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Leigh Verrill-Rhys

Writers are arrogant pretenders.

We freely usurp identities, characteristics, ideas, thoughts, voices of people we imagine as characters in our books and stories. These are all part of our craft—our toolbox—of storytelling.

We step over the boundary between reality and fiction when we decide we also have the right, indeed the obligation, to speak for others. Two recent articles in the RWA’s Romance Writers Review December issue are cases in point.

Both articles address a “social” issue and make it a “creative” issue by assuming the right to tell us—their colleagues—what we should be writing.

I personally experienced this “presumption of right” while writing an American historical romance set in post-Civil War New England. I was told by another writer, “You had better be on the right side of history.”

This response shocked me and was meant to silence any disperate interpretation of history that clashed with her “accepted” impressions.

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Writers are arrogant pretenders.

We freely usurp identities, characteristics, ideas, thoughts, voices of people we imagine as characters in our books and stories. These are all part of our craft—our toolbox—of storytelling.

We step over the boundary between reality and fiction when we decide we also have the right, indeed the obligation, to speak for others. Two recent articles in the RWA’s Romance Writers Review December issue are cases in point.

Both articles address a “social” issue and make it a “creative” issue by assuming the right to tell us—their colleagues—what we should be writing.

I personally experienced this “presumption of right” while writing an American historical romance set in post-Civil War New England. I was told by another writer, “You had better be on the right side of history.”

This response shocked me and was meant to silence any disperate interpretation of history that clashed with her “accepted” impressions.

I had thoroughly researched my historical setting and was aware of both sides of the Constitutional as well as the moral arguments. I chose the path that best represented my understanding of events 150 years before my time.

A writer must always be free to express ideas, regardless of the perceived “right side” of any matter. Any attempt to silence a writer’s voice is dangerous. Attempts to place filters and constraints on writers goes entirely against our hard-won freedoms, the 1st Amendment of the Bill of Rights and has the odor of censorship, which we all must resist.

These writers may have had the best of good intentions in mind, but unfortunately, they both chose to suggest (dictate is perhaps too strong a word but comes readily to mind in the case of one of these articles) that we, their colleagues, follow an essentially censored path to “diversity” and “inclusion.” What they both failed to realize was that they were leading the way along the path to restriction of freedom of expression in order to placate the thought-police of “social justice.”

They also did not/do not understand that their “suggestions” assume a superiority and usurption of freedom of expression over the very voices they are claiming to enfranchise.

My case in point is a novel which became a best-selling book and critically acclaimed film written by a New York writer in which the writer, through the female protagonist, assumed the voices of domestic servants, spoke for them, recreated their lives in the writer’s imagination and had them act according to the writer’s own expectations for them in their situation. In doing so, the New Yorker took their voices, capitalized upon them, without regard for their personal reality, all in the name of “giving the disenfranchised a voice”—the writer’s voice, the writer’s reality.

Writers do that. We speak for men, for women. We speak for children. We speak for ourselves, our neighbors, our enemies and our siblings.

Where we cross the line is when we take the truths of others, altering them to our own version of reality and claim the moral high ground. By doing so, we assume the gratitude of the “disenfranchised.” We assume only we are capable of speaking for them—a particularly arrogant point of view.

We do not need to make our writing “inclusive” or change our truths to the alternative reality of what anyone else thinks or believes. If we have any responsibility as we write, it is to be always and completely true to ourselves, to speak our reality, our truth, thoughts and ideas—never to bow to the dictates of “accepted” speech, “accepted” truths, “accepted” history and never to allow anyone to determine what is acceptable content.

Once we bow, we betray all the writers, artists, journalists, dramatists, philosophers, scientists and women & men who have fought and sacrificed more than we will ever be asked to sacrifice, in the name of these freedoms. Protecting our creative freedom is crucial, regardless of our subject or genre.

Only we can accomplish that—for ourselves.

We do, indeed, live in “the land of the free because of the brave.”

