#otd The Nellie Bly story begins…

screen shot 2019-01-14 at 10.41.45 amOn January 14th, 1885, The Pittsburg Dispatch (yes, Pittsburgh was Pittsburg back then) published a column replying to a letter from an “Anxious Father.” The columnist was Erasmus Wilson, a kindly, avuncular gentleman, who wrote under the pseudonym of Q.O. (The Quiet Observer). Wilson’s “Quiet Observations”, in early 1885, were focused on the role of women and his views were strictly traditional. Women’s place was in the home.

In mid January, he received a letter from an ‘Anxious Father’, seeking advice on what to do with his unmarried daughters, aged between eighteen and twenty-six.  “I have five of them on hand,” wrote their father, “and am at a loss how to get them off or what use to make of them.”

Wilson did not hold back.

screen-shot-2017-08-28-at-3.53.10-pmIn his column, published alongside the letter, Wilson said he could not help the father. It was the parents’ responsibility to prepare their daughters to run households, he said. Women should be able to spin, sew, cook and clean. If women were not fit to run a home, then who knew, in the future, America might need to adopt the Chinese policy of killing baby girls or selling them as slaves! In the following week or two, as the ‘Anxious Father’ wrote to the paper again, Wilson went even further. Any woman ‘outside her sphere’ was a ‘monstrosity’, he declared, adding that ‘There is no greater abnormality than a woman in breeches, unless it is a man in petticoats.’

Wilson was being deliberately provocative. And the women of Pittsburgh were certainly provoked into responding.

photo posted on post-gazette.comBessie Bramble was one. The sole female columnist at the Dispatch, Bramble was a passionate writer and one of the few women journalists working at the time. She hit back at Wilson, defending women and rejecting his argument that ‘girls were only good for’ domestic drudgery.

Wilson’s column brought in letters too, including one from a twenty year-old girl called Elizabeth Cochrane. She lived in an Allegheny row house with her mother, siblings and some boarders the family took in, in order to make ends meet. After reading Wilson’s column on January 24th, Cochrane wrote a passionate letter to the paper. She did not include her address or her real name, but signed it “Lonely Orphan Girl.”

Wilson and the Dispatch’s editor George Madden, were intrigued, impressed even, by her response.

But how could they find the letter writer when they didn’t know her address, far less her real name?

 

History wishes – a non-fiction advent calendar for 2018

Parmesan Chese

So tomorrow is the 1st of December and Christmas is officially open for business in our house. Child 3 has been trying to change that, embarking on a list for Santa designed on Canva (I kid you not) some weeks ago, but we have held resolute. On the side, however, I have been building up quite a list of books I’d love to get my hands on this year. All non-fiction and chosen for wildly different reasons, but all lined up and ready to share.

I’ll be posting one book a day. I’m excited to share my #historywishes and if you have read them already or are interested in any of the books I’m featuring, I’d love to hear from you.

Happy December!

Kate xx

Read for Free!

Free Kindle readthis weekend only

Just a quick post to share the exciting news that The Road to Newgate is free on Kindle for the next few days. Why free? Because the success of writing a novel and finding a publisher prepared to back it and send it out into the world properly edited and with a strong cover – wonderful though that is – means nothing without readers.

Here’s the link:

mybook.to/theroadtonewgate

Hoping for new readers and maybe some more reviews. Fingers crossed.

Nancy Jardine – new historical novel alert!

Today I’m happy to share news of a new historical novel from author Nancy Jardine. She’s visiting my blog to talk about her new release and other bookish things.

Introducing Agricola’s Bane by Nancy Jardine

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Nancy, why did you write this particular story?

Essentially, the next part of my clan adventures needed told!

Agricola’s Bane is Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series which charts the adventures of my Celtic Brigantes clan who originate in the hillfort of Garrigill (modern day Yorkshire/ England). Book 1 begins in AD 71 when the legions of Ancient Rome descend on Brigante territory, bent on subduing them to the will of Rome. By Book 4, we have moved on to AD 84 and the action is in Caledonia (modern day Aberdeenshire/ Scotland).

