Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Love Letter - Voltaire to Olympe Dunover

Voltaire (1694-1778), a famous French author, wrote this love letter to his beloved Olympe Dunover while in prison. Why was he in prison? Because Olympe's mother and the French ambassador disapproved of their relationship, so poor Voltaire was thrown into prison to keep him away from the beautiful and beloved girlfriend. Shortly after he wrote this letter, Voltaire managed to escape by climbing out of the window.

The Hague 1713

I am a prisoner here in the name of the King; they can take my life, but not the love that I feel for you. Yes, my adorable mistress, to-night I shall see you, and if I had to put my head on the block to do it.

For heaven's sake, do not speak to me in such disastrous terms as you write; you must live and be cautious; beware of madame your mother as of your worst enemy. What do I say? Beware of everybody; trust no one; keep yourself in readiness, as soon as the moon is visible; I shall leave the hotel incognito, take a carriage or a chaise, we shall drive like the wind to Sheveningen; I shall take paper and ink with me; we shall write our letters.

If you love me, reassure yourself; and call all your strength and presence of mind to your aid; do not let your mother notice anything, try to have your pictures, and be assured that the menace of the greatest tortures will not prevent me to serve you. No, nothing has the power to part me from you; our love is based upon virtue, and will last as long as our lives. Adieu, there is nothing that I will not brave for your sake; you deserve much more than that. Adieu, my dear heart!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Author Interview: Julie K. Rose

Today, we're pleased to welcome Julie K. Rose, author of The Pilgrim Glass, available now.

Please tell readers about yourself and your background.

I'm interested in the intersection of the spiritual and secular, the supernatural and the everyday, the past and the present. I'm fascinated by people's relationship with religion, the psychological interaction between people in all types of relationships, and by the miraculous and the frightening (often the same thing).

My education focused on English, history, and art history, but my day job for the last 15 years has been in marketing and communications. I'm a Patrick O'Brian and Doctor Who fangirl who is forbidden to sing anywhere but in the privacy of my own car (trust me…). My predominant vice is, sadly, cussing like a sailor.

The Pilgrim Glass is your most recent release. Please tell us about the story.

The Pilgrim Glass is a blend of history and mystery, a psychological and spiritual journey, slipping between modern and 12th century Burgundy.

Jonas Flycatcher, a well-respected but prickly artisan is contracted to repair a stained glass found deep in the ancient altar of the cathedral of Mary Magdalene at Vézelay. Traveling from California to Burgundy for the project, he meets Abbot Dubay, a worldly priest with a painful secret.

Jonas begins the laborious work of restoring the stained glass offering, but when he meets Meredith, an ex-pat photographer who seems to be channeling a 12th century pilgrim, his carefully constructed world – and the ancient glass – are threatened.

What did you have to learn about stained glass technique to aid the authenticity of this story?

I needed to learn the basics in terms of how stained glass is made now, how it was made in the past, and the process of creating hand-blown glass. I tried to include the tools of the trade without getting too heavily into the details, so the focus would be on the story.

Do you have a favorite character in the story?

I love all of them, of course, in different ways for different reasons; they're a bit like children in that way. That said, I have a huge soft spot for Abbot Dubay. He wasn't in the outline, wasn't even on my radar when I started writing the story, and emerged to be such a crucial part of the story. He's so urbane and complex - he's really delightful, if I say so myself. I'd love to meet him in real life.

I love that part of the creative process - having enough flexibility to allow new characters and new directions to emerge that you hadn't planned. That's magic to me, and part of the draw of writing in the first place.

How do you develop your plots and characters?

It really depends on what I'm working on. In terms of plot, The Pilgrim Glass came from my experience visiting the great cathedral at Vézelay; a historical I'm working on now grew out of family stories and lore; a novella was inspired by my fascination with the Black Plague; and one of my short stories was sparked by learning about the discovery of the jet stream. Once I've got the idea, I'll start with a general outline and modify as I go along.

Characters initially develop themselves, are sometimes blended with people I've met and experiences I've had, and then morph into beings I'd not necessarily planned or expected. To flesh them out, I'll use some tried-and-true tools, like stream-of-consciousness writing and character sheets.

Why did you choose to publish independently? What valuable lessons have you learned in the process?

I finished writing The Pilgrim Glass in early 2004 and began the process of looking for an agent. The book generated a lot of interest, but most passed because they simply weren't sure how to market it. After the manuscript was short-listed for finalists in the 2005 Faulkner-Wisdom competition and a semi-finalist in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, I knew it was time to go the independent route, and I published The Pilgrim Glass in December 2010. The process was a bit time-intensive, and required a great deal of attention to detail, but was relatively straightforward.

