Monday, May 29, 2023

Famous Actors Who Served in the Military

On this Memorial Day, I want to extend many thanks to the brave men and women who have served and are currently serving our country. 

During World War II, many actors put their careers on hold to serve, and the most decorated American soldier of WWII returned home a hero and became an actor! Below are listed just a few celebrities who served from a list on
 Audie Murphy - Murphy was a true American hero and the only actor to have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. In fact, Murphy was the most decorated American soldier of World War II who, besides receiving the CMOH, was also awarded 32 additional U.S. and foreign medals and citations, including five from France and one from Belgium. He later went on to appear in 44 films—mostly westerns and a few army films—before he died in a plane crash near Roanoke, Virginia three weeks shy of his 46th birthday. Not surprisingly, he was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.
James Stewart - Stewart was an up and coming actor when he chose to give it all up and join the Army Air Corp in 1942. Considering how dangerous the skies over Europe were and the very high rate of attrition suffered by allied pilots, it’s a miracle he survived at all. Flying no fewer than 20 combat missions over Germany at the controls of the famous B-17 bomber, he received six battle stars, the Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Clusters, the Air Medal and even the famous French decoration, the Croix de Guerre with Palm. He even stayed active in the U.S. Air Force reserve after the war, reaching the rank of Brigadier General before retiring in 1968.
Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. - Few would have guessed the dashing actor and first husband to Joan Crawford would give up the sparkling lights of Hollywood to serve his country, but that’s exactly what he did. Commissioned an officer at the outbreak of World War Two, the actor served on Lord Louis Mountbatten’s staff in England where he observed the British make cross-channel raids on German positions designed to confuse and deceive the enemy. Taking that knowledge back to America, he was made part of a unit called the “Beach Jumpers” whose job it was to make bogus beach landings designed to confuse the enemy as to the location of the real landings. Serving in this capacity in North Africa, Sicily, and France, he was awarded several medals for bravery, chief among them the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the British Distinguished Service Cross, and even the French Croix de guerre. Fairbanks stayed in the Naval Reserve after the war and ultimately retired a captain in 1954.
For all 10 actors featured in the article click here. I knew that some of these actors had served, but I wasn't aware of all their accomplishments. What about you?
Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

10 Fascinating Facts About Gone with the Wind

I rebooted my podcast recently renaming it Untamed Pen, where I speak about writing and inspiration. I my latest episode, I mentioned Gone with the Wind. Of course that got me thinking more about one of my favorite novels and my favorite movie of all time. So today I posted this fascinating article from 
Mental Floss, "10 Fascining Facts About Gone with the Wind" Enjoy!


It was boredom that caused 25-year-old Margaret Mitchell to write 63 of the most beloved chapters in literary history. Mitchell was a journalist for the Atlanta Journal Sunday Magazine when she took a leave to recover from “a series of injuries,” according to the Margaret Mitchell House, including a recurring ankle injury. When the ankle proved slow to heal this time, she decided to occupy herself by writing.


Though Mitchell spent the next decade working on characters and plot development, almost no one knew she was writing a book. She went to extreme lengths to hide her work from friends and family, including hurriedly throwing a rug over pages scattered on her living room floor once when company showed up unexpectedly.


Despite spending 10 years of her life working on the tome, Mitchell didn’t really have much intention of publishing it. When a “friend” heard that she was considering writing a book (though in fact, it had been written), she said something to the effect of, “Imagine, you writing a book!” Annoyed, Mitchell took her massive manuscript to a Macmillan editor the next day. She later regretted the act and sent the editor a telegram saying, “Have changed my mind. Send manuscript back.”


You know her as Scarlett now, but for years, the heroine of Gone with the Wind was named Pansy. It probably would have stayed that way had the publisher not requested a name change. “We could call her ‘Garbage O’Hara’ for all I care,” Mitchell wrote to her friend and the book’s associate editor. “I just want to finish this damn thing.”


Speaking of name changes, early drafts of Gone With the Wind referred to Tara as “Fountenoy Hall.” 


There was another Southern legend in Margaret Mitchell's family: Old West gunslinger (and dentist) Doc Holliday was Mitchell's cousin by marriage. Many people believe that Mitchell used her famous kin as the inspiration for Ashley Wilkes.


