Russell James Pens Suspense Tale of the Sea for Kindle Scout – Need Votes!

Hey everyone! My client and friend Russell James, who many of you have heard of through me or know yourself to be a writer of thrillers and horror, has stepped outside that writer’s box once again to bring us a different type of thriller – a Young Adult/New Adult novel that features mermaids, mystery, suspense, and even a little romance that can be read by both teens and adults.

BUT Russell needs our help to get this new novel published via Kindle Scout. We need votes and helping spreading the word for votes in THIS FINAL WEEK to make that happen! Below you’ll find all the information you need to do both. I’ll be continuing to spread variations of this content to as many targeted readers and bloggers as I can over this last week of voting so feel free to us any part of it you might want to as well to help spread the word too! It has a beautiful cover and I can truly say that Russell is an outstanding writer!

Marissa

Marissa Anselmo and the City Beneath the Sea

Marissa Anselmo and the City Beneath the Sea is by Russell James and is up for a Kindle Scout deal for another week! This beautifully written book is a Young Adult novel, but is great for adults who enjoy island and water stories too! The cover is beautiful. If you vote for this book for a Kindle Scout deal it could possibly be published by Amazon. If that happens, and you voted for it, you’ll get a free copy!

Marissa Anselmo and the City Beneath the Sea, Synopsis

Is a mermaid’s life in Atlantis all it seems?

Marissa discovers that her mystery father was a merman from Atlantis. Her hybrid status attracts agents who want her physiological secrets and Atlantis’ hidden location. Guardians from Atlantis whisk her to their city beneath the sea. Eric, her boyfriend, has his own epiphany as his father reveals a heritage pledged to Atlantis’ destruction. Bio weapons and hydrofoil warships threaten to annihilate both sides, and only Marissa can stop the cataclysm, and save the life of the boy she loves.

Want to go ahead and vote NOW?

https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/VZLR8ESFELIK

Want to know more first? Read on….

So what is this book about? Russell has answered a few questions to give a better overview.

Q: What inspired you?

Russell: I love visiting the Florida Keys. The islands are low and small, and so I feel like you are close to the sea all the time. It seems like everyone boats or scuba dives or swims and the water is an integral part of life. That started me thinking about writing a story where that might actually be true. What if someone truly lived half in and half out of the water? Well, that led to mermaids.

But the heart of the story is about the impact of family on an individual’s future. Having a rich heritage as a springboard for life is wonderful, but what if it that heritage is dark? I thought of children growing up in societies steeped in hatred for other cultures, or child soldiers forced into militias. Could they break away, alter their future path? Could they bring others along on that journey? Marissa and Eric both find out that they are expected to be warriors for causes they do not understand. How they react drives this novel.

Q: What was your writing process like?

Russell: Writing this book was a lot of fun. I could keep all the fast-paced elements I love to do in my paranormal thriller stories. And while my novels usually have something unreal happen in the real world, in this novel I had the freedom to create unreal worlds: the mermaids’ underwater city of Atlantis and the shadow society of the satyrs. I researched the world of ancient Greece, the time period where sorcerers had altered both civilizations, and fixed that as the building block for their cultures. It was exciting to create how the Atlantisians, consciously shunning technology, would realistically live under the sea, scavenging from wrecks and harvesting the ocean for food.

Most of all it was great to go back to explore the purity of love, of experiencing the thrill of sharing of one’s soul with another. That power fuels Eric and Marissa’s belief that against long odds, they can make their relationship work. After writing a lot of dark stuff, it was nice to write more in the light.

Q: How does this compare to the other genres you write in?

Russell: I’ve had seven novels published and they were all paranormal thrillers, usually lumped into the horror category, I don’t see Marissa Anselmo and the City Beneath the Sea as being in a different genre as much as being in a subset of the same thriller genre. There is still a lot of action, still cliff-hanger scene endings, still plenty of suspense. There are just a lot fewer decapitations. In dialing back the horror, I also made the whole story family-friendly, with milder language and softer violence than you’d see on network TV. That left more room to explore the characters.

Want to vote NOW?

https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/VZLR8ESFELIK

Thank YOU!!

Russell James Biography –

Headshot Erin Marissa Kindle ScoutRussell James grew up on Long Island, New York, surrounded by water from an early age. Despite many weekends spent on Long Island Sound, he never saw a mermaid. He graduated from Cornell University and the University of Central Florida. He spent five years flying helicopters with the U.S. Army.