In Agricola’s Bane, Enya of Garrigill sets out from her Caledon ‘safe place’ to search for her brother and cousin who have not been seen since the Battle at Beinn na Ciche (end of Book 3). Ancient Roman historians would call this the Battle of Mons Graupius as was named by the Roman writer Cornelius Tacitus. It’s a dangerous choice for Enya to make since the tribal territories are seething with the legions of the Ancient Roman General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola as they make more and more temporary camps all the way to what is now the ‘Moray Coast’.

In my series, one family member may be a main character in one book, yet play a minor role in another book – though unless they have been killed off by a Roman gladius, the characters all hover in the background of Book4. It’s not quite a historical saga, but sort of…

CFS covers Lrg

Do you have a favourite scene or character in Agricola’s Bane?

When young Enya (14 summers old) sets out to find her brother, she’s accompanied by two other warriors. Feargus of Monymusk is of similar age but Nith of Tarras is older (20) and a surrogate foster-brother. Having found a trail that looks like it will lead to her brother Ruoridh, they need to cross a fast flowing river. Feargus can’t swim and has to be dragged across as he also fears the river goddess Caela’s retribution. It’s thought by historians that the ancient Celts were deeply superstitious, as were the ancient Romans, and their religious adherence permeated every aspect of their day. They have only just revived poor Feargus when they have to flee from an attack by Roman auxiliaries. Though the Romans are on the far bank, one of their javelins spears Feargus thigh. Enya and Nith have to remove the spear tip before Feargus can hobble off with them to safety. This is just one of the more highly charged scenes in the story when there’s interaction with the Roman enemies.

What was your process in writing your latest novel? Did you outline? Did you write multiple drafts?

Very good questions! I originally made a brief outline plan but since the book development came in fits and starts, over many months, new outlines were made along the way. As the series progressed, I increased the amount of main characters so Agricola’s Bane has 5 povs. There’s Enya and Nith who have the lion’s share. Then there’s General Agricola who gives the Roman perspective, though he occupies a lesser role. And lastly there are short sections in Ruoridh and Beathan’s povs. Beathan and Agricola will be main characters in Book 5, so I wanted to introduce them in Book 4.

It’s taken me a few years to complete Agricola’s Bane for all sorts of reasons which include; less time to write than for previous books; writing and publishing another novel in between; doing lots of courses and heavy research on Roman Scotland. The list should also contain that after I started it, I had a period of writer’s block when I didn’t like how it was going and set it aside many times.

There have been chunks removed so it’s very hard to say how many drafts but certainly a lot more than one!

What novels would you recommend to readers – old and/or new reads qualify?

I’m relatively easily pleased as a reader and often love best the last book I’ve read (unless it’s been an awful one but that rarely happens). I sometimes dip back to my classics favourites like Pride and Prejudice, Lord of the Rings, and various Charles Dickens. Newer books sometimes make an impact depending on my mood when reading. I mostly enjoy historical fiction and mysteries but do read other genres. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed heaps of Crooked Cat Books like Nicola Slade’s The House at Ladywell and The Ghostly Father by Sue Barnard. Katharine Johnson’s The Silence was also a fabulous read of 2018.

 

Screen Shot 2018-11-15 at 2.53.32 PMAnd any non-fiction recommendations?

I’m pretty one track minded at present and steeped in the history of Roman Britain/ Roman Scotland since I do author presentations/talks on the subject in my home area of Aberdeenshire. If anyone is interested in Scottish history in general, I recommend the books of Alistair Moffat. The Sea Kingdoms was engrossing for the ‘Dark Ages’ and made me want to zoom forward and write about Pictish ‘Scotland’.

(Oh! Great. I’m putting this on my xmas list right now)

 

And finally (and really my favourite question…) What’s the best piece of advice you have for other writers?

Get comfortable with the amount of time you can find for your writing and don’t stress if things don’t come naturally. When I wasn’t managing to add more to my manuscript – mainly for domestic reasons and because life intrudes – I consoled myself by writing blog articles and doing interviews. It is still writing, though different. Marketing is a necessity but not the easiest of tasks and I’d again say don’t get stressed because the more books you have published the harder it is to market them all.