Add Mitchell to the list of people who don’t know what ultimately happened with Scarlett and Rhett. She left the ending ambiguous with no “real” ending even in her own head. “For all I know, Rhett may have found someone else who was less—difficult,” she told Yank magazine in 1945.


That was also the tentative title. Mitchell also considered calling it Bugles Sang True or Not in Our Stars. The title she finally decided upon comes from a poem called Non Sum Qualis Eram Bonae sub Regno Cynarae by Ernest Dowson:

“I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind, Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng, Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind..."


Though Gone with the Wind is a classic now, not everyone was a fan of the epic novel when it was released—and that includes critics. Ralph Thompson, a book reviewer for The New York Times, was quite unimpressed. Among his criticisms:

“The historical background is the chief virtue of the book, and it is the story of the times rather than the unconvincing and somewhat absurd plot that gives Miss Mitchell's work whatever importance may be attached to it.”


When movie mogul David O. Selznick purchased the movie rights for $50,000 in 1936, it was the most ever paid for rights to a book. Mitchell declined to be involved with the production of the movie, though she was said to have loved it—save for a few details (she found Tara to be too opulent, for example).

Hope you enjoyed these fun facts! Some I knew, some I didn't. Any of this new to you?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week! 

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Thirty Years a Slave

I ran across an interesting slave narrative recently and thought I'd share it today. Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty Years a Slave, And Four Years in the White House was written by Elizabeth Keckley.  She was best known as the personal seamstress and confidante of First Lady Mary Todd LincolnKeckley was born a slave in 1818, but purchased her freedom in 1860 and then moved to Washington. She created an independent business in the capital, and her clients included the wives of the government elite.

According to
Keckley not only became Mrs. Lincoln's dressmaker, she was also the first lady's personal dresser and closest companion. She was a White House habitué during the pivotal years of the Abraham Lincoln presidency; the two ladies travelled together, with Keckley present for the Gettysburg address, and they raised money together for the Civil War effort.
Keckley son's died in the war in August 1861, but her mourning was cut short to comfort Mrs. Lincoln, who lost her own son to typhoid the following February. Keckley was also there to provide support following the president's assassination and Mrs. Lincoln's transition out of the White House.
Keckley decided to write her memoir in part to salvage the former first lady's reputation after the war. However, the publication of Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years as a Slave and Four Years in the White House in 1868 had the opposite effect; feeling betrayed by the revelations in the book, Mrs. Lincoln cut off contact with the woman she once called her closest friend.
Were you at all familiar with Elizabeth Keckley? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Fredi Washington: Didn't Live an Imitation of Life

Fredi Washington
Mother's Day is this Sunday and just I happened to think about a heartbreaking movie involving a mother. If you have ever seen Imitation of Life, you'll understand what I'm talking about, since it revolves around the theme of passing.

Most white people who have ever heard of the term "passing," and know what it means, and have most likely seen that film. 

Several years ago, my husband, who's white, watched the 1959 version with me.  He was fascinated by the subject matter and impressed that Imitation of Life had been made back in the 1950s.

I told him that this was the second version, and that the original had been produced in 1934.  In that movie, I informed him, a "real black girl" played the part of Peola, the light skinned daughter desperate to pass as white who rejects her black mother. (In the 1959 movie, the daughter's name is Sarah Jane and she's played by white actress Susan Kohner). If you're not familiar with Imitation of Life, based on the 1933 Fannie Hurst novel of the same name, click here.

The real black girl mentioned above was Fredi Washington, an accomplished African American dramatic actress during the 1920s and '30s.  Fair skinned with green eyes, she was often asked to "pass for white" in order to receive better opportunities in films.  However, Fredi refused.  "I'm honest," she said, "and you don't have to be white to be good."

She faced discrimination from whites and, because of her appearance, resentment within the black community, which had complex feelings about obvious mixed-race people. Washington expressed her opinions about race and color prejudice, and after retiring from acting in the 1930's, became an activist and journalist.

In 1937, Ms.Washington was a founding member of the Negro Actors Guild of America (NAG), which created better professional opportunities for blacks in show business. She also worked as Entertainment Editor of People's Voice, founded in 1942.

Never ashamed of who she was, Fredi Washington was no Peola! 

Have you seen either version of Imitation of Life? If you'd like to see the 1934 version , click here.

