Name That Time Period!

Can you tell how much I like to use this blog to grumble about critiques and so on? Today’s Issue-I-Need-to-Get-Off-My-Chest regards the use of names. I use the name Harris as a first name for a Regency Lord. Someone commented that Harris wasn’t used as a first name at that time. Oh, really?

Let us consult the Peerage. http://www.thepeerage.com/index_custom.htm (I know I could have used Burke’s, but I found the one above first. Here’s Burke’s:http://www.burkespeerage.com/) (Oh, funny little thing, you have to have a subscription to use Burke’s.) I went to the Custom Index for the Napoleonic Wars, because that’s the time period I want. Here are some of the names listed and the years of the battles. I believe the named person was mentioned in dispatches or some such.

Spencer Minchin, 1801. Stapleton Stapleton-Cotton, 1812. Israel Pellew. 1805. Hercules Robinson, 1805. Connell Scanlan, 1813. Adderly Beamish-Bernard, 1815. Whitwell Butler, 1815. Beaumont Hotham, 1815. Fletcher Norton, 1815. Watkin Owen Pell, 1813. Wroth Palmer Acland, 1809. Galbraith Lowry Cole, 1809. Prosper Aime Victor Combe, 1809. Chichester William Crookshank, 1809. Rowland Hill, 1813. Hardress Robert Saunderson, 1809. Baldwin Layton, 1814.

Harris Butterfield was born in London in 1835.

So, you are asking yourself, what’s my point? That a lot of typical surnames were used as first names, along with some pretty strange names. Come on, Wroth? Hardress? Anyway, at least person received the first name of Harris, even though it was later than the Regency. My point is, there’s every chance that at least one person in the Regency period could have had that name. At least I didn’t go with Throatwarbler-Mangrove.

In looking for the names of the period, I discovered a great site, Almanac, that had a great article on how names wax and wan in popularity: http://www.almanac.com/content/name-game And this site shows which names were the most popular in which decade: http://www.galbithink.org/names.htm

Mary and John were the ruling names for babies in the early 1800s, with boys giving way to William in 1840, and girls getting Elizabeth for a change in 1900. That’s pretty impressive. And no wonder by the time George M. Cohan came along. Mary was an old name, even if a grand one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmzxTtAe6bA&feature=kp

Want to find popular names in more recent times? Baby Center has the information: http://www.babycenter.com/babyNameYears.htm and so does the Social Security Administration. http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/decades/

Have fun looking up all your friends and family. See you on Sunday.

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Around the World in 80+ Books, Part 4

Welcome back for another travel extravaganza! I looked back over the previous posts, and realized I occasionally failed to mention the country I stopped in. So I will go back and reformat those posts, and now list the name of the country first. Got your passports stamped? Let’s go!

61. Jordan. We start off with two very different perspectives of the same country. The first, Married to a Bedouin by Marguerite Van Geldermalsen tells an intriguing story of a New Zealand nurse who ends up, well, married to a Bedouin. The reviews wish she had done more than describe the events, and put more emotions into the book. Still, it’s a marvelous concept and a look at every day Jordan. The second book is Leap of Faith : Memoirs of an Unexpected Life by Queen Noor. This is the story of a very beautiful woman who loved her husband and her new country, in spite of some culture shock. And he just happened to be the king, so she’s the queen, and not just an ordinary woman. Mixed reviews, so make up your own mind.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/925598.Married_to_a_Bedouin?ac=1
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/400598.Leap_of_Faith_?ac=1

62. Saudi Arabia. This book fascinates me. I am certainly going to read it. Finding Nouf by Z. Ferraris is a mystery, a love story, and a fairly highly rated story in Goodreads reviews. The blurb mentions the detective’s years of yearning for love and intimacy, and that is what hooked me. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2302650.Finding_Nouf?ac=1

63. United Arab Emirates. I can’t say no to a Duke. And this story is a wonderful adventure based partly on the experiences of the author. The Duke of Dubai by Luigi Falconi includes glossaries and appendices to increase your reading enjoyment. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3378511-the-duke-of-dubai?ac=1

