Not Even An “Iron Mask” Will Do

Most of you know I write under a pen name. Since the publication of Passports in December 2013, I have gone to some lengths to try to separate my real-life self from my authoring identity. To do so, I created social media accounts for myself as an author that are different from my personal Facebook account, which is under my real name.

That does not mean I am some dramatically different person on here as an author, and on my Instagram, etc., than I am in my real-life. (Yes, it may disappoint some of you to learn perhaps that I am not, for example, secretly actually a 6 ft tall blonde Swedish woman.) I have sought merely to keep my two social medias apart for primarily creative reasons.

I’ve written novels to date that stem in large part from my own life experiences. And they feature characters based on people I know, or have known, and events that often happened in my life and in the lives of people I know, or have known. When I’ve told some close to me in real-life about the sort of fiction I’ve written, I’ve more than once been asked: “Am I in your books?”

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Love Letters: Duchess And Diplomat

I must be pretty high up there in search engines for this subject. An old post is attracting looks most days lately. This was just yesterday:


Visitors are headed to this about Rosalie de La Rochefoucauld and William Short, which I wrote in February 2014:

Falling Short In The Pursuit Of Happiness

Anyone who knows details about Thomas Jefferson’s years as an American envoy and then Minister to France from 1784-1789 has likely at least vaguely heard of their relationship. Since that 2014 post – for reasons that will become clearer soon enough – I have researched them more deeply. That post back then has a few minor (but generally unimportant) mistakes.

To update things. Who were they?

Rosalie de La Rochefoucauld (born Alexandrine Charlotte Louise de Rohan-Chabot in France in 1763, but friends and family called her Rosalie) was then the attractive young wife of a French liberal duke – Louis-Alexandre, Duke de La Rochefoucauld. The duke was a friend of America and close to Jefferson while Jefferson was in Paris in those years just before, and at the start, of the French Revolution. Love having little to do then with marriage in their strata, the duke and the young duchess were almost certainly married for “dynastic” reasons: his mother was her grandmother, and he (born probably in 1743, the same year as Jefferson) was also twenty years older than she was.

In comparison to the duke, William (born in Virginia in 1759), Jefferson’s private secretary from 1785 until Jefferson’s departure from France, was only four years older than Rosalie.

He was probably introduced to her alongside Jefferson at a public gathering possibly in 1785, but more likely in 1787; and probably with her husband standing right there. It seems that from William’s first encounter with her that she reduced him to, well, mush. From then on, when he wasn’t working, he seemed to spend a lot of his time contriving somehow to see her.

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Once, It Was 1840

Another new year is upon us, of course. I’ve seen in 2017 here in the Catskills, a low mountain range about 100 miles north of New York City. They are scenic, as well as awash with history – including literary history: for example, New Yorker Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle” (which Irving wrote while in England) “lived” here.

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What Fiction Is Supposed To Do

A well-regarded children’s author on what “kids need to see” in books:

Screen capture of Twitter.
Screen capture of Twitter.

And who could really take issue with that? It seems reasonable enough. And not being a children’s author I have no opinion about what children’s authors believe “kids need” – kids are their audience after all.

Yet as I thought about it, something about that sentence bothered me. If that declaration may be made so definitively about what “needs” to be in youngsters’ books, one would think something similar may be asserted about books for everyone older than that. Indeed I have here and there seen that “need” raised about books for “oldsters” as well.

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When “They” Spoke “Olde English”

I loved Cas Blomberg’s post: “What do you like in a story?” She lists the sorts of things – her personal “likes” and “dislikes” – that should make any author think. As her take would apply to any reader, it is worth reading her post in full.

This “dislike” naturally grabbed my attention:

Difficult language β€” Victorian, Venusian, the Tyk’gkt’der language, etc.

“Victorian?” Uh, oh. Well, I’m not using “Victorian,” but I’m definitely employing what might be termed “Georgian” and “early American independence” – the later 1700s mostly – in Conventions.

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Alone At The Keyboard

I realized yesterday as I was thrashing around in one chapter in “1787,” I had opened with a journal entry, and that “first person” perspective helped better illuminate what happened immediately afterwards in the narrative. I’d stumbled on that approach by accident and it seemed to work. I may do more of it.

Or I may not. Or I may revise it. I’ll see how it goes in the months to come.

Kindle "art." [Photo by me, 2016.]
Kindle “art.” [Photo by me, 2016.]

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Authors: A Troubled Bunch?

Have you seen this from the other day?:

Screen capture of the Telegraph.
Screen capture of the Telegraph.

This sentence especially grabbed my attention, with his ex-wife claiming:

Sir Salman Rushdie needed consoling every year he did not win the Nobel Prize for literature….

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If You’re Lost In Your Writing, Seek Out Yourself

That post in which I included two 18th century paintings pretty much sums up my outlook on here. I enjoy posting a mix and mishmash of stuff. This blog’s supposed to be a “journal” that’s built on my writing, but I’ve discovered over these last three years that lots more touches on that than I’d originally thought.

Excerpt from "Frontiers," on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.
Excerpt from “Frontiers,” on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.

That comment in 2014’s Frontiers stems from a “Madame de StaΓ«l” observation once made by a friend longer ago than I now care to remember. I recalled it while writing that novel and decided to fit it in not only because I liked it, but also because it well-reflected what I so enjoy: chatting with friends about whatever strikes us as interesting – particularly over a drink, or two, or…. uh, who’s counting. πŸ˜‰

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PUBLISHED: Distances: “A dam’d good book”

Well, I suppose I’m now another “unemployed” author – at least until I decide to start on the next novel:


So that’s that. PUBLISHED. Another year of work completed.

The back and front covers for "Distances" - the print version.
The back and front covers for “Distances” – the print version.

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“Boo! I’m you, but not you!”

Recently on, a man who identified himself as a “ghostwriter” viewed my profile. I’m not in need of one of those. Nevertheless, it prompted me to think on what “ghostwriting” means in terms of you as “the author.”

“Ghostwriters” have always been around, of course. Bookstores and Amazon are awash with books written by someone other than “the author.” And we as readers don’t seem to mind.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a ghost costume.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a ghost costume.

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