#otd 1913 Nellie Bly at the Washington DC Suffrage Rally

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If you know about Nellie Bly at all, you most likely know that she went round the world by herself in 72 days in 1889/90, or that she got her first break into New York newspapers by feigning madness and getting herself committed to Blackwell’s Island Insane Asylum in 1887.

But there was a lot more to Nellie Bly than that. Here’s a perfect example: Nellie reporting for the New York Evening Journal on the March 3rd Suffrage March in Washington D.C. in 1913. There are some great little videos about it on YouTube. Here’s an example:

And here’s Nellie’s thoughts on the event, taken from Brooke Kroeger’s biography, Nellie Bly: Daredevil, Reporter, Feminist.

“Can you imagine it? Ten thousand women in line? They say that was the number by actual count… Picture if you can an endless chain of butterflies, divided into sections according to color fluttering along and it will give a little impression of the parade which made history… I was never so proud of women; I never was so impressed by their ability; I never so realized their determination and sincerity. I am glad I am one.”

Inez_Milholland_1913The suffrage march was led by this woman, Inez Milholland, a lawyer, feminist and pacifist who probably deserves a novel of her own. She’s definitely someone worth celebrating.

For more, read:

When the suffrage movement got its makeover on

http://suffrageandthemedia.org/source/nellie-bly-for-the-new-york-evening-journal-at-the-1913-washington-dc-suffrage-rally/

Dec 21st: The Monopolists by Mary Pilon

“The Monopolists reveals the unknown story of how Monopoly came into existence, the reinvention of its history by Parker Brothers and multiple media outlets, the lost female originator of the game, and one man’s lifelong obsession to tell the true story about the game’s questionable origins.

Most think it was invented by an unemployed Pennsylvanian who sold his game to Parker Brothers during the Great Depression in 1935 and lived happily–and richly–ever after. That story, however, is not exactly true. Ralph Anspach, a professor fighting to sell his Anti-Monopoly board game decades later, unearthed the real story, which traces back to Abraham Lincoln, the Quakers, and a forgotten feminist named Lizzie Magie who invented her nearly identical Landlord’s Game more than thirty years before Parker Brothers sold their version of Monopoly. Her game–underpinned by morals that were the exact opposite of what Monopoly represents today–was embraced by a constellation of left-wingers from the Progressive Era through the Great Depression, including members of Franklin Roosevelt’s famed Brain Trust.

A gripping social history of corporate greed that illuminates the cutthroat nature of American business over the last century, The Monopolists reads like the best detective fiction, told through Monopoly’s real-life winners and losers.” (Amazon blurb)

monopolyWhy read The Monopolists?

I stumbled across the book quite by chance today. It just sounds fascinating! Who doesn’t have childhood memories of cheating at Monopoly…

Dec 17th: Inconvenient People by Sarah Wise

“The phenomenon of false allegations of mental illness is as old as our first interactions as human beings. Every one of us has described some other person as crazy or insane, and most all of us have had periods, moments at least, of madness. But it took the confluence of the law and medical science, mad-doctors, alienists, priests and barristers, to raise the matter to a level of “science,” capable of being used by conniving relatives, “designing families” and scheming neighbors to destroy people who found themselves in the way, people whose removal could provide their survivors with money or property or other less frivolous benefits. Girl Interrupted in only a recent example. And reversing this sort of diagnosis and incarceration became increasingly more difficult, as even the most temperate attempt to leave these “homes” or “hospitals” was deemed “crazy.” Kept in a madhouse, one became a little mad, as Jack Nicholson and Ken Kesey explain in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest.

In this sadly terrifying, emotionally moving, and occasionally hilarious book, twelve cases of contested lunacy are offered as examples of the shifting arguments regarding what constituted sanity and insanity. They offer unique insight into the fears of sexuality, inherited madness, greed and fraud, until public feeling shifted and turned against the rising alienists who would challenge liberty and freedom of people who were perhaps simply “difficult,” but were turned into victims of this unscrupulous trade.

This fascinating book is filled with stories almost impossible to believe but wildly engaging, a book one will not soon forget.” (amazon blurb)

Why read Inconvenient People?

inconvenientIf I add the sub-title of this book, it should be instantly clear why I want to read this book: “Lunacy, liberty, and the Mad-Doctors in England. See. Obvious really.

I first came across this book while researching for The Girl Puzzle (new novel due out this Spring!). A large part of The Girl Puzzle takes place in Blackwell’s Island Lunatic Asylum in 1887 and so this book is of great interest to me. Add to that, the two paintings below. I have prints of both of these hanging in my house.

They are both by Richard Dadd, a nineteenth century painter who suffered from mental health difficulties and was possibly schizophrenic. In 1843 he murdered his father and then spent the rest of his life in Bedlam and Broadmoor. Both of these paintings were completed while he was in Bedlam.

 

The whole field of mental illness and criminality intrigues me, particularly, but not exclusively, as it relates to women’s history – from witches, to hysteria and so on.

Dec 11th: The Suffragents by Brooke Kroeger

“The story of how and why a group of prominent and influential men in New York City and beyond came together to help women gain the right to vote.

The Suffragents is the untold story of how some of New York’s most powerful men formed the Men’s League for Woman Suffrage, which grew between 1909 and 1917 from 150 founding members into a force of thousands across thirty-five states. Brooke Kroeger explores the formation of the League and the men who instigated it to involve themselves with the suffrage campaign, what they did at the behest of the movement’s female leadership, and why. She details the National American Woman Suffrage Association’s strategic decision to accept their organized help and then to deploy these influential new allies as suffrage foot soldiers, a role they accepted with uncommon grace. Led by such luminaries as Oswald Garrison Villard, John Dewey, Max Eastman, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, and George Foster Peabody, members of the League worked the streets, the stage, the press, and the legislative and executive branches of government. In the process, they helped convince waffling politicians, a dismissive public, and a largely hostile press to support the women’s demand. Together, they swayed the course of history.” (Amazon blurb)

Why read The Suffragents?

suffragentsLots of reasons. For one, this book is by Brooke Kroeger. I’ve just used her biography of Nellie Bly extensively in writing my new novel, The Girl Puzzle. Her research is thorough (the index and references/sources are amazing) and her writing style is a pleasure to read. Then there’s the subject matter. I definitely feel that suffragette stories have great novel potential. I’m not sure I’m the woman to do one, but what some of these women went through should be celebrated and remembered. When the 2016 US election was going on my tween/teen kids were SHOCKED to find out that women only got the vote in the US in 1920 and 1918 in the UK (although only for women over 30). I’d love to see some new suffragette movies or books to keep us all aware of how short a time its been since women had equality at the ballot box.

Dec 5th: Rival Queens, the betrayal of Mary, Queen of Scots by Kate Williams

“At the end of the Tudor era, two queens ruled one island. But sixteenth-century Europe was a man’s world and powerful voices believed that no woman could govern. All around Mary and Elizabeth were sycophants, spies and detractors who wanted their dominion, their favour and their bodies.

Elizabeth and Mary shared the struggle to be both woman and queen. But the forces rising against the two regnants, and the conflicts of love and dynasty, drove them apart. For Mary, Elizabeth was a fellow queen with whom she dreamed of a lasting friendship. For Elizabeth, Mary was a threat. It was a schism that would end in secret assassination plots, devastating betrayal and, eventually, a terrible final act.

Mary is often seen as a defeated or tragic sovereign, but Rival Queens reveals instead how she attempted to reinvent queenship and the monarchy – in one of the hardest fights in royal history.” (Amazon blurb)

Why read Rival Queens?

I can’t think of a single reason why I wouldn’t want to read this book! First, I am Scottish. Until I was six I lived in a council house directly opposite Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. Every day we walked past the gates of Holyrood, a palace where Mary lived and where her favourite musician, David Rizzio, was murdered. I’m not sure how old I was the first time we visited the palace but the plaque where Rizzio was murdered made a big impression on me.

 Mary’s story is full of drama: from the murder of Darnley to her relationship with Bothwell, from her imprisonment in Fotheringay, to the plots and then her death on the command of her cousin Queen Elizabeth. Anyone interested in royal history should want to know more about these two Queens.

If the blurb is to believed, Kate Williams’ book is not to be missed. I love this publicity banner too, which I’ve just lifted from Amazon because it says it all:

Dec 3rd: Ten restaurants that shaped America by Paul Freedman

“Combining a historian’s rigor with a foodie ’s palate, Ten Restaurants That Changed America reveals how the history of our restaurants reflects nothing less than the history of America itself. Whether charting the rise of our love affair with Chinese food through San Francisco’s fabled The Mandarin, evoking the richness of Italian food through Mamma Leone’s, or chronicling the rise and fall of French haute cuisine through Henri Soulé’s Le Pavillon, food historian Paul Freedman uses each restaurant to tell a wider story of race and class, immigration and assimilation. Freedman also treats us to a scintillating history of the then-revolutionary Schrafft’s, a chain of convivial lunch spots that catered to women, and that bygone favorite, Howard Johnson’s, which pioneered midcentury, on-the-road dining, only to be swept aside by McDonald’s. Lavishly designed with more than 100 photographs and images, including original menus, Ten Restaurants That Changed America is a significant and highly entertaining social history.” (Amazon blurb)

Why read Ten Restaurants that Shaped America?

Screen Shot 2018-12-02 at 8.05.23 PMI came across this book in research for The Girl Puzzle, my next novel, due out in the Spring. I was looking for some information about where my characters might eat out in New York in 1887 and again in 1920. Delmonicos, I thought. I need to know more about Delmonicos. Where was it? What was on the menu? Who went there and how much did it cost?

A little info… Delmonicos was established in as a pastry shop in 1827, opened by the Delmonico brothers, two young men originally from Ticino, an Italian part of Switzerland. John and Peter Delmonico (originally Giovanni and Pietro Del-Monico) had no formal training but by 1830 were successful enough to expand their pastry shop into the “Restaurant Français des Frères Delmonico”. Famous for high quality ingredients and expansive menu, Delmonicos various branches were visited by everyone from Oscar Wilde to Louis Napoleon, the Emperor of France.

Despite not being mentioned in the blurb on Amazon (odd since it is a picture of Delmonicos on the cover) I’ve loved this first section of the book. And while I’ve never heard of half the places mentioned above, I’m really looking forward to reading more and finding out about things that I don’t even know I don’t know about ;).

 

 

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.

Introducing Montbel by Angela Wren

Today I have an interview to share with author Angela Wren. Montbel is the third in her detective series set in France and featuring Jacques Forêt. Here’s the story:

CoverArtA clear-cut case? 

A re-examination of a closed police case brings investigator, Jacques Forêt, up against an old adversary. After the murder of a key witness, Jacques finds himself, and his team, being pursued.

When a vital piece of evidence throws a completely different light on Jacques’ case, his adversary becomes more aggressive, and Investigating Magistrate Pelletier threatens to sequester all of Jacques papers and shut down the investigation.

Can Jacques find all the answers before Pelletier steps in?

Thanks for joining me, Angela. First up, why did you write this story?

Montbel is the third story in my Jacques Forêt series of cosy crime novels set in south-central France.  When I planned the series I knew at the outset what the crime would be and what challenges my central characters would have to face.  So, way back in 2007/08 I knew I was going to write this story no matter what.  However, what I didn’t know, until I started my detailed planning for the novel, was that an incident, which occurred when I was in France 10 years ago, would pop into my head and inspire me to create one of the supporting characters.  That decision meant I then needed to do some research because the central theme of the book would reach much further back in time than I first envisaged.

Talk about a favourite scene or character in your novel.

As much as I love writing my central character, Jacques Forêt, he isn’t my favourite character.  Little Pierre Mancelle is – just don’t tell Jacques!  At the outset, with my 4-book timeline all done I had thought that I wouldn’t need Pierre until book 3.  I did my detailed planning for the book 1 – Messandrierre – and he still didn’t feature.  But as I was writing the first book Pierre kept running onto the page.  And when I edited him out of one scene he just popped up in a later scene.  Eventually, I went back to my timeline and gave him a proper role in all four books.

My favourite scene in Montbel for Pierre is in the chapter entitled ‘thursday, june 16th.  He’s with his parents at an event in Mende and he has something on his mind.  This particular scene came into my head almost fully formed as I was writing it and it remained pretty much as it was from first draft, other than bits and pieces of tweaking for the wording as I was editing.

It’s a favourite scene because it shows Pierre in a different light.  He’s recently changed schools and that hasn’t been easy for him.  His family is on the brink of a massive change and he doesn’t quite know how to handle that.  When Jacques notices his mood and tries to engage him in conversation, Pierre does what all kids do.  He skirts around the problem, then drops out the killer question and then moves onto something completely different, leaving Jacques nonplussed.  The scene, I hope, provides a little light relief from the building tension surrounding Jacques’ murder investigation, which is the central plot.

Describe your process in writing this book. (e.g. did you outline? Did you choose one pov and stick to it? What did you add? How many drafts did you write? How long did it take?

I’m quite scientific in some respects.  I had my timeline for all four books and to supplement that I drew up a chapter/scene plan for Montbel.  I use a spreadsheet to do this and on there I note down, characters involved, point of view, location and questions I want to be raised in a reader’s mind for each scene.  At the completion of this I usually have all the key scenes for the principle plotline.  Then I make some notes about the sub-plots and they usually remain in that form.  Then I think on it for a bit and then, having got my opening paragraph clear in my head I start writing.  I kind of keep on going after that as I write through my characters.

Every so often I stop and go back and crosscheck where I am with my plan.  Sometimes my characters take me off plan and then I need to decide whether I will stick with that or not.  If I need to edit at that point then I will before I continue writing.

Overall I think Montbel took me about 9 months to write.  Unfortunately I’m not able to write full-time as I work in a theatre, so my writing has to be scheduled in whenever I have a spare morning, afternoon or evening.  But I am getting very good at sticking to my scheduled writing time each week.

Can you share some book love? Please recommend at least one but no more than three novels you have read and loved.

lostWow, that’s a really tough question, there are so many that I could tell you about.  OK, I think I will choose The Lost Girl by D H Lawrence, Two on a Tower by Thomas Hardy and By Gaslight by Steven Price.  The first two I’ve read and re-read several times.  The third one I read whilst in France recently and I know I will read it again – the narrative voice was so captivating.

Is there a work of non-fiction that you would like to share?

Edith Eger’s The Choice.  A moving and thought-provoking memoir written in stunningly beautiful prose.  Another book that I know I will read again.

What is the best piece of advice you have for other writers?

Never give up.

THIS IS MY FAVOURITE ANSWER!!! SO TRUE!

About Angela:

AngelaWrenAuthorPicHaving followed a career in Project and Business Change Management, I now work as an Actor and Director at a local theatre.  I’ve been writing, in a serious way, since 2010.  My work in project management has always involved drafting, so writing, in its various forms, has been a significant feature throughout my adult life.

I particularly enjoy the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work.  My short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical.  I also write comic flash-fiction and have drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio.  The majority of my stories are set in France where I like to spend as much time as possible each year.

Find out about, follow Angela and buy her books here:

Amazon : AngelaWren

Website : www.angelawren.co.uk

Blog : www.jamesetmoi.blogspot.com

Facebook : Angela Wren

Goodreads : Angela Wren

Contact an author : Angela Wren

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!