Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Art & History Feature - Marguerite de Valois

Marguerite de Valois

You may not be familiar with Marguerite de Valois, but the name Queen Margot might ring a bell. It is a famous book by Alexandre Dumas Sr., as well as a beautiful French movie of the same name. But who was the real Queen Margot?

Margo as a young girl, by Fran├žois Clouet  (image source:
Marguerite de Valois was born on in May of 1553, the daughter of French King Henry II and his wife, the infamous Queen Catherine de' Medici. She was the sister to three future kings, Francis II, Charles IX and Henry III.

Marguerite was knows throughout France, and the world, for her beauty, intelligence and sense of fashion.

At age 19, by Fran├žois Clouet (image source:
Marguerite was used as a pawn in the political manipulations of her mother and brother. At 19, she married King Henry of Navarre. The marriage was an arranged one, a political alliance meant to unite the Catholics and the Huguenots (protestants) of the realm after years of bitter war. The Queen of Navarre and the mother of Henry, Jeanne, was against the marriage but died under mysterious and suspicious circumstances before it took place. There were rumors of her being poisoned by the Catherine de' Medici, as her uses of poison was well known, a knowledge she brought with her to France from her native Italy. However, nobody was able to ever prove it.

Margaret and her husband, Henry of Navarre, later King Henry IV (
But there was a more sinister reason for the marriage of Henry and Margaret. Six days after the wedding, in the even that became knows as the Bartholomew's Day Massacre, the mob, instigated by Catholic factions and, it is believed, by the Queen Mother herself, killed thousands of Huguenots. While it is not known exactly how many were killed, the modern day historians estimate that it was anywhere between 5,000 and 30,000. Prior to the mob violence, targeted assassinations of major Huguenot noblemen leaders were carried out, starting with Admiral Gaspard de Coligny, who became like a father to the king, Charles IX, and was one of the architects of the marriage of Marguerite and Henry of Navarre. Is it likely that Charles gave the orders for the assassinations and the killings reluctantly, pushed to it by his mother.

While it was no love match, Marguerite and Henry seemed to respect each other, and it was Margot who is said to have kept Henry, and a few other prominent Huguenots, save by hiding them in her rooms and not letting the assassins enter. After the terrible event, Henry was basically imprisoned at Louvre for the next three years, finally escaping but leaving Margo behind. She was finally allowed to join him in Pau, where they lived for the next few years. Both Margot and Henry openly had other lovers and fought a lot between each other, but still respected and admired each other. One of the theories is that Henry could never forgive Margot for the knowledge of what would happen on St. Bartholomew's night, although there is no proof that she in fact had such knowledge prior to the event.

Louvre in 16th Century (

Around 1582, Margot fell ill and afterwords went back to Paris, to the court of Henry III, her brother. He, however, was not happy about her reputation and she was ordered to leave the court and to return to Navarre. She was also not welcome there. Marguerite was behind a coup d'etat and seized control over an area knows as Agen, but the people of the city eventually revolted and she fled. Starting in 1586 and for the next 18 years, she was imprisoned by her brother Henry III in Usson, a castle in Auvergne.

While imprisoned, Queen Marguerite wrote memoirs that would be published after her death and would scandalize France.

Marguerite became the Queen of France when Henry of Navarre came to the throne as Henry IV in 1589. He had to convert to Catholicism since the people of Paris, mostly Catholic, would not accept him as their king otherwise. The phrase "Paris is worth a Mass" is attributed to him.

Henry had a number of mistresses, the most famous of them being Gabrielle d'Estrees who gave him four children. Henry wanted to make her his queen and had the marriage to Marguerite de Valois annulled by the Pope in 1599 (she was allowed to retain the title of Queen), but Gabrielle died before he could marry her, while giving birth to the last of their children. There are theories that she may have been poisoned. Henry eventually married Marie di Medici and was assassinated by a religious zealot in 1610. He is considered one of the greatest kings of France.

Margo was reconciled to her ex-husband and his second wife and returned to Paris for awhile, where she became a benefactress of the arts and of the poor. She was actively involved in planning events at the court and was a friend to the children of Henry IV and his wife Marie.

Hostel de la Reine Marguerite (public domain image)
Marguerite spent her last years following Henry's assassination in her Hostel de la Reine Margueritte, on the left bank of Seine. She died there on March 27th, 1615 and was buried in the Basilica of St. Denis, where most of Valois royalty was buried. Her casket is no longer there, though, and to this day it's not clear whether it was moved during the work that was done at the chapel or whether it was destroyed during the French Revolution.

Later years (Credit: Art Archive, The / SuperStock)
Marguerite de Valois is a fascinating character that has inspired numerous books and present-day movies. One of the first works of literature that she inspired was that of no other but Shakespeare, in his comedy Love's Labour's Lost, and continued with the works of Alexandre Dumas and others.

