Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Books We Love has all of these new books available for you in December

Here are our new releases from the fall, and our new holiday books as well.  Plus, Joan Hall Hovey, the Queen of Canadian Suspense has a new thriller already in pre-order from Amazon.  Don't miss this chance for one of the best scares of your life.   Ho! Ho! Ho!  Stocking our Kindles and tablets and Ipads and laptops with Books, Books, Books for Holiday reading and the BEST gifts you can give to anyone is the joy of adventure through the pages (digital or paper - we have both) of our books.  Click the Books covers to be taken to the Order pages for any of these.





Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Remembering an Older November Holiday

by Kathy Fischer-Brown

Idealized picture of
John Van Arsdale raising the flag
Having recently celebrated Thanksgiving here in the States, it was interesting to discover an even older, and now mostly forgotten, holiday commemorated by our ancestors in New York. Evacuation Day was an observance begun at the end of the American Revolution and a major holiday into the early part of the twentieth century. Since 1901, the 125th anniversary of the Continental Army’s first victory over the British, it has been an official holiday in the Boston area. Through the first years of our republic, Evacuation Day in New York City rivaled the Fourth of July in its celebratory nature.

At noon on November 25, 1783, after seven years as an occupying force in the city, the last of His Majesty George III’s red-coated troops sailed from the southern tip of Manhattan into New York Harbor. (In Boston, the occupation army left the city and its environs on March 17, 1776, a date that coincides with St. Patrick’s Day). In New York, the event was marked with a parade of sorts. After the city was secured by American troops under the command of General Henry Knox, George Washington and New York’s governor, George Clinton (yup, lots of Georges in those days), led a procession of rag-tag soldiers into lower Manhattan to Cape’s Tavern, one of the most famous inns of its time. The troops then marched farther on down Broadway to Fort George (now Battery Park).

Menu from Delmonico's
Evacuation Day Centennial
There they attempted to lower the British flag and raise the stars and stripes, but for a bit of British trickery. The pole at the fort, it seems, was “thoroughly soaped,” its halyards cut, and the Union Jack nailed to the staff. This while the artillery had taken up position and guns were held in readiness for a grand salute, and the British in their ships and boats watched from the harbor in amused silence.

After many futile attempts to climb the flag pole, one John Van Arsdale, a young sailor with quickly improvised wooden cleats on his shoes and a pocket full of nails, worked his way up the pole, attached new ropes, and with the aid of a ladder brought from a nearby shop, accomplished the task.

The sight of the American flag waving on the breeze inspired a thirteen gun salute and was the cause for much revelry lasting for days, as rockets blazed through the night, buildings were illuminated, and bonfires burned on every street corner. A public feast was held at Fraunces Tavern, where over 120 guests honored Washington with thirteen toasts…and the celebration continued until the general left the city on December 4, when he resigned his commission. (British flags continued to fly over Staten Island, Governor’s Island, and Long Island until this date.)

The first anniversary of Evacuation Day was observed with a flag raising at the fort…on the selfsame pole…amid the pealing of church bells. Entertainments were held at the City Tavern. And the tradition continued well into the next century, evolving into an official holiday, complete with school closings, fireworks, displays of patriotism, feasting and pageantry. But as the veterans of the conflict became fewer and fewer, eventually dying off altogether, their accomplishments no longer seemed important enough to warrant such a full-blown expression holiday pomp. Neither did the ever-growing expense of such extravagance. Eventually Evacuation Day was supplanted by a new national holiday, Thanksgiving.

On the centennial of the original celebration, in November 1883, New York gave the old holiday what would be its grand send-off. Imagine the bi-centennial of the nation’s 200th birthday in 1976…with tall and small ships jamming the harbor and both the East and Hudson Rivers. Fireworks lit up the night sky, observed by upwards of 500,000 people. Madison Square Garden and Delmonico’s Restaurant hosted banquets.

Even as its observance continued into the 20th century with decreasing fanfare and interest, there were many reasons why Evacuation Day slipped out of favor, not the least of which was the American alliance with Great Britain during World War I. The last official observance was held in 1916.


