Tag Archives: Women’s history month

Celebrating Women Series: Nike Campbell-Fatoki Writes on Funlayo Alabi and Her Empowerment of African Women

Welcome to the 15th 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 Nike Campbell-Fatoki for this next article. 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.

*********************************************************

Women’s History Month – Woman Making History
Funlayo Alabi of Shea Radiance: Empowering African Women
by Nike Campbell-Fatoki, author and business owner

“Shea Radiance represents the full circle of giving that uplifts women all the way through the value chain. from seed to shelf.”

Not many companies can say that they started off with the goal of helping the community. Not many can say they were motivated to give back seeing the hardship of others. It is usually an afterthought.

shea-radiance-natural-funlayo-alabiNot so with Funlayo Alabi and Shea Radiance – an eco-luxury beauty brand, located in Columbia, Maryland a suburb in the Washington DC metropolitan Area. Shea Radiance creates effective and luxurious beauty products using shea butter as the key active ingredient. Delivered in sustainable packaging, the products positively impact the lives of women and children in Nigeria.

Shea-Radiance-Abuja-Nigeria-2013-35Shea radiance was borne out of a necessity as so many innovative things are. Funlayo’s son suffered from dry and eczema-prone skin. In 2005, a search for a cure led Funlayo and her husband, Shola, back to their homeland, Nigeria, West Africa. They witnessed the hardship of the women – lack of access to education and good health care – who gathered the nuts to produce raw shea butter and were moved.

Inspired to make a difference, they have created channels for women to sell their products and earn disposable income. Women who have the desire to work and make money for their family but do not have the financial capacity are given the opportunity through training, cooperative building and capacity building.

Shea-Radiance-Abuja-Nigeria-2013-31Shea Radiance’s core values are quality and integrity. The company continues to reach back and buy raw shea butter from the women.

Funlayo Alabi makes Nigeria and Africa proud. Today, she is making history as a woman who cares for her fellow women and is doing something about it. She recognizes that women hold the key to a life out of poverty. As Dr. James Aggrey stated, “If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate woman, you educate a nation.”

Shea communities (3)

Connect with Shea Radiance at www.shearadiance.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shearadiance
Twitter: https://twitter.com/shearadiance

***********************************************************************

Nike Campbell-Fatoki, Biography~

photo(1)

Funlayo Alabi (l) and Nike Campbell-Fatoki (R)

Nike Campbell-Fatoki is the author of Thread of Gold Beads, a historical fiction novel published in November 2012 in the US and 2013 in Nigeria.

She dabbles in poetry, has a passion for mentoring and is an advocate for domestic violence victims.

She loves traveling, watching movies, and listening to music. She is also the owner and creative director of Eclectic Goodies, an African-inspired home décor, party favors and gifts packaging company.

Her passion continues to be having a positive impact in people’s lives where ever she goes. She does this through the platforms available to her – writing, blogging, and public speaking.

She is presently writing her second novel, a collection of short stories. She lives in the Washington DC area with her family.

To learn more and connect with Nike, visit http://www.nikecfatoki.com

http://www.facebook.com/nikecfatoki
http://www.facebook.com/eclecticg
Twitter handle: @nikecfatoki

Blog: http://www.nikecampbellfatoki.blogspot.com
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+NikeCampbellFatoki

Thread of Gold Beads, Synopsis~

thread of gold beadsAmelia, daughter of the last independent King of Danhomè, King Gbèhanzin, is the apple of her father’s eye, loved beyond measure by her mother, and overprotected by her siblings. She searches for her place within the palace amidst conspirators and traitors to the Kingdom.

Just when Amelia begins to feel at home in her role as a Princess, a well-kept secret shatters the perfect life she knows. Someone else within the palace also knows and does everything to bring the secret to light. A struggle between good and evil ensues causing Amelia to leave all that she knows and loves. She must flee Danhomè with her brother, to south-western Nigeria.

In a faraway land, she finds the love of a new family and God. The well-kept secret thought to have been dead and buried, resurrects with the flash of a thread of gold beads. Amelia must fight for her life and what is left of her soul.

during the French-Danhomè war of the late 1890s in Benin Republic and early 1900s in Abeokuta and Lagos, South-Western Nigeria, Thread of Gold Beads is a delicate love story, and coming of age of a young girl. It clearly depicts the strength of the human spirit in the face of adversities.

