Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sample Read of The Time Heiress

Chapter One

From my earliest days I worked in the fields. My hands were small and nimble so I could get ahold of that cotton. When the deep, red blood from cuts on my fingers would stain the pure white, the boss would beat me, or worse - dock my quota so the next day I’d have to pick more. I don’t remember my mama. I just know I lived with Lillian and Samuel, and though they were young ones themselves, they took care of me like I was their own. 
One day, I saw Samuel beat for what reason I don’t know. The hate I felt for Master rose up in me bigger than ever and that night I told Lillian and Samuel that we had to run away. They didn’t hesitate. They said yes, right off. I was around twenty years old by then, Sam and Lill a few years more (though none of us knew our exact ages). They’d been lucky all these years, a brother and sister not sold apart. Also lucky that Master kept off of Lill—probably afraid of Sam, him being so big.
After that beating though, we got word they were thinking of selling Sam down south, so we didn’t waste time. On the new moon, in early spring, we went. The night was pitch-black, and it was cold. There were still patches of snow on the ground, but we could see the North Star through the mostly bare tree branches and we kept following it. When daylight broke, we slept in a corn crib and ate the little food we’d brought, some corn cakes and baked yams. By night time, we were cold and hungry. I thought about turning back. I knew we’d be whipped. Still, at least back home was food and a warm shack. But when I thought about them selling Sam, I knew we had to go on. We looked for that star and kept moving. It was slow walking ’cause the ground was wet and we were stepping in mud and mire. We went, feeling from tree to tree with owls hooting, and wolves crying, and so many terrible sounds from who knows what. Then we heard the dogs.
─From Caleb Stone’s narrative, as remembered by Dr. Cassandra Reilly

