award winning book

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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IndieBRAG Cover Crush: Betrayal by Michele Kallio

Cover Crush by Colleen Turner   Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary Synopsis Betrayal tells the story of two women, modern day Lydia Hamilton and Elisabeth Beeton, a lady’s maid to Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry the Eighth. Lydia is happily in love with her physician boyfriend, Dan Taylor, until she begins to have nightmares that seem all too realistic.  She dreams of a girl, a prison cell and a beheading.  In her dreams Lydia finds herself in the Elisabeth’s body experiencing Elisabeth’s 16th century life.  Lydia tries to ignore these vivid dreams as long as she can, that is, until Elisabeth’s diary arrives in the mail.  Suddenly, Lydia is caught up in a quest to uncover the truth behind Elisabeth’s betrayal. Thoughts on the cover If you know me you know I love historical fiction, especially the kind that incorporates a little mystery into the mix. My first thoughts when seeing this cover were, “what sorts of secrets are within those letters? And what do those letters have to do with the stately home behind it?” That pull of mystery makes this cover very intriguing for me and makes it hard to…

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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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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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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…

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IndieBRAG Cover Crush: A Song for Bellafortuna by Vincent LoCoco

Cover Crush by Colleen Turner Synopsis A SWEEPING EPIC TALE OF LOVE, DRAMA, SACRIFICE, AND REDEMPTION, SET AMONG THE BEAUTIFUL LANDSCAPE OF SICILY. The beautiful, yet secluded, hilltop village of Bellafortuna, Sicily, is a great producer of wine and olive oil. The entire village prospers. However, after the arrival of the Vasaio family, production dwindles and the villagers soon find themselves in crushing debt to the Vasaios. Only the Sanguinetti family remains outside the control of the Vasaios, but the reason haunts Antonio Sanguinetti every day of his life, and he offers financial and emotional support to his fellow villagers. When Antonio’s only son, Giuseppe, discovers his family’s past, he becomes determined to take on the Vasaios and remove them from power. Led by the young Giuseppe, a plan is hatched that could result in either complete freedom for the villagers, or if it fails, forever solidify the Vasaios’ control. Find out what happens in A Song for Bellafortuna. Thoughts on the cover Come on, look at that landscape! It just looks so peaceful and inviting. The leaves hanging down from the top make me feel like I’m getting a secret peek at something quite special. It clearly represents the…

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A Writer’s Life: Interview with Helen Hollick

I’d like to welcome back award winning author Helen Hollick today. She is here to talk with us about a big part of her writing. I first started this series-A Writer’s Life- over at Layered Pages and decided to bring it to indieBRAG for our authors. This is Helen’s third participation in this series. -Stephanie M. Hopkins  Helen Hollick lives with her husband, daughter and son-in-law in North Devon, England, in an eighteenth century farmhouse, surrounded by thirteen acres of fields and woodland. A variety of pets include her  daughter’s side-saddle riding horse and a show jumper, two Exmoor ponies which once ran wild on Exmoor, two cats who ignore each other, two wonderful dogs from the Dog’s Trust rescue Centre, some chickens, ducks, and a very grumpy goose called Bernadette (although Boudicca is a more appropriate name!). All of Helen’s books in The Sea Witch Voyages series are B.R.A.G.Medallion Honorees.  She also has a number of respected books of historical fiction which are traditionally published. Including the bestseller The Forever Queen the story of Emma of Normandy  and The Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy, set in the fifth century, has also been widely acclaimed as a different telling of the Arthurian Myth – no…

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Stephanie’s Book Spotlight: A Beautiful Glittering Lie by J. D. R. Hawkins

Synopsis In the spring of 1861, a country once united is fractured by war. Half of America fights for the Confederate cause; the other, for unification. Rebel forces have already seized Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines, a new Confederate president has been elected, and the Constitution has been revised. In north Alabama, a farmer and father of three decides to enlist. For Hiram Summers, it is the end of everything he has ever known. After Hiram travels to Virginia with the Fourth Alabama Infantry Regiment, he is quickly thrust into combat. His son, David, who must stay behind, searches for adventure at home by traipsing to Huntsville with his best friend, Jake Kimball, to scrutinize invading Yankees. Meanwhile, Caroline – Hiram’s wife and David’s mother – struggles to keep up with the farm as her world revolves around the letters she receives from her husband, whom she misses dearly. As Hiram and his son discover the true meaning of war, they soon realize that their choices have torn their family apart. In this historical tale, the naïveté of a young country is tested, a father sacrifices everything to defend his home, and a young man longs for adventure – regardless…

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How Barnes & Noble Helps Indie Authors Find a Spot on Their Shelves

By Award Winning Author Victoria L. Thurman (author of The Dating Dilemmas of Delilah Dunnfield) I wasn’t aware that Barnes and Noble hosts an author signing class, as maybe you weren’t either. (Please be advised I am not exactly sure if that is the exact name). I received a text from my friend, whose friend posted it on Facebook. The text was a photo of a sign in the local Barnes and Noble advertising an author class—how to get your indie book on the shelf at Barnes & Noble. (NOTE: I could not find it listed on their events website at all. Call your local B&N to find out when your class is. They have one once a quarter.) As I had given up after a couple of years trying to figure it out, I jumped out of my chair at work and squealed. I didn’t want to take any chances on the class filling up (in my mind it was already packed to the hilt with eager indie authors and they would turn me away) and even though I am poor as a church mouse at this moment in time, I saw myself using my last credit card with…

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