Novels Based on Historical Facts

I’ve been attracted to studying history lately. It started as I began reading about the Civil War as I prepared presentations about my great grandfather’s Civil War experiences captured in his journal. (Civil War Journal of a Union Soldier) But it’s gone further on either side of those watershed years in United States history. 51TYhlVodCL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_

As a result, My husband and I have been enjoying Ken Burn’s series: The Civil War and PBS’s The Roosevelts: An Intimate History. Both of these in-depth looks at previous eras shed light on where we are today economically, politically, socially, and culturally. I realized something as I delved into the past. I’ve forgotten much of what I’d learned in school. Here’s the difference: I studied it then to pass a test to earn a degree to land a job. I study it now because it interests me. World of difference.

Of course, the Broadway production of Hamilton opened up more folks to learning about the early days of our fledgling country, but I’d resisted delving into the founding father’s until I came across a book offered for free with my Prime membership.

The Midwife's RevoltThe Midwife’s Revolt by Jodi Daynard is the type of historical novel I’ve been reading for a few years now.  Fictional accounts with the historical facts and people–most of them featuring women often ignored as the men they loved received all the infamy leave me impressed with the courage and strength needed to survive harsh circumstances.

Lizzie Boylston possesses a gift in the art of midwifery, but she’s living in perilous times as the Revolutionary War looms. The novel begins in 1775 during the Battle of Bunker Hill and continues through the struggles of war. Her best friend and neighbor, Abigail Adams suffers greatly when both husband and son are swept away to Europe where they are kept safe from the factions who seek to do them harm. Lizzie herself becomes a spy for the cause and it puts a strain on her relationship with Abigail who must  not be told about the midwife’s efforts. At times deemed a witch for her special tinctures and medicines, Lizzie fights the restrictions on her sex and on her craft. Dynard created the character of Lizzie, but keeps to the historical happenings and the whereabouts of the Adams’s family during this time. I was very much captivated by the conditions under which the women lived, worked, and loved.

The reading of The Midwife’s Revolt led me directly to learning more about Alexander Hamilton, not that he plays a role in the book, but all the hoopla about him and the time period piqued my interest. I could have gone for the biography Hamilton, and I probably will read it at some point, along with book, The Founding Fathers, which has sat on my bookshelf for too many years–pages on the paperback have yellowed.

The Hamilton AffairInstead, I opted for another book of historical fiction about the real people, namely Hamilton’s wife Elizabeth Schuyler. The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs uses the point of view of both Hamiltons to tell the story of this couple brought together 1777 by Eliza’s father. We all know it ends tragically for Alexander but Eliza manages to live long after her husband’s fatal duel  According to Cobbs, most of the characters are real and the events are not fabricated, but the conversations and intimacies exist in her imagination based on her extensive research.

Once again, I found myself lost in another time and place with admiration for the women who kept the families together while the men received the notoriety. It’s an absorbing read.

Varina

 

The last one I’ll address in this post, leaves the Revolutionary period behind and heads into the Civil War era. It was a coincidence that this one also featured a female heroine from history. I bought the book because of the author, Charles Frazier and my enjoyment of his Cold Mountain and its setting near where I now spend my summers.

Varina is the story of Varina Davis, wife of Jefferson Davis. I’d never heard of her before I read this book, but it only made her story that much more interesting. Plus, I’ve spent so much time on the Union side of this history, I found it jarring and intriguing to go to the other side. The story is told through the point of view of James, who as a child was taken in by Varina while living in Richmond as the first lady of the Confederacy. He’s of mixed race, and no one knows whether he’s free or not. He lives with her children and is treated as one of their one. But when the Confederacy falls and Varina is on the run with her children, she turns James over to a home for orphans. From there, they lose contact until James–left with only a blue book of his history–tracks down Varina in 1906 in Saratoga, New York. James is the glue for the story, but Varina is the storyteller.

I enjoyed reading about Varina, a strong woman who stood up to Jeff Davis’s authoritative brother and often questioned her husband’s decisions. However, it took some adjustment to Frazier’s literary technique of not using quotation marks around dialogue. A line of dialogue begins with an “em” dash: –We’ll see, V said. As with any technique where the author creates their own style, it’s a matter of reader adjustment to the accustomed style. Once I adapted, it didn’t interrupt my reading even though it did at first.

I very much enjoyed all of these books as well as others in a similar vein about a woman pilot, the mistresses of Marshall Field and Frank Lloyd Wright, wives of Robert Louis Stevenson and Ernest Hemingway and more. Most of the books rely heavily on letters and biographies, but the fictional scenes created allow the imagination to wonder about how one person’s life can impact the course of history. In many cases, it’s obvious that without the guidance of strong and brilliant women in the shadows, the men might never have been recognized.

Does this mean I’ll be rushing off to write my own historical “faction?” I don’t think so. I love history. I admire those who write historical fiction. I adore historical biographies. But write them? It’s not on my horizon, but I stopped saying “never” a long time ago when it comes to my life as an author.

cover smoky mountain romances

It’s not historical but there are some interesting characters. Click here to see my latest release, a new compilation of all my Smoky Mountain romances under one cover.

 

 

 

NEW RELEASE FROM ELAINE COUGLER

the-loyalist-legacy_webToday, I welcome Elaine Cougler back to my blog. This post marks her fifth appearance since 2013 when she introduced the first of her Loyalist books. Amazing!

Elaine and I set this date a few months back to coincide with the release of her third book in her Loyalist trilogy. The Loyalist Legacy continues the saga of a little-known part of Canadian and U.S. history.

It really is a coincidence that I’m publishing this post today, one week after the presidential election in the United States where loyalties are being questioned, and some folks talk about moving to Canada. Elaine takes us back to the time of the Revolutionary War when not everyone wished to leave the British Empire. The parallels are stunning. Here’s Elaine Cougler to explain:

 

Who Were the Loyalists in the American Revolutionary War?

The phenomenon of Loyalists—those loyal to a certain person or cause—is definitely not new, but during the American Revolutionary War it took on a special significance. Many of the settlers in the Thirteen Colonies did not want their government to separate from the British even though they, too, experienced the bitter taste of the Stamp Act and other debilitating measures.

Today, Britain, the United States, and Canada are great allies so it is hard to believe that two hundred years ago such was not the case. My trilogy follows the story of how the Loyalists came to be and their difficult journey to what is Canada today.

These Loyalists chose to escape from the Colonies rather than be harried and hounded for their beliefs as the Patriots grew ever more powerful. Many (about half of those who left the Thirteen Colonies) went to the new land that came to be called Canada.

The British government chose to reward their choice by giving them land and the bare necessities needed to start anew but also went on to allow these Loyalists to use the initials U.E. after their names. Unity of the Empire is the strict legal meaning although today U.E.L. is often used. This is translated to United Empire Loyalist in the vernacular.