Sources: “Evacuation Day: New York’s Former November Holiday,” Megan Margino, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building; The Memorial History of the City of New-York, James Grant Wilson; Evacuation Day, Many Stirring Events, James Riker

Kathy Fischer Brown is a BWL author of historical novels, Winter Fire, Lord Esterleigh's Daughter; American Revolution-set novels, 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 Books We Love Author page or visit her website. All of Kathy’s books are available in e-book and in paperback from Amazon.

Monday, November 28, 2016

What research can turn up: Hidden History!

Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton

"Home and Hearth was the motto of all women in the 17th Century, but Dutch Women, by the addition of a single word, made a huge difference in their lives. For the Dutch woman, the motto was HOME, HEARTH AND MARKETPLACE."

----Jean Zimmerman, The Women of the House

This essay concerns some truly--to me--new and surprising facts about the legal and social system of the Dutch founders of the New York Colony which I stumbled upon during my research on the origins of the Schuyler family. There were founding mothers, it seems, as well as founding fathers! It's another of those pieces of women's past that has only recently been resurrected and studied by historians and humble readers, too, like myself. It is so interesting I wanted to share what I learned in some detail.

MARGARET HARDENBROECK lived from 1659-1691. At the age of 22 this formidable lady arrived in New Amsterdam from Holland. Margaret, described by her biographer as a "Brute in Silks" came seeking her fortune, exactly like a man.  She did not come to America in the feminine role of domestic or wife, but in the high status position of Factor.  Her task in this booming frontier city was to collect debts for her employer, sell goods on consignment and--of greatest importance, discover and exploit new markets. Margaret was an employee of her wealthy cousin Wouter Volch and had been born into a trading family--nothing small time--for her family owned ships. She was already a seasoned employee who had represented her cousin in court many times, as plaintiff and as defendant. Obviously, she possessed a forceful bearing and excellent public speaking skills.

Among the Dutch, such a  woman was known as a She merchant. Unlike other 17th Century Europeans, the Dutch had a tradition of women in business. There were 134 female traders in New Amsterdam between 1653-63.  Even in the relative backwater at Albany there were 47 women traders. 

Business women were common in Holland because of a progressive legal system and other societal factors. First among these was their educational system. Boys and girls alike were universally educated. Bookkeeping, in this nation of traders, was an integral part of the curriculum.

Another unusual factor favoring women was the Dutch Reformed Church. Unlike other Christians, respect between partners in a marriage was stressed, not simply blind female submission. In England, at the same time, woman was, according to Doctrine "a weak creature not endued with like strength and constancy of mind." When an Englishwoman married, her husband owned her person and everything else, including her clothes and jewels. If widowed, she was granted the use of 1/3 of his property, but she could not sell it, as it belong to his heirs after she died.  We are all familiar with Jane Austen's world, in which a widow and her daughters are dispossessed by heirs, as in Sense and Sensibility.

MOST IMPORTANT FOR Margaret and women like her was Dutch Law, unlike that of any other European country at the time. Under English Law, for instance, women were not legal persons. They could not own property, sign legal documents or represent themselves in court. A single Dutch woman, on the other hand, had all those rights, the same that any single man hand. She even had options when contracting a marriage. 

IN HOLLAND there existed two forms of marriage. A woman decided which was the most advantageous when she drew up her marriage contract. The "Manus" was similar to English law. However, here 50% of the property of a deceased husband went to the widow and she could remain in the spousal residence. She was the ward of her husband who would represent her in business. However, in "Manus" financial responsibility too was limited. in the event of a failed business or deal. The legal reasoning was that if a woman had no authority to make transaction, why should she be held accountable? In practice, it was a respectable and common event for a Manus widow to place the house keys on the coffin of a deceased husband who had squandered her share of the community property of goods and walk away, free and clear.

