A little promo, please!

Chants to Persephone

by Jennifer Macaire

In the fifth book in the Time For Alexander series, the Thief of Souls has stolen Alexander’s soul, and the druids have foretold the end of their world and have raised an army to kidnap Paul. They mean to stop Rome from invading Gaul and thus change the course of time. Meanwhile, an oracle tells Alexander and Ashley they must go to the Land of the Eaters of the Dead.

Paul has stowed away on their ship, and Nearchus has decided that now is the time to profess his love to Alexander. To further complicate things, Charidmus, an old foe of Alexander’s, recognizes him and realizes he hasn’t died. Ashley knows she must stop the druids, find the Thief of Souls, keep Charidemus quiet, somehow get Nearchus out of their bed, and time back on track – or the Time Senders are going to have a fit. There’s also a small matter of a human sacrifice with Alexander as the chosen victim. What’s a time traveller to do?

 ‘Who is Voltarrix, and what is a thief of souls?’ I asked Yovanix, the Gallic slave who had joined us on our voyage.

‘In Celtic myth, it’s a druid who can steal souls.’ He made a face. ‘I’m not explaining this very well. I’m not Celt you see. But if Anoramix was afraid of him, I would be frightened too. Anoramix was never afraid of anything, not even death. There’s one last thing I should tell you.’ He licked his lips nervously. ‘Selena told me never to trust you. She said you were really Persephone, the Queen of Ice and Darkness, and that your heart was like a stone.’

‘She was still upset about Anoramix,’ I said uncertainly.

‘She blamed you for his death and wanted revenge. She forbade me to tell you that Voltarrix is still seeking Paul. She said that Paul would never be safe, and that no one could protect him.’

‘What does he want with Paul?’

Yovanix spoke as if weighing his words. ‘If it’s true Iskander lost his soul, I think I know why. If Voltarrix captured Paul and put Iskander’s soul in his body, can you imagine what would happen? Paul can no longer call the moon, but he can grow up to lead an army. The Druids are starting to feel the end of their world approaching. They speak of only one thing now; stopping the Romans before it’s too late. Some think it’s already too late. Voltarrix is one of the old ones who believe that time can be twisted.’

‘Twisted?’ I echoed. My voice sounded odd.

‘The druids believe that time can be changed, like a river’s course. They can change it, slow it, or speed it up. With enough work, they can even make it flow backward. Time is the foundation of the druid’s religion’

It was starting to make sense. Time. The Aztecs had foreseen the date their empire would topple, and they had tried to turn back time with their ceremonies. Nothing had worked for them. Nothing would work for the druids. The Romans would take over and usher in the modern world. Unless a boy, who never should have been born, somehow changed time.
It was conceivable – there were still two hundred years. After that, nothing would halt the inexorable march of the Roman Empire and the event that changed the world; the birth of Christ. But suppose the druids somehow managed to unite the Norsemen, Celts, and Gauls against the Romans? What if Paul were somehow the catalyst? Paul – with Iskander’s soul.

I took a deep breath. I would have to think about this. There were three people in the world who should never have been born: Paul, Chiron, and Cleopatra – and I was not supposed to be in this time or place. Anyone of us could, conceivably, change the world. A butterfly’s wings indeed.

 Jennifer Macaire is an American living in Paris. She likes to read, eat chocolate, and plays a mean game of golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St Peter and Paul High School in St Thomas and moved to NYC where she modelled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories..


Preorder now:   getbook.at/Persephone



Frozen Grapes

During the heatwave, I put a bunch of grapes in the freezer. I wasn’t sure how they would turn out,  but I ened up adoring them, and now I keep a coupld bunches of grapes in the freezer for snacking. They Actually work at keeping my craving for chocolate at bay!

In other news, we went to see “Chicago”, the musical, at the theater Mogador the other night. I was still feeling shaky after my aggression, but the evening was fun, the cast: actors, singers, dancers, and musiciens, were amazing. I knew some of the songs (All that Jazz) but not all of them. After we had a late night dinner of crepes at a bistro. A Wonderful evening!

