Book Review – Two versions of Taming of the Shrew

Good Morning! Here’s my Monday Morning Blog.

Last week I read two versions of Taming of the Shrew. One version was the Sixty-Minute version by Cass Foster that I talked about in my Shakespeare post a couple of weeks ago. And the other one was Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler.

The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy written by William Shakespeare between 1590 and 1592. The main story centers around the courtship of Petruchio and Katherina. Katherina’s father, Baptista, will not allow her younger and more desirable sister Bianca, to marry until after Katherina has been married off. Katherina is a very headstrong woman who was seen by the community as not suitable to marry. Petruchio takes on the challenge of “taming” her and converting her into a desirable bride.

Sixty Minute Shakespeare’s version of Taming of the Shrew

As I started reading this version, I was brought back to my days of reading Shakespeare in high school. It took me a little bit to get into it. I have been reading quite a few of novels lately, so when I was reading the story in a play format, I needed to expand my mind to imagining the scene and setting a bit more.

Like I have told my kids about any book they are getting ready to read, check online and see what it is about. It can help you get into the story quicker, especially with Shakespeare. I wish I had that option when I was in high school. Cass did a great job with making it easier to read, but kept the language true to how Shakespeare really wrote it and intended it to be. Knowing what the story was about beforehand allowed me to focus on reading the Shakespeare flair, which is what took time to get through.

The production rights for this version are owned by a company called Dramatic Publishing. So, if you would like to perform this version in public through your school, church group or community theater, check out their website for more information about obtaining the rights for it.

Vinegar Girl by Anne Taylor: The Taming of the Shrew retold

Upon hearing the name of this book, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into, but after reading The Taming of the Shrew, the title of this book made a little more sense. I was led this book by Ann Hawke, the president of the Woodland Shakespeare Club, a group I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. She said that this book was one of their groups favorite ones to read the retold version of.

This is the story of Kate Battista, who is portrayed as Katherina in Shakespeare’s original. With her mother’s passing away, Kate has taken on the role of mother instead of daughter. She is a spinster who works as a pre- school assistant and takes care of her father and sister at home. Her father, wanting to keep his research assistant in the country, comes up with a grand plan to have Kate marry him. Kind of like an arranged marriage of sorts. Her younger sister, Bunny, in this case is too young to be married, but Tyler makes her personality a little more outgoing and likeable to set her up as the more desirable sister, like Shakespeare’s character, Bianca.

I enjoyed reading both versions of this story. Reading a Shakespeare play reminded me it isn’t necessarily a easy read, but it is neat to see how he created his plays and characters to put on the show for the crowds of the time. Reading the retold version of Vinegar Girl in a novel form was a little easier. I was abe to see the similarities in the characters between the two. I felt that Tyler did a good job of keeping Shakespeare’s themes in her version even with the moderized setting.

There are other Shakespeare works which have similar themes to other published works. Iris Murdoch’s The Black Prince is a retelling of Hamlet while Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is retelling of The Tempest. However, Anne Tyler’s book is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare project which is an effort by Hogarth Press to retell works by William Shakespeare in a contemporary context. Please check out their website for more information and the upcoming titles to be retold. Hogarth Press – Shakespeare project. If you decide to read both versions of these stories, I would recommend reading the Shakespeare version first to see what he was trying to portray and then see how the author’s retold version uses his themes in their stories.

If you are looking to get a hold of the Sixty-Minute versions of your favorite Shakespeare play, they are available on Amazon and Story Monsters LLC. Sixty-Minute Shakespeare Collection

If you want to learn more about the author Anne Tyler, here’s her website Anne Tyler and the link to purchase the book Vinegar Girl.

What was your favorite Shakespeare play? What was your least favorite? Please let me know in the comments below.

Have a great week!

Looking for a teen/young adult coming of age novel? How about taking a look at The Hard Way!

Available on Amazon and BarnesandNobel.com. Or follow the link below to the books tab of my website to get your copy.

Hark! Who goes there? Why it’s William Shakespeare, again!

Good Morning! Here’s my Monday Morning Blog?

About a month ago, I posted an update and wrote about William Shakespeare. I was inspired by a couple of social media posts which became popular when stay at home orders were starting to take affect throughout the country with the Coronavirus outbreak. This past week, I saw mention of his April 23rd birthday and decided to take another look at this well-known literary playwright.

William Shakespeare celebrated his 456th birthday and the 404th anniversary of his death last week. The experts aren’t sure of the exact date of his birth, but they do know he was baptized on April 26th.

His birthday tends to fall on St. George’s Day, England’s National Day. Who was St. George? He’s the patron saint of England and parts of Portugal and Spain, a Christian martyr, and celebrated as the ideal for martial valor and selflessness. Legend has it that he was a soldier in the Roman Army who slayed a dragon and saved a princess. Most of the time, St. George’s Day is celebrated on Shakespeare’s actual birthday. However, if it falls during the week of Easter, then it’s observed the weekday following the celebration of Easter. Due to the Coronavirus, the British were asked to fly the flag from their homes instead of going out and celebrating this year.

A couple of additional facts about him,

-According to shakespeare.org.uk (a website dedicated to a charity which cares for the Shakespeare sites and offers tours and information about Shakespeare and his family), Shakespeare was born to John and Mary Shakespeare. He was the third of eight children and the oldest surviving son. His two older sisters, Joan and Margaret both died before reaching the age of two and of his younger siblings, Gilbert, Joan (named after her older sister), Anne, Richard and Edmund. His younger sister Joan was the only one of his siblings to outlive him.

-Upon his father’s death in 1601, he inherited the house which became an inn called Maidenhead and later on the Swan and Maidenhead. It remained an inn until 1847 when the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust bought it and to restore and care for the family history.

-When it comes to him being an actor and a playwright, an interesting thing about the Globe theater, where Shakespeare was an actor and shareholder, it accommodated people from all walks of life, so anyone could see a play. Just like going to an event at a theater or stadium now, what you can afford, will determine where you can sit. At the Globe, the cheap seats were on the ground floor and were open to all of the weather elements. The more expensive seats were in the higher levels complete with comfy seats which were out of the weather. A reversal of how a concert or sporting event is set up now. With the more expensive seats found on the lower levels and the least expensive seating found in upper level “nose bleed section”.


Shakespeare’s writing is complex and sometimes hard to understand. What are your thoughts?

In response to my blog post from March 24th, Authorbookings.com (a part of Story Monsters LLC) reached out and referred me to another Shakespeare resource. When I checked out the website, getshakespeare.com (which will take you to the Story Monsters LLC website), I learned about Sixty-Minute Shakespeare Collection. Cass Foster makes works of Shakespeare accessible for all ages. These versions are not adaptations, but timeless tales that may help make my understanding Shakespeare a lot easier. They are available through the Story Monsters LLC store and are suitable for students in sixth grade and up. I ordered one of the Shakespeare’s plays I haven’t read before, Taming of the Shrew, which was written originally written by Shakespeare between 1590 and 1592, we’ll see how it reads.

As a side note, Authorbookings.com has a great program for book awards and outreach to the schools and media to get in touch with authors, artists, publishers and speakers for school and library visits. My first novel, The Hard Way, is a 2018 honorable mention Dragonfly Book Award winner, through Story Monsters LLC.

As I was reading the reviews for Sixty-Minute Shakespeare, I saw one which was posted by the Woodland Shakespeare Club, now the oldest women’s clubs in California founded in 1886 with the goal to “study, with intellectual and spiritual growth as goals”. It is a literary, multi-generational group, limited to 50 members, that started out just discussing works of Shakespeare, but in 1878, the women started reading works by various authors when they called upon each other at their homes for the meeting. Kind of like the book clubs of today.

According to the article published in the community section of the October 27, 2019 edition of the Davis Enterprise, Woodland Shakespeare Club: Your cup of tea? the California based group reads and discusses books with topics of California to Southern Women Writers to music themed books. The typical meeting is a discussion of a previously chosen book and ending with a cup of tea. Their reading season runs from October to April, with April being the month they celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday with a luncheon and a special cake. Their theme changes from season to season with their recently completed season, 2019-2020, theme being “In Other Words: Shakespeare’s plays reinterpreted, retold and reimagined.” Members read current novels which are similar in type to one of Shakespeare’s plays.

I contacted the president of the group, Anne Hawke, and asked if they have a website. She replied, no it is too expensive for the group. If you Google, Woodland Shakespeare Club, like I did, you’ll find some interesting articles about the group. The group has 50 active members and they aren’t seeking new members. Any potential member must be referred by a current member of the group. When I asked what a favorite read for the group was, she said they enjoyed these Shakespeare plays reinterpreted. The Anne Tyler book, Vinegar Girl, is the Taming of the Shrew retold was one of her personal favorites. Looks like I found my next book to read and review along with the Sixty-Minute Shakespeare version of the story.

