Weekly Serial Poetry: Saqil pa Q’equ’mal: Light in Darkness

About this Book

xibalba-cover

The Mayan myths of the Popol Vuh are at once sensual and ruthless, none more so than the trials of Xibalba. In the oral and written traditions of this indigenous people, the road to the ancient underworld is well-marked, its fearsome tests legend. In a series of thirteen poems, a modern woman takes this time-honored journey through good and evil and what lies between, finding strength and refuge, union and reunion, and new purpose in primeval pleasures.

© 2016 Mari Anne Christie


IV. Jun Kame, Wuqub’ Kame: One Death, Seven Death

One Death and Seven Death—
the Princes—eyes stalking
the council place, are waiting,
tabled and banqueting,
for diversion.

Lords and Ladies await
their pleasure, these
two who have been
the dark heart of Xibalba
for so long.

To read the rest of Section IV, go to the blog page.


Historical Fiction Book Tour: Sedahlia

SEDAHLIA

By

Cynthia D Toliver

After fleeing post-Civil War Georgia, John Masters, Sr., his wife Virginia Masters, and their rebellious servant Jessie Lindsey have built new lives in Texas ranch country.  Now their offspring, Johnny Masters and Rachel Lindsey, are in love.  On the isolated, sprawling Sedahlia ranch, their youthful dalliances are largely overlooked until Rachel becomes pregnant, forcing Rachel to leave Texas for a freedman’s school in Georgia.

From the insulated Sedahlia ranch to the Jim Crow south, the rails both separate and unite – parting lovers, reuniting family, pushing out the old, bringing in the new.  It is in these settings that the Masters and Lindseys live and love, and their personal needs and mores clash with society.  The repercussions rumble through this family and the surrounding community, tearing them asunder and bringing them together as only love and tragedy will.



Links for Purchase 


About the author

Cynthia D. Toliver is a 1980 graduate of Rice University and a native Texan. She has enjoyed a varied career as an engineer, environmental consultant, educator and author. Sedahlia is her second novel and third book. She has two previously published works, Crown’s Jewel, a historical novel and Come See a Man, an inspirational book. She also hosts a Christian blog, Back to Eden at cynthiatoliver.blogspot.com.
Follow Ms. Toliver at http://www.cynthiatoliver.net.

Inspiration

My inspirations come from multiple sources. Sometimes it is a word or title. Other times it may be a thought, observation or dream. From that seed, I will develop my characters and write an outline. The seed for Sedahlia was a dream about disparate lovers. Their story sprouted and grew to the family saga it is today.
I love the creative process, from beginning to end. My books are very much character driven. As a writer, I become invested in the characters and their stories. If I’ve crafted them well, my readers will do the same.
Other Links
Author website www.cynthiatoliver.net
Christian blog, Back to Eden http://cynthiatoliver.blogspot.com/
twitter @ctoliver58

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Weekly Serial Poetry: Saqil pa Q’equ’mal: Light in Darkness

About this Book

xibalba-cover

The Mayan myths of the Popol Vuh are at once sensual and ruthless, none more so than the trials of Xibalba. In the oral and written traditions of this indigenous people, the road to the ancient underworld is well-marked, its fearsome tests legend. In a series of thirteen poems, a modern woman takes this time-honored journey through good and evil and what lies between, finding strength and refuge, union and reunion, and new purpose in primeval pleasures.

© 2016 Mari Anne Christie


III. Ab’aj: The Stones

The bustling is furious, the noise
of the market shaking.
The sound of seekers
being stripped of illusion.

Limestone houses, stucco walls,
thatch on sturdy adobe,
open iron latches, masks and
godheads hanging from doors.

“There are no locks,”
Anaya observes.

His glance is amused.
“Those who keep property
do not abide trespass.”

To read the rest of Section III, go to the blog page.


