Historical Fiction Cover Competition March 2019

What draws you to a historical fiction book cover? 

Welcome to a new year of ‘Pam’s Picks’. I hope you find some new books and authors for your ‘must read’ list. If a cover interests you, just click on the link to learn more about the book. Continue reading “Historical Fiction Cover Competition March 2019”

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A Conversation with Author Linda Covella

Today in the Library we have ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Linda Covella, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.

You are very welcome, Linda, please introduce yourself:

Author Photo 2Hello Pam and visitors! My varied background and education have led me down many paths, but one thing I never strayed from is my love of writing.

In writing for kids and teens, I hope to bring to them the feelings books gave me when I was a child: the worlds they opened, the things they taught, the feelings they expressed.

I have four published novels for middle grade and young adult, and a recently released narrative nonfiction picture book. I’ve been a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) since 2002. I live in Santa Cruz, CA with my husband, Charlie, and dog, Ginger.

Did you read much as a child?

I’ve been an avid reader from an early age thanks to my mother who was a school librarian. Also an artist and choral singer, she taught and encouraged me to embrace all the arts.

Are you an avid reader now?

Yes. I must always have a book to read!

Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?

I read a wide variety of genres and books for both adults and children. I enjoy reading middle grade and young adult books, but I also read them for the education, i.e., learning technique and craft from other children’s writers.

I read most genres, but not a lot of romance or thrillers. I’ve always loved historical fiction and still am drawn to those stories. I get more into character than plot (though of course the plot has to be engaging), so if a story includes deeply realized characters, I’ll enjoy it.

Are you self-published or traditionally published?

Yakimali's Gift Front Cover_400x618Both. My first books (Yakimali’s Gift and The Ghost Whisperer series books) were originally traditionally published with small presses. One went out of business, and I ended up self-publishing these books as well as Cryptogram Chaos.Ghosts Cover with Gold Medal_400x616

My latest book, The Power of a Dream: Maria Feliciana Arballo, Latina Pioneer, a narrative nonfiction picture book, is traditionally published.

Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages. With self-publishing, you have more control over the publication, the content, the layout and presentation, and how quickly it’s published. But more costs and time are required for covers, publication, editing, etc.

With traditional, you have support of the publisher who pays for the cover, editing, initial publication, etc. The Power of a Dream has beautiful illustrations by an artist hired by the publisher.

Either method requires the author to do marketing!

Which genre do you write in and why?

I’m a children’s author, and I love writing for children, having them as my audience. Kids and teens have such unique perspectives on life. I absolutely love hearing what’s on a kid’s mind—at any age.

The youngsters are always fun to watch as they show their amazement and delight with each new discovery—discoveries that we have long since taken for granted.

During the middle-school years, kids are starting to come into their own, learning who they are and flexing their maturity muscles. Their independence is beginning to flourish as they start to question things and form their own ideas and opinions.

I have a great respect for teens. By that age, they’ve developed their own one-of-a-kind personalities and strong viewpoints on all sorts of topics. They rightfully question things and begin to test and stretch the limits that are attempting to rein them in. Believe it or not, I can still remember those feelings from my own teen years, and it’s an exhilarating time of life.

I think writing for kids keeps me in touch with the feelings from my childhood. It also encourages me to keep an open mind when I’m with kids, to remind me they are unique individuals, and to give them that respect.

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

I’d have to say my mother. First of all, she taught me to love reading, and reading is so important if you want to be a writer. When I started pursuing writing professionally, she was my biggest fan, always encouraging me to keep at it, to never give up.

Of course, other authors and the books I’ve read my entire life have influenced me as well. But it’s difficult to pinpoint any one author who’s had the biggest influence.

What is the best thing about being an author? And the flipside – what is the worst?

I love being creative, and writing is one outlet for that. But the best thing is when I get a positive reaction to one of my books, especially from the targeted audience—kids and teens. The worst thing? That would have to be the marketing, especially personal appearances. I’m not a practiced public speaker, so those are difficult for me. But it’s getting easier each time!

Is social media an essential chore or something you enjoy? Which forum do you prefer?

I like the aspect of social media that allows me to reach out to so many people. I’m most active on Facebook and Twitter. I recently joined Instagram, so I’m working on building up my following there. I also have accounts on Goodreads, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and book trailers on YouTube.

If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?

I never thought of writing as a career. Instead, I ended up with a few degrees—art, business, mechanical drafting, manufacturing management—while I decided what I wanted to do with my life. Now, besides writing, I run my and my husband’s small tech business (we have a product my husband, an electronics engineer, designed). I also volunteer with the local Young Writers Program where I mentor kids and teens in the classroom.

Please tell us about your latest published work.

My latest book, released February 26, 2019, is a narrative nonfiction picture book: The Power of a Dream: Maria Feliciana Arballo, Latina Pioneer.

Power of a Dream cover_Page_01The story tells of a little-known part of U.S. history when, in 1775, some of the first Spanish settlers embarked on a colonization expedition from Mexico to California. THE POWER OF A DREAM focuses on Feliciana Arballo, an inspiring, brave, and remarkable woman, especially for the time in which she lived. Her husband died before the expedition began, and, as a young widow, Feliciana made the arduous four-month journey with her daughters: the infant Estaquia and four-year-old Tomása. Her husband, and thus her daughters, were looked down upon as mestizos, those of mixed Spanish and Indian heritage. As many immigrants do today, she followed her dream to have a better life in California for herself and her children, including eight more children she had with her second husband. Feliciana is referenced in the diaries of Captain Juan Bautista de Anza, who led the expedition, and Father Pedro Font, who also went on the journey. The book includes my two author notes: one discusses Feliciana’s background and her descendants, many of whom played important roles in the history of California; the other author note provides a background of the expedition itself.

The primary audience are children ages 5 – 10 (grades 1-4), as well as parents and teachers who can use the book to teach children about this important part of U.S. history and how it relates to today’s issues of race, immigration, heritage, and the value of diversity.

Thanks so much for the interview, Pam. I really enjoyed answering these questions.

If you would like to know more about Linda and her work, check out her links below:

Website

Facebook

Twitter @lindacovella

Instagram

LinkedIn

Goodreads

Pinterest

YouTube

 

A Conversation with Author Angelina Jameson

Today in the Library we have ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Angelina Jameson, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into her life as an author.

You are very welcome to the Library, Angelina, please introduce yourself:

AJThank you for having me here, Pam. I’m Angelina and I live in Alaska. I was born in Las Vegas, Nevada and lived in several of the states here in the USA and in Suffolk, England. I love to travel and spend time with my husband and two grown sons.

Which genre do you write in and what draws you to it?

I currently write in the long Regency. I love the elegance and the manners of the era.

Are you an avid reader? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?

I love to read. My tastes change often although I mostly read mysteries and romance.

Are you a self-published/traditional or hybrid author?

I’m a hybrid author.

Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

That’s a hard one but I would have to say Julia Quinn. Her Bridgerton books are why I try to have a little bit of lightheartedness in my work.

Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?

Although I grew up in America my mom was fascinated with England, so I grew up learning about castles, kings and queens. I joined the military, made it to England and knew I wanted to write about the history of the country in some fashion.

What was the best piece of writing advice you received when starting out?

To read a lot. By reading you learn how to write dialogue, how to weave in backstory.

Do you have a favourite time of day to write?

The evening when everyone in the house is in bed and I have quiet time. I have a bad habit of needing near silence to really get into writing.

If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?

I would want to be an Archaeologist. One of my sons is currently in school for archaeology and I am a bit jealous.

If you could live the life of an historical figure for one day, who would you choose and what would you get up to?

Jane Austen. I would love to visit her sister Cassandra and perhaps peep at some of the letters from Jane that Cassandra destroyed. Simply to see what Jane saw every day and mingle with her family.

If you could travel back in time, what era would you go to? What draws you to this particular time?

The Regency era. I like the idea of civility and more elegant dress. It is my favourite time period to write and it would be nice to go back and see if the social customs and habits of the gentry are what we believe them to be.

Please tell us about your latest published work. 

CoverMy latest work is Lord Albany’s Bride. It is a Regency historical novella with a couple in their 40’s.

Nearly twenty-five years ago John Winge let Emma slip through his fingers. Emma is now a widow, her two sons all grown up. Now a viscount, Lord John Albany needs to know if he used his handicapped sister as an excuse to never marry or because he couldn’t imagine a life with anyone other than Emma.

Lady Emma Upton’s loveless first marriage was merely a way to secure the children she desperately wanted. Now a widow, she can’t imagine a reason she would need a husband, let alone one in the form of Lord Albany, a notorious fortune-hunter.

 

Buy Links: Amazon US

Or Click below for Amazon UK

 

If you would like to know more about Angelina and her books, please explore her social media links below:

Twitter

BookBub

Facebook

 

Historical Fiction Cover Competition February 2019

What draws you to a historical fiction book cover? 

Welcome to a new year of ‘Pam’s Picks’. I hope you find some new books and authors for your ‘must read’ list. If a cover interests you, just click on the link to learn more about the book. Continue reading “Historical Fiction Cover Competition February 2019”

A Conversation with Author John Anthony Miller

This evening in the Library we have ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­John Anthony Miller, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into his life as an author. You are very welcome, John. Please tell us a little about yourself.

Hello, Pam – and thanks for having me.

photoI live in the U.S., in southern New Jersey, and my writing is motivated by a life-long love of travel and history. My fifth book, Honour the Dead, a historical murder mystery set in Italy in the 1920’s, has just been published. Continue reading “A Conversation with Author John Anthony Miller”

Historical Fiction Cover Winner January 2019 with @EHBernardAuthor @authorrochelle @nicolasladeuk

What draws you to a historical fiction book cover? 

Welcome to a new year of ‘Pam’s Picks’. I hope you find some new books and authors for your ‘must read’ list. If a cover interests you, just click on the link to learn more about the book. Continue reading “Historical Fiction Cover Winner January 2019 with @EHBernardAuthor @authorrochelle @nicolasladeuk”

The Victorian Christmas

Who doesn’t love Christmas traditions? And yet the way we celebrate the season now is relatively new. Before Queen Victoria’s time, Christmas was barely celebrated at all and gift giving was usually done at the New Year.

Contrary to popular belief, Mr Charles Dickens did not invent Christmas. However, he took the idea and ran with it, creating one of the most iconic ghost stories of our time, A Christmas Carol. Most of us associate the book, and the marvellous film versions of it, with a typical Victorian Christmas, but the commercialisation of the season came about due to two main influences; Queen Victoria marrying her German first cousin, Prince Albert; and the mass production of cheap goods due to the Industrial Revolution.

So, what did the Victorians do for our Christmas traditions?

Mother and daughter prepare the Christmas tree
Illustration Credit: ©iStock.com/clu

The Christmas Tree

Prince Albert brought many of the German Christmas traditions with him to England, including the Christmas tree. The first one was erected in Windsor Castle in 1841 and when the Illustrated London News published a drawing of the royal family celebrating around a decorated Christmas tree in 1848, the public went crazy for the idea. It wasn’t long before every home had a tree decked with homemade decorations and small gifts. The ‘traditional’ tree as we know it, free-standing on the floor, evolved with the German tradition of table-top Christmas trees.

Christmas Gifts & Santa Claus

Gradually as the season gained popularity, the exchange of gifts moved from the New Year to Christmas. Initially these were small items such as fruit, nuts, sweets and small handmade gifts which were hung on the Christmas tree. However, as gift giving became more popular, and the gifts became bigger, they moved under the tree.

As technology advanced, mass production became the norm in all industries and toy manufacture was no different. Cheap dolls, bears and clock-work toys were suddenly affordable for middle-class families with their new-found disposable income. However, in poorer households, a child would usually get an apple or an orange and maybe a few nuts.

Normally associated with the giving of gifts, is Father Christmas or Santa Claus. An old English midwinter festival featured Father Christmas who was normally dressed in green. He first appeared in the mid 17th century but fell foul of the Puritan controlled English government who legislated against Christmas, considering it papist! However, the origins of Santa Claus or St Nicholas were Dutch (Sinter Klaas in Holland). The American myth of Santa arrived in the 1850s with Father Christmas taking on Santa’s attributes. By the 1880s, the nocturnal visitor was referred to as both Santa Claus and Father Christmas.

The Christmas Cracker

Another item which was mass produced was the Christmas cracker. A sweetshop owner by the name of Tom Smith had the idea in the 1840s, having been inspired by the French tradition of wrapping sweets in twists of paper. By the 1860s, he had perfected the explosive bang and the Christmas cracker was soon a very popular item in Victorian homes.

The Christmas Card

Christmas greetings card, 1885
Illustration credit: ©iStock.com/Whitemay

Sir Henry Cole, the first director of the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), commissioned the artist J.C. Horsley to design a festive scene for his seasonal greeting cards in 1843. He had 1,000 printed and the left-over cards were sold to the public. Luckily, Rowland Hill had introduced the “Penny Post” in Britain in 1840, however, the price of one shilling for the cards meant they were not really accessible to most ordinary people. As a result, children were encouraged to make their own Christmas cards at home.

But industrialisation of colour printing technology quickly became more advanced and the price of card production dropped significantly. The popularity of sending cards was helped when a halfpenny postage rate was introduced in 1870 as a result of the efficiencies brought about by the vast network of railways. By the 1880s, the sending of cards had become hugely popular, with 11.5 million cards produced in 1880 alone.

Christmas Dinner

The origins of the meal date back to the Middle Ages but it was the Victorians who developed it to what it is today. The traditional meat at Christmas had been boar (in Medieval times) then goose and beef, but as the well-to-do Victorians began to consume turkey instead, the lower classes followed suit. Plum pudding and mince pies also gained huge popularity at this time. The Victorian love of lengthy meals with many courses still has echoes in our Christmas dinners today, when we generally eat and drink far too much.

19th century engraving of children 'The Christmas Carollers'; Artist Robert Barnes, engraver Joseph Swain; Victorian Christmas 1890
Illustration credit: ©iStock.com/Cannasue

Christmas Entertainment

Christmas was seen by the Victorians as a time for family and friends and they entertained lavishly. After dinner, they would sit around the piano and sing or play parlour games. Rail travel meant that loved ones from far and wide could come home to enjoy Christmas with the family.

Carols and caroling were extremely popular although not new by any means, having originated from the ‘waits’, an old English tradition of going from house to house and singing in exchange for food. The Victorians, revived the popularity of carols, with the first collection published in 1833. Most of the carols we sing today are ‘new’ versions of old carols which the Victorians adapted to suit their taste.

***

It was the Victorian love of homecoming and the joy of family at Yuletide which partly inspired my novelette, Christmas at Malton Manor.

Christmas At Malton Manor CoverChristmas 1884: Home is where the heart is …

Kate Hamilton is companion to the dullest and meanest woman in England, but she is looking forward to going home for Christmas and her sister Mary’s wedding. When her employer refuses to release her, Colonel Robert Woodgate comes to the rescue.

Robert now owns Malton Manor, Kate’s old home in the village of Malton. Recently returned from the Boer War and recovering from his injuries, Robert has been reclusive and morose. Clashing several times over his plans and sweeping changes in the village, their relationship has always been tempestuous.

But when Kate returns to Malton, she discovers her sister’s wedding is to take place at Malton Manor and everyone is convinced the Colonel has an ulterior motive. Can Kate resist the lure of her old home and the memories it holds? And does she have the courage to break down Robert’s defences to find happiness at last?

Buy Link: http://MyBook.to/Malton

 

I’d like to take the opportunity to wish you all a Very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year