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“Here’s our friend we were just telling you about.”

I smiled politely, wondering at my friend’s words as I settled into the only available seat at the table. My excitement bubbled up within me like fine champagne. After all, I had a major fan girl moment, eating dinner with an author whose novels I’ve devoured since my teenage years. And . . . she talked to me!

Heather Graham. New York Times best-selling author. Iconic pioneer, with over 100 novels written. Generous, nurturing spirit. Truly.

Here’s my recollection of our conversation.

Heather (turning to me): “Conferences are a good way to learn about the industry.”

Me: “Ah, ba, ah, ba . . . ”

Heather: “We have a terrific conference in New Orleans.”

Me: ” Uhh . . . ”  I’m temporarily at a loss for words. Star Struck.

The conversation continues, and the whole time I’m thinking: How generous you are, Heather. If I am ever so fortunate to have one published novel under my wing, let alone 100 novels – and best-sellers, too – I would want to give back to writers just like you do, with your vivacious spirit. 

We were attending the New Jersey Romance Writer’s Put Your Heart in a Book Conference. Heather was a key note speaker and I was part of the conference committee contest organizers.

I realized something during this three day conference while mingling with authors who I adore. Heather puts it into words best:

“You have to live a full life to fully write.”

Writing can be an isolating endeavor. You, a laptop, and the occasional cat warming your legs. Characters keep you company, messing with your head as they demand to be put on the page. But how an author depicts them, along with their problems and their world, is where LIFE comes in.

After talking with Heather, it became very obvious why she’s so successful and why I love her writing so much. She’s living a full, rich life. And she is kind enough to let you in on it.

I settled into my new seat and the waiter came to clear away the dinner plates. My heart was still racing. Still star struck. And inspired. I was suddenly even more excited to work on my next manuscript. Who needed champagne when you’ve just met your muse?

I searched my friends’ faces at the table. Mirror images of my own greet me. Broad smiles. That gleam authors get in their eyes when their creativity is shimmering. Their excitement is palpable. And, all of them had it.

Wait a second! I became aware of the person across from me. I knew her, too.

Sabrina Jeffries.

Oh my God. Life doesn’t get any better than this!

For more information about Heather Graham, please visit:  http://www.theoriginalheathergraham.com/

For more information about Sabrina Jeffries, please visit: http://www.sabrinajeffries.com/


Hi everyone!  Well, I haven’t posted on my site in a while but I think you’ll understand why – – – I’ve been writing! And I am thrilled to post that my manuscript, OCTAGON GIRL,  has placed first for Contemporary Single Title.

My wonderful friends and critique partners have placed as well.  Check out Jenna Blue’s THE RUNAWAY and Joanna Shupe’s DRAWN TO THE EARL.  

2012 PYHIAB Winners Announced

The New Jersey Romance Writers have announced the 2012 Put Your Heart In A Book Contest Winners.Congratulations everyone!

Romantic Suspense
1st Place: Jenna Blue – The Runaway
2nd Place: Michelle Sharp – The Dreamer
3rd Place: Keith Zwingelberg – Medicine Woman
Single Title Contemporary
1st Place: Michele Mannon – Octagon Girl
2nd Place: Susan J. Bickford – Synchrony’s Call
3rd Place: Claudia Handel – Lost in You
Historical
1st Place: Eileen Emerson – Embracing an Unloved Earl
2nd Place: Joanna Shupe – Drawn to the Earl
3rd Place: Mary Jane Esber w/a Miranda Liasson – The Spy Who Loved Me
Paranormal
1st Place: Laurel Wanrow – Passages
2nd Place: Leisl Leighton – Seer’s Blood
3rd Place: Katrina Snow – Bewitched by a KissYoung Adult
1st Place: Karen Schwartz – Extra Ordinary Guy
2nd Place: McCall Hoyle – Twice Shy
3rd Place: Laurel Wanrow – Seaside Sorcery

Honorable Mention
McCall Hoyle – The Other Cheek


Hi Folks,

Please check out my sister blog – http://thevioletfemmes.com/ for up-to-date information.

This blog is TO BE CONTINUED!

Thanks, Michele


Website in progress . . . well, I have been writing!  Check back soon.  Michele


In honor of my summer on crutches – and my fractured ankle and torn foot – I thought today’s blog should be about . . .  SHOES!

***

“It’s not so much about the shoes, but the person wearing them.”                                                     Adriana Trigiani – Viola in Reel Life

 Queen Marie Antoinette owned over 500 pairs of shoes. Catalogued by color and style, they were custom made – expensive – and became a symbol of her extravagant lifestyle and cause for public loathing.

Madame Deficit, as she was nicknamed, wore shoes made for specifically for the right and left feet. Made of the finest colored cloths, silks and leather, they had high, curves heels and decorated with buckles, ribbons, and bows.

Manolo Blahnik recreated her shoes for the Sophia Coppola movie, “Marie-Antoinette”.  He described them as “a fantasy – a collection of candy-colored heels embellished with ribbon and buttons and beads.”  

When the royal family fled the sans-culottes marching on chateau of the Tuileries, Marie-Antoinette had a Cinderella moment, losing a satin slipper trimmed with ruched ribbon. Ironically, this event foreshadowed what was to come.

Walking to Mme. Guillotine and her imminent death, Marie-Antoinette famously stepped on the toes of her executioner with a high-heeled purple mule.

As the saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”  Perhaps it best to reserve judgment for their shoes!

