Monthly Archives: January 2014

Not Jane Austen, I ain’t.

A recent tragedy befell someone in my family; the wholly unexpected passing of a very dearly loved sister-in-law  who died two days after being diagnosed with a brain tumor.  She had experienced many ups and downs in her life, including the suicide of her first husband. A life of difficult lessons, she nonetheless lived a life of generosity to others, always full of joy and love to all those whom she encountered.

Death, so sudden and so unexpected seems to have the power to force us to pause and re-evaluate our lives. It makes us want to live life to the fullest, to carpe that diem and wring each ounce of living out of it. Live your life with a roar, not a whimper.

My life has certainly had its moments when sheer impetuousness, foolishness and frivolity capered off with my inhibitions and allowed me to do things and experience moments that have sometimes made it into my novels. While they are definitely not autobiographical, I do believe experience, even if it was through a poor choice, is something that enriches one’s life, perspective and ability to have compassion for other fools in similar situations!

I have always said that when I grow old (and hey, whaddaya know, it’s happening as I write), I want to sit in that rocking chair on the stoop and laugh, and laugh and laugh. Yes, everyone will think I am crazy, but I do believe the Almighty will be laughing too, and shaking His mighty head.

RIP, Linz, may your light continue to shine…

Linda Noel Barham



Image courtesy  of Adrienne Price

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Posted by on January 25, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Finding Genghis

A few years ago, I was standing in my kitchen, chatting to my kids about something inconsequential when I suddenly had a vision of myself, scimitar in hand, and in one mighty swing of my arm, I beheaded someone. There was a feeling of…delight? Accomplishment? It certainly was not a feeling of horror! I gasped out loud, and tried to explain to my kids what I had seen. It was all a bit of a joke, really. Where did that notion come from?

I am a fairly well balanced individual, well educated, sane, loving, so where the heck did that come from? Some primeval urge to kill?


Statue in honor of the Great Warrior.

Going back in my mind’s eye, I saw myself dressed as a warrior, on a small horse – pony sized, I guess, I don’t know much about horses – or wearing armor. The image is as fresh in my mind today as it was then. 

Was this a past life memory that bled through into my consciousness? 

Shortly after this experience I began to write my novel about Genghis Khan from the point of view of his only sister, Temulin. This meant a great deal of research, but most of the descriptions of events were not based on fact. It was as if I were there, living that life.No, I was not Temulin, but I felt that I knew her, perhaps as a friend or a family member.

By coincidence a woman by the name of Ann Jaffin was giving a talk about her book, “Past Lives and Present Karma” and I decided to attend. She began to describe an encounter during a life at the time of Genghis Khan and it was the same incident that I had written about that very week. It had come purely from my imagination, about some traders who were led into an ambush by the enemy of the clan. I could see it happening and described it as best as I could without getting too gory. Now, here was this author, talking about the same thing! It gave me goosebumps!

Meeting Ann Jaffin gave me the impetus to continue writing the story, and I finally self published it on Kindle a few months ago.

Please follow a link to read excerpts from the book, or to purchase it:



Watercolor image of Genghis Khan by Christine Price

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Posted by on January 22, 2014 in Uncategorized


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“You should try this one…”

One of the boons of living in the boonies in the Commonwealth State of Virginia ( I can hear my accent changing as I write!) is the fact that wine and beer are sold in grocery stores. The larger the store, the bigger the range, of course. But you can get very drinkable pinot noirs and shiraz, sauvignon blancs, rieslings and the current American wine drinker favorites, pinot grigio and chardonnay as well, ranging in price from about $3 to $25 per bottle.   Image



I was browsing the shelves at my local food store when a sweet little old lady sidled up with her grocery cart.

“Darn,” she said, “They are all out of Medium Cream Sherry.”

“So they are,” I said, “”But they do have Dry, and oh, look, they have Port. I know it’s not the same thing, but a good port is really good after a meal, with a bit of cheese and crackers.” In my mind’e eye, I am sitting in front of a roaring wood fire, and the flickering light illuminates my glass of port, and I stare into the fire, dreamlike, and then munch some cheese and crackers. (I am not a romance writer, I can only stretch this imagery that far!)

The little old lady started telling me about the great deals the store had on offer that week.

