Sunday, July 31, 2016

Weekly Winner ~ Get Fired Up For Summer Contest

Eva Minaskanian wins a copy of Damsel of the Hawk by Vijaya Schartz.

Eva, please email 
to claim your prize. 


Books We Love

Find the contest details here


Get Fired Up For Summer with 
Books We Love!

Astral Travel by Eleanor Stem

We are born remembering where we came from, what we can do. While in-utero we are partially with the growing fetus and also within the ether. We divide our time between the two and swear to the heavens we will not forget. 

By the time we reach the age of two or three our spirits are totally enclosed in the fleshly casing we call our bodies and we forget. We start to feel lonely, bereft. The light does not penetrate easily into our souls through dense skin, sinew and bone. 

We forget we can astral travel. 

Now, please bear with me; I promise this will be interesting. You just have to read a little before getting to it: 

I knew this lady who had to move to another town for work, leaving her husband behind. For about 6 months, they visited each other every other month. The only friends she made during this time were two coworkers, a man and a woman. 

She heard about a music festival that was popular in the area. Musicians competed with each other. They sold crafts and funnel cakes but to get there she had to travel narrow roads that wound through long stretches of farmland. As with her life of late, it was located in an isolated area. 

She did not want to go alone but it was supposed to be fun. She also wanted to get some Christmas gifts for her family. Her female coworker was out of town so she asked the guy to accompany her. She did not want to tell her husband. He would be upset. 

Toward the weekend, she became nervous. On Saturday, when she was supposed to meet the guy, she texted her husband to let him know her plans and to trust her. She stuck her mobile into her purse and almost ran out of the apartment. 

The road to the small town and music festival was pretty, but again isolated. She didn’t like her male coworker very much. The more she learned of him, the more his dark moods concerned her. One day he stood near the door of her office as he ground out some ill and she literally saw his aura, brownish, like a dark, disintegrating shield. She backed away. 

They got to the festival and separated, he to a conference call and she to the crafts. After a while, they met where the food was being served. He asked if she liked funnel cake. She responded she’d never eaten one. He said, “Well we can’t have that, can we?” 

As they sat across from each other at a picnic table, people with their children meandered through. Music could be heard in the background, cheers from the stadium where groups performed. 

She cut into her piece of funnel cake, a rich delight of whipped cream, pastry and apples. The guy confided something to her, but she watched over his shoulder, not hearing what he said. His mouth worked as if she were deaf. She found living apart from her husband lonely. Friendly coworkers didn’t help. 

Suddenly she heard a loud pop. Something altered in the ether. She turned in that direction where, close at hand, energy shifted. As she watched, fractured space folded back to normal. 

But she never made the connection to astral travel. A woman had just sent her food remnants into a rubbish barrel. She must have thrown something heavy in there. 

That night, she spoke with her husband. He said he’d been at the festival with her, saw her eat the funnel cake. She wore a white shirt. From what he saw, he knew she was not being disloyal. He felt good, reassured. The pop she had heard was when someone knocked on the door, hurtling him back to their house and onto the couch where he sat. 

Amazed, she explained what she had felt, what she had heard, that the ether had popped. She had worn a white shirt. 

Everyone acted normally. The guy across from her kept talking about his ills and needs. No one had looked up to see if something had made that loud pop. 

She alone had heard the shift in the ether, seen the air move while her husband had been with her.
Many thanks to Terri for her story.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Homage to the Firefly

 by Kathy Fischer-Brown

Well here it is, July 30th…again. Here in Connecticut we’re smack dab in the midst of an extended heat wave (yesterday the heat index reached 103 F). I’ll be out with one of the dogs on our “walkies” around the block when a neighbor invariably asks with a big sweaty grin as he pauses from his mowing, “Hot enough for ya?” My answer, usually, is that I don’t mind the heat and find it preferable to freezing my butt off during our overly long, cold New England winters. No, I never complain about the heat. Not that I enjoy peeling myself from the chair I’m sitting in, or having my glasses fog up when I move from the outdoors to the air-conditioned inside (or vice versa), it’s just that summer happens to be my favorite season.