Weekly Serial Poetry: Saqil pa Q’equ’mal: Light in Darkness

About this Book

xibalba-cover

The Mayan myths of the Popol Vuh are at once sensual and ruthless, none more so than the trials of Xibalba. In the oral and written traditions of this indigenous people, the road to the ancient underworld is well-marked, its fearsome tests legend. In a series of thirteen poems, a modern woman takes this time-honored journey through good and evil and what lies between, finding strength and refuge, union and reunion, and new purpose in primeval pleasures.

© 2016 Mari Anne Christie


II. Chajalab’: The Guardians

Searching out the hidden
ancients, the well of
the malcontent, seekers
from all sides are silent,
walking heavy along
the whispering path.

They stumble to the cave mouth.
Dozens have walked as far as she;
farther, as they had no map.

To read the rest of Section II, go to the blog page.


Weekly Serial Poetry: Saqil pa Q’equ’mal: Light in Darkness

Today, something a little different than the usual Historical fare: Saqil pa Q’equ’mal: Light in Darkness: Poetry of the Mayan Underworld, an epic poem which will update every Wednesday for the next thirteen weeks. I will be posting on the poem’s individual page, so you can read start to finish, instead of upside-down, at your leisure. If you decide you want to read the whole poem at one sitting, it is available in print at Amazon.

If you like Historical Romance, stop by on Mondays for Lord Coventon’s Concubines, a short story sequel to La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess, or Saturdays to read Never Kiss a Toad.


About this Book

xibalba-cover

The Mayan myths of the Popol Vuh are at once sensual and ruthless, none more so than the trials of Xibalba. In the oral and written traditions of this indigenous people, the road to the ancient underworld is well-marked, its fearsome tests legend. In a series of thirteen poems, a modern woman takes this time-honored journey through good and evil and what lies between, finding strength and refuge, union and reunion, and new purpose in primeval pleasures.

© 2016 Mari Anne Christie


I. Ch’awib’al: The Language

Early evening, slow embers trickle
down the back of her shirt.
The calluses in her shoes are tired,
and her shoulders drag.

A banyan tree ahead,
third eye
carved deep into the bark,
palms bearing down
the weight of new rain.

She makes camp beneath
the sheltered branches, tucked
into the twisted, reaching roots.

She cooks dried turkey, peccary,
beans, chayote,[1] and corn,
water from her wineskin.
Achiote[2] and yucca venom,
kik’,[3] a river of blood.

Three stones cradle
a clay pot in the burning
coals of the setting sun.

To read the rest of Section I, go to the blog page.


Footnotes

[1] A squash, eaten cooked or raw. (Sp.)
[2] A spice (Sp.)
[3] Blood

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Interrogation of a Paramour

Ferdinand_Tellgmann_Porträt_eines_Kupferstechers_Öl_auf_Leinwand

Source: Ferdinand Tellgman, Portrat eines Kupferstechers (retouched)

“It’s Newgate for sodomites, you know, but I got some questions first.”

“Of course.”

“Might be easier on you if you hadn’t been caught with a viscount in your bed.”

Solomon Peate rubs a hand across his face. Once before he had been caught, prancing about a molly house, but he had been cheap entertainment then, not the paid companion to a lord. The owner of the flash house who had rented him out had just paid off the Watch to look the other way. He certainly hadn’t been taken up by Bow Street, and the newspapers hadn’t followed him. Drew was going to hate him after this. Not to mention stop paying the bills.

“It wasn’t what you think.”

“No? What was it, then?”

WilliamCobbettPrison

Source: Crimes and Punishment Magazine, 1810

The man stares expectantly, not looking for an answer, but rather, the lack of one. Would that Solomon and Drew had established some sort of lie to cover this eventuality. Surely, this man hadn’t heard the rumors screaming through the ton, of the two men sharing the favors of The Black Goddess. He was only a functionary, after all.

“It was just… he needed a place to sleep. There is only one bed. I could hardly let a viscount sleep on the floor.”

“Mm hmm.” The man made a note in a file, the shifting of his beady eyes leaving Solomon feeling, if only for a moment, less pinned to the wall.

“Newry pay your rent, then?”