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Real Life Insight to Help Craft Your Tortured Hero

Dave Dravecky
 "My arm to me was what hands are to a concert pianist, what feet are to a marathon runner.  It's what made me valuable. What gave me worth in the eyes of the world. Then suddenly, my arm was gone." Dave Dravecky

In the June 2010 issue of Romance Writers Report, Romance Writers of America's Librarian of the year, Jennifer Lohmann, said her favorite romances involve a tortured hero. "...bring down that duke with stroke in his 30s, ruin a painter's painting arm and take away his eye...give him a stutter, have his mother abandon him, his father hate him..."

When the hero you've created is tortured, just the right woman--your heroine--can come along and pull him out of the lowly depths to which he has sunk. Regardless of the obstacles, and what your hero has suffered, your heroine can restore him to the man he once was, only better. Don't you just love happy endings?

After I read Ms. Lohmann's quote, I started thinking about some real life tortured heroes. Sometimes, the torture can be self inflicted, through lapses in judgement, such as alcohol abuse or drug use. But sometimes, unavoidable circumstances can bring about life altering change.

Take a look below at some real-life tortured heroes.

Lou Gherig
Michael Phelps is a star athlete and Olympic champion. We all know his story. With the world at his fingertips, Phelps made a rather pricey error in judgement. Once photos circulated of him indulging in an illegal substance, his multi-million dollar endorsements slipped right through his fingers and down the drain. Those Wheaties boxes featuring his picture were distributed to third world countries.

Ludwig van Beethoven, brilliant German composer and pianist, began to lose his hearing while still in his twenties. He ended up completely deaf, but despite this still continued to compose, conduct, and even perform. The cause of Beethoven's deafness is unknown, but it has been attributed to syphilis, lead poisoning, typhus, an auto-immune disorder, and even immersing his head in cold water to stay awake.
Michael Phelps

Lou Gherig, the great baseball player from the 1920's and '30s, is remembered for his prowess as a hitter, his consecutive games played record, and his farewell to baseball at age 36. Then he was stricken with with a fatal neurological disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, now known as "Lou Gherig's Disease." Motor function of the central nervous system is destroyed, but the mind stays in tact, and life is cut short. Gherig died at 38.

Dave Dravecky is a Christian motivational speaker. At one time, however, he was a major league baseball player. He's remembered for his battle against cancer, which ended his baseball career. After undergoing surgery to remove cancerous cells in his pitching arm, Dravecky began playing again. But the cancer returned. Eventually, his left arm and shoulder were amputated. After the first surgery Dravecky wrote a book entitled Comeback. He later wrote a follow-up, When You Can't Come Back.

While preparing this post I read Dravecky's encouraging and inspirational website.  I saw that he's written another book which examines how he coped with the amputation. As women, we don't understand that men see themselves defined by their careers. In The Worth of a Man, Dave says he felt stripped of his identity. He began to ponder many questions men ask themselves. Where does my worth come from? What creates my value and identity? Is there more to me than what was my career? After a long search, Dave discovered that his true worth could never be shaken by adversity or loss, and now he's inspiring others!

Sounds like The Worth of a Man is an awesome read that also offers insight into the soul of a real life tortured hero. A hero able to rise above adversity through faith, and his real life heroine wife, Jan.

What real-life tortured heroes can inspire your writing? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Don't Look Back

Don't look back: Something may be gaining on you." Satchel Paige U.S. baseball player, 1906-1982

Today I'd like to focus on one of the best pieces of writing advice ever, the importance of moving ahead when writing a manuscript. 

As Satchel Paige says, "Don't look back." If we do, guess what's gaining on us? The possibility of not being able to complete that book!

Author Norma Beishir says, "Finish the first draft before attempting ANY changes of any kind. Otherwise, the manuscript will never get finished. I'd often give my agent or editor a first draft with the following note: 'Just tell me what's wrong with it.'"

A first draft is a first draft. Robert Masello says that amateur writers don't want to hear about drafts, because they believe that once something's written, it's done. Real writers (the ones who get published), he goes on to explain, know better. They know that the first draft is a working draft.  And it won't be perfect.  But that's alright, because real writers make it from start to finish.