Freedom is not without cost or sacrifice. Giving even a fraction away for the sake of expediency or personal comfort, results in expedited erosion of the whole, as the tide erodes the shore.

 

November 9, 2018

Today marks 65 years since the death of Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas. The mystery of the cause of his death remains unsolved but the consensus is that alcohol played the major part.

Dylan Thomas had celebrated his 39thbirthday 13 days before, on October 27th, 1953.

Although exceedingly short, his professional career brought him the fame (but little fortune) that only a few poets achieve after their deaths and even more rarely during their lifetimes.

Some of his success as a poet can be attributed to his flamboyant personality and some to his appeal to literary bright lights — especially women. But, the bulk of his popularity is a result of the stunning command of his medium — the English language flavored by the lyricism of his Welsh background — and his unmistakable knowledge of human experience.

Poet, playwright and storyteller, Dylan found the way to touch our hearts.

NOVA Center for the Performing Arts will host a reading of “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” on December 9th.

In the past eight months since my last post, I have relocated from the windy canyons of the financial district of San Francisco to the high plains of the northwest. The weather is dry, even in the late winter when the snow is over five feet deep. The sun shines for at least 200 hundred days out of the year and, on 1/5 of an acre, you can grow winter-hardy apples that fall from the fire-blighted tree by the bushel basketful.

With all the upheaval of moving, little writing gets done. Besides a monthly contribution to the group blog, Classic and Cozy Books, updating my website with a new look and added features, the most I’ve completed has been revisions for a 2nd edition of Pavane for Miss Marcher, including consideration for a new cover image (which I have subsequently rejected—I like the “decadent red lilies”).

But, for me, there is always gardening, my favorite displacement activity. Digging in the dirt—up here it is river bottom silt as nourishing as cotton wool and as malleable as cement—amounts to a good shovel and leverage—the key to all creative endeavor.

Perseverance, persistence, planning, or in this case, planting. However, what I know abouthorticultural will fit on the first red line of an index card if you remember what those look like in this world of digital notation. Gardening for me is the real, down deep, nitty gritty of what Ralph Waldo Emerson praised as “work”. Being a New Englander as well, I appreciate the concept.

And gardening is a great way to ensure that you meet your new neighbors. For the past month, my neighbors have watched me dig and toss, rake and rip at roots of Amur Honeysuckle. When they’re comfortable with my work ethic and horticultural efforts, they approach and say hello! Thank you, WikiHow!

I’ll be moving on to Dance by the Light of the Moon now. Colette Ilar is not a gardener but she does dance.

If you can name another of my novels in which the heroine is a dancer…you’ll win a copy of my next “Americans in Love” novel, which happens to be…Dance by the Light of the Moon!

It’s good to be back. And thank you for reading my work.

Warmest best wishes,

Leigh

August 27, 2018
In loving memory of Dafydd Elwyn and my mother, Virginia Verge Verrill.

 

 

Cover Image Keeping Hope Alive

Keeping Hope Alive

Defying the odds, Casey Morgan opens Hope Ranch for troubled teens in a rural Texas community, but not everyone welcomes her with open arms. The unexplained death of her security guard and other disturbing activities prompts her to advertise for help to make her ranch the safe haven she envisioned. Help comes in the form of Major Nathan “Max” Maxwell, who needs a place to finish his recuperation before returning to his Spec Ops team, but having a rifle pointed at his head by a lady in a Stetson isn’t the greeting he expects when he steps onto Hope Ranch. Instead of finding the serenity he expected, he walks into a web of deceit and danger.

Torn between his growing feelings for Casey and his need to return to his team, Max searches for the strength to help the beautiful ranch director.  Casey isn’t looking for a man, and Max knows his military career doesn’t mix well with family life. Will Hope Ranch give Casey and Max a chance to find a future together?

