indieBRAG Blog

A Romantic Swedish Christmas

A Romantic Swedish Christmas Foodie Lit: A genre of novel and memoirs filled with food stories and recipes                     The darkness of the Swedish winter is lit by a multitude of candles—and what a pretty custom it is, as many Swedes prepare for a traditional Christmas. Susan's longtime Swedish friend, Lotta Heggestad, shared her family's Swedish Christmas customs. Susan celebrated a Swedish Christmas with her many years ago and has such wonderful memories!  Lotta sent pictures of her Mellanvik home, above, to give us an idea of the beauty and romance of this season. A traditional food is the saffron bun.  Lotta told us that the saffronsbullen are eaten with coffee for breakfast on the morning of St. Lucia, Dec. 13, and on Christmas Eve, on the julbrod, Christmas Table, with glögg, a delicious mulled wine, and the whole smorgasbord of traditional Swedish foods from Swedish meatballs, to Grav Lax, herring, salmon, meat, egg, bread, cheese, paté, rice porridge with cinnamon, sugar and milk, sausages and so on! Lotta added, “Otherwise we have the saffron buns for 'fika' i.e coffee or tea in the afternoon with buns and cookies. I think 'fika' is one of the most important words an immigrant learns after…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

Happy Thanksgiving to the indieBRAG Family!

Dear friends I am so pleased to have this opportunity to express my thanks to all of you who share in the life of indieBRAG—those I work with and the authors and the readers I work for. Books and reading have been a great gift to me and have made my life better.  Those who know me know that I am a history fanatic!  I love non-fiction (Hamilton!), historical fiction and, yes my weakness, historical romance.  In the very beginning of indieBRAG, before we had the over 250 readers around the world, I needed to be a reader for any number of books that most often weren’t historical in nature. I have read paranormal, steampunk (which I had never heard of), thrillers and mysteries—probably every genre—and I fell in love with a whole new world of books. My horizons have been broadened and my life enriched. I am thankful that authors and readers alike have embraced the need that indieBRAG provides.  I think we are doing a great job in shining a light on books that deserve it and we are working hard to find new ways to help in this endeavor. Every day I “chat” with my many author…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

Thanksgiving and Family Traditions!

When I think of Thanksgiving, I think of feasting, a long week holiday with my daughter, shopping, thankfulness, reflection, gratitude and blessings. It’s also a time of remembrance of the Mayflower as it embarked a new world looking for freedom. Most of all, precious time with my family. The Thanksgiving fare tends to be an all-day event with our family, with a turkey and all the trimmings to fill our stomachs. The house is full of wonderful aromas and the anticipation of a good meal. It’s great sitting around the table and while enjoying the delicious feast that lays before us, while appreciating family and all that we have. Afterwards, the men sit all around the tv watching football and sleep with their stomachs full of turkey. Us women love to sit at the dining room table-once its cleared of the dishes-and play a board-game or a card game or two. Laughs fill the air and there is smiles all around. My mother, sister, my daughter and I have started a tradition of afternoon tea at the Ritz-Carlton every year around Thanksgiving time. It’s our precious time to enjoy each other’s company and enjoy the finer art of tea and…

Read More

The Hobo Family

During the Great Depression, Maddy Skobel, my main character in Line by Line, reacts to her first real Thanksgiving dinner.  Maddy is a hobo who has been welcomed into the home of Phillipe and Francine Durrand: That afternoon, as I watched Phillipe carve a whole turkey, I thought about families.  In New Harmony, my family’s Thanksgiving Day never looked like the illustrations in Harper’s Weekly or the Saturday Evening Post. . .  I had never been part of a dinner where just one big, plump, stuffed and roasted golden brown turkey with drumsticks was brought to the table whole and served at one time. I thought about how there were two kinds of families: the ones made up of people related by blood, which you’re automatically part of, like it or not, and the families you choose for yourself.  Today Francine and Phillipe chose to include me.  I knew I was lucky, because there was a very large hobo family out there that didn’t have enough to eat. Because Maddy was a hobo, I needed to research how hobos lived—and survived—the Great Depression.  That quest took me to Britt, Iowa, where the National Hobo Convention has convened each August for…

Read More

Thanksgiving in the New-Found Land

“Thanksgiving?” Matthew looked at his wife, standing with both her hands deep in an oversized pumpkin. “Yup. Puritan tradition – should go down well with a Presbyterian such as you.” She grinned and picked up a second pumpkin. Matthew raised his brows. “There’s a difference.” “I’m sure there is. Compared to the Puritans, you Presbyterians are the life and soul of the party.” Matthew snorted. Discussing theology with his strange time-traveller of a wife was an exhausting endeavour. While surprisingly uneducated about religion and faith, she held strong opinions and tended to be quite vociferous in her condemnation of “narrow-minded bigots” – a definition he sometimes suspected she also applied to him. Not that he considered himself to be a bigot – if nothing else, twenty years with this remarkable woman as his wife had broadened his outlook. “Party?” he therefore said, ignoring her little jibe. “Are we to have a celebration?” “A big one, tomorrow.” Alex wiped her hands on her apron. “All of us round one table.” She looked at the kitchen table. “Not sure if we will fit, though.” “Aye, we will.” He would, at any rate, as no one would dare to take his chair. She…

Read More