This was safe territory. Plenty of men were compensated with room and board. Sadly, in this case, it hadn’t been provided in Drew’s servant’s quarters, where a viscount’s title might have provided some measure of safety. Not that living in Drew’s town house in proximity to his staff would have been at all safe.

“He is my employer. I am his secretary. Part of my remuneration is the upkeep of my rooms.”

“In a building filled with nothing but mistresses to wealthy men.”

“I cannot be held responsible for the life choices of my neighbors.” Whether or not the on-dits had reached Bow Street, his options were running out. “In fact, my location is how he met his true mistress, who lives just across the hall from me. Kali Matai, La Déesse Noire? You might have heard of her.”

“Heard you and Newry are sharing her,” the man states baldly, rolling his eyes, “but I also hear that might be a front. Secretary, you say?”

“Yes.”

Another note. “Keep his accounts then?”

“Among other things.”

“It’s the other things that interest me.”

Solomon only just manages not to laugh at the implication; he must be slightly hysterical. None of this was a laughing matter, and suggesting the man would act as voyeur to two catamites was not at all the best idea.

“There are no other things of the type you insinuate. I manage his everyday business affairs. Estate matters and the like.”

“Mm hmm. How many estates does Newry own?”

The interrogator clearly knows, and Solomon hopes he has no specifics in his file, for what Solomon knows of Drew’s business affairs is limited to discussions he has overheard his protector having with other gentlemen, and the monies he spent to keep his companion in cravats.

“Three estates. Four houses, though, if one counts the one here in London. Or rather, three and a half. One burned last year, and is only now being rebuilt.”

Oh, he could tell this little roach of a man that Drew prefers weak tea and almost burnt toast, that he always wears silk shirts and owns one hundred twenty-two watch fobs and thirty-seven snuff boxes. Solomon could easily recall the placement of his birthmark and the exact size of his… thumbs. But the specific nature of the viscountcy’s investments? The cost of the servants’ wages? Problems on his tenant farms? Any of the details a good secretary would know? He hadn’t the least idea.

“Where are his properties?”

“Portslade, Whitney, and Swindon. And the town house on Curzon Street.”

The quill just kept scratching across the foolscap. Such a slight sound to be giving Solomon such a large megrim.

“Primary source of income?”

“Sheep. And mining.” At least those were the investments of which Drew spoke most frequently. “He has started a stud, but it isn’t turning a profit yet.”

666px-Newgate-prison-exercise-yard

Newgate Exercise Yard by Gustave Dore

For the first time, a lecherous grin crosses the man’s face. “Way I see it, started a stud in his own bedchamber. That’s enough, Peate. I can call you back after I’ve spoken to your… paramour. See how your stories hang together.” His laughter barks like a badly loaded musket. “Hang together. That’s funny.”

“He is not my paramour, and I sincerely doubt anyone will hang a viscount,” Solomon said, unsmiling. A viscount’s paramour, though, was another thing altogether.

“Mm hmm. Best warn you. Don’t much like gentlemen of the back door in Newgate.”

Solomon felt the blood draining from his face. He had thought nothing could be more injurious to body or soul than his former life—servicing any man with a guinea to keep his bed in a flash house—but even an hour or two imprisoned for this particular charge would be far worse. In Newgate, he wasn’t even worth a guinea.




Find out what happens to Solomon Peate in La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess.

LDN CoverSired by a British peer, born of a paramour to Indian royalty, Kali Matai has been destined from birth to enthrall England’s most powerful noblemen—though she hadn’t counted on becoming their pawn. Finding herself under the control of ruthless men, who will not be moved by her legendary allure, she has no choice but to use her beauty toward their malicious and clandestine ends.

When those she holds most dear are placed in peril by backroom political dealings, she enlists some of the most formidable lords in England to thwart her enemies. But even with the help of the prominent gentlemen she has captivated, securing Kali’s freedom, her family, and the man she loves, will require her protectors stop at nothing to fulfill her desires.


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To connect with Mariana Gabrielle:
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Interrogation of a Lord

portrait-of-baron-schwiter-1827(1).jpg!Large

“I. Am. A. Viscount!”

