Jean's Take

A blog about words, women, & whimsy

Category: Jean’s Books

Why did Jean start Writing?

Menopause! Yes, that’s right, I started writing fiction when I was teaching English in a Girl’s High School, finishing my Masters in Liberal Studies and going through Menopause—all at the same time. Another sympathetic English teacher and I agreed that if men suffered from it there would be all sorts of cures, so we decided to each come up with an idea for a humorous story. Well, by the time we discussed it again, my idea had turned into a book and characters had begun to take over my head. I was hooked.   Backstage at the White House turned out to be a far cry from Menopause and I wrote three other books before I finished it but it all started because of it.  Strange things do happen.



Two Months in but Still Hoping . . .

Emily Dickinson wrote—Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul—and sings the tune without the words—and never stops—at all.

I hope—all those reading this and all whom I hold dear—will have a Healthy, Prosperous and Happy—New Year . . .
I hope—this world will be a kinder and gentler place—with peace and goodwill for all—and that Mother Nature will give a break—no floods, no fires, no storms—that would be good for everyone’s sake . . .
I hope—that I find some dress shoes that won’t hurt my feet—and that our President will think to tweak before he Tweets.
I hope—my novel Backstage at the White House will find the audience it deserves—and President Forbes and Stacey Lee’s story will finally be heard . . .
I hope that you will add your hope—however, don’t forget to rhyme—after all—Emily did it all the thyme.

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That is what I recall from the day I was raped by Agostino Tassi . . . .

Artemisia as a Martyr

I once heard a wise woman compare life’s voyage to a river that slowly twists and turns as it makes its way to the sea.  I thought on it for it seemed pleasant, but I could think of no one, except perhaps that wise woman, whose life may have made such a leisurely voyage.  It is my experience that life’s way is more often thrown from an accustomed path by unheralded jolts. 

One can awaken on a morning filled with anticipation of a glorious day bathed in the warm Roman sun, and before it is over, the eyes are overcast with shadows and life’s course has been so altered that the time before is only a wistful memory.  That is what I recall from the day I was raped by Agostino Tassi . . .



Read more about the great artist Artemisia Gentileschi and four other marvelous women from history in my work  . . . 

                        Daughters of Eve, a Herstory Book. 

Now available under $4.00 to download from Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, and other booksites.




Christine de Pisan, an Early Renaissance Poet.

Some scholars call her the first feminist writer for good reason.  In her work, The City of Ladies , she writes about historic women and gives sage and quaint advice for women of her day who had to live in the world as it was;  she addresses not only the noble and powerful but the peasant and prostitute, the widow, the spinster, the nun, the married, the single, even the old and the young.  She took on this task because she said she could have used such advice when she was widowed.

Christine was married when she was 15 and widowed when she was 25.  She was left with five mouths to feed and much debt at a time when a woman of her class had two choices–to remarry or become a nun–obviously, Christine could not become a nun and shirk her responsibilities and she said that she’d had a happy marriage and did not care to enter the state again.  Fortunately for her, it was also a time in France  when Charles V the Wise was building a magnificent library and she had a talent copying manuscripts.  She would eventually be courted by the great courts of Europe for, not only her agile mind and eloquent verse, but, also a woman earning her livelihood by writing was an oddity, indeed.  Christine had the strength and determination to do what she had to do and to be what she could be.  Read more about her in my book, Daughters of Eve, a Herstory Book.


The Unheralded Jolt

I call a life-changing experience an ‘Unheralded Jolt’. It’s dramatic, and worthy of us, don’t you think? The fact is, I can’t take complete credit for it because I was inspired by the great Italian Baroque artist, Artemisia Gentileschi. I did a lot of research on her before I started writing her memoir for my work, Daughters of Eve, a Herstory Book. I knew I had found her voice when I wrote the opening paragraph: I once heard a wise woman compare life’s voyage to a river that slowly twists and turns as it makes its way to the sea. I thought on it for it seemed pleasant, but I could think of no one, except perhaps that wise woman, whose life may have made such a leisurely voyage. It is my experience that life’s journey is more often thrown from an accustomed path by unheralded jolts.

She goes on to say, One can awaken on a morning filled with anticipation of a glorious day bathed in the warm Roman sun, and before the day is over, the eyes are overcast with shadow’s and life’s course has been so altered that the time before is only a wistful memory.

For Artemisia, that day bathed in the warm Roman sun was the day she was raped by Agostino Tassi, another artist and friend of her father’s; for me, it was a hot August day when my twelve year old daughter, Sharon, was killed in an automobile accident.

