Writing about the past

writing about the past (from the point of view of a modern woman)

When I decided to go back into the past, it seemed it would be a quick trip. In fact, it was supposed to be a short story I was wwriting for a sci-fi magazine. I was going to interview a legend – Alexander the Great – get his side of the story, and leave. The setting wasn’t important, nor were the people around him. He was with his army, and he was living in an opulant tent – that much I knew and could imagine. His army camped by a wide river, but near enough a town to trade for food. Feeding an army takes a lot of planning – but I wasn’t worried about that. I would leave the planning to Alexander. I was not planning on Alexander kidnapping the woman from the future and stranding her in his time…and suddenly things like feeding an army became essential.

Ashley is stranded in 333 BC – she has to eat, drink, dress, and travel. How did she do all these things? What did the people around her think of her? And in what langages? Where were they going? How would she live? What if she fell in love? All those questions had to be answered. (Cue a year of research – which wasn’t half enough!)

But one thing worked in my favor – the main character and narrator of the story is a modern woman, so I didn’t have to try to put myself in the mindset of the ancient Greeks. Another thing that worked in my favor was that the time period I was writing about had been extensively researched already, so finding information wasn’t difficult.

Looking through modern eyes is a good way to show the differences that exist and the vast chasm that separates us from the people of the past. Ancient customs that seemed everyday to the people of the time fascinated Ashley, and she was forever getting into trouble because of her modern views. Slavery, for instance, was abhorant to her, and she could never learn to accept it, as people of that time did. The notion of fate – that everything has already been decided and there was nothing you could do to change it – also frustrated her on so many levels. But she managed to survive – and she learned a great deal about love, trust, and how to bake bread Egytian style along the way!

Son of the Moon by Jennifer Macaire

Can you face the consequences of cheating the Fates?

Alexander the Great journeys to India, where he and Ashley are welcomed with feasts and treachery.

With their son, Paul, being worshiped as the Son of the Moon, and Alexander’s looming death, Ashley considers the unthinkable: how to save them and whether she dares to cheat Fate?

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Son of the Moon

 
Son of the Moon tour –
 
We are now on book three of The Time for Alexander Series and in a way I do think you can read it as a standalone because Jennifer Macaire has managed to weave the characters back stories into this book. However to get the best understanding of the characters and what has happened so far I would suggest reading them in order.
In Son of the Moon we catch up with Ashley as she travels with Alexander and his army through India. Jennifer Macaire really did bring the story to life with all the wonderful descriptions of the setting, the food and the people. In a way I think this is probably my favourite book so far just because everything seemed to fall into place. I know the characters pretty well by now and the story had an extra bit of depth to it especially as we see Ashley find something she has been searching for since book one (I’m trying to keep it as vague as I can in case you do want to start the series from the beginning)
Then add in the drama of treacherous characters and Ashley really has to watch her back! I also started to feel Ashley’s apprehension as time begins to be marching even more quickly towards when Alexander will die. Ashley and Alexander’s romance is passionate and fiery but they work so well together! I loved all of the myths that were included I knew some but it was great to hear new ones and this is one of the things that I enjoy most about not only this book but the series.
Son of the Moon is told with historical detail showing legendary battles, snippets of mythology along with putting the author’s own spin on things. This has created a brilliant mix of fun, light and dark times with happiness, sadness and danger throughout. I can’t wait to see what will happen next!

Son of the Moon by Jennifer Macaire @jennifermacaire @rararesources #BlogBlitz #Giveaway #Review

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10th May
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    14th May

Rain and hail

For a couple days we’ve been having storms. Nothing huge, just blustery weather with a shower of sleet or hail, then brilliant sunshine. I run out with the dog while it’s sunny, keeping an eye on the dark clouds moving in. Yesterday I rode my daughter’s horse bareback. I haven’t done that in so long – it was so much fun, and Kalin is such a gentle horse. I even felt brave enough to trot and canter. Julia asked me if I wanted a little jump and I said no, but I may try it another time!