The paparazzi crowded the entrance to MIT’s Stata Center, making it nearly impossible for Cassandra to shove through the doors. Inside, the security guards kept the onlookers at bay while she made her way to the Chronology Department on the fifth floor. She was ridiculously nervous about meeting the famous artist, her stomach churning with each illuminated number as the elevator ascended. Cassandra’s book about her journey to England of 1820 had made her somewhat of a celebrity in her own right, but she was hardly a household name like Elinah Johnston.
Professor Carver’s secretary was waiting as the doors opened and indicated for Cassandra to enter the office. As she did, Elinah rose to greet her. “Hi, I’m Evie.”
Her sea-green eyes were the exact color of Benedict’s―so startlingly familiar. It was disconcerting to see them peering out of the beautiful face of a twenty-seven-year-old woman with wild black curls, full lips, and a body that would be the envy of any Hollywood starlet. The young woman’s skin, a light fawn color, was complemented perfectly by a dark red, knit dress, long-sleeved with a high neck. The frock hugged every inch of her body, from her muscular arms, to her long, shapely thighs, then flared coyly, just above the knee. Tights and high-heeled black boots completed the ensemble.
Cassandra willed her mouth to close before she accepted the offered handshake. “C-Cassandra Reilly.”
“Ladies, please sit down,” Professor Carver said. As they complied, he moved swiftly to his own seat behind the heavy wooden desk, reminiscent of early Americana, and whirled his chair around to face front. He sat forward, forearms perched on the desk. His dark eyes held an expression of excitement. “Ms. Johnston is a big fan of your book,” he told Cassandra.
She continued to stare as the young woman nodded vigorously, her black curls bouncing.
“Really. Well, thank you,” Cassandra said to her. “Professor Carver tells me you want to travel to around the time period when your ancestor Ben Johnston lived, but I still don’t understand why. You must know that it’s an extremely complicated and expensive undertaking and can be quite dangerous.”
“Yes, I know, but I became fascinated with the idea when I was wandering around the churchyard of All Angels in New York after attending a concert there, and I noticed tombstones that bore two of my family names, Johnston and Williams. I mentioned it to the pastor, and he told me both families were involved in the abolitionist movement before the Civil War. When I researched my family tree, I discovered that, yes, they were my ancestors! That’s when I decided to see if I could go back to that time and meet them.” She flashed Cassandra a bright smile.
Cassandra glanced at Professor Carver, her brow knit. A person outside of the Chronology community didn’t just get to time travel because they were interested in their family history, no matter how famous they were. “Do you also have slave ancestors that you know of?”
“No, no, I’m part African, Japanese, English, and a few other things, but my black heritage comes from my mother, who’s from Kenya originally. Her ancestors are all in Africa; they were not part of the slave history here. So it’s really my white ancestors that were involved with abolition, including Benedict’s daughter Cassandra, named after—”
“Yes, I know.” Cassandra cast a look back at Professor Carver. His eyes were alight with interest.
He broke into the conversation. “Ms. Johnston, I think Dr. Reilly and I need to consider your proposal in private. I have the financial information and can pass it on to her. What we really need to discuss is if there is scientific value in the journey.”
Evie rose. “Oh, I understand. And Dr. Reilly, I also understand your hesitation in undertaking a project like this. I know that tandem travel is usually not done, but I also know that your work here needs funding, and I’m not only willing to finance our journey, but those of other scientists here at the lab as well.”
“I’m sorry, did you just say our journey?”
“Well, yes, of course, you would need to come with me.”
Cassandra jumped up from her seat. “Wait a minute, wait a minute! Nobody said anything about me going! I have no intention of traveling again, at least not any time soon, especially not with—”
Professor Carver stood as he spoke. “Cassie, calm down, nothing has been decided. We’re only listening to Ms. Johnston, and considering, that’s all, and I’d really prefer we continue this conversation in private.”
“I’m sorry, Dr. Reilly,” Evie interjected, “I didn’t mean to upset you, but I think if you consider the merits of my proposal—and the kind of money I’m talking about, you will be convinced. Thank you so much for your time. It was very nice to meet you.” She reached out to shake hands, and Cassandra reciprocated mechanically. “Oh, and I brought something for you. Please, I’m not trying to bribe you,” she laughed lightly. “It’s just a token of thanks for considering my proposal.” She handed Cassandra a package wrapped in brown paper. “Have a nice day,” she said. She shot a flirtatious smile at Professor Carver and picked up her bag.
The professor leapt to open the door for her. “Thank you so much for coming, Ms. Johnston, we’ll be in touch soon. Do you need me to walk you to your car?”
“No.” She flicked her wrist and spoke. “Frank, I’m ready.” Turning to the professor she said, “My bodyguards will meet me at the door. Thank you again for your time.”
Her smile was still on high voltage.
Professor Carver grinned back at her and closed the door. He turned to Cassandra who looked up at him, hands on hips. She’d tossed the package onto the chair behind her.
“All right now, Cassie, let’s talk about this.”
“There are so many reasons why this cannot happen,” she spat, “I don’t know where to begin.”  
“Then first let me tell you why it should happen.”
“We need the money?”
“No.” Her boss was exhibiting his famous calm demeanor. He lightly stroked his hand over his close-cropped, gray-speckled hair. “That’s the least of it. But first, let me tell you how much money we’re talking about.”
The figure he uttered hung in the air like a tangible object. He went back to sit behind the desk and Cassandra sat too, shoving the small package out of the way.
“So, because she’s this big celebrity and has a lot of money to throw around, she gets to do whatever she wants, is that it?”
“Cassie, it’s not just that she’s rich or famous. You know me; I’m not impressed by that kind of thing.”
Cassandra raised her eyebrow a fraction.
“It’s the merit of this journey she’s proposing that really intrigues me. It’s a subject near to my heart, and I would be fascinated to go myself and interact with people, both black and white, who were involved in the struggle for abolition.”
The conclusion he’d already come to was obvious.
“But it doesn’t make sense for me to go, for so many reasons. I mean, being black, I could not move about freely in that world, the same as a white person. I would not only be ineffective in the experiment, but it would be dangerous for me.”
“Then why is it okay for Elinah Johnston to go—and why does she call herself Evie?”
“It’s her nickname, she said, short for her first name, Evelyn. Elinah is her middle name and she uses it because, as you can see, she’s proud of her Kenyan heritage. She only lets certain people call her Evie.”
Cassandra remained unimpressed.
“And, though she’s part black, she can go to pre-Civil War New York without a problem, why?”
“Because she’s so light skinned she could pass for white. A lot of people of her color did the same back then. And traveling with you, she could be your companion—perhaps a young artist wanting to see the world, but needing a chaperone to do so.”
“I thought the idea of passing for white was offensive.”
“It is. But back in the antebellum era, it was sometimes necessary and certainly advantageous.”
“And does she understand she’d be trying to pass? Is she comfortable with that?”
“She’ll do whatever is necessary; she really wants this. And you, of course, would be a wealthy widow, on vacation or something—”
“Again with the wealthy widow!”
“So, you’re considering it.”
“I didn’t say that. There are so many details to think about. First of all, she wants to go to New York City, right? My God, I can’t go back there while Ben is still alive!”
“He died fairly young, am I correct? What year was it?”
“That’s perfect. She is interested in traveling to 1853, when Cassandra Johnston and her grandfather were at the peak of their involvement in the cause.”
“How soon does she want to go?”
“She’s talking about the spring.” He winced.
“This spring!?”
“Well, yes.”
“But it’s—”
“I know; we’d have to start preparing everything right now. The portal, everything.”
Cassandra took a deep breath and exhaled loudly. “But Elton, what is her goal, what is the purpose of the experiment? Is she submitting a thesis to the Board?”
“I don’t think that will be necessary. The goal, for the purposes of the Board’s decision, is simply to meet her ancestors and understand what they did for the cause of abolition. Not very much was recorded about their work.”
“I’m going to have to think about it. My life is just returning to normal. Nick and I are just starting to feel like a couple; he’s not going to be crazy about this either.”
“It wouldn’t be a long journey. You’d only be gone a month. The two of you would be merely passing through, in New York for a holiday or something. It would be fun and interesting. Just think, mid-nineteenth century New York—what a fascinating time! Wouldn’t you love to see it?”
“Don’t try to distract me, Elton. Preparing for a journey like this will be doubly hard with the press underfoot. They follow her and her entourage around constantly.”
“She promised me she will keep it low key. No entourage, no fans—the press…well, that will be harder to control, I admit, but I think it’s worth the trouble.”
She sank back into the aged leather chair and something crunched. She pulled the package out from behind her, tore off the paper, and gasped.
“What is it?”
She slowly turned it around and showed it to the professor.
His mouth dropped open. “It must be a print.”
Cassandra ran her hand over the surface of the picture. “No, it’s the real thing.”
It was a small, abstract self-portrait of the artist, one that Cassandra recognized instantly as among the most famous of Elinah Johnston’s works, nestled in a hand-made, rustic wooden frame. Its value was immense.
“I think she is trying to bribe me,” she said with a sardonic laugh. She set it on his desk. “At any rate, I’m not keeping it.”
“Yes, you’re right. You have to give it back.” He picked it up and examined it. “I guess it shows, though, how serious she is about this proposal.”
Cassandra slowly shook her head. She looked out the window at the frozen Charles River below. Was it possible Elinah Johnston’s wealth, fame, or beauty was influencing her normally unshakable boss? Perhaps a little of all three. “I’ll think about it, Elton. But I don’t like her method of convincing me. Will you please give it back to her?”
“Yes, leave it here, and I’ll speak to her about the propriety of offering you such a thing. But Cassie, if this trip is going to happen, we’d have to get started next week.”
“Give me two days.” She stood and he rose with her.
“All right, and thank you.”
“I haven’t said yes.”
“I know,” he said, giving her a peck on the forehead and a gentle hug. “I’ll talk to you soon.”
She returned his affection with a kiss on the cheek. “Okay. See you later.”
Cassandra exited the building. The paparazzi had evaporated. She walked south through the MIT campus, across a highway, where the cars glided quietly to a pause as she crossed. She wandered along the Charles River to just before the boathouse and rowing skiff. At that time of year, with the water frozen, no one was around. The temperature was in the low thirties but her lightweight clothing was programmed to keep her comfortable regardless, even with the wind blowing in off the water.
She stared across at the Boston skyline, the gleaming dome of the three-hundred-and twenty-year-old State House still vivid amidst the towering skyscrapers, and Harvard Bridge quaintly poised to allow for the passage of vehicles that its builders could not have vaguely imagined. The images of the present began to recede, however, as thoughts of England from the year 1820 took their place. Though she tried not to spend too much time thinking about her relationship with Ben Johnston now that she and Nick were together, sometimes the recollections came flooding back beyond her control as they did now, especially after seeing those eyes, Ben’s eyes, looking at her from Elinah Johnston’s face.
The icy surface of the Charles River became the backdrop for her memories of Sorrel Hall, the beautiful mansion she’d lived in for a year, its sweeping grounds, its forests, hills, and streams, and the rustic little cottage where she and Ben met to make love as often as possible, the thrill of the secrecy of their affair still palpable. His eyes, those sea-green eyes, his mouth, his hands, his sinewy body―heat rose through her thighs. She took a deep breath. It wasn’t right to be fantasizing about him anymore. He’d been dead for almost three centuries, and she was now in a relationship with the man who had ultimately proven to be the hero when she needed one most.
Then there was her son James. He was beginning to plan his own experiment a few years from now. He’d insinuated himself into her journey, having convinced Professor Carver to let him go back to England six months into her stay to check up on her. The repercussions from a particular mistake he’d made during that trip had been so dire the thought of them now caused a chill to run through her body, replacing the heat from a few moments ago, and further sobering her toward this new venture. Evie Johnston thought it would be a fun adventure to get dressed up in period clothes and pop into the past, check out some ancestors, maybe attend a ball, pretend to be goddamned Scarlett O’Hara gadding about in the antebellum north, but heaven forbid something would go wrong. If she didn’t go with Evie, someone else would have to, and Cassandra was the most experienced among her colleagues. This trip seemed to be becoming inevitable, the girl being so intent on it happening she was willing to use one of her priceless pieces as a bargaining chip.
Cassandra headed over to the nearest Cambridge subway station, and in five minutes was exiting within a block of her townhouse on Mount Vernon Street. She went in, changed her clothes and gave Nick a call.