64. Oman. Here’s the discovery of a lifetime! A book on Goodreads that no one has rated yet! Be the first to read and review Dust and Fury: A Gripping Family Saga Set in Oman During the 1960s Dhofar Rebellion by David Barnet! Well, if we can believe the notes about the book, there’s love, loyalty, bravery, betrayal, and revenge. It’s also a gripping story that will keep any reader entertained. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21341472-dust-and-fury?ac=1

65. Yemen. This country brings up a shelf full of non-fiction, and while that’s not against my criteria, I prefer non-fiction. The Woman Who Fell From the Sky by Jennifer Steil is a true story of one journalist who went to help a small paper in another country, and fell in love with the strength of Arab women in the work place. The fiction novel that interested me is The Yemenite Girl by Curt Levant, but there’s very little information about it. So once more, take your choice or try both.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8332435-the-woman-who-fell-from-the-sky?from_search=true
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12187699-the-yemenite-girl?ac=1

66. Eriterea. Searching for novels that are set on Eriterea, I could only come up with collections of poetry. Possibly there are books that haven’t been translated into English yet. But why not absorb a little poetry if it’s the best voice of the country? Who Needs a Story? is a collection of poems from three decades, edited by Charles Cantalupo. While not always inspiring works, the patriotic bent is admirable. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2650224-who-needs-a-story-contemporary-eritrean-poetry-in-tigrinya-tigre-and-a?from_search=true

67. Djibouti. Elmore Leonard gave us Get Shorty and his 10 Rules of Writing. That could be a career right there. But there is an impressive list of other books he’s written and no explanation for this one. Djibouti is the name of the book. It’s a twisting, gripping, sometimes playful, and humorous story of modern-day piracy. Or is it? https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7981086-djibouti

68. Ethiopia. I wish I had known about the Girls of Many Lands series long ago. Each novel is written by a different author. Saba: Under the Hyena’s Foot by Jane Kurtz is a rags to riches tale of superior quality. Maybe just the spark needed for a young reader who may one day be a writer. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/561648.Saba?ac=1

69. Bahrain. Speaking of young readers and writers, The Meeting Place by Lucy Caldwell came about from a visit to Bahrain when she was seven years old. The country got under her skin, until she began to dream of it. And the writing flowed. Northern Ireland may have more in common with Bahrain than we know. http://www.thenational.ae/arts-culture/books/a-young-author-talks-about-her-award-winning-novel-set-in-bahrain

70. Qatar. We’re all about cultural expectations here at Around the World Book Tours. You may be surprised to read that. I know I was. But the novel Love Comes Later by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar explores the similarities between India and Qatar, in how women are valued and treated. There’s stuff about meetings and sparks, so I am in! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15744536-love-comes-later?from_search=true

71. Sri Lanka. Such a lush country could hardly be explored through a normal type of novel. Instead, I picked Children of the Lion by Carl Muller. This is a fable and a folklore tale with prophecies and pincesses and kings and battles, like any good saga would have. A tour de force of the imagination. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3353811-children-of-the-lion?from_search=true

72. Afghanistan. I loved the movie The Kite Runner, in spite of the brutal and savage events. The eventual human love that came about redeemed the brutality to an extent. So here’s another story by the same author. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/128029.A_Thousand_Splendid_Suns

73. Somalia. You might not think having the person you were crazy about in high school show up wanting to make a baby with you to be all that bad of an occurrence. Or maybe it could be the worst that could happen. And if your country is in turmoil at the same time, it’s possible the results will not be what you hoped for. Secrets by Nuruddin Farah. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/328505.Secrets

74. Kenya. You should immediately recognize the top books on the Goodreads list of novels set in Kenya. Out of Africa, Flame Trees of Thika, and all the Born Free saga books. I really wanted to find a book about actual Kenyans, not European colonists, so I kept looking. I liked the premise of a few selections, but the reviews were not encouraging. Then I clicked on a book that I thought had gotten in the novel list in error. The Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson is a novel, and the characters are Kenyans, and not only their own intriguing story but that of the country plays a part. And the reviews were consistently favorable.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3476509-a-guide-to-the-birds-of-east-africa