One reason some don't complete their first draft is because they keep looking back.  I was talking to someone working on a children's book.  Although the story sounded awesome, and she'd thought it through from start to finish, she hadn't written that much. 

She said she just couldn't get the first few pages to sound exactly like she wanted.  I told her not to worry about that, and keep moving forward.  "You can go back and revise once you've finished writing the story."  I don't know if she took my advice, and even though she listened carefully to what I said, I don't think she liked the idea all that much!

If we keep looking back, it's as though we become stuck in the mud, obsessing over words and details. But if we move on, we see that there really is an end is in sight!  The finished product might sound  a little rough and sloppy, but that's when the hard work of revising starts, the smoothing and sanding and cutting and shaping of your story.

During revision, whole scenes may be cut and characters eliminated to keep the pace exciting and the story progressing. But the most important thing to remember is that from the rough cut of your first draft (and second, third or more), will emerge a smooth and polished manuscript.

Have you made the mistake of looking back? Are you currently revising a first (second or third) draft?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week! 

Monday, April 17, 2023

Bass Reeves

Just who is Bass Reeves? I didn't know until quite recently. He's the inspiration for The Lone Ranger and also known as the Odysseus of cowboys and the James Bond of U.S. Marshalls. So who is Bass Reeves? He's the First Black Deputy U.S. Marshall West of the Mississippi! Here's more from the Bass Reeves website:

Bass Reeves was a lawman for a total of 32 years with over 3,000 felon arrests and killed 14 outlaws in the line of duty, all without ever being shot himself. Bass had to overcome, prejudice, betrayal, and some of the worst criminals in Oklahoma, the most dangerous district in the country.

Born a slave in 1830’s Texas, Bass was owned by Colonel Reeves, who taught him to shoot, ride, and hunt, but would not let him learn to read. Bass grew to be a strong, physically impressive, and determined man who ran away at the age of 20 to be free. Pursued by slave hunters, he narrowly escaped into the Indian Territory where Creek Indian Warriors accepted him into their tribe. Bass learned to speak Creek, Cherokee and Seminole. It is believed that Bass fought in the Indian Territory during the Civil War with the Union Indian brigades.

The Indian Territory, at this time, was a cesspool of violence. In 1875 President Ulysses S. Grant named Congressman Isaac Parker, Federal Judge at Fort Smith, with the mandate to “save Oklahoma”. The “Hanging Judge”, as he was soon to be known, brought in 200 deputy marshals to calm the growing chaos throughout the West. The Indian Territory, later to include the Oklahoma Territory, in 1890, was the most dangerous area for federal peace officers in the Old West. More than 120 lost their lives before Oklahoma became a state in 1907.

One of the first of the deputies hired by Judge Parker's court was former slave from Texas, Bass Reeves. Bass was known as an expert with pistol and rifle, stood about 6 feet 2 inches, weighed 180 pounds, and was said to have superhuman strength. Being a former slave, Bass was illiterate. He would memorize his warrants and writs. In the thirty–two years of serving the people of the Oklahoma Territory it is said he never arrested the wrong person due to the fact he couldn't read. 

Bass had a reputation throughout the territory for his ability to catch outlaws that other deputies couldn't. He was known to work in disguise in order to get information and affect the arrest of fugitives he wanted to capture. Bass is said to have arrested more than 3,000 people and killed 14 outlaws, all without sustaining a single gun wound. Bass escaped numerous assassination attempts on his life, he was the most feared deputy U.S. marshal to work the Indian Territory.

At the age of 67, Bass Reeves retired from federal service at Oklahoma statehood in 1907. As an African-American, Bass was unable to continue in his position as deputy marshal under the new state laws. He was hired as a city policeman in Muskogee, Oklahoma, where he served for about two years until his death in 1910, at age 71, from Bright’s disease.

For more information, check out the Bass Reeves website. Had you ever heard of Bass Reeves? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

In Memory of My Dad

Dad, captain of his college track team

Ten years ago, April 15, 2013, my dad passed away at eighty-six from congestive heart failure. Today I thought I'd repost something I wrote in honor of him.

My dad was always a big dreamer.  He was a numbers man from an accounting background who became a real estate broker. He loved envisioning what his investments could do, whether they be in property, art or stocks.
I am not a numbers person. I’m much better with words. I’m sure my dad was a superior math student, but based on this story, I’m not sure if his language arts grades were as strong.  In first grade while learning about conjunctions, the teacher asked my dad to use the word but in a sentence.  His response, "I have a butt."

