Uncategorized

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

The Importance of Reading to Kids

In The Book Help Visualize the Importance of Reading to Kids Reading is an activity loved by people of all ages, but the benefits of reading to children, particularly before the age of 5, are endless. Reading helps children to develop their confidence, strengthen family relationships, as well as improving their social and academic skills. Through different stories and characters, children are able to learn about the world, cultures and people. This improves their understanding of real-life situations, as well as their ability to communicate with different types of people. Children are generally little balls of energy, and reading every day also helps to channel their concentration skills. The social and educational benefits are never-ending, however, reading to your child can, surprisingly, benefit their future financially. A study done by Lynn Fielding in her book, The 90% Reading Goal, suggests that reading to your child before they reach the age of 5 can have a significant impact on their lifetime earnings expectancy. The research is based off the notion that 77% of children who are able to read at a 2nd-8th grade level when they begin third grade will graduate high school. Contrastingly, only 27% of children who read at…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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,…

Read More

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,…

Read More

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,…

Read More

Launching your new book!

Florence Osmund  When it comes to marketing your book, one thing is fairly certain—people won’t buy it if they don't know it exists. A successful book launch will make people aware of your book so they will buy it and even help you promote it. You can do many things to launch your new book so that it gets into the hands of as many readers as possible. I’ve created the checklist that follows to guide you through the process, but I don’t recommend that you attempt to do everything. Pick out the ones that make sense for your book and ones you’re comfortable doing. Without promotion, something terrible happens...nothing!                                             P. T. Barnum What You Can Do Long Before Your Book Is Released □  Create your elevator speech. □  Develop an author website. □  Start a blog. □  Establish yourself in discussion groups on social media sites. □  Start building an e-mail subscriber list comprised of people who are interested in your work. □  Create your profile on Amazon’s Author Central page and Goodreads. □  Create a list of book promotion and book listing sites. □  Have business cards made. □  Draft promotional handout materials (post cards, book marks, posters, etc). □  Determine your target market…

Read More

A great recipe from Susan & author Catana Tully!

Foodie Lit Definition: a genre  of novels and memoirs filled with stories and recipes Split at the Root Tully, Catana. Split at the Root Catana Tully, in her memoir, Split At the Root, takes her readers on an intense journey into identity, motherhood and what labels mean. At times despondent, at time joyful, the author pulls herself apart until she finds her core. Who we are is intrinsically connected to our family, our community, our race, gender and religion—among many the many categories we create to define identity.  Catana Tully wonders aloud why we need to check off the boxes about who and what we are. She checks other.  She told me, “The thing is, when you have a nationality that identifies you culturally, it is a shock to have to define what you are according to other people’s perception. It feels demeaning and disrespectful. One day we’ll all be ‘Other’ but that’s a long, long time away from now.” Yet Catana is driven to find the essential questions about her mother, family and culture. Where does she feel comfortable and at home?  It has taken many years and now, in her 70’s, she feels comfortable asking these questions. Catana’s story…

Read More