75. Uganda. A failing of mine, or a reason I write romances, is that I want a happy every after (HEA) ending. Such a brutal history as that of Uganda might only have that in an all out fantasy. So I am going to take a chance on White Teeth by Okot p’Bitek. A story at least of some humor, this sounds like a comedy of errors taking place in Africa. A bride price to prove he can be a good husband and provide for his future wife. I’m in.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4201.White_Teeth

76. South Sudan. The Lost Boys have always touched my heart, but as well, the girls and women who were used abominably. Finding a novel that gives a promise of the endurance of hope is the closest to a HEA I am likely to find. While the Sun is Above us by Melanie Schnell looks at the horror of innocents caught up in a war they want no part of. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13512215-while-the-sun-is-above-us

77. Chad. Only three books come up for this country. One is about child soldiers. One is poorly translated. But I think I would have chosen this book no matter what. It’s a children’s story about going to school. I was not what one would call a good student, or even a willing student. I had many issues, but now I am mature enough to appreciate the fact that I could go to school. I didn’t have to help on the farm, I wasn’t turned away for being a girl, and schools were open to everyone where I grew up. How different it is for Thomas in Rain School by James Rumford. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9199871-rain-school

78. Central African Republic. The temptation is great to go with Malaria Dreams by Stuart Stevens. But it only starts in CAR, and then moves along. Better, I think, to go with Song from the Forest: My Life Among the Ba-Benjelle Pygmies by Louis Sarno. I love the music of the Deep Forrest recordings, so this is a great addition to what I learned researching that CD.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1302786.Song_from_the_Forest__My_Life_Among_the_Ba_Benjelle_Pygmies

79. Cameroon. Africa, you may or may not know, is big. And there are so many things going on that a single heart can hardly comprehend them. Animals need saving, people need feeding, politicians need morals, and children need loving. Here’s a book written by a man who got to experience many facets of that world. A woman of Africa by Nick Roddy.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10561041-a-woman-of-africa

80. Nigeria. Well. I like all the books I have investigated her, from Half a Yellow Sun by C.N. Adichie to I Do Not Come to You by Chance by A.T. Nwaubani. But reading a review from a monogamous woman saying that in spite of her expectation that a book about polygamy would teach her nothing, and yet it did, made up my mind. The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7194279-the-secret-lives-of-baba-segi-s-wives

I’m Having Contractions

Here’s the saddest thing I ever discovered as a writer. Shakespeare did not write proper English! As a writer of historical fiction, I have been told several times that my characters should not use contractions. You know, I’m instead of I am, can’t instead of cannot, won’t instead of whatever it’s a contraction of. Yet Bill S. titled a play All’s Well That Ends Well and no one fusses. This was easily 200 years before the Regency period.

Anachronisms creep up in historical fiction now and again. One of my husband’s complaints about the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon is the out of place things that creep up. Particullarly the Monty Python reference when the show didn’t debut on the BBC until years after Claire – well, I don’t want to spoil things. It should also be noted that he’s on his second read through all the books, and complaining that the next book won’t be out soon enough.

I remember a published author who was the speaker at an RWA meeting when I was first a member. Even though she knew better, she had her Regency main characters meeting in Trafalgar Square. Yeah, didn’t get that name until 1830. https://www.london.gov.uk/priorities/arts-culture/trafalgar-square/history

It’s a close call with the Yankee expression, Okay. You’ll find it in print by 1830, and that indicates a wide usage before that. I really like the Choctaw explanation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okay

As English is a living, breathing, chain-smoking, beer-drinking language, it changes a lot. Languages like Japanese have changed little in the past century. But English not only has changed, it’s colonized various parts of the world. These nifty graphs show the rise or fall in contraction usage since 1800.
http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/8900/were-contractions-less-common-in-olden-days

Here’s an excellent article on some of the influences on English: http://www.nsf.gov/news/special_reports/linguistics/change.jsp

The final word, of course, would be Miss Jane Austen. She uses contractions very rarely, but remember her writing went through publishers who had their own ideas of proper English. They no doubt filtered her words as they saw fit. But here’s one they missed:

It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.”
― Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

Thank you, Miss Austen, and thank you, gentle readers. See you on Sunday for the next leg around the world in books.