A technical writer for a Fortune 50 company by day, he spins fiction at night. He has written seven paranormal thrillers, several novellas, and has been published in six science fiction short story collections.His works have been praised by Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, and the Midwest Review of Books. Dark Inspiration was an Amazon #1 Best Seller.  Q Island was selected as the Editor’s Pick in Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine.

Visit his website at http://www.russellrjames.com and read some free short stories.

Follow on Twitter @RRJames14, Facebook as Russell R. James, or drop a line complaining about his writing to rrj@russellrjames.com.

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD QUICKLY TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW!

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Women in History: Victorian London’s Eliza Armstrong Case Against Human Trafficking

The Celebrating Women Series for 2017 continues with article #6 today. If this is the first article you’ve read so far, March was Women in History month and so I’ve been featuring writers and authors who sent in guest articles surrouding women and topics about women.  In fact, it’s now extending way past March we’ve had so much interest to feature strong, impactful women. You can find a main page for this with explanation and link to all articles here. I’ll add the articles as I schedule or post them.

Introducing JoAnne Shade and the Eliza Armstrong Case

I welcome my dear longtime and local friend of mine JoAnne Streeter Shade to my site and the series today! Retired from the Salvation Army, she’s continued writing a weekly column in our local newspaper and publishing books. She’s such an inspiration to me in her faith and her passionate stances for civil liberties and women.

Her article here surrounds the case of Eliza Armstrong, a child bought for immoral purposes in Victorian England. Eliza’s story has parallels to our own still fervent fight against human trafficking still in our generation. It’s also a story about community leaders, men and women, who fought to raise the age of consent.

Pall-Mall0006-feature

Copy of 1885 newspaper…photo taken from The Salvationist (online site of The Salvation Army) 

The Story of Eliza Armstrong and the Fight for Social Change
by JoAnne Shade, Author of Eliza and the Midwife

Writing in A Tale of Two Cities in 1859, Charles Dickens expressed a truth that applies to many times in history. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Dickens’ words could well have been written in the closing decades of the 1800s, as London faced incredible poverty and unimaginable wealth, moral degradation and crusading do-gooders. One story, that of Eliza Armstrong and the Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon, is a vivid example of the competing forces of good and evil at work in a historical moment in Victorian London.

In 1885, the presenting issue for the reformers was the law of the land that allowed for children to legally be prostituted, as the age of consent was thirteen. At thirteen, a girl could make her own decision about her sexual activity (or others could make the decisions for her), and there was no relief from the law. This led to many girls being sold into prostitution, with a high premium paid for those considered “virgointacto.”

In an attempt to get this law changed, a London newspaper editor (W.T. Stead of the Pall Mall Gazette), The Salvation Army’s Bramwell Booth, and long-time reformer Josephine Butler gathered to plan public pressure with the hopes of drawing attention to the need to raise the age of consent to sixteen. The plan was dependent on investigative reporting, and ultimately produced a sensationalized five-day series descriptive of London’s underworld. One component of the investigation involved a young Salvation Army woman, unnamed, who went undercover into a brothel, where she spent nine days gathering facts about its operation. As a part of their actions, a redeemed brothel owner (Rebecca Jarrett) was coerced into taking part in a covert action designed to draw attention to the ease at which children could be purchased for immoral purposes – by actually purchasing a child. Eliza Armstrong, age thirteen, was purchased for five pounds, taken to a brothel, and then spirited away to France for a number of months.

As a result of the ensuing outrage (as well as effective community organizing), 800,000 signatures were gathered to petition parliament for a change in the law, and within two months, the legislature acted on the bill, providing protection for thousands of at-risk children.

The story doesn’t end with the passage of the law, for while the motivation of the group wasn’t doubted, their methods were questionable. This led to a series of trials, in which Mr. Booth was exonerated, but Mr. Stead and others were sentenced to prison time. Tucked away in this drama was the minor role of midwife Louise Rose Mourez. Her willingness to verify the virginity of Eliza Armstrong resulted in an assault conviction and her subsequent death in prison.

Eliza and the Midwife: A Story in Human Trafficking, published by Frontier Press, presents an overview of the campaign to change social policy and the resulting consequences to Victorian London, W.T. Stead and the Pall Mall Gazette, the Salvation Army, and the individual lives of the plot’s participants. In the exploration of this fascinating snippet of history, Eliza’s story offers lessons from the past to inform the contemporary fight against human trafficking.

