Monthly Archives: March 2014

Celebrating Women Series: David Berger on the Iconic Wonder Woman

Welcome to the ninth article in the “Celebrating Women” Series for Women’s History Month! It’s the first time I’ve coordinated an author guest article series to celebrate women in history or women making history! Thank you to David Berger for offering the ninth article in this series. If you’d like to continue on with the tour, which runs March 19-31, 2014, follow along each day on the main blog or head to this blog page, Women in History, which will be updated daily with the scheduled link.


Wonder Woman–A Model of Strength and Courage for Women for 75 Years!
by author David Berger


Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman

With this being Women’s History Month, I’d like to focus attention on one woman whose influence on women has continued consistently for 75 years—Wonder Woman! Since her first appearance in 1941, she has been the quintessential female comic book character for many reasons, and her effect on others has lasted through multiple incarnations and eras.

Whether she was a World War II heroine or a 1970s feminist or a 21st century badass warrior, Princess Diana of Paradise Island has always resonated with readers, and with women, she has held particular sway, indirectly or directly. She even figured on Ms. magazine’s premiere issue in July 1972 with the caption “Wonder Woman for President.”

To have made such a presence in the non-comic book world (appearing on a mainstream magazine cover) certainly shows how this fictional character has influenced the public consciousness.

From my experience reading comics as well as knowing many women who read them as well, I have noticed how they have embraced the varying aspects of this comic book character (created by a man, William Moulton Marston, by the way). Of all the qualities this character has, the most relevant has been her strength, and not just physical strength either.

Many of my female friends see Wonder Woman as extremely relevant to them, especially when it comes to holding their own in a “Man’s World,” so to speak. Some occasionally wear a WW icon or slogan on their clothing while others do the ever-popular “bullets-and-bracelets” pose (voicing “ka-ching ka-ching” to simulate bullets bouncing off bracelets) when asked how they handle the daily issues that come their way. And what woman wouldn’t want a Lasso of Truth to use with her children or even her significant other? I’ve actually heard women comment to me how handy that tool would be in finding the underlying cause of issues.


The idea that women can stand toe to toe with their XY-chromosomal counterparts has been a cultural issue for centuries, but nowadays, with women’s issues being in the news as much as they have, I have seen more and more women taking a stand in politics and women’s issues, namely reproductive rights, pay equity, healthcare costs, to name a few. Anyone who knows who Wonder Woman is would certainly agree that she would most assuredly stand with her sisters in the outside world to ensure they received equality. When women assert themselves, many times they receive the moniker of “Amazon” simply because they’re showing their strength.

Popular culture has shown that the enduring qualities of the Amazing Amazon have left an indelible imprint on both men and women, through art, television, inspiring shows like the Bionic Woman, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xena: Warrior Princess, etc., (and most people still associate actress Lynda Carter with Wonder Woman, having seen the image of that iconic costume somewhere), literature and comics, cosmetics (the MAC Wonder Woman collection, for one), clothing (comic-inspired attire as well as the Diane von Furstenberg collection inspired by the comic character), and music (the television show theme is still recognizable today).


Wonder Woman has “encourage[d] women to stand up for themselves, to learn to fight, and be strong, so they don’t have to be scared, or depend on men” according to her creator, William Moulton Marston. According to Phillip Charles Crawford in his article, “The Legacy of Wonder Woman” in the School Library Journal, “The best Wonder Woman stories inspire us to imagine a more egalitarian world and encourage us to become agents of social change. They have the power to inspire girls (and boys) to become heroes in their own lives.”

And, they do indeed inspire. This woman who espouses compassion, wisdom, love, and peace has endured since 1941, and she will always be relevant as a standard for women (and men).

David Berger, Biography~

DBFeb2014 copyAn English teacher for over 20 years, David Berger has also published two novels in his mythic fantasy series, Task Force: Gaea, and is working on his third.
A comic book aficionado and sushi lover, he currently lives in Land O’ Lakes, FL with his partner Gavi and their two cats.
Find out more on David and his books at:


During the age of Olympos, when a vengeful goddess shatters the Sacred Scales, both immortals and humans alike suffer. Apollo becomes a victim of Zeus’ wrath, and his existential journey takes him to many places and times. The Fates direct his course, and he must make difficult, yet vital, choices.

TFGCoverwSwordMillennia pass, and Dan, Aleta, Brandon, and Sarah—four reluctant modern-day heroes gifted by the gods—bound by prophecy, have to choose whether or not to save their world when it could mean they never existed. They must battle against forces from the Underworld and repair the Sacred Scales. With the equilibrium between Order and Chaos unhinged, these four must ally themselves with the United Nations to protect an endangered world, becoming the only group who can fight against metaphysical threats to the Earth, forging Task Force: Gaea.

Can mortals succeed where gods cannot go?


For Aegis, Zodiak, Aether, and Talon, operatives in the United Nations Task Force: Gaea, life should have returned to normal after they restored the cosmic balance, but because of the intervention of the Fates, they would never remember what life was like before. With the true history unfolding, paranoia dominates and tight-fisted governments mandate control through a pervasive military presence, DNA scans, and surveillance cameras.

MCCover_doneA new mission arises for Task Force: Gaea when an ancient cloudlike evil referred to in prophecy only as The Nebulous One emerges from Tartaros, with the intention of devouring the Olympeian gods. But, before she can find them, all of the gods but Apollo have disappeared. Leaving chaos and human corpses in her wake, she oozes her way across the globe to satisfy her hunger. Apollo will not face this threat alone, and it then becomes a race: will he and Task Force: Gaea find and vanquish this primordial goddess without falling prey to her power before she finds the gods?

Aegis and his teammates have to battle personal demons in the form of potent memories that could jeopardize their mission’s success and could mean the end of their team. Starting in antiquity and moving to the modern day, this epic battle between good and evil leaves both immortal and mortal alike wondering whether memory can be a blessing… or a curse.

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Celebrating Women Series: Stephanie Dray on Cleopatra Selene

Welcome to the eighth article in the “Celebrating Women” Series for Women’s History Month! It’s the first time I’ve coordinated an author guest article series to celebrate women in history or women making history! Thank you to Stephanie Dray for offering the eighth article in this series. Article nine will post later today as well. If you’d like to continue on with the tour, which runs March 19-31, 2014, follow along each day on the main blog or head to this blog page, Women in History, which will be updated daily with the scheduled link.


Would  Cleopatra Selene Have Considered Herself to be Egyptian?
by historical and fantasy author Stephanie Dray

One of the criticisms most often leveled at my Nile series is that because the Ptolemaic Dynasty considered itself Macedonian Greek, the emphasis I place on Egyptian culture–and Cleopatra Selene’s awareness of it–is somehow historically inaccurate or anachronistic.

I believe this criticism is made primarily by people who correctly understand that Cleopatra the Great, Selene’s mother, was not a black African queen in the tradition of the Kandake of Meroe. And by people who also correctly surmise that Cleopatra the Great is unlikely to have appeared to her subjects wearing exotic Old Kingdom garb in the fashion of Elizabeth Taylor in the Hollywood movie.

How Cleopatra Selene would have NOT probably dressed….


But to attempt to disassociate Cleopatra VII and her children from the Egyptian kingdom they ruled is to overlook a great deal of historical evidence. First of all, to characterize a woman whose family had not only lived in Egypt for nearly three hundred years, but ruled over it all that time, as somehow not Egyptian strikes me as absurd. (Pity poor Americans who identify as such with so much less history.) But even if one were to grant the argument that the Ptolemaic Dynasty held themselves apart from the subjects over which they ruled (because they did), that trend took an abrupt turn with Cleopatra the Great, who took affirmative steps to identify as Egyptian.