Around the World in 80+ Books Part Three

We’re heading to Greece first thing, and will end up in Syria, so check your bags and let’s go. Wait, did anyone you don’t know put something in your bags when you weren’t looking? No? Fine.

41. Sophocles is tempting, but I have read all those works and I hope most of you have, as well. I’ve wandered a little closer to modern times with Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières. This author is most known for his magical realism novels, and I have GOT to put them on my reading list. But this is a more normal romance set on a Greek island early in World War II. Don’t you love it when several of your favorite genres come together? https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3388.Captain_Corelli_s_Mandolin

42. East of the West by Miroslav Penkov is very tempting, especially the story of a kid trying to buy the corpse of Lenin for his communist grandfather, but this is a collection of short stories, not a single novel. But now I’m in the mood for WWII love stories. A King’s Ransom by Jan Beazely and Thom Lemmons fits that category, along with a nice helping of feel-good, help the oppressed in dangerous times story. http://www.amazon.com/Kings-Ransom-Lemmons-Thom-Beazely/dp/B003E7EZ8E

43. So many tough choices today! I read The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht and could not get enough of it. WWII bombs free animals from a zoo, so you know I’m engaged. But it mostly takes place in the Balkans, which is not a close enough pin point for Serbia. So I am going with Miss Tamara the Reader by Zoran Zivkovic. A story about the joys of reading! A little magic, a little romance, and sold! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6252214-miss-tamara-the-reader

44. Oh my goodness! Romania encompasses the Transylvanian Alps. The birthplace of all vampire stories. The real man behind the stories, Vlad the Impaler, is rarely represented as a hunk, but this cover certainly caught my eye. Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost is a tantalizing premise and looks like an amazing vampire romance. Number One in a series called Night Prince. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7039218-once-burned

45. Moldova earned its independence after being a satellite of the Soviet Union for many decades. So there is some fiction, but not all that much. I chose No Going Back to Moldova by Anna Robertson because it’s a memoir of sorts from someone who lived through those changes, and actually can write about the history with a sense of humor. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7768778.No_Going_Back_to_Moldova

46. I’m going to take a little side trip here, and see where the locals hang out. The Ukraine is filled with wonderful, amazing stories, most of them heart-breaking. I offer instead a children’s book, The Mitten by Jan Brett. Faithfully told from an ancient tale, rendered in a traditional yet warm and delightful style, this should be as poular a book as Good Night, Moon. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/967494.The_Mitten

47. The forest of Belarus stands as the last and surely the largest swath of primeval forest in Europe, so selecting a novel that takes place there seems natural. Kind of a mixed bag story, with a cliff-hanger ending, Pack of Wolves by Vasil Bykov is not about wolves at all. Translated by Lynn Solotaroff. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/171233.Pack_of_Wolves

48. On this day in history (May 17th as I write), 1940, the Germans began the invasion of France. Perhaps that is influencing my choices without my knowledge. But the story behind The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman tickles my fancy. I love animals, I have been a student of WWII history, and I am a fan of helping those who need us, no matter the differences between them and me. The story also shines as a We have nothing to fear but fear itself lesson. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1128178.The_Zookeeper_s_Wife

49. We are back in vampire country in the Czech Republic, and howe could I resist A Girl’s Guide to Vampires by Katie MacAlister? Too many vampire romance novels? Not yet! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50788.A_Girl_s_Guide_to_Vampires

50. Next stop has to be Slovakia. One of the troubles with books by authors who don’t speak English is ensuring the translation is done well, and with the heart of the writer’s words in mind. Not only does Rivers of Babylon by Peter Pišťanek come highly recommended as a complex but fun read, a satirical revelation of the modern country, it’s also translated by Peter Petro in close collaboration with the author. Oh, and it’s book one of a trilogy. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2525171.Rivers_of_Babylon