Like my dad, however, I’ve always been a dreamer.  But my dreams involve imaginary people and stories.  It’s ironic that my dad always admonished me for daydreaming! "Maria," he’d say, "you have to stop daydreaming and pay attention in school." Little did I know that at some point my daydreams would turn into books.

My dad was also a romantic, like I am, but I didn’t realize this until I was grown. He knew I loved old movies, and one day he asked had I ever seen the 1945 film 
Love Letters with Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotton.  He’d seen it as a young man while serving overseas during WWII and had never forgotten it.  It was a great love story filled with passion and pain—the same kind of story I enjoy—and I was surprised that my dad had loved it so much—because it seems like what we’d now call a sappy woman’s movie.

When my parents saw Love Story back in the seventies, which one of them do you think carried on about what a great film it was?  My dad!
When I wrote my first book The Governor’s Sons, I was surprised that my dad read it.  And I say that because he wasn’t one to read novels. He’d read financial publications and news magazines—that was about it.  But he read my book and told me how much he enjoyed it, and that he even stayed up late one night to finish it because he just couldn’t put it down! I was thrilled and honored to hear this! Apparently, my story had enough romance, passion and pain to keep my him entertained!

And he never stopped dreaming that one day The Governor’s Sons would be made into a movie. He was always dreaming up new ways to market it, and envisioning what people of influence could make things happen with it.

Well, no movie deals yet, but I’ll keep dreaming about that for my dad! I miss my him a lot, but happy memories ease the pain of losing him a little.  

Do you share any similarities with your dad? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!  

Monday, April 3, 2023

Bizarre Things That Happened on the Set of The Passion of The Christ

Easter is coming up this Sunday, and I'm reminded of the movie The Passion of the Christ. My husband and I saw it way back in 2004 when it was first released. My kids were very young at the time, so they didn't see it until a few years ago. It's very hard to watch and lots of tissue is necessary. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, died to take away our sins, yet seeing what He endured brought to life on the screen is an extraordinarily emotional experience. It's an amazing movie. But what I didn't know is that some very bizarre things happened on the set. Here's an article from outlining all the strange occurrences.

Mel Gibson's biblical drama film The Passion of the Christ both divided and shocked audiences nationwide after its Ash Wednesday release in 2004. Primarily following the final hours of Jesus' life, the film was praised for its cinematography and performances, but criticized for its graphic violence and alleged antisemitic undertones. Regardless, it received three Academy Award nominations and remains the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time.

On screen, The Passion of the Christ has its fair share of bizarre moments. And as surreal as things can get during the movie itself, there were also quite a few bizarre happenings behind the scenes — some of which you might not even believe.

According to one study, lightning strikes roughly 240,000 people per year. It's fairly rare, in other words — but in 2003, it happened three times on the set of The Passion of the Christ.

Lead actor Jim Caviezel has claimed he was "lit up like a Christmas tree" while filming the Sermon on the Mount sequence of the film. "I knew it was going to hit me about four seconds before it happened," the actor told The 700 Club. "I thought, 'I'm going to get hit.' And when it happened, I saw the extras grab the ground."

Caviezel said that after the strike, fire was coming out of his head and his body was illuminated — though the cameras hadn't yet finished panning over to his position. "By the time the cameras got to me," Caviezel recalled, "I hear Mel screaming out, 'What the heck happened to his hair?' I looked like I went to see Don King's hair stylist."

Caviezel wasn't the only person on the set of The Passion to get struck by lightning.

"Five minutes after I got hit," Caviezel explained, "Jon Mikalini, an assistant, walks over and says 'Are you okay?' And then he got hit. The difference was that they saw the bolt come down and hit Jon ... All I felt was this giant tremendous slap on my ears and a few seconds of a pink, red static in front of my eyes."

Unbelievably, that wasn't even the first time the assistant director had been struck on set. According to BBC News, Mikalini had already been the victim of Mother Nature's electrostatic discharge once before, when lightning struck his umbrella — luckily only causing light burns on his fingertips. What are the odds of that happening? An astronomical 1/11,728,889,000,000 if you live in the United States.