Cleopatra Selene’s mother was the first in her line to learn the native language. She identified herself not simply as philopater (lover of her father) but as philopatris (lover of her nation). She participated in native Egyptian religious rituals and had herself carved in relief in the old Egyptian style at Dendera. There is a chance, as explored in Professor Duane Roller’s excellent biography, that Cleopatra the Great herself may have had some small admixture of native Egyptian blood in her heritage. And even if she did not, evidence exists that Cleopatra Selene herself had a dearly loved cousin, Petubastes, who was half Ptolemaic and half of the native Egyptian priestly caste. (Roller, Cleopatra: A Biography, p. 166).

Cleopatra Selene is more likely to have dressed like this…


The fact was, times were changing, and Selene spent her childhood in a war-torn court where a national identity as Egyptians was important as it had never been important before. Her mother called upon Egypt to help her in her fight against Octavian’s Roman forces, and sought out Eastern allies even over more obvious Macedonian-Greek ones. While Cleopatra the Great certainly portrayed herself on coins as a Hellenistic queen, she was not averse to costuming, whether it was to portray herself as Venus, or Isis, or a pharaoh…an Egyptian title that she wanted, and took, for herself. Selene’s mother was, in short, a woman who always remembered her audience, and appeared as would most benefit her under the circumstances.

All this means that Selene did not grow up in a Macedonian bubble. The influences that show themselves in the city Selene built and coins she minted are a carefully cultivated mix of Macedonian-Greek and Egyptian.

There can be no question that Cleopatra Selene identified strongly with her Macedonian heritage. That she would have considered herself a champion of Hellenism. That she was desperate to maintain her tie to a dynasty that went back to the days of Alexander the Great and claimed kinship to him. All of that is in the books.

But so too did Cleopatra Selene see herself as the Queen of Egypt in exile.

Reasonable people can debate the extent to which Cleopatra Selene may have personally identified with the Egyptians, their religion, and their motifs. But there is no question that she did.

Author Stephanie Dray, Biography~

Stephanie-Dray-Headshot-smallerStephanie graduated with a degree in Government from Smith, a small women’s college in Massachusetts where—to the consternation of her devoted professors—she was unable to master Latin. However, her focus on Middle Eastern Studies gave her a deeper understanding of the consequences of Egypt’s ancient clash with Rome, both in terms of the still-extant tensions between East and West as well as the worldwide decline of female-oriented religion.

Before she wrote novels, Stephanie was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the transformative power of magic realism to illuminate the stories of women in history and inspire the young women of today.

She remains fascinated by all things Roman or Egyptian and has—to the consternation of her devoted husband—collected a house full of cats and ancient artifacts.

To read more about Stephanie, or her novels,

dotnDaughters of the Nile, Synopsis~

  • Series: Novel of Cleopatra’s Daughter
  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade (December 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 042525836X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425258361

Based on the true story of Cleopatra’s daughter…

After years of abuse as the emperor’s captive in Rome, Cleopatra Selene has found a safe harbor. No longer the pitiful orphaned daughter of the despised Egyptian Whore, the twenty year old is now the most powerful queen in the empire, ruling over the kingdom of Mauretania—an exotic land of enchanting possibility where she intends to revive her dynasty.

With her husband, King Juba II and the magic of Isis that is her birthright, Selene brings prosperity and peace to a kingdom thirsty for both. But when Augustus Caesar jealously demands that Selene’s children be given over to him to be fostered in Rome, she’s drawn back into the web of imperial plots and intrigues that she vowed to leave behind.

Determined and resourceful, Selene must shield her loved ones from the emperor’s wrath, all while vying with ruthless rivals like King Herod. Can she find a way to overcome the threat to her marriage, her kingdom, her family, and her faith? Or will she be the last of her line?


GoodReads Link and Reviews:

Check out the first two in the series also, Lily of the Nile and Song of the Nile!


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Queen Elizabeth’s Daughter by Anne Clinard Barnhill is Entertaining Tudor Novel

Queen Elizabeths DaughterI took a little road trip this weekend, and as I was the passenger I had the perk of getting a lot of reading done. A book I dove into on this trip, and a little late into the night at the hotel when I should have been resting, was Anne Clinard Barnhill’s Queen Elizabeth’s Daughter. It’s a novel of Queen Elizabeth I, but actually it’s mostly a novel of Mary Shelton, her lady-in-waiting, second cousin, and ward.

I immediately got lost in the easy ebb and flow of Anne’s words across the page and her story of Mary. Juxtaposed with a story line told from the Queen’s point of view, it gives us a look into the thoughts of the two women in relation to how Mary is treated and the goings on of the time period. Elizabeth took Mary on as her ward, as was the law, when her two parents died. However, Elizabeth doted on Mary, sometimes much to Mary’s chagrin as she barely was able to have any life of her own, let alone date or marry who she wanted.

Anne’s offers exquisite detail and always sets her scenes visually so that as you read it feels as if you were transported in time and are viewing the novel through the eyes of the protagonist, Mary. She had good and authentic character development as she takes on Mary’s need to please and respect Elizabeth amid her own desires to rebel and live an independent life and as well writes Elizabeth’s character in a way that shows her struggle between being kind and and loving, as a mother, and strong-willed with an iron fist. Elizabeth’s paranoia and desire to keep only those loyal around her is much understood due to her upbringing, yet we see in this novel how that impacts others.

Though there are a lot of Tudor era novels on the market, I particularly enjoy those that utilize sub-family members, friends, court, and staff in order to tell us more about how the Tudor rule impacted all the people around them. In that regard, this book on Mary was unique to me and I enjoyed reading of what her life might have been like. Full of emotion and with easy to read dialogue and plot, this book was entertaining and a breeze to finish.

Anyone who likes Tudor era books with light prose that isn’t heavy or dreary, this book is definitely for you. I bet it will be one of the best books of that sub-genre to publish this year. I know it will be one of my favorite Tudor-era historical novels for its excellent writing, flowing style, intricate and visual detail, and strong character development and emotional connections.

Queen Elizabeth’s Daughter, Synopsis~

Queen Elizabeths DaughterPublication Date: March 18, 2014
St. Martin’s Griffin
Paperback; 320p
ISBN-10: 0312662122

Mistress Mary Shelton is Queen Elizabeth’s favorite ward, enjoying every privilege the position affords. The queen loves Mary like a daughter, and, like any good mother, she wants her to make a powerful match. The most likely prospect: Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. But while Oxford seems to be everything the queen admires: clever, polished and wealthy, Mary knows him to be lecherous, cruel, and full of treachery. No matter how hard the queen tries to push her into his arms, Mary refuses.

Instead, Mary falls in love with a man who is completely unsuitable. Sir John Skydemore is a minor knight with little money, a widower with five children. Worst of all, he’s a Catholic at a time when Catholic plots against Elizabeth are rampant. The queen forbids Mary to wed the man she loves. When the young woman, who is the queen’s own flesh and blood, defies her, the couple finds their very lives in danger as Elizabeth’s wrath knows no bounds.

Buy the Book~

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository
Author Anne Clinard Barnhill, Biography~

Anne Clinard BarnhillAnne Clinard Barnhill has been writing or dreaming of writing for most of her life. For the past twenty years, she has published articles, book and theater reviews, poetry, and short stories. Her first book, AT HOME IN THE LAND OF OZ, recalls what it was like growing up with an autistic sister. Her work has won various awards and grants.

Barnhill holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Besides writing, Barnhill also enjoys teaching, conducting writing workshops, and facilitating seminars to enhance creativity.

She loves spending time with her three grown sons and their families. For fun, she and her husband of thirty years, Frank, take long walks and play bridge. In rare moments, they dance.