When she walked into the restaurant, she spotted him sitting at their usual table overlooking the harbor. Nick’s face lit up when he saw her, and she smiled in return.
He stood to greet her. “Hi!”
She kissed him lightly on his full, welcoming lips. He was so undeniably handsome: his warm brown eyes, his high cheekbones, and his thick gray hair, worn long, a little past his ears.
The waiter blustered up to the table. His face was flushed, and a few strands of what remained of his hair had blown out of place. “Cassandra! Nick! How are you! So good to see you!”
“Hi, Henry!” they chimed.
“Two cups of clam chowder and a bottle of Montepulciano, am I right?”
“You got it,” said Nick. “Right?”
Cassandra laughed. “Sure.”
Henry hurried away with the order. Cassandra breathed in the smell of fresh bread baking, and the salty tang of clams steaming in the kitchen. A fire crackled in a nearby fireplace and warmed her face. On a Monday night, the restaurant wasn’t busy. The few couples in the room murmured to each other over the clank of silverware and china.
“It was cold today,” Nick commented.
“Yes, but I didn’t mind it.” She enjoyed teasing him a moment―withholding the news he was surely impatient for.
“You look beautiful. Have you been wearing that all day?”
“No, silly, I put it on for you. I know you like me in a dress.”
Henry returned with their wine, opened and poured it, then took their main course orders and trundled off again.
“Tell me!” Nick finally blurted. “Tell me what the famous artist is like!”
“Well first of all,” she said, her face growing warm, “she absolutely has Ben’s eyes.”
Nick’s smile faded.
“I’m sorry to have to say that, but it’s true. Anyway, it doesn’t matter; it was just interesting to see that a characteristic like that could be carried down through so many generations.”
“Yes, I agree.” The enthusiasm returned to his face.
“Also, she’s even more beautiful in person than in any images you’ve seen.”
“I’m afraid I was pretty rude to her, though.”
“You were? Why?”
“Because I don’t like the idea of the rich and privileged getting to do anything they want.”
“Forgive me if I take her side, being rich and privileged myself—”
“But you don’t take advantage of it. She even offered me her most iconic painting to convince me, the self-portrait.”
“I didn’t accept it. I gave it to Elton to give back to her.”
“Geez. So, has the project been approved by the board?”
“Well, no, not yet. Carver needs my decision before he presents it to them.”
“But why is it up to you? I mean, I’m sure Carver wanted your input, but why is it your decision?”
“Because she wants me to go with her.”
Cassandra held Nick’s gaze while Henry brought the soup. He placed it before them soundlessly and scurried away.
Nick finally spoke. “Go with her?”
“Yes. She wants to travel to New York 1853 to meet Ben’s daughter, Cassandra Johnston, and she wants me to go with her.”
Color drained from Nick’s face as he stared down at his soup.
“But Nick, Ben will be dead.”
“Oh, yeah.” His skin regained its usual hue. “How soon does she want to make the journey?”
“I’d say within six months—by the spring, actually.”
His spoon stopped mid way to his mouth.
“I know, I know,” Cassandra hurried on. “It’s really soon. But obviously she’s got the bucks to make this happen. She can throw endless resources behind it.”
“I’d like to be part of the support team,” Nick uttered after he’d swallowed his mouthful of soup.
“I think Elton is hoping you will be.”
Nick inhaled deeply. “Are you really up to this? To be traveling again so soon?”
“Well, I never would have considered it before today, but now to think about seeing New York during that time period, to meet actual abolitionists, Ben’s daughter, it would be incredible! It’s just that…” She took another spoonful of chowder.
She took a moment to chew and swallow before she spoke. “I just can’t help feeling like this is some kind of bizarre whim of hers, a whim she can act on because she is who she is.”
“Well, I’m behind you, whatever you decide to do.”
She squeezed his hand across the table. “You’re the best.”
Henry returned and presented them each with a steaming plate of linguini.
“This looks great. Thank you, Henry,” said Nick with a smile. He picked up his fork and twirled the pasta around it, then set it back down.
Cassandra’s fork was already half-way to her mouth, a succulent clam poised on a mound of pasta. “What’s the matter?”
“I’m suddenly not very hungry.”
“Did I upset you?”
“No, no, not at all. Will you excuse me for a second?”
He got up and glided away toward the men’s room. The door was just visible from where she sat. When he reached it, he smacked it hard with his hand to open it, then went in and slammed it shut.

Chapter Two

Come daybreak, we got to a river. It was big and wide, all rough water. We felt it. It was ice cold, and none of us knew how to swim, but we knew that to go north, we had to cross it. We heard dogs still a long way off, coming for us. Sam walked up river a bit and called back to us. There was a ferryman on the other side with an old, rickety-looking raft. He was a black man, so we thought it’d be safe to cross with him. We huddled on the bank in the fog and waved to him, the barking of the dogs sounding closer and closer. He made his way on rope and pulley, easing the raft along with a pole stuck down into the river bottom. He’d yank it up then stick it back down and push, and little by little the raft came across. It was slow going. When he reached the bank, we scuttled down its steep sides and carefully stepped onto the slab of logs that tipped and pitched dangerously. Once we were situated, the ferryman started back across. The fog had settled down low, and we couldn’t see the bank on the other side. Sam and I helped him wield his pole, and we made quicker time. The barking grew louder, and now we could hear men shouting. After a time, we could no longer see the bank we’d come from, and it was a lucky thing, for we could hear the men and dogs running up and down near the riverbank. We spoke not a word as we rode, all fearful we’d tumble into the restless water. When we got to the far bank, Sam gave the ferryman his hat for payment. The man spoke briefly to us, telling us his master had freed him when he died, and he was happy to help his brethren to freedom on this ferry that was his and his alone.
He told us that about half-mile up the river was a creek inlet. He said to follow the creek ‘till the sun was halfway between the horizon and straight overhead. Said that nobody lived thereabouts and we oughta be safe ’till we get to the first house we see. Said Quakers live there. He told us to knock on the back door and say Daniel sent us. He said they were white people who hated slavery, and they would help us and to not be afraid.
─From Caleb Stone’s narrative, as remembered by Dr. Cassandra Reilly

Travel Journal, Evie Johnston: March 18, 2122—Dr. Reilly suggested that this would be a good time for me to start writing a travel journal, since our personal preparation for this trip is now getting underway. She said that keeping a journal like this is the scientific thing to do, and she suggested I write it out by hand (though it’s incredibly painstaking and hard to get used to) because when we get to 1853, our journals will, of course, have to be written out as well.
My name will be Evelyn Bay. Obviously, I can’t use my real last name, because it would seem strange that I have the same last name as the Johnston family. My “character” is to be the traveling companion of Mrs. Cassandra Reilly, a wealthy widow from Boston. It’s incredible the detail that is being put into this journey: the research we both have to do, the designing and creation of all the perfect period clothing and accessories, the speech training, the duplication of money. I just hope it won’t all be in vain. I’m determined to find Caleb Stone.

Evie picked up the mem-stick and examined it. It looked just like an old-fashioned book-mark. She swiped it over the last two sentences of her journal entry and they disappeared. They would be recorded in the stick, and also, invisibly, on the memory paper of the journal. This was the beauty of such “hidden” technologies. No one would ever see anything in her journal, other than what she intended them to see.