Leave a comment

Filed under Feature Articles, Guest Posts

Celebrating Women’s Series: JoAnn Shade on Honoring Women Then and Now

Welcome to the 11th 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 JoAnn Shade for offering the 11th 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.

**********************************************************************

On Honoring Women During Women’s History Month
*reprinted from the Ashland Times-Gazette Column, March 2014
by author JoAnn Shade, D.Min

Given the continued cold temperatures we’ve enjoying well into March, it’s appropriate that this month is National Frozen Foods Month, as well as Irish American Month, National Peanut Month, and Music in Our Schools Month, an observance near and dear to my heart.

Beyond my love for music, for many years my Salvation Army ministry, academic pursuits and writing interests have been interwoven with the lives of women, particularly those who have struggled in the face of poverty and prejudice. I’ve even been told that some within Salvation Army circles see me as “that radical woman,” a label I’m actually quite fond of, as radical means ‘from the root.’ So along with the focus on frozen foods and peanuts, as a radical woman I am especially glad to note that the month of March is also National Women’s History Month, celebrating women of character, courage, and commitment.

In my early academic endeavors in the 60s, the classroom textbooks seldom mentioned the role of women in the history of our country or our world, yet as I discovered their stories on the shelves of the local library, somehow I knew they belonged in those history texts as well. I doubt that I understood the long-lasting impact the accounts of Elizabeth Blackwell, M.D., Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Dorothy Day would have on the trajectory of my life, but their biographies planted seeds of inspiration in the life of that young girl.

Times have changed, and since 1980, women from a variety of areas of achievement have been honored during this month of recognition, and this year’s list includes a pharmacologist and public health activist (Frances Oldham Kelsey), a congresswoman and Iraq War veteran (Tammy Duckworth) and Anna Julia Haywood Cooper, the slavery-born author and educator with a life mission to open the doors of higher education to children of color.

Chipeta, also on this year’s list, was a new name to me, a woman born into the Kiowa Apache in the 1840s and remembered as a peacemaker, wise elder, and advisor to other Indian chiefs. I also was awed by the many accomplishments of Roxcy O’Neal Bolton, who founded Florida’s first battered women’s shelter, convinced the airlines to offer maternity leave to its pregnant flight attendants (instead of firing them), and persuaded the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to name hurricanes after both women and men.

Yet it isn’t only the historical achievements of women that are being honored during March. Since 2007, the Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award has recognized women around the globe who have demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment, often at great personal risk.

This year, these women include Dr. Nasrin Oryakhil of Afghanistan, a prominent leader in the field of maternal health, and Beatrice Mtetwa, who is Zimbabwe’s most prominent human rights lawyer, fighting against injustice, defending press freedom, and upholding the rule of law. With the eyes of the world focused on the unrest in the Ukraine, I took special notice of Ruslana Lyzhychko, a civil society activist, human rights advocate and a leader of Ukraine‘s Maidan movement for democratic reform. Her bio notes that Lyzhychko’s “steadfast commitment to non-violent resistance and national unity helped channel a series of popular demonstrations into a national movement against government corruption and human rights abuses.”

Rudyard Kipling understands: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” The stories of women add a rich texture to our understanding of history and of contemporary life. These are the stories I want to tell my granddaughter: stories of her fore-mothers who left all they knew to immigrate to the United States, stories of women in history who risked their lives for the rights she will take for granted, and stories of women around the world today who do what they have to do to feed their children and to change their world. I want the lovely Madelyn Simone to know women of character, courage and commitment in her community, her country, and her world. Let me tell you a story, Madelyn . . .

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.

JoAnn’s blog is gracednotesministries@blogspot.com, and Facebook page is Gracednotes Ministries, Amazon author page is http://www.amazon.com/author/joannshade.

2 Comments

Filed under Feature Articles, Guest Posts

Stephanie Carroll, Author of A White Room, is Interviewed on Gothic Style, Victorian Era, and Writing Historical Fiction

Today I am discussing with the author Stephanie Carroll her novel A White Room, as well as themes like how she writes a gothic feel into her novels. She talks Victorican Age, women in history, offers writing tips, and gives a personal glimpse into her inspiration and life. AND she’d be happy for comments or questions under the post as well, she loves to answer!

Don’t forget to check the links for an ebook giveaway of her debut novel, A White Room. If you don’t know what the book is about, you can see my review HERE! You can link to the giveaway in Stephanie’s welcome comment (right below this) or all the way at the bottom of the post after you read the interview. Enjoy!

