award winning books

Imperial Passions and Olives, Nuts & Bread!

  Foodie Lit Definition: a genre  of novels and memoirs filled with stories and recipes   Susan indieBRAG Foodie Lit Blogger By Eileen Stephenson   Byzantium in 1039 is not a time and place known well to many in the modern western world. The author sweeps away many misconceptions in her historical novel, Imperial Passions.  One  fascinating view is of the role of women. While medieval women had few rights in most parts of the world, Eileen shared with me that “Byzantine women held positions of more consequence than elsewhere, and they had opportunities that women in the rest of Europe did not have until centuries later.”  Two women ruled Byzantium in the 12th century, “Empress Zoe and Empress Theodora, who the people of Constantinople were fond of, despite their flaws. I think it just got people used to the idea that women could be in positions of authority.”  Importantly, as Eileen noted, literacy became common in 11th and 12th century Byzantium, reaching down into the middle classes and included women, which helped them accomplish more. Eileen gives us tantalizing views of female doctors and empresses, minority groups, generals and deposed kings, all in this cosmopolitan city. It is the many glimpses of women…

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FACT TO FICTION: The Writing of The Call

Fact to Fiction- Learn about stories that inspire great books! When I started writing my novel The Call, only six female umpires had worked in professional baseball, none of them at the major-league level. In 2016, I found that fact hard to swallow, so I wanted to explore it in fiction. As a lifelong baseball fan, I thought I’d absorbed enough knowledge to write about the game. But I had to know a lot more facts before I could write realistically about the people playing it. Especially during the time period I had in mind, the early 1980s, when there had only been three other women who’d taken the field in umpire blues. The story itself—because fiction needs a good story—began with another fact. On October 11, 2015, Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley made a late (and borderline illegal) slide into second to try to break up a double play. In doing so, he broke New York Mets second baseman Ruben Tejada’s leg. Utley was given a two-game suspension that was later overturned. Major League Baseball then ruled slides like Utley’s illegal, but Mets fans like me were still steaming. That’s when I knew I had to write…

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Authors, there is no such thing as a Free Lunch!

Many of our you are seasoned warriors in the promoting your book arena.  However, many authors are just beginning the long journey and we hope to help you on that road.  Through our blog and our Facebook Group page, we can guide you to the most effective and rewarding opportunities. So, to all of you that are “Old Pros”, please continue to share and help guide us.  To all of you who are less experienced, I hope we can provide you with some good advice. Bloggers are your friend! A very busy blogger and great supporter of the indieBRAG authors, shared some thoughts on working together to get the most out of “free” promotions. “ ‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch’ is a common phrase – equally there’s no such thing as free marketing. You must repay the generosity of bloggers who  invite you onto their blogs via guest posts or various on-line projects  by  being obliged to respond and spread the word when given this opportunity for free promotion. Your bill is not financial but making the effort to give  noticeable appreciation where and as much as you can.” Blogger Be Generous- Having a community of authors…

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Fact to Fiction: Khamsin, the Devil Wind of the Nile

Khamsin, the Devil Wind of the Nile - A Novel of Ancient Egypt   Every movie lately seems to have “The Making of ...” clips. Well, here is a little insight into “The Making of Book 1 of the Legends of the Winged Scarab” series. With my historical saga, reaching back to 3080 BC, the question was how much research a writer should do on his or her chosen era. My answer: A lot. Next, how much “real history” should be incorporated into a novel. I’d say, 10%. Remember, it’s fiction. Readers want to be entertained rather than get a lengthy history lesson. When I started my research into Ancient Egypt (and I mean, really ancient), the biggest confusion was over city names. It would have been easy to use Memphis, for instance. But that name – like most of the commonly used ancient names – came from the Greek historian Herodotus who described many of the wonders he found in Egypt during his visit around 490 BC. My story takes place in 3080 BC, during the 2nd Dynasty (Old Kingdom). Therefore, I resorted to use the ancient Egyptian names (wherever I could find them). Memphis became Ineb-Hedj, the City…

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Join us for “Novel Conversations” with Helen Hollick

Novel Conversations starting Tuesday 4th September then  every  Friday in conjunction with                   Indie B.R.A. G                        4th September Anna Belfrage and her character Matthew Graham    7th September   Julia Brannan and her character  Sir Anthony Peters 14th September Sharon Dwyer and her character Katelin 21st September Barbara Anne Mojica  and her character George Washington 28th September Inge H. Borg and her character  Ebu al-Saqqara 5th October Clare Flynn and her character Hector Channing 12th October Annie Whitehead  and her character Æthelflæd, Lady of Mercia 19th October J L Oakley and her character  Jeannie Naughton 26th October Lorraine Devon  Wilke and her character  Dan MacDowell 2nd November  Stephanie Churchill and her character  Kassia 9th November    Wendy Percival and her character  Maddy Henderson 16th November  Susan Appleyard and her character  Ludwig, King of Bavaria 23rd November  Charlene Newcomb  and her character Sir Stephen l'Aigle 30th November  Florence Osmund  and her character Marie Marchetti 7th December  Helen Hollick  and her character Captain Jesamiah Acorne 14th December Alison Morton and her character  Conradus Mitelus ...Christmas Break... Novel Conversations will resume on the 4th January 