Andrew Marsham, Lord Newry, had been shouting for at least a quarter-hour, since this… lackey from Bow Street appeared at the door. When told the viscount was Not At Home, the lout forced his way past the butler, calling out through the halls and opening doors like he had a right to be in the house. Eventually, he had found Drew in his study, making himself quietly drunk.

Red face perspiring, veins in his neck and forehead distended and twitching, the viscount insists, at a continued loud volume, “You cannot keep me here! You cannot lock me in my own house and treat me like a criminal!”

“You may as well sit, Newry.”

Lord Newry to you, Sirrah!”

“Call you anything I like, and if you’re lucky I won’t call you a molly.”

“This. Is. Preposterous!”

The man points with his quill to a chair and says, his voice a bit tired, having been awake since the small hours when he dragged Drew and Solomon from a shared bed, “Sit, Newry. This can get a lot worse for you. And it might be preposterous if I hadn’t seen you in bed with a man with my own eyes. Can you explain how you came to be there?”

The volume dropped as he stumbled a bit over his words. “We… we were both… bosky, and there was only one bed. I was hardly going to sleep on the floor, nor ask the room’s resident to vacate his own chamber.” Donning a viscount’s display of indignation, he added, “I cannot imagine why that would necessitate imprisonment.”

“If you had been clothed, I might be more inclined to believe you. The only reason you are here and not in Newgate is the gentleman speaking for you. Marquess of something-or-other. Outranks the earl who—”

“Marquess of what?” he demanded. “Who is speaking on my behalf? And to which earl are you reporting? I am a peer of the realm, Sir, and require you provide me the information without delay!”

“I cannot provide you information I do not have. God’s bollocks! Will you sit, man?”

WilliamCobbettPrison

Source: Crime and Punishment Magazine, 1810

Lord Newry splashes brandy into a glass and downs it quickly, as he has done twice already since the interrogation began. Pouring another, he finally lowers himself into a chair, worry beginning to take its toll. There was no chance he could ask about Solly’s whereabouts, but the thought of him sitting in Newgate, rotting away for who knows how long, is enough to make Drew cast up his accounts. Were he not a disciplined man, he might have done already.

Then, a thought occurs that turns his weak stomach into a strong knot. Solly will surely want nothing to do with him after this, no matter how much Drew pays as a quarterly stipend. He is already distrustful of the nobility, given his prior experiences with gentlemen seeking brief, anonymous paid entertainment with a desperate man, but never, in those encounters, had he been followed by the newspapers and tossed into Newgate. And, it must be said, Sol hadn’t been entirely dependent on them. He hadn’t been forced to trust them, which made this situation much worse.

Sol had no reason to stay; his pocket watch alone—the one Drew had had engraved—would keep him for a year.

Unfortunately, asking about Solly’s whereabouts or his condition was no way to convince this functionary of the innocence of their association. He hopes Sol is suffering only in pride, not person.

“So, you say he’s your secretary.”

“Because he is my secretary.”

“What kind of work does he do, then?”

Lord Newry’s nostrils flare. “The same sort of work as every other secretary in England. Estate matters, correspondence, appointments…”

“Can anyone verify that he’s responded to a letter or scheduled a meeting? Does his writing appear in your dairy?”

“His writing—?” Lord Newry stands again, pacing to the hearth, where he tosses a log into the fire. His observation was slightly less bellicose now: “This is preposterous!”

“Just answer the question, please.”

Drew was well aware Solly’s hand appeared nowhere in his diary, nor in his ledgers or correspondence or estate reports. Solly’s hand appeared nowhere but on Drew’s… well. It was critical this horrid little man not get his hooks into anything in the study or estate office. Especially not the more personal missives Drew would have burned, had they not so heated his blood.

“How am I to know to where he has written every note?”

The man looks up, eyeing Lord Newry with more interest now. “You don’t keep track of your own secretary? What if he should cheat you?”