Hubby and I are watching the Avenger’s movies. We have no idea what order they’re in – we saw Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther, Iron Man and Thor, so I guess we’re mostly caught up, although yesterday we saw The Avengers Infinity Wars, and had no idea who half the people were. Where did the chap with the yellow stone in his forehead come from? And the guy with the wings? And I admit – I tried to watch the movie about the wizard but dozed off – it seemed to go nowhere – I will have to try again. Tomorrow we want to go to the movies to see the latest Avenger’s movie – it looks good. We haven’t gone to the movies in so long – I’m looking forward to getting some popcorn! (I’m So easy to please!)

Nothing much going on – Julia is in Portugal for the week. I’m supposed to be taking care of Kalin (when it stops being so blustery and cold!). I’m almost done with my latest book. I’ve taken it apart and have lopped off some clumsy passages, cleared up the plot, chopped out a whole scene or two, and am starting to get very excited about finally getting it done. I sent 3/4 to a beta reader, with the cavot that it was not finished, but I needed some feedback. It’s hard writing in a vacuum.

Well, off to walk the dog – the rain has stopped and I better be quick – there are more dark clouds on the horizon!

 

 

 

 

Nine facts about one of the characters in my book ‘Welcome to Paradise’

From Raven’s Ramblings Blog –  the wonderful writer, Raven McAllan, invited me for a Nine for the Weekend – 

Nine facts about one of the characters in my book ‘Welcome to Paradise’
Over to you, Jenn…

Hi Raven and thank you so much for this opportunity!
9 interesting things about my heroine Sugar, in “Welcome to Paradise”
1) Sugar would think she was too boring to write about – she would be embarrassed with all this attention. You see, she’s super shy. She grew up with a huge scar that cut her face nearly in two. A wave dashed her into the rocks at the foot of cliffs and cut her face. In St Thomas, the rocks are volcanic and can be as sharp as glass. She had to wait until she’d stopped growing to get the scar fixed.
2) I wrote the whole book without mentioning her name once. When it was done, my editor said, “But what is the heroine’s name?”  Once, in the book, someone called her “Sugar”. It was a term of endearment, but it became her name.
3) I based a lot of Sugar’s story on my own childhood, because I grew up in the Virgin Islands. The people, the birds, the insects (& the tarantulas!), and the beaches are all part of my life.
4) The house Sugar lives in is the replica of a house I used to live in. It had a balcony that overlooked the ocean, a hibiscus garden, and a path that led down the cliffs to the sea.
5) Sugar speaks fluent Spanish, because her grandparents are from Puerto Rico. She loves to go to Puerto Rico to visit them – they let her watch TV – (something her parent on’t have in their house!)
6) What happens to Sugar in Germany was the hardest part of the book for me. Abuse is a sensitive subject, and it was incredibly difficult to write about it. After, I had to address the story of her father’s abuse, and that was hard too.
7) Sugar’s fiancé, Reliance, is named after a boat I fell in love with.
8) Sugar and Reliance make love in a secluded bay that is a copy of the one I used to swim in when I was living in St. Thomas. Sometimes at night, during the hottest part of the year, phosphorescence glows in the shallows. It’s incredibly beautiful, (and very romantic!)
9) Sugar becomes a model, and I used my experience to describe her work, which was a lot of fun!
Blurb:  Growing up on an island paradise isn’t as easy as one might think. Sugar is infatuated with the boy next door, worried she won’t make the cheerleading squad, and even more worried that she will. She is paranoid that because of the horrendous scar on her face, no one really expects her to succeed at anything. Her sister is smart, her mother is a legendary model, and her father is a famous artist. Her family’s success sets a high bar for her to live up to.
Everything changes for Sugar when a plastic surgeon removes her scar. The surgery makes her beautiful, but she makes the shocking discovery that being beautiful can be awful. When she finally discovers who she is, and what she wants from life, it nearly destroys her tightly knit family. She must confront abuse, an elopement, loss, and a secret her father has kept from her all her life. Sugar is struggling to pull everything together and find her own version of ‘Happily Ever After’.