Nick and Cassandra lounged in her cluttered office at MIT, discarded containers of Chinese food lay about, taking up the available surfaces. The two scientists were staring at a floating 3D image of a New York street from the middle of the nineteenth century. He had been his usual cheerful self as of late, and whatever worries she’d had about his objections to the trip had been eased.
“This is Broadway from Eighth to about Twelfth Street,” said Nick, finishing off a dumpling.
“Oh yeah. I recognize Grace Church there on Tenth.”
The image shifted, allowing them to follow the streets as if they were actually walking on the surfaces.
“Now,” he said, “this is based partly on drawings from the time, and partly on imagination.”
They seemed to float along the avenue crammed with shops as the images continued to evolve.
“Okay,” he continued, “we’re coming up to Twelfth. Now I want you to notice here—” He used a laser to point at an opening between two buildings. “There’s a little alley here. Now watch.”
He gave a command, and the image shifted to a modern scene. It was New York’s Broadway of 2122. “It’s disorienting, but even though it hardly looks like the same street, you can recognize some landmarks, I think.”
“Right, right. God, I wish Evie were here to see this. I feel this part of the preparation is crucial.”
“Well, I guess fame has its demands.”
“I would think she’d want to make these training sessions a priority if she’s so desperate to make this journey.”
“True, but the most important thing is that you are prepared. You’re the guide.” Ben paused before continuing.  “So, anyway, coming back up toward Twelfth Street, you can see that where this little alley used to be there is now a store front, and inside, our portal lab.”
“I can’t wait to see it tomorrow for real. Let’s see some more of the area.”
The floating image continued up Broadway to Union Square, then wandered westward, along Fourteenth Street, down Sixth Avenue, and then turned east onto Waverly Place with its solid little brick houses, well-cared-for gardens in the front, and lace curtains fluttering at the windows. It continued along Washington Square Park and down Lafayette to Fourth Street. Here and there, a tenement building made an appearance. Laundry flapped from makeshift lines strung wall to wall.
The scientists wandered down the holographic streets where a bakery was adjacent to a butcher shop, which neighbored a cheese shop, set up next to a cobbler. Make-believe people, appropriately attired for the era, went on about their business.
“Amazing how little the locations of the streets have changed despite the passage of time,” Cassandra commented.
“It will be fascinating to experience. I envy you. I remember the thrill of trying to fit in—of passing yourself off as someone you’re not.”
“I never really thought of it as a thrill.”
“Maybe it’s better, then, that I’m not going. I supposed the thrill is not a very scientific reason for traveling.” 
“Honestly,” remarked Cassandra, “I’m fairly nervous about what we may encounter. Although the layout of the city hasn’t changed since the 1850s, other things have. We’ll have to be cautious no matter what we do or where we go. It was a volatile time in New York.”
He turned to her, his face serious. “Cassandra, promise me you will stay away from any rough areas. If you think some place or someone seems even the slightest bit sketchy, just steer clear. I’m worried you’ll end up in a compromising situation.”
“I think I’ll know what and whom to stay away from.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to imply otherwise.”
“We’ll be keeping a low profile.”
“But I’m sure your simply being there will attract enough attention. You’re both so beautiful.”
“Well, Evie maybe, but you overestimate my charms.”
He took her hand and kissed it. “She doesn’t hold a candle to you.”
“Now you’re just lying.” She laughed, and stood. She gathered the empty food containers and tossed them into the recycler. “But, whatever you say.” She kissed him on the forehead. “I better get going.”
He stood and grabbed her arm, pulling her in close. “Why don’t you come home with me tonight?”
“You know I have to get up early.”
“Okay, then I’ll go home with you.”
She laughed. “It wouldn’t make any difference. I won’t get any sleep.”
“I promise I’ll let you sleep.” He kissed her neck.
“No, Nick, I can’t."
“Come on—” He tightened his embrace while continuing to kiss her neck and face.
“We can do it right here,” he whispered to her.
“No!” she said, squirming out of his grasp.
He turned back to the hologram of New York City, his ears and the back of his neck red.
“Nick, don’t be angry.”
He took a deep breath and faced her again with a forced smile. “I’m not. I just don’t get enough time with you. And soon you’ll be gone.”
“Well, I’m sorry about that, but I have to go. Goodnight.”
She walked out of the room, turning to look back as the door closed. Through the fogged glass of the window, his silhouette remained unmoved as if he were just standing there, staring after her.