“Look! Three for only $10” she chirped and squealed. “And,” she came up close to me, and said confidingly, “If you buy six bottles you get an extra %10 off! That makes the wine the same price as WalMart!”

“Oh, yes, indeed!” I chortled, “Yes, I have bought some of my wine there, and they do have some amazing wines for under $4!”

Then she asked me, as do all the people I ever meet, “Where is your accent from?”

I had, in the past, been facetious and silly when replying to this well- meant question. I have given up on that, and now just reply, “South Africa!”

This opened up a Pandora’s box about all the traveling she has done over the years, and we spent a good fifteen minutes bonding over the places we had been to, and how long distance flights are just such a pain; that I do not want to sit in an airplane for 18 hours to visit my ageing mother, much as I love her, I just can’t do it. Maybe next year…

I was beginning to chafe at having to stand their and listen to her when I had other chores to see to, and she caught the hint.

“Honey,” she said, “If I can’t have your sherry, this is what you should try…” 

She stood on her tippy-toes and reached up to the highest shelf, and carefully, very carefully, grasped at a bottle that was labelled at the grand price of $4.49.

“This is a bargain, you know,” she giggled. Then she pointed at the label, and I read that it was some kind of citrus wine.

“Oh, I am not fond of citrus wine,” I said. I think I once had too much of it when I was a student, and I never touched the stuff again. The she pointed at the label again.

“No, no, THIS is why I like it…”

Nineteen percent alcohol by volume! Whoa there lady!! I laughed, shook my head and said, “I’ll stick to my shiraz!”

I bet she had a great evening! 


Posted by on January 20, 2014 in Uncategorized


Women and the Pen

“The pen is mightier than the sword,” is a truism that has stood the test of time. Nothing in history has been as powerful as the expressing of ideas, whether they were inscribed upon a clay tablet, piece of papyrus, vellum or paper. The power of words have endured and been pored over, analyzed and been celebrated. They leave a tangible record of the intangible thoughts of mankind and leave a trail that mock our beliefs in how “civilized” we are in our current Information Age.                                    Catherine

  Women, from the time that they were taught how to read and write have wanted to express themselves through poetry and prose, and they did, sometimes under noms de plume since only men tended to be published. It was a “man’s world”, after all, owning the printing presses and publishing houses.

Were there any women in antiquity who were brave enough to write? Yes, indeed there were. Not many, but the words of some have endured, such as Hypatia of Alexandria (Born circa 335 CE), the first known woman whose brilliance has left a legacy proving that a woman’s intellect was as good as a man’s. She was a philosopher and mathematician, subjects traditionally regarded as the sole province of male intellect. Another woman writer, Aesara, who lived in the same era, was a philosopher in the Pythagorean school. The only piece of writing which has survived is a fragment of an essay on human nature.Yet, these little pinpoints of light prove that despite the odds, women’s voices were heard, and their ideas contributed to the wealth of knowledge throughout the ages.

In the west, the Dark Ages, at the inception of the Christian era, saw the most brutal and efficient suppression of women; their voices, their ideas and their very presence relegated to the status of second class citizens. The women of the lower and middle classes in particular were devoid of status, education, property and financial independence. There were a few educated women whose works were published, such as the 12th century Azalais de Procairagues (France) and  Ava of Melk (born in the 11th century, in Germany), to name but a few.

There is a common misconception that Muslim women were not allowed to receive any education. The truth is that they were allowed to study at madrasas and attend lectures. They were not permitted to enroll at these institutions, however. In other parts of the world we find Al-Khansa, an early Arabic poet who lived in the 7th century and converted to Islam after meeting Muhammed. She was told by a contemporary that she was the finest poet among “those who have breasts” and she supposedly replied, “I am the greatest poet among those with testicles too!”

In Japan,  Akazome Emon (born in 956) , was a poet and historian, and in India and China there were many women writers prior to the advent of Christianity.

As the glimmers of light of the Renaissance began to penetrate the thick fog of male dominance, some poets such as Veronica Franco found a way to express her voice in the mid 16th century. There were a few others, like the French poet Madeleine de l’Aubespine, Isabella Andreini, the Italian playwright and poet and Juliana Berners, who wrote about hawking,hunting and heraldry (thought to have been born in 1388)

Mary Astell (1666-1731) is regarded as the “first feminist”, a woman whose rhetoric proved that women were as capable as men of reason and intellect. The notion had that “the gentler sex” were to be cosseted and protected, married off like chattels and then ignored had always existed, but the Chivalric Age had created false notions about womanhood (especially among the nobility) and the struggle to win back their self worth and their ability to be independent thinkers took centuries to be established.

The practice of educating women in all colonized parts of the world started with Christian missionaries of the 1800’s who took it upon themselves to educate the underserved members of society: the poor. Education has been the greatest boon to mankind, changing the way we see, feel and think, opening our minds to the possibilities that we all have the right to share our ideas.

Tell your story, write your book: we live in an age in which there is no excuse to be uneducated and ignorant!




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Posted by on January 17, 2014 in Uncategorized


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How do you Write?

What inspires you to write? Where do your ideas come from?

Many people have a ritualistic approach to writing: the desk has to be uncluttered, the coffee cup set just so, the temperature of the room must be right and the air pressure steady. Some people listen to classical music, or silence or hip-hop or whatever makes their synapses zing…

Of course, I am kidding. Or am I!   

I keep a notebook on hand or my iPad to jot down ideas or descriptions that pop into my head at random times. I am not one of those super serious authors who will wake up in the middle of the night to write half a novel because they are inspired. Nope, my time to sleep is when I close my eyes, and SLEEP. My ideas come when a word in a conversation triggers a thought or a memory, or some visual stimulation has woken up some intangible, diaphanous ribbon of thought that feels the need to be expressed.

My stories are pulled out of the ether, but I admit, I do love to write historical fiction that entails constant research. I want things to be as accurate as possible, so I include my references at the back of the book in case someone wants to verify what I have written.

My first book, Storm in the Rockies also included some research: I had never been to Alabama, and I somehow happened to choose the city of Bon Secours because I needed a setting close to the ocean. Thank goodness for Google maps!

My second book, Genghis Khan, My Brother: The Story of Temulin entailed vast amounts of research and although I began the novel as a NaNoWriMo project, I continued working on it after I had reached the 50,000 word objective. It took me another two years of writing, researching and editing to complete.

So, how do I write?

I prefer my desk to be fairly tidy so that I have space for my notebook. I prefer silence. I drink tea occasionally…perhaps once a day. I treat my writing like a job. I am dressed, have had breakfast and like to start at 9 a.m. Lunch time is between 12 and 2 and it includes a nap.. I stop at 5 or sometimes 6 p.m. Pretty regimented, huh?

What do you do?

I invite your comments, please share!


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Posted by on January 11, 2014 in Uncategorized


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My First Novel, Storm in the Rockies

I love to write, and I love words. I admit to having verbal envy when others  beat me at games such as Scrabble and Words with Friends, but, I get over it. Sometimes life hands you useless letters, sometimes it gives you triple scores, just like life, you have to roll with whatever comes your way. Sweet and simple.

In 2010, or thereabouts, I first participated in NaNoWriMo, a challenge to complete a 50,000 word novel in one month, that month being November. I accepted the challenge thrown at me by my children and dedicated myself to the “no plot, no problem” approach espoused by the founder of the event, Chris Baty. I created a fictional account of an abused girl who runs away from home and her travails, her poor choices and her path through a life riddled with sexual misalliances, and further abuse.

I have no idea where the story came from, I was never abused, had a great childhood, a good marriage, never did drugs, so conjuring up this protagonist, Kay, was like channeling some stranger who had invited herself into my life for thirty days! I completed the 50,000 word limit before the thirty days were up, and was able to claim my certificate of “Winner!”…yes, everyone is a winner as long as they cut and paste their document into the NaNoWriMo’s word calculator. 

I eventually edited and self-published the novel under the title, “Storm in the Rockies”. The cover was done by Adrienne Price, and she managed to capture some of the dark drama inherent in the tale in her art.

The novel is available on Kindle, through Amazon for $6.99. It is classified as an adult contemporary novel because of some sex scenes which are integral to the character and her story.

Storm in the Rockies





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Posted by on January 10, 2014 in Uncategorized


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