For more information, please visit Anne Clinard Barnhill’s website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Tour Schedule:
Tour Hashtag: #QueenElizabethsDaughterTour

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Celebrating Women Series: Eva Stachniak on Catherine the Great as a Grandmother

Welcome to the seventh article in the “Celebrating Women” for Women’s History Month! It’s the first time I’ve coordinated an author guest article series to celebrate women in history or women making history! Thank you to Eva Stachniak for offering the seventh article in this series. If you’d like to continue on with the tour, which runs March 19-31, 2014, follow along each day on the main blog or head to this blog page, Women in History, which will be updated daily with the scheduled link.


Catherine the Great:  Doting Grandmother in Her Later Years
by Eva Stachniak, Internationally Best Selling Historical Author

Old-Catherine-the-Great-PortraitCatherine the Great was not a happy mother. Her children were taken away from her as soon as they were born and she was not allowed to spend much time with them or to make any decisions about their upbringing. Her first-born, Paul, eight when Catherine became empress, and by then spoilt by his aunt, Elizabeth Petrovna, was always estranged from his mother. Catherine’s daughter, Anna, died in infancy, and her love child with Orlov, Alexei Bobrinsky, whom Catherine brought to the palace after the 19762 coup, did not live up to his mother’s expectations.

It was with her grandchildren that Catherine discovered the joys of parenthood. Her first grandson, Alexander, was always her most beloved, although she spent as much effort in bringing up his brother, Constantine. Accounts from the Russian court paint touching pictures: the Empress of Russia getting herself down on the floor to play with her grandsons, the empress designing her grandson’s play clothes, and—the most important—supervising their education.

How did she want her grandchildren educated? Children—Catherine believed—should be brought up according to the principles of reason. They should be able to ask questions freely and not to be ridiculed or punished when they made mistakes. Their natural curiosity should be fostered daily, their playtime should be both useful and fun. The education of princes could not neglect Russia’s political plans, either. Alexander had to be taught politics and economics. He had to be trained how to be a leader and an orator, a man able to talk with peoples from all walks of life.  Constantine, meant to rule the future Russian Eastern Empire from Constantinople, had to speak Greek, and thus had a Greek nanny.

Did it work? Not quite. Constantine did learn Greek but his own volatile nature made him unsuitable for leading Russia when an opportunity presented itself. With Alexandre, so carefully groomed to take over the throne of Russia, this liberal and progressive education also had an unforeseen effect. To Catherine’s bemusement, in 1795, the year when she was hoping Alexander would agree to be named her successor instead of his father, her beloved grandson replied that he wished to denounce his rights to the Russian throne altogether. He wished to withdraw to the country and cultivate his garden. Catherine, to her credit, listened to these youthful dreams with patience. She was convinced that her arguments and the reality of Alexander’s obligations will win over youthful idealism.

She was right, though not in the way she had planned it.

Author Eva Stachniak, Biography (in her words)~

EStachniakLQI was born and raised in Wrocław, Poland. English is my second language although, thanks to my wonderful and far-sighted mother, I began learning it in early childhood.

In Poland I was an academic, teaching in the English Department of the University of Wrocław. In the summer of 1981, on the eve of Solidarity crisis I received a scholarship to McGill University where I began working on my PhD dissertation, Positive Philosophy of Exile in Stefan Themerson’s Fiction (defended in 1988.)

In 1984-86 I worked for Radio Canada International, the Polish Section, in Montreal, writing and producing radio programs about Canada. In 1988 I joined the faculty of Sheridan College(Oakville, Ontario) where I taught English and humanities courses until 2007.

It is in Canada that I became a writer. My first short story, “Marble Heroes,” was published by the Antigonish Review in 1994, and my debut novel, Necessary Lies , won the in CanadaFirst Novel Award in 2000.

The Winter Palace, based on the early life of Catherine the Great, has been a bestseller in Canada, Poland and Germany and was included in The Washington Post’s 2011 list of most notable fiction and Oprah Magazine’s “10 Titles to Pick Up Now” in 2102.

I live in Toronto. My second historical novel about Catherine the Great, Empress of the Night, will be published in March 25, 2014 in the United States.

To learn more about Eva,  her books, contact her for your book club meeting (she does Skype!!), then go to:

Empress of the Night, Synopsis~

HR-Empress-CA-coverThe Winter Palace brilliantly reimagined the rise of Catherine the Great through the watchful eyes of her clever servant, Varvara. Now, in Eva Stachniak’s enthralling new novel, Empress of the Night, Catherine takes center stage as she relives her astonishing ascension to the throne, her rule over an empire, and the sacrifices that made her the most feared and commanding woman of her time.

“We quarrel about power, not about love,” Catherine would write to the great love of her life, Grigory Potemkin, but her days were balanced on the razor’s edge of choosing her head over her heart. Power, she will learn, is about resolve, strategy, and direction; love must sometimes be secondary as she marshals all her strengths to steer her volatile country into a new century and beyond—to grow the Romanov Empire, to amass a vast fortune, and to control a scheming court in order to become one of history’s greatest rulers.

Gorgeously written with vivid detail and lyrical prose, Empress of the Night is an intensely intimate novel of a woman in charge of her fortunes, who must navigate the sorrows, triumphs, and hopes of both her soul and a nation.

Praise for Empress of the Night~

…ambitious…structurally complex and psychologically intense Empress of the Night aims for Hilary Mantel. Stachniak’s writing is distinct, however, especially in vivid description of sensory details: perfume, sweat and the click of heels on polished floorboards.

Quill & Quire (Canada)

Empress of the Night … casts light on Catherine’s life with unflinching honesty and intimacy. This fun novel of lovers, intrigue and malicious and manipulative nobility keeps readers enthralled with every page…

Virtuoso Life Magazine (US)

Stachniak’s absorbing novel opens readers’ hearts to an extraordinary and misunderstood woman …wonderfully written, Stachniak’s story vibrates with passion, drama, and intrigue. This is a feast for fans.

Romantic Times Magazine (US)

…historical fiction fans will appreciate this personal account of a formidable and, indeed, infamous ruler.

Library Journal (US)

Empress of the Night will be published by Doubleday in Canada and Bantam in the U.S. on March 25th 2015. In the UK, Australia, and New Zealand Empress of the Night will be available as an e-book, published by Traverse Press.

And if you are interested in the first book……

The Winter Palace, Synopsis~

US_winterpalaceBehind every great ruler lies a betrayal. Eva Stachniak’s novel sweeps readers into the passionate, intimate, and treacherous world of Catherine the Great, revealing Russia’s greatest monarch from her earliest days in court, where the most valuable currency was the secrets of nobility and the most dangerous weapon to wield was ambition.

Two young women, caught in the landscape of shifting allegiances, navigate the treacherous waters of palace intrigue. Barbara, the narrator, is a servant who will become one of Russia’s most cunning royal spies. Sophie is a naive German duchess who will become Catherine the Great. For readers of superb historical fiction, Eva Stachniak captures in glorious detail the opulence of royalty and the perilous loyalties of the Russian court.

The Winter Palace came out Fall of 2012 (Bantam US) and is available everywhere.

To read previous articles in this series and to follow-along, click here:



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Celebrating Women Series: Nassem Al-Mehairi Talks about Margaret Hardenbroeck Philipse-“The She-Merchant Of New York”

Welcome to the sixth article in the “Celebrating Women” for Women’s History Month! It’s my first series (author guest article series) to celebrate women in history or women making history! Thank you to Nassem Al-Mehairi for offering the sixth article in this series. If you’d like to continue on with the tour, which runs March 19-31, 2014, follow along each day on the main blog or head to this blog page, Women in History, which will be updated daily with the scheduled link.


Margaret Hardenbroeck Philipse, otherwise called The She-Merchant of New York:
How She Became the Richest Woman in New York Circa Mid-1650s New Amsterdam (Present Day New York)

by Nassem Al-Mehairi, writer and currently authoring an historical novel on Baron Resolved Waldron

Margaret Hardenbroeck Philipse. That’s a name you may not have heard of before, but she was one of the most successful businesswomen to ever live in the Americas!