What, really, is there not to like about summer? The trees are in full leaf, flowers are in bloom, and our garden is producing zucchinis, peppers, tomatoes, and herbs faster than we can eat them. The backyard pool has been open since before Memorial Day and Tim, my husband, and Evie, our mutant springer spaniel, take advantage of a refreshing dip throughout the day. It’s a lazy time of year, a time for taking things a little slower, especially when outside playing ball with the mutant. It’s a time of glowing skies long after sunset, of sitting on the back deck with a good read on my Kindle, a baseball game on the radio…and, my favorite spectator sport: firefly watching.

I can’t remember when I first fell in love with those sparkly little critters, but I have memories
from when I was six-or-so running across the lawn in bare feet as I tried to catch them in my hands. And then there was an Independence Day night some 25 years ago when the sounds of fireworks from the park across town seemed in sync with the flickering of hundreds—if not thousands—of those incandescent insects in our yard. Twelve years ago, after a grueling eight months of surgeries, treatment and recovery from breast cancer, I found myself enjoying a warm late spring evening on the deck with no other thought in my mind except to breathe in the night air and give thanks to whatever powers that be for being alive. As if in answer, and totally unexpected, fireflies—like so many stars—lit up the trees and shrubs and flickered over the grass, a simple reminder that life is good and beautiful. I actually cried from happiness.

The sad thing is that “firefly season” is short-lived. By this time, end of July, the most spectacular displays are over. A few stragglers—those late for the party—appear well past dark, sometimes no more than two or three at a time to signal their desire for a mate. And then, within an hour or so, the yard is dark and still, with only the sounds of crickets filling the night.

Over the years I’ve done some reading up on the Lampyridae family of insects, the winged beetle order Coleoptera. No, they’re not flies, and up close they’re probably among the ugliest creatures I’ve seen. There are over 2,000 species of fireflies in the world, but only a few have the ability to emit the yellow, green or pale blue glow we have here in the eastern U.S. According to scientists, the reaction in their bodies that produces their light (bioluminescence) is among the most efficient in that it is nearly all glow and almost no heat. The light comes from luciferin, a chemical in their abdomens that, when combined with oxygen, produces their characteristic glow.

Among the fireflies in my yard, I count four different varieties. There are the synchronistic pulsers, males which signal the females of the species that they’re ready to mate. The females generally lie low in the grass with their answering flicker. Streakers seem to be in a great hurry, maybe to a party in someone else’s yard. And then there are the seducers, cannibal fireflies that mimic the flash of the female to lure an unsuspecting male to his death.

Unfortunately, due to a host of factors such as pesticide use and light pollution, firefly populations are in decline over most of the planet. But not in my yard. We have the perfect combination of damp creek bed in a forested tract just beyond a stand of willows, where the females like to lay their eggs. The larva and even their eggs are known to produce a glow, protection from other critters that would otherwise find them distasteful, even poisonous. In some species, the larvae burrow underground, sometimes for years, before emerging in late spring.

As writers, we’re told to write about what we know, which is good advice, but only to a certain point. In my fantasy novel, The Return of Tachlanad, I found a place for my beloved fireflies (which you can see on the lovely cover by Michelle Lee). At first glance they appear to be the same flickering, flying creatures that light up my summer nights, but these guys have a whole other personality and a bit of magic.


Kathy Fischer Brown is a BWL author of historical novels, Winter Fire, Lord Esterleigh's Daughter, Courting the DevilThe Partisan's Wife, and The Return of Tachlanad, her latest release, an epic fantasy adventure for young adult and adult readers. Check out her The Books We Love Author page or visit her website. All of Kathy’s books are available in e-book and in paperback from Amazon.

Friday, July 29, 2016

A Schuyler Sketch--French & Indian War to Revolution

When Albany was on the edge of the frontier...  A Master Passion   ISBN: 1771456744

Catherine van Rensselaer and Philip Schuyler courted during the bloody early days of the French & Indian war. Not for the last time would the peaceful settlements of New York's frontier burn! It was, however, the last time American frontiersmen, colonial gentry, and Mohawks fought together beside the British to defeat a common foe down from Canada--French troops and their Indian allies.  