Her memoirs, which were written as collection of short stories, are considered to be one of the best literary works of the 16th Century.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Guest Post by Josh Boyd - How to Think Creatively

Creativity is one of the main tools of a writer. It's is a writer's prerogative and mainstay. But creativity needs to be fed, like anything else. There are moments when we don't feel creative, whatever the reason, and that hurts us terribly. Because without creativity we, writers, are just not ourselves.

Today, Josh Boyd talks about ways to help us think creatively and I hope you enjoy this article as much as I did.


The world is often pushed by creative thinkers. Even scientists are creative in their own way as they think outside the box and find solutions that no other person could see. Nikola Tesla’s recounts of his visions of theories and inventions are nothing short of poetic. The question is though, can you make yourself think creatively? Is it an innate ability or can it be manifested? It is certainly true that there are those that find this task much easier than others, but there are ways to encourage creativity to emerge from those whose brains seem entirely absent of it.

When you’re writing, each sentence is of importance. This means giving care and thought to every word. Some do think that this is a bit over the top, but would you expect an artist to be careless with some of his brushstrokes? Always keep this in mind and look to see if there is a different way to write something. Evaluate your own words and don’t allow yourself to go into automatic mode to push your story along. Just as every part of your book is a chance to wow a reader, it is also a chance to bore them. A quote from Anton Chekhov sums it up perfectly:

“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

Another way to help is to get inspired. This is simple to do in many ways. What was the first thing that gave you the idea to become a writer? Go back to it and get yourself going again. It is easy to become stale and formulaic without a boost of inspiration now and then. Re-gain your enthusiasm and creativity will come with it. Search out new things too to keep your mind fresh. That doesn’t mean ripping off other people’s ideas though. Look at the ways they have tackled problems to help you think differently. Also you’ll be surprised how a rubbish book will get your mind cranking as you think to yourself, “I can do something 100 times better than this! If they can get published, so can I!”

Go outside. Absolutely anywhere at all. If you can go somewhere you’ve never been then even better. If you’ve sat in the same place trying to come up with that perfect piece of dialogue or clever way to introduce a character and got nowhere after hours, it is time for a change of environment. Your brain needs stimulation and even just a fifteen minute walk and some fresh air can do wonders to unclog your head. You never know, you might encounter someone who inspires you to create your best character. You have to work hard to be a writer, but don’t see this as a break. Anything that helps you to do better work is all part of the task at hand.

 The simple thing is don’t be disheartened if you suddenly think you’ve lost it. Writing and creativity is not like sport wherein once you gain an ability you’ll only lose it if you stop practicing. The mind can work in mysterious and very annoying ways, but if you start to lose confidence in yourself it’ll only get worse. Stick to your project even if it takes years. Fight through the bad times and enjoy the good times because you’ll have plenty of both. Keep inspired, invigorated and confident and creativity will come to you.

Joshua Danton Boyd is a copywriter from the online accountancy firm Crunch based in Brighton. He is also a regular contributor to Freelance Advisor.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Teaser Tuesday

Here are the rules:

1. Post 2 sentences from the current book you're reading. You can either

a) open the book and share 2 sentences from anywhere on that page or
b) share your favorite 2-3 sentences from the book (they have to be in a row)

2. List the page #


3. List the name of the book and the author

"Countess Joan had applied a flame to my imagination. When it burned so fiercely that it was almost a physical hurt, I wished with all my heart I could quench it, but the fire never left me, and still it smolders, even today, when I have achieved more than I could ever have dreamed of."

p. 22

The King's Concubine by Anne O'Brien

Share your teasers in the comments or give a link to your blog if you're running a Teaser Tuesday

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am grateful for my wonderful, always supportive family, my amazing hubby (the best a girl could have!), and all the friends that are in my life. I'm also very grateful for my creative side and the passion for writing, the writing community that always keeps me going, inspired and motivated and the literary super agents that took me on. And I can't forget to say how thankful I am for all the pets in my life. They are truly little angels.

What are you grateful for today?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Opal Book Trailer Reveal by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Last month, I was part of the exciting cover reveal for Opal, by Jennifer L. Armentrout. Today, I'm even more excited to be part of this beautiful Trailer reveal! Enjoy!

No one is like Daemon Black.

When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn’t fooling around. Doubting him isn’t something I’ll do again, and now that we’ve made it through the rough patches, well... There’s a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.

But even he can’t protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different... And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable of. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.

Together we’re stronger... and they know it.

USA TODAY Bestselling author, Jennifer L. Armentrout, lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing, she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell, Loki. Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She also writes adult romance under the name J. Lynn.

Find Jennifer on: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Website | Blog
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