Margaret Hardenbroeck Philipse was born in 1630. Little is known of her early life, but Margaret is thought to have received some education, as the Dutch were the only ones who provided primary education for females in Europe during the 1600’s.Margaret, brought up in a time when the Reformed Church advocated for equality for women and more liberal views were held by Dutch society toward women’s rights, brought these to the New World.

At the age of 22, in 1659, a determined Margaret came to New Amsterdam, the Dutch colony on Manhattan Island. Her job as a factor for her wealthy cousin allowed her to handle his New World affairs. She did not find working for others to her liking, so she began her own trading company.


The Philipse Manor in New York

Margaret, needing to build her alliances with others to expand her business, married a successful merchant named Peter de Vries. In Dutch law, there were 2 kinds of marriages: a manus, in where the woman became a legal minor under the “guardianship” of her husband, and a usus, where the wife retained all the rights a Dutch man would have. Margaret chose usus, which allowed her to continue to build her wealth.


Castello Plan Of New Amsterdam

 When Peter died in 1661, Margaret inherited his estate. This added his ships to hers and his power. By this time she was sending furs and other goods to the Netherlands and was acting as a middleman for valuable trade in New Amsterdam. The guilders were rolling in, and it was possible because of the Dutch culture which treated women much more fairly.

 In 1663, Margaret married a man by the name of Frederick Philipse. A self-made man, Frederick owned 52000 acres of land along the Hudson River and a huge mansion, Philipse Manor. This marriage grew Margaret’s power even further, to a point where it seemed she could not be stopped.

In August of 1664, the British seized New Amsterdam, and renamed it New York. The British were not nearly as liberal as the Dutch, especially on women’s rights. The British successfully kept down more and more ambitious women in the colony, but, as Margaret had built a vast trade empire already, they could not displace her.

As she kept her transatlantic trade empire flourishing, she had to “officially” start doing business in her husband’s name. The British stripped her of many of her rights, and she could no longer act as a legal agent or purchase goods herself. She worked the system to be able to continue her merchant business despite this, with the help of Frederick.


Map Of New Netherland.

Margaret retired from business in 1680, and her sons took over the trade empire. Her business continued to thrive, and kept her descendents at the top of New York society for 300 more years. Not until the American Revolution would women have the rights that Margaret had during the Dutch rule of Manhattan. She lived for 11 more years after this, until her death in 1691. At her death, she was the richest woman in New York.

Nassem Al-Mehairi, Biography~

20140104-183355Nassem Al-Mehairi was born in 1999. Possessing unique viewpoints due to his heritage and the times, he is well-suited to understand the solutions to modern issues, such as domestic poverty, international relations, and women’s rights.

He aspires to higher education, law, and politics, as well as to continue writing.

Mr. Al-Mehairi is an author and currently runs the personal online column Seize The Moment. He is in progress of writing a novel about his maternal line ancestor Baron Resolved Waldron, who resided in New Amsterdam (now New York) in 1610-1690.

He resides in Ashland, Ohio.

See more of the articles and following along by clicking here:



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Celebrating Women Series: Annie Thomas on Immigrant Women of 19th and 20th Century

Welcome to the fifth article in the “Celebrating Women” for Women’s History Month! It’s my first series (author guest article series) to celebrate women in history or women making history! Thank you to Annie Thomas for offering the fifth article in this series. If you’d like to continue on with the tour, which runs March 19-31, 2014, follow along each day on the main blog or head to this blog page, Women in History, which will be updated daily with the scheduled link.


Ordinary Immigrants of Early 19th and 20th Centuries:
Remembering Everyday Women Who Survived Adversity

by historical author Annie Thomas

We take it for granted now that women can be winners, on their own terms, in every walk of life.  But it hasn’t always been like that.

In Women’s History Month, it is important to celebrate the lives of women who have never become famous, never achieved great social or political goals, but who nevertheless have survived adversity with strength and grace.

The women who I learned to admire while researching my novel ‘A Woman’s Choice’ are those who travelled to the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, seeking a new life of opportunity.

Between 1900 and 1910, over 9 million people, predominately from across Europe, made the voyage to America, landing at Ellis Island.  They travelled with high hopes, seeking new lives to replace the financial hardship or persecution that they experienced in their homelands.  Many went straight through New York to the agricultural and mining areas; others stayed in the cities, and did not always find that the streets were paved with gold.  A few with determination, courage, and luck found their way to the prosperity they all desired.  Many more found themselves in appalling living conditions and exploited in menial jobs.


Irish immigrants arriving in the United States in 1902
(courtesy of

I have always been fascinated by how people’s lives are affected by the time they live in – the inter-connection between public and private. When I started writing, I wanted to not only write about a woman who would become successful, but to populate her story with other women, who strived to make a living in the most difficult of circumstances; to give a flavour of the streets they lived in, the conditions they endured, and how their individual stories can come together to celebrate the strength of ordinary women.

Libraries, archives and the web give us access to the most vivid oral history testimonies and photographs that make the early 1900s come alive. Photographs of families arriving at Ellis Island show women carrying heavy boxes and bundles alongside the men.  All they possessed was packed and portable.  Even allowing for the unfamiliarity of a camera lens, they stand with stoic, weary faces gazing at the photographer, seeing an uncertain future.

There is a wonderfully titled book published in 1906 (available on the web through called ‘The life stories of undistinguished Americans as told by themselves’ 
edited by Hamilton Holt.  It includes the life story of a Polish sweatshop girl; a French dressmaker; a German nurse girl; and a farmer’s wife, all in their own words.  It provides a fascinating insight into the lives of emigrant women in the early 1900s.  They are far from being undistinguished, and you read their stories with enormous admiration and absorption.

Here is how Sadie Frowne, a sixteen year old Polish girl remembered her arrival:

‘We came by steerage on a steamship in a very dark place that smelt dreadfully. There were hundreds of other people packed in with us, men, women and children, and almost all of them were sick. It took us twelve days to cross the sea, and we thought we should die, but at last the voyage was over, and we came up and saw the beautiful bay and the big woman with the spikes on her head and the lamp that is lighted at night in her hand.’

Sadie went on to work in a sweatshop, and at the web site for the Kheel Centre for Labor Management Documentation and Archives at Cornell University, I found photographs taken in garment factories (sweatshops) of the period. Lines of women busy at their machines, while the male supervisors looked on.  I could imagine how they might talk and behave together, and was always aware of the lives they continued to lead after my fictional lead character, Clara, left to seek her destiny elsewhere.

Sadie tells us how she gets up at 5.30 every morning, makes herself a coffee and eats a little bread.  She gets to the factory about 6 am: it doesn’t open until 7 am but she doesn’t want to be late.  Generally she does not finish until 6 pm.  Then she goes to night school.  She has been going to night school in the winter since she was 14, and has learned to read, write and do arithmetic.  She has a young man called Henry, who wants to marry her, but at just 16, she says: “Lately he has been urging me more and more to get married… I think I’ll wait”.

Her life story is one of ambition, striving for self-improvement, through hard work, determination, optimism and strength. But did Sadie’s education lead to more opportunity?  Did she marry Henry?  Was she happy? We will never know.

Popular historical fiction can bring us fresh insight and help us to understand the lives of ordinary women who we would otherwise know nothing about.   It allows us to enter an imaginary world based on the real one; to vicariously experience what it was like to be a stranger in a foreign land and to work in a sweatshop.  We can imagine and recognise women who may have been ordinary in their own eyes, and who may not have earned the accolade of fame, but whose strength and perseverance have so much to teach us, even today.

It is important to remember them, and to celebrate them now, in Women’s History Month.

