April 29, 2014

V.E. Ulett's Blackwell's Paradise - Book Blast and {Giveaway}

Blackwell's Paradise

Blackwell's Paradise
by V.E. Ulett

Publication Date: January 8, 2014
Old Salt Press LLC
Formats: Ebook, Paperback

Series: Blackwell's Adventures, Volume II
Genre: Historical Adventure/Naval HF

Relive the pleasure of falling into the past with the author of Captain Blackwell’s Prize, in Volume II of Blackwell’s Adventures.

The repercussions of a court martial and the ill-will of powerful men at the Admiralty pursue Royal Navy captain James Blackwell into the Pacific, where danger lurks around every coral reef. Even if Captain Blackwell and Mercedes survive the venture into the world of early nineteenth century exploration, can they emerge unchanged with their love intact. The mission to the Great South Sea will test their loyalties and strength, and define the characters of Captain Blackwell and his lady in Blackwell’s Paradise.

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Goodreads Book Giveaway

Blackwell's Paradise by V.E. Ulett

Blackwell's Paradise

by V.E. Ulett

Giveaway ends April 30, 2014. See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
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Praise for Blackwell's Paradise

“Not for the faint hearted – Captain Blackwell pulls no punches! Prepare for a right roaring romp in the company of two of the most captivating characters in historical fiction.” - Alaric Bond, author of Turn A Blind Eye, and the Fighting Sail Series

Buy the Book

Amazon (eBook)
Amazon (Paperback)
Barnes & Noble (Nook)
Barnes & Noble (Paperback)
Book Depository

About the AuthorVE Ulett

A long time resident of California, V.E. Ulett is an avid reader as well as writer of historical fiction.

Proud to be an Old Salt Press author, V.E. is also a member of the National Books Critics Circle and an active member and reviewer for the Historical Novel Society.

As the long war in Europe comes to its conclusion, so does Captain Blackwell’s career in the Royal Navy in BLACKWELLS’ HOMECOMING, a story of the dangers and rewards of desire.

Author Links

Old Salt Press

Book Blast Schedule

April 1 Historical Tapestry
April 2 Broken Teepee
April 3 Confessions of an Avid Reader
April 4 The True Book Addict
April 7 Layered Pages
April 8 The Maiden's Court
April 9 Passages the Past
April 10 Just One More Chapter
April 11 Closed the Cover
April 12 Words and Peace
April 14 Luxury Reading
April 15 To Read or Not to Read
April 16 Peeking Between the Pages
April 18 So Many Books, So Little Time
April 21 Flashlight Commentary
April 22 Curling Up With a Good Book
April 23 HF Book Muse-News
April 24 A Bookish Affair
April 25 Oh, For the Hook of a Book
April 27 Kincavel Korner
April 28 CelticLady's Reviews
April 29 Historical Fiction Connection
April 30 Reading the Ages


To enter to win a copy of Blackwell's Paradise please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on April 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter on May 1st and notified via email.
Winners have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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April 25, 2014

Linda Little's Grist -- Guest Post and {Giveaway}

Writing Women

Grist is new departure for me in that for the first time I have a female protagonist. Of course we know gender is a fundamental marker in creating a character but my experience of this, especially in working with historical fiction, was profound. In my two previous novels, Strong Hollow (2001) and Scotch River (2006) I had male protagonists who skirted the margins of society. Both of these men lived with a great deal of silence and solitude and worked to manage loneliness. For me, my characters are formed in that space between what a character knows and feels and is, and what that character expresses in words. It is in this silent gap that I come to know them. I strive to bring my reader into this gap (between their realities and their expression) to meet them. What became shockingly clear to me over the course of writing Grist was how profoundly, culturally different men’s silence is from women’s silence.

Penelope MacLaughlin, my protagonist, is also unlike my previous protagonists in that she is not a naturally solitary person. She does not have a personality that nudges her towards the path that leads to loneliness. She is not gregarious or ebullient but she quietly seeks company, community, and belonging. She knows the best things in life are shared joys and sorrows. She knows long-term happiness, meaning, fulfillment are the products of family and community life. Silence, loneliness and isolation are thrust upon her; they are not of her own making.

