Nowruz: Persian New Year and an #eBook #Freebie


Hi, everyone.  I meant to post this earlier, and the day just got away from me.

Today, along with being the Vernal Equinox, is Nowruz (there are many variant spellings, including Norooz, No Ruz, and Navruz), the Persian New Year.  I have written about it before, here.

31432511Since I’m not Persian, you may be wondering why I remark on this event.  Well, it is an important part of my inter-ethnic romance novella, His Beloved Infidel.  In celebration, I am offering the eBook edition free of charge on Smashwords through March 24.

Back cover copy:

Farukh and Catherine are colleagues at Paris’ World Language Institute. He is Persian; she is American. Can their newly-discovered love survive the strain of Iran’s Islamic Revolution?

Author Sharon E. Cathcart (In The Eye of The Beholder, Through the Opera Glass) presents her first tale of inter-ethnic romance. Set against the backdrop of real-world events, Cathcart tells the story of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events.

Simply visit this link: Nowruz eBook Special, and enter coupon RQ52Q at checkout.  You can select the version that works for your eReader, or even choose to just read on your computer.  Thank you for having a look!


Reblogging: Executive Order 9066, Signed on This Day in 1942

Executive Order 9066, signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was the reason that Japanese-American citizens like actor-activist George Takei and his family were taken to live in concentration camps. Before the camps were built, many Japanese-Americans had to live in the stables at race tracks. One of them, Tanforan (which is now a shopping center), is only 45 minutes from where I live.

via Facts from My Fiction: Executive Order 9066 – Sharon E. Cathcart

Balfa Brothers – La Danse de Mardi Gras

Hi, everyone.  Today is Mardi Gras, so I thought I would share some images from the Cajun version of the celebration, as referenced in this snippet from my award-winning novel, Bayou Fire:

M&M frt Verson 1Diana went back inside for a few minutes to scribble some notes about the food and music. When she walked by the fireplace, she noticed a number of photos on the mantel and went to investigate them. One of them was a much younger Amos, in a rather peculiar tassel-covered shirt and matching pointed hat, riding a black horse. A strand of large wooden beads circled his neck, draping down his chest.

“That’s Cajun Mardi Gras,” Annie said, coming up behind her. “It’s not like what they do over in New Orleans. Out here, all the men dress in traditional costumes and ride horses from house to house, trying to get the women to give up something for the gumbo pot. At the end, everyone puts the ingredients together and there’s a big batch of soup to share. Amos was always one of the best riders, with those long legs of his. That black mare belonged to a neighbor, and they’d always let Amos borrow her for Mardi Gras. Every year he managed to get some woman to give up the chicken; we said he just batted his eyelashes and that was all she wrote. The chicken was the big prize for the stew pot.”

“That’s fascinating,” Diana said. “Thank you!” It seemed that Amos was even more multi-talented than she’d thought.

She followed Annie back outside. There, Amos, Harmon, and Billy were singing an a cappella song in French. Diana was able to understand only about half of it, something about the keys to the prison, but it didn’t matter. The three of them sounded marvelous together.


Phantom of the Opera Challenge – Day 10

poto challenge

Here’s the graphic, for a little memory-booster.  We’re a third of the way into this blog challenge.

Favorite Sung Line From Act 1

Technically, it’s an entire stanza.

In the fugue section of “Prima Donna,” the opera managers (Messrs. André and Firmin) give us a little insight into how chorines were viewed during the period:

“Who’d believe a diva happy to relieve a chorus girl who’s gone and slept with her patron?  Raoul and the soubrette entwined in love’s duet; although she may demur, he must have been with her.  You’d never get away with all this in a play, but if it’s loudly sung and in a foreign tongue it’s just the sort of story audiences adore.  In fact, the perfect opera.”

Here’s the thing:  as much as we admire actors and performers today, in the 19th century they were still considered to be just one step socially above prostitutes.  If you read the original Gaston Leroux novel, you’ll see this brought out:  Raoul’s family is appalled that he’s considering marrying Christine.  On the other hand, they are entirely unconcerned about that his older brother, Philippe, has made Jambes his mistress.  It’s all right to have a little something on the side, but you don’t bring “one of those people” (for lack of a better way to put it) into the family.

PrintI dealt with this in my own Seen Through the Phantom’s Eyes series; both Gilbert and Claire are in the performing world due to circumstances beyond their control, and they know that this is a social comedown.

Here’s a clip from the 2004 film, featuring Ciaran Hinds, Minnie Driver, and Simon Callow, which contains the entire fugue.  Enjoy!

Sample Saturday: “In The Eye of The Storm”

I’m sure you’ve noticed a theme in my posts over the last little while.  This year marks the 30th anniversary of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera” coming to Broadway.  In addition to the 30-day blog challenge, I’ll be sharing samples from my own Phantom stories.  This one comes from the award-winning In The Eye of The Storm.  Enjoy!

eye2In time, my body healed from the physical rigors of childbearing and Erik and I were able to make love again. The physical tenderness between us did much to heal my mind and before long the melancholy was back on the shelf where it belonged.

That is not to say that all was perfect or easy. On one particularly difficult night, Veronique lay shrieking in her cradle. I had fed her, rocked her … nothing helped. I wept with frustration; nothing I offered would comfort her. Erik eventually stalked out of the room scowling, returning with his violin. He tucked the instrument under his chin and played Brahms’ Lullaby while standing over her– and she fell silent as Erik’s music wove its spell. Eventually she slept.

From then on, Erik would play or sing her to sleep. Before long, she slept through the night and I, too, was able to rest again.

When Veronique was nearly a year old, Ornella and Estefan came again. Estefan decided that Veronique must know about horses and would hold her in front of him for short rides on Lladro’s back. She would giggle and smile for her uncle just as she did her father.

With me she was still diffident, as though unsure of how she would be received. I wondered how much my misery after her birth had really touched her. Surely she could not perceive it at such a young age?

Estefan handed Veronique to Erik, who kissed her little cheek and stroked her black hair. Her eyes were now green, like her father’s. She was serious most of the time, but her laughter and smiles for her father and uncle was unreserved.

Violin, House of Chanot, via Wikimedia Commons

Veronique was just two years old when Erik ordered the tiny violin from the House of Chanot, the same French violin-makers who created his precious instrument. It was his violin in miniature, with the sloping curves and unusual f-holes. Though Veronique was only just toddling, he was convinced that she was ready to learn the basics. He showed her how to properly hold the instrument under her chin, and taught her to play a simple Mozart tune pizzicato style.

“Time enough for bowing,” he said. “For now, we will work on fingering.”

As sure as night followed day, he was right. Veronique took to the violin like a fish to water; by the time she was three years old, she was bowing. She and Erik played simple etude duets together every day. His pride in her musicianship was palpable. To my surprise, my temperamental husband proved an able and patient teacher. Veronique adored him.