A White Room 350x525

Hi Stephanie, so happy to have you on Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I look forward to discussing your writing life and your debut novel, A White Room. How has the summer launch of your book been going?

Stephanie:  Thank you for having me, Erin, and thank you for asking about the launch. It is going very well. I’ve been so very busy and having a lot of fun doing interviews, writing guest posts, and giving away free copies of A White Room like the ebook giveaway on Oh, for the Hook of a Book! Also, your readers can see the schedule of tour stops on my blog The Unhinged Historian.

Erin: Let’s find a sunny spot. I’ll go ahead and hop an airplane to you, I’m sure I’d love the weather a lot more than this Ohio rollercoaster! Grab a favorite drink and we’ll start talking! 

Stephanie:  Actually, the weather in California’s Central Valley is in the 100s and not so lovely, so let’s fly a little further west and bam lemon drops beach-side – ask away!  

Q:  Where did you find the inspiration to write A White Room? How much research went in to the book?

A:  The inspiration came from a free-write I did about a woman trapped in a white room. It was kind of a metaphor on an outlook about life and life’s responsibilities, which I incorporated into the book. Readers will know what I’m talking about when they see it – got to read the book now.  ; )

The amount of research that went into it was extensive. I researched for six months straight before I started writing, and I continued to research throughout the entire process of writing and editing, up to the final stages of production and publishing. My initial six months of research was to get the base knowledge of day to day life at the time. My continued research was on specific topics or issues when I’d realize I wanted to go in a certain direction with the book or it would just be me fact checking.

Q: I know you love the gothic feel of the Victorian Era. How did you incorporate this into your novel?

A: I really did want the novel to have an overall darkness, and I think I achieved that through a number of ways. Obviously, the furniture and the house have gothic characteristics, and much of Emeline’s hallucinations have kind of a gothic haunting feel to them.

However, I really felt like I tapped into some kind of gothic tradition with the fact that Emeline is in mourning. Victorian etiquette requires her to wear black for up to a year or more. Plus, she is in a way forced to move away from her family to a frightening place with a man she doesn’t know. There is darkness there from an emotional sense of sadness, dread, and death. Then there’s a literal darkness from Emeline having to wear black, the house having this gothic appearance, and from Emeline’s husband having insisted on keeping all the rooms shut up, so there is never any light in certain areas of the house.  

Q:  I believe that women’s rights and women’s independence was a large part of the societal issues your book portrayed, being set in Missouri in 1901. How did you formulate your female lead and do you think authentically represented a portion of the women during that time period? Why?

A: Emeline represents a growing group of women during a historical point in time. The turn of the century was a period of transition for women. Twenty years earlier and women were entrenched in the Cult of True Womanhood, and twenty years later, women were demanding the right to vote. Emeline represents a woman trapped between the two extremes, a woman with the desire to do something more, but a woman who is held back by the expectations of her time. I tried to also represent a variety of other women’s experiences with the other female characters in the novel.

Q:  What other societal issues did you bring to readers through your book? Was the class struggle you presented prominent during this time period across the U.S.?  How did you create your character to be able to overcome this kind of drama?

A:  During the Victorian Era it was normal to consider the lower classes as lower and to treat them poorly, even abusively. No one would second guess such behavior. It was just the way it was, and yet historians have found many accounts of people from both classes who overcame these barriers, treated one another with kindness, and on many occasions recognized and fought against such inequalities.

Q:  Your cover is beautiful. How did that all come together and what does the painting represent to you or your book?

A: The original painting is called “Lady Astor” and was painted by John Singer Sargent in 1909. My cover designer Jenny Quinlan of Historical Editorial found it and showed me a mock up. I had known I wanted a woman in white on the cover. We had already gone through multiple mock-ups of women in white dresses and nothing looked quite right until I saw this one.

From the moment I saw it, I knew it was the one. She looked like Emeline and from that instant the woman in the painting became Emeline in my mind. I even re-wrote scenes at the end to try to match the dress Emeline is wearing to the dress in the painting. My cover designer wrote a blog post on our process. You can read it on Historical Editorial.

Q:  I loved the description of the house your character moves to in your novel.  How did you create that image in your mind? How fun was it for you to make up the things that the house begins to do your character?

A: I originally attempted to make up a house to fit what I wanted, but I didn’t know enough about Victorian architecture to even attempt it, so I went on a hunt for the right house. The house in the book is based on The Doyle-Mounce House in Hannibal, Missouri. View it on Dave’s Victorian House Site. (The fastest way is to press Ctrl F and search Doyle-Mounce.)