In our culture silence is interpreted very differently for men and women. There is a notion of the “strong, silent type” but this idea is attached to men—to powerful, often contextually moral men. A silent woman most often simply disappears. The struggle to overcome our own fears and insecurities is the greatest struggle. Yes, BUT. In Grist, with Penelope, I was forced to work with the other struggles that can be too easily glossed over by the maxims and motivational slogans of fridge magnet philosophy. Sometimes we need to change more than our minds or our attitudes to change the world. Silence is forced on to Penelope; her voice is silenced by the absence of a listener. Her husband, to whom she owes a socially required loyalty, will not hear her in either a literal or figurative sense. Her position in the community is defined by her roles at home. She is cut off at all paths. Looking at the position of women 100 years ago offers us enough distance to see how completely we can silence wide segments of our population by simply dismissing, turning a deaf ear, diverting our attention. Yes, the world is a much more hospitable place for women in the developed west now than it was. But look at how blithely the population at large accepted the conditions we once lived under. We do not have to
lift our eyes very far off the page to see how many people still live under the conditions that, with the distance of one small century, we now recognize as intolerably unjust. Let’s not forget all the Rosa Parkses who sat down to gain no hearing at all but were simply tossed off the bus and into the gutter. Speaking doesn’t just require a voice, it also presumes an ear. It is not enough to tell stories of the residential schools for instance, there must be a reception for these truths.

Writing Penelope was an experiential exercise in marginalization. This sounds pretty fancy. It didn’t feel fancy. Look, she said. She how easy it was for a woman to fall out, to fall away, to be cut out of society. The character of Nettle, who lives on her own on the outside the 19th century social safety net of neighbourliness, makes a scant living managing a sort of rudimentary clearinghouse for packages moving up and down the coach road. She is a repository for rumour, prejudice, and slander. She is thought by some to be a witch or to have second sight. The more practical say, “A woman alone—how do you think she lives?” In the end Penelope tells us: “she died from a body and soul worn through and worn out with work, age, and loneliness. She died from the burden of other people’s secrets, of living a cautionary tale, of flouting the rules.” She is always in the background as a warning to women who step outside society’s dictated bounds. The few options for the poor and solitary woman are clear. Although Penelope’s miller husband, Ewan, is largely silent and certainly eccentric, his gifts are admired 
and mythologized by society. No such latitude is given to women.

Writing female characters is complex in very different ways from writing male characters. Penelope brought me down a long, twisty and difficult road. But in the end I’m glad she did.

About the book
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
Roseway Publishing
Paperback; 234p
ISBN 13: 9781552665992

“This is the story of how you were loved,” Penelope MacLaughlin whispers to her granddaughter.

Penelope MacLaughlin marries a miller and gradually discovers he is not as she imagined. Nonetheless she remains determined to make the best of life at the lonely mill up the Gunn Brook as she struggles to build a home around her husband’s eccentricities. His increasing absence leaves Penelope to run the mill herself, providing her with a living but also destroying the people she loves most. Penelope struggles with loss and isolation, and suffers the gradual erosion of her sense of self. A series of betrayals leaves her with nothing but the mill and her determination to save her grandchildren from their disturbed father. While she can prepare her grandsons for independence, her granddaughter is too young and so receives the greater gift: the story that made them all.

Praise for Grist
“An epic story by a gifted writer. There are moments in Linda Little’s Grist that are breathtaking in both thought and lyricism.” — Donna Morrissey, author of The Deception of Livvy Higgs

“Linda Little lays bare the hard joys, grit and heartache of women’s lives in the rural Maritimes before and during the Great War. Her writing is exquisite. Gripping, gorgeously imagined and positively haunting, Grist is a tour de force—a novel not just to like but to love. I couldn’t put it down.” — Carol Bruneau, author of Glass Voices and Purple for Sky

Buy the Book
Fernwood Publishing

About the Author
Linda Little lives and writes in the north shore village of River John. Originally from the Ottawa Valley mill town of Hawkesbury, she lived in Kingston and St. John’s before moving to Nova Scotia in 1987.

Linda has two award-winning novels, Strong Hollow and Scotch River. She has published short stories in many reviews and anthologies, including The Antigonish Review, Descant, Matrix, The Journey Prize Anthology, and The Penguin Book of Short Stories by Canadian Women.

In addition to writing, Linda teaches at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College and is also involved with River John’s annual literary festival, Read by the Sea.

For more information visit Linda Little’s website.

