My friend Evie Hawtrey (aka historical novelist Sophie Perinot – in a new, darker, incarnation) has recently revealed her cover for her crime mystery debut! AND BY FIRE is a dual timeline novel, pitting two extraordinary female detectives—tempered by fire and separated by more than three centuries—against a pair of murderous geniuses who will burn the world for their art.
Isn’t the cover cool? Check out the full book description below, and PRE-ORDER today for a Spring 2022 arrival.
About And By Fire –
Nigella Parker, Detective Inspector with the City Police, has a deeply rooted fear of fire and a talent for solving deadly arson cases. When a charred figure is found curled beside Sir Christopher Wren’s Monument to the Great Fire of London, Nigella is dragged into a case pitting her against a murderous artist creating sculptures using burnt flesh.
Nigella partners with Colm O’Leary of Scotland Yard to track the arsonist across greater London. The pair are more than colleagues—they were lovers until O’Leary made the mistake of uttering three little words. Their past isn’t the only buried history as they race to connect the dots between an antique nail pulled from a dead man’s hands and a long-forgotten architect dwarfed by the life’s work of Sir Christopher Wren.
Wren, one of London’s most famous architects, is everywhere the pair turn. Digging into his legacy leads the DCIs into the coldest of cold cases: a search for a bookseller gone missing during the Great Fire of London. More than 350 years earlier, while looking for their friend, a second pair of detectives—a lady-in-waiting to the Queen and a royal fireworks maker—discovered foul play in the supposedly accidental destruction of St. Paul’s Cathedral…but did that same devilry lead to murder? And can these centuries-old crimes help catch a modern-day murderer?
As Nigella and O’Leary rush to decode clues, past and present, London’s killer-artist sets his sights on a member of the investigative team as the subject of his next fiery masterpiece.
Praise for And By Fire:
“BONES meets the Restoration Court in Evie Hawtrey’s AND BY FIRE, a taut dual-timeline mystery that races along at the pace of an inferno! …. Fresh, dynamic, and crisply researched, AND BY FIRE WILL appeal to histfic fans and mystery readers alike—I couldn’t put this one down!“
—Kate Quinn, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Alice Network
Evie Hawtrey is a Yank by bir t h but a sister-in-spirit to her fierce and feminist London detective, DI Nigella Parker. Evie splits her time between Washington DC, where she lives with her husband, and York, UK, where she enjoys living in history, lingering over teas, and knocking around in pubs. Check out her website at www.eviehawtrey.com.
So excited to share some recent book mail of another anticipated read for me this year, a spy thriller called Red Widow by the acclamied author Alma Katsu. I purchased it, and it arrived last week, but things were a little nuts at our home so I didn’t get a chance to show it off or say happy belated book release to my friend Alma, who is an amazing writer and such a stellar person! As an author she’s put out three major books in three years, two during a pandemic (The Deep and Red Widow). This third book is all thriller – a contemporary spy thriller with a female lead – and I’m so excited to dive into it!!! I hope you will too. Congratulations, Alma!
Alma has worked in government intelligence with various agencies or consultancy for thirty years so she knows what’s she putting in her fiction! And it’s going to be made into a TV show on Fox! So if you like this genre, now is your chance to read the book first, which I recommend.
From the publisher:
An exhilarating spy thriller written by an intelligence veteran about two women CIA agents whose paths become intertwined around a threat to the Russia Division–one that’s coming from inside the agency.
“Katsu’s real-life experience and skill at maintaining taught, nail-biting tension make Red Widow a standout espionage thriller.”
Publisher’s website (Putnam/Penguin) for a list of purchase options:
Lyndsey Duncan worries her career with the CIA might be over. After lines are crossed with another intelligence agent during an assignment, she is sent home to Washington on administrative leave. So when a former colleague–now Chief of the Russia Division–recruits her for an internal investigation, she jumps at the chance to prove herself. Lyndsey was once a top handler in the Moscow Field Station, where she was known as the “human lie detector” and praised for recruiting some of the most senior Russian officials. But now, three Russian assets have been exposed–including one of her own–and the CIA is convinced there’s a mole in the department. With years of work in question and lives on the line, Lyndsey is thrown back into life at the agency, this time tracing the steps of those closest to her.
Meanwhile, fellow agent Theresa Warner can’t avoid the spotlight. She is the infamous “Red Widow,” the wife of a former director killed in the field under mysterious circumstances. With her husband’s legacy shadowing her every move, Theresa is a fixture of the Russia Division, and as she and Lyndsey strike up an unusual friendship, her knowledge proves invaluable. But as Lyndsey uncovers a surprising connection to Theresa that could answer all of her questions, she unearths a terrifying web of secrets within the department, if only she is willing to unravel it….