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Australia, Apple Pie & The Only Blue Door

Foodie Lit Definition: a genre  of novels and memoirs filled with stories and recipes The Only Blue Door by Joan Fallon Joan Fallon’s historical novel, The Only Blue Door, was so intense and riveting that I found it hard to put down, except when anger course through me. The British Children’s Resettlement Program during WWII sent thousands of children away from the bombings in London for their own safety. Many were well cared for and happy. Yet a surprisingly large number of children, without parents’ permission or even knowledge, were told their parents were dead, and sent away to orphanages in Australia that were little more than deplorable workhouses that kept children in unhealthy, unsafe conditions and forced sexual, physical and emotional abuse on many in their legal custody. I wanted to cry out, “But you're supposed to be the good guys!” But they weren’t, they weren’t. The novel concerns itself with the fictional East End London Smith family with 3 children, Maggie, Billy and Grace, who were sent away to Australian Catholic orphanages after a devastating German bombing.  They were mislabeled orphans and instead of the care promised them, they were placed in cruel and abusive institutions. Much of the novel, without giving…

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A Swashbuckling Journey!

When two prolific award winning authors get together for some fun, watch out!  Anna Belfrage (author of the Graham Saga Books) talks to Helen Hollick (author of the Sea Witch pirate stories)- Anna shares Helen's great adventure- Pirates? Why write about pirates? I guess the simple answer is: because when I wrote the first of my pirate-based Voyages, Sea Witch, no one else, as far as I could discover, had done so. Read on. I adored the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, The Curse of the Black Pearl, (not the others in the Disney franchise: they ranged from OK-ish to terrible). I was enchanted by it, and not entirely because of Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow, (although that helped!) The movie was fun. None of it was meant to be taken seriously and nearly every scene had a laugh attached to it. Laughter is good for us, therefore darn good adventures, be they pirates, Star Wars sci-fi, Game of Thrones fantasy or whatever-floats-your-boat are good as well, be they movies or novels. They are also escapism from the daily grind, something we all need and enjoy. The problem with really enjoying something is that you are then left wanting more. For me I wanted to read…

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Enjoying Comforting Chicken Noodle Soup “In the Comfort of Shadows”

Foodie Lit Definition: a genre  of novels and memoirs filled with stories and recipes In the Comfort of Shadows Laurel Bragstad’s novel, In the Comfort of Shadows, opens with a dream—or is it a memory? Main character Ann Olsen wasn’t sure, but she was sure that “adoption” was a bad word and not to be mentioned at home, unless she wanted to get everyone mad at her. Her daddy told her, “It’s a bad word, Annie. Aunt Inga shouldn’t say it, and I never want to hear you say it again.” In her search for her biological parents, Ann does more than pronounce the word.  She risks throwing away a childhood based on lies to find the truth.  “I wanted to know the rest of the story, that’s all. I just never dreamed it would end like this.” The author digs into her own recollections. At a similar age to her character’s separation from her biological mother, Laurel’s mother dies and as an adult, Laurel searches her own and older relatives’ memories to find more about her. Laurel told me, “As a child I used to make up stories in my head about who my mother was as a person,…

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Enjoying Comforting Chicken Noodle Soup “In the Comfort of Shadows”

Foodie Lit Definition: a genre  of novels and memoirs filled with stories and recipes In the Comfort of Shadows Laurel Bragstad’s novel, In the Comfort of Shadows, opens with a dream—or is it a memory? Main character Ann Olsen wasn’t sure, but she was sure that “adoption” was a bad word and not to be mentioned at home, unless she wanted to get everyone mad at her. Her daddy told her, “It’s a bad word, Annie. Aunt Inga shouldn’t say it, and I never want to hear you say it again.” In her search for her biological parents, Ann does more than pronounce the word.  She risks throwing away a childhood based on lies to find the truth.  “I wanted to know the rest of the story, that’s all. I just never dreamed it would end like this.” The author digs into her own recollections. At a similar age to her character’s separation from her biological mother, Laurel’s mother dies and as an adult, Laurel searches her own and older relatives’ memories to find more about her. Laurel told me, “As a child I used to make up stories in my head about who my mother was as a person,…

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Enjoying Comforting Chicken Noodle Soup “In the Comfort of Shadows”

Foodie Lit Definition: a genre  of novels and memoirs filled with stories and recipes In the Comfort of Shadows Laurel Bragstad’s novel, In the Comfort of Shadows, opens with a dream—or is it a memory? Main character Ann Olsen wasn’t sure, but she was sure that “adoption” was a bad word and not to be mentioned at home, unless she wanted to get everyone mad at her. Her daddy told her, “It’s a bad word, Annie. Aunt Inga shouldn’t say it, and I never want to hear you say it again.” In her search for her biological parents, Ann does more than pronounce the word.  She risks throwing away a childhood based on lies to find the truth.  “I wanted to know the rest of the story, that’s all. I just never dreamed it would end like this.” The author digs into her own recollections. At a similar age to her character’s separation from her biological mother, Laurel’s mother dies and as an adult, Laurel searches her own and older relatives’ memories to find more about her. Laurel told me, “As a child I used to make up stories in my head about who my mother was as a person,…

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