Captain Philip Schuyler played an active role in the militia and at what would come to be known as The Battle of Lake George. Here, after the near-disaster of an early morning ambush upon Americans, British, and their Mohawk allies, the tide--in northern New York --turned. In the course of a day’s hard fighting, their combined forces eventually gained a victory.

Abenaki and Caughnawaga warriors, allied to the French, had come to fight against their Mohawk cousins and against the British. Baron Dieskau, the French commander, remarked after being informed of how many men had come to oppose him, that “there were only so many more to kill.” Later, he would have to say of his foes:

“They fought in the morning like good boys, at noon like men, and in the afternoon like devils.”

Young Captain Philip Schuyler, who spoke French, would be the man entrusted to provide safe escort for the wounded French commanders to Albany, away from the vengeance of the Mohawks, whose great war chief, Hendrick Theyanoguin, had been killed during the initial part of the engagement. As William Johnson explained to the injured Dieskau: “They want to kill and eat you, and put you in their pipes and smoke you.”

Benjamin West's painting of William Johnson saving the wounded Baron from the tomahawk

Nine days later, in the midst of Albanian rejoicing for their victory and grieving for their dead, Philip was married, on September 17, 1755, to “Sweet Kitty V. R.,” also called, for her beauty, “the Morning Star.” Their first child, Angelica, was born on February 22, 1756—a mere six months later.  Their second child, Elizabeth, who would marry Alexander Hamilton, was born on August 9th 1757 – or the 7th, sources differ,  also in the small Albany house shared with the Schuyler grandparents. 

 A “Dutch gabled house made of brick from Holland,” it stood a half mile from the Albany stockade, now the intersection of State and Pearl Streets. In those days the place was a common grazing ground, referred to as “the pastures.”   A third daughter, Peggy, arrived in September 24, 1758, and the family of five now lived in a few small rooms.  Three babies in three years must have kept Catherine busy.

Our French & Indian War--The Seven Year's War to the Europeans--involved every nation  on the continent, except the Ottoman Turks. In North America, that conflict had begun to wind down. Philip Schuyler, wanting to settle his accounts with the British army--he'd been a quartermaster, among his other duties--sailed to England to present his case. It was at this time that the building of the Schuyler's grand new home would begin, overseen by the energetic Catherine, for a brief time on a childbearing vacation.

At last it was deemed sufficiently safe to build outside of Albany's city limits, so work on what is today called the  "Schuyler Mansion" got underway, as well as the construction of a large farmhouse on family property north and east of Saratoga. As the sea lanes cleared of warships, furniture and window treatments, bed curtains and rugs of both linoleum and fine wool made their way from Europe, traveling up the Hudson.

Catherine & Philip's bedroom

Without a doubt, the three little girls' had memories of building sites and workmen--as well as their mother doing paperwork and consulting with overseers as she tended to Philip's northern plantation. Skill at balancing the books would come in handy for Elizabeth during her own adult life when her husband Hamilton was too busy with nation-building and politicking to pay close attention to his own affairs.

While in England, Philip Schuyler became fascinated by the many busy canals he observed. When he returned home, he often entertained the local farmers by demonstrating how "water could be made to run uphill." He was an early proponent of the first great engineering--and wealth-creation--project of the next century--the Erie Canal.  It was at this time too that he paid passage for skilled laborers to come settle on his lands.  One of the first flax mills in the America would be built under Schuyler's fore-sighted direction.

His wife returned to woman's business, first producing a set of short-lived (no doubt premature) twins. Ten other deliveries, including a set of triplets, would follow. The three older girls, now moved into their new home, would grow up with some small sibling continually toddling after them.

Catherine's last child, (also "Catherine,") would be born in 1781,  shortly after her eldest, party-girl Angelica--with, of course, the help of her husband, John Barker Church--had already twice made her a grandmother. George and Martha Washington came on a winter visit at the tail end of the Revolution to stand as Catherine's godparents. Daughter #2, Elizabeth, herself not far behind in the generational baby race, gave birth to her and Hamilton's first child, their beloved, ill-fated son Philip, at the Albany house early in January of 1782.