Stef is in Singapore for a polo tournament, last time he went he saw a giant lizard and monkeys in the forest – next time, I’d love to go with him. If only I didn’t have to work! I’m going swimming on Tuesdays & Thursdays now, and Stef thinks I should ride the exercise bike for an hour a day. I have a real aversion to exercise, but I love taking walks. We will compremise – walk Auguste, and ride my bike to work. 🙂

I know this is a boring post, but it’s one of those, I’m just thinking about work, Stef in Malaysia, & nothing much is happening – Well, off to take a walk!


Violence & golf

The number of times a stranger has physically agressed me: 4.  The number of times I’ve physically agressed a stranger: 0. The number of times I’ve thrown my golf club away in sheer frustration: 0 – but the temptation is always there. Golf has taught me self control.

I am not a violent person. I’m more of a wimp I’ve never taken karate or self defense lessons, but I think I will start. Human beings are, as a rule, a violent species. They fight and call it sports (karate, boxing, soccer, American foorball, rugby, wrestling…) they have wars constantly – there is never a moment when one country or faction is not fighting against another. Humans watch violent films and cheer when violence happens and their side “wins”. In fact, violence is so prevailent that Americans think guns are a perfectly logical response to the insecurity they feel.

They say that “violence begets violence”, so I suppose that humans are in for the long haul. If fighting is so important for them, I will just have to learn to live with it (which I have for over 50 years – it’s just that I am relly getting tired of it). Right now I’m watching the Ryder Cup and enjoying a fantastic golf tournament. That would be a great way to solve problems. Turn in your guns, folks, and get golf clubs. You can always use them to hit someone if you absolutely have to, but it’s better to just go out and bash the ball around. Let’s have golf practices in prisons – inmates can make their own clubs in the shop. Deliquants can learn to play golf and learn the joys of self control and controlling frustration when the ball slices into the pond.

The only problem with my theory about golf teaching self-control is that Trump plays golf, although I sincerely believe he cheats.



What happened next

A woman jumped out of her car and ran to my window, furous because she felt my husband had cut her off at the exit. Instead of attacking him, she hit me. I hadn’t said a word, was looking at the light, hoping to leave the lunatic behind. It was not to be. We got out of the car, my husband hit the girl – I was upset, and even more upset about that. He was very rough when he pulled her away from me (I was still in the car and she was grabbing me and hitting me). He feels awful about using force. I was just happy he got her away – I didn’t see what happened, I was ducking down out of the way.  Then I got out of the car and told everyone to get back to their own cars and calm down. That’s when I got my phone and took a picture of her plates.) The next day, I went to a dr to get a medical certificate stating I had a bruise on my temple. I went to the police and made what the French call “Un Main Courant”. This is just a statement that goes into the police files, and if the person ever aggresses anyone and they complain, the complaint will be transformed into a formal complaint and procedure. So why didn’t I do it right away? Well, if I had pressed charges, the woman would have been arrested. The police officer taking my deposition was very clear on that. The girl would have had a police record, and would no longer be able to work iin any job that was with the goverenment or with children. She could not be a teacher, a fireman, join the army… the list is enormous. Did I want to take away a person’s future because she lost her temper and hit me? Not really. I’ve been physically assaulted 4 times in my life by people I didn’t know. Each time it was a shock – bruises, hurt, incomprehension. But I put it behind me and the people, as far as I know, didn’t turn out to be serial killers – they went on to live (I hope) happy normal lives, and so did I. If the blow had broken something, hurt my body in a way that gave lasting damage, or even hurt my pysche in a way that was lasting, I think I would press charges. But that would not give me any satisfaction – it would only be because I would need financial support. Not a fun prospect. I still have 6 years to change my mind and press charges. It seems a long time – people, before you lose your tempers and hit someone – think about that. For six years your victim can still ruin your life. Once I give the green light, a police car will be dispatched and the girl taken to jail where she will await her trial. It will happen quickly — we will appear before the judge – our statements read aloud, and the judge will decide what penalty she can get – from one week in prison on, and a permanant police record that will severely hamper her job opportunities. So I didn’t press charges. I filed a report. I will go to an eye Dr on Monday. If everything is fine, I will put it all behind me.