17310585_10211151637119716_555464379_oEliza and the Midwife: A Story in Human Trafficking, Synopsis –

In 1885, a London newspaper editor, a religious leader, and a redeemed brothel owner took part in a covert action designed to draw attention to the ease at which children could be purchased for immoral purposes. Tucked away in the sensational account of that transaction, publicized as “The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon,” was the small role of midwife Louise Rose Mourez. Her willingness to verify the virginity of Eliza Armstrong, the thirteen-year old girl who was purchased, resulted in an assault conviction and her death in prison. “Eliza and the Midwife” provides an overview of the planned purchase of the child and the subsequent consequences to Victorian London, the Salvation Army, and the individual participants. It draws upon trial transcripts, historical research, and the imagined voices of the child, the midwife, and an undercover prostitute to capture the essence of the scandalous scheme addressing the societal problems of child prostitution and trafficking plaguing London in 1885.

If you’re local to Ashland, Ohio, this book is available in Ashland at Local Roots. You can buy it used from third party sellers on Amazon HERE or you can let me know you want a copy and tell JoAnne.

JoAnne Streeter Shade, Biography

17342251_10211151650560052_1661613507_oJoAnn Streeter Shade has walked alongside many women in a variety of settings for more than thirty-five years, and enjoys writing about women from a historical perspective, as she did in Eliza Duncan: An Imagined Memoir; The Other Woman: Exploring the Story of Hagar; and WomenVoices: Speaking from the Gospels with Power. She has known of the story of Eliza Armstrong for many years, and is glad to have finally given voice to Eliza, Rebecca, Louise, Jenny and Florence.

She has ministered in Salvation Army congregations and social service programs in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Ohio, and has served at North Coast Family Foundation, a Christian counseling center in Northeast Ohio. She provides development support to the Massillon Museum, and works with Doctor of Ministry students at Ashland Theological Seminary. She is also a weekly columnist for the Ashland Times-Gazette.

She is married to Larry, is the mother of three adult sons, Greg, Drew and Dan, and Lauren and Becky, beloved daughters-in-law, and is Nana to the lovely Madelyn Simone and the delightful Elizabeth Holiday. With a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and a Doctor of Ministry 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 through Gracednotes Ministries.

Thank you for following this series!

Women in History

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Interview: Featuring Co-Authors of Shadow Run, the YA Sci-Fi Thriller

For fans of Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s Illuminae, Pierce Brown’s Red Rising, and Star Wars, SHADOW RUN is an addictive, edge-of-your-seat thrill ride.

“A grand space adventure, chock-full of action, battles of good and evil, love, and betrayal. The world-building is excellent…Fans of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer and the Starbound series by Amie Kaufman will especially enjoy this strong debut in the YA space opera genre.” —School Library Journal

Hi friends! Random House Children’s Book imprint Delcorte Press contacted me about reviewing their new YA sci-fi SHADOW RUN and interviewing its co-authors AdriAnne  Strickland and Michael Miller in a limited online promotion. Many people know I’m a lover of all types of books, and generally with a couple of teenagers, I gather additional insight now too! As a lover of sci-fi myself in all the ways the book described I was sold on featuring it. I’ll be reviewing the copy they sent me once I get it read too. Today, I have a great interview with the authors – I’m quite impressed that AdriAnne is a commercial fisherwoman in Alaska! The concept of co-authors is also interesting. The book can be for adults or for a young adult in your life, so check it out! Enjoy the interview below and I love to hear from you, so feel free to leave comments.

Shadow Run

 

Hi AdriAnne and Michael! Welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I am a huge fan of DUNE and FIREFLY both, and yet, my teen daughter had caught me on to books like LEGEND and SIX OF CROWS so your book, SHADOW RUN, just popped at me when I read the synopsis. Where did the inspiration come from for this book?

AdriAnne: The usual sci-fi classics like Star Wars, Firefly, and DUNE were definitely inspirations, but also Alaska. I’m a commercial fisherwoman in Bristol Bay, Alaska, and that definitely worked its way into the book in the form of harvesting a dangerous energy source, a.k.a. “fishing” for Shadow. And also, we wanted to capture that “found family” feeling that doesn’t just exist on ships like the Kaitan and Serenity, but up here, where the wilderness and the low population really make for tight knit groups of friends that essentially become your family.

As I mentioned, you’re hitting all sort of decades and age groups with the comparisons. Did you keep that in mind when writing it or have you just happened to be able to target not only teens but their moms or dads into sci-fi as well?

Michael: We targeted ourselves, I think, and it turns out we love the stories as much as the age they were intended for! I don’t think we’re alone in that. I firmly believe is a good story is a good story, even if the struggles might refer more to one stage of life than another. Qole and Nev are dealing with issues of identity we typically ascribe to younger ages, but they are also grappling with intergalactic intrigue. It beats C-SPAN, what can I say.  

You’re getting some rave reviews so far! That must make you so excited. What is some of your favorite lines of praise so far from readers or reviewers?

A: That people who don’t like traditional hard sci-fi love our book. That we’ve gotten people more excited to read other sci-fi. That we’ve written characters that people can root for. Also, I think someone called Basra “Our Lord and Savior,” so that’s just hilarious/the best.

This is part of a bigger series called Kaitan Chronicles, and is book one, so when are the next books scheduled to be out? How many to do you think you’ll write? What are some of the vague ideas of where you’ll take the readers with this series?

M: The Kaitan Chronicles are intended to be about four books, although I think I’d be perfectly happy to write forty—the story ideas in this universe don’t stop coming. The next book is already written, actually, and going through copyedits right now—it should be out in spring of next year!

I really hate it when people just say, “I can’t spoil anything!” but now I see why they do––it’s tricky to provide anything of substance without giving away the good bits! We do have a definite story arc in mind, and I’m really looking forward to people realizing that story threads are getting laid now that will be important later.

How difficult has it been or is currently to write a book/series as a duo? What does that involve? Positive take aways? Challenges?

A: It’s been remarkably easy. We work together well, and also having dual POVs really allows us to run with our own voices for our characters without sounding out of sync. We generally brainstorm a lot in person, where we can gesticulate wildly, cackle fiendishly, and scribble things down, but we also do a lot of writing apart, using Google docs on smaller files and the latest MS Word for the full manuscript, which lets people edit simultaneously from the cloud. It’s been a mostly positive experience—when you’re stuck, you have a sounding board and can usually brainstorm a way out of a sticky situation in moments, when it would have taken me days and days on my own. Of course we have our disagreements on how to resolve issues or plot points, but meeting challenges like that honestly led to some of the stronger bits of the book.

What are some words of advice you have for teen writers?

A: Keep writing! Everyone wants to be a massive success the first go around but really, it’s such an accomplishment to just finish something. And don’t stop there. Keep writing, keep practicing. I know it’s cliché, but practice makes perfect. Even if you need to write two, three, four or more novels to get published, you’ll make it so long as you keep writing.

AdriAnne, you do commercial fishing you mentioned in the summer season. Does that give you plenty of time to be creative in your head with your writing? What’s it like living in Alaska?

A: I don’t have much time to do anything more than work and sleep in the summer (and sometimes not even sleep), but it gives me plenty of time to be creative during the rest of the year. It’s what let me really dive into writing full time—I’d make my living for the rest of the year in the summer, and have the rest of the year to devote to something that would take a while before it made me any money. And living in Alaska is incomparable. The wilderness, the towering, craggy mountains and raging rivers, the long, brutally cold winters and endlessly sunny summers—this place works in extremes, and I love it.

Michael, what are your hobbies? Tell us about yourself.

M: I grew up in the woods on an off-the grid homestead, which definitely led to a profound love of reading. We would go to town every few weeks and I would load up on books to last me the month. They lasted about half that. My Mom was also a big influence in instilling a love of reading in me—she spent a lot of time researching high-quality books to recommend that both fell into my interest range but were more challenging. In retrospect, I see she was very crafty.

I later became an Apple consultant. As you might guess, that means I’m a giant nerd, so my hobbies include things like board gaming, video gaming, and attempting to game the system (not that last one). But growing up in the woods also made me love hiking and horseback riding and being on the water, so I’m basically a hiking, typing contradiction.

Where can everyone find you both online?

A: As for websites, we each have personal sites (adriannestrickland.com, michaelmiller.website), but we also have a site just for the series, to which we’ll be regularly adding more nerdy content about the world—or galaxy, rather! You’ll find it at kaitanchronicles.com.

We’re also both on Twitter (@AdriAnneMS and @begemotike), and AdriAnne is on Instagram at adrianne.strickland.

Thanks so much to you for stopping by and telling us about your book and yourselves! Best of luck with SHADOW RUN and the rest of the series. 