Alma Katsu, Biography –
Alma Katsu’s books have received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Library Journal, been featured in the NY Times and Washington Post, been nominated and won multiple prestigous awards, and appeared on numerous Best Books lists including NPR, the Observer, Barnes and Noble, Apple Books, Goodreads, and Amazon.
RED WIDOW is her first spy novel, the logical marriage of her love of storytelling with her 30+ year career in intelligence. As an intelligence officer, Ms. Katsu worked at several federal agencies as a senior analyst where she advised policymakers and military commanders on issues of national security. The last third of her government career was spent in emerging technologies and technology forecasting. She was also a senior technology policy analyst for the RAND Corporation and continues as an independent consultant and technology futurist, advising clients in government and private industry.
Ms. Katsu also writes novels that combine historical fiction with supernatural and horror elements. THE HUNGER (2018), a reimagining of the story of the Donner Party, was named one of NPR’s 100 favorite horror stories, was on numerous Best Books of the Year lists, and continues to be honored as a new classic in horror. Her first book, THE TAKER (2011), was named one of the top ten debut novels of 2011 by Booklist.
Ms. Katsu has relocated from the Washington, DC area to the mountains of West Virginia, where she lives with her musician husband Bruce and their two dogs, Nick and Ash.
Thanks again for stopping by! I love the times I can help bring more audience to women in history or women making history! This was a scheduled post so by the time anyone is reading this, I’ll be on the road for a safe (distanced, masked) trip with my kiddos after a very long year of quaratine so my daughter can check out a few unversities she considering applying to! Take care and have a good spring break or Easter! I’ll be back with more posts in April.
Readers! I’m so thrilled to say that author Stephanie Dray’s (NYT Bestselling co-author of America’s First Daughter and My Dear Hamilton) newest historical fiction novel, The Women of Chateau Lafayette, is now on sale! Happy book release day to Stephanie – it’s so perfect this just squeaked its arrival in to coincide with women in history month too. I had my copy pre-ordered, and by time you’re reading this, I may have it lovingly in my possession (sorry, delivery driver for ripping it out of your hands!!). This is one of my most very anticipated reads of 2021, not only because I love all of Dray’s books (I do!), but also because I’m a big Lafayette fan like she is as well AND love WWII fiction and this combines both. And then she said castle in the heart of France and my eyes bulged out. I’m going to be interested to see how she interweaves several major decades in history together (1774, 1914, 1940). It seems like her most ambitious book to date!
I must say I learned it from my son though, who spent much time while going to his university in Washington DC studying at Lafayette Park (which houses his statue) in front of the White House (pre-virus and government blow up days circa 2019 by the way!) and showing me all the French architecture that Lafayette inspired in the city while also tetlling me of his good deeds. Beautiful – I fell in love with it everywhere I looked each time I visited DC, and his life story. Now, we get to learn about the women in his world as well, which is so very special! As it’s women in history month (at least for this one last day in March still), it’s the perfect time to release it, though it will be on everyone’s reading lists all year long I bet!
Please don’t miss The Women of Chateau Lafayette, an epic saga based on the true story of an extraordinary castle in the heart of France and the remarkable women bound by its legacy. Featuring “America’s Favorite Fighting Frenchman” and his wife, our French Founding Mother Adrienne Lafayette, this story combines history, romance, thriller, and mystery. Let me know if you grab a copy or what you thought about it if you’ve already read it in the comments below.
ABOUT The Women of Chateau Lafayette –
A founding mother…
1774. Gently-bred noblewoman Adrienne Lafayette becomes her husband, the Marquis de Lafayette’s political partner in the fight for American independence. But when their idealism sparks revolution in France and the guillotine threatens everything she holds dear, Adrienne must renounce the complicated man she loves, or risk her life for a legacy that will inspire generations to come.
A daring visionary…
1914. Glittering New York socialite Beatrice Chanler is a force of nature, daunted by nothing—not her humble beginnings, her crumbling marriage, or the outbreak of war. But after witnessing the devastation in France firsthand, Beatrice takes on the challenge of a lifetime: convincing America to fight for what’s right.
A reluctant resistor…
1940. French school-teacher and aspiring artist Marthe Simone has an orphan’s self-reliance and wants nothing to do with war. But as the realities of Nazi occupation transform her life in the isolated castle where she came of age, she makes a discovery that calls into question who she is, and more importantly, who she is willing to become.
Intricately woven and powerfully told, The Women of Chateau Lafayette is a sweeping novel about duty and hope, love and courage, and the strength we take from those who came before us.
Thanks again for stopping by! I’ll have an interview with Stephanie in the near future about her new book! I’ll also have some more posts, in various genres as I work to make the blog more productive. This week my kids are on Spring Break and I’m taking the week off with them. We’re going to road trip (safely) and have a much needed break. See you back here soon…..
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I was excited when I saw best-selling and reader-loved author Gill Paul announce that she’d be publishing The Collector’s Daughter: A Novel of the Discovery of Tutankhamun Tomb this year! It’s historical fiction surrounding the opening of King Tut’s tomb featuring Lady Evelyn Herbert, who grew up in Highclere Castle (the real Downton Abbey). I think most people know by now how much of a fan I am of Egyptology, Egyptian history, and Egypt in general. Anything related to archeaology is going to be a must read or watch for me and the mysteries and stories surrounding King Tut are no exception.
If you’re anticipating this now as much as I am, here is the gorgeous cover to make you even more interested! For me, I love the aquas and oranges (two of my favorite color combos) and how she’s looking out the window on the Nile. Makes me wonder what she’s thinking about. Read on below to learn more about the book and how to pre-order for its September 2021 release.
About The Collector’s Daughter –
Bestselling author Gill Paul returns with a brilliant novel about Lady Evelyn Herbert, who grew up in Highclere Castle—the real Downton Abbey—and became the first person in modern times to enter the tomb of Ancient Egyptian king Tutankhamun.
She is the daughter of the Earl of Carnarvon, brought up to make her society debut and follow it with a prestigious marriage. But popular and pretty Lady Evelyn Herbert has other ideas. First she falls for a man her mother doesn’t approve of, then she accompanies her father to Egypt, leaving behind the world of etiquette and chaperones to work alongside archeologist Howard Carter in the Valley of the Kings.
In November 1922 the extraordinary happens when they discover the burial place of Tutankhamun, packed full of gold and inconceivable riches. Eve is the first to crawl inside, the first person to see the treasures in three thousand years. She calls it the “greatest moment” of her life—but soon afterwards a string of tragedies leaves her world a darker, sadder place.
Newspapers claim it is “the curse of Tutankhamun.” Howard Carter says no rational person would entertain such nonsense. Fifty years later, an Egyptian academic comes asking questions about what really happened in the tomb in 1922. And that visit unleashes a new chain of events threatening Eve’s happy life, and making her wonder if there could be some truth behind the stories of an ancient curse.
Information and Pre-Order –
Publication date: September 7, 2021 in the US and Canada and September 30, 2021 in the UK.
Gill Paul’shistorical novels have reached the top of the USA Today, Toronto Globe & Mail and UK kindle charts, and been translated into twenty languages. She specializes in relatively recent history, mostly 20th century, and enjoys re-evaluating real historical characters and trying to get inside their heads.
Gill also writes historical non-fiction, including A History of Medicine in 50 Objects and series of Love Stories. Published around the world, this series includes Royal Love Stories, World War I Love Stories and Titanic Love Stories.
Gill was born in Scotland and grew up there, apart from an eventful year at school in the US when she was ten. She studied Medicine at Glasgow University, then English Literature and History (she was a student for a long time), before moving to London to work in publishing. Her first novel was written at weekends, but she has now given up the ‘day job’ to write fiction full-time. She also writes short stories for magazines and speaks at libraries and literary festivals about subjects ranging from the British royal family to the Romanovs, and about writing itself.
Gill swims year-round in an open-air pond – “It’s good for you so long as it doesn’t kill you”– and loves travelling whenever and wherever she can.
Thanks for stopping by. I hope to have more posts for you coming soon! I should have one tomorrow but then I’m putting work aside and taking Spring Break with my kids. I might do a little post about our road trip when we return. 🙂
I have an interesting guest article for readers today about Omani Mau street cats and the story of a memoir that came out of recusing one!
Struggling to come to terms with an unexpected diagnosis, author Chitra Ramaswami had returned home to Oman seeking a sense of familiarity. What she discovered instead was a very special cat who changed her life. Rumi is an Omani Mau, and while there are many types of Mau cats, this type is a street cat in Oman. These cats are often discarded, mistreated, and abused on the streets (mostly in the captial of Muscat) and left to fend for themselves in horrible conditions. Chitra had never had a cat, and didn’t plan on one. Then, she had to learn to take in one who has problems of his own dealing with abuse from children that left him with an injury, along with harassment from stronger cats as he was forced to survive on the streets. Look at him here in this photos, he’s so cute!
Chitra and her sweet street cat learned to love each other, and eventually, she wrote a book about their story, which was recently published! I haven’t read the book, but the story seemed like one I wanted to help spread, since I not only love advocation for cats, but I also love to support women authors, authors from diverse backgrounds, and fellow rescue cat owners!
If you’d like to learn a little more about what an Omani Mau is like, please read on for Chitra’s article!
Ever heard of the Omani Mau? by Chitra Ramaswami, author of But First, Rumi
Oman is a Middle Eastern country lying on the east of the Arabian Sea. The land’s trademark is its rather untouched stretches of beaches and mountains, a rarity in today’s times. Known for its hospitality, don’t be surprised if you’re invited over to a local’s house for a cup of coffee and homegrown dates. However, the street cat of Oman, otherwise called the Omani Mau is a treasure relatively unknown to the rest of the world.
A DNA test conducted on Rumi, an Omani Mau of internet fame, by Basepaws – a pioneer in feline genetic testing has yielded fascinating results. Rumi’s genes reflect an interesting mix of qualities, likely due to the mating of the local street cat with cats who’ve accompanied their humans as they migrated to Oman over the years from all over the world. Anyone who has interacted with an Omani Mau will agree that the standout traits in Rumi’s DNA are indeed commonly seen in the local Mau (meaning street cat in Arabic)
So, what are these unique traits?
Making its debut, here is –
The Omani Mau checklist:
The Straight – A Immunity Scorer: Known to have robust immunity, it’s no surprise, Rumi’s DNA tested negative for 17 common feline genetic diseases.
The Smooth Talker: Most Maus are expert conversationalists like the Thai and Siamese cats. Chatting with the humans or even with each other from time to time, these felines don’t like to leave much unsaid.
The Dog-like Cat: Expect a Mau to follow their human from room to room and stay close. They are deeply loyal, much like the Royal Peterbald, and have no qualms expressing their affection for you. “Aloof” is not a word you associate with this lot.
The Gymnast: Maus are all muscle with athletic bodies like the African Savannah and are highly trainable. They are happiest when given sufficient playtime when they can leap to their heart’s content.
The Desert Cat Advantage: Additionally, the Omani street cats appear to be slender versions of the original desert cat – The Arabian Mau and have retained many of their characteristics. With slanted, almond-shaped eyes and wild cat spots, these felines are head turners for sure. They also have large ears, allowing them to release excess heat and tolerate higher temperatures better than the average cat.
Now, wouldn’t you like to get to know an Omani Mau? I’d say, start with Rumi.
If you’d like to read Rumi’s story, please click on the link below:
But First, Rumi is available worldwide on Amazon as e-book and paperback. Also available in select bookstores.
About But First, Rumi –
Print Length: 158 Pages
When Chitra discovered a stray cat in need of help, she never thought they’d wind up saving each other. Struggling to come to terms with an unexpected diagnosis, Chitra returned home to Oman seeking a sense of familiarity. What she discovered instead was a very special cat who changed her life. But First, Rumi is the story of how, day by day, Rumi and Chitra got to know one another, and as she learned to love the little stray, she began to see greater life lessons about herself, her family, her home country and her place in the world.
What unfolds when girl and cat meet? What happens when you follow your heart? What if the world is not as it seems? Is it worth taking a chance?
Chitra Ramaswami, Biography –
Chitra Ramaswami was born and raised in the Middle East by Indian parents, and her childhood was spent reading every book she could lay her hands on or writing stories and lines of poetry. As a result of traveling the world extensively and being a natural linguist, she is an amalgamation of many cultures and tastes and is constantly looking for the next experience she can immerse herself in.
When she isn’t writing, Chitra rides horses, climbs mountains and is a passionate advocate for the Omani Mau/ street cat. She currently lives in New York with her husband and a very spoiled cat and hamster duo.
On March 15, the Women on Writing blog, The Muffin, celebrated the launch of Chitra Ramaswami’s book But First, Rumi. Go HERE to read an interview with the author, find out more information about this touching memoir, and win a copy for yourself, as well as see the upcoming tour dates!
Thank you to Women on Writing for asking me to participate! Now I’m going to go learn more about Omani street cats and how I can help them, how about you?
Author and gothic expert Tracy Fahey is a woman in horror who always interests me. I suppose it’s because my first love in horror myself is the gothic sub-genre, but also Tracy always has intelligent and thought-provoking things to say. It’s why, besides wanting to support her, I invited her to write another article for this site during the time frame of her latest release, a collection of female body horror. I knew she’d discuss something that would be make me want to think a bit harder, challenge me. She didn’t disappoint, but extended my thoughts of the pre-conceived boundaries of body horror I had in my mind. And she’s cited one of my favorite stories, and biggest influences, in “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Gilman Perkins!
I hope you enjoy it and check out Tracy’s collection too!
I Spit Myself Out: Contemporary Female Body Horror by Tracy Fahey, Author of I Spit Myself Out
My new collection, I Spit Myself Out, is yet another addition to the rich tradition of writing the female body in horror. Earlier seminal work includes Charlotte Gilman Perkins’ masterful short story of 1892, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” perhaps the finest portrait of patriarchal repression of post-partum depression ever written. Similarly, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) telegraphed anxieties about female autonomy, while Madge Piercy’s 1976 speculative feminist classic, Woman on the Edge of Time, contrasted the wretched life of protagonist Connie Ramos inside and outside the asylum she is confined to with the utopia of Mattapoisett.
In recent years, there has been a renaissance of work on the theme of female body horror. This can be viewed as a direct response to the increasing anxiety surrounding women’s rights. Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale was recently adapted for TV. This powerful series, with its contemporary setting, speaks to real, current fears about female reproductive rights, bodily autonomy, and control. Since 2018, female protestors against the erosion of body rights under the Trump regime have worn the iconic Handmaids’ garb of white bonnets and red robes to signal their visceral fear of a new Gilead made reality. Atwood was spurred on by the march of current events to write a sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale thiety years later, The Testaments (2019). In an interview with Laura Lynch, Atwood said of writing this sequel:
I was no, no, no, no, no for a while, but then No. 1: history changed. Instead of going away from Gilead, we turned around and started coming back towards Gilead.
This vision is echoed in Christina Dalcher’s Vox (2016) where women are literally silenced, forbidden to read, and their conversation limited to under a hundred words a day. In Gwendolyn Kiste’s The Rust Maidens (2018) girls begin to transform and to disintegrate, in tandem with the decline of their hometown. Similarly, Georgina Bruce’s magnificent collection, This House Of Wounds (2019), presents a series of visions of the female psyche as riddled with pain, both physical and mental.
In writing I Spit Myself Out, I was conscious of this tradition. There are definite influences that permeate it (there are shades of “The Yellow Wallpaper” in the titular story, and an Atwoodeque fear of the subjugation of the female body in the perimenopausal story ‘Becoming’). However, in this collection, I wanted to find new ways to articulate these concerns. My first influence was Julia Kristeva’s essay ‘The Powers of Horror,’ and in particular by the way she explores the notion of the abject; that which is of us, but which the body casts off.
“I” do not want to listen, “I” do not assimilate it. “I” expel it. But since the food is not an “other” for “me,” who am only in their desire, I expel myself, I spit myself out, I abject myself with the same motion through which “I” claim to establish myself. That detail, perhaps an insignificant one, but one that they ferret out, emphasize, evaluate, that trifle turns me inside out, guts sprawling; it is thus that they see the “I” am in the process of becoming an other at the expense of my own death.
Justin Park’s wonderful cover design of I Spit Myself Out perfectly captures Kristeva’s idea of the difficulties that arise when we separate ourselves from what we abject. In this collection I wanted to look at these liminal areas of the female body – the skin as membrane, abraded and permeated, eating disorders that purge the body, and, of course, blood rituals that mark the passage of the body from puberty to menopause.
Ancillary to this was my own cultural background of Irish Catholicism and its problematic attitudes to the female body. So this collection is also rife with images of miraculous cures, stigmata, statues, stained glass, and shrines. It also betrays my interest in both forensics (explored in the story ‘The Wrong Ones’) and morbid anatomy (as featured in ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’). The final font of inspiration for this collection was the troubled relationship between the body and the mind. Characters in I Spit Myself Out inhabit an uneasy world where their bodies become theatres of pain, places that play out the tension between the expectations of society, the desire to conform, and the rebellious refusal to do so.
Like Connie Ramos, like Offred, like the unnamed narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the women of I Spit Myself Out face their anxieties about what it is to be female, they find their voices, and, ultimately, they spit their stories out.
I Spit Myself Out, About –
Eighteen unsettling narratives map the female experience from puberty to menopause.
I Spit Myself Out is a collection of female-voiced stories exploring the terror that lurks beneath the surface of the skin. In this collection, an Anatomical Venus opens to display her organs, clients of a mysterious clinic disappear one by one, a police investigation reveals family secrets, revenge is inked in the skin, and bodies pulsate in the throes of illness, childbirth and religious ritual.
Disturbing and provoking in equal turns, I Spit Myself Out reinvents the body as a breeding ground of terrors that resurface inexorably in the present.
Her new collection, I Spit Myself Outis published by the Sinister Horror Company in February 2021.
You can read another article by Tracy, about Doppelgangers, which she wrote for this site last year, HERE.
I’ll be celebrating #WomeninHorror and #BlackHistoryMonth in both February and March specifically here, but also still promoting #WomeninHistory month which is March as well. But you know me, I promote women and diversity all year long anyway. But feel free to follow along on my page for Women in Horror for this special honorary time.
As I’ve mentioned several times this year already, 2020 was a dry desert as far as new writing from me after the four years before that increasingly produced all types of work from short stories to poetry. It was just a hard year for everyone, and our home was no less struck in certain ways. On a positive, I also had a lot of work come in as far as editing as well, but it did limit my writing time as much of my free time went to family situations.
I did write a couple poems in 2020, and two I’m proud of were published on the Spreading the Writer’s Word website, during the monthly Ladies of Horror Fiction writing prompt project. I wanted to share them here with my followers as well as mention that they are two of my poems eligible for the Science Fiction Poetry Association’s annual Rhysling Award. I would be happy for any fellow SFPA members and readers to also give them a read for consideration. I’ve been enjoying reading through all the posted eligible works myself in the last few months.
But my hope is for all to enjoy my celestial thoughts and mind. Let me know if you liked them! And keep your eyes peeled because I’m writing more already in 2021, as least poetry wise, and I have plans to publish some of my work from the stacks I wrote in 2019! I hope that my writing freeze is over, but keep the inspiration and motivation coming please!
Tentacled Stars and Madness
I twisted the handle, and I floated toward the stars, toward the particles, toward the tiny fires, and I landed with one foot upon the twinkling glow.
I outstretched my arm to the abyss, and a tentacle clasped my hand, and I laughed, being pulled away into the midnight expanse of iridescent nothingness
or is it encompassing, life painted as a cerebral hemorrhage, an image emblazoned on our mind of what God is or the gods are, of our existence.
I rotate through the soft air, looking upward from my back as the sky creature pulls me toward oblivion, as if I don’t even care to know where I go, but enjoy the spontaneity.
The symbols etched in the stars as I go by – I finger them, the runes of the galaxy; my brain on fire, each synapse bursting open, and yet, I’m unburdened.
In its lair, finally, it wraps its long arms around me and crushes, bright lights flash before me, around me, my mind downloading all of humanity’s curses and wishes,
I’m gone, floating in some communal stomach cavity, disintegrating to smaller pieces, but becoming part of a bigger cosmos we could only dream of understanding…
…from our tiny window below.
–Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi / Nov 2020
If interested, I also had another prose poem on Spreading the Writer’s Word that would be eligible as well. I was able to write it to my good friend and exceptional poet Christina Sng’s beautiful artwork.
The night was chilly. Foggy. I pulled my wrap tighter around my shoulders as I rocked in my chair and watched my daughters from the porch.
They traveled, little feet and big minds, down the valley and through the woods, then up the mountain. We lived in this place where anything could be imagined, except health.
They were in search of miracles in the twinkling, night sky. Even the cat, who had tagged along behind them knew to look above to the skies and ask the right questions, fib the right lies.
Summoning gods or demons or angels or creatures, they had no preference. Brave souls with hearts like a fortress and energy like a magnet. The clouds swirled above and the fog dissipated below, and the sounds of far off waves suddenly became war drums.
My young ladies, my hope, my solace, plead in our tongue to the blackened sky that was illuminated by an unnatural light. Asked for their life-giver to be spared the disease of this Earth, to endeavor together to another vastly realm where resolute ladies (and their cats, their protectors) reigned immortal.
Where no tears were cried for death or cough, no graves buried or mourning of loss. Where people worked and lived with passion and grace, mercy and empathy, a true human race.
–Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi / 2020
If you’re interested in the SFPA, click to get details, or HERE, to learn about Rhysling and other awards.
This seems THE year for female spy novels in the historical fiction genre! And I, for one, am loving it. In that vein, it’s cover reveal day for CLEVER GIRL by Stephanie Thornton. Stephanie had been one of my favorite authors for many years. You’ll find it here below; isn’t it amazing!?
Available September 2021, this is, according to Stephanie, “Elizabeth Bentley’s wild ride of a spy-turned-informer story.”
A thrilling tale of love, loyalty, and espionage, based on the incredible true story of Elizabeth Bentley, a Cold War double agent spying for the Russians and the United States, from USA Today bestselling author Stephanie Marie Thornton.
1963: Reeling from the death of her mother and President Kennedy’s assassination, Catherine Gray shows up on Elizabeth Bentley’s doorstep demanding answers to the shocking mystery just uncovered about her family. What she doesn’t expect is for Bentley to ensnare her in her own story of becoming a controversial World War II spy and Cold War informer…
Recruited by the American Communist Party to spy on fascists at the outbreak of World War II, a young Bentley–code name Clever Girl–finds she has an unexpected gift for espionage. But after falling desperately in love with her handler, Elizabeth makes another unexpected discovery when she learns her lover is actually a Russian spy. Together, they will build the largest Soviet spy network in America and Elizabeth will become its uncrowned Red Spy Queen. However, once the war ends and the U.S. and U.S.S.R. become embroiled in the Cold War, it is Elizabeth who will dangerously clash with the NKVD, the brutal Soviet espionage agency.
As Catherine listens to Elizabeth’s harrowing tale, she empathizes with her, that is, until she uncovers startling revelations that link the two women’s lives in shocking ways. Faced with the idea that her entire existence is based on a lie, Catherine realizes there can be many sides to the truth. And only Elizabeth Bentley can tell her what that truth really is.
I have some exciting news and a really cool announcement for my fellow women in horror! There is an exciting project, headed by horror reviewer and freelance writer Andrew Fowlow, in which you can buy some super cool women in horror merchandise all for a great cause, in order to offer a scholarship and in-kind editing and marketing gifts to help a woman in horror pursue her writing and publication efforts, and beyond that, to help spread the word about the mighty power that is indie horror!
Andrew is here at Hook of a Book to introduce himself to us and explain the fundraiser and scholarship. Those of you who know me know that after my ten years in the genre as an editor, author, PR professional, and more in the horror genre that I wouldn’t be partnering with Andrew if I didn’t believe in his energy, enthusiasm, and heart for the community as well as his skills, drive, and desire to help others. As well, of course, I believe in his professional skills he’s honing not only as a freelance writer, but someone who is learning and excelling in the ropes of marketing. Andrew writes for various publications such as Lit Reactor and HorrorDNA, among others. The horror newsletter he’s recently started for the genre is amazing and sign-up MUST for anyone (you’ll find that link below).
And finally, I am really happy to see in the last few years the amount of men who are stepping up in horror to support women in horror. When we all support and respect one another, the community flourishes.
Now that I’ve introduced Andrew, I’ll let him have the floor…..
Indie Horror Fundraiser and Scholarship for Women in Horror by Andrew Fowlow, The Book Dad
If you don’t know me, my name is Andrew, otherwise known as ‘The Book Dad,’ and I am a reviewer of horror fiction. It is my intent to support those in the #HorrorCommunity anyway I can while on my literary journey to reading all things terrifying and suspenseful!
As you know, it’s #WiHM (Women in Horror Month) and I wanted to do something special for our ladies of the macabre! I created a RedBubble store with a few designs for folks to show off their love for HORROR FICTION! There are stickers, to be read (tbr) cart magnets, mugs, t-shirts, you name it.
ALL MONEY EARNED IN FEBRUARY AND MARCH WILL GO TOWARDS A FEMALE HORROR WRITER TO HELP FUND THEIR NEXT PROJECT!!
I want to help a woman in horror get their book in readers’ hands. That could mean splurging on a fancy cover, getting a Horror Writer’s Association (HWA) membership, funding an audiobook, WHATEVER THEY WANT!
In addition, FREE EDITING PACKAGE:
The lovely Erin Al-Mehairi from Hook of a Book Media has graciously offered a free developmental and copy editing of a book 100k words or less (over is negotiable) for the chosen writer (with minor guidelines such as when the editing is negotiated for would be based on her current client schedule). This is a huge savings and you will receive an edit from a known and established editor in the genre.
In addition, also, FREE MARKETING PACKAGE:
I, The Book Dad, will also offer up my time to assist with the following:
✅ Marketing Strategies
✅ Full Media Kit
✅ Press Releases
✅ Website/Landing Page
✅ Social Media Campaigns
I invite any female horror writer to email me: Andrewfowlow@gmail.com with their details and a brief pitch telling me what they are working on. Please, don’t be shy. I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! Throughout the next two months, I will run a social media campaign to decide on a winner so keep watch. This will be a fun opportunity and I’m excited to connect with you all!
Thank you so much to Andrew for running with this idea to help a woman a horror. I’m happy to be a part of it and good luck! Get those pitches in to Andrew for consideration and watch social media for more about the giveaway.
Remember to showcase those women in horror you love each and every day!
As you’ve probably seen, read, or assumed, I’m going to start using my site more often again, offering you content I hope you enjoy. It’s been ten years with this Oh, for the Hook of a Book! site, and to those subscribers who’ve been with me a number of years, to those who’ve followed my writing journey or book talk, I’m so grateful. Thank you!
With that in mind, I’m also going to start sharing some more of my own work again. I’d really love to hear from you on my writing, or any posts really, in the comments. And feel free to let me know what’s new with you too and point me in the direction of one of your posts to read as well. I’d like to limit my social media use and create and reconnect lasting and living connections through other means.
February brings about Women in Horror Month, and I’ll have some content on my site in celebration of that, but you all know I promote women in any genre and any form all year long. It’s evident on this site for one. One of the groups I like to be involved with is a ladies in horror writing group. Each month we are given photo prompts and we write poetry or flash fiction inspired by it. The support of these ladies is amazing. And it really keeps me writing some months! You’ll find a wealth of women in horror to read or discover on this site.
Beneath the Surface of Us All by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi
She has no cares for earthly exploration whether land or water. Mired with no focus, her mind races with anxiety and pain and chaos enough to fire several universes. She floats through life peering through blinking eyelashes and wondering about the tangible dirt most people grab and can feel running through their fingers. She’s been freed from topography constraints and has submerged into a realm saved for a chosen few in which maps aren’t needed, time doesn’t exist, and movements are fluid.
But she’s cold. Cold of heart, stoic of mind, narrow in her observations. It’s a dichotomy but it’s also a trauma effect. She needs my warmth, my clarity. When I reach out my hand to her, she touches only my fingers briefly and I shiver as electrons shoot up inside me. In her own quest for feeling, she opens the darkest places within me, pulls and widens and prods, but I’m not fearful, as instead I crave it.
I start to question my own world, my life, my surrounding stimuli. I sink into her. And then, she opens her maw, and she eats me whole.
End / Erin Al-Mehairi, Copyright January 2021
You can read many other free poetry and flash fiction by amazing women twice daily most days, at Spreading the Writer’s Word! Thank you to Erin Lydia Prime, Nina d’Archangela, and all the sisterly writing support found at the Facebook group of Ladies of Horror.
Stay tuned for interviews, reviews, and guest articles from women in horror in February for the 12th Annual Women in Horror Month as well as people of color for black history and appreciation month. If you’d like to be considered for inclusion, please let me know!
I am a professional journalist, writer, editor, publicist and marketing and public relations professional, and former podcast co-host, with bachelor degrees in Journalism, English, and History. I have over twenty-seven years experience in a wide variety of areas in my fields and I own/operate Addison's Compass Public Relations (11 years) and Hook of a Book Media (10 years).
I'm the author of Breathe. Breathe., a dark poetry and fiction collection, published by Unnerving 2017, which debuted at #2 on the Amazon best-selling paid charts right behind NYT best-selling author Rupi Kaur's newest release and in the Amazon paid top five of horror short stories. This was the extended edition, following a sold out print chapbook special edition. My poems and stories have been in multiple anthologies and print and e-zines.
In addition to publishing Breathe. Breathe., I also have a story in the anthology Hardened Hearts, called "The Heart of the Orchard." My story from Breathe. Breathe., "Dandelion Yellow," has also been re-printed in Project Entertainment Network's anthology My Favorite Story. My poem "Chained by Love," was featured in the February 2018 issue of Enchanted Conversation: a fairy tale magazine. In the anthology Dark Voices, an all female TOC published in 2018 with proceeds going to breast cancer awareness, I have a poem called "Wrapped in Battle." In 2018, I also spent time as a co-editor on a Gothic anthology Haunted Are These Houses. 2019 saw several poems published in The Siren's Call Magazine, a short story called "Mia" in the print magazine Outpost 28 which came out on Halloween 2019, and a long fiction story with six other authors in the anthology 7 Deadly Sins of the Apocalypse which debuted at #1 paid on Amazon best-seller list for horror anthologies when it published at the end of Sept. 2019. In late 2020, I had a story in the charity anthology We Are Wolves published by Burial Day, which is an anthology raising funds for women of sexual assault.
I have several books, collections, and poems in various genres in process and hope to get a lot more of my own writing completed within the next year.
I run Hook of a Book Media in which I specialize in public relations (PR) and marketing for authors in many forms, as well as work as a writing coach and editor. For three years I was an editor at Sinister Grin Press and also performed marketing and publishing duties. Currently, I assist Raw Dog Screaming Press with PR/publicity (3 years running) in addition to my Hook of a Book clients and I am a freelance editor for many authors in various genres.
I also have always volunteered in my community (spending 15 continuous years on various board of directors and trustees) and most recently spent two years as President of the Board of Directors for a growing mental health center and rape crisis domestic violence haven. I've won a Woman of Achievement Award from my community, been featured in Success Magazine, and was the Young Careerist of the Year Representative for the State of Ohio to the Business and Professional Women National Conference.
I have way too much going on and my head is often in the clouds. I have three children - in college, high school, and middle school - and a cat that thinks it's all about him. I love books, reading, writing, art, photography, and hiking. I really enjoy the outdoors, mostly because I can escape for bit. I live in rural Ohio nestled in the forest.