Gone Fishing

Does anyone else like to fish? I will tell you a secret – I love to fish without catching anything. I put nothing on the hook, cast it out, reel it in – or just let it sit and watch the ripples. I’ll put a little bobber on the line and let it float. I’ll sit on the dock, my feet in the water, and I’ll watch the clouds’ reflections.

I suppose I have to say that my dad was a fisherman. He built fishing boats and loved to fish. He caught a coelacanth once in Samoa – it was the third recorded catch of a coelacant and the Smithsonian wrote and asked him to keep it for them – too late – we’d eaten it for Thanksgiving.

My daughter once caught 123 fish in one day, on the 4th of July. Her record stands in Lake Bonaparte – so far some have come close, but none have surpassed her record. 123 striped perch, black bass, and pumpkin sunfish – carefully caught, counted, and released. It is possible she caught a few of them more than once – but since it’s hard to tell, we let her keep her record.

My son Alex loves to fish, and spent an entire summer in Normandy catching the goldfish that lived in the three large ponds at our friends farm. At the end of the summer, after catching (and releasing) yellow, black, silver, white, speckled and dappled goldfish, he caught an enormous eel. It was four feet long, as thick as a man’s forearm, and furious at being caught. It twisted this way and that, hissing and snapping its jaws. Alex left it in the middle of the lawn, and it before we knew it, it slithered back into the water – never to be seen again. It put a damper on our swimming in the ponds that summer.

 

 

 

 

 

Righteous indignation

I have a big famly – on both sides. We’re a mixed bunch – but on the whole we stick together. One thing that we’ve managed to sweep aside are political differences. When Obama was elected, part of my family revealed themselves to be racists – against Obama not because he was a democrat, but because he was black. I lost a few friends over that election. My heartfelt congratulations went down like a lead balloon for some, and after a few nasty notes (from them, not me), they blocked me. My family who decided that they were Republicans and supported unending war, didn’t want people to have health insurance (although when Obama pushed through his Affordable Health Care package they didn’t hesitate to take advantage of it), or education (most of the family members voting against Obama didn’t go to the university and their children will probably never go either…)

And if this sounds harsh, it is. I admit it. I love my family, but despair. And then I think, “well, as long as they’re happy“, but the thing is – they’re not. They are confronted with a world that baffles them. They want to put out their flag and be proud of it, so they close their eyes to every atrocity America commits overseas or the corruption in their own country. They want to be on the side of angels – but when the US carpet-bombed Iraq back to the middle ages, let the CIA create the taliban, kicked Russia out of Afghanistan and let the taliban take over – when the USA is so morally corrupt it refuses to sign a United Nations resolution calling rape a war crime Because it might lead to abortions – then the US has gone to the dark side, and trying to pretend it hasn’t, and that other countries still look up to it, is useless.

How can you be happy when your country is being pushed back to the middle ages by a bunch of religious fanatics that make the Saudis look almost tolerant?

So, when Trump was elected and things went downhill, I tried to ignore my family’s schism. But my respect for anyone who supports Trump wore thin, especially after he shoved his kids into positions of power, fired anyone vaguely competent, hired people who swore to destroy the very agencies they were sworn to protect (the EPA, the department of education, etc.) and started stuffing extreme-right leaning judges on benches everywhere – including a rapist on the Supreme Court.  And my respect wore out completely after the Meuller report, after Trump tweeted lies about a Congresswoman, putting her life in danger,  after he refused to show his taxes.