“He has been in my employ almost three years. If he were going to cheat me, he would have done it and disappeared long before now. And I am hardly the only man in London who doesn’t stand over the shoulder of his man-of-business.”

Making a note in his book, eyes on the paper and ink, the man asks, “You pay his rent?”

If the man knew who paid the rent, it meant he might already have access to the account books. Drew was now unsure in what instances he could lie.

“As part of his remuneration, I pay the lease and maintenance of his rooms. He was in a sorry state when I found him, and it seemed the honorable thing to do. I could hardly have a man representing me in tattered clothes, living in a cheap room in Saffron Hill.”

“Most peers would have hired a man more suited to the position.”

“Most peers have no compassion for the downtrodden.”

“That is certainly true.” Shuffling through papers, the man asks, “The rooms you pay for… the building is owned by the same woman who owns the Masala Rajah whorehouse. Most of those apartments are rented out to the demimonde.” He laughs as he corrects himself, “The dark-skinned demimonde. Any reason you have your secretary housed in the same building as other men keep their mistresses?”

“I cannot be held responsible for what goes on in every building whose threshold I cross. The rooms were clean and inexpensive.”

My man just raises a brow. Perhaps inexpensive had been a bit too much of a falsehood. “Any truth to the rumor you are keeping the woman across the hall from him?” He checked a note. “Kali Matai? A dancer of some sort?”

Of course! Kali! How could he have forgotten Kali? “Miss Matai and I have… an arrangement.”

“What sort of arrangement?”

“Do you honestly believe me to have so little honor I would give you details of my relations with my mistress?”

The man shrugs and shuts the portfolio of papers before him and stands. Drew looks up, having expected the interrogation to last longer. He had been spinning lies in his head that might have lasted all week.

“You cannot leave the house, New—Lord Newry. There are guards posted. I will return if I have any further questions. Your friends hold more influence than I, and likely, at this moment, more than you. Perhaps they can keep it quiet and out of The Lords. Were I in your shoes, I would trust in them.”




Find out what happens to Lord Newry in La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess.

LDN CoverSired by a British peer, born of a paramour to Indian royalty, Kali Matai has been destined from birth to enthrall England’s most powerful noblemen—though she hadn’t counted on becoming their pawn. Finding herself under the control of ruthless men, who will not be moved by her legendary allure, she has no choice but to use her beauty toward their malicious and clandestine ends.

When those she holds most dear are placed in peril by backroom political dealings, she enlists some of the most formidable lords in England to thwart her enemies. But even with the help of the prominent gentlemen she has captivated, securing Kali’s freedom, her family, and the man she loves, will require her protectors stop at nothing to fulfill her desires.


Amazon
Amazon UK
iTunes
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

To connect with Mariana Gabrielle:
www.MarianaGabrielle.com
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Blog
Goodreads
Amazon Author page


An Open Letter to White, Straight, Able-bodied Romance Authors

My esteemed colleagues:

We have a very long way to go.

Most of us say “Diversity in literature is really important,” and/or “I am not racist/ ableist/homophobic,” and/or “Of course, I would buy a romance novel by or about a person of color/gay or lesbian/disabled person.” But when was the last time you did?

When was the last time you bought a romance by an author, or about a character, with a different cultural, historical, or physical experience than your own? About a person with a different skin color, nationality, religion? About a gay man or lesbian or transgender person? When was the last time you bought a romance with a physically or mentally disadvantaged hero or heroine? A novel about people who live in the margins?

When was the last time you wrote one?

Women are overlooked in myriad areas of publishing—book contracts, sales, awards, reviews—but we are also the much greater portion of romance writers. Are we, as female authors who are often marginalized and maligned ourselves, really so callous as to assume people of color don’t have Happy Ever Afters? That LGBT romance is only about sex? That people with disabilities never fall in love? Or do we just not think about it?

This letter is not meant to encourage you to shoehorn a diverse character into a book that doesn’t need one, or write a book about diverse characters because it is a hot topic or because it feels like the right thing to do. One of the most wonderful things I have heard on this subject recently was: “I write characters who happen to be people of color. I don’t make a big deal about it.”

