Authors' Chat

A Victorian San Francisco Christmas

By M. Louisa Locke-Award Winning Author   Because the most recent book in my Victorian San Francisco Mystery series, Pilfered Promises, is set during the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, 1880, I spent a good deal of time researching how residents of that city were celebrating the holidays that year, including looking for articles in the San Francisco Chronicle. What I found was that many of the traditions that we are familiar with today started in the Nineteenth century…including the importance of advertising special holiday sales! “The Arcade: We are offering this week SPECIAL and EXTRAORDINARY INDUCEMENTS to buyers of HOLIDAY PRESENTS, especially in our SILK DEPARTMENT” ––San Francisco Chronicle, December 19, 1880 However, these traditions were actually relatively new. Before the mid-1880s, most native-born Americans, particularly Protestants from the Northeast, saw Thanksgiving and not Christmas as the key national holiday. In fact, throughout the 1800s, a number of Protestant denominations were very resistant to the celebration of the birth of Christ in any fashion beyond religious observances. Not surprisingly, it was the Southern state of Louisiana, where there was a significant Catholic population, that first declared December 25th a holiday (in 1837), and Christmas wasn’t declared a national legal…

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A Message From Award Winning Author Vicki Pardoe

When I was six years old, my family moved to a house that was very close to a public library.  I couldn’t wait to get over to the large, gothic looking building to apply for my new library card.  Every time I went to the library, I would check out five books, which was my limit.  I was always so excited that I would run home and take the books to my bedroom.  Not knowing which book to start reading, I would pick up each book and read the first chapter of the book.  Sometimes I would continue taking turns with the books, but other times one book would become so interesting to me that I would have to stick with that one until I was totally finished reading it and then go back to the others. This book ritual continued on during my entire childhood.  It didn’t matter what in the world was going on outside my bedroom door, because in my room I was flying high on broomsticks with witches, standing next to Martians exploring Earth, or helping Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys solve mysteries.  As an adult, I found that I didn’t want to just read…

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What I learned this year: the fellowship of writers and readers

indieBRAG would like to welcome Derek today today to talk with us about his fellowship with writers and readers this year. Derek was born in Hampshire in England but spent his teenage years in Auckland, New Zealand, where he still has strong family ties. For many years he taught history in a secondary school but took early retirement to concentrate on writing. Apart from his writing, he spends his time gardening, travelling, walking and taking part in archaeological digs at a Roman villa. Derek is interested in a wide range of historical themes but his particular favourite is the late medieval period. He writes action-packed fiction which is rooted in accurate history. His debut historical novel, Feud, is set in the period of the Wars of the Roses and is the first of a series entitled Rebels & Brothers which follows the fortunes of the fictional Elder family. The fourth and final book of the series, The Last Shroud, was published in the summer of 2015... ********** At this time of the year it is customary to reflect upon the year almost past. For me, this has very much been a year for the family, visiting my brother in New Zealand and especially…

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Interview with Award Winning Author Michelle Eastman

We are delighted that Charla White has chosen to interview Michelle Eastman who is the author of, The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tail, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, The Legend of Dust Bunnies, A Fairy’s Tail, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money. Michelle, what were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them? The goal for publishing my first book, The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tail, was to create a picture book for my son. Initially, I had no intention of publishing it for others to read. I just wanted him to have something special from me. Thankfully, the story became much bigger than that, and I am delighted with the way things turned out. Collaborating with illustrator Kevin Richter was a wonderful experience, and that experience led to book number two, Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie. What do you think most characterizes your writing? What most characterizes my writing is rewriting. I always begin with a legal pad…

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A Writer’s Life: Interview with Gloria Zachgo

Today, award winning author Gloria Zachgo is here with us to talk about her writing!  It’s a natural for Gloria to write stories with Kansas settings. She grew up on a farm in Lincoln County, Kansas, where she attended one of the last one-room schoolhouses in the country. After graduating from Brown Mackie Business School she married her high school sweetheart. Living out of state for several years, Gloria and her husband moved back to their Kansas roots.  While their children were young, she ran a small business out of their home.  When her children left the nest, she pursued a lifelong dream and took various art lessons. Always wanting to learn new things she joined a creative writing group in 2006. She soon found she had a passion for writing fictional short stories.  One particular short story was written from the prompts of a gingerbread man and a small toy horse. It led to her first novel, The Rocking Horse.   “I knew there was more to the story. I kept seeing the image of a young woman, all alone, with a quirky little toy trying to give her a message.” After her debut novel won honorable mention in the 20th Annual…

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HISTORICAL FICTION JOINS THE BONUS MARCH OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION

by Glen Craney American soldiers denied their service bonuses. Protesters stage sit-ins to expose the greed of big banks. Homeless veterans huddle in tents. Rising anger against politicians sparks a populist movement. Headlines ripped from this year’s front pages—and from newspapers published eighty-five years ago. History doesn’t repeat itself, Mark Twain warned, but it often rhymes. And during the Great Depression, similar stories of woe and outrage held the nation’s alarmed attention. Long before Occupy Wall Street, there was Occupy Washington. In my historical novel, The Yanks Are Starving, I tell the story of eight Americans who survived the fighting in France during World War I and came together fourteen years later to determine the fate of a nation on the brink of upheaval. Culminating with what became known as the Bonus March of unemployed war veterans, the novel is a sweeping epic of the government betrayal that sparked the only violent clash between two American armies under the same flag. I became interested in the history of the Bonus March while covering Congress as a Washington, D.C. reporter. After moving to Los Angeles to write movie scripts, I turned my research into one of those screenplays that Hollywood executives…

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Should You Buy a Blog Tour to Publicize your Book?

By Martha Kennedy, Author of indieBRAG Honorees, Martin of Gfenn, Savior and The Brothers Path When you write a novel and follow the indie publishing route, you’re faced with marketing your work yourself. There are a lot of “experts” with advice for reaching your market. When I finished my most recent novel, The Brothers Path, a book about the Protestant Reformation, I was determined to market it as well as any “real” publisher would. I had personal reasons for this, “I’ll show you!” and “V is for Vendetta” reasons, but mostly because I believe people will like it. To like it, readers have to know about it, so… The “experts” strongly advised indie authors to sign up for virtual book tours. This involves hiring a coordinator, who has extensive contacts with book-bloggers, to set up a “tour” for your book. The tour is a catalog of different book blogs that, for a period of time, feature your work in reviews, interviews, excerpts and prizes — in my case, it was free books — to those blog readers who win the raffle offered by a particular book blog. I believed the experts, and a virtual tour seemed like a good way…

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Little Miss HISTORY Travels to PLYMOUTH COLONY

The temperatures are dropping; we are nearing the end of the Fall harvest season. Have you been enjoying those fruits and vegetables especially associated with the final harvest before Winter?  Those items include the cruciferous family of vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, rutabagas, sweet potatoes and winter squash. Other foods at their best at this time of year include beets, Brussels sprouts, cranberries, grapes, leeks, mushrooms and, of course, pumpkins! The quintessential menu appears on Thanksgiving Day, when families partake of their Thanksgiving feast. How closely does your holiday menu compare with that of the three day 1621 harvest celebration at Plymouth Colony now touted as the “First Thanksgiving?” Thanksgiving was not made an official holiday until 1863 when Abraham Lincoln designated the fourth Thursday of November to be a national holiday set aside to give thanks. Little Miss HISTORY has traveled back into time to that first celebration at Plymouth Colony. Let's take a peek.... Both the Wampanoag natives and the Plymouth colonists regularly ate wild turkey, but it was not specifically mentioned as present in that first feast. Edward Winslow, a signer of the Mayflower Compact and one of the leaders of Plymouth Colony, wrote about the first…

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A Very Thankful Thanksgiving

When we think of Thanksgiving we can smell the aroma of a turkey baking and pumpkin pie cooling, whipped cream and whipped potatoes, cranberry sauce and gravy. It’s a tradition so ingrained in memory our thoughts automatically rush to full bellies and football, family and friends. Not so long ago, during the Great Depression, most of the country could only dream of a table laden with a fat turkey and all the fixings. And if you lived in the dust bowl in the 1930’s you forgot how to dream of a table filled with food or even a table with any food. But the American people are strong, resilient, and hopeful.   Envision living at the worst of times in a part of the country where daily survival meant fighting the wind storms and praying the small garden you planted would yield a potato or two and the chickens would survive for a few more weeks. Thanksgiving still meant a holiday and sharing. It provided a reason to get together and be thankful. I imagine during those times what a Thanksgiving would be like for those in small towns made up of farmers and ranchers, where neighbors knew each other…

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The Pilgrim’s First Thanksgiving Story

Every schoolchild knows the bare bones of the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving story. Inexperienced settlers who came to the New World for religious freedom would have starved during their first year in Plymouth, if not succored by Indians who taught them how to raise corn adapted to New England’s climate. The Pilgrims feasted to celebrate their successful harvest, and invited their Indian saviors. That, in a very small nutshell, is what happened. Here’s the rest of the story:   The 1620 settlers were a mixed bag. Many were Calvinist Separatists who took refuge in Holland in 1608 to escape persecution by the Catholic-leaning King James. A decade later, the Dutch were growing weary of cultural differences with the Saints, as the English Separatists called themselves. The feeling was mutual. The Dutch loved celebrating the Sabbath with a pot of beer, the Saints’ children were speaking Dutch, and falling into ‘extravagante & dangerous courses, getting ye raines of[f] their neks, & departing from their parents.’ In 1617 the Saints decided that if they were to remain pure, they had to leave Holland. They sent agents to London to search out a place to settle in the New World. The original choice was…

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