Because you can't exactly flay the skin off your star in real life, a hidden whipping post was set up behind Caviezel while filming The Passion of the Christ's notoriously bloody scourging scene. Problem was, one of the actors doing the flogging didn't have the best aim when swinging overhand. "[His lash] just extended over the board and hit me with such a velocity that I couldn't breathe," Caviezel recalled to Today. "It's like getting the wind knocked out of you. The stinging is so horrific that you can't get air."

Unsurprisingly, Caviezel wasn't happy. "I turned around and looked at the guy, and I tell you, I may be playing Jesus, but I felt like Satan at that moment ... a couple of expletives came out of my mouth." Some good that did. Moments later, Caviezel accidentally received another blow. Nobody ever said playing Our Lord and Savior would be easy.

Not only did Caviezel get struck by lightning and endure a couple misplaced lashes, he also dislocated his shoulder while carrying the film's massive crucifix. According to the cross-bearer himself, the wooden construction weighed 150 pounds. "It feels like 600 pounds as the day goes on," Caviezel told Fox News.

Caviezel's shoulder popping out of place was just the start of his misery. "Later they stick you up on a cross in 25-degree temperatures with 30-knot winds," Caviezel explained. Filming almost naked in such frigid conditions nearly gave the actor hypothermia, and succeeded in giving him a lung infection and pneumonia.

Just to add the icing on Caviezel's painful cake, the actor regularly suffered severe migraines from working day in and day out with one eye cosmetically swollen shut.

According to Today, Caviezel's alarm went off a 2AM in order to provide enough time for the film's makeup artists to cover him in cosmetic bruises, cuts, lashes, gashes, and copious amounts of fake blood. They also had to arrange his crown of thorns, and seal one eye shut — which wreaked havoc on his depth perception. "You are going to work every day with only one eye functioning," he told Fox News, "which gives you headaches."

Filming The Passion of the Christ had a pretty profound effect on many people involved in the production, and the film's set became the site of some religious conversions. Legionary Father John Bartunek told National Catholic Register, "Everyone felt comfortable talking about issues of faith. Being a priest in the midst of that, I was like a lightning rod for spiritual conversations."

One actor who converted from being a self-proclaimed "angry atheist" was Luca Lionello, the actor who plays Judas. Near the end of production, Lionello accepted the film's title character as his lord and savior. "He asked for confession," Bartunek explained. "Apparently he had been completely transformed by the experience. He baptized his children, sanctified his marriage and came back to the Church."

Not only did the film have a profound effect on the atheist actor who played Judas, it affected a cast member of the Islamic faith. "One of the guys working on the film was a Muslim," Caviezel told The 700 Club. "He was one of the guards who beat me, and he converted. He had a real big experience there, you know?"

During the filming of The Passion of the Christ, Caviezel had to endure accidental lashings, a dislocated shoulder, pneumonia, a lung infection, persistent migraines, and getting struck by lightning — but the bad luck didn't end there. Once filming wrapped and the movie made millions worldwide, the actor's career all but died.

In addition to calling Mel Gibson "a horrible sinner," Caviezel has claimed he's been blackballed by Hollywood for playing Jesus. In fact, he's recalled Gibson trying to talk him out of it only moments after offering him the controversial role. "He said, 'You'll never work in this town again,'" Caviezel told a congregation at First Baptist Church of Orlando. "I told him, 'We all have to embrace our crosses' ... We have to give up our names, our reputations, our lives to speak the truth."

Still, Caviezel's career might be due for a resurrection, with the actor set to reprise his most famous role in Gibson's upcoming sequel to The Passion. "I won't tell you how he's going to go about it," Caviezel told USA Today. "But I'll tell you this much, the film he's going to do is going to be the biggest film in history. It's that good."

I can't wait for the sequel! Have you seen The Passion of the Christ? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, March 27, 2023

Boss Tweed: Corrupt Politician and Pig

With all the unsavory goings on these days in politics, it's pretty easy to see that there's nothing new under the sun.  I'd never heard of William "Boss" Tweed, but as far as corrupt politicians go, he's one of the worst of the worse. Check out the excerpt below from the History Collection article "Rolling With the Pigs."