51. Ready for a great dish of goulash? Another vampire romance, again where the female involved has some powers of her own, and add to it she’s supposed to redeem the soul of her toothy boy toy. Got Fangs? By Katie Maxwell promises to deliver a laugh and peek at the Hungary few of us will get to see. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/797151.Got_Fangs_

52. Austria opens to us with so much history and amazing novels that picking any one would be a joke. However, I set myself this task, and I am doing it. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld looks to be a steam-punky WWI tale with Charles Darwin and lots more science stuff, A Young Adult novel but may appeal to a bunch of my steam punk friends. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6050678-leviathan

53. Good old Croatia, land of a unitary democratic parliamentary republic (Study this one, there will be a test at the end) survived communism with its national identity intact. April Fool’s Day by Josip Novakovich is a tale of biting sarcasm and dark humor, but with a deep tenderness, follows a boy born on April 1st through all the puzzling turns of his life. I can’t make it sound as interesting as it appears if you follow the link, so go. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/612572.April_Fool_s_Day

54. The first “novel” to come up on Goodreads for Italy is Romeo and Juliet by that Bill Shakespeare guy. I bet there are some good vampire romances set here as well. But I would rather explore the History of the place through the eyes of one who has actually been there. The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant explores the Renaissance through the life and times of a young girl, a talented artist in her own right, but a pawn in her family’s games. Women had one redeeming value, to be married off in exchange for money and/or power. Love held little sway in these dealings. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28078.The_Birth_of_Venus

55. Why am I including Sicily as a separate country? Because I can. And because there is a really neat book called The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi, 11th Prince di Lampedusa. Wow, there’s math, and decadence and aristocracy. And the author did not live to see his book published. I hate when that happens. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/625094.The_Leopard

56. We jump the Mediterranean Sea to land in Libya, North Africa’s most pristine shores. Also some of the most tragic and bloody politics. Not only have the people lived in jeopardy, the ecological system is on the brink collapse from over-hunting. The Bleeding of the Stone by Ibrahim al-Koni looks at this problem through the eyes of a vegetarian Bedouin goatherd who loves the creatures of his country. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1145139.The_Bleeding_of_the_Stone

57. Egypt lies to the east of Libya and draws many tourists. And archeologist. And religious pilgrims. There are so many books. And Ann Rice set some parts of her vampire sagas here. Cleopatra has long been a character of interest to me, so when I saw Book 1 in the series Cleopatra’s Daughter, hooked was I. Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray looks to be a powerful story of a new Caesar looking for his own Queen of Egypt, a queen who has her own desires. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8413892-lily-of-the-nile

58. My sense of humor gets in the way now and again, but I will refrain from picking Christopher Moore’s Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff. (If you haven’t read it, andy have no clue why Chinese restaurants are open on Christmas Day, you should read it.) A friend of mine on Scribophile wrote a flash fiction piece about King David that I love! So Queenmaker: A Novel of King David’s Queen by India Edgehill sounds just the thing to further explore that magnificent glimpse. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/994056.Queenmaker

59. World War II is just the beginning of this story, set in Lebanon against a world that can’t make up its mind about who is a hero. The love between two people of very different cultures might not stand up to every test. Ports of Call by Amin Maalouf has no objection in close study of racism and bias, and what would happen if we all rejected hatred. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4413127.Ports_of_Call

60. Last stop, Syria! Another country with headlines of so much horror and strife. But think of Damascus, think of the Fertile Crescent, think of the French Mandate. Sabriya: Damascus Bitter Sweet by Ulfat Idilbi is set in the 1920s during the League of Nations’ gifting of Syria to French control, and tells the tale of a young woman who wants to help her country gain independence, but is held back simply by being a woman. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/286781.Sabriya__Damascus_Bitter_Sweet

Settle in while we take a break on Wednesday, then back on the road next week.

Sexual Dealings

I am working on erotica set in the Regency period. Don’t ask me where the idea came from, but when I mentioned my need for quick income, a friend told me that self published erotica would be my best bet, and if the writing was good, there would be nothing to worry about.