New York City was as beautiful and changeable as it had ever been on an April morning. Flashes of bright blue sky flirted from behind the skyscrapers, only to be overcome by clouds frantically whipping past. The briny scent of the ocean blew in with them; the same aroma that people on the island had most likely smelled since the very first humans lived there.
It was ten o’clock. Cassandra knocked on the glass door of the portal lab, which was covered up with paper from the inside. It was the future site of an ice-cream shop the team had rented for two months. As she waited, she glanced up at a patch of blue and the feeling of vertigo that comes from watching clouds race over tall buildings swam over her. The two buildings that sandwiched the tiny shop also dwarfed the spire of the ancient Grace Church nearby at the corner of Tenth Street and Broadway, the same as the modern holographic images she’d seen with Nick the night before. She shuddered. He had been so needy with her, almost aggressive.
It had been seven years since her husband Franklin had died, and at that time, she didn’t think she’d ever find as wonderful a man again. She had fallen in love with him for his innate goodness, for the same qualities of kindness, intelligence, and humor that her father had. When she’d met Ben Johnston in Regency England, she’d found those same qualities in him―and she’d thought Nick had them too, for the most part. Yet something had kept her from introducing him to her parents, as if there were something about him that didn’t quite measure up. After all, her parents’ relationship was her model of a great partnership.
They had been newlyweds in New York, when the area was mostly low-rise buildings. When Cassandra was young, they liked to reminisce about the city of their youths, to point out to her the locations of long, lost “mom and pop” shops that no longer existed. The location of a bookstore that was once on a nearby corner where they’d gotten lost for hours in the moldering texts, a favorite dive of a diner where they’d spent days arguing the merits of socialism in a society where the foundations of capitalism were crumbling, these were all part of the fond memories she held of her parents’ stories. They would stumble in after a night of drinking, Cassandra’s mother had confessed, for an omelet and a Bloody Mary, only to find themselves caught up in discussions with local activists and artists, the neighborhood legends, and would discuss art and literature for hours. It was her dad who had shown her the spot where his favorite music shop had been, nearby on Bleecker Street, a place he would always find some treasure—perhaps a bit of bootleg vinyl to add to his collection of archaic formats. Now, it seemed progress had taken its toll on the area, and those quaint experiences had mostly gone.
A black car with dark windows glided up and stopped at the curb. Evie stepped out wearing a skirt that barely covered her rear, a top that formed to every curve of her torso, and five-inch stiletto heels, all in silver tones that caught the light and glistened as she moved. She spoke to her chauffer then stepped away from the door while it silently slid shut. As the car slipped away into traffic, Cassandra glanced down at the gray sweater she was wearing over a slim fitting black skirt and flat patent leather shoes. Earlier, she’d thought she looked sophisticated; now she suddenly felt frumpy.
At that moment, a young scientist named Yoshi opened the door of the lab, flanked by his colleague, Jake. Cassandra exchanged warm hugs with them both. The two men then shook hands with Evie. Jake stood up straighter in her presence, making the most of his five feet, eight inches and Yoshi, lanky and habitually unkempt, quickly tucked in his shirt and tried to smooth down his spiky black hair. He was the man in charge of the tour and proudly showed the women around the long, narrow space, taking them through a small lounge area to the control room. A large monitor there displayed a night-vision image of an alleyway.
“This is the exact spot in which we’re now standing, two-hundred and sixty-nine years in the past,” said Yoshi. “Since they didn’t use daylight savings time yet, it’s about nine am there.”
Suddenly a flash of red darted across the screen.
“What was that?” asked Evie.
“Probably a rat,” Yoshi replied with a shrug, “judging from the size of it. This monitor shows us images based on heat. If a man were to walk into the alley, we would recognize it as such from its shape; but again, it’s not a picture, it’s a heat image.”
Just then, another red shape wandered across the monitor, and they could see from its shape it was a cat.
“Now watch,” said Yoshi. Cassandra looked on with Jake though the process was second nature. Yoshi gave the computer a verbal command to measure the image. It immediately responded by outlining the image in blue and presenting the exact body mass of the cat for them to read.
“This is how we will know when you and Cassandra return to the portal for transportation back to our time. We will have pre-programmed your exact body mass and proportions, along with your stance and biometric signature, into the computer. Once you step into the alley, the computer will sound an alarm to alert us to a match, and we will immediately activate the portal for your return. You will instantaneously disappear from that spot, but it will take about a minute for you to actually travel through the wormhole to this portal chamber.” He indicated a glass-enclosed booth to his right.
Evie was silent. Yoshi glanced at her.
After a moment she spoke. “You say it’s programmed to my body?”
“Yes, that’s right,” he said.
“Well, what if I gain or lose weight?”
 “The particular proportions of your face, your hands, your feet, your bone structure, all those things are programmed in,” Cassandra carefully explained, “so that even if your body mass index changes, the computer will still recognize you.”
“That’s a relief,” the young woman breathed. “Can I go in the booth?”
“Sure,” said Yoshi. “Try it out.” He quickly opened the door for her.
She went in, feeling along the entrance. Her head reappeared for a moment. “You’re sure I won’t just pop into the past?”
Yoshi laughed. “Not a chance.”
She withdrew all the way into the chamber. “Will Cassandra and I go at the same time?” she called out from within.
“No,” Cassandra replied. “It’s not safe for both of us to go at once. I’ll go first, and you’ll follow along immediately along. There will only be one minute between our arrivals. When we return to this time, you’ll go first, and I’ll follow.”
“Oh,” said Evie, quickly stepping out of the booth. She shivered. “It makes me feel claustrophobic.”
“Don’t worry,” said Jake, laying a hand on her arm, his blue eyes meeting hers. “I’ve done it about a half a dozen times now, and I’m still in one piece. It’s perfectly safe.”
“I trust you.”
“What other questions do you have?” Jake went to casually pick up the cup of coffee he’d been drinking and knocked the spoon in it to the floor, then ignored it as if it didn’t exist.  
“What happens if there’s an emergency and we have to leave quickly?”
Yoshi guided them all to sit in the lounge area. When Evie’s back was turned, Cassandra jabbed Jake with her elbow. He stuck his tongue out at his friend before Evie looked around at him.
 “You have to come back to the portal exit,” he said to the artist. “There’s no other way to get back.”
Evie nodded. After that, there were many more questions from the young woman, and the scientists tried to satisfy her concerns until Cassandra glanced at her watch. It was noon. “Should we finish this conversation over lunch? I’d like to catch the one-thirty train from Grand Central back to Boston. We could eat there. Are you comfortable catching a cab with us, Evie, or do you need to call your chauffer?”
“Oh, a cab is fine. As a matter of fact, I sent my driver back to Boston. I want to go back on the train with you, Cassie.”
“Oh, great,” she said with as much cheer as she could muster.

Friday, December 9, 2011

An Amazing Week!

First of all, my newest novel The Time Heiress, was released. Here's the summary:

In The Time Heiress, Dr. Cassandra Reilly is surprised to find herself time-traveling again, this time to New York City of 1853, accompanying the internationally acclaimed artist, Evie Johnston. Evie has funded the trip, explaining that she wishes to meet her ancestors, activists in the Underground Railroad. However, the beautiful painter has another agenda altogether.

When they arrive in the pre-Civil War city, Evie's deception embroils both her and Cassandra in the activities of the abolitionist revolutionaries, a situation fraught with danger, and unexpected romance. Cassandra struggles to keep history intact, and to keep her and Evie from falling victim to a gang of human traffickers. All the while, each woman discovers how the past has a way of becoming all too present and personal, as they both fall under the spell of the time and the people they meet.

And here's the link:

Also, my first novel, The Time Baroness, was featured on Mark William's International, a really great write up:

I think I'm on a roll!

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Victory for Nerds, an Evolution for the Rest of Us

Here's a conversation topic for nerd-girls: Did the neutrinos at the CERN facility in Switzerland on November 20th, actually travel faster than light, confirming an earlier experiment in September at the same facility? Both experiments, conducted by the OPERA collaboration, had the same results, though the neutrinos were packed more tightly in the second. Here's an article that explains it better than I can: 
Of course, scientists all over the world are up in arms about this. I can just picture the scientists who did the experiment jumping up and down with excitement, their thick-rimmed glasses flying in all directions, while their nemeses sourly publish articles about why they must be wrong, angrily jamming their slide rules into their pocket protectors. If OPERA is right, there will be a lot more than sour grapes. Physics will have to start again at 0, because this means that Einstein's theory that nothing can travel faster than light, the famous E=Mc2, is wrong.

This, as my friend Garrison put it, is like the discovery that the world was round instead of flat. Everything we know of as reality will have to shift. Originally, I thought the finding would do nothing more than mess with the TV show The Big Bang Theory, but I was wrong. A gifted Chinese ESL student of mine explained with great clarity how this changes everybody's reality: if neutrinos can travel faster than light, it means (very roughly, and I'll probably get this wrong, so don't yell at me if you're a scientist) that we could perceive light in the past or in the future. That's right. Wait for it. Drum roll other words....TIME TRAVEL!

You see people? I was right all along! Time travel will be possible one day! What a relief for Cassandra, Professor Carver, James and all those scientists in my books, hopping around from one era to another! But seriously, time travel is, indeed, hundreds of years off, if at all, because these CERN experiments have yet to be replicated by other scientific bodies, though both Japan and the U.S. have the capacity to do it and will try in the coming year. And that experiment is merely step one. In the meantime, ponder this: if we can perceive reality in the past or the future, it means that cause and effect have no meaning. Effect could come before cause. Linear time would be irrelevant, and that is what we base our entire reality on.