Funny how all of that information and a couple of future reads fell out of a second look at Shakespeare’s life. What’s your favorite Shakespeare play? Please let me know in the comments below.

Have a great week!

My writing update and a little bit about William Shakespeare

Good Morning! Here are my Tuesday Morning Thoughts!


How have you been doing with the changes in our day to day activities due to the Coronavirus? I have been primarily working from home for my day job. Jim has been going back and forth to work, since his job is more hands on, and the boys are “laid off” from their part time jobs for now. I will say, there are positive things to be found in our current situation. It has been nice to have family dinners again and we were able to do a movie night together Sunday night.

On the writing side of things, I’ve been actively working with my editor to get book #2 of The Way Series, Shawn’s Way, ready for a couple of final reads before its summer pre-launch and eventual publishing in September. Getting excited for my readers to find out how the story line of the series continues.

If you have read the first book, The Hard Way, and left a review, I thank you. For those of you who have received free copies on my promotional download days, if you would leave a review on Goodreads, that would be great. If you are a member of Kindle Unlimited, you can always select to read it for free as part of the subscription, and you would be able to leave a review on Amazon. If you purchased a copy on Amazon and want to leave a review on Amazon, that would be appreciated as well. Any of these reviews will help me out for the pre-launch of Shawn’s Way this summer. Leaving a review for a book you read is a great way to help a writer get people to read their books. The reviews show that people have read the book and it helps potential readers to get an idea of what other people thought of it.

A little bit about William Shakespeare

You may have seen the recent post on Facebook talking about Shakespeare and the writing of his sonnets. Did you know he wrote 154 sonnets when all of the theaters were shut down because of the Bubonic plague? I found it very interesting. With the Coronavirus shutting some things down now, maybe it will give us writers and authors some down time get some of our best writing done, just like Shakespeare did.

My interest in Shakespeare was also piqued by another blog post I saw about the unique spelling of the word playwright. You would think it would be spelled playwrite, right? Well wright is a word for a crafts person or someone who builds things. So, in that sense of the word, Shakespeare was one who built plays and sonnets.

Photo of William Shakespeare from Biogrphy.com

According to Wikipedia.com and Biography.com, William Shakespeare was known as one of the greatest writers in the English language and one of the world’s greatest dramatists. He was born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, a bustling market town along River Avon. He married Anne Hathaway in 1582 and was the father of three children. After the birth of the twins (the second and third children) in 1585 it is believed that is when he started writing. Many Shakespeare biographers refer to the years between when the twins were born and 1592 (when he came onto the acting scene) as the lost years. During this time frame, he doesn’t leave any historical traces, but it is generally believed that he may have found work as a horse attendant at some of London’s finer theaters, which may have been how he got involved in theater. Records show Shakespeare had works published and sold as popular literature, which was seen as reaching above his social rank and posing a bit of a threat to playwrights who came from a more scholarly background.

Shakespeare was part of a very popular acting group called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, (which became the King’s Men in 1603 when King James I became king). The members of that group along with Shakespeare put money into the coffers to build their own theater called the Globe Theater. For the time, this was an unique commercial operation for actors. They not only had a shared in the profits from the show, but also had a share in the profits from the playhouse. According to britannica.com, all of Shakespeare’s plays were performed there after it was constructed in 1599. His plays were said to be written from a career actor point of view rather than a scholarly one, which was probably another point of contention with the scholarly playwrights. An interesting fact, the plays were always staged in the afternoons to make the most of the light provided by the sun; since the theater didn’t have lights.


According to civil records, in 1597, Shakespeare purchased the second largest house in Stratford, called New House, for his family. But he spent most of his time in London away from his family acting and writing since Stratford was a four-day ride from London. When he retired from the theater in 1613, he moved back to Stratford where he died three years later.


Here in Minneapolis we have a place called the Playwrights’ Center. Founded in 1971 by five writers seeking artistic and professional support. The center serves more playwrights in more ways than any other organization in the country. What a great way to keep the theaters alive for the communities to enjoy.

I love the name they chose for the Playwrights’ Center, especially knowing what the term really means now. Do you ever think about why people pick the names they do for things? Book titles, for example, usually have a connection with what the author wrote about. However, not all title meanings are understood until after you have read the book. What book titles have connected with you? What are some of your favorites? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Have a great week!

Happy May Day!