Visit other blogs on the tour--Tour Schedule
Twitter Hashtag: #GristTour

Read my review of Grist here

Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter form below to enter for a chance to win a paperback copy of Grist by Linda Little! (Open to U.S./Canada)
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April 21, 2014

Caddy Rowland - Making History, Bohemian Style (Part 4)

Please welcome back historical fiction author and artist, Caddy Rowland, our regular contributor here at Historical Fiction Connection.

Eugene Manet and His Daughter, Julie, in the Garden 
By Berthe Morisot

Making History Bohemian Style (Part 4)
By Caddy Rowland

Please allow me to introduce the people who began the whole impressionistic movement in painting. There’s so much I want to say about each of these people that I could write for days.

Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Edgar Degas, and Berthe Morisot are usually thought of as the core of the group. Although Edouard Manet was friendly with them and painted with them in the beginning, he didn’t exhibit with them and didn’t want to be labeled an Impressionist. However, his style was a huge influence on all of them. Because of his influence and the fact that he sometimes painted with them, many include him when mentioning the first Impressionists.

Boulevard Montmartre Morning, Sunlight and Mist 
By Camille Pissarro

Paul Gauguin and Paul Cézanne both also painted with these artists and actually did exhibit with them early in their careers. However, they are both now considered Post-Impressionists—as is Vincent van Gogh.

There are others who are well known Impressionists as well. Alfred Sisley, Frédéric Bazille, and Georges Seurat come to mind.

Each of the five, though like-minded, had distinct personalities reflected in their work. You can see that by looking at the paintings I have included in this post. Monet, Pissarro, Sisley, and Morisot are considered the “purest” of the Impressionists because they all consistently strived for spontaneity, sunlight, and color. Degas, on the other hand, believed drawing to be of more importance than color, and looked down his nose at painting outdoors. Renoir left the group for awhile. When he returned he never did completely embrace their ideas. Manet insisted on using a lot of black, didn’t exhibit with the others and continued to submit works to the Salon, which the rest had rejected after being shunned in earlier years.

The Artist’s Garden at Giverny 
By Claude Monet 

Some of these artists would submit their work to the Salon at a later date, and then stop exhibiting in the Impressionist exhibitions. They also argued hotly about who should and should not be allowed to join their group and enter their exhibits. Sounds exactly like how people disagree today, regardless of what group it is! We even argue now about which artist belongs in what category. I find it puzzling that so much emphasis is put on trying to pigeonhole people who were so free-spirited.

These artists did all have some techniques in common. In general, these painters followed at least the majority of these guidelines that have now come to be known as the techniques of Impressionism:
  • Short, thick strokes of paint often applied impasto (so thick the brush or palette knife marks show, and many times the paint is mixed right on the canvas). It is applied quickly to show the soul of the subject rather than its details.
  • Very little mixing of colors. Instead they are applied side by side, forcing the viewer’s eyes to mix the colors. 
  • Black paint is avoided. Dark tones are instead made by mixing complementary colors. 
  • Wet paint is applied on or next to wet paint without allowing the first to dry. This allows the colors to marry, and produces softer edges. 
  • Artists often painted in the evening to show the shadowy effects of twilight. 
  • The transparency of glazes is not used. Instead the painting surface is usually opaque. 
  • How light plays on the surface of objects is extremely important, as is the reflection of colors from one object to the next. 
  • When painting en plein air (outdoors) shadows are shown with the blue of the sky. It is shown how it’s reflected on the various surfaces.
Dancer with a Fan 
By Edgar Degas

Many of these things had been done previously, but the Impressionists were the first to try to use all—or most— of them together consistently.

As you’ve probably guessed, although there are certain characteristics that mark Impressionistic works, even the originals had their own way of doing it, making them each different in their own way. It was a time of great exploration in the world of painting, and these bohemians paved the way for others to try even bolder things in the future.

Where did they hang out? What was their lifestyle like? How about their living quarters? When did they get the name “Impressionist”? I’ll be sharing a peek into their lives in future posts. Perhaps at times we’ll even dwell on a single artist. That might be fun. I’ll keep future posts a secret for now, though. I’m talking about my favorite subject, and don’t want to paint myself into a corner.

The Rowers Lunch 
By Pierre-Auguste Renoir

For now, I tip my beret as I retire to make love to the color—or write another novel. Words and pictures. Both so important, I can’t choose one over the other.

Historical Fiction by Caddy Rowland: