*UPDATE*

I have updated my review and giveaway policies page (now just titled Policies above). If you are entering a giveaway, please read and abide by the applicable policy.

Attention Authors! If you arrived here looking for information on the Two Sides to Every Story guest post series, see the tab at the top of the page for more info!


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Monday, August 29, 2016

Book Review: The Betrothed by Vivi Holt

The Betrothed by Vivi Holt
Book 7 in the Cutter’s Creek Series
ARC, e-Book, 204 pages
Black Lab Press
August 8, 2016
★★★★☆
Heat Rating:


Genre: Historical Fiction, Western, Romance, Regency

Source: Received from Author for Beta and Review
Lady Charlotte Beaufort of Beaufort Manor, England, is accustomed to the finer things in life. She’s used to everything going her way. But it’s all about to change.

When her parents force her into an engagement with the Duke of Notherington, a man she barely knows, she runs away – traveling aboard a steamer to the New World.

Harry Brown, a silversmith’s apprentice from Greyburn, doesn’t stand a chance with the beautiful Charlotte. Then he runs afoul of the local thug, and he and his sister have to leave town. When Charlotte and Harry cross paths, the attraction is undeniable – but can they overcome generations of social barriers to admit their true feelings for one another?

Take a journey from the beautiful Lakes District of England to untamed Cutter's Creek, Montana Territory, where the rules of love are made to be broken.
This book started out as a bit of confusion for me at first: I didn’t realize that this starts out as a Regency in England, then makes its way to New York with immigrants, and then crosses the frontier en route to becoming a Western. This is something that I haven’t experienced previously, the mixing of two seemingly very different subgenres of historical romance. I will say that the two genres do not overlap, but rather seamlessly morph into the next thanks to the added stop in New York which doesn’t really fit either genre except within the greater arc of westward movement. Let me say that I did not love the Regency part of this novel as much as the Western. I strongly feel that Holt’s strength lies in her handling of the frontier life and I was ready to move away from England and get there fairly quickly.

While this story really follows the movements of three characters, Harry, Charlotte, and Camilla, it is really a story of change and evolution for Charlotte. From beginning to end she transforms from a high-society debutante who is destined to wed a duke to a frontierswoman capable of holding her own. Ordinarily this might not be so believable, however Holt has created a period of transition with the stopover in New York. It is here that Charlotte had a true introduction to the harsh realities of life, is brought very low, and then begins to see what she must do to survive in this new life she has opted for. You see the interplay of the perceptions of the life she grew up living and the new reality required on the frontier, not only from Charlotte’s perspective but that of Harry too. It was refreshing to see a heroine who has her damsel in distress moments but then can grow from that into her own person. Sure she makes plenty of mistakes along the way, but that is what made her feel the most realistic. Of the three characters I felt that Camilla could have used a bit more crafting. I know that she wasn’t the main crux of the story relationship-wise, but she is present right there with Harry and Charlotte throughout the whole thing. Unlike the other two, I didn’t feel that I was able to get to know her quite as well.

When we finally arrive in Cutter’s Creek I was very excited to see some familiar faces, from Holt’s prior contribution to the series, The Strong One. It was a striking moment for me when I made the familial connections.

Overall I found this to be a strong contribution to the Cutter’s Creek series, however I found that her prior outing, The Strong One, was a more solidly crafted piece.


Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book:
Amazon


Also by Vivi Holt:












Mail Order Bride: Christy












Mail Order Bride: Ramona












Mail Order Bride: Katie
[My Review]












Of Peaks and Prairies (Paradise Valley #1)
[My Review]

Other Books in the Cutter’s Creek Series:
The Cutter’s Creek series is a loosely interconnected series of novellas that all take place in Cutter’s Creek, Montana, each written by a different author.











The Healing Touch by Kit Morgan (Book 1)












The Strong One by Vivi Holt (Book 2)
[My Review]












New Beginnings by Annie Boone (Book 3)












A Lily Blooms by Kari Trumbo (Book 4)












A Penny Shines by Kari Trumbo (Book 5)












Becoming a Family by Annie Boone (Book 6)

 
Find Vivi Holt: Amazon Page | Facebook | Twitter

 
 


Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, August 26, 2016

Historical Board Game Spotlight: New Bedford


New Bedford, a Game of Historic Whaling & Town Building
Designed by Nat Levan
Published by Dice Hate Me Games
1-4 Players ... 30-60 min ... Ages 13+
Set in the mid-1800s, the historical age of whaling, New Bedford gives 1 to 4 players the chance to build the Massachusetts town of the same name into a thriving community.  Gather resources to add buildings with new actions, and launch ships to go whaling.  Go out longest for the best choice, but wait too long and the whales become harder to catch.  And don't forget to pay your crew when ships return!  Carefully balance risk management and timing to become a leader of industry in this medium-weight worker placement and resource management game.
New Bedford, Massachusetts was one of the prime whaling communities of North America in the 1800's.  The whaling industry allowed cities to crop up along the Atlantic coast and drew cunning business moguls and gruff tradesmen alike to the salty shores.  Whale carcasses were used for many things, the most important of which was the oil obtained from rendering the fat.  This oil was used to light houses and street lamps until the more efficient and environmentally friendly kerosene was discovered.  Many different species of whales were targeted, including the peaceful and blubber-dense right whale, the larger bowhead whale, and the sperm whale, whose head cavity was filled with a valuable liquid form of oil.  As time wore on, whaling ships served to drastically reduce whale populations and drive the animals further and further from the shore.

The game of New Bedford seeks to replicate the whaling and town building process that took place around these times.  Players adopt the role of business men in charge of whaling ships.  Using money and resources, they build and launch ships to collect whales and use their reputation and funds to construct buildings in the town and gain dominance over New Bedford.

Your Whaling Empire

You start the game with an individual player board.  This contains a warehouse to store your goods, depictions of ships where you place whales they have caught, and a scoring area where you place whales that have been returned and successfully harvested.  Each player also starts with two workers and two ships in their supply, which they use to complete certain actions and catch whales.

A player board mid-game, along with the ocean bag where whales are found
The Sea Side Town

A central board depicts the town of New Bedford.  At the start of the game, it is very small and houses only the most simple structures.  As the game progresses, players build more districts and expand its borders.  Each building represents and action that can be performed which will progress your whaling venture.  For example, the farm allows you to collect food, the forest allows you to collect wood, and the town hall allows you to build new buildings.  Players take turns placing their workers on the board and taking actions.  The player who uses an action first usually gains a bonus, so it pays to prioritize your actions!

The town board has been expanded and workers have been placed to take actions
The Open Ocean

Once you collect enough resources, you may construct a ship, hire a crew, and launch it into the ocean to seek your fortune.  The further into the sea you wish to send a ship, the more hardtack (food) you need to spend.  However, the best whales are found further out.  Every round, the ships you have sent out sail closer back to the harbor, and collect whales as they travel.  Tiles are drawn from the ocean bag which represent varying whale varieties as well as open ocean.  If your crew finds only ocean open and no whales, it will negatively affect your future earnings.  As the game goes on, there is a greater chance you will draw open ocean from the bag.  This mirrors the fact that historic whaling severely threatened whale populations.  When your ship, laden with whales, finally returns to harbor, you will need to pay the lay, which is a term for the wages of your crew.  If you can pay your crew, you can collect victory points for the whales they caught.  If you cannot pay the crew, you will sell the whales to your opponents.  You will get money, but they will get the points.

The whaling board, depicting players' ships returning to town

The game lasts 12 rounds.  At the end of the last round, players total up their victory points.  Points are earned primarily by bringing in whales, but can also be earned by building up the town as well as collecting and amassing a fortune.  Whoever has the most points wins!

New Bedford is a great game in that it combines strategic gameplay with historical value.  The rise and fall of the whaling industry was an important event in the history of the United States and the world, and this theme has never been explored in the form of a board game.  This game is relatively easy to learn but there is strategy behind every decision.  Even people who are not "gamers" will be able to find enjoyment in playing out the historical aspects that New Bedford brings to the table.

In a pinch, the box can be used as a cat bed!


Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Historical Spotlight: Nantucket Whaling Museum

To visit Nantucket is really to visit the history of this little island off the coast of Massachusetts (I mean, you could go and not take in the history, but that’s not why we are all here!). One of the things I adamantly wanted to do when we went to Nantucket was to visit the Nantucket Whaling Museum (my husband, not so much). Seeing as so much of Nantucket’s history is wrapped up in the whaling industry of the 1800’s I wanted to see it for myself before we went on the fun part of our adventure (distillery tours, etc).

Just a short walk from where the ferry boats arrive, the Nantucket Whaling Museum is situated in a beautiful part of the historic town – you definitely feel like you walked into a 19th century area with all the 21st century amenities. The building itself was built in 1846 and was originally a candle factory which was involved in the whaling industry as the utilized spermaceti (a highly coveted at the time wax like substance that was only found in the head of sperm whales) in the candle making. After the whaling industry died off it was used as a warehouse and offices, and has now become the beautiful home of the Nantucket Whaling Museum.

For the price of a $6 ticket (adult) you can get access to the Nantucket Whaling Museum as well as the following other historical sites on the island: the Oldest House, the Old Mill, Greater Light, Old Gaol, and Fire Hose Cart House (a $10 adult ticket also includes a walking tour). We unfortunately did not make it to any of the other historical sites or on the walking tour because my ankle had raging tendonitis that week and just the limited walking we did that day left me with a softball sized inflammation on it. So we only did the museum, but that alone was worth the $6 price tag.

The other historical sites included in the ticket price
Photo Credit: Nantucket Historical Association Instagram
The first thing we did was watch a portion of the Nantucket film that is shown there – to get a feel for the island and to rest my ankle. It is a 50 minute film, so we didn’t watch the whole thing, but we certainly got a feel for where we were and if you have a few minutes to pop in to watch even just a part of in you won’t be disappointed. After that, we walked around the main gallery room which housed a full sized sperm whale skeleton. This whale had washed up on shore already dead on Nantucket in the 1990s and it is now beautifully displayed in the museum. It is amazing to stand beneath it and really get an idea of just how large that animal is. On the walls and around the gallery are displays of items of the whaling trade and information about them.

Next we headed upstairs to another gallery area that serves as a rotating exhibition space. While we were there, and this was the year that In the Heart of the Sea was due to come out in film, the display was called Stove by a Whale and revolved around the sinking of the whaleship Essex and the fates of those men aboard it (this exhibition is still there through November 2016, so you have time to see it if you get out there). This was a really cool and interactive exhibit. At the start you pull a sailor card from the box and you follow his plight throughout the exhibit. There is a timeline on the floor with stops that tell you what was happening in the life of that voyage and at certain major events there is a box that you can slide your card into and it will reveal if your sailor made it through that event. There is also a scale replica of one of the whaleboats that these men would have drifted in for days and when you sit in it you get a very real idea of just how small the world would have been for these men and how daunting the sea. My sailor stayed behind on a deserted island and was eventually rescued, my husband’s sailor died at sea.
Top: (L & M) Stove by a Whale Exhibit; (R) The Sperm Whale Skeleton
Bottom: (L) The Roof Walk; (R) Entrance to the Whaling Museum
Photo Credit: Me
Our next stop was the roof top walk. This is a beautiful space to just relax and take in the view of Nantucket’s harbor, but can also be utilized for events (it would be a beautiful location for a small reception or meeting). We took the stairs down from there and you can view one of the glass lenses that used to be in one of the lighthouses on the island, which was pretty cool.

Just one example of a type of scrimshaw
Photo Credit: Nantucket Historical Association Instagram
There are several other permanent exhibit galleries such as scrimshaw art (carvings in and on whale teeth and ivory), portraits of ship’s captains, decorative arts, and a gallery related to the history of candle making. All pretty cool, but we didn’t spend a lot of time here as I had come for the Stove by a Whale exhibit and we had other things to see and do that day. You can read more about their permanent exhibits as well as their rotating exhibitions here. Oh, and there is a pretty awesome gift shop there as well – I bought some cute tea towels for my kitchen that have a sperm whale and a ship on them, but I could have bought a bunch more things.

If you are going to be in Nantucket, I encourage you to spend an hour or two at the Nantucket Whaling Museum, it is a very well done museum that showcases that island’s history – and it is rather inexpensive too.

You can follow the Nantucket Whaling Museum on Instagram (technically the Nantucket Historical Association) and check out their Youtube channel for some interesting videos of the museum and local history.


Have you been to Nantucket?  What did you do on the island?  Have you visited the Whaling Museum?

 


Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Movie Review: In the Heart of the Sea


In the Heart of the Sea
Village Roadshow Pictures
122 mins.
Released: December 11, 2015
Rated: PG-13

In the Heart of the Sea is a movie production of the book by the same name by Nathaniel Philbrick. I was super excited to see this film as I very much enjoyed the book and there is never anything wrong with looking at Chris Hemsworth for two hours! However, I was a little concerned with how well he would be able to pull of some sort of acting that didn’t rely on just his good looks to get by. I was also excited to see it on the big screen which would make the experience more powerful and the gigantic nature of the whale.

For those of you that don’t know, In the Heart of the Sea follows the story of the Whaleship Essex and the fate of the men after their ship was struck by a whale. There were moments that worked for me and some of those that didn’t. I really enjoyed how the story was framed, which wasn’t something that was in the book; a young Herman Melville has sought out Thomas Nickerson, one of the survivors of the wreck, and wants him to tell his story. The actual story of the wreck plays out as Nickerson retells it, and there are a few times throughout when it cuts back to the “present” day which keeps you connected to both stories. I thought the film well captured the crucial parts of the tale and did a good job of keeping the story forward moving. Additionally, the setting of Nantucket looked amazingly real. We had just been there a couple months before and honestly the skyline, while aged, looked a lot like the actual houses and buildings that remain there today, to include what is now the Nantucket Whaling Museum. Really, I thought everything looked beautiful, the colors, the atmosphere, etc.

However, there were some parts that I felt were unnecessarily overdramatized. So, in the film, the whale appears to be following the sailors throughout their plight after the initial incident. Having read the book, I knew this wasn’t what happened, but beyond that it seemed ridiculous that an animal would follow these men slowly across the space of the whole ocean just to continue to harass them after the initial incident was over. I got that it was for the drama and maybe was more psychological than reality, but it killed that for me. The performances were good, nothing spectacular or that expressly stands out either way.

Ultimately, I think this film suffered some because of the timing of the theatrical release, but I would watch it again for sure.

As I have shared the trailer for the movie before, I’m going to share a series of clips from the film to give you a better feel for it.


As a side note, if you are interested in reading a firsthand account of the sinking, there is Beneath the Heart of the Sea by Owen Chase (who was portrayed by Chris Hemsworth).
 
 


Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Two Sides to Every Story: The Clash of Two Civilizations, The Plantation System in Ireland


Today I have the opportunity to welcome Nancy Blanton, author of Sharavogue and the recently released The Prince of Glencurragh to The Maiden's Court with an awesome contribution to the Two Sides to Every Story series.   Today we are talking about the clash between the Irish and the English over the plantation system.  I know I say this almost every time, but I know nothing about this subject and I am truly excited to be able to share this guest post with you!

The Clash of Two Civilizations, The Plantation System in Ireland

At the start of the 17th century, the English plantation of Ireland was a major thrust of British colonialism. Plantations in the province of Munster, and later Ulster, pitted English settlers against traditional Irish landholders to a bloody, sometimes deadly result, and often ruining the very lands for which they fought.

On one side, England had “owned” Ireland since King Henry II conquered the island in the 12th century. Henry awarded vast tracts of land to noblemen to protect England’s claim and to exploit Ireland’s fertile ground for marketable products. When organized plantation of Ireland began in the 16th century, England was Protestant under Henry VIII’s Church of England.

On the other side were the Irish, both the native Irish who descended from the ancient Milesians, the Firbolg, and the Tuatha De Danaan a thousand years before Christ; and the English nobles who now ruled their own fiefdoms throughout Ireland, had married into the ancient Irish families, and in many cases had adopted Irish culture. They were mostly Roman Catholic.

Perhaps at first, the plantations were conceived with reasonable intent—the development of efficient agriculture to increase yield and generate prosperity in Ireland, and to teach the native Irish how to employ modern farming practices. This was the same European plantation complex that had been a means of generating income since the Crusades in the 11th century.

But, in the words of historian and biographer C.V. Wedgwood, “The clash of two civilizations, exacerbated by the clash of two religions, culminated on bloody wars. The so-called pacifications of Ireland by the English government became suppression by massacre and confiscation.”

In Henry VIII’s case, he needed the plantation to generate money for the royal treasury. Much of Ireland already had been scoured of its forests to help build the royal navy. But also, England was fighting some expensive wars. He wanted greater control over Ireland’s resources to produce far more income, and he wanted the armed forces loyal to the king, not to their local lords.

At the same time, Henry had separated from the Catholic Church and established the Church of England. The Pope would like nothing better than to assemble an army in Ireland as a strategic launch point to invade England and overthrow or assassinate the king. Henry could not allow a papist population at his back door to welcome invaders and put England at risk. Ireland’s people would either convert or suffer the consequences.

As the king sent in agents to take over administrative powers from the Irish lords, not surprisingly his advances met with resistance. Ireland’s landed gentry resented the threat to their long-term autonomy and their religion. There were many demands and many grievances, but it was the confiscation of land that cut deepest.
The Plantations of Ireland
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

 The king’s plantations desired the most fertile lands. If it could be determined that these lands had no title of ownership, or had a defective title, the lands would revert to the king. The Irish, however, had lived by Brehon law for centuries, in which properties were inherited by tanistry, handed down to the sons or heir-apparent of the deceased party. Often there was no requirement for a deed or title, and certainly nothing that would be recognized by English common law. Now entire families who had held these lands for generations were relocated to less desirable land, or left homeless with no place to go. Catholics landholders who would not convert were stripped of property and authority, penalized, or murdered.

Battles were fought in courts and argued in Parliament, while rebel bands grew in Ireland’s mountains and rocky coastlines. Nevertheless, the king would have his way. The conquest of Ireland continued under his daughter Mary and then Elizabeth I. During Elizabeth’s reign, there was a feud between the two dominant clans of southwest Ireland, the FitzGeralds (Desmond dynasty) and the Butlers (Ormonde dynasty). When Elizabeth seemed to side with her cousin, Black Tom Butler, the Desmond rebellion began.

There were two Desmond Rebellions, 1569 and 1579. The first rebellion was crushed through the tactics of Sir Humphrey Gilbert, who used bloody fighting, terror, random killings of civilians, corridors of severed heads, and scorched earth tactics. The second rebellion ended when the English turned Irish against Irish. For a payment in silver, the O’Moriarty family hunted down and killed the Earl of Desmond, and sent his head to the queen.

Then came the Nine Years War (1594-1603), led by the O’Neills and the O’Donnells, fought primarily in the Ulster region of Ireland. This was the largest conflict yet in Elizabeth’s reign. But England prevailed; the earls fled Ireland in hopes of finding foreign support, leaving devastation and starvation behind as the aftermath.

The penalty for rebellion was a vast English plantation of both Munster and Ulster. And under Elizabeth’ heir, James I, life for the Irish got even worse. The Penal Laws were imposed, banning Catholics from public office, from intermarriage with Protestants, and from legal and teaching professions. They could not own firearms, adopt an orphan, get a foreign education, or own a horse valued at more than £5.

By the time of Charles I, “land-hungry settlers flooded into the unexploited lands of Ireland, refused to accept Irish customs in the use and possession of land, staked out their claims, built farms, stored their surplus corn in barns, and introduced new kinds of agriculture which took the pasture away from the cattle,” Wedgwood wrote.

Despite professing to remain landless while administering for the king in Ireland, even the Lord Deputy Thomas Wentworth got in on the action, with manors in Wicklow and Kildare totaling nearly 59,000 acres.

And yet, for the Irish the fight was not over. In 1641, the simmering rebellion came to boil. The English Civil War had begun, pitting Parliament and its army against King Charles and his loyal subjects, fighting primarily over the king’s prerogative to rule without Parliament. England’s violent distraction became Ireland’s opportunity.

Mr. Roger (Rory) O’Moore, one of the principal organizers of the Great Rebellion, knew well the losses the Irish had suffered by the English insurgence. He descended from an ancient Irish family. His uncle had been known as “King of Laois,” (pronounced “Lay-oh-is) and had fought against the English during Queen Mary’s (aka Bloody Mary) reign. Englishmen with eyes for O’Moore land invited the clan to a feast, and then slaughtered all the leaders and more than 180 family members.

O’Moore’s father was later granted an estate by Queen Elizabeth, but fights, skirmishes and rages continued against the English settlers. Decades later, O’Moore tried every legal means to restore and retain Irish rights and properties. But his efforts in Parliament were fruitless, and eventually he realized Ireland had no recourse.

In pledging the Irish rebel forces to join with Royalist Confederate forces in Dublin, O’Moore said:
My Lords, our sufferings are grown too heavy for us to bear. We are the sole subjects in Europe incapable of serving our Sovereign in places of honor, profit and trust. We are obstructed in ways of learning, so that our children cannot come to speak Latin without renouncing their dependence on the Church, and endangering their souls. These things we wished redressed in Parliament, and had they listened to us…we would have sat down contented. But the Lords Justices are merely bent on ruining our nation…
The Great Rebellion of 1641 was a brave, passionate and bloody fight. Successful at first, many English settlers were turned out as the Irish retook their properties. But when the civil war ended, Parliament won, King Charles I was executed, and England turned its attention to Ireland. Under the brutal march of Oliver Cromwell and his army, 1649-1653, more than 600,000 native people were slaughtered, deported or died by disease or starvation, and entire villages were destroyed. Ireland was devastated.

It was not until 1918, again after a bloody rising, that the Irish Republic was declared at Dublin Castle.

 Nancy Blanton is the award-winning author of two novels set in 17th century Ireland. Her second novel, The Prince of Glencurragh, has just been released.  You can find Nancy on her website, on Twitter, on Facebook, and on her blog.

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia












Book Blurb:
As the son of a great Irish warrior, FaolAn Burke should have inherited vast lands and a beautiful castle, Glencurragh. But tensions grow in 1634 Ireland, as English plantation systems consume traditional clan properties, Irish families are made homeless, and Irish sons lose their inheritance. Encountering the beautiful heiress, Vivienne FitzGerald, FaolAn believes if she became his wife, together they could restore his stolen heritage and build a prosperous life. But, because the Earl of Cork protects her, abduction seems to be his only option.
Best friend Aengus O'Daly narrates as he and the brothers Thomas and Sean Barry help FaolAn complete the deed, and hasten to the Earl of Barrymore, who has promised to negotiate the marriage settlement. But Vivienne clearly has a mind of her own, and the adventure that began as a lark takes a dark turn when one man is injured, another is killed, and their plans for Barrymore's support go awry.
Worse still, FaolAn now finds himself in the crossfire between the four most powerful men in Ireland--the earls of Clanricarde, Cork, Ormonde, and the aggressive new Lord Deputy of Ireland, Thomas Wentworth--men who use people like game pieces to be moved about for their own benefit. And other forces threaten their plans and even their lives. With the course of events now beyond their control, will FaolAn and Vivienne ever realize the dream of Glencurragh?
 


Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, August 22, 2016

Historical Spotlight: Brooklyn Bridge

Back in mid-June my husband and I went to New York City for the weekend. You might remember my previous posts spotlighting Coney Island and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Today I am going to share the last of the major stops on our trip and a little history to go along with it – the Brooklyn Bridge.

For most people, the Brooklyn Bridge is just one method to get from Brooklyn to Manhattan and back again, it had always been the only way that I thought of the bridge too. I didn’t even realize that you could walk across it until recently, but once I did I thought it would be kind of cool to do, just to say that we did it. So, we decided to walk the bridge from the Brooklyn side to Manhattan and it was quite an enjoyable experience – and there were a bunch of other people doing it too. It is busy for sure just like anything in New York, but it was quirky too – we actually saw a couple having their wedding portraits taken on the bridge and traffic just surged around them. It also gives a great view of the Statue of Liberty in the distance, the new World Trade Center building, and the Williamsburg Bridge. We also participated in a tradition that I didn’t know existed anywhere other than France, placing a lock on the bridge and dropping the key into the river. Well, I was in a conundrum trying to figure out how I was going to get my key to the water. It was far too great a distance to throw it across several lanes of traffic and it looked like I wouldn’t get near the water easily once we crossed the bridge – but guess what? Over a certain part of the bridge if you look down between the wooden slats, it goes all the way down to the water. So I crouched down and dropped it between the slats and watched it helicopter its way down to a tiny splash! The great thing about taking the time to cross the Brooklyn Bridge is that it is completely free! You could rent a bike and ride across or sign up for a walking tour, but it’s 100% free to do on your own.

Views of the Brooklyn Bridge
Photo Credit: Me!
Anyway, that’s enough of my story, here are some random but interesting facts I learned about the bridge:

  • The original designer died before the bridge could be built, but it was such a freak accident. Apparently he was taking some final measurements and hit feet were struck by a boat. From there he caught tetanus and died!
  • The son of the original designer I was just mentioning – ended up having such terrible side effects from traveling up and down the shafts for the foundation of the bridge that he ended up being partially paralyzed from it and his wife had to take over the day to day oversight!
  • The walking bridge that we crossed – well it was originally designed for just that, pedestrians. And on the first day it was opened over 200,000 people walked across it!

*Fun Facts compiled from History.com*

Want to Learn More?

I again have to point you toward The Bowery Boys podcast for a lot more in-depth info that I’m presenting here. There are also a couple of books that look really fascinating: The Great Bridge by David McCullough is a non-fiction treatment; there is a YA historical novel by Karen Hesse that takes place around the bridge titled Brooklyn Bridge, and a hilarious children’s book titled You Wouldn’t Want to Work on the Brooklyn Bridge! by Tom Ratliff. I know the McCullough is on my TBR.

Have you walked the Brooklyn Bridge? What was your experience like?

 



Copyright © 2016 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Interview with Nicole Evelina

Good morning!  For those who have been following my internet woes, problem solved and I should be back in the game!  Today I have the opportunity to share an interview with Nicole Evelina, author of Madame Presidentess and I hope you will enjoy getting to know more about her and her works! 


Heather: Hi Nicole!  Welcome to The Maiden’s Court!  I would love to open this discussion today by asking how you came across Victoria Woodhull and what made you decide to write about her?

Nicole Evelina: Hi Heather. I’m so happy to be here. I love the name of your blog!

I found out about Victoria Woodhull on Pinterest, of all things. A friend of mine pinned a picture of a pretty Victorian woman who captured my attention. The caption said: “Known by her detractors as "Mrs. Satan," Victoria Claflin Woodhull, born in 1838, married at age fifteen to an alcoholic and womanizer. She became the first woman to establish a brokerage firm on Wall Street and played an active role in the woman's suffrage movement. She became the first woman to run for President of the United States in 1872. Her name is largely lost in history. Few recognize her name and accomplishments.”

I knew then and there I had my next book subject. I mean, any woman called Mrs. Satan is someone I need to learn more about. And the more I learned, the more fascinated I became. I also became angry that we didn’t learn about this important, powerful, ground-breaking woman in school. As a historical fiction writer, I’m attracted more to the stories that are nearly forgotten; I view it as my mission to help bring them to life so that at least one more generation remembers them. I couldn’t stand the idea of another generation of girls being denied a role model (such as she is) just because history nearly forgot her.

H: Thank you, the credit for my blog name goes to my husband!  I agree, a name like "Mrs. Satan" would make me want to know more!

I sure that many people do not know much about Victoria Woodhull, myself included, and it can sometimes be difficult to attract a reader’s attention to a less well known character.  What would you want to tell them to hook them in? The floor is yours!

NE: Victoria’s life was so wild that I don’t think it takes much to get you interested. She’s one of those people who had such a crazy life that you’d think I was making this stuff up, but I’m not. Victoria was one of 10 children, born dirt poor in the small town of Homer, Ohio. Her father was an abusive con man and her mother was a crazy religious zealot. She married very young to a man who was also abusive but managed to overcome her early misfortunes.

By 31, Victoria was a self-made millionaire. Forty eight years before women got the right to vote, she ran for President of the United States, becoming the first woman ever to do so. She was also the first woman to run a stock brokerage on Wall Street (with her sister, Tennie), the first woman to testify before a Congressional committee (she argued that the wording of the Constitution already gave women the right to vote), and one of the first women to run a weekly newspaper. Victoria was an impassioned advocate and speaker on women’s suffrage, Free Love (the right for people to marry and separate/divorce at will without the interference of the government), and equality of the sexes. Keep in mind that this is in the 1870s!

She was friends with the bigwigs of the suffrage movement including Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and powerful men like President Grant and Cornelius Vanderbilt. But she never quite learned not to bite the hand that feeds her those actions, combined with her outrageous political beliefs, are what contributed to her downfall…

H: Wow!  That is quite the impressive resume for a woman of any time period, let alone the 1800's!

Did you do a lot of research before writing this book? What type of research? Is there a lot of material out there about her?

NE: I always do a lot of research about my subjects, partly to make sure I’m accurate, but also because research is one of my favorite parts of writing historical fiction. I tend to lean toward books when I don’t have connections to experts in my research area. There are several outstanding biographies of Victoria, plus some books on the suffrage movement contain valuable information about her. I was lucky that Victoria was very much a public speaker, so newspaper articles chronicling her activities, are still in existence, as are her speeches and many letters and articles that she wrote. Plus, her newspaper, Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly, is housed in its entirety both online and on microfilm at several universities.

There is a short bibliography at the end of the book that lists my main sources, but if you’d like to see my complete research list, please visit https://nicoleevelina.com/the-books/madame-presidentess/research/

H: Very cool - I love when fiction authors give us bibliographies, not so much because I want to check their accuracy, but because I love to have an idea of where to go to do further reading on a subject that has caught my eye.  And I haven't hesitated to reach out to a few authors for their resource lists when writing a research paper for my Masters program!

Victoria Woodhull sought to become president even though women did not yet have the right to vote; this sounds destined to fail right from the start.  Did she really have any chance in attaining her sought position and if not, why did she continue to pursue this goal?

NE: At first, she didn’t enter the campaign to win, but to bring attention to the suffrage movement and make a statement that women can do anything men can do. In 1871, she actually said, “I will admit, in the spirit of openness that my announcement as a candidate a year ago was for the mere purpose of lifting a banner, of provoking agitation, and creating a rallying point for suffrage. But now, seeing as how people support me and have taken to my cause, I have little doubt of the possibility of success. Little as the public think it, a woman who is now nominated may be elected next year.” So it seems that during the course of her campaign, she grew in faith that she might actually achieve her outlandish dream.  Whether or not that was ever possible or if she just started believing her own press is up for debate. By the time the election actually rolled around, her campaign had crumbled and she spent Election Day in jail, so by then it is certain she knew she wouldn’t succeed.

H:  That's impressive that she simply had the nerve to get up there and pursue something that seemed so far out of reach for the time, especially in the face of likely failure. 

This might be a tough question, but I just have to ask because I can't help the comparison because I had the opportunity to interview the author of this book I'm going to mention.  Another novel about Victoria Woodhull was released less than a year ago, The Renegade Queen by Eva Flynn.  How does your book stand apart from this previously released novel and why should a reader choose yours instead of Flynn’s or in addition to hers?

NE: This is a tough question to answer because I haven’t read Ms. Flynn’s book. I intend to, but I make it a point not to read competing works until mine is published so that there isn’t any way I can be consciously or unconsciously influenced. Having said that, look at how many books are out there about people like Henry VIII or Anne Boleyn. I believe that every author comes to the same information with a different perspective and will produce a different story, even if their source material is the same. I’m not sure what angle Ms. Flynn took on her book, but mine is historical biographical fiction, which means it is highly based in fact, and is closer to creative non-fiction than a totally fictional novel. There are certainly fictional elements and characters (as we can never truly know another person’s motivations or personal conversations) but I wrote my book to be informative as well as entertaining, rather than placing entertainment at the fore. I would hope that readers experience both, as did the Chaucer Award for historical fiction committee, who honored the book with first place in the US history category.

H: I think that is a great practice - not only do you not want to influence yourself, but I would imagine it prevents you from stressing yourself out with self-comparisons while in the publishing process.  I haven't had the chance to read either book yet myself, so I too look forward to them.

Are you a full time author or do you have to find time to write around a typical 9-5 job? How do you find time to write?

NE: No, I don’t write full time – yet. That is my goal. Right now I work full time as a writer in the marketing department for a health care company. Because of that, I do most of my writing on the weekends and on my vacation days. Occasionally, if I’m really inspired or doing NaNoWriMo, I’ll write at night, but my brain is usually toast by the end of the day.  

One of the things that has helped me find extra writing time is that I no longer watch TV. There are a few shows that I allow myself to watch on my Kindle while I’m eating, but that is it. Now I have much more time for research, writing and reading. And I’m a happier person for it.

H: I can understand about freeing yourself from TV - I mentioned at the beginning of this post that my internet woes were now solved, but I had no cable or internet for the last week and I found myself with so much time I didn't know what to do with it!

Have you had any struggles in the writing/publishing process? How have you worked through these? Any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?

NE: Oh yes. My road has not been easy. I started out the traditional route. It took me two years to find an agent and I was with her on submission for two years, with many close calls (we went to acquisitions with my debut novel three times at major publishers) but no luck. There is so much rejection in both querying and being on submission. You have to learn to deal with it. Even once you’re published, you’ll get negative reviews. All you can do is accept that everyone has a right to their opinion (even when they are wrong!) and move on. I try to think about the books that I didn’t like that everyone else seemed to (or vice versa) – that helps me to remember the subjective nature of art. Another thing that helps me is to read the 1 and 2 star reviews given to writers/books I love or that are extremely popular or critically acclaimed. Once you realize that even those people get panned, it makes taking criticism of your own work a little easier.