The day started out so well

Today I went to Paris to have lunch with my son. It was a gorgeous day. We met at a pizzaria & the food was delicious. After we drove through Paris, past the Notre Dame Cathedral, though the Latin Quarter – it was just lovely. Then we got to a red light, and I looked over, and this girl was making rude gestures at us.

Today a crazy lady stormed out of her car and hit me (I wasn’t even driving – just sitting in the passanger seat watching the light) so I have to get a medical certificate and go to the police station tomorrow and report it. I think she must have been on drugs. There are nutters everywhere. This one thought my husband cut her off and had a fit at the red light – he said she didn’t know how to drive & she went balistic. She came over and spit on me (why me? I wasn’t even driving) I pushed her away and she slugged me. I got out of the car and took pictures of her plates while my husband dragged her away from me.The only thing I said was ‘get back into your car’, and ‘I’m sorry, but I have to report this’. I was quite proud of myself for staying so calm while my husband started yelling. I do want to take self defense lessons though. I felt like such a wimp that she had time to hit me, and I just sat there – the least I could do is learn to duck! On the other hand, luckily it happend in France – in the US she probably would have had a gun and shot us! Result – fearsome headache and bruised cheekbone. And no chocolate in the house! (this is when you need lots of chocolate).

Then I got home and started listening to Brett Kavanaugh defending himself. He is a petulant spoiled brat, full of himself, sure of himself – a horrible, evil human being. His accuser, Dr Ford, told a horrific story about Kavanaugh and his friend Judge as they cornered her in a room and jumped on her. He pretends he doesn’t believe her – but he does. He lies. He is lying. The slap on my face by the crazy lady hurts less than Kavanaugh’s hurtful words. He is disgusting. Now he’s crying. Do you know why? Because he is frightened. He is frightened things are not going his way.

If he is sworn in as judge, he’ll be a terrible, weak, angry judge. If he is sworn in, this day will be pretty much completely ruined. And it had started out so well.

Writing a Hot Scene with a Cold

Sometimes I don’t feel so hot. I don’t feel like writing hot. But there’s a book to finish. And the hero and heroine are there, in place, (picture a book as a movie set) and the producer (the author) yells “Roll ’em!”… and the scene starts to unfold.

So here I am, sitting at my desk, a flannel blanket over my shoulders, a steaming hot tea by the keyboard, stuffed with aspirin and sucking a sore throat pill.
I’m writing, “They touch, he slides his hands along her cheeks, grasps her jaw, turns her face to his. She resists, then their eyes meet. He leans over. Their lips touch…”
And I sneeze. Continue reading

Where I research ancient Greece and find a hilarious recipe for toothpaste

I wrote a book on Alexander the Great. Well, it was a fiction book, and he was one of the main characters. I thought (smugly) that I knew a lot about him, because I’d read some biographies, Aristotle’s quotes, skimmed over The Anabasis of Alexander by Arrian, Plutarch’s and read several fiction books about him including the fantastic Mary Renault series. But even after reading all this, I was not happy with the idea I had of Alexander. For one thing, there were too many discrepancies with the biggest problem for me that most of the writings were not made during Alexander’s lifetime, or even shortly after – but centuries had gone by! Plutarch wrote the most fascinating biography – nearly four hundred years after the conquer’s death – and his research seems to have been meticulous. But Plutarch was Greek, and for the Greeks, Alexander would forever be an upstart barbarian.

I put aside my short story and started researching in earnest. Who was this person, really? Why did he go so far into India, when he’d already captured the crown of Persia? Why go against his generals’ wishes and drag (well, lead) his army all the way across Persia to the Caspian Sea, into Iran and Bactria, into India as far as the Ganges, then down to the Indus Delta, then along the barren coast and desert to Persepolis. It was as if he never really wanted to go home and rule – but go back home he did, where he died soon after. His character came to me by reading between the lines. A warrior, but a dreamer. An eternal student and tourist at heart, charismatic but short tempered. He was a conundrum, but he made a wonderful fictional character.