Author Annie Thomas, Biography~

soft-6-recropAnnie Thomas is a British writer, and the author of A Woman’s Choice.  Brought up in London, after a degree in English and History she now works in an English university, and lives in a rural converted Victorian converted pub where rumour has it that Tolkein and C.S.Lewis once stopped for a beer on one of their many walks together.

A Woman’s Choice, Synopsis~

Set in the vibrancy of early twentieth century New York, the story A Woman's Choice book coverfollows the young emigrant Clara and the people she meets on the way, through tenement living and sweatshop labour to success.

But as the horror of World War One in Europe threatens to engulf America, Clara learns that personal lives cannot be lived apart from public events, and finds that the people she has loved, and who love her, are not always what they seem.

All the incidents in ‘A Woman’s Choice’ are based on what really happened to many thousands of emigrant families. It is a compelling saga of friendship, love and ambition.

ON SALE THIS WEEK ONLY, March 21-27,  in honor of Women’s History Month: .99cents in e-book!!

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Interview with Jeff Strand, 3-Time Bram Stoker Nominee, about His Newest YA Novel

Hi Jeff!! Welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! Located in Ohio where I know you spent your high school and college years (hence, not wanting to enter the cold again), I think I’ll pop down to your sunny location for a few questions about your newest release, I Have a Bad Feeling About This!  I expect you to be wearing your Bram Stoker Award emcee tuxedo and be prepared with drinks. Though I do know that you recently have been busy signing books for the launch of your new book….how is it all going for you?

Jeff: Oh, my hand, my poor, poor hand! Signing the first thousand copies was fine–my fingers are heavily muscled at this point in my career–but the fans just kept coming!  Two thousand! Three thousand! Twelve thousand, five hundred and sixty-seven! It’s not like I’m a cyborg! I kept asking the bookstore staff to turn fire hoses on the crowd to at least thin them out a bit, but they were all like “But we’d get the books wet!” Finally, I turned on the hose myself, blasting away thousands of people. A lot of books did get wet. I should have listened to the staff. So, anyway, to answer your question about how it’s going, my hand is kind of sore.


Erin: Can we make mock cocktails? What will we be drinking as we hang out, relax, and discuss your entry into the world of young adult readers–how did you ever talk them in to this, by the way!? You must have put on your best innocent face?

Jeff: If we’re discussing young adult fiction, I feel that I should set a good example with my choice of beverage. I shall have a glass of delicious, antioxidant-filled pomegranate juice. Mmmm-mmm. The healthy choice is the best choice, that’s what I always say! Maybe I’ll just add a splash or two of Mountain Dew in there. Oh, yeah, that’s the stuff.

Erin: I have my drink in hand and I’m prepped for anything you have to say…I think. I know that you have been a successful adult horror author for many years, what made you decide to take the plunge into writing YA novels, first with A Bad Day for Voodoo, and now with I Have a Bad Feeling About This?

Jeff: About fifteen years ago I wrote a middle-grade book called Elrod McBugle on the Loose, which gave me my first experience writing for a younger audience, and also my first experience having a book published that nobody read. I’ve written elsewhere about the lengthy, twisty web of events that led to A Bad Day For Voodoo, but the short answer is: an editor at Sourcebooks asked I’d thought about writing YA. I said, sure! She said, send me some sample chapters. I said, sure! She said, send me some different sample chapters. I said, sure! She said, yep, we want to offer you a contract for this. And thus my goofy voodoo book was born.

Erin:  What has been the best aspect of writing novels for young adults (though I know adults are reading them too!)?  What have been any challenges you’ve found to crossing over (and I only mean in the book writing sense!)?

Jeff: For me, the best part is getting wide distribution on books with such an extreme level of silliness. A Bad Day For Voodoo is exactly the kind of book I was told NOT to write early in my career if I wanted to ever sell to a major publisher. A bit of time has elapsed since I personally was a young adult, but I haven’t found any overwhelming challenges; at least, nothing more brutal than writing a non-YA book. I’ve got a self-imposed restriction on harsh curse words and sex, so there’s the occasional moment where I think, “Y’know, a nice f-bomb would go great right here,” but my publisher would let me drop the f-bomb if I wanted, so that’s my own problem!

Erin:  How awesome does it feel to have this book be compared by Kirkus Reviews to Saturday Night Live skits? Though a little more scary (with bad guys taking over the survival camp and all), these books fit your personality well as you are always so very funny and that can be a draw to a sect of the YA crowd.  Do you consider your comedian qualities to be an asset to your novel writing or just something you can control and is an integral part of almost everything you do or want to do?

Jeff: I think the humor definitely an asset. It’s something I could turn off if I needed to (and in fact, my novella Kutter was a personal challenge to take a silly premise and then write the book without any actual jokes). But I like writing humor and it’s what I’m known for, so I might as well keep doing it. Books like Pressure, Dweller, Mandibles, and Stalking You Now aren’t non-stop knee-slapping hilarity, but I think the humor that’s there makes them better books.

Erin:  I know you write like a fiend and have 100 ideas for every book you publish, but are you thinking about continuing with more YA novels?  Will they remain mostly non-horror and more humor, or will you ever take them in another direction?

Jeff: Oh, there will definitely be more YA novels. I’m toying with the idea of doing a science fiction one, but I might have abandoned that by the time I finish writing this sentence…no, wait, I’m still on it. We’ll see what happens. Most of the ideas I pitched for my next book after A Bad Day For Voodoo were horror/comedies, and it’s pretty much unthinkable that I won’t return to that sub-genre soon.

Erin: Do you feel you’ve set any trends as far as sub-genres?

Jeff: Every once in a while I’ll read a review of somebody else’s book that says “This reminded me of a Jeff Strand novel,” but, no, I haven’t set any trends. There hasn’t been an explosion of horror/comedy novels since I came on the scene, and if there had been, it would’ve been because of somebody like Christopher Moore, not me!

Erin: Um, maybe a precedent then, or maybe you’ve stolen the genre.

Erin:  After reading through your *ahem* extensive bio on your site, I was surprised to learn that you haven’t tried to be an actor.  I know you have a desire for screenwriting, but do you aspire to bring your humor to the big screen? Would any of your YA books make a good movie? It worked for Diary of a Wimpy Kid….

Jeff: I’m in Herschell Gordon Lewis’ movie The Uh-Oh Show for about 15 seconds (I get killed by the Big Bad Wolf) but that’s the extent of my acting career. I don’t think I’d be very good at it. Both of my YA books would, of course, make spectacular movies, and I encourage Hollywood to throw briefcases full of cash at my head. And this weekend I’m…actually, I know I’m supposed to maintain the illusion that we’re sitting across from each other, having an intimate conversation, but I’m really writing this answer in Microsoft Word, and I can see your next question, so I’m going to continue my answer there…

Erin: Besides emceeing the World Horror Convention Bram Stoker Awards for a record setting sixth year, what other big plans do you have for this year?

Jeff: I wrote the script for a short film called “Gave Up The Ghost,” which will be directed by Gregory Lamberson and is (for people reading this interview right when it’s posted) shooting this very weekend. I’ll be traveling to Buffalo to be on the set for that, so I can watch my creative vision come to life and also mop the floors and get coffee for the crew. This will be one-fourth of the anthology film Creepers, which also includes adaptations of stories by Joe Lansdale, Edgar Allan Poe, and Lafcadio Hearn.

Erin:  Where can readers connect with you best?  Or in other words, where can they go without being completely scared out of their pants?

Jeff: I’m on Facebook as JeffStrandAuthor. Twitter as JeffStrand. GoodReads as JeffStrand. I created a Google+ account but I never did anything with it. And, of course, readers can visit my website at

Erin:  Where should readers rush out to purchase I Have a Bad Feeling About This?

Jeff: Anywhere they like to buy books! If they like to buy books from Amazon, they can click on

Erin: I know you’ve done some appearances in Florida, but have you ever thought about coming back to Ohio? We’d be honored to have you!

Jeff: Every time I announce some appearances, people say, “When are you coming to _______?” and I always think, “Oh, yeah, I should jump in my car and drive around the country doing book signings!” Someday I’ll return to Ohio. Not in the winter.

Erin: I am so thrilled that you stopped by the site today to talk about your new YA novel! It’s been a lot of fun to read and it was not only my pleasure to have you here this week, but a laugh a minute. Best of luck with this novel and everything else to come! Keep laughing, but close that mouth once in awhile, you’re eating too many bugs down south!

Jeff: Bugs are nutritious and delicious. I mean, not tarantulas, obviously, and the Human Centipede movies kind of ruined the taste of centipedes for everyone, but overall, bug consumption is a healthy and fun way to live your life. There, I’ve included an educational component to this interview. You’re welcome.

Erin: ha!

Jeff Strand, Biography~

jeff strandJEFF STRAND is a three-time nominee for the Bram Stoker Award, and both of his YA books, A Bad Day for VooDoo and I Have a Bad Feeling About This are both Junior Library Guild Picks. Jeff lives in Tampa, Florida, and would last approximately three seconds in a true survival situation. But he’s okay with that, because he mostly just types stuff in a safe bear-free environment.

See more at

I Have A Bad Feeling About This, Synopsis~

9781402284557-PRHenry Lambert would rather play video games than spend time in the great outdoors—but that doesn’t make him a wuss. Skinny nerd? Fine. But wuss is a little harsh. Sadly, his dad doesn’t agree. Which is why Henry is being shipped off to Strongwoods Survival Camp.

Strongwoods isn’t exactly as advertised. It looks like the victim of a zombie apocalypse, the “camp director” is a psycho drill sergeant, and Henry’s sure he saw a sign written in blood…

Wilderness Survival Tip #1

Drinking your own sweat will not save your life. Somebody might have told you that, but they were trying to find out if you’d really do it.

Wilderness Survival Tip #2

In case of an avalanche, don’t despair. You’re doomed, but that’s a wicked cool death.

Wilderness Survival Tip #3

If you’re relying on this book for actual survival tips, you’re dead already.

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Celebrating Women Series: JoAnn Shade on 12th C. Hildegard von Bingen

Welcome to the fourth article in the “Celebrating Women” for Women’s History Month! It’s my first author guest article series to celebrate women in history or women making history! Thank you to JoAnn Shade for offering the fourth article in this series. If you’d like to continue on with the tour, which runs March 19-31, 2014, follow along each day on the main blog or head to this blog page, Women in History, which will be updated daily with the scheduled link.

Hildegard von Bingen: “Feather on the Breath of God”
–12th Century Visionary, Abbess, Musician, Writer, Saint
by author JoAnn Shade

In the novel Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë could have been describing the life of Hildegard of Bingen when she wrote: “I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” Born in 1098, this visionary Benedictine nun was a theologian, prophet, poet, musician, healer, and influential abbess, and stands out as the most prolific female writer of her age, a Renaissance woman long before the Renaissance took place. Stubborn and resourceful, imaginative and devout, Hildegard holds a unique place in history, for as Charlotte Allen suggests, “this nun was one tough sister.”

From a contemporary point of view, life could not have appeared to be promising for the young girl, as her father and mother separated her from their other offspring; abandoning her to hope in God’s mercy alone. Born as a tenth child to Hildebert and Mechthilde, Hildegard of Bingen apparently was “tithed” to the Church, given over to the care of Jutta at age eight, either as an anchorite (permanently enclosed in a small cell attached to a church) or at Jutta’s family estate in Sponheim. By age fifteen, Hildegard made her own profession of vows, becoming a Benedictine nun, and it appears as though the fame of Jutta and Hildegard began to attract other women to the community of nuns, so that over time, their anchorite cell became a Benedictine nunnery.

What must it have been like as an eight-year-old being given to the church as a tithe, or to be confined in such a way for so many years? She seemed to have accepted her life as providential, and while as a young girl she could not have known the cultural factors at play, it would appear as though Hildegard reached such a sense of her full potential because she was enclosed.

Hildegard’s story was shaped by the visions she began to have as early as age three. Unsure what to do with these sensations, she asked her nurse if she had seen anything, as Hildegard was fearful of revealing her visions to anyone. It would appear that her unwillingness to act on her visions brought her ill health, although it is possible that the ill health brought the visions, with their visual impact being derived from migraines.

Ildegarda_Von_BingenHildegard of Bingen

Subsequently, Hildegard wrote (or had transcribed) three major works of a visionary nature, as well as two medical and scientific works, The Physica (Natural History) and Causae et curae (Causes and Cures). This writing included chapters on plants, the elements, trees, jewels and precious stones, fish, birds, animals, reptiles, and metals, as well as general medical questions such as the signs of life and death, uroscopy, and herbal remedies for a variety of ills. She also addresses the differences between the sexes and adds some discussion of sexuality and conception. In his classic work from the 1950’s, From Magic to Science, Charles Singer suggests that Hildegard really does not have specific categories of her work, such as science, ethics, theology, etc., but rather that “her ideas not only are interdependent, but also closely interwoven . . . for in her mind the material and spiritual are really interfused.”

We glimpse much of the person and the perceived power of Hildegard in her letter-writing. The breadth of her correspondents is amazing, for in terms of today’s culture, she would have written to (and received replies from) the US president, the Pope, Billy Graham, the parish priest, and the woman down the street. And yes, she would have been active on Facebook!

Listen to what she dared write to Pope Anastasius:

You, O man, who are too tired, in the eye of your knowledge, to rein in the pomposity of arrogance among those placed in your bosom, why do you not call back the shipwrecked who cannot rise from the depth without help? And why do you not cut off the root of evil which is choking out the good and beneficial plants of sweet taste and delightful aroma? You are neglecting the King’s daughter who was entrusted to you, that is, heavenly Justice herself.

Here’s her challenge to Conrad, King of the Romans “Again, O king, He Who knows all says to you: having heard these things, O man, restrain your pleasures, and correct yourself, so that you may come purified to those times when you need no longer blush for your deeds.” And one more quote, written to a Certain Person: “Get a grip on yourself until you see better times, and you will live.”

Among her many teachings, Hildegard believed that laughing, crying, singing and dancing were intimately linked with the health of the body. In that light, Hildegard was also an accomplished composer, writing many religious lyrics and composing the music for at least some of those works, which are considered both monastic and liturgical. Not surprising to the student of Hildegard, she was a maverick in her music writing, and she “preferred the archaic nonmetrical sequences,” and often wrote in what we would now call free verse.

Completing her biographical information, in 1136, Hildegard took over the leadership of the nuns following the death of Jutta. After receiving a command from God, she moved her nuns to Rupertsberg in 1150, removing them from the protection and authority of the monks at Disibodenberg (a move the monks fought against). In the years to follow, she began to gain prominence outside of the convent, and took part in a number of preaching tours. After a long and active life, Hildegard died in September 1179.

Hildegard stands out in history as a prophet and reformer within the church, and. her correspondence made at least some impact on the decisions of world leaders and church fathers. Her work as an artist, poet and composer was brought to new light in the late twentieth century, as her music was recorded and her literary works published again. Her medical writings have led her to being called one of the first woman doctors and scientists, yet she would have seen this work to be a part of her total life as a nun and as a woman of God. Long before the term was coined, Hildegard wrote and spoke extensively about social justice, desiring to seek freedom for the downtrodden, and believing that every human being, made in the image of God, should have the opportunity to cultivate the talents that God has given him or her.

Self-described as a “feather on the breath of God,” Hildegard’s cultivation of her own gifts enabled her feather-flight to be powerful and long-lasting. Yet as Hildegard’s words would remind us, “Then it pleased the king to raise a small feather from the ground, and he commanded it to fly. The feather flew, not because of anything in itself but because the air bore it along.”

For an engaging treatment of her life story, see Mary Sharratt’s Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen.

 JoAnn Streeter Shade, Biography~

856c1c3bJoAnnShadeJoAnn Streeter Shade has walked alongside many women in a variety of ministry settings for more than thirty-five years. She has served in Salvation Army congregations and social service programs, has ministered at North Coast Family Foundation, a Christian counseling center in Northeast Ohio, and has also written extensively about the issues facing women in today’s culture. She writes a weekly column in the Ashland Times-Gazette, and is the author of more than a dozen books on topics such as spiritual growth (The Heartwork of Hope, The God Gallery), sexual abuse (Rapha’s Touch), marriage (The Guerilla and the Green Beret), biblical narrative (The Other Woman, WomenVoices), and the joy of living in Ashland (Only in Ashland: Reflections of a Smitten Immigrant).

She is married to Larry, is the mother of three adult sons, Greg, Drew and Dan, and Lauren, a beloved daughter-in-law, and is Nana to the lovely Madelyn Simone. With an M.A. in pastoral counseling and a D.Min. in the Women in Prophetic Leadership track from Ashland Theological Seminary, she combines her academic training with a writer’s eye, a pastor’s heart and a grandmother’s joy.

Keep up with JoAnn’s writing at

JoAnn has written many inspirational books; however, we choose to highlight the one below:

The Other Woman:  Exploring the Story of Hagar, Synopsis~

the other woman 3The reader is taken on a memorable and meaningful journey, drawing helpful lessons from Hagar’s story.

The author touches on a vast range of subjects, from abuse and pregnancy and revenge to single parenting, abandonment, grief and more.

Any seeking soul, any student of the Bible, anyone who is craving hope and encouragement, will profit from it.


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Celebrating Women Series: Julie K. Rose on Women’s Suffrage Movement in Norway

Welcome to the third article in the “Celebrating Women” for Women’s History Month! It’s my first author guest article series to celebrate women in history or women making history! Thank you to Julie K. Rose for offering the third article in this series. the fourth article will be posted at noon today as well. If you’d like to continue on with the tour, which runs March 19-31, 2014, follow along each day on the main blog or head to this blog page, Women in History, which will be updated daily with the scheduled link.

The History of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Norway
by historical author Julie K. Rose

On June 11, 1913, Norway extended the right to vote in all elections local and national to women.

Norway wasn’t the first country to embrace women’s suffrage–that would be New Zealand in 1893 (or Sweden in 1718 for professional, taxpaying women”–a right which was taken away in 1771).  Norway wasn’t the first to embrace universal suffrage either–that honor goes to Finland, implemented in 1906.

But Norway’s women’s suffrage movement is important, because it was so deeply entwined with its independence. Though the fight for women’s suffrage began in the early 1880s, and was debated in the Storthing (Parliament) in 1890, its first real spotlight on the national stage was in 1905, when Norway held a national referendum: whether to break away from Sweden and become an independent nation again after hundreds of years.

While doing research for Oleanna, which is set against that incredible year, I was so pleased to find this book by Sylvia Paletschek and Bianka Pietrow-Ennker, Women’s Emancipation Movements in the Nineteenth Century: A European Perspective (Stanford University Press, 2004).

The women’s suffrage movement in Norway can be seen as a kind of natural extension of its largely agrarian society. From Patelschek and Pietrow-Ennker:

“The last few decades of the nineteenth century saw a growing protest against the strictly gender-divided society of the urban middle class. In agrarian and working-class life, women and men often worked side by side and took part in the same leisure activities.”

Oleanna and Elisabeth, I think unconsciously, assumed a kind of equality in their relationships with men–everyone has to work hard, everyone has to pull their weight. In fact, Oleanna was surprised by the gender divides she saw when she visited Bergen, both in her uncle’s house and in the city itself.


Harvesting oats in Jølster, 1890 (Photo: Axel Lindahl/Norwegian Museum of Cultural History)

The push for suffrage in Norway was driven by urban middle-class women, I suspect largely because they did not enjoy the same kinds of social freedoms that their more agrarian sisters did. Plus, as Oleanna says to Anders many times, the world of politics was so far removed from the reality of her daily life, it was difficult for her to really connect the dots between suffrage and her own life and well-being.


The way the dots were connected for rural women was the 1905 dissolution of the union of Norway and Sweden. But before that could happen, the suffrage movement had to begin in earnest.


Norwegian Women’s national council, 1904. From left to right: Karen Grude Koht, Fredrikke Marie Qvam, Gina Krog, Betzy Kjelsberg, and Katti Anker Møller.(Photo: Nasjonalbiblioteket, the National Library of Norway)

“The fight for the vote owed a great deal of its success to a new organization, formed in 1896, Norske Kvinners Sanitetsfoering (the Norwegian Women’s Sanitary Association). It was meant to support national opposition to the political union with Sweden by educating nurses and preparing medical materials to be used in the case of a war between the two countries. The organization spread to all parts of the country and recruited from all social groups. It soon broadened its activities to health problems in general, especially the fight against tuberculosis.”

By 1901, female trade unions and the Labor Party had come together in the Labor Party’s Women’s Association. In that same year, women obtained limited suffrage in local elections.

“The National Association for Women’s Suffrage, headed by Frederikke Marie Qvam, who for some time was also leader of the Sanitary association and president of the Women’s Rights Association, quickly established local branches all over the country. It cooperated closely with the new Sanitary Association. By 1902 it had 1,566 members, and it concentrated on the struggle for general suffrage.”


Fredrikke Marie Qvam (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

But the old divide between the urban middle class and the agrarian and working classes made it difficult to create a country-wide movement.

“Attempts were made to attract working-class women to middle-class organizations, but cooperation across class lines was rare. Even the fight for the vote was mainly fought as two parallel, but separate wars.”

When Oleanna eventually joins Katrine at a Labor Party meeting, it’s clear that there is tension between the upper and middle class women, and the working class women. They might have the same goals–suffrage and women’s rights–but they are coming from quite different places.

So, we’re back to the start: a major contributing factor to women gaining the vote in Norway was the dissolution of the union with Sweden in 1905. A coalition government was formed in 1905 to establish the separate Norwegian corps of consuls; the law was passed by the Storthing, but King Oscar II of Sweden refused to accept it, and the Norwegian coalition government resigned on June 7, 1905, declaring a dissolution of the union.

The Swedish government insisted on a Norwegian referendum to understand the citizen’s view. During the summer of 1905, a “vote yes” campaign spread throughout Norway, encouraging men to vote in the referendum on August 13. It was a landslide victory; 99.95% of (male) Norwegians voted in favor of dissolution (368,208 votes in favor, 184 opposed).


Yes, we love our country! Postcard in support of the Yes referendum campaign.

But the parallel women’s campaign, in which over 200,000 women signed a symbolic petition, was just as powerful a rhetorical statement.

“Limited national suffrage was not obtained until 1907. The women’s cause no doubt profited from the support given by the Sanitary Association to national policies in the dispute with Sweden over the political union. A cunning signature campaign in support of the dissolution of the union in 1905 also greatly enhanced the image of women as politically sensible and responsible individuals.”

I think the “cunning” signature campaign was a strong rhetorical statement, but I also think it was a true reflection of women’s stance on the matter of the dissolution and Norwegian nationalism and pride. Women of all social classes came together, worked together, and made their voices heard together. Norway gained its independence in August 1905; women fully gained theirs in 1913.