About Nancy and where to find her…

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Nancy Jardine writes contemporary mysteries; historical fiction and time-travel historical adventure. Her current historical focus is Roman Scotland, an engrossing pre-history era because her research depends highly on keeping abreast of recent archaeological findings.

A member of the Romantic Novelists Association, the Scottish Association of Writers, the Federation of Writers Scotland and the Historical Novel Society, her work has achieved finalist status in UK competitions.

She lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, with her husband but life is never quiet or boring since her young grandchildren are her next-door neighbours. She regularly child minds them, those days being cherished and laughter filled.

Blog: http://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk

Website: www.nancyjardineauthor.com/

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG & http://on.fb.me/1Kaeh5G

email: nan_jar@btinternet.com

Twitter https://twitter.com/nansjar

Amazon Author page http://viewauthor.at/mybooksandnewspagehere

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5139590.Nancy_Jardine

 

Who doesn’t love a bargain?

For the first time since it came out in September 2016, Charlatan is on sale as an ebook for only $0.99 or 99p or equivalent across all platforms and countries! You can grab it now by clicking here: mybook.to/charlatan

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“A dark, tale of mystery, sorcery, and a woman’s desperate pursuit to charm the most powerful man in seventeenth-century France. A poisoning scandal at the court of King Louis XIV threatens even Athénaïs, his glamorous mistress. She seems unaware of the accusations made against her, but how far has she really gone to keep the love of the King?”

 

Having spent so much of the past year thinking about The Road to Newgate, (especially my characters Anne, Nat, William, Henry and, of course, Titus Oates) it feels weird to put Charlatan front and centre again and read through the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads to make some social media adverts like this one:

charlatan by kate braithwaite-1

It’s my first book. The product of a long and steep learning curve and one I’m still on. I do love the cover, although I’m not sure I’ll ever read the insides again!! But it’s a pleasure to sit here with a cup of tea and look at some pictures of the characters I spent so much time with – only to abandon them when the book was complete.

Here are a few pictures I don’t think I’ve shared before. They are from my copy of The Affair of the Poisons by Frances Mossiker – a book which fell apart during the making of Charlatan!

I’m hoping a few new readers of The Road to Newgate will grab this chance to take a trip to 17th century Paris this week. I’ll be watching Amazon like a hawk, that’s for sure!

Introducing – Jane Bwye, author

Read on here to find out about talented writer Jane Bwye. She is the author of two excellent novels set in Africa and is just about to branch out into non-fiction with a book I probably need to read quite urgently! But I’ll let Jane speak for herself…

Welcome, Jane! What can you tell us about how you came to write your novels, Breath of Africa and Grass Shoots?

breath of africa - 902kbThe story of my first novel, Breath of Africa, begins in the Mau Mau emergency of mid-20th century Kenya. I had intended to write a single book, addressing, among others, the problem of racialism in a former African colony. But I quickly realized the subject was so vast, that a sequel was necessary. A natural break in the lives of my characters came towards the end of the century, so I ended the book there.

But Grass Shoots isn’t just an ordinary sequel. It is very much a standalone book in its own right, as present-day Kenya is vastly different from the naïve idealism of a newly independent state. Racial problems have given way to something more sinister.

Power and politics have overridden concerns about the welfare of the people, and corruption has its hold on great and small alike. But there appears to be a glimmer of hope on the recent horizon.

Final coverThe story revolves around an interracial love triangle in a scenario of poverty, greed and violence, with a smattering of educated common sense. Corruption must be addressed, and the people are tiring of their leaders squabbling over power. The people want to better themselves. And I want my book to present a hopeful light at the end of the tunnel. How can my characters turn into harbingers of a brighter future? Government to government aid cannot work reliably when corruption is rife.

Could a charity be channeled towards new dimensions, by empowering the people instead of turning them into “poor relations”? Emily – an AIDS orphan -, Paul, the son of her benefactor, and Sam – the product of an African/Eurasian liaison – believe and show that it can be done…

… which is why I wrote this book!