Many people wonder why these people chose as they did, a question I’ve used in my trilogy to explain John’s decision to join Butler’s Rangers (in the first book, The Loyalist’s Wife) and fight for the British. By this third book, he has not fully explained his reasons, and on his deathbed whispers the story of his youth, which caused his loyalty to remain through all the trials he and his family have withstood. Lucy and two of his grown sons are with him as he begins to tell of a certain British officer who saved his young life.

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Here is part of John’s story from The Loyalist Legacy:

He followed a long line of prisoners up the gangplank and along the deck where he could see heads bobbing down into the hold; if they didn’t move smartly a sailor smacked them with a club.

“Stay by me, boy,” the harlot twisted around to whisper. “I’ll see no harm comes to ye.”

He didn’t answer. The harlot stepped into the hatch. Just as his bare foot slipped on the treacherous decking, a hand clapped onto his shoulder and stopped him. The harlot jerked to a stop also as they were still chained together. She wheeled around. “What trick is that, boy?” She gnashed her blackened teeth at him.

“Hush, woman.” A soft voice from behind John silenced her. He righted himself on the slippery decking. “Come. All of you.” He indicated the two behind still connected to their snaking line.

“Hold!” Three muskets jabbed toward the prisoners who stopped like the pawns they were in this elaborate game that had been playing forever. “Release ‘em!” Beside John the musket jabbed into his friend’s British red chest.

“I want the boy!”

“You’ll not get ‘im.” The guard pushed John toward the gaping hole and into the harlot who had stepped back up to the deck. The weight of the chain on the other two kept them both from careening down into the depths of the ship. This was hopeless, John thought, but just as he resigned himself to entering that foul hold his friend spoke again.

“Cut the chains.” He dangled a cloth purse bulging and clinking in front of the man’s eyes, suddenly glinting from more than the morning sun.

“I can’t cut ‘em. Take all four or none. Yer pick.” From behind, shouts and shoving added urgency to the situation. John had a time keeping his footing but he wasn’t going below.

With a quick glance at the angry mob the redcoat thrust the purse into the guard’s eager hand and pulled his charges out of line. No one noticed the uniformed soldier who marched the four prisoners off the ship again and along a tightly packed alley surely full of pickpockets and all manner of the underbelly life of the great city of London. Suddenly John’s feet no longer hurt, the chains didn’t chafe, and the chamber pots being emptied up and down the alley couldn’t touch him.

At a hole-in-the-wall shop with its sign—Shoemaker—barely hanging on one rusted bolt his friend stopped and dragged them all inside. “Cut these chains off,” his soldier said.

The weight of the shackles gone, John dared to hope again.

The man sent the other prisoners on their way and hauled John out the door after them but not before grabbing a pair of shoes for him to wear. He threw coins on the counter in front of the astonished shoemaker and did not wait for anything else in return.

“Put those on.” He stopped for just a moment. “Come.” He pulled John to another ship and suddenly his newly shod feet halted on the slippery cobblestones. What was this? Was he saved only to go on a different ship?

 

When the War of 1812 is finally over William and Catherine Garner flee the desolation of Niagara and find, in the wild heart of Upper Canada, their two hundred acres straddling the Thames River. On this valuable land, dense forests, wild beasts, disgruntled Natives, and pesky neighbors daily challenge them. The political atmosphere laced with greed and corruption threatens to undermine all of the new settlers’ hopes and plans. William cannot take his family back to Niagara, but he longs to check on his parents from whom he has heard nothing for two years. Leaving Catherine and the children, he hurries along the Governor’s Road toward the turn-off to Fort Erie, hoping to return in time for spring planting.

With realistic insights into the challenging lives of Ontario’s early settlers, Elaine Cougler once again draws readers into the Loyalists’ struggles to build homes, roads, and relationships, and their growing dissension as they move ever closer to another war. The Loyalist Legacy shows us the trials faced by ordinary people who conquer unbelievable hardships and become extraordinary in the process.

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Elaine Cougler’s Website 

Find Elaine Cougler on social media:

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And read about Elaine from previous posts on my website:

AUTHOR WEDNESDAY – ELAINE COUGLER (Guest Post, 11-18-2015)

AUTHOR WEDNESDAY – ELAINE COUGLER (Guest Post, 09-16-2015)

Author Wednesday – Elaine Cougler (The Loyalist’s Luck, 11-5-2014)

Author Wednesday – Elaine Cougler (The Loyalist’s Wife, 10-02-2013)

 

AUTHOR WEDNESDAY – GLEN CRANEY

typewriterIt’s Wednesday, and it must be time for another edition of Author Wednesday. Today we’ll take a step back to the 14th century with author Glen Craney as Kind Edward I attempts to steal Scotland. The Spider and the Stone: A Novel of Scotland’s Black Douglas chronicles the story of James Douglas as he attempts to thwart the king and keep Scotland safe from the intruders. The historical novel has been described as “A thrilling historical epic of star-crossed love and heroic sacrifice set during the Scottish Wars of Independence.” The book has received several awards, including first place Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction. It is a great honor to have Glen join me today to talk about The Spider and the Stone.SpiderEpubCover02

Hello, Glen! Welcome to Author Wednesday. Let’s start with your life as a writer. I’m always curious about the moment when writers first discover they have a ‘voice.’ When did you first discover your voice as a writer?

I came to fiction later than most novelists, following stints as a trial lawyer and a political reporter. Several years ago, I had a flirtation with the movie business after winning the Nicholl Fellowship, an award given by the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences for best new film writing. Readers often tell me my novels have a cinematic quality. Perhaps that’s because I learned the craft of screenwriting first. I soon discovered it’s difficult to get any movie produced, but particularly an intelligent, sophisticated one that stays true to historical events. The original writer’s vision usually gets lost in the shuffle of multiple writers and studio demands for taking dramatic license. So, I decided to write my historical stories as books.

You’ve had a rich career. I love it when what we’ve done before coalesces into the creation of something more. Sounds as if that’s just what happened for you. Rachel Carson (Silent Spring author) said she never chose a subject because as a writer, the subject chose her. Has this ever happened to you?

The inspiration for my first three novels came in dreams. In the dream that led me to The Spider and the Stone, I was a mounted knight caught in a death struggle along a stream with a black-robed hag who attacked me with a sickle. The scene then shifted to a celebratory photograph of seven knights standing around a seated monarch. Below this tableau, a caption appeared: “Americans Aid the King at Bannockburn.”

I awoke and wrote the dream down, even though none of it made any sense. If I had heard of the Battle of Bannockburn, its significance had long since been lost to my school days. The caption and photograph were even more bizarre. Robert the Bruce won his unlikely victory against the English in 1314, nearly five hundred years before the United States was even an idea.