I tried to do my best to describe the exterior of the house in the book, but the interior is all my own creation. I couldn’t find any information or photos of the interior of the house. I did do my best to make the interior designed to the times although also an oddity. BTW – that’s a pretty difficult thing to do – to make a house historically accurate but at the same time a house that would be considered odd in comparison to other houses at the time. It was a lot of fun though.

Q:  Do you read any type of gothic fiction yourself? What are your favorite authors in the genre and/or what else do you like to read or what authors do you prefer?

A: It depends on your definition of the gothic novel. The original gothic novel was something of a horror romance genre that developed in the late Eighteenth Century and further in the Nineteenth Century with Edgar Allen Poe and Mary Shelly, but if you search Gothic Victorian Fiction on a book site like Goodreads, you’ll get everything from Bram Stoker’s Dracula to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.

My personal definition of gothic fiction has to do with dark themes, dark moods, and gothic aesthetics, which is ultimately determined by setting and description. I know there are plenty of gothic novels written today, but the one’s I think of having read are all classics like The Raven and Wuthering Heights, which is funny considering my definition falls on the modern side. Now I’m going to have to go on a reading hunt for modern gothic Victorian novels. Maybe your readers have some suggestions.

Erin Comments:  Try Daphne DuMaurier, if you haven’t! I pick them up at sales with the cover price still as .35cents, so of course I get them cheaper even. You might like some of them! If you haven’t read Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables, maybe that too. I referred to that in your review. 🙂

Q:  What is the most surprising or amazing thing that you’ve found in your researching?

A:  The most surprising thing, I learned while researching A White Room was the way that investigators went about interrogating people involved in an illegal abortion. Investigators would force all involved, which usually included family members, to describe everything in graphic detail. At a time when people didn’t even speak openly about pregnancy, this was a really embarrassing experience, especially for women questioned by male investigators. The humiliation is palpable in the historical documentation of the process.

Outside of my research for A White Room, I was really surprised by the government sanctioned eugenics program, which allowed for forceful sterilization of people considered a detriment to society. The program went after a range of people from the blind to those with mental disabilities to promiscuous women, many of whom were raped and accused of promiscuity. The program survived for a long time. People are still around who had this done to them.

Erin Comments: Humanity sometimes makes me very angry! I just can’t understand why people were treated this way, especially women. And the idea of putting women in institutions or sanitariums for having an independent mind….don’t get me started!

Q:  What tips do you have for authors about the skill of researching?

A: I recently wrote a guest blog post on this very topic on A Writer of History blog, so I’ll suggest that for a more detailed answer, but as far as a quick tip:  Research the day-to-day details, like the cost of a doctor visit or how shoes were fastened – buckles, buttons, laces? Stuff like that. Those are the details that will bring a historical world to life, and that is what readers of historical fiction are after. It’s the kind of history you don’t learn in school. It’s what allows the reader to experience what it was like to live during that time.

Q:  Have you researched any historical women you’d like to possibly write a book about in the future? Who are some women from history who have made lasting impressions on you?

A: There are plenty of women in history who have stuck out to me. The French Queen Catherine de Medici who was married off at 14, ignored by her husband for his mistress, and then thrust into politics after the king’s death. I also find myself attracted to historical characters like Mercédès Mondego from The Count of Monte Cristo. I’d like to re-write that story from her perspective. Apparently, I need to learn French. =)

I haven’t decided when or if I’ll pursue these ideas, and they are just a few among many. I have other projects that need to come first. I plan to stick with the American Victorian and Gilded Age for a while, but I won’t rule anything out as far as branching out with future projects. I hope to someday be like Alice Hoffman and have 30 books under my belt.

Erin Comments: You should certainly read C.W. Gortner’s (Christopher Gortner) novel on Catherine de Medici! I bet you’ll love it!

Q:  Many women struggle with the issue of feeling that their writing time is accepted. Do you schedule time for your writing or have any advice for women who “just can’t find the time?” or “feel pulled in too many other directions?”

A: I treat my writing like a second job. I schedule time to work on it daily and refuse to do anything else during that time – no dishes or bills. Even if that means I’m staring at the white screen typing, I don’t know what to write, over and over. I have totally done that.

Make the schedule work for you – maybe you get one day a week where you can dedicate eight hours to writing. Or maybe all you can squeeze in is an hour a day. Some people focus on word count, and it’s usually recommended that beginning writers focus on writing 300 words a day – that’s like half a page.