And then, one of my cousins – one of my favorite cousins, sent me a video with Trump lauding himself about how he made America great – and I wrote back. And I wrote this – because I am at the end of my tether – there is too little time left. We have to act now, there is too much at stake: the climate, women’s rights, LGBT rights, inequality has to be fixed, there are wars going on that must be stopped –  I’m like Bran, who says, “we don’t have time for all this sh*t” so this is what I replied: If I were a billionaire, I’d love the guy. But since me and my family are not, I refuse to bend over and let him fuck me up the ass, like most of his brainless voters are happy to do. I’m not a racist bigot, I want every women to be able to get an abortion if she wants one. I think muslims and jews and catholics and protestants are all fine even though I prefer athiests who are smarter and don’t believe in some imaginary friend who only wants you to be freinds with their freinds. I think that people dying because they can’t afford insulin for their diabetes is a crime against humanity. I think the US is a plutocracy run by billionaires who want to keep everyone else sick and ignorant. I think most politicians are corrupt, np matter what side they are on – but Trump is the worst of the lot. Pulling out of the Paris climate treaty was bad enough – but his latest attack on women is just terrible. Putting extreme right judges in position of power over women’s rights, and now refusing to sign the UN resolution against using rape as a weapon is disgusting. And anyone who votes for him is complicite.

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And my cousin wrote back that he was banning me because I was too full of hate. Well, let me tell you something – I am not full of Hate. I am full of Righteous indignation.

 

Ashley’s Easter in Alexandria

Ashley's Easter

Festivals took up a lot of time. There were rituals for every holiday, each god had to be honored, and some months were so full of festivities it’s a wonder the people got any work done. Maybe the secret to progress was ditching the deities, I thought one day, as I helped Chirpa clean the house. I was tired of always getting stuck with helping with ancient festivals. Fine, I was stuck in the past around 300 BC, but that shouldn’t mean I had to impersonate a goddess every time there was a solstice or something. Once, I’d blessed the fields — and couldn’t walk for a week. I wanted my kids to be civilized, not pagan. I’d have to install some of my more modern traditions in the family. The problem with being born in 2377 was that time travel had been invented, but children’s stories and religion had been banned. I would have to invent my own traditions to share with my children.

We’d been back in Alexandria for a few weeks now and the spring solstice was just around the corner. We were making sure not a speck of dust remained, so that the house would be ready for the goddess’s return. And who was coming back? Persephone, of course, my namesake – leaping from the cold arms of her husband, Hades, into the welcoming arms of her mother, Demeter. And since apparently Persephone wouldn’t come if the house wasn’t clean (I have had guests like that) we scrubbed.

I was getting sick of scrubbing. Axiom had gone to fetch the fresh herbs we needed to make the posies and bouquets, and I’d talked the boys into fetching eggs from our neighbor. In the back of my mind, I was planning a surprise. A real Easter egg hunt in ancient Alexandria – complete with dyed eggs, candies, and stories of the Easter bunny.  I had been keeping the onion skins, beets, purple and red cabbage, turmeric and carrot tops for dyes. Chirpa, who had dyed eggs in Persia as part of the fertility festival, was my reluctant helper. Instead of cleaning, she argued, we were making more of a mess. At this rate, spring would never come.

When Paul and Chiron returned with the eggs, I sent them off on another errand with Brazza. Then Chirpa and I started boiling the ingredients and soaking the eggs. It was messy, slow work, and I was afraid Brazza would return with the boys before we finished. Chirpa was cross because the house wasn’t cleaned, and Alexander, who came to see what “That awful smell was”, fled the house and went to oversee construction of the Great Library.

I put all the different colored dyes in separate bowl, and put the hard-boiled eggs in to soak overnight. Chirpa grumbled about wasting dishes, and it occurred to me we had none left for dinner. But since I’d wanted to get a new set of dishes anyway,  I left Chirpa to clean up the mess (her glare would have frozen the real Hades) and went to the market. Free at last! There was the newscaster, standing on his marble soapbox, the sale on parrots by the fountain, and the usual heckling and haggling going on at every stand. I located the pottery and dithered over a set with dolphins or a set with a chap in a chariot. The dolphins won, and I gave our address for delivery that evening. There were no street names at this time, although I’d suggested to Alexander he might want to start that trend. Instead it was, “The hill over there, yes, that one. The big house on the top with the black front door – with the lion scratched on it.” (Chiron’s work. He got a scolding for scratching up a perfectly nice paint job).