Keeping Hope Alive is available on Amazon

About the  Author

Author Fran McNabb grew up along the waterways, beaches, and islands of the Gulf Coast and uses this setting in many of her romances. Her publishing credits include eleven novels with eight of these still available. She began her writing career with Avalon Publisher, a library distributor of family-friendly books. When Amazon’s publishing division bought Avalon, her fourth contracted book was picked up by their romance division Montlake Publishing. She also has two light romantic suspense novels with The Wild Rose Press and two Indie books. All of her fiction can be classified as sweet romances.

Fran has non-fiction pieces published in two anthologies with the Gulf Coast Writers Association, one in Chicken Soup for the SoulArthritis Edition, and numerous pieces in group newsletters. She is an award winning author with several of her books and essays winning or placing in the top categories of writing contests.

Fran received both her BS and ME degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi,  taught high school English and journalism, and sponsored the yearbook and the school newspaper. Throughout her teaching career she also found time to tutor home-bound students and teach refresher classes for Navy personnel and a writing class as an adjunct community college instructor.

As a former English and journalism teacher, it was natural for her to ease into the role of author and workshop presenter. Fran has presented writing and publishing workshops at numerous conferences, writers’ meetings, and library and reader groups. She donated her time to teach a four-week class at The Mary C Cultural Center about writing for the fiction market. Her classes include topics concerning the craft of writing, such as Developing Character, Plotting, Theme and Setting. Other topics include Query and Synopsis Writing and Organizing a Writing Life.

Fran and her husband live on a quiet bayou harbor on the Gulf Coast where she spends her time writing, reading and boating.

mcnabbf@bellsouth.net
www.FranMcNabb.com

Dollhouse Syndrome Vol.1

An intriguing and innovative Young Adult novel by Lan Hsu

From the Introduction:

Cover Image of Dollhouse Syndrome Vol. 1The World. In the not too distant future

“Nowadays, the world is different to how it used to be. We have split the earth into the Seven Rooms, each room never to interfere with the private affairs of another room. Everyone and anyone can travel freely between the Seven Rooms. We have employed the White Uniform to ensure the safety and well-being of our citizens.”

We will never be free. We will always be their little “Dolls.”

“We live in a perfect world, one purely of creativity and love. After the War of Peace, we have rebuilt the world to be perfect. There is now a 98.79% rate of happiness, and the average life expectancy has been raised to over one hundred. The rate of suicide is below 0.0001% of all recent deaths. Crime rates have been demolished. It is next to non-existent. I believe we have indeed built a great empire, one to last millennia.”

This place is fake. We must fix it. They will continue to play with us unless we fix it.

Of the novel, the author comments:

Back Cover Image Hey guys!!! Thanks for buying my very first project, Dollhouse Syndrome. I’m planning to make this into a series of short novels, so I hope that you can support me all the way through the characters’ journeys.

Lots of love, LH

Some fun facts about this book:

-The story contains 20,133 words

-I wrote 3 completely different stories for the title ‘Dollhouse Syndrome’

Fourteen-year-old Lan Hsu illustrated and designed the book. She lives in England and has planted Easter eggs throughout the book and invites readers to find them.

More information about Dollhouse Syndrome, Vol.1 is available on Thrive Global

Everybody knows the Mantoni girls are attractive, and theoretically, that’s a good thing, right? Only this time, a charming but older millionaire desires the most beautiful Mantoni, Annalisa, as his lover for the Christmas season.

Charmer's Death CoverHer cousin, Carlina, is disgusted by the liaison and says she’d rather see him dead than at Annalisa’s side.
The next day, her wish is fulfilled. The charmer is dead, strangled with a pair of pantyhose which comes straight from her own luxurious lingerie store, Temptation. Now she’s got a problem.

How can she explain to the attractive commissario, Stefano Garini, that she didn’t do it? Will suspicion kill the fragile beginnings of a relationship between them? And will they find the killer before Christmas becomes too dangerous?

Charmer’s Death is the second in the cozy mystery series Temptation in Florence.

1:  Delayed Death
Book
2:  Charmer’s Death
Book
3:  Banker’s Death
Book
4:  Expected Death
Book
5:  Seaside Death
Book
6: Classic Death

Charmer’s Death is available on Amazon.