I was just notified that May 1st was my one year anniversary with Word Press. My blog has been a great way for me to keep honing my craft of writing but has also helped me to build a following and meet some really interesting people along the way. Thanks to all of my current followers and those yet to join me on my writing journey. What a way to celebrate May Day!

One other very important thing that May Day brings to mind is my friend Laura’s birthday. Happy Birthday dear friend.

According to Wikipedia, not only is May 1st May Day, a celebration of spring, it is also International Workers’ Day. The celebration of May Day or “Spring Day” for the seasons goes back to pre Christian times. In early European pagan cultures, February 1st was seen as the start of spring while May 1st was the first day of summer. So May Day was initially seen as a celebration of the start of summer. Now a days, we’ve defined the first day of summer by the summer solstice, which this falls on June 20th. Back in those pre Christian times, the summer solstice was seen as midsummer. Maybe that was part of the back story to the title of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Some of the traditional spring celebrations start on May Day Eve and include many flowers and picnics. There’s also the tradition of placing baskets of flowers onto people’s door knobs, ringing their doorbell or knocking on their doors, and running away before they have the chance to answer. The recipient opens the door and finds a bunch of beautiful flowers, typically in a cone shaped holder. Now, there is another type of door bell ringing activity that has evolved from that called Ding-Dong-Ditch. It is the same idea, but with no flowers or gifts involved. Another traditional part of the celebration included a wooden pole that was usually constructed in a prominent place in town. It was decorated with streamers and flowers and a dance would be done around it as part of the festivities.

International Workers’ Day selected May 1st as their day of recognition in the late nineteenth century. This is an international celebration of labourers and the working class. May 1st was chosen to commemorate the Haymarket Affair in Chicago on May 4, 1886. Workers were on strike fighting for businesses to institute a mandatory eight hour work day. One of the demonstrators threw a bomb at the police and they started to shoot at the group. Four demonstrators were killed. Other May 1st protests occurred after this. For the anniversary of the Haymarket Affair in 1890, international protests were requested and there were the May Day riots in 1894. Since it shares the date with the European spring celebration, some people choose to celebrate International Workers’ Day on other dates that are significant to them. In America, this day is celebrated the first Monday in September and has been made into a holiday weekend, commemorating the end of summer and back to school for most kids.

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I’m happy to report things are moving along with my writing goals. I submitted my short story, Found in West Branch, for A Journey of Words on Friday. It is a book of short stories from many different authors. Hopefully it will be accepted for publication! It would be my first published piece in the fictional world. My Middle Grade manuscript, The Hard Way, is with my editor as we speak. We’ll see what she has to say about it. She did the editing for my short story and that was the first time I had an actual editor go through something I have written. I’ve had friends and other writers read what I’ve written. I even had my book club read The Hard Way before it went to the editor. With that valuable feedback from my readers, I’ve made my writing better. Sometimes that input has given me a different direction to consider for a story line to go too. Those inputs are important to consider, but may not be the best thing to do. They are decisions an author must make to make the story a good one, but also  keep it their own.

Reading through the edits from my editor was definitely a learning experience. She was able to give me copy editing changes and some ideas on how to word things differently. I wasn’t aware of the fact that it was going to lead to more work for me before I’d be able to submit. I thought it would come back polished and ready to send out.

She showed me things I do well and things I need to work on. Writing is a craft, and has to be practiced over and over to make it better. I knew there would be things that I needed to work on, it is good to know what some of them are now. My editor suggested a couple of books that may help me. One is Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browe & Dave King and the other is English Syntax by Dick Heaberlin. I’m looking forward to doing some studying with them while I wait for my manuscript to come back.

As I write this post, I realize how much I love to write. It has been a part of me since I started writing my thoughts and dreams in diaries growing up. Remember the ones with the little locks and keys? I still have a key chain with all of those keys on it. I’ll have to ask my Dad if I asked for the dairies or if my parents just tried giving me one as a gift and it caught on. It would be interesting to know, because it is part of what got the writing thing started in me.

Sometimes it is hard to get the time to write. I know that I’m not the only one that struggles with this. I read a blog today and he was showing his frustration over it. My day job is time and energy demanding and family things keep us moving. But, for something I love to do, I’m somehow able to get it done. Maybe it is in bits and pieces, but all of those small contributions seem to get the projects done. The hard work and dedication pays off when I’m able to submit the short story or get the Monday Morning Blog posted. It’s all a part of this writer’s journey.