So boom, the idea came to me, and now I am struggling with my heroine. Not the hero, he’s a good guy who had a bum rap in life through on fault of his own, and while he wouldn’t mind having sex with a beautiful 19-year-old, he won’t do it unless they are married.

My heroine, we’ll call her Ellen because that’s her name, has been raised mostly by her father and two older brothers. Father distrusts learning, so while she has had lessons in drawing, music, and French, she is not allowed to pursue her interests in philosophy, politics, and business.

My problem is, finding herself alone with a nice, attractive man, would she want to explore her sexual feelings? So off I go to Google sex drive and sexual desire. The best information comes from Canada! Who knew polite sex could be so arousing?

Ninety percent of adult women have sexual fantasies. I so wonder about the other 10%. Anyway, there are people who experience hyper-sexuality, but they usually have had some life experience that brings that on. However, just being overly impulsive can lead to sexual explorations.

Maybe she has observed the servants engaging in some sort of snogging. In looking for a slang term to use for snogging, I discovered one of the more comprehensive lists: https://sites.google.com/site/regencymurdermystery/slang and this: http://www.pascalbonenfant.com/18c/cant/ But there don’t seem to be any cant expressions for the simple act of cuddling and kissing. To bill and coo might just have been in use, according to this site: http://voices.yahoo.com/bill-coo-origin-history-lovers-expression-3089287.html

Most lower servants were prohibited from marrying, not only by the disapproval of the employer, but also by the low wages they earned. An absolutely wonderful person who has been very kind to me posted this on her blog: http://www.kristenkoster.com/2011/11/a-primer-on-regency-era-servants/ which is extremely helpful.

What I think will unfold is this: Ellen observes a footman and a maid kissing. She begins to follow them around, and eventually observes them actually clicketing. (Go look it up at the second link, I’ll wait.) And so, when alone with a man she finds attractive, she begins to explore this interesting pastime.

Thanks for helping me work through this dilemna. Back on Sunday for the next leg of our trip around the world by books.

Around the World in 80+ Books Part Two

Anyone who watched Animaniacs knows there are more than 80 countries on this planet, And that was before so many Russian states became independent. So I am altering this to be 80+ books. I’m having too much fun, and don’t want to leave any one out. We pick up again in Central Asia, so grab your bags and we’ll get going.

21. For Thailand, I thought of course of one of my favorite books and movies, Anna and the King (movie Title: The King and I) but stumbled across the actual memoirs of Anna Harriette Leonowens. The English Governess and the Siamese Court. Go to the source! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1289501.The_English_Governess_and_the_Siamese_Court

22. Next stop is Cambodia, and while there is a rich history here as well, something more modern might be best. The Rent Collector by Cameron Wright. A story of hope, Goodreads assures me. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13628812-the-rent-collector

23. Love, betrayal, and sacrifice seem to sum up Vietnam, and I am intrigued by a story told during the war but not by soldiers. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13129612-the-headmaster-s-wager The Headmaster’s Wager by Vincent Lam won an award and international prestige.

24. Glide over water to the Philippines, I wanted to avoid Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson, since it takes place all over across time and distance. I greatly enjoyed it and would read a sequel if there were one. But it’s heavy going, and people die ’cause it’s war, and war is hell. Instead, I pick something light, fluffy, and fun. My Imaginary Ex by Mina V. Esguerra is a love story (remember love stories?) that explores one of the most reliable areas of mixed emotions. When friends realize they want to be more than friends. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6692512-my-imaginary-ex

25. Oh, Malaysia, what can I say? Two books interest me here, but I can only focus on one. And so I pick A Malaysian Journey by Rehman Rashid. A novel of love for an imperfect country, I think it a better choice than The Travel Writer by Simone Lazaroo, but only by a sliver. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1561546.A_Malaysian_Journey

26. Indonesia is the setting for a quartet of novels that start with This Earth of Mankind by Pramoedya Ananta Toer. Known as the Buru Quartet, the saga of love and strength in a colonial world is enticing. http://www.amazon.com/This-Earth-Mankind-Buru-Quartet/dp/0140256350