That evening, after we’d hidden the eggs in the garden, I told the boys the story of the Easter bunny, which I didn’t remember so well. My parents had never read stories to me, but I thought it had something about a watering can, a mean farmer, a goddess called Mary, her son Jesus, and their pet rabbit, Peter. I was embroidering a little – getting to the part where the mean farmer was about to kill the rabbit – when Alexander, who always liked to listen to my stories, interrupted.

“Does the rabbit get cooked with tarragon?” he asked. “Because I’m getting hungry, and that sounds good.”

“Of course not!” I was cross. “The rabbit escapes, and becomes immortal, and brings the Easter eggs to good little boys and girls. He hides them in the garden.”

Our scribe, Pan, (short for Panteleimon) had been listening, and had written the story down. Before I realized it, he headed towards the Great Library to file it. I was worried, then remembered the library would burn in a few centuries. Maybe a fragment of the story would remain, but it shouldn’t change the timeline any.  At least, I hoped.

The boys hunted for their eggs. Alexander found most of them. A few were found weeks and even months later. Chirpa liked the new dishes, (I gave them to her as a gift, for cleaning the house), and when I showed Chiron how to scratch drawings in the eggs, he promised not to scratch anymore lions on our front door. All in all, a good Easter, I thought!

Happy Easter from Ashley!  319 BC, Alexandria near Egypt. 


The Road to Alexander  cookinglight.com

Our Lady

 

Last night just as I got home from the office, my son texted me – Notre Dame brule O.O!

It took a minute to sink in, then I scoured the news stations and saw that the roof was on fire. For the next few hours, I watched at the flames consumed the spire and part of the roof, and finally, when night had fallen, watched as exhausted firemen finally admitted it was under control, that the two bell towers had been spared, and that most of the artwork had been saved, and that even the great organ and three iconic stained glass windows had survived (although with what damage remains to be seen).

A tragedy, I thought, and immediately thought of the museum of Natural history in Delhi which had burned, and where so many irreplaceable specimens had been lost. I thought also of the Chartres Cathedral – burned and rebuilt in the middle ages. I thought of the great library of Alexandria, where a treasure of knowledge had been lost forever. And I thought that the world turned, nothing lasted forever, and we were all rather unique and irreplaceable. Funny how you think “Oh, but an 800 year old building full of artwork and treasures is so much more important that a person.”  Well, you may think that. I don’t. No lives were lost  in the fire – that’s what mattered to me. And I think that it was nice that the treasures were saved and that the cathedral will be rebuilt – but there are people living in abject poverty, and already there is over 600,000,000$ raised to rebuild a stone edifice. No, to me something is wrong. If God exists, he does not want people crying over buildings – he wants them to cry over the child hungry at night, over the young woman who has no legs and no friends, the man who is about to leap out the window, the teenager who is so angry he wants to shoot holes in the whole world – those are who God wants us to cry over. Not a pile of stone – no matter how awesome it is. We built it. We can build something else.

Personally, I think it should get a whole new modern look, with a glass roof, all new material. Something light, airy, insubstantial – to go with the two bell towers. Something to say “We are humans, we move forward, we don’t cry over molten lead, we look forward to change.” But of course, that will never happen. Most people will want to see exactly the same roof, the same spire, the same old same old. And they will walk past the begger in the street and hand over their 20€ to the building society for new cement.

I’d rather live in a city that has a charred ruin in the center but will build shelter for the poor. I’d rather live in a world that appreciates the beauty of an old building, and respects it, but doesn’t venerate it (is this what God meant when he said you will not worship golden idols?) And will rebuild it – but maybe it will be different, more modern, not as expensive, and the Catholic church will step in and say, “First feed and house your poor, then think about rebuilding this cathedral.” Because it’s true that there are millions of people on earth, but just one Notre Dame Cathedral – but the church was built to worship God, not to be worshipped – and even one person’s life is more precious to God than any church or mosque or temple. At least, that’s what I think.

