easily have crossed at some time, as I was an au pair student in Paris in 1962, and then also lived in Chicago until the late 1960s after my job transfer there from Austria.
What a pity. I would have liked to have met you then; but am glad I am doing it now (at least via the Internet through our mutual passion for writing).

Back to Sirocco: A French Girl Comes of Age in War-Torn Algeria.

The following is my Amazon Review of this coming-of age memoir:

Delightful and ForebodingNaturally, the title intrigued me. Danielle A. Dahl’s Sirocco starts out with the day-to-day recollections of an adolescent girl growing up in Algeria during the early 1960s. Her French parents and four siblings are happy with their lives. While having to be frugal, they are respected members of the community comprised of other Pieds Noirs (all French expressions are made beautifully clear throughout the book), as well as their Arab neighbors, friends and colleagues.When Algeria’s desire to self-rule rears its head, it all changes. The family is given a choice: To leave their home with a suitcase; or to stay in a coffin. Such is the heartbreak behind any revolution; the price to pay by those who had made a foreign country their home.Ms. Dahl’s writing comes straight from the heart, yet without sentimentality or rancor; in short, it is delightful, insightful, humorous and sad all at the same time - a wondrous window into a world most of us know little about. I highly recommend this beautifully written memoir.                     Inge H. Borg, Author of Sirocco, Storm over Land and Sea

Most of us are not familiar with the city of Constantine nor might you be aware of its dramatic setting. I certainly wasn’t. Danielle’s website features astonishing and hauntingly beautiful photographs. Sitting as it does atop a formidable rock, the city overlooks deep chasms connected to the outside world by death-defying bridges and roads.
I could almost feel the echo of the howling sirocco; an inescapable portent to those wrecked lives during the 1960s.
I would urge you to check the blog out here:!page4/cfvg

Ms. Dahl’s writing has been described as “lush, richly evocative, bittersweet and brilliant” by other readers, and I wholeheartedly agree.
Ms. Dahl is already working on her next storm, the Mistral, where she and her family come to face as they find refuge in an inhospitable France.
In keeping with my own stormy theme, I almost chose that title for Book 3 of my Legends of the Winged Scarab. Eventually though, I settled on a world After the Cataclysm (as the story takes my protagonists into the South Atlantic, well away from Mediterranean storms – to which they only return in The Crystal Curse and The Nile Conspiracy). If you feel this is a shameless little plug for my Sirocco, you are not wrong...
However, do yourselves a favor and read Danielle Dahl’s book. I found it a brilliantly-cut diamond among the pebbles:

Sunday, April 3, 2016

And Talking about Predictions

     This might be an interesting idea for a new Historical Fiction yarn.
Or a horror story, depending on your outlook:
 Amerigo, The First Reich
     Once upon a time, there was a powerful republic consisting of many states with autonomous powers. People were prosperous and relatively happy. They also said what followed could never happen to them. But it did. Everybody’s life went into the toilet, except for Kaiser Reginald’s and those who sidled up to his ample derriere. He marveled at his successful coup, often reminding his subjects as well as the rest of the world who was in charge now.
     “I created the First Reich of Amerigo, and I made it great by building a yuge wall,” he pouted at his hand-picked press corps. His cheeks puffed out, rosacea blotches replacing their usually unhealthy pallor. Although deemed fearless, he flinched as a sudden gust from the open palace window played with his careful comb-over, briefly revealing a shiny pate.
     “Hail, Kaiser Reginald,” the press corps members cried in unison, throwing furtive glances around, wondering if they were being recorded by the KRSS, Kaiser Reginald’s Secret Service. Those muscle-bound hounds were hand-picked and duly cowed as they jostled to stay at their master’s beck and call, as well as his feeding trough.
     Reginald’s well-oiled propaganda machine churned out one rousing slogan after another. He personally flung them at the masses, often contradicting his own last version with flair and impunity.
     “How could this have happened,” the people moaned.
Apparently, they had not studied their history lessons in school.
     Anybody remember Napoleon, et al? The Corsican soldier entered politics by taking up the common cause for a new French Republic. The restless proletariat believed and supported him wholeheartedly.
     That went well ... until he crowned himself emperor.

How dare I say this? Been there, done that during the "et al-period" mentioned above...that's how.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

What if a Story Turns Real?

When I published Sirocco, Storm over Land and Sea, Book 2 of my historical fiction series, in August of 2012, near the end I wrote this:

“In bustling Mexico City, no one pays heed to the sigh that floats up from Popocatepetl as it rumbles its distant triplet cousins Thera, Sakros and Cape Riva awake in their Aegean cradle. But on Santorini, the cats leap from whitewashed perches to hide under hollow steps; and the wolves of Yellowstone stop tearing at their kill.”

 I wrote this to foreshadow the premise of Book 3 - After the Cataclysm - where I have the Yellowstone Supervolcano explode - with dire consequences, I admit.

From today’s NBC News, we learn that Mexico's second-tallest volcano, Popocatepetl, woke up in a bad mood this morning, as it looms over Mexico City.

And From Associated Press comes this:
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A volcano on Alaska's Aleutian Islands erupted Sunday afternoon and sent ash 20,000 feet into the air, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Pavlof Volcano, one of Alaska's most active volcanoes, is 625 miles southwest of Anchorage on the Alaska Peninsula.

I am a novelist. I make things up.
Heaven help us if our present political rumblings should suddenly take a backseat to what Mother Earth might have in store for us.
As I said, I make things up; I surely don't want to predict!