Shadow RunShadow Run
(Book One – Kaitan Chronicles)

Delacorte Press
Random House Children’s Books
402 pages
March 21, 2017

Synopsis –

Her ship. His plan. Their survival.

 Nev just started as the cargo hauler on the starship Kaitan Heritage. His captain, Qole, is the youngest-ever person on Alaxak to have her own ship. She’s brassy and bold, and she tolerates no argument from her crew of orphans, fugitives, and con men. As for Nev, he’s actually a prince in hiding. He thinks Qole holds the key to changing galactic civilization, but when her cooperation proves difficult to obtain, he resolves to get her to his home planet by any means necessary.

Before they know it, a rival royal family is after Qole, and they’re more interested in stealing her abilities than in keeping her alive. Nev’s mission to manipulate her becomes one to save her. To survive, she’ll have to trust her would-be kidnapper. Nev may be royalty, but Qole is discovering a deep reservoir of power of her own–and stars have mercy on whoever tries to hurt her ship or her crew.

For fans of Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s Illuminae, Pierce Brown’s Red Rising, and Star Wars, SHADOW RUN is an addictive, edge-of-your-seat thrill ride.

Praise –

“An entertaining intergalactic ride.” —Bulletin

“[A] well-executed sci-fi caper…full of intriguing commentary about wealth inequality and exploitation.” —Booklist

“Readers will want to join Qole’s crew.” —Kirkus Reviews

An explosive debut! Shadow Run is a high-octane space tale that brings back everything there is to love about classic science fiction—I can’t wait to see what these two come up with next!”—Lindsay Cummings, author of NYT bestseller Zenith

Purchase at Amazon and other online retailers and stores. Ask your indie bookstore and library to carry too!

Amazon

AdriAnne Strickland and Michael Miller Coauthor photo credit Lukas StricklandADRIANNE STRICKLAND and MICHAEL MILLER met in their hometown of Palmer, Alaska, where they agreed on 99% of book taste and thus decided to write together.

AdriAnne spends her summers as a commercial fisherwoman in Bristol Bay, Alaska, and the rest of the year writing.

Michael grew up off the grid in a homestead in Alaska and now works in IT and tech.

This is their first book together. Visit them on Twitter, AdriAnne at @AdriAnneMS and Michael at @begemotike.

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Women in History: The Bookcase of the Bronte Sisters

I’m so happy everyone is enjoying this series featuring wonderful women! Thanks so much for all the support so far. The Celebrating Women Series for 2017 continues with article #5 today. If this is the first article you’ve read so far, March is Women in History month and so I’m featuring writers and authors who sent in guest articles surrouding women and topics about women.  In fact, it will extend way past March we’ve had so much interest to feature strong, impactful women. You can find a main page for this with explanation and link to all articles here. I’ll add the articles as I schedule or post them.

Introducing Sarah Parke and the Bronte Sisters

Today we have Sarah Parke, who is a “new to me” person and author but someone I can’t wait to get to know better! She is the author of a book about the Bronte siblings, which you’ll learn about at the end, and a writer of YA historical and fantasy fiction. She seems pretty cool!

I love the Brontes and their books. It adheres to all my love of the classics and their gothic elements and they were some of the leading lady forebearers for future novelists. Plus, it fits right in with PBS Masterpiece Theatre recently showing the movie “To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters.”

I really enjoyed reading Sarah’s post and I hope you do too. And check out all the Victorian covers she provided for the books she talks about!! Enjoy.

bronte-group-reversed.k

The Bronte Sisters

The Brontës’ Bookcase

By Sarah Parke, Author of The Mourning Ring

There seems to be some unwritten law of the universe that ensures the brightest, most creative minds are snuffed out at a young age. The Brontë sisters, authors of the literary classics Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (among others) died young. Emily and Anne both died of pulmonary tuberculosis at ages 30 and 29, respectively. Seven years later, Charlotte died at 39 from suspected pregnancy complications. These women were at the very beginning of their writing careers and still publishing under male pseudonyms. They would never hear the praise or know the acclaim their novels found among their contemporaries.

We’ll never know if other literary classics might have come from this family had they lived to old age. But let’s imagine (because it’s fun to speculate) that their subsequent novels would have drawn on some of the stories they loved as children.