By the way, I’m attired in a fashionable, large, black, Velcro embellished snow-like boot. Hmm, I wonder what it says about me?


THE FRENCH REVOLUTION 101

High prices, a crumbling economy and many displeased citizens – sound familiar?  The year I’m referring to in 1789. In celebration of the 14th of juillet, French Independence Day, I am writing about the French Revolution.

The French Revolution is a complicated time. A power struggle between numerous men accompanied by a desperate working classes trying to survive bread shortages and unfair taxation.

Officially, July 14th is France’s Independence Day in recognition of the storming of the Bastille and the the beginning of the revolt.

Here are a few of the main characters involved at one point in time during the revolution:

Jean-Paul Marat – newspaperman and doctor – responsible for calling for the deaths of thousands in his newspaper.  Executed by Guillotine

 

 

 

   George Danton – leader of the Girondin party – He may (or may not have) sympathized with the Royals.  Executed by Guillotine

 

 

Maximilien Robespierre – Radical leader of the Jacobin group  Seized power later in the Revolution.  Executed by Guillotine

 

King Louis XVI – Last King of France

Spent monies abroad, ill-advised by                                                          financiers

Executed by Guillotine

 

 Image of the masses who took arms against the King.

Followed the promptings of the men above, they turned on the noble classes and anyone/anything perceived as being from the noble classes.

 

 
Queen Marie Antoinette – an avid gambler and lover of fashion, chocolates, clothing, and parties, she lived in a world far removed from the struggles of the peasants.  She’s rumored to have worn purple mules to her execution.

 

 

 


Scandalous Woman

scan·dal·ous 

adjective    Causing general public outrage by a perceived offense against morality or  law. Disgracefully bad, typically as a result of someone’s negligence or irresponsibility.

Cleopatra, Bonnie Parker, Lady Godiva: three historical figures epitomizing the concept of a scandalous woman. (My personal favorite is the latter – Lady Godiva, who rode naked through the countryside in Coventry in protest of the taxes her husband imposed on his tenants.)  I think the matter was brought to his attention!

Strong-willed women bucking society’s norms. Intelligent. Unconventional. Admirable by modern standards.

The muse for my story called “To Trust Temptation” is such a woman.

Gabrielle Émilie Le Tonnelier de Breteuil Marquise du Châtelet was as unique as her name.  She believed that reasoning must be used with scientific studies and that a scientist needed to reduce matter to its individual components in order to understand its complexity.  Hardly a novel idea today but in the late 1700’s – the Age of Enlightenment, it was revolutionary.

Émilie seems to have applied this theory to her life as well.

Mme. Du Deffand describes her as:

                         Born with enough intelligence, but in her desire to appear

smarter than she is, she has chosen to study science instead

of far more pleasant subjects.  She believes that by such odd

behavior, she will acquire a greater reputation and an advantage

over all other women.    Source: UCI.edu/Department of History

Do I detect a note of SCANDAL in her description? A woman participating – leading – scientific discussions was not accepted social behavior. In fact, the academic salons, cafés where men gathered to debate mathematical and scientific theories, barred women from entrance.

What was a woman like Émilie to do?  Why, dress as a man and gain entry into a popular Salon, of course!

It appears her popularity with men like the mathematician Maupertuis and the philosopher Voltaire was based on respect for her mind and ideas.

(Although she was rumored to be Voltaire’s mistress – I’m sure this added to her notoriety.)

The prestigious Académie des Sciences in Paris acknowledged her endeavors and published her winning submission on Inertia and Living Forces called “Dissertation sur la nature et la propagation du feu”.

Émilie’s unconventional behavior must have sent society in a twitter!  (Don’t you want to give her a hug or a high-five?) A great mind and a true pioneer of her time.

If you don’t believe me, here is Émilie’s first-hand account, a prologue to a body of work she’d translated called “The Fable of the Bees”:

excerpt from
“The Translator’s Preface”
by Émilie du Châtelet (1735)

Source: UCI.edu/Department of History

The prejudice that excludes us women so universally from the sciences weighs heavily on me.  It has always astonished me that there are great nations whose laws permit us to control their fate, but there is not a single place where we are brought up to think.  This is one of the great contradictions of our times.

The theater is the only profession requiring some study and some cultivation of wit in which women are allowed to participate.  At the same time, it is a profession that has been declared an improper one.

Just think for a moment.  Why is it that for so many centuries not a single good tragedy, fine poem, valued story, beautiful painting, or good book on physics has been produced by the hand of a woman?  Why do these creatures–whose understanding appears to be similar in every way to that of men–seem to be held back by an insurmountable force?  Let someone give me a reason for it, if they can.  I leave it to the naturalists to find a physical reason for it, but until they have found one, women have a right to speak out for their education.

I confess that if I were king, I would conduct the following experiment.  I would correct this abuse that has cut short a full half of the human race.  I would get women to participate in all the privileges of humanity, especially those of the mind.

It’s as though women were born only to flirt, so they are given nothing but that activity to exercise their minds.  The new education I propose would do all of humanity a great deal of good.  Women would be better off for it, and men would gain a new source of competition.

All too often, the way we currently conduct our daily affairs weakens and narrows women’s minds rather than improves them.  With men and women as equal partners, such interactions would serve to extend everyone’s knowledge.

I’m convinced that most women are either ignorant of their talents, or they cover them up.  Everything I’ve experienced myself confirms this opinion.  I’ve been lucky to know men of letters who have included me in their circle.  I saw with extreme astonishment that they held me in high esteem.  I then began to believe that I was a thinking creature. 



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