The character I needed was larger than life, (and even Alexander’s enemies admitted he was pretty amazing). It wasn’t hard, therefor, to create a sort of demigod. But Alexander’s faults were important too – he was, according to Plutarch, ‘choleric‘, and would drink excessively.And the more I studied him, the more the idea occurred to me that if time travel existed, he would be one of the people time-travelers would be most eager to meet. And so the idea was born – a time traveler would go back and interview him, and then he’d do something that would inadvertently change time. Fun! I started writing, but within a few pages I realized that my first idea of a male journalist would not work. For one thing, a man would not fall under Alexander’s spell as easily as a woman would. Men, I discovered as I researched, were – well – a tiny bit jealous. It crept into Plutarch’s work, it seeped out of Arrian’s book, the only one who wasn’t in awe of Alexander was Aristotle. So I needed a woman as a time traveler. And I needed someone who wouldn’t be cowed by him and someone who would fascinate him. It wasn’t hard to create the woman – what surprised me was how fast she fell into his arms. Well, it would be a romance book, then. But love isn’t easy to write about, so they fell in lust first – that’s more understandable – and love came slowly to this mismatched pair; the man from the past  and the woman from the future had a lot to overcome before their relationship could be based on mutual trust and understanding. And for that, she has to tell him who she truly is – not Persephone, goddess of the dead, but a woman from another time.

He’s impressed – of course, and all the more so because he realizes that what he’s doing will be in songs through the ages. Heady stuff, for a young man. So the book advanced, and as I wrote, I researched. The army, their route, their food, their weapons, his freinds, his enemies, the weather, the horses…and toothpaste. Did you know that people brushed their teeth very carefully back then? If it wasn’t a soft twig chewed until it was frayed, it was a real little brush with home made toothpaste. So, herewith is the recipe for toothpaste  circa 500 BC (it didn’t change much for a thousand years…): Heat snail shells in the fire until they are white and grind them very fine. Add gypsum and honey, and grind into a paste. Herbs such as mint were distilled (the herbs themselves would have made teeth green) and their essential oils were added for taste. Other recipes included chalk mixed with wood ash and fresh urine (as opposed to pee that’s been sitting around all day…) and sea salt mixed with pepper and powdered cloves.

Research was important to me, because I wanted the reader to feel as if they were immersed in another time and culture. Ashley feels disconnected from reality,  but it’s the small details of everyday life – how bread was baked, how prayers were said – that anchored her to her new surroundings.  Hopefully, the reader will feel the same – not looking back across a chasm made of thousands of years, but actually living, walking, and riding at Alexander’s side.

Son of the Moon from Accent Press is now available at Amazon, Kobo, ibookstore and in Barnes & Noble as an ebook and in paperback.

The Road to Alexander, Legends of Persia, Storms Over Babylon are also available.

Chants to Persephone is coming soon (Nov. 1 2019) 

Calculating travel in ancient times

When I wrote my book, The Road to Alexander, I knew I was going to be travelling a lot.  He’d dragged his army (like a gaggle of geese, as Ashley dryly remarks*) from one end of the known world to the other – over mountains, swamps, and deserts. Luckily, I had an incredible ressource to help me plot the journey – Michael Wood’s “In the Footsteps of Alexander”, a book literally written while following Alexander’s army. Invaluable and fascinating! But from book IV to book VII, the couple voyage to Africa, Gaul, Scandinavia, and then down the coast of France and Portugal, through the ‘Pillars of Hercules’ and on to Carthage, Rome, Pompeii and finally home again in Alexandria.  But how to calculate the time it took to travel that route? Continue reading

Visualizing Characters Through Description and Dialogue

Visualizing Characters Through Description and Dialogue

When we watch a film, the characters are foisted upon us. The actors are the physical manifestations of the characters, and their accents, hair, faces, and clothes are no longer subject to our imagination. When the actor matches the ideal of the character, the audience is by and large content. But when the character does not match the actor, then the audience is disappointed. In order to avoid this, most authors describe their characters as soon as they are introduced, allowing the reader to form an image. Authors, while they are writing their stories, have very clear images of their characters, and their description is an important part of making the character come alive to the reader. If the reader cannot imagine what the character looks or sounds like, they can have difficulty identifying with the character. Identifying with a character is vital – without that connection, a reader can feel detached from the story.