27. I love Amy Tan, and this novel starts in China but travels to Burma, now known as Myanmar. The title of the book caught my attention, Saving Fish From Drowning. http://www.amazon.com/Saving-Fish-Drowning-Amy-Tan/dp/1441839860

28. Bangladesh is one of those countries I had never heard of in high school geography. If not for George Harrison, there’s every chance I would still be ignorant of the place. And of course, Bangladesh only separated from Pakistan in 1971, and I graduated a year after that. A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam tells the story of this struggle for identity and freedom. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/823815.A_Golden_Age

29. Nepal provided another tough choice, and a couple of titles that intrigued me. Don’t Let The Goats Eat The Loquat Trees, by Thomas Hale is a funny title, and I love goats and loquats. But The Way of the Snow Crane by Andrew James Pritchard has a bird in the title. Goats is more of a memoir, http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Let-Goats-Loquat-Trees/dp/0310213010 and Snow Crane a thrilling adventure. You decide. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17193187-way-of-the-snow-crane

30. For India, I didn’t even have to do any research. If I had, I would have realized this book was made into a mini-series. The Far Pavillion by M.M. Kaye spans the life of a British subject who is orphaned and raised in India. And then he has an interesting life. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10222.The_Far_Pavilions

31. Daughter of the Wind is a great title, and the story of a young woman who had lots of freedom as a child needing to shoulder responsibilities she never expected would come to her had me hooked in seconds. Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind by Suzanne Fisher Staples rates as a slow starter on Goodreads, but may turn out to be a winner. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/219563.Shabanu

32. Iran, ancient Persia, may need some good press. Some people in a certain country can easily overlook the history, beauty, and cultures of a place and buy in to negativity. The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani is set in Persia, before the hate grew between east and west. A love story, so you know I’m in! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/348632.The_Blood_of_Flowers

33. In similar fashion, Iraq’s past is rich and full, and the present full of possibilities. In A Sky So Close, Betool Khedairi weaves a tale of mixed cultures and misleading dreams. Coming of age stories in the States are usually about boys, so it’s refreshing to discover so many female protagonists. http://www.amazon.com/Sky-So-Close-Novel/dp/0385720785

34. How long does a country need to exist before a novel takes place there? Tajikistan has’t reached that level yet, but the guidebook Odyssey Tajikistan and the High Pamirs by Robert Middleton might just be the spark that will get someone thinking.

http://www.longitudebooks.com/find/p/70497/mcms.html

35. Trains and deserts and years of tradition make up the story in The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years by Chingiz Aitmatov. Seeing a deceased friend off to the traditional final resting place of their clan, Yedigei, the main character, encounters a changing world almost beyond his ability to accept. Highly rated on Goodreads. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/366889.The_Day_Lasts_More_Than_a_Hundred_Years

36. Overtones of Arabian Nights, a large green parrot, and the Silk Road. Need I say more? Uzbekistan shines through history, and this story appears to bring the magic to life. A Carpet Ride to Khiva: Seven Years on the Silk Road Hardcover by Christopher Aslan Alexander. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1848311257

37. Turkmenistan lies against the Caspian Sea, a gem of tradition, beauty, and stark contrasts. The Akhal-Teke horse would be sufficient attraction for me to visit there. http://turkmen.traveler.uz/turkmenistan-photo-gallery/album/271?start=9 The Sacred Horses: Memoirs of a Turkmen Cowboy by Jonathan Maslow has mixed reviews, as some people dislike his methods of navigating through a Communist country. I’d still read it, maybe more so in the belief I would be able to see something in the man others missed. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/925612.Sacred_Horses__Memoirs_of_a_Turkmen_Cowboy

38. I admit, while I was pretty good at geography in high school, I had never heard of Azerbaijan before this. And that sucks because I missed the chance to read this classic novel, Ali and Nino: A Love Story by Kurban Said. Just at the dawn of World War I, two houses, both alike in dignity. . . wait. Okay, so the story is often compared to Romeo and Juliet, but not only are the houses at odds, their religion and social upbringing are opposed. I suspect there is no happy ending here. Guess I will have to read it to find out. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/474078.Ali_and_Nino__A_Love_Story