Get ready to have your minds blown, people. I see this as a major evolution in man's thinking and perception. So hop on, two, three, evolve!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Time Heiress

The countdown is on! Only 12 more days 'til the release of The Time Heiress! It's the birth of my latest opus.  I'm nervous and excited! Sneak peak of the cover any day now...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Not Really A "Romance"

What is the definition of a romance novel? I once went to the website of the National Romance Writers of America (NRWA) to find out. As I came to understand, a traditional romance is a story in which the main female character ends up with the main male character...or the heroine with the hero as they say. It doesn't matter what they may go through during the course of the story...they may hate each other at the beginning, or one may hate the other; one may need to save the other; one may be rich the other poor; we might have a forceful man and a submissive woman; a fiery woman and a sensitive man; there may be seemingly insurmountable obstacles between them...and on and on. When I go on the Amazon Romance forums, I see people talk about "heroes" who rape, who are overcome with jealousy, who are possessive, who are priests, cowboys, astronauts, realtors, vampires (of course) name it. There is literally no scenario that cannot be made into a romance except that in which the hero and heroine don't end up together. Now, I don't want to tell you how my book, The Time Baroness, ends, but I will say this: it's not a traditional romance novel. I learned from the NRWA that this kind of book should be referred to as a novel with a romantic theme (could be a mystery, historical, scifi, paranormal - whatever - but cannot technically be called a romance if it doesn't have that traditional ending). When I tagged my book on Amazon, I didn't tag it as Romance, but I did chose tags like Time-Travel Romance, Historical Romance, etc. Unfortunately, this has led some readers to buy it thinking it is a traditional romance, and, as a result, they felt surprised by the ending. Some have said they loved that it didn't have the traditional ending, some said that they wished it had ended a little differently. In the description, I call it  "a romantic, time travel adventure set in Jane Austen's England." See? Nowhere do I say it's a romance. How can I be more clear? I don't think I can. I wish I could stick a big tag on it that says something like NOT A ROMANCE NOVEL. I guess I just want to say to the reader that I hope they enjoy it, hope they get a romantic feeling from it, hope they have fun with the story and get a sense of excitement from it, and I hope that they take away a sense of Jane Austen's world.

The sequel is coming out in a couple of weeks. It's called The Time Heiress, and in it, my heroine accompanies a kind of time-travel tourist to pre-Civil War New York City, where they both get embroiled in romance, and the danger of the Underground Railroad. Is it historical? Yes. Is it an adventure? Yes. Is it about time-travel? Yes. Is it a romance? No. It is sexy and it is romantic, but, gentle warned...the ending is not that of a traditional romance novel.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Great Review; and a Preview

Two nice pieces of press today; one, a great review of The Time Baroness on
 the other, my interview article with the writer, and the director of APAC's world premiere of A Hard Wall At High Speed:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Can't help but be so proud of these two, Josh Ellis and Elanna White, the driving forces behind the amazing band, Donner Social. Check out this interview:

Monday, September 26, 2011

A New Giveaway!

Right here:
Can you believe it? Another chance to win a print, signed version of The Time Baroness!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Saga Continues...or GEICO Exposed

If you haven't heard the incredible, heart-stopping tale of how we found our stolen car, click here: Now, for the truly hair-raising account of our dealings with GEICO: first of all, let me say that when we first called GEICO to report the car stolen, it was a Saturday. All we were able to do was to file the claim, not rent a replacement car, not talk to the agent or adjuster or whatever the hell they call those people, because they only work 9-5 Monday thru Friday (some of them, we later learned, only work til 4 or 4:30 and they all take long lunch breaks. Some of them don't come in til 10:00am. It's a hard life working for GEICO.) Their motto should be: "Disasters only happen during business hours."

Okay, so come Monday we supplied the police report number, got assigned our agent, the lovely and super-cranky Ms. Butler, and were able to get a rental car from Enterprise for $37 a day, though our coverage only provides for $30 a day. Then comes the moment two weeks later when we recover the stolen car, as spelled out at the above link. That too, occurred on a Saturday, so though we immediately reported it to GEICO, the car sat in the lot to which the police had it towed, with it's broken windows, the leather interior exposed to the elements, all that rainy weekend, and Monday, and Tuesday, and an entire 10 days beyond while GEICO got it together to send an inspector. Once this person finally made it over to the lot for his "inspection," he performed it from outside the fence and didn't even know, though we knew from inspecting the car ourselves when it was first in police possession, that the radio and GPS had been torn out. When we brought this up with the lovely Ms. Butler, she crossly denied the fact. She is one mean bee-awch. So much for friendly GEICO customer service.

Eventually the car got towed to the Honda dealership, somehow incurring a ticket along the way for which GEICO wants no responsibility, and then sat there for another 40 DAYS while GEICO screwed around giving estimates that were too low, sending inspectors that did not properly inspect, and taking their sweet time sending payments to cover the work. All this time, they rarely called to update us - we had to call to find out what was happening and whenever we dealt with Ms Butler, we were treated with impatience and rudeness. However, usually we had to talk to her boss or someone else in her office because she was out, or on vacation, or had left early or wasn't in yet.

Now, we're about to renew our rental car agreement beyond 60 days, not knowing if GEICO will cover it for the $30 a day, while we're already out the $420 dollars which is $7 X 60 days, and is probably not part of our $500 deductible - all because GEICO has screwed around so long and behaved so ineptly. We still don't have our car, obviously, though we could have easily had it at least two weeks ago, had GEICO been responsive, not constantly passing the buck, and paying more attention to customer service than defending their actions (Ms. Butler) and taking time off.

We used to like GEICO. Used to think they were responsive and friendly. Use to like the GEICO gecko and the cavemen, and the low premiums. Now we feel burned. And if we ever get our sweet car back, it will be with the sense that we didn't suffer enough just having our car stolen, GEICO had to compound the problem a hundred fold. Where's my English muffin with jam!?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Gorgeous Geyser Gushes GeeGaws

Gusher by Nichole Van Beek
In the wilds of Queens, a cement fountain spouts forth porcelain kittens and puppies, birdies, bowls, salt & pepper shakers, vases, and all manner of kitchy knick-knacks. It's one of the pieces in Socrates Sculpture Park's Emerging Artist Fellowship Exhibition that opened September 10th, 2011, and it was created by my friend, artist Nichole Van Beek . If you've never been to Socrates, at Broadway and Vernon Boulevard in Astoria Queens, get out there and check it out now. It's a beautiful time of year to go to an open air, free museum of cutting edge sculpture and installation art right on the East River with a spectacular view of Manhattan. There are always interesting things to see there, sometimes beautiful, sometimes hideous, sometimes completely baffling, but they inevitably spark thought or conversation. Besides that, you can bring your dog or your bike, have a picnic or just hang out and do nothing. You don't even have to look at the art. But when you do go, I urge you to note Nichole's piece, "Gusher." It's cool and fun, whimsical and energetic, very reflective of Nichole herself, a nerd-girl of the first degree. Congratulations on having a  piece on display in one of the most prestigious venues in the city, nerd-girl Nichole; you make us proud!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What's With All Those Five Star Reviews?

Yesterday I discovered a snarky 3 star review on The Time Baroness' Amazon page, and, as has been the case with the other less-than-five-stars I've received there and on Goodreads, I went into a major funk, and thought: OH MY GOD, NOW I HAVE TO REWRITE THE WHOLE BOOK. That lasted  about five minutes, and yet the review stays with me like a headache. Out of sixteen Amazon reviews, only two are less than five stars. On Goodreads, there are two out of seven. As my career moves forward, I'm sure there will be more and more of all kinds, because, let's face it, not everyone will love my book, though hopefully many will. Some people will even (gasp, god forbid!) hate it. The first time I received a lower than perfect review I assuaged my wounded ego my going to Audrey Niffeneggar's Goodreads page and checking out her reviews. She has 29,205 reviews and her overall star rating is less than four. I read through some of the reviews and some were really, really bad. I was stunned. Audrey is kind of my hero(ine) and TTW is one of my favorites of all time. So, you'd think this would prove to me that one person can love a book while another hates it and I just shouldn't be so sensitive. As a matter of fact, I think of writers like Thomas Pynchon who killed himself, ostensibly, because of his lack of faith in his work...or John Kennedy Toole, author of A Confederacy of Dunces. If your self-esteem is that wrapped up in your writing, then something is wrong.