The most important thing I learned was to trust my instincts – about timing, about design, about the story. It's both scary and exhilarating to go it alone, and totally worth it.

What advice would you give to other debut writers?

I suppose I'd simply say trust yourself and believe in your story; it is an expression of your uniqueness in this world.

What’s next for you?

I'm doing some final polishing on a multi-period historical/timeslip, which I hope to publish in early 2012, finishing a historical set in Norway in 1905, and getting started on a historical set in San Jose in 1906.

Please provide your website, blogs, Twitter, and / or Facebook links, where readers can learn more about you.

My main website is, I blog at, and I'm on Twitter at

Any closing thoughts you would like to share.

I hope readers enjoy the characters and story of The Pilgrim Glass as much as I enjoyed writing them! And, I hope the story inspires people to take a trip to Vézelay, or learn more about the 12th century, or perhaps even think about how their lives are like stained glass: uneven, imperfect, colorful, and unbelievably precious.

Thanks for your time, Julie, and best of luck with The Pilgrim Glass.

Thank you!!

There's still time to win a free, signed copy of this wonderful book. Leave a comment on our review of The Pilgrim Glass to enter.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Love Story of Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet is an enduring tragic love story written by William Shakespeare about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately unite their feuding families. Shakespeare borrowed his plot from an original Italian tale.  It is believed Romeo and Juliette were based on actual characters from Verona. 

The Montague and Capulet families are feuding.  The Prince of Verona intervenes and declares that any further fighting will be punishable by death.

When the Count of Paris approaches Lord Capulet about marrying his daughter, Juliet, he is wary of the request because she is only thirteen.  Capulet asks the Count of Paris to wait another two years and invites him to attend a ball.  Lady Capulet and Juliet's nurse urge Juliet to accept Paris' courtship.

In the Montague house, Benvolio talks with his cousin Romeo, Lord Montague's son, about Romeo's recent melancholy.  Benvolio discovers Romeo's unrequited infatuation for a girl named Rosaline, a niece of Lord Capulet's nieces.  Persuaded by Benvolio Romeo attends the ball at the Capulet house in hopes of meeting Rosaline.  But it is not Rosaline who sweeps him off his feet - it is the fair Juliette.


After the ball, Romeo sneaks into the Capulet courtyard and overhears Juliet on her balcony vowing her love to him in spite of her family's hatred for his family.  Romeo makes himself known to her and they agree to be married. 

Juliet's Balcony in Verona

With the help of a friar, who hopes to reconcile the two families through their children's union, they are secretly married the next day.

Juliet's cousin Tybalt, incensed that Romeo had crashed the Capulet ball, challenges him to a duel.  Romeo, now considering Tybalt his kinsman, refuses to fight.  Romeo's friend, Mercutio is offended by Tybalt's insolence, as well as Romeo's "vile submission" and accepts the duel on Romeo's behalf.  Mercutio is fatally wounded when Romeo attempts to break up the fight.  Grief-stricken and wracked with guilt, Romeo confronts and slays Tybalt.

Montague argues that Romeo has justly fought and killed Tybalt for the murder of Mercutio.  The Prince exiles Romeo from Verona and declares that if Romeo returns, he will be executed.  

Romeo secretly spends the night in Juliet's chamber, where they make love for the first and last time, consummating their marriage.  In the morning, he prepares to leave and kisses her one last time. 

Lord Capulet, misinterpreting Juliet's grief, agrees to marry her to Count Paris and threatens to disown her when she refuses.  Juliette pleads for the marriage to be delayed, but her mother rejects her.

Juliet visits Friar Laurence for help, and he offers her a drug that will put her into a death-like coma for forty-two hours.  The Friar promises to send a messenger to inform Romeo of the plan, so that he can rejoin her when she awakens.  On the night before her wedding to the Count, Juliet takes the drug and, when discovered apparently dead, she is laid in the family crypt.

The messenger, however, failed to reach Romeo and, instead, he learned of Juliet's apparent demise from his servant.  Heartbroken, Romeo buys poison from an apothecary and goes to the Capulet crypt.  There, he encounters Count Paris who has come to mourn Juliet privately.

Believing Romeo to be a vandal, Paris confronts him and, in the ensuing battle, Romeo kills Paris.  Still believing Juliet to be dead, Romeo drinks the poison.

Juliet then awakens only to find her beloved Romeo dead.  Unwilling to live without him, she stabs herself with his dagger.

The feuding families and the Prince meet at the tomb to find all three dead.  The Friar recounts their story.  The families are reconciled by their children's deaths and agree to end their violent feud.

Monday, January 10, 2011

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