39. I did not expect Georgia to be so difficult. Novels set there are not coming up on my search. But rather than give up, I present the Top Medieval Poet, Shota Rustaveli and The Knight in the Panther’s Skin. Great title! Adventure and Romance written in the 12th or 13th century, this is the Georgian National Epic Poem. Translated by Venera Urushadze, she obviously loves the work, and we owe her a debt of gratitude. Ms. Urushadze takes the time to explain the nuts and bolts of this style of poetry.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/390966.The_Knight_in_the_Panther_s_Skin

40. Last stop, Turkey. I would use less space listing the writers who don’t have books set in Turkey. Well, that might be a slight exaggeration, but here’s a partial list: C.S. Forester, Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew), Victoria Holt, L. Ron Hubbard, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. As a now and then member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, I loved the rare events with a Byzantine theme, so that helped me narrow down my choice. And what better view of the period than through Anna of Byzantium by Tracey Barrett? Listed as a Young Adult Historical Fiction, and a hidden gem on Goodreads, I’m adding it to my own Must Read list. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/213577.Anna_of_Byzantium

We rest here until next Sunday, Happy Mothers’ Day to those who feel it applies, and here’s a little light entertainment to see you through: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gi0Rt0slfy4&feature=kp

Back on Wednesday with something equally entertaining!

Potpourri

I have been able to beat the odds in many ways during my life time. These incidents have created a rather positive outlook for me, which is probably a good thing. Yet, maybe I’m just fooling myself.

I was single all through my 30s, and never had a steady relationship until I turned 40. I grew up in the male-depleted generation, and often thought my soul mate had died in Vietnam. I read articles that told me I had a better chance of being struck by lightning than getting married. Mike and I always marvel at the fact that we did find each other. I just needed to be willing to love a younger man. Oh, what a sacrifice!

Mike was still married at the time I met him. A dear friend gave me the book which I have since given away and can’t find on Google about dating married men. The bottom line, and something this friend had experienced herself, is that a married man won ‘t leave his wife for his girlfriend. So I had no expectations of having a long-term relationship with him. Mike never read that book. He had long since been emotionally removed from his marriage, and when asked by an interested third party a pointed question, he realized he wanted out.

The question was, If you learned you only had two weeks to live, who would you want to spent that time with? He chose me, and neither of us have ever regretted it.

Shortly after we were married, Mike and I got custody of his two youngest children. The battle to win them from their abusive mother was nothing compared to the struggle to raise the money for the lawyer’s retainer. My own parents told me that the courts would never take the children from their mother. Granted, I hadn’t realized I failed to tell them about the scary things going on, and that Child Welfare Services were involved and on our side, but still it hurt to not have their support. Six months later, and deeply in debt, we were granted full custody.

Sometimes I did think I did myself harm in pushing for custody. Mike had his doubts about the whole business, but supported me. And I knew by then this was my only shot at motherhood. Looking back, I wish I had been a perfect mother, but my daughter was too much like her mother and too much like me on a bad day. I did finally get help for my depression, and found out how to focus on positive thoughts moment by moment. And our son is the very best kid any parent could ever want. I love that he still feels comfortable coming here to talk over the issues that come up in his life.

All these ups and downs and beating of odds have found their way into my writing. My Romance will always have a happy ending. And my life as an author? There’s what I need to know. I pitched my Regency Romance to an agent some weeks ago, and she asked me to send it when I felt comfortable with it. She even knows an editor who likes these sort of stories. So even though I only have 2 rejection slips, and those are from before I married, do I have to get a few hundred? Am I setting myself up for a huge fall by thinking this book is as good as sold?

“You fail only if you stop writing.” Ray Bradbury. I can’t stop writing, not only will the people in my head not let me rest, but the critique group and fans on Scribophile tell me to keep going. The truth is, publishing the traditional way will be an awesome step on my path, but I am not afraid to go the self-publishing way. What are the odds?