Author Julie Rose, Biography~

julie roseJulie K. Rose’s novels feature complicated, compelling characters seeking to overcome their pasts–and themselves. Her stories evoke a vivid sense of time and place through a keen ear for dialog and beautifully elegant prose.

A member of the Historical Novel Society, Julie earned a B.A. in Humanities and an M.A. in English. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband and loves reading, following the San Francisco Giants, watching episodes of Doctor Who, and enjoying the amazing natural beauty of Northern California.

Oleanna, short-listed for finalists in the 2011 Faulkner-Wisdom literary competition, is her second novel. The Pilgrim Glass, a finalist in the 2005 Faulkner-Wisdom competition and semi-finalist in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, was published in 2010.

See more about Julie and her writing at

Oleanna, Synopsis~

oleanna_cover_web_smallOleanna, short-listed for finalists in the 2011 Faulkner-Wisdom literary competition, is her second novel. Set during the separation of Norway from Sweden in 1905, Oleanna is a richly detailed novel of love and loss inspired by the life of my great-great-aunts.

Oleanna and her sister Elisabeth are the last of their family working their farm deep in the western fjordland. A new century has begun, and the world outside is changing, but in the Sunnfjord their world is as small and secluded as the verdant banks of a high mountain lake. With their parents dead and their brothers all gone to America, the sisters have resigned themselves to a simple life tied to the land and to the ghosts of those who have departed.

The arrival of Anders, a cotter living just across the farm’s border, unsettles Oleanna’s peaceful but isolated existence. Sharing a common bond of loneliness and grief, Anders stirs within her the wildness and wanderlust she has worked so hard to tame. When she is confronted with another crippling loss, Oleanna must decide once and for all how to face her past, claim her future, and find her place in a wide new world.


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I Have A Bad Feeling About This, by Jeff Strand, Will Have Teens Laughing for More

I Have a Bad Feeling About This, by Jeff Strand:
Review and Guest Article
New Young Adult Book from Sourcebooks



My 10-year-old daughter and I just love this book. I’ve thought Jeff funny for years now, but when I heard about this book I knew that it would be a really cool read for someone her age. She’s not the daughter that’s the princess, she is more of the tomboy, so she likes Diary of a Wimpy Kid types of books, though her reading level has increased beyond that. She enjoys books that are about survival in history, or in the elements, enjoys Survivor on TV, and also likes really funny joke books and reading materials about kids in all kinds of crazy situations. I was spot on when we read this book and it totally fit the bill in regards to her personal reading list. She says to tell Jeff, “that he is some crazy funny writer and to write her more.” She really liked that it had archery, she said.

Personally, I thought myself that Strand did a good job with the action scenes, the dialogue, and with maintaining what the actors were thinking in their own heads. He had a good handle on how teens might act in this situation. You know, NORMAL teens, not over the top Disney channel type of teens (well maybe when Shia LeBouf made Even Stevens famous), but normal teens put into unlikely scenarios. I like Jeff’s banter and I think most teens will as well. It’s clean comedy with great humor. He also had great character development and a fun way of capturing all the coming of age angst that teenagers feel. Sent off to camp to be made stronger and more confident, these characters eventually take on more than any adult might handle.

I really liked the Survival Tips that were given at the end of each chapter and found them hilarious. I think that many adults could probably read this book just for a laugh at its twisted nonsense and it would probably make a pretty good movie.  I suppose we can also note that if you look past the humor, it has a message too of how kids are sometimes misjudged and how certain circumstances can really show their inner foundation.

Rip-roaring funny and a delight for any teen reader, this book will be breezed through with its non-stop action and hilarious content. Any kid is going to eat it up like the candy hidden under their bed and scream for more.

And that concludes the review and my sitting on pins and needles waiting to see what funny thing Strand will say or do next. Oh, one final note, if you’re an adult that was an 80s child like me, you’ll probably like this too.

Now enjoy Strand’s insane humor in this unique guest article…..


“Characters Taking On A Life of Their Own”
Guest Article by Jeff Strand

There is nothing more magical for an author than when your characters take on a life of their own, almost as if they’re writing the story instead of you!

Or so I hear. My characters do exactly what I tell them.

MY CHARACTER: Look at me! I have my own free will!

ME: The hell you do. As punishment for your insubordination, I’m adding a psycho killer with a chainsaw to this scene.

MY CHARACTER: No! No! Noooooooooo–[rest of sentence unintelligible].

I’m the boss of my books. In my new novel, I Have A Bad Feeling About This, sixteen-year-old Henry Lambert gets sent to survival camp by his parents. But it wasn’t really his parents. It was all me, typing words on my laptop which, read in the proper sequence, shared the dialogue and descriptions involved with the act of parents sending their teenaged son to camp.

Why would I let my characters take the credit for all of my hard work? Henry didn’t do squat to help me write this book. It would’ve been nice if he had. I’d have enjoyed a scenario like:

ME: Gosh, I feel like going to the sunny beach today! I’ll pack my beach chair and my towel and some sunscreen and a dozen hot dogs and…[sadly], no, wait, I have a book to write. Aw, man.

HENRY: Hey, I’m your main character! Why don’t I tell you how I would behave in this situation?

ME: Really? You’d do that for me?

HENRY: Sure!

ME: That would be great! Wow. I’m going to stop for ice cream on the way home, too!

But that wouldn’t happen. The true conversation would be:

ME: Hey, Henry, what would you say if you ate a poisoned berry?

MY WIFE: Who are you talking to?

ME: Uh, nobody.

MY WIFE: Did you call somebody Henry? Isn’t Henry the name of the main character in the book you’re writing? Are you talking to your fictional character???

ME: No, no! There’s this one guy named Henry who I thought was here but I guess he left to go get some–

MY WIFE: Liar! Your mind has been overcome by a cloud of madness! Off to the asylum with you!

MEN IN WHITE COATS: Hi. We were waiting outside your house, just in case. Come with us, please. Don’t make us use the…actually, we were really looking forward to using the tranquilizer dart, so we’re going to go ahead with that even though you’re not putting up a struggle.


Truthfully, when I hear an author say, “My characters tell me what they’re going to do!” I think, “Well, then, you’re a damned plagiarist!”

I wrote I Have A Bad Feeling About This. Every word. My editor made me change some words, but I wrote the new words, too! No way do my characters get the fame and money. That would be crazy!

9781402284557-PRI Have A Bad Feeling About This, Synopsis~

Paperback, 242 pages
Published March 1st 2014
by Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN 1402284551 (ISBN13: 9781402284557)

Wilderness Survival Tip #1
Drinking your own sweat will not save your life. Somebody might have told you that, but they were trying to find out if you’d really do it.

Henry Lambert would rather play video games than spend time in the great outdoors–but that doesn’t make him a wuss. Skinny nerd? Fine. But wuss is a little harsh. Sadly, his dad doesn’t agree. Which is why Henry is being shipped off to Strongwoods Survival Camp.

Strongwoods isn’t exactly as advertised. It looks like the victim of a zombie apocalypse, the “camp director” is a psycho drill sergeant, and Henry’s sure he saw a sign written in blood…

Wilderness Survival Tip #2
In case of an avalanche, don’t despair. You’re doomed, but that’s a wicked cool death.

Wilderness Survival Tip #3
If you’re relying on this book for actual survival tips, you’re dead already.

Jeff Strand, Biography~

jeff strandJEFF STRAND is a three-time nominee for the Bram Stoker Award and will emcee the 2014 awards. Both of his YA books, A Bad Day for VooDoo and I Have a Bad Feeling About This, are both Junior Library Guild Picks.

Jeff lives in Tampa, Florida, and would last approximately three seconds in a true survival situation. But he’s okay with that, because he mostly just types stuff in a safe bear-free environment.

Check Jeff out at:


Filed under Book Reviews, Guest Posts