Do you have a favourite scene in Grass Shoots?

wildebeeste

May I let my book speak for itself? This scene comes in the final chapter of Grass Shoots, and as well as offering basic bush lore, it encapsulates my love for the wild open spaces of Africa:

Emily went out by herself to savour the magic of their special place… Reaching a bend, she looked to her left.

There was a loud snort of concern. A wildebeest stood poised for flight. They eyed each other, frozen with tension. He was big: he tossed his horns and stamped a foot, then snorted again. Emily stood her ground and so did he. Only a few yards separated them, and a feeling of unease spread through her. Help was out of reach in the house on the other side of the dam. If she retreated, the animal would chase her down. She held her breath, and eyed the surrounding long grass, looking for an escape route – and the wildebeest lowered its head. To her great relief, it continued sedately on its way across her path. She had broken the confrontation, and it no longer saw her as a threat.

For one long moment she had been a mere creature out there facing danger, tasting the fear experienced by wild animals every moment of their vulnerable lives. It was a humbling experience.

What can you share about your writing processes? Outline or no outline? Revisions? Changes in point of view?

I did outline the book, but only in a very broad sense. I kind of let my characters dictate their thoughts and actions within the chapters. This often leads to additions, and sometimes deletions in the final edits, to comply with my publisher’s requirements. I used several points of view, mostly between the three main characters. But I also experimented by changing to the present tense when writing in the head of Sam’s father, a key character throughout both books. I believe this technique helped to emphasize the intensity of his experiences and emotions. The book, together with the research, took me a year to write.

Can you recommend any books you have read and loved?

At a young age I was lured by the novels of Nevil Shute into a hankering to visit Australia. And The Thornbirds by Colleen McCullough fulfilled so many of my yearnings for romance, that I have lost count of the number of times I have read it.

What about a movie or album?

I prefer curling up in a corner with a novel in my lap over any other form of media. There is only one film which to my mind can compare favourably with the book. Doctor Zhivago. I have seen it countless times – even more times than I have read the book, which is quite an admission. And the haunting music never fails to stir my romantic soul.

What is your best piece of advice for other writers?

coverpicOnce you have written your book, perfected it to the best of your ability, and perhaps achieved your dream of finding a publisher … now, you must put aside your deep involvement in the story. You need to turn yourself into a hard-nosed entrepreneur and act in a business-like manner to make it succeed. If you’d like to learn how to do this, I have a book launch coming up on 15th August 2018!

Connect with Jane at her website and blog or click on the covers to find out more about her books!

New book alert! The Thieftaker’s Trek by Joan Sumner

Congratulations to author Joan Sumner on her debut historical novel The Thieftaker’s Trek!, published today by Bastei Entertainment. I first met Joan at a Historical Novel Society conference and can’t wait to read her book. It arrived on my kindle this morning!

Here is the story:

Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 7.27.24 AMRevenge   Abduction   Blackmail   Murder

It’s 1810. The industrial revolution in Britain is at its height. Enormous profits in the British cotton mills and factories are made, working around the illicit black slave trade, using white child slaves.

Frobisher, a London catcher of thieves is a widowed father with a dark past. He’s hired to find Harry, the young son of an impoverished army widow. The child is enticed from home to earn a penny. The trail leads the thief-taker out of the city onto the English canal network and beyond to Derbyshire.

Simultaneously, a murder takes Goldziher, a Bow Street detective and friend of Frobisher, into London’s Spitalfield slums. The involvement of minor nobility introduces political dimensions and concerns.

In both cases the witnesses are children which complicates matters for the investigators…

The crime novel is based on historical fact.

About the Author

joanJoan Sumner, MBA (Dundee)and Fellow of Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, has a working background across the private, public and voluntary sectors. Semi-retired, she has settled in Midlothian, Scotland to write, closer to family and friends.

An award winning historical novelist, Joan formerly contributed self-help articles to a national weekly. Her travel abroad articles and occasional BBC radio contributions mostly starred her vintage MGB car.

Joan’s small garden hosts a family of hedgehogs, giving enjoyment to everyone she knows!