Schuyler Mansion today

I'm skipping back and forth, I know, but I'd like to end with this story. When, in 1777, during the American Revolution, General Burgoyne attacked Albany, coming down the ancient warpath, Catherine, with a few servants, made a dangerous journey in the face of an invading army to burn the wheat at their Saratoga Farm to keep it from the hungry invaders. This tale is said to be only "a tradition," but, knowing the capable, no-nonsense Mrs. Schuyler, I think I'll chose to believe it.

An 1852 re-imagining of Catherine's brave deed by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze

~~Juliet Waldron

See all my Revolutionary War novels at Amazon
A Master Passion

Angel's Flight

Thursday, July 28, 2016

What Makes a Novel Memorable?

What makes a novel memorable?
The best stories connect with readers on a visceral level. They transport us to another time and place and put us in a different “skin,” where we face challenges we may never know in life. And yet, the commonality of the story problem draws us onward and, in solving it vicariously through the protagonist, changes us.
Another feature of a memorable story is characters that live off the page. One of the highest compliments I’ve never received for my novel “Lynx”, Rodeo Romance came when one reader told me she thought about my story constantly. She said that Lynx and Rachel’s story seemed so real, so heart wrenching, and their love so very enduring.  She said that she was going through a difficult time in her life and my story gave her hope.  Hope.  Hope for someone during a desperate time—I felt blessed that she shared her story.  I was also humbled.  It is moment such as this that I know just how powerful worlds and stories are to our readers.

While I never sit down at the keyboard and say, “I think I will write a powerful, life-changing story today.”  What I do, by nature, is select a social issue for the core of my stories.  Since my stories are character driven and often told in the first person, the emotion has a natural flow.
How do you create this type of engagement with your story?
Go beyond the five senses.  Your reader must feel your character’s emotions.  Your reader must forget there is a world outside of your story.

Embrace idiosyncrasies.  As teenagers everyone wanted to fit in, be one of the crowd.  Your character isn’t like anyone else.  Give him an unexpected, but believable trait.  In “Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow”, 99-cents for the next two weeks on, my heroine, a Zombie has a pet. Not a zombie pet. Not a dog, or a cat.  She has a teddy bear hamster named Gertie.

Make them laugh. It doesn’t need to be slap-stick.  Just a little comic relief when the reader least expects it to happen.  In "Brede" Rodeo Romance, Book 2.  The ranch hands, especially orney old Caldwell, have resulted in many a fan letter/email to me!  

Make them cry.  Remember the scene in the movie classic, Romancing the Stone, where Joan Wilder is crying when she writes the final scene in her novel?  I find this is the key.  If you are crying, your reader will be crying too.
If you are writing a romance, make them fall in love.  Make the magic last.  The first meeting, first kiss, the moment of falling in love.  These are the memories our readers savor, wait for in our stories.  Don’t disappoint them.

As Emily Dickinson, said so well: 
There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul!
Happy Reading!
Connie Vines

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


standalone in the Curse of the Lost Isle medieval fantasy series

99cts for a few more days in kindle 

As I am writing the last book in the Curse of the Lost Isle medieval series, ANGEL OF LUSIGNAN (Book 8) set in Aquitaine, I am thoroughly enjoying the research, as much as the story and the characters.

* * * * *

  In the Twelfth Century, castles sprouted all over Europe. In England the first castles were mainly built in a hurry, out of wood, by the Norman invader to secure conquered territory. They were motte and bailey castles, with a keep, earth works, wooden fences and sharp stakes. Later, the keep and walls were rebuilt in stone.

Meanwhile, on the continent, like in Aquitaine, castles were already made of stone. The Romans had built stone roads and forts centuries earlier, leaving solid foundations in prime locations. Just out of the dark ages after the barbarian invasions, the central power fractured into smaller estates, the local lords rebuilt and expanded these stone forts for protection. Not only they fortified their castles, but also their entire cities.

Medieval building technique. Notice the crane.

The new cities and castles were generally built on a promontory, a plateau or a hill, surrounded by water, at an estuary, a confluent, or on a cliff overlooking a river. A body of water protected the castle from attacks by land, but rivers could also be highways for enemies invading by boats. Occasional Viking and Norman raids were still common.

Fortified city and castle of Carcassonne - Southern Aquitaine

The lack of a strong central power also encouraged greedy land owners and bands of rogue knights to appropriate territory by force. Stone walls offered the best protection.

Building a castle was expensive and required a great amount of gold to pay the many skilled workers needed for the monumental task. A lord would hire a taskmaster, overseers, a master mason, architects, an army of masons and stone cutters, carpenters, blacksmiths, lead beaters, barrel makers, potters, candle makers, and other craftsmen. He also needed diggers and general workmen, as well as water carriers.

Castle of Lusignan - Aquitaine - Original design

First, the trees around the site would be felled and peeled, then sliced lengthwise to provide lumber for the scaffolding, and the giant beams to support the wooden ceiling of the upper floors. Meanwhile, the stone had to be extracted from the surrounding rock, then cut and chiseled to size. Often the stone was extracted from the excavation for the moat. Secret passages and underground storage rooms and cellars would often be dug from the rock before erecting the walls, with arched ceilings and thick columns to support the edifice above.

Arrow slit in a castle wall

And do not think castles were uncomfortable. Although the external defense walls only had arrow slits, the buildings inside the enclosure had windows to bring in the light. They also had amenities, like giant fireplaces to provide heat during the winter, large kitchens with bread ovens, to cook for hundreds of soldiers, and skilled chefs to prepare meals and special feasts for the nobles. There was wine and cheese aplenty in the cellars.

medieval toilet - or garderobe
The castle even had toilets called garderobe, simple sitting holes at the outer side of the wall, allowing automatic disposal of human waste straight down into the moat or the river below, which conveniently eliminated odors.
Castle of Tiffauge - Aquitaine - France
Also important to the castle was a permanent source of fresh water, so if there was no natural spring on the premises, digging a well would constitute a first priority. In case of a siege, the castle must be self-sufficient.

Mock up - castle of Lusignan - Aquitaine - France
A great castle would include several courtyards, including one for weapon practice. Also inside the walls would be stables for the horses, a barn for the hay, barracks for the guards and soldiers, sheds and work places for the artisans, blacksmiths, etc. The kitchens would have their own buildings and storage rooms.

Castle of Lusignan - Aquitaine - France
Very few of these early stone castles have survived a thousand years of warfare, and those that did survive were updated and modified over the centuries, but we have lithographs and drawings, as well as mock ups to show us what the original construction looked like.

Click here to get it in kindle
Start reading the series with the boxed set of the first four novels. Seven are already published, and the last one will be out for the holidays.

From history shrouded in myths, emerges a family of immortal Celtic Ladies, who roam the medieval world in search of salvation from a curse. For centuries, imbued with hereditary gifts, they hide their deadly secret, stirring passions in their wake as they fight the Viking hordes, build mighty castles, send the first knights to the Holy Land, give birth to kings and emperors... but if the Church ever suspects what they really are, they will be hunted, tortured, and burned at the stake. 5 stars on Amazon "Edgy Medieval. Yay!"

Vijaya Schartz
Swords, blasters, romance with a kick
Amazon - Barnes & Noble 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Extraordinary women—Tricia McGill

I recently watched the movie “Queen of the Desert” starring Nicole Kidman. It chronicled part of the life of Gertrude Bell, traveler, explorer, archaeologist, writer, linguist, and the greatest female mountaineer of her age. To be honest I had no idea who this woman was, but the movie had me intrigued about her amazing life and exploits. Her bravery and astonishing thirst for life left me breathless. After reading up on her I came to realize that the movie just skimmed over a very small part of her life story.

Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell was born on July 14 1868 in Washington, Co Durham. 
Her family were iron masters. In 1886, Bell went up to Oxford, where she became the first woman to win a first-class degree in modern history. She taught herself Persian and traveled to Iran in 1892, where her uncle was British ambassador. Gertrude became political attaché for the British Empire at the dawn of the twentieth century. Her trips into the desert with just a few trusty men and camels were undertaken with aplomb, and without a trace of fear for her own safety. Gertrude immersed herself in tribal politics and in 1914 made a dangerous journey to Hail, a town in northern Arabia that was the headquarters of a bitter enemy of Britain's new ally, the founder of Saudi Arabia, Abdul Aziz ibn Saud. In 1921 in Baghdad she drew the boundaries of what was known as Mesopotamia that became Iraq.

The movie depicted her as a rich woman who was unlucky in love and rather unhappy. Her first love affair ended in tragedy when her father rejected her lover. According to James Buchan she did have other lovers throughout her life but the movie only centered on two of them, and both affairs ended badly. She traveled around the world twice and gained renown for surviving 53 hours on a rope on the unclimbed north-east face of the Finsteraarhorn, when her expedition was caught in a blizzard in the summer of 1902. Gertrude died suddenly on July 12th 1926. The story was that she ran out of physical energy after spending so much of her life beneath the heat of the desert, but in truth she died of an overdose of sleeping pills, whether by accident of intention no one knows. She is buried in Baghdad, which seems fitting.

On researching strong women to match Gertrude through history I found many, but the following are just a few who stand out for me, mostly thanks to my history lessons at school.

Queen Elizabeth 1st of England was born in 1533 and died in 1603.

Elizabeth I, the long-ruling queen of England, governed with relative stability and prosperity for 44 years. More than a few movies have covered various parts of her life and reign. The Elizabethan era is named for her. Queen Elizabeth was born in Greenwich England. She was a princess, but declared illegitimate through political machinations. She eventually claimed the throne at the age of 25 and steered England through wars, and political and religious turmoil.

Elizabeth I, remains perhaps England's most famous monarch, apart from the present day Elizabeth. She grew up in complex and doubtlessly difficult circumstances. The daughter of King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn, she was just 2 when Anne Boleyn was beheaded on the orders of her husband, based on questionable charges of adultery and conspiracy. Elizabeth and her older half-sister Mary were declared to be illegitimate as Henry sought to pave the way for a male heir. They were later reinstated as potential heirs.

Elizabeth was raised like any other royal child, and received tutoring. She excelled at languages and music. After her father's death in 1547, Elizabeth’s succession became another pressing issue once she took the throne. She showed her talents as a diplomat, managing a number of suitors and potential royal matches during her reign. Queen Elizabeth died at Richmond Palace in Surrey. With her death came the end of the house of Tudor, a royal family that had ruled England since the late 1400s. The son of her former rival, Mary Stuart, succeeded her on the throne as James I. Although the end of her reign was difficult, Elizabeth has largely been remembered as being a queen who supported her people. Her lengthy time on the throne provided her subjects with stability and consistency. Sometimes referred to as the “Golden Age”, the arts had a chance to blossom with Elizabeth's support.

Catherine II of Russia was born in 1729 and died in 1796

Renowned as Catherine the Great, Empress of all the Russias, this remarkable woman was neither Russian nor originally named Catherine. She was born Sophie Friederike Auguste from Anhalt-Zerbst. Although a princess, she came from an obscure and impoverished German duchy. Her mother had royal connections, which resulted in a winter journey by 14 year old Sophie to St. Petersburg at the invitation of the childless Empress Elizabeth, who was seeking a bride for her heir, Peter.  On 21 August 1745, sixteen year old Sophie married Peter, then seventeen. Peter was also German-born, but the couple had little else in common. Peter was eccentric and loathed the country into which he was imported as child heir. He remained a supporter of all Prussian, especially the Prussian military, whereas Sophie came to Russia committed to doing whatever had to be done in order to qualify for the crown. She learned to speak Russian, converted to Orthodoxy, whereby she received the name Catherine, and with charm and determination cultivated long-term relationships with the powerful and well-connected.

After the death of Elizabeth in 1762, a swift and bloodless palace coup was all it took to remove the hapless Peter from the throne which he’d sat on for a mere six months. He was replaced by Catherine, and so this German princess with no Russian blood in her veins, and no legal right to rule, became the sole occupant of the Empire's throne. She governed for the next thirty-four years—longer than any of the country's other female sovereigns. We’ve all heard of Catherine's romantic liaisons, but in fact Catherine had about a dozen "favorites". The most famous were Grigory Orlov, an instrumental member in the coup that brought her to power, and Grigory Potemkin, a diplomat and military leader who may have secretly married her. Catherine was known for the generosity she showed her favorites, and was also smart at parting with them so there was little animosity. She died of a stroke at the age of sixty-seven, the oldest of any Romanov monarch, and is buried in the Cathedral of the Peter and Paul Fortress.

Queen Victoria was born in 1819 and died in 1901

Queen Victoria served as Queen of Great Britain and Ireland from 1837, and as empress of India from 1877, until her death. Born Alexandrina Victoria on May 24th in London, England, she was the only child of George III's fourth son, Edward, and Victoria Maria Louisa of Saxe-Coburg, sister of Leopold, king of the Belgians. Victoria’s father died when she was a baby and her mother became a domineering influence in her life. As a child, she was said to be warm-hearted and lively. She married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, in 1840. They had nine children who later married into royal or noble families across Europe which earned her the title of “The Grandmother of Europe”. Victoria went into deep mourning after Albert’s death in 1861.

Victoria became not only the most powerful woman in history being the Queen of Britain, but also head of a vast colonial Empire. She ruled for 63 years and despite having to share her power with the British Parliament, exerted a large amount of power over political decisions. She contributed to large political and social reforms, one being the Third Reform Act granting the right to vote to all male householders, thereby extending the vote to most British men.

Emmeline Pankhurst was born in 1858 and died in 1928.

Born Emmeline Goulden in Manchester, England she was the eldest daughter of ten children and grew up in a politically active environment. Her parents were both abolitionists and supporters of female suffrage. Emmeline was fourteen when her mother took her to her first women’s suffrage meeting. She chafed at the fact that her parents prioritized their sons' education and advancement over hers

In 1903, she founded the Women's Social and Political Union, which used militant tactics to agitate for women's suffrage. Imprisoned many times Pankhurst supported the war effort after World War I broke out. Parliament granted British women limited suffrage in 1918. Pankhurst died shortly before women were given full voting rights.

Joan of Arc was born in 1412 and died in 1431

Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans," was born in Domrémy, Bar, France. The daughter of poor tenant farmers Jacques d’ Arc and his wife, Isabelle, also known as Romée, Joan learned piety and domestic skills and never ventured far from home, taking care of the animals, and also becoming skilled as a seamstress. At the time of her birth, France was embroiled in a long-running war with England known as the Hundred Years’ War. This dispute began over who would be the heir to the French throne. By the early 15th century, northern France was a lawless frontier.

At the age of eighteen, military leader Joan of Arc, acting under divine guidance, led the French army to victory over the British at Orléans and became a national heroine of France. Captured a year later, Joan was burned at the stake as a heretic by the English and their French collaborators. She was canonized as a Roman Catholic saint more than 500 years later, on May 16, 1920.

Queen Boudica or Boadicea 
as she is more commonly known, ruled the Iceni tribe of East Anglia alongside her husband, King Prasutagus, at the time of the Roman conquest of southern Britain. Boudica was a striking looking woman, very tall, with a fierce look in her eyes. Her great mass of red hair fell down to her hips. Her appearance was said to be terrifying. She secured a place of notoriety in British folk history, mostly remembered for her courage as “The Warrior Queen” who fought the might of Rome. In 1902 a bronze statue of her riding high in her chariot, was placed on the Thames embankment next to the Houses of Parliament in the old Roman capital of Britain, Londinium.

Britain has produced many fierce, noble warriors down the ages who have fought to keep Britain free, but this formidable lady’s name will never be forgotten. She and her allies gave no quarter in their victories and when Londinium and Verulamium (St. Albans) were stormed, the defenders fled and the towns were sacked and burned. Famously, Boudica and her daughters drove round in her chariot before the battle, exhorting them to be brave. She declared that she was descended from mighty men, but was fighting as an ordinary person for her lost freedom, and her outraged daughters. She is said to have asked the men in the ranks to: “Win the battle or perish” as that is what she would do. If they wished to live in slavery they could do just that. But Boudica was not killed in the battle. She took poison rather than be taken alive by the Romans.

So, there you have it. By watching a movie that started me thinking on how women have made their mark in history I went in search of some other women who made a huge impression and in their own way proved a match for any man. And there are dozens more out there who proved to be just as brave, powerful, and inspiring as these few.
To read excerpts from this series and all my other BWL books please visit my website 

Popular Posts

Books We Love Insider Blog

Blog Archive

Total Pageviews