Two months later, I was in Scotland walking along the burn of Bannock with Stirling Castle looming in the distance. That stream looked similar to the one that had appeared in my dream. Eventually, I also came to understand the meaning of the caption suggesting that Americans aided King Robert at the battle.

That’s an incredible story. Of course, you had to write this novel. I’ve had dreams where names and scenes came to me, but nothing quite as graphic as yours. What a lovely gift given to you from somewhere! So you have the dream and some of the things start appearing in reality. That’s still a long way from writing a full-fledged epic novel. How did you make the story leap from your imagination onto the page? 

After that first trip, I traveled to Scotland twice more to visit the sites I would write about in the novel. I had assumed Robert the Bruce would be my main character. But as I drove from castles to battlefields, I began to learn more about James Douglas, the Bruce’s best friend and war lieutenant, and Isabelle MacDuff, the woman who defied her clan to crown the Bruce. These two Scot patriots took hold of my story. On my flight back to Los Angeles, I began outlining the novel. Twelve hours later, I walked off the plane with every chapter and scene planned out.

I’m impressed. The subject not only chose you, it grabbed you and held you hostage until you told the story! I see that you write mostly historical fiction. Are there certain messages or themes you try to put in every novel?

Before I tackle a subject, I apply a three-pronged test: 1) Is it a great story? 2) Will it reveal or develop some new aspect about the period or person? and 3) Will it deal with issues relevant today? If I can satisfy two of the three conditions, I know I have a novel worth writing. If I get lucky and find all three present, I’m hopeful for one of those rare books that will stand the test of time.

In my opinion, there is no higher calling for a historical novelist than to rattle the cages of the powerful and expose history’s encrusted myths and hagiographies. I prefer to accuse the victors and comfort its losers. And I never let myself forget Shakespeare’s admonition: “It is an heretic that makes the fire, not she which burns in’t.”

That’s so true no matter the genre of fiction. Speaking of genres, will you continue writing historical fiction?

Historical fiction will always be my favorite, but I’ve also written mystery-thrillers with historical themes. My most recent, The Virgin of the Wind Rose, is a dual-period thriller in which two global conspiracies, half a millennium apart, dovetail to expose the true identity of Christopher Columbus.

That sounds very interesting, Glen. Let’s talk about reviews now. What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?

A Vietnam War veteran posted an Amazon review for The Spider and the Stone. Paraphrasing doesn’t do his words justice, so I’ll quote from his review:

“Now you must understand, moving me to tears is difficult because I am a battle hardened veteran who led the platoon credited with killing the most enemy in the 25th Division in March of 1969. No brag – just fact… but it left me somewhat emotionless. This scene touched my Scottish-American warrior’s heart.

“Glen Craney writes some of the most lucid, plausible accounts of battles whose histories and the ground often do not make sense. His accounts not only make sense but are some of the most exciting reading I have ever done. He seems to understand the relationship between battle buddies more than most authors. He beautifully presents The Bruce and The Douglas as battle buddies from their first youthful fistfight to Bannockburn. I believe him. Thank you, Glen!”

 

A review like that makes all the years of toil worth the effort.

It’s a fantastic review, and I’m sure it inspired you to continue on this path. Do you listen to music when you write?

While writing Spider, I listened to Loreena McKennitt, the talented Canadian musical artist who plays upon Celtic themes. I soon began to hear a movie score in my head. Each important scene fit perfectly with one of her songs: The Mummer’s Dance for the start of the Battle of Bannockburn; The Prologue for the rescue attempt at Roxburgh; the threading of Raglan Road across several incidents. I even envisioned her as the perfect choice to play Morgainne, the raven goddess who appears throughout the novel. I sent Ms. McKennitt a copy of the book with a note of thanks for the inspiration and received a nice response.

I can see this in movie form now with Loreena McKennitt providing the soundtrack. I’ll have to check her out while I’m reading The Spider and the Stone.

GlenAbout Glen: Glen Craney is a novelist, screenwriter, and journalist. He holds graduate degrees from Indiana University-Indianapolis School of Law and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. After practicing trial law, he joined the Washington, D.C. press corps to cover national politics and the Iran-contra trial for Congressional Quarterly magazine. His books have taken readers to Occitania during the Albigensian Crusade, to the Scotland of Robert Bruce, to Portugal during the Age of Discovery, to the trenches of France during World War I, and to the American Hoovervilles of the Great Depression.

Links

The Spider and the Stone Amazon

Author website 
Twitter: @glencraney
Amazon Author Page
Goodreads Author Page 

AUTHOR WEDNESDAY – S.R. MALLERY

cropped-typewriter.jpgIt’s already hump day, and that means another installment of Author Wednesday. I’m very excited today to welcome S.R. Mallery. I know her as Sarah, and I’m proud to say that not only have I had the privilege of working with her as an editor, but she has also become a dear friend in this sometimes isolated profession as an author and editor. She’s a gem, and she’s just published her first “Wild West” historical romance, The Dolan Girls.DOLAN_GIRLS_large

 

From S.R. Mallery on writing The Dolan Girls

When an author keeps on writing one particular genre, people naturally assume his or her choice of reading material is undoubtedly in that same genre. I pen mostly historical fiction; ergo, my TBR pile must be filled with books of that same ilk.

No, not necessarily. Although I do read practically every fictional genre, I tend to gravitate toward mysteries, thrillers, and in some cases, romances. So why, you might ask, do I write historical fiction? Research. I love reading nonfiction books/articles about history and watching a myriad of documentaries and TV series about different time periods. And so, by writing historical fiction, I get to really learn about whatever era I’ve decided in which to place my story and characters.

I am also fascinated by older customs, cultures, and language. Just looking at photographs or pictures, watching films, or listening to the music of different epochs, instantly stimulates plots and motives in my brain, steering me on toward creating a complete story. Additionally, what I have ultimately discovered through this process is no matter the generation, no matter the geography, people and their emotions have never really changed.

Then, Forrest Gump-like, I like to insert my fictional characters into settings of real historical events, or alongside real historical figures, helping the reader envision what it must have been like to live way back when.

After publishing my first three books (Unexpected Gifts, Sewing Can Be Dangerous, and Tales To Count On), someone suggested I try my hand at writing a historical fiction Wild West romance. I had already tackled a couple of love scenes in my other books, and suddenly, I remembered how many westerns I had watched growing up. And how many crushes I had on the male actors who aided and abetted the blossoming of my prepubescent hormones!

So I started my ‘field-work.’ I quickly learned how the existence of madams and their whorehouses was as important as schoolmarms and their teachings; how the Wild West outlaw was often a direct result of the southern anger at losing the Civil War; how “the way out West” justified the poor man’s escape from a congested, restricted life to an open-aired one, and how Buffalo Bill was a true showman, treasuring the famous Annie Oakley. And rightfully so. Reading about her shooting accuracy, coupled with her pretty face and petite frame, captivated me.