Since everyone has a different way of imagining things, readers’ views of characters can vary greatly. Some will see a character as being physically attractive, others less so, and others will imagine the personage as being quite plain. However, basic things can be imposed – and author can give a clear picture of a character’s sex, height, eye colour, hair and skin, build, and clothing. However, when describing a character, the author has to walk a narrow line between giving too little and too much information.

Different genres of books deal with physical descriptions in vastly different ways. It’s almost a given that a book focusing on romance will describe a character all throughout the book. It’s a manifestation of falling in love. When we fall in love, we think, dream, fantasize about our love interest extensively. Therefore, romance readers will readily identify with endless descriptions of the physique and emotions of the characters. But readers need to project their ideals upon the character. Too much description can leave some readers feeling frustrated, especially as the book progresses. Describing the characters over and over leaves very little to the readers’ imagination. The same with clothes – unless the character is defined by the clothing or the clothing is important to the story, it’s best to be sparse with detail at risk of sounding like a fashion magazine (admittedly, some readers like this).

In science fiction or horror stories, the characters are lavishly described to the reader once at the beginning of the book in order to set the tone of the story.

In murder mysteries, it’s important to visualize the detective and often the victim as well, so that the reader can identify with one or the other.

In children’s books, characters tend to be simply but well-described, along with their traits of character. Pippi Longstocking comes to mind, her description never varies: Pippi is red-haired, freckled, unconventional and superhumanly strong – able to lift her horse one-handed. She is playful and unpredictable. With that, the author has given the reader all he or she needs to know to imagine the character.

Most of all, description should be like a slightly blurred photo that uses the reader’s mind to add the details to bring it into focus.

Accent too plays a part – unless the dialogue is written in the vernacular the reader will hear his or her own voice, with only slight variations. For English readers, for example, Americans will hear American accents, British the British accent, and so on. And even if an American reader is reading a book set in London, the American reader will not superimpose a British accent over the dialogue unless prompted by spelling.

‘Ow, sow lover-ly sittin’ absa-bloomin’-lootly still,’ Eliza Doolittle croons, as she sits in her chair and imagines lots of ‘cowl at noight and lots of ‘eat’. The movie ‘My Fair Lady’ shows us how she looks and sounds – but in the book, only creative spelling can show us ‘ow, er, how, she sounds.

Too much creative spelling can lose a reader. Interest is held just as long as it’s possible to read a story and follow it without having to stop and try to figure out what the author meant. Dialogue written in the vernacular has to be near perfect – it’s better for a beginning writer to try to portray a subject’s accent in small doses. However, a character can be completely identified by speech patterns. If I write; ‘Use the accent sparingly, you must’, a certain Yoda springs to mind!

Punctuation is another thing an author can use to show what a character is feeling. Exclamation marks, dashes, italics, cut off sentences, etc., are all part of the manifestation of a character’s personality. Punctuation in a dialogue can show a reader what a character is feeling better than just telling the reader what the character feels. Use exclamation points as sparingly as possible – too many, and the reader feels yelled at!

Here is an exercise for you; write a short (2 or 3 lines at the most) paragraph introducing and describing the same character for different genres: romance, science fiction, YA (or children’s book), mystery. You can even add a line of dialogue if it helps describe the character as well.

Have fun!

Here is an older post along the same lines, with some comments by readers: https://jennifermacaire.wordpress.com/2006/03/06/babys-got-blue-eyes/

And if you want to post your descriptions in the comment section, go ahead! I will be happy to read them!