Tammany Hall

William Tweed is perhaps the best known corrupt politician in American History that wasn’t ever a US President. The sad fact of the matter is that while there is and has been astonishing corruption in the White House, it is at the local and state level that we’ll find the worst offenders, of which William "Boss" Tweed was perhaps the worst ever.

William Tweed was a Democratic politician in New York City (and later in the state of New York) for much of the mid to late 1800s. At the pinnacle of his political and economic influence, Tweed was the third largest landowner in New York City. He controlled the most powerful Democratic Political Machine ever to exist throughout the city to the point where he ruled elections, dictated results by stuffed ballot boxes, and appointed who he wanted to posts throughout the city. By the time the 1869 election rolled around, Tweed and his cronies were in total control of the New York City government and much of the state government as well. His former protégé, John T. Hoffman, was elected governor, and Tweed was able to bring power back to the Democratically controlled City Hall (and away from Republican state committees) by bribing Republican legislators.

By returning control over the city’s finances to City Hall, Tweed was able to appoint members of the Tammany Hall to the Board of Audit, essentially giving him complete control over the city. Tweed also personally appointed several of his men in other positions within the city.

There is a lot to unravel surrounding Tweed’s power, so much more than we can cover here. Tweed committed a lot of crimes during his time in power, from voter fraud and intimidation to embezzlement and many other crimes. Estimates in the decades following Tweeds eventual arrest say that Tweed embezzled as much as $200 million from the city’s accounts over his reign (other reports say that it was between $25 and $45 million). You have to remember that is $200 million in 1860s money, it would be an astronomical amount today (well over $2 billion in 2015 dollars if our math is right).

Tweed was arrested in late 1871 and went on trial in 1873. He was found guilty but was eventually released. He was arrested again in November 1876 in Cuba and was imprisoned for the rest of his life. During the months that led up to his initial arrest, scandals surrounded Tweed and his Tammany Hall political machine. Thomas Nast was a political cartoonist for Harper’s Weekly and was often drawing cartoons depicting Tweed’s corruption, especially in those months leading up to Tweed’s arrest. Tweed is reported to have said a regarding those cartoons: “Stop them damned pictures. I don’t care so much what the papers say about me. My constituents don’t know how to read, but they can’t help seeing them damned pictures!

He certainly got what he deserved! Had you ever heard of William Tweed? Thanks for visiting and have a great week! 

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Your Novel Starring...

When asked what my favorite novel that I've written is, I say Masqueradebecause my bad girl protagonist was so much fun to write! Masquerade was published a while back in 2013 as the second book of my Unchained Trilogy. I certainly enjoyed writing all three books, but I loved writing Masquerade the most! 

A friend of mine asked if the story were ever made into a movie, who would I want to star in it? Well, we can all dream, so keep reading to see who I envisioned acting my story!

Lavinia Taylor Hargraves, my bad girl protagonist, is originally introduced in the first part of the trilogy, Escape.  She passes as white, despises her sister who is kind and good, and hates her mother for being a former slave. At seventeen, Lavinia runs off with fifty-four-year-old theater magnate Vernon Hargraves, only because he can make her a Broadway sensation. Although Vernon truly loves Lavinia, the feeling isn't mutual on her part.

If Lavinia had lived today, she'd probably be diagnosed with Narcissistic personality disorder.  According to Wikipedia, this "is a personality disorder  in which the individual is described as being excessively preoccupied with issues of personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity. This condition affects one percent of the population. First formulated in 1968, it was historically called megalomania, and is severe egocentrism."

In addition to her megalomania, Lavinia suffers from severe sibling rivalry issues. This is seen in Escape when we meet good sister Olivia.

Although Masquerade is Lavinia's story, Olivia, to Lavinia's dismay, also makes an appearance.  As I wrote the characters, two beautiful sisters of mixed race ancestry, I envisioned beautiful Catherine Zeta-Jones as Lavinia and gorgeous Halle Berry as Olivia. 

Who do you imagine as some of your favorite characters in novels you've read or written?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week! 