What I am proposing is that we don’t overlook characters with diverse experiences as we are writing. That we don’t miss them lurking in the shadows of our books. That we don’t push them aside because we don’t understand them. That we don’t dismiss a great idea because it is scary to be outside of our comfort zone, or because we are afraid to get something wrong.

But MOST IMPORTANT, I am proposing that we don’t overlook authors who are already doing it.

I am not saying a black person can’t write a book or have it published. I am not saying same-sex romance novels don’t exist. I am not saying a romance novel with an Indian heroine can’t become a bestseller (knock on wood). But these novels are shunted aside into the “African-American” or “Multicultural” or “LGBT” categories, which do not get as much attention as “Historical Romance” or “Regency Romance” or “Contemporary Romance,” overwhelmingly written by and about white people. And the more marginalized a book is on Amazon (and elsewhere), the less likely it is to be shown in the “People Also Buy” and “Recommended for You” sections. Front page of Amazon? Forget it.

I am not blaming or attacking, though to be sure, this topic almost always makes comfortable people suddenly uncomfortable. Yet, I think it worth the discomfort to have the conversation. This is a terribly important topic with enormous ramifications for groups that are already sidelined in so many ways. Are we okay with knowing that Vanessa Riley, Piper Huguley, Kianna Alexander, and Lena Hart have a harder time selling books than we do?

Do we, as romance writers, want to create one more place where it is harder to get ahead for a person of color than a white person?

  • I am guilty of overlooking diverse books, not out of malice, but simple inattention. I haven’t gone looking for them, because they are often hard to find.
  • I am guilty of assuming only white people read (and write) romance novels.
  • I am guilty of mentally labeling every historical with African-American characters “mainstream,” as though “romance” can’t be just as much a part of their experience as the historic hardships they faced.
  • I am guilty of using the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseRomance to promote my book before I knew the people who are doing the hard work to promote the subject matter.
  • I am guilty of asking my author friends who are people of color to educate me, rather than educating myself.
  • I will surely be guilty of causing unintentional offense, having now written a book with an Indian heroine.

So, to amend my own appalling oversights, I went looking for romance authors who are people of color or LGBT-identified or disabled and/or write romance novels about characters who are. In about an hour, I found more than sixty, and I am absolutely certain this is only a start.

I also found:
We Need Diverse Romance
https://www.facebook.com/DiverseBooks
@DiverseRomance
#WeNeedDiverseRomance
(Buy a “WeNeedDiverseRomance” tee-shirt in black or white.)

Women of Color in Romance
http://WOCinRomance.tumblr.com/
https://www.facebook.com/WOCInRomance
@WOCInRomance
#WOCinRomance

http://MulticulturalRomanceWriters.com (Sortable author/book listings)
http://RomanceNovelsInColor.com (Book information and reviews)
http://www.RomanceSlamJam.org (African-American romance convention; home of the Emma Awards)
http://www.RainbowRomanceWriters.com (RWA Chapter for LGBT authors)
Romances with heroes or heroines with physical, mental, or emotional maladies

If you click on any of the links above, you may find a new romance author you will love or a way to support the cause of diverse romance. I did.

So, in closing, I ask every white, straight, able-bodied author who is reading this to:

  • Buy a book written by someone with a different historical, cultural, or physical experience than you.
  • Review a book written by someone with a different historical, cultural, or physical experience than you.
  • Recommend a book written by someone with a different historical, cultural, or physical experience than you.
  • Write a character with a different historical, cultural, or physical experience than you.

Saying and/or doing nothing on this topic is a vote against diverse authors and characters, when most of us believe that diversity in romance novels is important and there isn’t enough of it.

Where do you truly fall on this issue? What message do you want to send to other writers—and readers—who are different from you? How important is diversity to you? And what will you do about it today?

Sincerely,
Mariana Gabrielle/Mari Christie
[White] Author of Regency romance
www.MarianaGabrielle.com
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