 The alternative contract was called "Usus." This allowed a woman to retain all the rights she'd had while single, as well as the rights to any property she'd brought into the marriage, creating a partnership of equals. A Usus wife would appear in court as Plaintiff or defendant. She could represent her husband before a Judge. A prenuptial agreement signed with her husband circumvented the community property rule and the powers the Manus husband held over his wife. Wealthy widows--with that 50% rule operating in both forms of marriage--were common in Holland.

Dutch law also prohibited parents from relying upon gender or birth order when making their wills. This meant that daughters were not automatically deprived of an inheritance. In England, the firstborn sons received all of a family's major property holdings (land, houses). Daughters only received household goods (flatware and furniture.) Often, female heirs faced a future after a parent's death without a home or the assets with which to obtain one.

Dutch law also protected unwed mothers. A woman pregnant outside of marriage could either prosecute the alleged father or force him to marry her. If he was already married, she was entitled to demand a dowry and compensation for childbirth expenses, as well as child support. Historians report that women had a good chance of winning these suits. A husband's adultery, abandonment or contraction of a venereal disease also gave a wife grounds for requesting a divorce.

Spousal abuse also received attention under Dutch law. If a wife believed her husband was squandering her property, she had legal recourse to request her half of the estate along with her dowry in full. Regardless of whether she was married, a Dutch woman could institute legal proceedings against any individual, even her own husband. These pragmatic Dutch women brought their belief in Equality under the law as well as their education and training in business to New Netherland.

 When the English took over in 1664, they brought their laws; equal rights for women officially disappeared. Fortunately for the She Merchants, the original British rulers of the colony weren't sticklers. For several generations among those of Dutch descent, prenuptial contracts were still drawn while those women with commerce in their bones went on doing business by using their husbands as economic "beards."

When I discovered this fascinating chunk of Herstory, I was gobsmacked. All my life--and I thought I knew more history than the "average bear"-- I had imagined that English law was all there was or ever had been, here in these United States. This was (and is) something  to consider, in terms of our understanding of American history and also in relation to today, where to be born a woman is to be an "almost but not quite" full citizen, even here.   

Roger and Mary Philipse's Georgian NYC home,
now known as the Morris-Jumel Mansion
 To finish Margaret's story: The family founded by Margaret with her second husband (the first husband was a rich elderly mentor and family friend, the second an entrepreneurial craftsman in the shipping trade) would continue to be counted among the largest and richest of colonial landowners for generations.   In 1757 when George Washington was a young fellow on the make, he attempted to capture the fancy of Margaret' Hardenbroek's granddaughter, Mary Philipse, one of the richest heiresses in the colonies. Unfortunately, Mary Philipse married Roger Morris, who chose the British side during the Revolution, thereby losing all their property in America.   
~~Juliet Waldron    Historical Novels by JW at Amazon, including  A Master Passion, the Story of Alexander and Elizabeth Hamilton  

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Author Branding—Don’t Muddy the Waters (Part 1) by Connie Vines

I have been researching this topic via workshops, online chats, and discussion with other authors for several years.

The workshop I attended recently wrapped up the final meeting with: author branding was totally unnecessary.  (Well, that was a total waste of my money!)

So, does Connie have a brand?


Does Connie still think she needs a brand?

Yes.  And no.

I know I need a memorable brand for each series that I write.  However, since I write in multiple genres, I don’t know if an all-encompassing brand is possible.  Or even practical.

We all know how much Connie loves to do research, enroll in online workshops, and conduct impromptu interviews with total strangers (to quote my husband, while we are in line at Souplantation, “why were you asking that man about the cost of a sleeve of tattoos?  You are not going there for the sake of research).  I handed him a napkin and smiled.  Now was not, I decided, the time to remind him that I had my eyebrows and eyeliner enhanced with “wake-up with make-up” tasteful, but still permanent ink.

How to Design Your Author Brand

Okay, it’s scramble time.  Find a piece of paper and something to write with.  You can use the note app in your phone, but I think pen to paper works better in this case. (If you write under more than one pen name, just select one.)


Write down what your author brand is.  You have 10 seconds. Go!
Time’s up.

Were you able to write down your band?  Did you use 6 words or less?

Good for you.  You probably have a good idea of what your brand is.

If you didn’t (you are with me) don’t worry.  We will go about fixing the problem.

Brands Need to Be Specific

If you failed, the above test the reasons are likely because:

1. You don’t really know what your brand is yet.

2. You are over-describing your brand and couldn’t write it all down fast/concisely enough.
Now is the time to sit and ponder.  Strip away the contradictions, muddiness, superfluous.
What does a brand do?  A brand is a signal to customers to know what to expect when they see it.
Once they have had experience with a brand, they (hopefully) know what to expect.  Ideally this is a favorable expectation that encourages them to purchase your product, talk to their friends, and take chances on your next release.

How about a brand like this?

“Daring, Thrilling, Romantic, Action Packed.”

What if we change it to…
“Daring, Thrilling, Sexy, Action Packed”
A big difference isn’t it?

I selected very genre-esque words.  This was my intention because genres play a big role in branding.

 Brands are also about trust.

Remember genres and sub-genres are their own brands.

This is really important.    We already have a mind-set/ expectations when we select a genre to read.  If you select a “Historical” novel (unless it is a sub-genre) you do not expect or probably appreciate elements of Urban Fantasy in the story-line.  Riding in stage coach, you prim-and-so proper heroine isn’t going to mesh with a hidden magical world featuring Fae, Vampires, and Werewolves.    So, unless you plan on inventing your own sub-genre (SteamPunk/StoneagePunk) with a limited readership, consider what you are inheriting from your genre.

Following these guidelines, I will attempt to come up with a brand for my current Rodeo Romance Series (BLW, BooksWeLove, Ltd.).

Genre:  Contemporary Romance (Lynx), Romantic Suspense (Brede), Contemporary Romance/Humor (Rand), Romantic Suspense (TBT).

I’ll go with Romance as a genre.
Now to the dictionary and thesaurus.

<Suspenseful music plays now>

Will Connie discover her ‘brand’?  Will her readers like her ‘brand’?

<Music continues>

Part 2 will be posted next month 😙


Spoiler Alert:  Connie has awakened the ‘inner series branding’ within her mind!

Amazon author page to purchase  X

Lusignan, a real place and a real family, with its legend of Melusine the Fae

Since the Curse of the Lost Isle medieval fantasy series is based upon authentic legends, I get to see the places where my characters may have roamed a millennium ago. 

As I am revising ANGEL OF LUSIGNAN for publication in January 2017, I feel very excited about this last novel in the series.

One might believe because Melusine is an immortal Fae, that she did not exist. When you visit Lusignan, however, she seems very real. The entire region of northern Aquitaine is called "Melusine country" and traces of the ondine with a scaly tail is still alive there.

I can see my hero and heroine in this terrain, under the walls of the castle. In Lusignan and all around, in Vouvant and Mervent, you find her name on the many shops.

She is on the facade of official buildings, sometimes discreet, and sometimes flaunting her scales or her dragon wings to whomever is passing by.

Moreover, Melusine founded the very real family of Lusignan, a royal house of French origin, which ruled much of Europe and the Levant, including the kingdoms of Jerusalem, Cyprus, and Armenia, from the 12th through the 15th centuries during the Middle Ages.

Out of this family came not only the royal family of Lusignan, but later, through Eleanor of Aquitaine, the royal families of England, and the Valois and the Bourbon royal families of France.

Does this mean the angel blood running in Melusine's veins a thousand years ago still runs in her descendants? I want to believe it. After all, there is always a kernel of truth at the heart of every legend.

Learn more about the legend of Melusine, her mother and her sisters, in the Curse of the Lost Isle medieval fantasy series HERE

Catch up with the series for the best price, with the boxed set of books 1-2-3-4 HERE 
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, 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.


Vijaya Schartz
  Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick
  Amazon - Barnes & Noble

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