If you are a parent, make it work with your children’s nap time or when hubby gets home and can take over for a little while. Make an agreement with your family that this time is yours and no one is to interrupt you.  

If you work – take that mandatory hour lunch break and write or take an hour after work and go to a Starbucks. I once had a two hour block between two part-time jobs. I’d sit in Starbucks and edit. I remember thinking it wasn’t enough time to do anything, but I got quite a bit done without any distractions.

Every writer is different, though. Some have to take a month off from work and lock themselves in the attic while others tick away over time. The main thing that makes the difference between a successful writer and the person that writes a chapter once a year is that the successful writer dedicates themselves to writing regularly. No successful writer waits for inspiration.

Erin Comments: Great advice!

Q:  Do you use an outline when writing a novel or do you prefer to write freely, going where the muse takes you?

A: I wrote A White Room kind of haphazardly, writing chapters all over the place and then arranging and re-arranging them. I eventually created an outline and worked off of that during the editing process. For my second novel, I created the outline first and wrote almost every chapter in order. I wrote the first draft for that second novel really fast, so I think I prefer outlines. I like to be organized and efficient. And yet, I’ve already written random chapters for my third novel in no particular order so who knows. Maybe it will be different every time.

Q:  What challenges have you had in your writing and publishing process, what have your learned, and what are your positives?

A: The most difficult thing happened after I was diagnosed with scoliosis and a chronic pain disorder called Myofascial Pain Syndrome. It’s comparable to fibromyalgia, but it’s only in certain locations – for me it’s my back. I was diagnosed after years of back problems, which were worsened by sitting and typing – aka writing.

At the time, none of the treatments helped. The only thing I could do to relieve the pain was lay down. I had become Emeline – bedridden.

On top of that, my writing career was going nowhere. I had to quit my job as a reporter because of the pain, and A White Room had been rejected by every literary agent possible it seemed. I felt like I had to consider whether or not I just wasn’t good enough or if it just wasn’t the right path for me. Plus, it hurt so much to write. I couldn’t do it for very long without hurting. It all led to a pretty dark time in my life.

I got over it when I forced myself to get back to life – fake it until you make it kind of thing. I went to physical therapy, got a part-time job, and returned to writing and my pursuit of publishing. It took a couple more years, but here I am with a published book. My back problems continue, but I’ve learned to manage them, and I’m even using some of my experiences with chronic pain to develop one of my characters in my next novel.

What did I learn? It’s nothing profound. Don’t give up – it’s depressing. Seriously though, that’s what I learned. I almost became that person who says I wrote a novel once but it never went anywhere. I’m sure there are exceptions and there are writers who write more for themselves than for publishing, but I think if you are an author who is truly dedicated to getting published, you will get published as long as you don’t give up.

Erin Comments: Aw, Stephanie. I am sorry to hear this, I know how hard it can be to get through the painful days. I have several related things myself which is why I am home freelancing my work and writing, as well. But I really didn’t start reading and writing again until I was bedridden. It was a curse, and a blessing. It’s hard to be in pain, even to type, but the feeling after is so worth it. I can totally understand. And I could relate to your character in A White Room too, being cooped up inside that room and almost going mad!

Q:  What is in the future for you? What else are you writing or do you plan to write about?

A: My second novel is called The Binding of Saint Barbara, and it takes place during the historical story leading up to the first death by electrocution in Auburn Prison in 1890, New York. The story focuses on the prison warden and his family, who lived in the prison and interacted with the condemned prisoner on a daily basis.

The main plotline though is about the warden’s fictional daughter Charlotte who has the patron saint of lightning trapped inside her. While her family is wrapped up with issues of death, Charlotte learns about life after meeting a strange boy outside the prison walls, a strange boy the saint will not let Charlotte forget.

This and many of my future works will involve magical realism, a fiction technique where the writer intermingles magic with reality, treating it as if it’s just normal and nothing special. My third novel is going to involve several generations of women, a family curse, and turn of the century spiritualism, which is where we get séances and crystal balls from.  

Q:  If you lived in a room of talking furniture yourself, what piece of furniture would be your best friend? Why? (All in good fun…)

A: The flamboyant wine rack of course or perhaps a saucy liquor cabinet. Why? Well, if I’m going to be stuck in a room of talking furniture, I’m going to get them to talk! Oooooo the sofa and the coatrack did what? Scandalous!

Erin Comments: HA!!

Q:  Where can readers and writers connect with you? Where can they buy your book?

A: I’m kind of everywhere on social media – I recently joined Instagram – I’m on YouTube, GooglePlus, and Pinterest, but my most used accounts are Facebook,  Twitter, and Goodreads.    I can be found on most social media sites by searching either CarrollBooks or StephanieCarroll.

You can of course also find me on my website www.stephaniecarroll.net or on one of my two blogs The Unhinged Historian (exploring the dark side of the Victorian & Gilded Ages) and Unhinged & Empowered Navy Wives (Embracing the Insanity of being a Navy Wife).

A White Room is Available in Print $14.99 and eBook $3.99 (Kindle, Nook, Sony, e-pub) at: AmazonBarnes & NobleSonyKoboInkteraSmashwordsApple’s iBooks.

Erin:  Thank you so very much Stephanie! It has been a pleasure talking to you and your book was fabulous. I wish you much continued success and look forward to reading more on your blog too.  Come back by anytime!

Stephanie: Thank you Erin for having me back, for taking the time to read and review A White Room, and for interviewing me today. I hope your readers enjoy it as much as I did, and I hope they are all blessed with the most obedient furniture in the world.  

******************************************

Giveaway~

A Rafflecopter giveaway for an ebook version of Stephanie’s book! Just click on the link and enter to win! Ends Aug. 31, 2013! There are several thing you can do for extra entries.

******************************************

Advanced Praise for A White Room~

“A novel of grit, independence, and determination … An intelligent story, well told.”

—Renée Thompson, author of The Plume Hunter and The Bridge at Valentine

“The best historical fiction makes you forget it’s fiction and forget it’s historical. Reminiscent of The Yellow Wallpaper … the thoughtful, intricate story Carroll relates is absolutely mesmerizing.”

—Eileen Walsh, Ph.D. U.S. Women’s History, University of San Diego

 A White Room, Synopsis~

At the close of the Victorian Era, society still expected middle-class women to be “the angels of the house,” even as a select few strived to become something more. In this time of change, Emeline Evans dreamed of becoming a nurse. But when her father dies unexpectedly, Emeline sacrifices her ambitions and rescues her family from destitution by marrying John Dorr, a reserved lawyer who can provide for her family. 

John moves Emeline to the remote Missouri town of Labellum and into an unusual house where her sorrow and uneasiness edge toward madness. Furniture twists and turns before her eyes, people stare out at her from emA White Room 350x525pty rooms, and the house itself conspires against her. The doctor diagnoses hysteria, but the treatment merely reinforces the house’s grip on her mind.

Emeline only finds solace after pursuing an opportunity to serve the poor as an unlicensed nurse. Yet in order to bring comfort to the needy she must secretly defy her husband, whose employer viciously hunts down and prosecutes unlicensed practitioners. Although women are no longer burned at the stake in 1900, disobedience is a symptom of psychological defect, and hysterical women must be controlled.

A novel of madness and secrets, A White Room presents a fantastical glimpse into the forgotten cult of domesticity, where one’s own home could become a prison and a woman has to be willing to risk everything to be free.

Author Stephanie Carroll, Biography~

Author Photo at Irwin Street Inn - CopyAs a reporter and community editor, Stephanie Carroll earned first place awards from the National Newspaper Association and from the Nevada Press Association. Stephanie holds degrees in history and social science. She graduated summa cum laude from California State University, Fresno.

Her dark and magical writing is inspired by the classic authors Charlotte Perkins Gilman (The Yellow Wallpaper), Frances Hodgson Burnett (The Secret Garden), and Emily Bronte (Wuthering Heights).  A White Room is her debut novel.

Stephanie blogs and writes fiction in California, where her husband is stationed with the U.S. Navy. Her website is www.stephaniecarroll.net.

3 Comments

Filed under Q and A with Authors, Uncategorized

Author Kim Rendfeld Talks About the Role of Carolingian Queens: Women’s History Series

Today I have another insightful guest post for the Women in History, or Women Making History, series I’ve been featuring on Oh, for the Hook of a Book! The article today is by Kim Rendfeld, historical fiction author of The Cross and the Dragon, a novel which is set in the time period of Charlemagne. In her book, her protagonist is quite independent. Kim has some great insights into the roles of women during this time period. 

But first, to see my former review of Kim’s book click HERE or an in-depth interview with her, click HERE. Now, enjoy Kim’s post! If you have thoughts leave them in the comments!

Beyond Baby-Making: The Role of Carolingian Queens
By Kim Rendfeld

KimBookPhotoSmallerAlthough seldom mentioned in annals, queens in Carolingian era (eighth and ninth century Francia) had a much more important role than a casual 21st century observer might think.

If the king did not already have heirs, the queen’s primary role was to produce healthy sons to inherit the realm, and some kings tried to divorce wives unable to bear children. My main characters’ inability to conceive becomes a point of contention in my novel, The Cross and the Dragon. (Paradoxically, a Carolingian king would not want too many sons born in wedlock because each one of them would expect kingdom when his father died.)

Yet a queen’s responsibilities went beyond baby-making, and if the question of heirs was already settled, she could have tremendous influence.

453px-Bertrada_Broadfoot_of_Laon_Berthe_au_Grand_Pied_Versailles

From Wikimedia Commons:  The statue is of Queen Bertrada, Charlemagne’s mother. It’s a 19th century cast of a statue of the 13th century at the Château de Versailles

The ninth-century treatise The Government of the Palace says the queen’s role is “to release the king from all domestic and palace cares, leaving him free to turn his mind to the state of his realm.”

This does not mean the queen is relegated to the role of housewife. In the Middle Ages, the personal and political were intertwined. The queen was the guardian of the treasury, and she controlled access to her husband. Alcuin, an influential scholar, wrote to the queen to find out where Charlemagne was spending the winter.

When houseguests were foreign dignitaries, royal hospitality was key to international relations. Hospitality was more than just showing good manners. Frankish royalty would want their guests to report to their own rulers that the palace was beautiful and sturdy, the baths were hot, the table was laden, the host well dressed, and the guards and servants well cared for. All signs of power, important to project even to one’s own allies whose support could shift.

Hildegard_Vinzgouw

From Wikimedia Commons:  The drawing is a 16th century depiction of Hildegard, Charlemagne’s second wife.

Of course, this time period was hardly ideal for women. Girls as young as 12 or 13 were considered marriageable, and their families chose their husbands. Among aristocrats, marriage was most often for political reasons. Canon law gave women the right to consent to a marriage at age 15 or 16, but that could be beaten or starved out of them.

However, the reason for Women’s History Month and for posts like these is that too often women are portrayed only as victims and not as full human beings who could influence events around them and contribute to their societies. Carolingian queens certainly did both.

Sources

Women at the Court of Charlemagne, Janet Nelson

Daily Life in the World of Charlemagne, Pierre Riche (translated by Jo Ann McNamara)

Kim Rendfeld, Biography~

KimBookPhotoSmallerKim Rendfeld is the author of The Cross and the Dragon, a tale of love set amid the wars and blood feuds of Charlemagne’s reign. Her protagonist is Alda, a strong-willed Rhineland noblewoman. Two historical influential women, Queen Hildegard and Queen Mother Bertrada, are secondary characters in the novel.

Kim has a lifelong fascination with fairy tales and legends, which set her on her quest to write The Cross and the Dragon.

 She grew up in New Jersey and attended Indiana University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and English, with a minor in French. If it weren’t for feminism, she would be one of those junior high English teachers scaring the bejesus out of her students, correcting grammar to the point of obnoxiousness. Instead, her career has been in journalism, public relations, and now fiction.

 Kim was a journalist for almost twenty years at Indiana newspapers, including the Journal and Courier in Lafayette, The Muncie Star, and The News and Sun in Dunkirk, and she won several awards from the Hoosier State Press Association.

 Her career changed in 2007, when she joined the marketing and communications team at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. She gets paid to agonize over commas and hyphens, along with suggesting ways to improve writing, and thoroughly enjoys it. She is proud to have been part of projects that have received national recognition.

 Kim lives in Indiana with her husband, Randy, and their spoiled cats.  They have a daughter and two granddaughters, with a third due in May 2013.

 The Cross and the Dragon Synopsis~

9781611792270-CrossandDragon-small2A tale of love in an era of war and blood feuds.

 Francia, 778: Alda has never forgotten Ganelon’s vow of vengeance when she married his rival, Hruodland. Yet the jilted suitor’s malice is nothing compared to Alda’s premonition of disaster for her beloved, battle-scarred husband.

 Although the army invading Hispania is the largest ever and King Charles has never lost a war, Alda cannot shake her anxiety. Determined to keep Hruodland from harm, even if it exposes her to danger, Alda gives him a charmed dragon amulet.

 Is its magic enough to keep Alda’s worst fears from coming true—and protect her from Ganelon?

 Inspired by legend and painstakingly researched, The Cross and the Dragon is a story of tenderness, sacrifice, lies, and revenge in the early years of Charlemagne’s reign, told by a fresh, new voice in historical fiction.

8 Comments

Filed under Guest Posts

100 Year Anniversary of Women Marching on Washington: Celebrating Women’s History Month

 March is Women’s History Month!

That’s a very special remembrance for me, not only because I am a woman myself, but because I am such a strong advocate for women’s rights. There have been some amazing women in history, who’ve made history, or even are currently making history! I love the swarm of historical fiction books on the rise featuring some trailblazing women or women who pushed the boundaries and limits, knowing that they had just as much right as men to vote, or fly, or perform scientific breakthroughs, and the list goes on.

On my site this month, I am featuring authors who have guest posts about WOMEN IN HISTORY or WOMEN WHO ARE MAKING HISTORY!

The first one is about the anniversary of the suffragist’s march by author Mona Rodriguez. If you have a guest post you’d like to appear, please feel free to contact me at hookofabook@hotmail.com!

Celebrating the Woman’s Right to Vote
by Mona Rodriguez, Author of Forty Years in a Day

Mona RodriguezMarch 3, 2013 marked 100 years since suffragists marched on Washington!

In my historical novel, Forty Years in a Day, which I coauthored with my cousin Dianne Vigorito, one of our characters is a young Italian immigrant woman named Catherina who becomes passionate about the progression of the women’s rights movement.

Standing up for her beliefs and advocating women’s rights, she puts her life in danger by handing out flyers on street corners and attending rallies.

She communicated her reasoning quite eloquently when she said, “If there’s to be true democracy, there needs to be changes. Why, it’s an American right to vote, denied only to criminals, lunatics, and women. How ridiculous is that?”

There are many famous women in history who have fought against convention for justice and equality, and there are also millions of lesser known women from all walks of life who have faced incredible obstacles in pursuit of freedom and opportunity. In the end, all women, no matter how famous or unknown, who have helped change the course of history for the betterment of all should be remembered and saluted.

women_voting

***********************************************************************************************************

Forty Years in a Day Info and Synopsis~

FYIAD cover_395x597Paperback: 6 x 9
388 Pages
Release Date: 2013-02-19
Tate Publishing

What is the connection between an infamous Irish mob boss and an Italian immigrant family?

The story begins in Italy, 1900. After years of torment and neglect, Victoria and her four small children immigrate to Hell’s Kitchen, New York, to escape her alcoholic, abusive husband. On the day they leave, he tragically dies, but she does not learn of his death for several years—a secret that puts many lives on hold.

Quickly, they realize America’s streets are not paved with gold, and the limits of human faith and stamina are tested time and time again. Poverty, illness, death, kidnapping, and the reign of organized crime are just some of the crosses they bear.

Victoria’s eldest son, Vincenzo, is the sole surviving member of the family and shares a gut-wrenching account of their lives with his daughter during a visit to Ellis Island on his ninetieth birthday.

Forty Years in a Day is layered with the struggles and successes of each family member and defines the character of an era. Follow the Montanaro family through several decades, and stand in the shoes of a past generation.

Learn more at: http://www.fortyyearsinaday.com/ and see the trailer: http://youtu.be/AfJ5p4qCzmM

Mona Rodriguez and Dianna Vigorito, Biography~

Mona Rodriguez and Dianne Vigorito are cousins. Throughout their lives, they had heard many stories from family members that were fascinating, sometimes even unbelievable, and decided to piece together the puzzle of tales. Through research and interviews, their goal was to create a fictional story that follows a family through several decades, providing the reader an opportunity to stand in the shoes of a past generation and walk in search of their hopes and dreams. What they realize in the process is that human emotions have been the same throughout generations – the difference is how people are molded and maneuvered by the times and their situations.

Mona and Dianne strongly believe there is tremendous knowledge to be gained from those who are older and wiser, a resource precariously looming at everyone’s fingertips.

 Mona and Dianne live with their husbands in New Jersey and they each have two grown sons. This is their first novel together.

Mona Rodriguez

​Dianne Vigorito

 Thank you, Mona, for a thoughtful post about women in history who made history! Any women in history intrigue you?

Leave a comment

Filed under Feature Articles