My advice for aspiring authors is to write what you are passionate about, even if that isn’t where the market is going. If you care about it, chances are very good someone else will, too. You will thank yourself when you’ve read your book for the 10th time in the editing process and you are sick of it. At least if it’s a subject/plot/character you love, you’ll have the will to carry on.

Take whatever path to publication is best for you. If you want an agent and a major publisher, query your heart out. But know that it can be a long process filled with rejection. (Or not. My mentor’s first book sold overnight, two weeks after she got her agent.) If you decide to go indie, educate yourself (there are plenty of books and web sites that will help you) and please, please pay for professional editing and cover art. They will be worth every penny.

And no matter what, don’t ever give up. It is really true that the only sure way to fail is to give up. You started writing because you have a story to tell and you know what? Someone in the world needs to read that story. So when you have a rough day, think about that person. It might not take away all the frustration or sadness, but it will give you a renewed sense of purpose.

H: Fabulous words of wisdom and I couldn't agree more about the cover art and editing, readers (and reviewers) will thank you for it!  Thank you for stopping by today!


Nicole Evelina is an award-winning historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her most recent novel, Been Searching for You, a romantic comedy, won the 2015 Romance Writers of America (RWA) Great Expectations and Golden Rose contests.

She also writes historical fiction. Her debut novel, Daughter of Destiny, the first book of an Arthurian legend trilogy that tells Guinevere’s life story from her point of view, was named Book of the Year by Chanticleer Reviews, took the Grand Prize in the 2015 Chatelaine Awards for Women’s Fiction/Romance, won a Gold Medal in the fantasy category in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards and was short-listed for the Chaucer Award for Historical Fiction. The sequel, Camelot’s Queen is out now.

Nicole is one of only six authors who completed a week-long writing intensive taught by #1 New York Times bestselling author Deborah Harkness. Nicole has traveled to England twice to research the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy, where she consulted with internationally acclaimed author and historian Geoffrey Ashe, as well as Arthurian/Glastonbury expert Jaime George, the man who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley research The Mists of Avalon.

Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for The Historical Novel Society, and Sirens (a group supporting female fantasy authors), as well as a member of the Historical Writers of America, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, Romance Writers of America, the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Women Writing the West, Broad Universe (promoting women in fantasy, science fiction and horror), Alliance of Independent Authors and the Independent Book Publishers Association.

Find Nicole Evelina: Website | Twitter | Pinterest | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Tumblr















Book Blurb:
*Winner: U.S. Women’s History category – 2015 Chaucer Awards for Historical Fiction

Forty-eight years before women were granted the right to vote, one woman dared to run for President of the United States, yet her name has been virtually written out of the history books.

Rising from the shame of an abusive childhood, Victoria Woodhull, the daughter of a con-man and a religious zealot, vows to follow her destiny, one the spirits say will lead her out of poverty to “become ruler of her people.”

But the road to glory is far from easy. A nightmarish marriage teaches Victoria that women are stronger and deserve far more credit than society gives. Eschewing the conventions of her day, she strikes out on her own to improve herself and the lot of American women.

Over the next several years, she sets into motion plans that shatter the old boys club of Wall Street and defile even the sanctity of the halls of Congress. But it’s not just her ambition that threatens men of wealth and privilege; when she announces her candidacy for President in the 1872 election, they realize she may well usurp the power they’ve so long fought to protect.

Those who support her laud “Notorious Victoria” as a gifted spiritualist medium and healer, a talented financial mind, a fresh voice in the suffrage movement, and the radical idealist needed to move the nation forward. But those who dislike her see a dangerous force who is too willing to speak out when women are expected to be quiet. Ultimately, “Mrs. Satan’s” radical views on women’s rights, equality of the sexes, free love and the role of politics in private affairs collide with her tumultuous personal life to endanger all she has built and change how she is viewed by future generations.

This is the story of one woman who was ahead of her time – a woman who would make waves even in the 21st century – but who dared to speak out and challenge the conventions of post-Civil War America, setting a precedent that is still followed by female politicians today.
Buy the Book: Amazon | iTunes | Kobo | Smashwords

 
Tour Wide Giveaway!!

As part of the tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, there is a tour wide giveaway on offer.  Please note that this giveaway is coordinated by the HFVBT coordinator and not me, so any questions or issues should be directed to her. 

To enter the Madame Presidentess Giveaway for a paperback of the book and/or Victoria Woodhull Bumper Sticker, please see the GLEAM form below. 3 winners will receive a copy of the book and a bumper sticker. 7 winners will receive the Victoria Woodhull Bumper Sticker.


Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on August 26th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US residents only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.


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