I also discovered the sparseness of the new western towns cropping up was in direct contrast to the rich, colorful language used.

Here’s a TINY fraction of terms and phrases from the book, Cowboy Lingo, by Ramon F. Adams:

WORDS

“pill-rollers” or “saw-bones” = doctors      “wisdom bringers” = teachers      “Prairie wool” = grass

PHRASES

“they came skally-hootin’ into town”

“have about as much chance winnin’ as a grasshopper that hops on an anthill”

“had him settin’ on a damp cloud learnin’ to play a harp”

“handsome as an ace-full on Kings”

“put windows in his skull”

“big enough to hunt bears with a switch”

“he don’t know dung from wild honey”

“as prominent as a new saloon in a church district”

“showed up like a tin roof in a fog”

“as wise as a tree-full of owls”

“as useless as a twenty-two cartridge in an eight-gauge shotgun”

Now, after all this, how could I resist writing a Wild West romance? In the end, I had a total blast doing researching for The Dolan Girls and its sequel, which will take place during the late 1800s, set right smack in the middle of the infamous Johnson County Cattle War in Wyoming.

Yippee Ki-yay!!

Thanks, Sarah. And everyone else, watch for my thoughts on The Dolan Girls on Book Review Friday.

S.R.Malleryheadshot_04forblogs (1)About S.R. Mallery:  Let’s face it. S. R. Mallery is as eclectic as her characters. Starting out as a classical/pop singer/composer, she next explored the fast-paced world of advertising as a production artist while she simultaneously dipped her toe into the Zen biosphere as a calligrapher. Having started a family and wanting to work from the home, she moved on to having a long career as an award-winning quilt artist and an ESL/Reading instructor before settling on her true love––writing. Her short stories have been published in descant 2008, Snowy Egret, Transcendent Visions, The Storyteller, and Down In the Dirt. Her quilt articles have appeared in Quilt World and Traditional Quilt Works.

Links to S.R. Mallery’s Books

The Dolan Girls

Unexpected Gifts  

Sewing Can Be Dangerous  

Tales To Count On 

More on S.R. Mallery

Website  

Blog

Twitter  

Facebook Fan Page

Google+

Goodreads

Pinterest  (I have some good history boards that are getting a lot of attention—history, vintage clothing, older films)

Amazon Author Central

 

 

AUTHOR WEDNESDAY – DIANE RAPP

cropped-cropped-typewriter.jpgHappy New Year! It’s Wednesday and time for 2016’s first Author Wednesday. Today’s offering is unique as Diane Rapp stops by to gives us some information about her new novel, Golden Legacy, which blends historical adventure with modern-day mystery. Stepping back to 1888, Diane has provided us with a character interview with Genevieve Elizabeth Donnelly as if it was conducted by me! Read and enjoy.Golden Legacy Cover_edited-3

Interview with a Victorian Lady

Written by Diane Rapp

 

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“Ginny”

Genevieve Elizabeth Donnelly steps through a shimmering light that suddenly opens in my office. Although warned to expect a time-travel portal, I feel unnerved. The lovely woman resembles an old-fashioned portrait brought to life before my eyes. She’s an attractive tall woman with chestnut hair pinned back into a neat bun. Her lively hazel eyes look intelligent and inquisitive. As she enters my domain, her gaze explores the room, noting my laptop computer, cellphone, and my casual attire.

 

I offer my hand to the genteel lady. “Hello, Genevieve, I’m Patricia Zick, an author friend of Diane Rapp’s. She arranged for your interview today.”

She says, “Do call me Ginny.” Removing a pair of kid gloves, Ginny shakes my hand and smiles. Her mellow voice sounds calm, but I notice a slight tremble in her fingertips. She adds, “I felt incredulous about your kind invitation to chat. I hardly anticipated a female writer from the future might summon me through a time-portal. Of course, having read the Time Machine by H.G. Wells in 1895, I felt eager to take an excursion into the future. It felt ever so exhilarating.”

Eager to know more, I ask, “Did you ever meet H.G. Wells?”

Ginny’s laugh contains a musical contralto resonance. “Not all English citizens mingle in the same social circles, you realize. No, I’ve never been afforded the opportunity to meet the lauded author. Perhaps the experience of time-travel during this interview might provide a proper means of introduction.”

She wanders past my book shelves and fingers several titles with a quizzical expression. The scent of roses fills the room as I observe her old-fashioned clothing. Ginny wears a demure plum-colored silk jacket over a ruffled white blouse and long skirt in a slim design. She carries a small velvet reticule and white parasol.

“What a lovely outfit you’re wearing, but I thought women in the 1880s typically wore bustles. Please make yourself comfortable.” I point to an armchair opposite my desk.

Blushing, Ginny replies, “Thank you for the kind compliment.” Smoothing her skirt, she sits primly upon the chair, maintaining an erect posture. “Truthfully, I seldom dress in current vogue, preferring to delay until I’m forced to alter my habits to suit society. However, travelling the seas wearing cumbersome bustles grew tiresome, and consequently, I relished the idea of a change. I made the acquaintance of a French fashion designer on a long voyage to Japan. I found her a woman of uncommon talent and daring as she outlined a plan to make a name for herself by marketing avant-garde fashions sewn from Japanese silk. Amazed by her illustrations, I knew such attire would make life more tolerable for modern women. In Tokyo, we purchased luxurious materials and hired tailors to create new garments to my measure. I promptly cast aside my entire wardrobe. Can you imagine the comical sight of servants strolling through Japanese streets wearing unwieldly bustles?” She lowered her gaze and blushed. “Pardon me for prattling on like a magpie. It’s a disagreeable habit for which Father often chides me.”

I quickly interject, “Please don’t stop, Ginny! I enjoy hearing such charming details and the information will be useful for my article.”

She fidgets, picks up an open microfiber pen from my desk and fingers the tip. When ink mars her white finger, her eyes grow round. “I’ve never seen such a marvelous writing implement. A fountain pen proved an invaluable tool for me.” She points at my laptop and eagerly leans forward to watch me type. “Is this another magical invention like the time-portal?”

I stifle a laugh and nod. “Computers are inventions that replaced the common typewriter.”

“Extraordinary! I deemed the typewriter an ingenious device, but this astonishing machine displays words upon a glowing picture frame as you strike the keys. I fear no one in my time period will credit the veracity of my observations.” She eyes the clock on my desk and says, “We must commence the interview forthwith. I’m informed we have but an hour available before the portal dissolves. Diane said you inquired about my journey through the American West during 1888?”

“Yes, let’s begin.” Sighing, I peruse my list of interview questions and state, “You claim to be a spinster at the age of twenty-five. You are obviously beautiful, so how did you remain unmarried?”