“Patrick Bronte’s unusually liberal views meant that his children had an unconventional Victorian childhood. Strongly influenced by Wordsworth’s attitudes to education, he encouraged them to roam freely on the moors…and allowed them to read whatever they liked from his bookshelves.” (Christine Alexander’s Tales of Glass Town, Angria, and Gondal, pg. xv)

So what did the young Brontë siblings choose to read? Come along with me. Read the shelves and run your finger across the spines of the volumes that fill the Brontë children’s bookcase.

Blackwood’s Edinburgh MagazineBlackwood’s was a Tory (Conservative) men’s magazine featuring poetry, literary reviews, as well as articles on British Army campaigns, Arctic explorations, and British imperialism in Africa. The first issue of Blackwood’s was published in April 1817, and it continued to be published until 1980. Charlotte often read the magazine aloud to her younger siblings. Charlotte and her younger brother Branwell “published” their own version of the magazine called Young Men’s Magazine where they reported (and criticized) the actions of their characters in a fictional land named Glass Town.

Blackwoods-magazine-1899-07

The Arabian Nights – This would have been an English language edition (published in 1706) of the Middle Eastern and South Asian story collection known as One Thousand and One Nights. The Arabian Nights uses a “frame story” of a woman named Scheherazade who tells her new husband, the king, part of a story every night in order to put off her execution. This frame narrative is woven throughout the other tales and ties the stories together. Fans of Wuthering Heights might recall that Emily Brontë used a frame story structure when Nelly Dean tells Mr. Lockhart the history between the Heights and the Grange.

Arabian Nights cover

The Pilgrim’s Progress – Believed to be the first novel written in English, The Pilgrim’s Progress is a Christian allegory written by John Bunyan in 1678. The entire book is presented as a dream sequence, and it follows the main character’s journey from sin to salvation. Perhaps it’s not that surprising that the Brontë siblings would be well-versed in such a book since their father was a clergyman. Jane, the titular character in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, makes reference to The Pilgrim’s Progress and makes her own journey to salvation over the course of the novel.

The Pilgrims Progress cover

Gulliver’s Travels– Another travel story (popular in the Victorian age when your average reader never travelled far from the place they were born), Gulliver’s Travels was written by Jonathan Swift in 1726. It’s not hard to understand why the Brontës would have been fascinated and entertained by the comedic and fantasy elements of the story that brings them around the world with the narrator. Gulliver’s Travels was very influential to the young Brontës; their first stories were inspired by wooden toy soldiers the size of Swift’s Lilliputians.

Gullivers Travels cover

Paradise LostAnother story drawn from Christian allegory, this time from the Book of Genesis. Paradise Lost is an epic poem (like Homer’s Iliad and The Odyssey) written by seventeenth-century English poet John Milton. The poem tries to account for Lucifer’s transgressions and subsequent Fall (from Heaven), in a way that makes the reader empathize with the devil. Perhaps Milton was the earliest known “Devil’s advocate.” The poem also depicts the events leading up to Adam and Eve’s ejection from Eden. I suspect that Charlotte and Emily also had a soft spot and a blind eye for Lucifer; their male protagonists (Rochester and Heathcliff) were notorious bad boys seeking redemption.

Paradise Lost cover

There you have it–the novels that provided the Brontë children with their earliest glimpse at life, love, and the world outside their small village. They were also fans of Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron, and the Romantic poets (Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Southey).

Next time you pick up a copy of Wuthering Heights or The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, read a little closer and try to spot the references to the novels above.

Wuthering Heights

Erin Note – Not a Victorian Era Cover but I thought it was pretty! From Penguin Puffin Classic UK 

Happy Reading!

Sarah ParkeSarah Parke, Author Biography –

Sarah Parke is an author and editor. When she’s not writing about monsters in Victorian London or supporting the publication efforts at Globe Pequot Press, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their menagerie of animals.

Follow Sarah on Twitter, @SParkeAuthor or visit her website at www.SarahParke.com.

 

Her first novel, The Mourning Ring, is a Historical Fantasy about the teenaged Brontë siblings.

SParkeHawthornCoverFront small.png

Purchase Links –

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Thank you for following the series!

Women in History

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Women in History: She-Wolf of the 13th Century? Isabella of France

The Celebrating Women Series for 2017 continues with article #4 today. March is Women in History month and so I’m featuring writers and authors who sent in guest articles surrouding women and topics about women.  In fact, it will extend way past March we’ve had so much interest to feature strong, impactful women. You can find a main page for this with explanation and link to all articles here. I’ll add the article as I schedule or post them.

Today, one of my favorite historical fiction and time slip authors, Anna Belfrage, takes the stage, or probably more likely her character, Isabella, does. Anna is such a great writer and consistenly makes me laugh so hard I’ll spit out my drink. Oh to travel to Sweden and laugh with her. But enough of that…today she is talking about Isabella of France, a she-wolf who put up with a lot from the men in her life, so we head off to the 14th century!

Isabella w Prince Edward doing homage to Charles IV

Isabella with Edward paying homage to Charles IV

Isabella of France – a milksop or a she-wolf?

By Anna Belfrage, historical fiction author

In my series The King’s Greatest Enemy, Isabella of France plays a major role. As per her highness, she is the protagonist, but as the author I can assure you she isn’t, albeit that she is one of the central characters, together with her son, Prince Edward, and her lover, Roger Mortimer. Isabella, however, is not defined by the men in her life. This is a medieval woman who grabbed hold of her destiny and forged a new future for herself – not something she necessarily wanted to do, but life can be a bummer even if you’re a highborn lady. Ask Isabella: she’d agree.

Just to give you some background, Isabella was born in 1295, the only surviving daughter of Philippe IV of France, a.k.a. Le Bel, the handsome. Philippe may have been pretty on the outside, but the rest of him was not quite as pleasing. This was a ruthless king who, among other things, crushed the Templar order and had many, many Templar knights burned for heresy. Why? Because Philippe resented the Templars’ influence over the pope – and desired their wealth.

Where daddy was tough as nails, Isabella’s mother seems to have been of a softer disposition. Jeanne of Navarre and Philippe had a happy marriage and I assume he was devastated when she died in 1305. Little Isabella now only had one parent. She also, since some years back, had a betrothed. Once she was considered old enough, Isabella was destined to wed English King Edward I’s heir, yet another Edward. By the time the marriage took place, in early 1308, Isabella’s husband was the king – and about twice her age, which probably explains why initially Edward treated Isabella kindly but with little interest.

Isabella w her daddy her hubby & her brothers

Isabella with her dad and other family

Things happened that caused Edward to turn to his wife for comfort. Besides, Isabella was now old enough to bed, and as all medieval kings, Edward was fully aware of his duty to sire an heir, no matter if his preferences lay elsewhere. As an aside, there is plenty of evidence Edward preferred the company of his male friends to that of women, but that in itself does not mean he was indulging in homosexual relationships. And if he was, he was still more than capable of impregnating Isabella. Whether he did so while closing his eyes and thinking of England we don’t know. We’ll never know.

Anyway, if we fast-forward some twelve years or so, we find Isabella and Edward living in an England torn apart by the king’s obvious infatuation with Hugh Despenser, the latest royal favourite. Despenser was greedy and the king was more than happy to give him what he wanted. (Them, actually: there was a Hugh senior and a Hugh junior. It was junior who was Edward’s preferred companion and potential lover, but senior was no slouch when it came to the coveting department, and Edward was as happy to shower Hugh senior with gifts as he was to indulge Hugh junior). Problem was, sometimes the Despensers wanted stuff that belonged to others. Sometimes, they rapaciously cheated widows and orphans out of what rightfully belonged to them. Sometimes, they even wanted land that belonged to the king’s younger brothers. And what they wanted they got, causing the rest of the English barons to grumble. Loudly.

In 1321, Isabella was no longer a child but a poised and well-educated young woman. She was Queen Consort and probably expected to – or wanted to – exert some influence over her husband. I imagine she disliked being pushed aside by Hugh. I guess she resented that it was Hugh, not Isabella, who shared the king’s confidences. Also, Isabella had others to think of, primarily her eldest son, the future Edward III, and she did not like what was happening in an England where Despenser ruled the roost. Things went from bad to worse in 1322 when a triumphant Edward II defeated his rebel barons. Roger Mortimer was thrown into the Tower, the king’s rebellious cousin Thomas of Lancaster was summarily executed, and all, as per Edward II, was well in the world.

Except it wasn’t. Despenser and Edward unleashed what is called The Tyranny, a period of four years when the king and his favourite rode roughshod over England and its barons, determined to stamp out any opposition. Thing is, if you crowd too many hungry dogs into corners, chances are they’ll start fighting back, and when Mortimer engineered his escape from the Tower in August of 1323, the downtrodden barons gained a leader who had every intention of bringing Despenser down.

Now, for the king and Despenser to have Mortimer as an implacable enemy was bad enough. They made things substantially worse for themselves when they went after Isabella, first by depriving her of her dower income – the king needed the income to fight the French, he claimed, but Isabella’s dower rights were part of the extensive marriage contracts and he had no right to confiscate them – secondly by exiling several of her household officers on the pretext that they were French and therefore potential traitors. Ahem. Isabella was French – was she also considered a potential traitor?

Whatever her feelings, Isabella was smart enough to conceal her simmering anger, which is how she ended up sent to France to negotiate a peace treaty. She did so (I guess it wasn’t too hard work: after all, she was treating with her brother, Charles IV) but the finalised treaty called for Edward to come to France and do homage to Charles IV. Edward refused – mainly because things at home were getting sticky, and Despenser was worried that the moment Edward left the country, the disgruntled barons would come after him.

In view of her husband’s refusal, Isabella convinced her brother to suggest Edward send his eldest son and heir to perform the homage in his stead. I suspect this was all part of a carefully thought out plan: once Isabella had her son with her, she could act with impunity, declaring that whatever she was doing she was doing on behalf of the poor oppressed English people and her young, handsome son.

After some consideration, Edward agreed to send his son. This is not to say he didn’t have concerns, but up to this point in her life, Isabella had always been a dutiful wife. She’d given her husband four children, she’d even accepted the confiscation of her income, so Edward had no reason to suspect she was about to turn the tables on him. After all, Isabella was a woman, and women were the weaker vessel – everyone knew that. Well, except for Isabella and a rather large handful of other colourful medieval women.

Prince Edward came to France. He did not return home. Roger Mortimer suddenly popped by to visit with the French king. Or was it to meet Isabella? Whatever the case, he did meet her, and as of that moment, those two spent all their time together, planning just how to invade England, with Prince Edward as their figurehead.

Those of you who know your history know the invasion in 1326 was a major success, and come early 1327, Hugh Despenser was dead, Edward II had been forced to abdicate, and Isabella (and Mortimer) were the effective rulers of England, her son being too young to do much ruling on his own.

Isabella besieging Bristol

Isabella besieging Bristol

All of the above indicates Isabella was a forceful person, and yet there are various depictions of the events that paint her as some sort of victim, dominated by the dark and brooding Roger Mortimer. As per these versions, poor little Isabella was manipulated by Mortimer, so enthralled to him she went along with whatever he proposed, be it executing Hugh Despenser gruesomely or (as some say) ordering the murder of her husband. (And no, I don’t think Edward II was murdered. I remain in two minds as to if he died at all in 1327 – not for this post to discuss). What the proponents of this depiction of Isabella conveniently forget is that she was born a princess of France. She’d been raised to become a strong consort, she was used to deference, and while she might have found Mortimer hot, she was also fully aware of the fact that she was born a royal, he was a mere baron.  No way was she going to let him lead her by the nose! As I believe Mortimer was a pretty smart guy, I don’t think he even tried…

The other depiction of Isabella is that of a “she-wolf.” Her behaviour was not normal for a good woman of the times, so some sort of derogatory epithet had to be attached to her, and what better than to label her as a potentially half-crazed beast. A woman to rebel against her own husband, what sort of monster was she, hey? A woman to ride at the head of her own army (Mortimer wisely rode some paces behind the queen and the prince, even if he probably did all the actual commanding), who had ever heard of that before? Unnatural behaviour, that’s what it was!

Obviously, Isabella was no half-crazed beast. She was an ambitious and intelligent woman who deeply resented being shunted aside by an avaricious favourite. She was a mother who worried her husband’s and his favourite’s behaviour jeopardised her son’s patrimony. She was a wife who’d had it with her husband’s high-handedness. In the very capable Roger Mortimer, she found the perfect instrument to help her achieve her goals. I guess it didn’t hurt that she liked the baron for other reasons as well.

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03_Annna_Belfrage 2015Anna Belfrage, Biography –

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. Instead, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time-slip series The Graham Saga, winner of multiple awards, including the HNS Indie Award 2015.

Her new series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, is set in the 1320s and features Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures during Roger Mortimer’s rise to power. The third book, Under the Approaching Dark, will be published in April of 2017 – and yes, Isabella plays a major role!

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Anna can be found on her website, on Facebook and on her blog. Or on twitter and Amazon.

FB: https://www.facebook.com/annabelfrageauthor

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Link The Graham Saga: http://myBook.to/TGS

Link The King’s Greatest Enemy: http://myBook.to/TKGE

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Thanks for following along with the series!

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