 

Legends of Persia

Book II in the, Time for Alexander series –

To catch you  up – Alexander and Ashley are married – but she is still struggling to come to grips with her new life in 331 BC. Two years ago, she travelled back in time to interview a legend – and Alexander the Great mistook her for Persephone, bride of Hades, and kidnapped her. He thought she would be grateful, but he stranded her in his own time. Ashely, a modern woman, used to hover cars and holoscreens, finds herself in ancient Greece – in the middle of a war campaign.

Ashley and Alexander have a baby – Paul – who was taken by the traitor Bessus to the wilds of Bactria – at the Ends of the Earth, and so that’s where they are headed; across the mighty Hinu Kush mountains in search of their son – “The Son of the Moon”, as he’s known.

Follow the Legends Of Persia Blog Tour, with excerpts and prizes to win –  Click here for the links to the blogs! 

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My underwear float downstream

When I first moved to Paris, I lived in a tiny flat on the fifth floor od an old building in the Latin quarter. (no elevator).  We were three young women in the two bedroom flat – it was three levels, downstairs was the bathroom and one bedroom, upstairs was another bedroom and a landing, then up and down a little flight of stairs and you were in a very small kitchen that held a tiny electric stove and an even smaller refrigerator. I honestly don’t remember using any of the pots or pans – we had cereal, milk, yogurt, and orange juice. Otherwise we ate out. It was standing room only in the kitchen – we grabbed a bowl of cereal and sat on the stairs on the landing to eat.

We didn’t have a washer or dryer, so once a week I’d go to a “Blanchisserie”  just down the street – a place that would wash and dry your laundry for a reasonable price. They would fold my clothes and wrap them in brown paper – and I’d walk back home, up the five flights of stairs, and toss everything in the pile that was my “clean clothes pile”.

One day, I went to get my clothes from the blanchisserie, and they gave me my brown paper package, full of all my underwear, a few shirts, my skirt, socks, and blouses. I put it under my arm and started back home.

Let me just make a pause here and say that Emperor Napoleon III decided that for the greater glory and future fame of Paris, he had to modernize it and provide it with up-to-date infrastructure. The job fell to Eugène Belgrand, a graduate of the world-renowned École Polytechnique. Belgrand put in a system that separated water for human consumption and water for other purposes, a highly unusual but extremely far-sighted move.  One of the city’s rivers was diverted to be used as a “gray” water system. The other water would be cleaned, pressurized, and used for drinking only.

What this means is the street cleaners can turn on water that will gush into the gutters of the streets. They use rugs to turn the water this way and that, and sweep everything along with brooms. And I loved to watch them work. The street cleaners in France wear orange or green overalls and carry “witches’ brooms” made of genet (the plant is literally called a broom plant) and wood, although nowadays the brooms are more likely plastic and the same green as their overalls.

Anyway, that day, I stopped to watch the street cleaner as he put his rug down and turned on the water. Soon a stream was gurgling merrily along the side of the road.  He walked next to it, swishing the water with his broom, cleaning the street and sidewalk as he went. I watched for a while longer, then I started on my way again, looking down at the water rushing along beside me in the gutter. Then I noticed something white floating in the gutter. I looked closer, and gasped. It was a pair of my underwear! And it wasn’t the only one! Six or seven pairs of underwear had slipped out of my paper package and were floating merrily downstream. There was a pink pair, and there was my lucky green pair! I started running, trying to catch up to them. They were bobbing along, heading straight for the street cleaner, who started laughing. He neatly picked them up with his broom and carried them over to me. He held out his broom with its dripping burden and gave me a mock bow.

That was the last time I went to the blachisserie without a proper bag to carry my clothes home in!

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