Monday, March 13, 2023

Revelation Audio Edition 50% Off

If you enjoy listening to books, here's a deal for you! My audio edition of Revelation: Book Three of the Unchained Trilogy is now available at 50% off through April 7. Audio books can be a little pricey, and this one usually sells for $17.99, but for a limited time it's available for only $9.00. Click here for your discounted audio book and check out the summary below:

Light-skinned Selina Standish lives a life of emotional pain and torment. In 1906, at the age of eight, she is convinced by her mother, actress Lavinia Standish, the daughter of a slave, to pass as white. Although Selina yields to her mother's insistence to pass, she refuses to cut ties completely with her 'Negro' relatives, including her twin brother, a child her mother deems too dark.

However, at age seventeen, in the year 1915, Selina meets wealthy southerner Jack Cosgrove, the man of her dreams. Keeping her ancestry a secret, Selina is conflicted by Jack's negative attitude toward her race. She must determine if happiness with him could ever be a possibility, especially if she were to reveal her bloodline.

Later, a chance encounter with Pastor Tony Manning opens Selina's eyes to real love. Although he is a progressive thinker regarding race relations, Tony appears to draw the line at interracial marriage. In order to live as his wife, Selina decides she must completely disassociate herself from all her 'colored' relatives. While bound to a chain of secrecy, Selina struggles to live in honesty. How true can she be to her husband, if she can never reveal the truth about herself?

Discount available here.

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, March 6, 2023

Love Across the Color and the Money Lines

My latest novel, One Family Now, deals with love across the color line, as well as the socioeconomic line. 

Unsuspecting Jessica Leigh, a poor black girl from a disadvantaged family, believes wealthy college student Geoff Worth to be her knight in shining armor. Yet with no explanation, he ends their relationship, leaving her shattered and pregnant.

Twenty-six years later, Jessica and Geoff rediscover each other because their sons become friends by chance. Eager to mend their relationship and start afresh, Geoff reveals the ugly truth surrounding their past. Because she was deemed an unsuitable match by his powerful political WASP family, Geoff was forced to end his relationship with Jessica to prevent her from falling victim to a deadly “accident.”

Though their passion reignites, Geoff’s explanation of what transpired over two decades earlier is ignored by Jessica’s over-protective sister. She suspects Geoff’s family of being responsible for their father’s murder. Geoff’s mother refuses to accept Jessica because of a past scandal. And the two sons, once friends, find themselves pitted against each other as enemies once their relationship as half-brothers is divulged. As Jessica and Geoff examine the intersections of their parents’ lives, they uncover a history checkered with adultery, bribery and rumors of murder. How can Geoff and Jessica be together without losing their families?

Please consider giving it a read here.

With that bit of shameless self-promotion out of the way, I'll move on to today's post, which also deals with love across the color and socioeconomic lines. 

I'm a big fan of interracial love stories. But as with all love stories, sometimes things go wrong, as in the case of Alice Jones, a domestic whose father was a "colored man" and Kip Rhinelander, a rich white man. 

Here's a brief overview of the story, courtesy of Wikipedia:

In 1921, Leonard Kip Rhinelander, a member of a socially prominent wealthy New York family, began a romance with Alice Beatrice Jones, a domestic. The two met during Rhinelander's stay at the Orchard School in Stamford, Connecticut, an inpatient clinic where he was seeking treatment for extreme shyness and stuttering. 

They had a three-year romance before marrying at the New Rochelle, New York courthouse in October of 1924, not long after Rhinelander turned 21. The couple moved in with Jones' parents in Pelham Manor. Although Rhinelander didn't tell his family about the marriage, he continued to work at Rhinelander Real Estate Company.

The couple tried to keep their marriage secret, but news of it was soon announced by the press. Because of the Rhinelanders' wealth and social position, New Rochelle reporters wanted to learn about Jones' background. After they began investigating, reporters discovered that Jones was the daughter of English immigrants and her father, George, was a "colored man". 

At first, Rhinelander stood by his wife during the scathing national coverage of their marriage. But after two weeks, he gave in to his family's demands to leave Jones.  He signed an annulment complaint that his father's lawyers had prepared. The document claimed that Jones had deceived Rhinelander by hiding her true race and passing herself off as a white woman. Jones denied this stating that her race was obvious. Rhinelander later said that Jones hadn't deceived him outright but did so by letting him believe she was white.

Sad story, and it only gets worse.  To see how it ends, check out the article by Theodore Johnson III,
When One Of New York's Glitterati Married A 'Quadroon'.

I'd read about this case before, had you ever heard about it?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!