What really irks me though, is that that this reviewer called into question my fourteen 5 stars, implying that I had gotten them by devious means. Well, let me say this, if any reader is naive enough to believe that your mother or your sister or your best friends aren't going to leave you great reviews, then they need to wake up and smell the ditto paper. The fact is, the people who love and support you want you to succeed and think you're great no matter what you write and you can't stop them from saying so. But most of my 5 stars come from people I've never met, who weren't asked to read my book, who came out of the blue and wrote great reviews because they loved my book. Period.

Notice how, that one 3-star review made me so annoyed I had to sit down and blog about it! I wish I could e-mail ol' Audrey and ask her how she feels about the abysmal reviews she's gotten. You know what? She probably doesn't care at all, because she's laughing all the way to the bank. Yet we don't write for money. We write for love...the love of the creation, the love of telling the story, the love of expression. And when all is said and done, I love The Time Baroness. I love my story. I wrote it for myself. I tried to write the best story I could because, once I decided to sell it, I wanted it to be a great product too. But it won't resonate with everyone. If it did, I guess I'd be Harper Lee. So reviewers, please keep in mind that we're not trying to trick you into buying our books. We hope you will love it and are sorry when you don't. We appreciate constructive criticism, but sorry, no matter what you say, we're not going to rewrite the whole, darn book.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Writing for a Living - Or Not

Being a full time author is the dream of many a writer. Recently, I quit a job that I'd been working at for 10 and a half years and kind of leapt into the abyss. Though my novel, The Time Baroness, wasn't yet selling enough copies to live off of, it was steadily gaining in Amazon sales each month since its release in April of 2011. I needed time to complete the second book in my series, as well as to spend time promoting The Time Baroness, connecting with readers, and networking with authors and bloggers. 
So, now that hubby's working almost full time again, I figured, it's time to devote myself wholly to my craft.Yet lo and behold, just days after I quit my job, before I had the chance to start panicking about money, I got a call from Queensborough College here in NYC asking me to teach a morning class four days a week. So, I readjusted my idea of "writing full time," and said yes. What's appealing about the job, besides the fact that I love the school and the people, is that it's an 11 week semester that ends in December, after which, several weeks later, a new one will start. It's not an endless commitment, and it will leave afternoons and a three day weekend for writing. Who could complain about that? 
Yet I do feel nervous that I won't get as much writing done as I would have without the job. On the other hand I'll pay bills, so that's good. I'd love to hear from other writers about how they manage working outside the writing field, or working within it, or only writing novels for a living. Is it the fantasy-come-true that we imagine or is it an illusion?
All the best,
Georgina Young-Ellis

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Congratulations to Barbara Silkstone!

Barbara Silkstone is the winner of the Nerd-girls book and gift certificate giveaway! Thank you to everyone who entered! Though the contestants for my Nerd-girl giveaway were few, my giveaway on Goodreads attracted more than 700! They chose the winner this morning: Deszrian from Texas. So both Barbara and Deszrian will be getting a free, signed copy of The Time Baroness, and Barbara gets the added prize of a $25 gift certificate to Ann Taylor Loft. For those who didn't win, don't despair! You can still get the print version of The Time Baroness, a romantic, time-travel adventure set in Jane Austen's England at the new, sale price on Amazon of $8.60, here: or by clicking on the picture of the book on this blog. And, as always, it's only .99 as an e-book.

Finally, since I happen to know that Barbara is also an author, let me give a special shout out to her two humorous novels, The Secret Diary of Alice in Wonderland Age 42 and Three-Quarters:
and Wendy and The Lost Boys:, both great fun reads from her Fractured Fairy Tales Series.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

So Many Ways To Get The Time Baroness on the Cheap!

1. Buy the ebook for .99 cents. You can't get much cheaper than that.
2. Buy the print version from Amazon now. They've just discounted by %28 to $8.60, but I don't know how long this sale will last.
3. Enter either or BOTH of my giveaways and win it for free. Your chances are much better if you enter the giveaway on this blog because only about 6 people have entered and it ends August 31st, 2011.
 - You can also enter my Goodreads giveaway by clicking on the button just above this post. 
5. Finally, you can wait until after August 31st, 2011 and get it for %25 off directly from my website. It's not quite as good as Amazon's %28, but if you miss Amazon's sale, you still have a chance for a discounted price on the print version. This discount will last only one week, until September 7th, 2011.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Retro Two Gents is Great Outdoor Fun

Krystine Summers as Launce
and Lola as Crab
By Georgina Young-Ellis

The music of Styx and some crazy 1980s fashions sent me sailing away into the past, as the sun set over the East River, Friday, August 12th, 2011. I was enjoying Curious Frog Theatre Company’s production of Two Gentlemen of Verona in Astoria Park. This quick, hour and a half version of Shakespeare’s light-hearted comedy of love letters and disguises grabs your attention from the first moment and never lets go. There is some wonderful new talent on the Curious Frog (CF) stage, and some company members that I was pleased to see there again. Many of the performers do double duty in their roles, as is director Renée Rodriguez’s way: make the most of what you’ve got and keep the cast small. One stand out is the irrepressible Krystine Summers who we enjoyed last summer as Puck in A Midsummer night’s dream, bringing her quirky physical comedy and wry interpretations to her roles as Launce and the Third Outlaw in this production. Let me just say this: if you can manage to be onstage with an adorable Chihuahua (the lovely Lola who played the part of the dog, Crab) as Ms. Summers is so much of the time, and not be upstaged, you’re doing your job as an actor. 

Angela Sharp as Julia
and Umi Shakti as Lucetta
Another returning member of the company, Bushra Laskar, plays Silvia, the irresistible love interest to Proteus and Valentine. While snooty and self-centered, parading around the grass in her "Candies," she manages to enchant the audience with her expressive eyes and ease with the language. The "gentleman" in Verona are all exceptional actors: Justin Maruri, riveting as Valentine, Emilio Aquino engaging and funny as Proteus, and Antonio/Duke played by James Ware, an exciting new presence at CF, whom, I learned, will be playing Caesar in that simultaneously running Curious Frog production. I loved seeing Robert Dyckman on the Astoria Park stage for the first time; an exceptionally versatile and energetic actor, he plays the roles of Speed, Eglamour and the Second Outlaw. Angela Sharp is a standard at CF, and though I have enjoyed her performances in the past, she tends to be a little shrill in her role as Julia as she works to project in the open air venue.

Justin Maruri as Valentine
and Krystine Summers as 3rd Outlaw
The production is non-stop action and laughs, the kind of spectacle that has children from around the park running to check out, and staying to watch (however, it's not specifically a production for kids as it contains some rather bawdy humor). The fight choreography is precise and original, something Ms. Rodriguez is particularly adept at, a hallmark of all CF's Shakespearean productions.  The color blind casting that is part of their overall mission as a theater company also makes for interesting visual dynamics. But though the '80s theme is a good gag, I wasn't sure it really added to the story in any necessary way. All in all, if you're a fan of cool, innovative Shakespeare with bare bones sets but complete attention to acting, language, physicality and spirit, you won't want to miss either of Curious Frog's productions this summer. You can catch them at these locations and dates:

Two Gentlemen of Verona: Fort Greene Park (8/22 7pm); Central Park/Cherry Hill (9/3 6pm); Inwood Hill Park (8/27 4pm); Waterside Plaza/Manhattan (8/30 7pm); Pelham Bay Park (9/4 4pm). 