She is a member of the Society of Authors, the Edinburgh Writers’ Club and the National Trust for Scotland. She paints, plays tennis and golf, and loves to travel – particularly by car.

But her passion is weaving mystery stories around little known historical facts. You can follow her on linkedin/in/joan-s-sumner-144332a0/ and Facebook.

 

www.joansumner.com

Blog tour: The Secret Life of Mrs London by Rebecca Rosenberg

New & Final Tour Banner for Rebeccas blog tour

As a historical fiction fan, I was super happy to get the chance to read The Secret Life of Mrs London, by Rebecca Rosenberg. Here’s the scoop:

The Secret Life of Mrs. LondonSan Francisco, 1915. As America teeters on the brink of world war, Charmian and her husband, famed novelist Jack London, wrestle with genius and desire, politics and marital competitiveness. Charmian longs to be viewed as an equal partner who put her own career on hold to support her husband, but Jack doesn’t see it that way…until Charmian is pulled from the audience during a magic show by escape artist Harry Houdini, a man enmeshed in his own complicated marriage. Suddenly, charmed by the attention Houdini pays her and entranced by his sexual magnetism, Charmian’s eyes open to a world of possibilities that could be her escape.

As Charmian grapples with her urge to explore the forbidden, Jack’s increasingly reckless behavior threatens her dedication. Now torn between two of history’s most mysterious and charismatic figures, she must find the courage to forge her own path, even as she fears the loss of everything she holds dear.

My Review

In the last few years I have read a fair few novels based around the wife/mistress/sister of a famous historical figure. Here are just some I could mention:

 

 

It’s a great idea – a way to explore a famous life through the eyes of the person closest to them, and to look at the pleasures – and sometimes perils – of living with and loving someone who is highly driven and creative. So how would this one stack up? Well, for me, The Secret Life of Mrs London can take a place on the shelf next to any of these. It has all the same hallmarks of great writing, engaging characters, relationship drama and a vibrant evocation of a different time and place.

Mrs London, Charmain, is a complex character. She loves Jack London but feels her own writing is lost in the tide of his success, his reliance on her as his secretary and his ambitions to build a California mansion, Wolf House. Jack also maintains separate sleeping quarters, leaving Charmain sexually frustrated and open to temptation. This comes in the form of handsome Harry Houdini, another fascinating character, who brings with him into Charmain’s life, his child-like wife, Bess.

The Secret Life of Mrs London is a warm, engaging portrait of a woman struggling to find herself. Like the best of these ‘wife’ stories, although my initial attraction for picking them up is find out more about the famous name, as a reader, I stay for the wife’s story. Charmain struggles to put herself first. She has to remind herself that this is her life, even as she fears being “nothing without Jack.” How she succeeds and/or fails had me totally gripped. Highly recommended.

About the Author:

Rebecca_Rosenberg__novelist_1California native Rebecca Rosenberg lives on a lavender farm with her family in Sonoma, the Valley of the Moon, where she and her husband founded the largest lavender product company in America, Sonoma Lavender. A long-time student of Jack London’s work and an avid fan of his daring wife, Charmian, Rosenberg is a graduate of the Stanford Writing Certificate Program. THE SECRET LIFE OF MRS. LONDON is her first novel, following her non-fiction, LAVENDER FIELDS OF AMERICA.

Rebecca Rosenberg’s next historical novel is GOLD DIGGER the story of BABY DOE TABOR.

Website

Facebook

Buy the Book:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon AU

 

2 weeks to go…

With 2 weeks to go until the official publication date for The Road to Newgate, I thought I’d do a little update post on the kind of things keeping me busy/awake at night.

To party or not to party?

One of my main preoccupations in the last month or so has been trying to decide whether to have an actual in-person book launch. I am not good at such things and the whole look at me, look at me, aspect makes me feel deeply worried! Add to that that over here in the Mushroom Capital of America (aka the Kennett Square/West Chester area of Pennsylvania) we are already in week 3 of the long summer holidays and lots of people are away and… nope. No party planned.