Touching her shapely lips with an ink-marred finger, she blushes before beginning an explanation. “Mother died upon my birth, therefore, I grew up as an impressionable girl surrounded by gentlemen. My attitudes and conceits were formed by interactions with the masculine gender, who tolerated my opinions. When introduced into society as a sixteen-year-old debutante, I balked at the notion that a husband could become my lord and master. An inheritance from my American mother’s fortune included a dowry of ample size to secure a proper husband, but young gentlemen who courted failed to capture my heart. During two seasons, I attended fancy balls, elaborate hunts, and weekly picnics. I grew utterly bored by members of the ton and subsequently refused several proposals—much to Father’s chagrin. He claimed I became a spinster by choice, and I admit he was correct. At the age of twenty-one, I gained control over my capital and became free to travel.”

Rapidly typing to record the dialogue into my laptop, I pause to ask, “Why did you travel to Ouray, Colorado?”

Ginny’s lovely hazel eyes become somber. “After visiting the Sandwich Islands, the ship I booked passage upon landed in San Francisco where I hoped to enjoy a congenial holiday with cousins. A telegram arrived from Father that changed my plans entirely.” She leans forward and comments in a hushed tone, “You do realize that telegrams seldom carry good news, which is better conveyed in a nice long letter. The cryptic communication from Father alerted me that Johnny, my twin brother, lay injured in hospital—shot by miscreants. Father implored me to cut my visit short and rush to Johnny’s bedside in Ouray, Colorado. Luckily, by 1888 American railroad companies offered expanded routes that allowed for civilized travel across rugged terrain.”

My fingers fly across the keyboard until I sense Ginny watching me again. “Was it common for a woman to travel alone in 1888?” I meet her steady gaze.

I notice a slight flinch at the question but she soon replies, “I felt safe enough, after all, I followed the example of a fellow English gentlewoman. As a girl I faithfully read all the journals published by Isabella Lucy Bird, the daughter of a clergyman and celebrated travel writer. Twenty years prior to my adventure, Miss Bird’s solitary travels afforded me the courage to venture into the wilds of the Colonies on my own.”

The hands on my clock creep forward, and Ginny glances nervously at the shimming light that would soon snatch her back a hundred years. I explain, “Diane Rapp just published Golden Legacy, a novel that features your journal. It sounds like you experienced an exciting and dangerous adventure.”

Ginny shushed me by raising her finger to her lips. “We must not reveal too many secrets from my journal. I allow that I encountered a modicum of danger, even adopting a disguise to thwart those dreadful bandits, but I felt compelled to carry supplies to the hidden mine—armed with a fountain pen and two hat pins. You see, my brother’s business partner, Nick, had no knowledge regarding Johnny’s injuries or the threat of villains watching the trail. I admit my audacity nearly caused me harm, but I faithfully recorded the events. Later I directed my descendants to follow my journal to discover the gold mine and secure their fortunes.”

“Descendants? That means you didn’t remain a spinster. Did you fall in love during your trek to the mine?” I leaned forward, eager to hear more.

Flashing an enigmatic smile, Ginny declares, “A modern woman should never accept less than true love in her story. I shan’t spoil the book by revealing too much, but realize that a splendid love story always contains a handsome hero. My mettle was tested in ways I still shudder to recall. The escapade prompted me to institute a similar test of courage and intellect for my future heirs.” She stands and puts the kid gloves back onto her slender hands. “I hope you enjoy reading my adventure. Be sure to examine the photos taken by descendants inside the tome and discover more clues for the treasure hunt.”

Ginny’s silk skirt swishes as she rushes back through the time-portal. The shimmering light vanishes after she waves good-bye. I feel anxious to peruse the description of the book and view a slideshow of photos at Diane’s website.

Description of Golden Legacy blends historical adventure with modern-day mystery in a novel that follows two time lines. Embarking on a harrowing treasure hunt, two daring heroines tackle the hazards of gold country more than a century apart. Although a stand-alone novel, readers who have already met Kayla and Steven in the High Seas Mystery series, may enjoy their continued love story in the Rockies. See real places around Ouray, Colorado, through actual photos within the narrative.

Diane AloneAbout the Author:  Diane Rapp became an entrepreneur when she opened a dog grooming salon in Santa Barbara, California. She spent the next thirty years as a small business owner. She sold real estate, owned an office supply/copy center, and performed freelance advertising design. During those hectic years, Diane wrote stories as a cure for insomnia. After joining her daughter on a research trip for a Caribbean tour guide, Diane’s daughter suggested the idea of writing a mystery novel set on cruise ships. Although part of the High Seas Mystery series, each book is a stand-alone story.

In Murder Caribbean-Style, readers meet the main characters and learn about life aboard a ship while solving a murder. When Kayla teams up with Steven Young, a handsome British magician working undercover for Interpol, danger and romance get mixed into the action.

The second in the series, Murder on a Ghost Ship takes readers cruising to Bermuda and the Azores. Kayla and Natalia are summoned back to work by Emily Schultz, who bought a ship haunted by a very unhappy ghost. The women must learn who murdered the ghostly victim before another passenger dies.

Take an Alaskan cruise in Murder for Glacier Blue and solve and murder and art heist. While preparing for her own wedding on Glacier Bay, Kayla and the gang must protect six valuable paintings—six chances for thieves to strike. Her dream wedding hits a snag when Steven’s ex-wife shows up alongside his school chum planning trouble for the newlyweds!  Readers enjoy photos of Alaskan wildlife and natural landmarks mixed into a tale of art theft and murder.

Diane Rapp also writes a  science/fantasy series and a fractured fairytale.

Visit www.quicksilvernovels.com to learn more about all of Diane’s books and see photos.

Connect with Diane at https://www.facebook.com/quicksilvernovels and follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DianeRapp

 

 

 

AUTHOR WEDNESDAY – C.W. LOVATT

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Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I’m please to introduce you to C.W. Lovett, the creator of the humorous Charlie Smithers Collection. The first two books in the series The Adventures of Charlie Smithers and Charlie Smithers: Adventures in India are available now, and the next book in the series, Adventures Downunder, will be released in time for the holidays.Cover Art #3 Adventures in India - Original

Hello and welcome, C.W. Let’s start with one of my favorite questions for my fellow authors. When were you first able to call yourself either a “writer” or an “author?”

About ten years ago. I’d been writing off and on since the early ’80s but never really took it very seriously. The very idea was so close to pure fantasy that it seemed pointless to pursue it. Aside from that, there was never any encouragement; in fact, quite the opposite. In a small community like the one I live in, there aren’t all that many social circles, and those that we do have consider writing (if they ever consider it at all) as beyond the pale, so it was something I felt that I had to keep a lid on. Then one day I made a new friend, and all that changed. Suddenly, I found myself in a situation where my writing was valued and encouraged, and by someone I respected at that! All that I had to do was apply myself, and boy, did I ever! It was sometime between the time my first short story was published in 2008 and 2013 that I began to whisper ‘writer?’ cautiously in my own ear, and wondered if it might not be too grandiose a word? Then, when my first and second novels were published, and I found that I no longer had to wait an entire year, only to get the inevitable rejection slip in the mail – that my work, in fact, was being accepted, virtually out of hand – that I’m beginning to become more comfortable with the idea.

It’s amazing what a little bit of encouragement can do. Something similar happened to me with my first writer’s group that I attended under the cloak of darkness. What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?

This wasn’t a review, exactly, but one day I received a message from a gentleman who wanted me to know that he considered my writing to be the best in genre since my idol, George MacDonald Fraser.

Wow! That must have made you feel like you were doing something right. Now we all get them, if we put our work out in the public domain, and that’s the poor review. What advice can you give to other writers about receiving a bad review?

Suck it up, I’m afraid, and on NO ACCOUNT do you respond. There’s a school of thought that says you should learn from them and, if you can, then all well and good, but personally, I’m skeptical. If you consider yourself to be a serious writer, then you should be writing for yourself, not worrying about what others think. If a reader likes it, fantastic – if they don’t, shrug it off and push on. You can’t please everyone.

Excellent advice. I tend to agree. I do consider what someone has written in a review, but if it doesn’t fit with what I’m intending, then I move on. What’s your one sentence pitch for your Charlie Smithers Collection?

Buy them; they’re fantastic!

You have a superb attitude. What kind of research was required in creating the character of Charlie Smithers and his adventures throughout the collection?

For those of your readers who haven’t read any of the books, Charlie Smithers is the manservant to the nineteenth century adventurer and dunderhead, Lord Brampton, but the books deal with Charlie’s own adventures, in all of the different parts of the old Empire that they travel to, using history, humor and romance as vehicles. Downunder, of course, refers to the Australias, and may well be the most powerful book of the collection.

Now, as to research, there’s usually a healthy mix of pouring over volume after volume of books accompanied by a healthy dollop of Google. However, in the case of Downunder, after sending it off to some Australian friends to check for accuracy in geography, and their rich vernacular, they pretty much all came up with one glaring inconsistency, to whit, ‘Had I never heard of The Great Australian Bight?’ and after a bit more to-ing and fro-ing in our correspondence, an invitation was issued to come see for myself, so I did. For a month, I walked the very ground that Charlie walked, saw the spot were he washed ashore, more dead than alive, felt the same sun that he felt, heard the same birds, saw the same wondrous creatures, and stood in the exact same rooms as he did during his audience with the governor of New South Wales. Having gleaned all the information that I could, I was soon not only able to put right any inaccuracies, but also give the manuscript more depth and color – make it even more three-dimensional than ever.

I’m sure that added to the novel immensely. Is there one book or author with whom you identify or hold up as your standard-bearer?

That would be George MacDonald Fraser, who I briefly referred to earlier – the creator of the Flashman books. I admired his style: his attention to detail, and his insistence on making the historical aspect of his books as accurate as possible. I applaud the way he refused to don kid gloves when dealing with sensitive issues that his contemporaries wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole, and the way he did it with such humour, and irreverence had my sides aching from laughter. Agree with his views, or disagree, you couldn’t fault him for his courage, and I suppose that’s what I admire most of all, and learned that, when faced with a prickly issue in a plot, don’t try to avoid it, but face it head-on. The story demands that you give of your best to do it justice; and if you have the courage to see that through, you just might learn something about yourself along the way.

Excellent. I haven’t read him, but now you’ve got me interested. Where do you write?

My earlier stories were written using a desktop computer, so there weren’t many options available, insofar as location was concerned. After a while, I began to feel that staring at the same walls, day after day, wasn’t conducive to a fresh outlook, so I bought a laptop in 2009, and have been writing everywhere you can imagine since. Sometimes I write during commercials when watching the news, under the cottonwoods in my yard in the summer, in the living room by a window, or out on the deck in late November, bundled up to try to stay warm. Every book has a ritual at any given time, but no two are the same.

I’m the same way. This morning I wrote a chapter of my new romance at Barnes & Noble’s cafe. But since they don’t provide outlets for patrons, I moved to the library where I’m facing the Ohio River and the fading colors of autumn. Tomorrow I’ll write somewhere else. Thank you for stopping by today. I’ve very much enjoyed getting to know you a bit better and learning about your writing process. I wish you well with the new release. You’ll have to come back next year and let us know where you’re headed next!

Thank you for having me as your guest. I quite enjoyed myself, and very much appreciate the opportunity to reach out to your readers.

My pleasure. I look forward to reading your books, C.W.

downunder author's photoAbout C.W. Lovatt: Award-winning author, C. W. Lovatt, is the creator of the critically acclaimed Josiah Stubb, along with the bestselling, Charlie Smithers collection. The third book in this series, Adventures Downunder is set to be released before Christmas.

 Links:

The Adventures of Charlie Smithers (Amazon US)

The Adventures of Charlie Smithers (Amazon UK)

Charlie Smithers: Adventures in India (Amazon US)

Charlie Smithers: Adventures in India (Amazon UK)

Blog

Amazon Author Page 

AUTHOR WEDNESDAY – CHRISTINA CARSON

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It’s been far too long since I’ve featured this author on my blog, but here she is with a post about how her latest releases came to be. Christina Carson shares her thoughts about the “seeds” for an author. I’ve written reviews for her books and featured her on Author Wednesday. 9Her first two books, Suffer the Little Children and Dying to Know are masterpieces of literary fiction. DyingToKnowFinal (3)She now presents us with Accidents of Birth, Book One and Two. Her post today addresses where these works of historical fiction originated. Book One follows the life of Imogene Ware from her birth in Mississippi in 1928 through some turbulent decades in the South. Book Two chronicles her life in the last three decades of the 20th century. It is with great pleasure that I turn over the blog to one of my favorite authors, Christina Carson.

Kindle Cover - Book OneThe Seeds that Grow Our Stories by Christina Carson

The creative process, the one that brings us all so much pleasure either through being the creator or the recipient is indeed a strange bird. Somewhere, seemingly out of the ether, an idea begins to emerge. It reminds me of when I was a child and had my first experience growing crystals. Have you ever grown a crystal? Ah, a positively magical affair, especially to a child. You’d get your Dad to go the druggist and buy whichever chemicals were legal for you to have that had been listed in the crystal-making book you were reading. You’d make a supersaturated solution of each one of the chemicals by mixing them in water, suspend a thin twine tied to a stick which spanned the drinking glasses you’d snuck out of the kitchen…and wait. Within a day or so, the tiniest of crystals would emerge on the cord and then one would start to grow. Sometimes they’d get as big as my thumbnail. It was astonishing—these beautiful crystals from ostensibly out of nowhere – ruby red, sapphire blue and diamond clear, depending on the solution. There was a critical time period, however, which you couldn’t predetermine, in which you had to harvest the crystal or the solution begin to dissolve it and take it back. I have always sensed that stories come into existence in just this way. Somewhere in the back of our minds, saturated with intellectual and emotional experiences, a seed exists around which a story begins to form. What is that seed? That is an interesting question, for if you find it, you can watch the marvel of the creative process that unfolds. The novel Accidents of Birth began in just that manner.