Julius Caesar: Prospect Park (8/20 4pm); Fort Greene Park (8/23 7pm); Central Park/Cherry Hill (8/26 6pm); Inwood Hill Park (8/27 6pm); Battery Park/Castle Clinton (8/29 6pm; 9/1 6pm); Queensbridge Park (8/31 7pm); Pelham Bay Park (9/4 6pm); Waterside Plaza/Manhattan (9/10 4pm).

Thursday, August 11, 2011

New 5 star review for The Time Baroness from "Amy" in California

I'm so glad I read this book. I enjoy time travel and historical romance and this book fulfilled my expectations of romance and a historical experience. It was engaging from beginning to end and I felt as if I really got to know not only Cassandra, but all of the players in the story. I loved the romance between Cassandra and Ben and as their relationship grew, I found I was on pins and needles trying to figure out which path she would ultimately choose as January 12th drew near. This is an excellent story and I have already recommended it to several friends! You won't be disappointed!"
Thanks to Amy, whoever you are!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Series of Bizarre Coincidences - Or How I Found My Stolen Car

My car was stolen a couple of weeks ago from my block, an odd, curvy little street in a forgotten corner of Astoria, Queens. I parked it around the bend in a spot we tend to avoid. It’s ill-lit, and sometimes shady characters lurk in the shadows. But when I came home from a girls’ night out (no drinking involved, let me be clear, except for oodles of herbal tea) it was after midnight, and there were no other parking places on the street. I reluctantly left my beautiful car there, saying to myself, “this is not good,” and checked and double checked to make sure it was locked and the alarm set.

We didn’t drive anywhere the next day, and though it occurred to me to move the car to a better spot, I didn’t. Saturday morning we gaily left the house, reusable shopping bags in hand, to go to the grocery store, walked around the corner car.  Son of a bitch.  Could it have been towed? We called the police, and they checked the system, no, it wasn’t towed. So they came and took a police report, we called good old Geico, and by Monday morning we had a rental car. All the conventional wisdom, including that of the large, African American guy at the rental car company, who I could have sworn was a famous record company executive, swore to me that we’d never see the car again. A 2008 Honda Civic, white, with leather seats, a sun roof, GPS…all the bells and whistles, was likely to be hacked up into parts and sold off. I was sad for our sweet car, the Semalu, as we called her (don’t ask, it’s a long story). Sad that I would never again hear her petulant GPS voice as she recalculated…and also sad for the things that we’d left in the car that we’d never see again: a particularly nice cloth grocery bag, a phone recharger, a large container of canned goods I’d been collecting since 9/11 in case we had to flee New York on a moment’s notice…my beach umbrella.

I asked Geico when we could collect on the policy, so sure was I that we’d never see the Semalu again, but they said we had to wait thirty days just in case. Thirty days…sure…they could dream. Then, Friday, at 3:30 in the morning, my 19 year old son bursts into our bedroom, throwing the lights on and declaring, “The car is back! And the thieves are in it!” We fly out of bed and call 911. He and his band-mates with whom he’d been returning so late at night run back down the street and observe from a safe distance. We’ve been admonished, not, under any circumstances, to get in the car if we find it but only to call the police – besides, we’d sent the keys back to Geico as requested. So as he as his friends run back and forth from the corner to our house to report, I’m on the phone with 911.

“What’s the emergency?” They asked in a bored drawl.
I explain.
“What’s the address?” They don’t sound particularly interested.
I tell them.
“What are the cross streets?”
I give them.
“Is that in Queens?”
“Yes! Please hurry! The thieves are in the car!”
“Someone will be there momentarily.” They hang up.
My son runs back, “They’re leaving the car!”
I call 911 again and update them.
“What’s the address?”
Infuriated, I give all the information again and hang up.
My son runs back. “They’re getting back in the car and driving away!”
I call 911 again and update them, becoming more and more frantic. A good 7 minutes have passed…where are the cops?
“What’s the address?”
I give them the information again, telling them how close they are to missing the chance to catch the car thieves red-handed.
“Someone will be there momentarily.”
My husband jumps in the rental car with my son and they go in pursuit, but come back to tell me they lost them.  A half an hour later, the police show up.

Now it’s Saturday. I’m disgusted with the NYPD. What a bunch of hopeless losers. I get in the rental car in the morning and drive around the neighborhood looking for the Semalu. Nothing. Later in the afternoon, my husband and I go out to do a quick errand. We could have done it a half an hour before, but I wanted to finish up some things around the house first.

So we get in the rental and proceed up the street, the Honda primary on my mind.
I’m muttering, “I am determined to find that car!”
My husband says, “We’re not going to find it.”
I say, “I know it’s still around here somewhere.”
I’m looking closely at every white car I see. There’s one coming towards us on the opposite side of the street. It’s a Honda.
“That could be it now,” Jon jokes.
I look at the license plate, “That’s it!” I scream.
My husband, thinking he’s Tom Selleck, pulls our car in front of the stolen vehicle, blocking their path. He and the driver lock eyes. Jon now has a positive ID on the guy. I whip out my phone and call 911, screaming at Jon, “Don’t confront him! Don’t confront him!” The guy pulls around us and turns left. Jon turns around and follows him while I’m shrieking at him to be careful and simultaneously informing 911 that we’re chasing our stolen vehicle down the street. They don’t get it.
“Which intersection are you at?” they ask lazily.
“31st and Crescent, now Broadway and Crescent…”
“You're at Broadway and Crescent? Is that in Queens?”
“Yes! Now we’re going west on Broadway…we’re turning right on 23rd,”
“You’re at the intersection of Broadway and 23rd?”
“We’re following them through a parking lot…we’re on 21st! They’re crossing onto the wrong side of the road! They’ve turned left onto 30th!”
911 tells me the police are on the way and I hang up. The thieves know we’re in pursuit and they’re hauling ass. They run stop signs…we can’t keep up; it’s too dangerous. The police call me back and ask where we are. I give them an intersection and get out so that I can wait for them as Jon takes a guess as to which way the Honda has gone, and goes off to look for it. The cops are with me in seconds. They scoop me up into the back seat and tear off down Vernon Blvd with me bouncing around trying to find a non-existent seat belt. As we turn into the Costco parking lot, thinking the car might be ditched there, I see a white Honda at the stoplight, but check the plates…it’s not it. I’m on the phone with Jon when the cops get a report on their radio that another squad car has found our vehicle. No perps inside. We travel the couple of minutes to the parking lot of the Astoria Housing Projects and there she is, the Semalu. One window broken, the radio gone, a few extra scratches, but other than that, none the worse for wear. We can’t touch her to see what else is gone from the interior because they have to dust her for prints, but we are relieved beyond words.

After a while, the cops, brilliant beyond belief, suggest that we can take the car home. We stare at them. “Well, we have no keys, and don’t think it’s a good idea to park it on our block with no window and no way to lock it.”
Oh yeah, duh.
So they tow it to a storage facility and there it sits until Geico gives us further instructions. We think the perps will be caught; there are cameras all over the Astoria Projects parking lot. 
Vigilante justice and a series of bizarre coincidences save the day.