Titus_OatesBUT… I am having an online launch on facebook. Not quite sure how this will go, but I’m hoping to do some giveways and have some friendly authors talking about books and particularly about the importance of antagonists to make stories exciting to read. I will talking about this unpleasant chap (among others!)

 

Here’s a link to that: Book launch for The Road to Newgate

 

Book blogs

Ah, book blogs. Book bloggers are awesome at a) reading lots of books and b) sharing their love of books. For The Road to Newgate I’m doing a couple of tours – one this week and another in August. I’ve also done some outreach of my own and so hopefully there will be people reading the book very soon and talking about how they found it. All fingers and toes are crossed. Links will be posted as things appear.

Writing about stuff about the book (Yay. This is the bit I love)

Recently I’ve written about 17th century coffee shops – very important to my character Nat but not the favourite place of his lovely wife Anne. Read that here.

I’ve also done a piece about jobs for women in the 17th century, a time when a married woman pretty much belonged to her husband. Read that one here.

And I have another coming out next week about childbirth and midwifery. Loved writing that one. Will post a link when it is published but here’s a picture from one of the books I refer to in the article, Jane Sharp’s The Midwives Book, published in 1671.

Other bits and bobs are in the works too.

Foetus_in_the_womb

Posting books

Today I posted off 2 signed copies of The Road to Newgate plus two of the little books my mum has made. One went to a friend’s mum, someone who super kindly read my last book as it struggled through the proof reading stages and helped me catch some late errors that the publisher had missed. And the other went to the winner of a blog giveway. It’s a funny thing to send your words out into the world!

New writing

Oh yes that. Mmm. Well it’s not easy to make a lot of progress during the summer with 3 kids at home and either demanding food or to be driven somewhere. Plus there is the World Cup and now Wimbledon to distract me. However, I am plotting and thinking and doing all that background stuff that will pay off when the time comes. Soon I hope!

Book recommendation! Kindred Spirits – Westminster Abbey

Tomorrow is publication day for third Kindred Spirit book by my fellow Crooked Cat author Jennifer C. Wilson. As a historical fiction writer and fan, I’m really looking forward to reading this. Jennifer has been plucking some of my favourite characters from British history and giving them a unique and imaginative twist. Why didn’t I think of writing something like this??? 😉

Introducing Kindred Spirits: Westminster Abbey by Jennifer C. Wilson

JCW-Kindred-WestminsterOn hallowed ground…
With over three thousand burials and memorials, including seventeen monarchs, life for the ghostly community of Westminster Abbey was never going to be a quiet one. Add in some fiery Tudor tempers, and several centuries-old feuds, and things can only go one way: chaotic.

Against the backdrop of England’s most important church, though, it isn’t all tempers and tantrums. Poets’ Corner hosts poetry battles and writing workshops, and close friendships form across the ages.

With the arrival of Mary Queen of Scots, however, battle ensues. Will Queens Mary I and Elizabeth I ever find their common ground, and lasting peace?

More about the series from author, Jennifer C. Wilson:

In the Kindred Spirits series, we meet the ghosts of historical characters, in a range of contemporary settings. Have you ever wondered what Richard III and Anne Boleyn might have in common, what Mary, Queen of Scots is getting up to now, or what happens when the visitors leave some of the most popular attractions in the country? Well, here’s your chance!

In the third of the Kindred Spirits series, we visit Westminster Abbey, and I hope you enjoy meeting a new community of ghosts. Mind, with modern travel so easy these days, a few faces we’ve already encountered might just show up too…

Praise for the Kindred Spirits series

“A light hearted, humorous, and at times tender read which you’ll enjoy whether you like history or not.”

“This light-hearted, imaginative read is a new take on historical fiction but make no mistake, this is not only a fun read but an educational tool.”

“A brilliantly unique idea from a distinctive new voice in fiction.”

About Jennifer

JenniferCWilson-NEW-January2018Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots of childhood holidays (she since moved on to Richard III). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consultant since graduating.

Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to work on developing her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online. Her Kindred Spirits novels are published by Crooked Cat Books and available via Amazon, along with her self-published timeslip novella, The Last Plantagenet? She can be found online at her blog, and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.