I was sixteen and about to have some minor surgery. My mother had tucked me in at the hospital for a three-day stay, and being an independent child, almost obnoxiously so, I suggested I was just fine, and she need not come again until it was time to go home. I had never been in a hospital. I had no idea how much empty time there was lying there. There was nowhere to go, no TVs and no one to talk to as hospitals were much emptier those days. By the time late afternoon of day one rolled around, I was beginning to rue my offhanded dismissal of my mother, until the sound of soft, rhythmic singing came from down the hall followed by a gentle rap on my door. I said, “Come in.”

In response, an aging Black orderly came around the corner. His hair was salt and pepper gray, his face a deep rich brown and his eyes gentle with concern. Seeing me all alone, he began to fuss over me as if I were his blood daughter. I was awed. I had never had anyone treat me with such loving kindness, let alone a total stranger.

Come morning, I realized it wasn’t a chance happening, for when the orderly came then, she was a forty-something Black woman who proceeded to care for me in the same inclusive manner, making me one of her own. Her kindness knew no bounds, and I lay there in wonder. She stayed with me until the prepping for the operation was over, and I was wheeled off.
I saw those two several more times before I left the hospital. I wanted to say something to them, but I couldn’t understand all I was feeling at that young age. I was a kid. What did I know about life and all its glaring contradictions? But…I never forgot what it felt like to be loved like that.

Over the years, that seed drew from all the experiences that made up my life, and eventually formed a story I would have never imagined writing – me, white, from a racist family and having always lived above the Mason-Dixon Line. Then, a protagonist emerged, a woman who was illiterate, quirky, filled with earthy wisdom, and, yes, Black. That was as startling to me as any crystal I’d ever grown. Mrs. Imogene Ware came into my life, created from that original seed, and retold in her own way that sixteen-year old’s experience:

“We sit quiet again. Then I git up, walk over to where she set an reach out to her. She come to me like she a frightened little child, an I hold her tight an stoke her hair, coo to her, an tell her over an over she be fine. Tell her over an over I love her so, juss who she be, an I always will. They be no doorways where love live, nothing that open an shut. They be no time where love live, nothing that begins or ends. But she don’ know that, an my heart weep fo’ her.”

It took me years to grow into a place where I could write this story, have the maturity and the openness to let it come to and through me. Three days in a hospital with two incredibly caring souls gave me a gift beyond the obvious, however. It predisposed me to look at the Black culture throughout my life, and collect examples of its beauty and goodness. In the process, I met some exquisite human beings, Black women leaving their mark on the world. Out of that came Accidents of Birth, a story wrapped in the brutality and racism of the 20th century but told as a profound love story, for the seed of this novel was love.

Kindle Cover - Book TwoSome final words from Miss Imogene pondering like she so often did as she and her cart horse, Polly, travelled up and down their farm to market road:

“It clear to me now my mama didn’t leave me with no suggestion. She leave me with her life. She leave me knowing my work be to love this world too, like she did. An sittin right here at the edge of this road ponderin’ on what lies ahead a me, it feel more curse than grace, but that juss ’cause I be scared. An then as I look at the people round me, I see they be livin’ out what they be left by they mama or they papa. An it don’ seem to matter whether you respected them or not, just being round ’em for so long, who they be an what they believe seep into ya. An it don’ look like no easy thing to be achangin’ that. But by God above, there muss be some way to use what we learn to make our chiluns’ lives kinder and happier, not juss repeating our woes. Then I chuckle quietly as I think of the years of slavery, an racism, an poverty, an disease, an it occur to me history don’ seem to favor that notion. Well, I do, indeed I do.”

And so do I.

IMG_0140 resized-framedChristina Carson on Christina:  I am sixty-nine-years old and  have worn many caps and walked many roads. I started in research as a scientist even before graduation, then taught in nursing for a number of years, owned a masonry contracting business with a mate and worked at that and building houses. I went on to farm. I am a creature of the land and love animals. That life was a dream until it ended. I then went on to become a stock broker, which I hated, and then the aimless period began with intense doubt and chaos. I was there for years making it up as I went along and spending a great deal of time afraid and despairing.

I will forever consider Canada my home, but I returned to the states in 1996 after thirty years in Canada to marry a man I met in Vancouver where I lived for five years.  He and I are perfectly suited to one another in intent, direction, and integrity, and as for the rest, we play that by ear.

Links:

Accidents of Birth, Book One 

Accidents of Birth, Book Two

Amazon Author Page

Twitter: @CarsonCanada

Facebook 

Christina Carson Websites:
Books that Entertain and Inspire 
Asked and Answered 

Book Review Friday – P.C. Zick’s reviews of Christina’s Books

Suffer the Little Children

Dying to Know

Author Wednesday – Christina Carson

June 5, 2013

March 5, 2014

May 14, 2014

DOWNLOAD FLORIDA FICTION SERIES FOR $0.99 CENTS THIS WEEK

Click here to download

Click here to download

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Three novels in one package, these novels represent my love for Florida in all its crazy and complicated glory.

Here’s a review from author Uvi Poznansky that I treasure. I love it when others call me a storyteller. That’s my job, but it’s always nice to be recognized as such by someone else.

Review:  PC Zick is a unique storyteller. Her female protagonists are energetic fighters, tackling conflicts within their families and society. Their thoughts reflect what’s in her heart: a caring for a place (hence the name of the series, Florida fiction), a sense of awe when history is unraveled, and a deep passion for a cause, all of which propel them through the twists and turns of the plot, seeking a way to arrive at resolution. Writing in bursts of dialogue, and in short chapters that often alternate in time, she takes it upon herself to weave together political and social strands with familial ones, to create a rich, complex tapestry as the backdrop for her stories. That is why they ring true in the deepest sense of the word. Her dedication on the opening page of Tortoise Stew says it all: “For all the underdogs who fight for justice because it’s the right thing to do.”

In the first novel, Native Lands, the story alternates between two time frames: 1760, where we meet Locka—son of a native tribe in Florida, who suffers the loss of his wife and finds himself attracted to the beautiful Mali—and the present, where we meet Emily Booth, the mother of a difficult teen and the wife of a political candidate Daniel, and the columnist Barbara Evans, who writes about environmental issues. In both time frames, the author bases her writing on in-depth research to create detailed, convincing realities in a manner that highlights the contrasts between past and present.