Many unheralded jolts are tragic but they don’t have to be. Remember, all Sleeping Beauty needed was a Prince’s kiss. I recently read about a woman who was driving to work in heavy traffic and she looked over and saw a billboard with cows in a pasture. Her family didn’t understand when she bought a farm and moved to the mid-west. I’d love to know how she’s doing now. . . and I’d love to know about you and your ‘Unheralded Jolt’.

An Unheralded Jolt has the impetus to place you on a road to self-understanding, to becoming what you can be—but you have to take it.

Read my blog: Awakening.


Michelangelo and Caravaggio

Last week, an article on the first page of the New York Times announced that Michelangelo is out and Caravaggio is in.  Of course, we don’t have to read it to know that Michelangelo will never be out, but the idea that Caravaggio is in is great news.  I am weary of blank looks when I mention his name.  And I am encouraged that  if Caravaggio is in, maybe Artemisia Gentileschi is not far behind.  I let her write her memoir in my Daughters of Eve, a Herstory Book and she expressed her admiration for Caravaggio and admitted his influence on her work.   She swore to paint women the way he painted men.  She did, but only after she was raped.  Does it take a great jolt to make a woman go in search of what she can be?  To make her reach heights otherwise never considered?


Backstage on Kindle

Backstage at the White House is now available on Kindle.  You may have to look for it, but, I assure you, it’s there.  I watched my daughter download it as the first selected novel on her new Kindle.  It was exciting to watch the opening page fill her screen—Backstage at the White House, a novel by Jean Candlish Kelchner.  But the word ‘exciting’ is hardly adequate for I recognize her gesture as a symbol of her love and her pride in me for writing it.  We have that between us; she touches me deeply.  You see, she’s already read the book.  Now it’s your turn . . .


Michelangelo and Caravaggio and Artemisia

According to the New York Times last week–front page–Michelangelo is out and Caravaggio is in.   That’s after five years of academic tracking.  This doesn’t mean that one may dash over and spend some quiet hours pondering Michelangelo’s ceiling–it will still be mobbed, but it does mean that the churches in Rome which Caravaggio’s  mighty works adorn will also be mobbed; on the other hand, it might also mean that Artemisia Gentileschi will catch on.  After all, she painted women the way Caravaggio painted men.   She boasted that she would do exactly that in my work Daughters of Eve, a Herstory Book. However, her women were quite forgettable until she was raped and put through a public ordeal.   Can it be that it took this great trauma to bring out her great talent, to send her on the road to becoming what she could be?  Can it be that she would not have become one of the greatest artists of the Baroque, one of the greatests women artists of all time if she had not been raped by the insignificant artist, Augustino Tassi?  Does a woman’s search for self begin with a jolt?  Does a Sleeping Beauty only fully awaken  when she cannot go back to sleep?


ForeWord Clarion Review of my novel BACKSTAGE AT THE WHITE HOUSE!

Four Stars (out of Five) from ForeWord CLARION Reviews.

It’s undeniable that the last presidential election turned many people into political junkies. Blame it on the dramatic struggle for votes in the primaries, the accessibility of candidates through social media or the almost constant yammering of political pundits on cable news channels. As the new administration gets to work, many people who followed every tick of election coverage long for the intrigue and excitement of politics—a feeling that is captured almost perfectly in Jean Candlish Kelchner’s Backstage at the White House.

On the surface, Stacey Lea Forbes is the ideal first lady to Goodman Palmer Forbes, the nation’s popular president. Behind the scenes, however, Forbes is a tantrum-prone tyrant, and Stacey is unhappy. When a luncheon for one of Stacey’s causes takes a turn for the worse, the President has a fit that sends the First Lady home to Mississippi. There, she begins to uncover a conspiracy to keep women out of politics and power. With the help of a few well-placed female friends, Stacey finds a new cause—to get a woman into a position of real power in the White House.

At first, Backstage at the White House may seem like another witty, wise, and sometimes wicked book in the Chic Lit canon. But this isn’t your typical foray into the world of girl power. Kelchner has crafted a group of dynamic characters who possess southern manners, an elite lifestyle, and an intelligent effervescence that propels them through a world bound by those who crave power.

Balancing social commentary and satire, Kelchner weaves this tale with an ear for history and politics. Nowhere is this clearer than when a discussion by Stacey and her friends references the prominence of the rose as a symbol in British history, General William Sherman, the Lysistrata by Aristophanes, and Immanuel Kant in the span of a page.

This makes Backstage a dishy, fun read, but may leave some readers wishing for less talk. Stacey and her companions are so busy chatting sometimes that they don’t allow the reader to experience the glittery world of Washington politerati: the beehive of White House offices, the elegant luncheons, or the boudoirs where desire and control are sometimes indistinguishable. Nonetheless, Backstage at the White House is a fascinating novel, sure to keep readers longing for a sequel and political junkies counting down to the next election.

Katerie Prior


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