3-D1Set on Florida’s panhandle and the east coast near St. Augustine, the second novel, Trails in the Sand, presents Caroline, a woman faced with challenges on two levels: her family and her environment. On the family level, she uncovers family secrets–murder, incest, and pregnancies—secrets that went unspoken for as long as three generations back. Going forward, these secrets threaten to unsettle the shaky balance between her, her husband, and his daughter, as they struggle to reach for each other and find forgiveness. On the environment level, they must pull their efforts together, to rescue sea turtles that are threatened by extinction due to environmental hazards brought on by society. In Zick’s writing, the family and environment issue are interconnected: the night scene on a beach near Cape Canaveral, when the sea turtle hatchlings make their way to the sea, is moving on both levels at once. It left trails in the sand, in a direction which for me, evoked hope for a future founded on understanding and acceptance.

TORTISE_webThe third novel, Tortoise Stew, explores further this notion of trying to reach understanding and acceptance even in the face of differences. “If we’re all shouting, who’s listening?” It presents Kelly Sands, a reporter investigating politically explosive environmental issues in the town of Calloway. The story opens with her staring at a bomb meant to scare her away from her investigation. Armadillos and gopher tortoise fall victim to an all out warfare surrounding the development of Florida, while a commissioner is murdered and his wife commits suicide. In this atmosphere of ruthlessness, how can cooler minds prevail, to form a sane solution?

Taken together, these three novels showcase Zick’s gift as a master weaver. They are smartly constructed, rich with detail, and offer both enlightenment and delight.

Click here to grab your copy.

 

 

BOOK REVIEW FRIDAY – TALES TO COUNT ON

TALES_final_fullTales To Count On by S.R. Mallery, a unique collection of short stories, contains a variety of genres, including historical, Gothic, and fantasy. They are organized by word count, which the author says often determines the story when written under the constraints of submission guidelines. Interesting concept that developed into a full-blown eclectic combination of historical, contemporary, and mysterious stories.

Full disclosure: I edited and formatted this book. The “work” became a labor of love as I became enamored with the characters and the delightful storytelling ability of Ms. Mallery. Reading them provided me with hours of enjoyment. I’m a fan of S.R. Mallery’s writing, which is what brought us together in the first place. Click here to read my reviews of her other books, Sewing Can Be Dangerous, another collection of short stories, and Unexpected Gifts, a delightful novel of one young woman’s discovery of her roots.

If you’ve ever read any of the O Henry short stories and enjoyed them, you’ll be in for a treat with her newest book. Each one has some type of twist at the end. That’s a tricky task for an author who has to lead the reader down one path and completely change direction by the end to surprise even the most astute detectives. S.R. Mallery is a master at the technique and proves it thoroughly in Tales To Count On.

The craft of short story writing requires a special talent. Maybe that’s why they aren’t as popular as they once were. Maybe it’s because the big name magazines are no longer at the forefront of the publishing world as they were during the heyday of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Salinger, and Parker. Those writers made their names and their leap to literary infamy through the publication of short stories in The New Yorker or Atlantic Monthly. It takes a talented writer to create a short piece that contains all the same elements within a full-length novel. There must be characterization, believable dialogue, conflict, rising tension, and a climax. There must be a compelling story with mood to set the tone and powerful settings and descriptions. All of these techinques must occur in 500 to 4,000 words. And that’s just what they do in S.R. Mallery’s Tales To Count On.

The range and depth of the stories caused me to sit back in awe of her genius when I first read them. Preparing to write my review, I reread some of them and my awe only increased. She explores issues, such as domestic abuse, mental illness, employer/employee relations, PTSD, and abusive parents. The stories take the readers to varied settings and time periods. Her point of view shifts as a literary technique in one story involving a traffic jam, allowing the reader the unique perspective of voyeuristically peeking into the lives of a varied group of travelers and the impact the stalled vehicles have on each character’s world.

Each of the multi-layered characters are developed with efficient precision from the snarky journalist whose karma comes back to haunt him to the young woman portrayed as a sexy young virgin during the French Revolution. Shocking endings all, so I can’t say much more than I have. What I can say is readers of all preferences will find something to love in this collection of stories that reveal much about the human condition.

Most of all, the shocking endings show the reader that nothing is as it seems on the surface.

If you’re looking for stories that are intelligent, well-designed, and edge-of-the-seat worthy, then you won’t be disappointed with Tales To Count On.

Click below to read my interviews with S.R. Mallery on Author Wednesday.

 S.R. Mallery – December 4, 2013

S.R. Mallery – April 22, 2015

Purchase Links

S.R. Mallery Amazon Author Page

Barnes & Noble Page

Kobo Page

 

NOTE: Because Amazon frowns upon authors leaving reviews for other authors, I no longer leave reviews on their retail site. However, I will continue to review books here on my own blog for Book Review Friday. Authors are welcome to share my reviews with their own social media networks and to publish excerpts of my reviews as editorial reviews on Amazon. My list of TBR books is long, but I’m always willing to consider new works. If I enjoy a book, I review it.

BOOK REVIEW FRIDAY – I, JOHN CULPEPPER BY LORI CRANE

Culpepper_1I sure hope author Lori Crane (click here for Author Wednesday interview) plans to release the next book in her new historical fiction series on the Culpepper family very soon. When I finished the first book, I, John Culpepper, I felt like I’d lost a good friend. I need to find out what happens in this spitfire’s life after . . . Sorry can’t say anything more than that without giving away a spoiler. Ms. Crane said when she first starting writing about this man (her 10th grandfather), she realized she had stumbled upon more than just one novel.

The author transports the reader back to the early 1600s and straight into the lives of the Culpepper family. Tensions start in the beginning chapter between John and his father, playing an integral part in the overall plot of I, John Culpepper.

While many things seem so different from our fast-paced lives today, universal emotions and relationships show us we have much in common with our ancestors, and learning about them may help us to avoid the same downfalls as them. Ms. Crane says the history of our ancestors is the collective history for us all. And it is clear, through the father and son relationship she tells in this story, that we do share a universal past.

Sometimes I put the book down to simply contemplate what it must have been like to travel two weeks or more to visit the family home by horseback. That trip today might take a few hours out of the day. What did the others do while waiting for a family member to return? Imagine how few books had been published up to that time. They must have memorized the ones they had. Reading this book puts into perspective how far we’ve really come in some areas. However, in others we haven’t grown quite as much. Or perhaps the lesson to take away from reading this book is that the conflicts we face in life provide us with the opportunity to grow and mature.

Beyond what we might learn, I, John Culpepper is simply an enjoyable read that I highly recommend.

Purchase links for I, John Culpepper

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada