Friday, November 21, 2014

Interview with an Author: Elaine Cougler and "The Loyalist's Luck"

02_The Loyalist's Luck
Publication Date: October 2014
Peache House Press
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Series: The Loyalist Trilogy
Genre: Historical Fiction

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Today on the blog we have Elaine Couglar, who is touring the blogosphere to celebrate the release of her novel "The Loyalist's Luck". Here's a synopsis:

When the Revolutionary War turns in favor of the Americans, John and Lucy flee across the Niagara River with almost nothing. They begin again in Butlersburg, a badly supplied British outpost surrounded by endless trees and rivers, and the mighty roar of the giant falls nearby. He is off on a secret mission for Colonel Butler and she is left behind with her young son and pregnant once again. In the camp full of distrust, hunger, and poverty, word has seeped out that John has gone over to the American side and only two people will associate with Lucy—her friend, Nellie, who delights in telling her all the current gossip, and Sergeant Crawford, who refuses to set the record straight and clear John’s name. To make matters worse, the sergeant has made improper advances toward Lucy.

With vivid scenes of heartbreak and betrayal, heroism and shattered hopes, Elaine Cougler takes us into the hearts and homes of Loyalists still fighting for their beliefs, and draws poignant scenes of families split by political borders. The Loyalist’s Luck shows us the courage of ordinary people who, in perilous times, become extraordinary.

CW: Thanks for joining us, Elaine. First off, tell us how you discovered your love for writing?

EC: Words in all their forms and languages have held me in thrall for my whole life. I’ve loved to read them, write them, and savor them from the first time I sneaked my mother’s books off her shelf and hid myself away to read. My school lessons about spelling and stories, printing and then writing words, and finally mastering my own stories were the jewels of my childhood. Not until grade twelve, though, did I realize I might actually have an affinity for writing stories of my own. My personal essay placed second in our high school literary contest. I was hooked.

CW: “The Loyalist’s Luck” is set during the American Revolution and features British sympathizers. Tell us why you were drawn to the Loyalist point of view.

EC: We are all products of our personal history and mine is Loyalist. My father’s family originated in England and my direct ancestor crossed the water around the time of the American Revolution. He sided with the British. I've always known I was of Loyalist descent so that finding out more about what might have happened to my own people intrigued me. I was interested to go back in time to when relations between Americans and Canadians were not so friendly. Finally, much has been written about this time period from the American point of view. I wanted to explore the other side. Having researched the dissenting points of view I’m now doubly glad that our two countries peacefully share the longest undefended border in the world.

CW: How did you conduct your research? Any favorite sources?

EC: I’d have to say the most exciting book I found was Elizabeth Simcoe’s diary about the five years she was in Canada (1792-1796) with her famous husband, Governor John Graves Simcoe. She talked about dipping baskets in Lake Ontario and pulling them out full of fish, and of salmon in the lakes and rivers where I now live. I was shocked to realize how modern life has depleted these resources.

As for other research my computer is so convenient that I use it for a lot of my queries and searching sessions. Libraries and museums near my settings are amazingly well stocked with great books and maps. Sometimes, though, my husband and I just get in the car and take a road trip, especially out of tourist season so that I can have lots of uninterrupted time to walk the dirt tracks around forts, smell the baking bread in an army kitchen, and monopolize the time of the knowledgeable people working in these places.

CW: Do you have any favorite books or authors?

EC: Oh, my gosh, does a musket have a barrel? I love a book that keeps me turning the pages, involves me so deeply in its characters that I feel their joy and sadness in my own heart. I love a great plot that keeps moving and I particularly like chapter endings that just will not allow me to quit reading. Many, many authors do that. I remember reading Herman Wouk’s War and Remembrance books and just having to stop because his characters and the catastrophic events in their lives were affecting my own life. I just couldn’t stop thinking about them. I stopped reading to save myself from mourning the whole Second World War! A couple of years ago I picked them up and reread them, this time finishing.

So many authors have pleased me, affected me, and, yes, even changed me that I hesitate to start naming them lest I forget one. I have done posts on them on my writing blog, On Becoming a Wordsmith, but I like to look forward rather than back to the next great read I’ll find.

CW: Finally, I always like to ask, if you could go back in time, which era would you pick?

EG: Reading and writing about earlier times is so much fun for me that I’ve spent much of my life doing just that. By learning about people and places in our history I can better understand and empathize with situations in my own time. So, yes, I love studying past times and even imagining what life was like then for my own books. Do I want to go back? No. I like my creature comforts, my solid walls, my rights, and even my obligations in this time. Without a doubt our times could be better and I hope one day will be, but go back in time? That’s only for the likes of Claire who steps through the rocks into warring Scotland and finds the lovely and inimitable Jamie. Don’t you just love the Outlander series? 

CW: Thanks again for joining us, Elaine! For more information on "The Loyalist's Luck" including additional tour stops, scroll on down.

About the Author

Elaine Cougler

A lifelong reader and high school teacher, Elaine found her passion for writing once her family was grown. She loves to read history for the stories of real people reacting to their world. Bringing to life the tales of Loyalists in the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 is very natural as Elaine’s personal roots are in those struggles, out of which arose both Canada and the United States.

For more information please visit Elaine Cougler's website. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads.

The Loyalist's Luck Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, November 10
Review at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Tuesday, November 11
Guest Post at The Writing Desk

Wednesday, November 12
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection

Thursday, November 13
Guest Post & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Friday, November 14
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection

Monday, November 17
Interview at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Thursday, November 20
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter

Friday, November 21
Interview at Caroline Wilson Writes

Monday, November 24
Guest Post at Oh, For the Hook of a Book

Tuesday, November 25
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time

Wednesday, November 26
Guest Post at So Many Books, So Little Time

Friday, November 28
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Review: "Girl on the Golden Coin" by Marci Jefferson

Hello all!

This review is horribly late. I've been so caught up in reading other novels and posting author spotlights (and interviews and reviews...) that I forgot to post my review of Marci Jefferson's "Girl on the Golden Coin", which in retrospect, is one of my favorite books this year.

"The Girl on the Golden Coin" is an excellent look at the life of Frances Stuart, the woman who would become the model for "Britannia" on England's coinage. I've always been enamored of her and even at one time thought of penning a novel about her myself. But since I do not like to trod over turned up ground, I moved on to other projects.

The novel opens when Frances is but a girl and a exile living in France. The English Civil War is raging and the Stuart family has been fractured by the fighting. Charles, the Prince of Wales, is a vagabond, moving from court to court throughout Europe, while his mother, Queen Henrietta Maria is living in France with her daughter Henriette. Frances' mother is attached to the Queen's household, so Frances grows up as a boon companion to the young princess. 

Some years later, Henriette is married off to Louis XIV's younger brother while still pining for the king. Frances unwittingly wins the King's heart, but loyal to her friend, refuses to become his mistress. And so begins her journey. In retribution for turning him down, Louis sends Frances back to England to serve in the court of the newly restored King Charles II. She is to become the King's mistress and use her influence to sway him in favor of France. Then begins the conflict. Frances is ill suited to political and court intrigues but is forced to play the game in an attempt to save her family's honor and to keep a past scandal secret. She handily charms the king and his court, becoming known as La Belle Stuart. But she is constantly conflicted by her loyalty to Queen Catherine and her growing feelings (and passion) for King Charles.

Ms. Jefferson's writing style is very engaging, atmospheric without sacrificing the pace of the novel. Some reviewers complain that the novel is too light. It is fiction, not a doctoral thesis on Restoration England. Jefferson accurately captures the many court personalities including King Charles and his Queen Catherine, his established mistress Barbara, Lady Castlemaine, and his brother the Duke of York. Frances' conflicted feelings for Charles seem to be sexual in nature at first, but she grows to love him, and is a better character for it. She never seeks to excel her own person throughout the novel and constantly makes sacrifices (including her own morality) for her family. If anything, Frances is probably a little too good, but she never comes off as an annoying martyr. 

My only quibble is that Frances' mother was not fully fleshed out, and their interactions suffer as a result. It's obvious the woman was very withdrawn but it would have been nice to know what was going on in her head (even if it were only through dialogue) especially since her secret is Frances' main motivation for acting as she does. But over all, the novel is nicely paced and engrossing with an interesting author's note to cap it all off. "Girl on the Golden Coin" is a recommended read. And I'm looking forward to Marci's next novel which is entitled "The Enchantress of Paris" and takes place in the Louis XIV's court. It's due out next August.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Review: Inglorious Royal Marriages by Leslie Carroll

Hello all!

I recently reviewed Inglorious Royal Marriages for the Historical Novel Society. It's the latest installment in Leslie Carroll's series on the scandals of European royalty. I've enjoyed the other books penned by Carroll and Inglorious Royal Marriages  was another interesting entry to the series. The book chronicles royal relationships, both legally and not so legally binding. A portion of the marriages featured were contracted for dynastic reasons; as a result, most were notoriously unhappy. Each section is devoted to the husband and wife involved in the marriage. Some of the royals documented are Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou, Catherine of Braganza and Charles II, Anne of Austria and Louis XIII, and Marie of Romania and Ferdinand I.

The book is very readable. It doesn't get bogged down like a lot of non-fiction and is filled with fascinating stories from the medieval period all the way through to World War II. The book’s focus on some lesser-known nobles is a boon for those readers who love all the intricacies of royal life. As with her other works, Carroll sometimes goes into too much detail, particularly about the political maneuverings at the time. A little more attention to the daily lives of the subjects would have made Inglorious Royal Marriages really shine. If you enjoy reading all the juicy tidbits of Europe's most famous (and infamous) marriages, you'll not want to miss Inglorious Royal Marriages.
For more historical fiction and non-fiction reviews, check out my Goodreads account.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Author Spotlight: S.K. Rizzolo's John Chase Mystery Series

Please join S.K. Rizzolo as she tours the blogosphere for the John Chase Regency Mystery Series Book Blast, from November 3-16, and be entered to win all three books in the trilogy!

The Rose in the Wheel (Book One)

01_The Rose Wheel
Publication Date: January 1, 2002
Poisoned Pen Press
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Series: John Chase Mystery Series (Book One)
Genre: Historical Mystery/Regency

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This well imagined, carefully detailed, and cleverly plotted debut draws on actual historical events of 1811 London.

Regency London knows Constance Tyrone as the conspicuously celibate founder of the St. Catherine Society, dedicated to helping poor women. One wet November evening a carriage mows down Constance outside her office. Curiously, while her corpse's one foot is bare, the other is shod in a clean satin slipper despite the muddy road. Why was a gentlewoman abroad in the night? And if she died under the wheel, whose hands bruised her neck and stole her monogrammed crucifix?

Dismissing the idea of an accident, Bow Street Runner John Chase forms an unlikely alliance with Penelope Wolfe, wife of the chief suspect. A young mother paying the price for an imprudent marriage, Penelope is eager to clear her husband Jeremy, a feckless portrait painter whose salacious drawings of the victim suggest an erotic interest. Chase's first task is to learn the identity of the mysterious benefactor who goes bail for Wolfe while Penelope traces the victim's last movements. Barrister Edward Buckler, intrigued, shakes off his habitual lethargy and joins their investigation.

As horrifying murders on the Ratcliffe Highway claim all London's attention, the trio discovers that it won't be easy to unravel the enigma of Constance Tyrone, a woman who revives the legend of martyred St. Catherine.

Blood for Blood (Book Two)

02_Blood for Blood
Publication Date: April 15, 2003
Poisoned Pen Press
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Series: John Chase Mystery Series (Book Two)
Genre: Historical Mystery/Regency

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In the spring of 1812, the Luddites are on the march, Lord Byron is taking London drawing rooms by storm, and Penelope Wolfe has become a lady's companion. When one of the footmen turns up dead with a knife to the heart, Penelope and Bow Street Runner John Chase are entangled in a web of family secrets and political conspiracy that stretches far beyond luxurious St. James's Square.

With the help of barrister Edward Buckler, Chase follows the trail of a mysterious mad woman caught peeping in the window at the corpse. Penelope struggles to fit into the fashionable world, encountering people who hide resentment and deceit under smooth smiles.

Set against a backdrop of millennial fervor with thousands awaiting the end of the world, BLOOD FOR BLOOD explores the simple truth that every drop of blood spilled will be avenged.

Die I Will Not (Book Three)

Die I Will Not
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
Poisoned Pen Press
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback

Series: John Chase Mystery Series (Book Three)
Genre: Historical Mystery/Regency

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Unhappy wife and young mother Penelope Wolfe fears scandal for her family and worse. A Tory newspaper editor has been stabbed while writing a reply to the latest round of letters penned by a firebrand calling himself Collatinus. Twenty years before, her father, the radical Eustace Sandford, wrote as Collatinus before he fled London just ahead of accusations of treason and murder. A mysterious beauty closely connected to Sandford and known only as N.D. had been brutally slain, her killer never punished. The seditious new Collatinus letters that attack the Prince Regent in the press also seek to avenge N.D.’s death and unmask her murderer. What did the journalist know that provoked his death?

Her artist husband Jeremy is no reliable ally, so Penelope turns anew to lawyer Edward Buckler and Bow Street Runner John Chase. As she battles public notoriety, Buckler and Chase put their careers at risk to stand behind her while pursuing various lines of inquiry aimed at N.D.’s murderer, a missing memoir, Royal scandal, and the dead editor’s missing wife. As they navigate the dark underbelly of Regency London among a cast driven by dirty politics and dark passions, as well as by decency and a desire for justice, past secrets and present criminals are exposed, upending Penelope’s life and the lives of others.

Buy the Books

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

About the Author

SK RizzoloS.K. Rizzolo is a longtime Anglophile and history enthusiast. Set in Regency England, The Rose in the Wheel and Blood for Blood are the first two novels in her series about a Bow Street Runner, an unconventional lady, and a melancholic barrister. An English teacher, Rizzolo has earned an M.A. in literature and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.

For more information please visit S.K. Rizzolo's website. You can also find her on Facebook and Goodreads.

John Chase Mystery Series Book Blast Schedule

Monday, November 3
Back Porchervations

Tuesday, November 4
Reading Lark
Rainy Day Reviews

Wednesday, November 5
CelticLady's Reviews
A Bibliotaph's Reviews

Thursday, November 6
The Lit Bitch
Historical Tapestry

Friday, November 7
Passages to the Past
Caroline Wilson Writes

Saturday, November 8
The Maiden's Court
The True Book Addict

Sunday, November 9
Brooke Blogs
Let Them Read Books

Monday, November 10
Layered Pages
With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Tuesday, November 11
To Read or Not to Read

Wednesday, November 12
Just One More Chapter

Thursday, November 13
A Book Geek
100 Pages a Day

Friday, November 14
Peeking Between the Pages

Saturday, November 15
Mel's Shelves
Historical Fiction Connection

Sunday, November 16
Book Nerd


To win all three books in S.K. Rizzolo's John Chase Regency Mystery Series please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Giveaway is open internationally.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on November 16th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on November 17th and notified via email.
Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Interview with an Author: Sabra Waldfogel and "Slave and Sister"

Hello all! Today I'm pleased to have Sabra Waldfogel on the blog. She is promoting her new novel "Slave and Sister" which takes place in Antebellum Georgia. As you all know, I'm big on the Civil War era so when I read about this novel, I jumped at the chance to interview Sabra. But first...a little synopsis of "Slave and Sister".

01_Slave and Sister 

Publication Date: March 11, 2014 | Publisher: Sabra Waldfogel | Formats: eBook, Paperback | 379p

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Adelaide Mannheim and her slave Rachel share a shameful secret. Adelaide’s father, a Jewish planter in Cass County, Georgia, is Rachel’s father, too. Adelaide marries neighboring planter Henry Kaltenbach, a Jew deeply troubled by slavery, and watches with a wary eye as her husband treats all of his slaves—including Rachel—with kindness. As the country’s conflict over slavery looms ever larger, Henry and Rachel fall in love, and as the United States is rent by the Civil War, the lives of mistress and slave are torn apart.

When the war brings destruction and Emancipation, can these two women, made kin by slavery, free themselves of the past to truly become sisters?


CW: Historians have hotly debated the Antebellum South and Civil War periods for years. Was it this controversy that drew you to the period or do you have a personal interest?

SW: My education as a historian was part of the legacy of the long-term debate over slavery. I went to graduate school to study American history at a moment when slavery was the hottest topic for writing and research. We read about slavery, talked about slavery, and thought about slavery a lot. Several of my classmates, snowbound in Minnesota, had their minds firmly fixed on South Carolina, Louisiana, and Mississippi. It hit a personal nerve with me. As a secular Jew, I grew up thinking about slavery and freedom on an annual basis. My education and my own experience came together in bringing this book to fruition.

CW: Did you use primary sources in developing your novel or is it entirely a work of fiction?For the big questions—about the economy and the morality of slavery—I tapped a century-long scholarly debate on the topic, ranging from the profitability of cotton to the immorality of selling human beings, including the role of Jews as slaveowners. I relied on primary sources for many of the specific questions that the historical literature didn’t address. They were about the ordinary things. How many miles could a mule travel in a day? How many bales of cotton would an acre of cotton land produce? What kind of grease did Southern Jews cook their food in?

SW: The historical record is silent on the subject that is at the heart of my novel—how a slaveowner and a slave might interact day by day. We have hints in wills, letters, and now, in the genealogical record, but fiction can go where history cannot. I have imagined the relationship that I dearly wish a sensitive owner of slaves and an educated slave had been able to document—their daily dealings with each other, and their feelings about it.

CW: Why did you decide to let Rachel and Henry fall in love? Their relationship is a perpetuation of the same dynamic that resulted in Rachel's birth. Were you out to simply tell a story or did you want a fictional vehicle to critique the time period?

SW: Like most writers of fiction, I fell in love with these characters well before I wrote the story. As the story evolved, the historical issues intertwined with the story itself, and gave it a complexity and a subtlety beyond the simple fact of two people in love. The characters allowed me to write about complexity—a Jewish slaveowner tormented by his conscience, and a half-Jewish slave full of yearning to reach for the freedom promised by the story of the Exodus. The more I wrote, the more I realized that a good story may have a moral point, but a good story shouldn’t hit the readers over the head with it.

CW: You are a historian by trade; what led you to pursue fiction writing instead of staying in the non-fiction realm?

SW: I got my doctorate at a moment when the job prospects for historians were especially dim. I hedged my bets in graduate school by preparing myself for a career outside of academic teaching and research, and I had a long and interesting stint in corporate life as a writer of technical, marketing, and instructional materials. It turned out to be a wonderful training ground for writing fiction, since I learned a discipline and a toughness that have helped me in every kind of writing I’ve ever done. I wouldn’t recommend that anyone get a doctorate and go into corporate life to get better at writing fiction, but that particular path was wonderfully helpful to me.

CW: Do you have any influences? Who are your favorite authors and/or novels?

SW: I have very old-fashioned taste in literature. I’ve always liked the social observers of the 19th century, Balzac and Thackeray, and the American social realists, like Theodore Dreiser, Richard Wright, and Ann Petry. I read a lot of Jewish fiction when I was younger, including the Yiddish writers and the Americans of the 1960s, like Philip Roth and Saul Bellow. More recently, I’ve read a lot of science fiction in the steampunk mode. Having read the Victorians, I like the neo-Victorians as well. And I have a surprising affection for classic crime noir. I’ve read Raymond Chandler many times, but underneath his realism, he is a romantic, too.

Thanks Sabra for stopping by! Scroll down for more information on "Slave and Sister" and how to purchase a copy.

Praise for Slave and Sister

"Two faces seen in a mirror: a black slave and her white mistress. Their eyes, their cheekbones, reflect a disturbingly similar cast. Disturbing for the times, antebellum Georgia, and for the reason: Adelaide Mannheim and her slave Rachel share the same father. Later, as war clouds gather, Adelaide, newly married, finds her husband and Rachel have fallen in love. What could have been a tawdry tale of forbidden romance becomes, in the hands of author Sabra Waldfogel, a complex story of survival and the emergence of true love and heroism. Waldfogel has an eye for character and the historical training to ground her story in the milieu of the 1850s and '60s. A veritable page-turner that will capture the reader from start to finish." - Lavender Magazine

"A carefully crafted cavern through time... Waldfogel's wizardry with words makes it impossible not to be devastatingly impacted by her work... A literary tapestry of shame and honor, of glory and defeat, and of coming to terms with the most important issues in life." - The Northern Star

About the Author

Waldfogel_Bio headshot thumbnailSabra Waldfogel grew up far from the South in Minneapolis. She studied history at Harvard University and received her Ph.D. in American History from the University of Minnesota. She has worked as a technical writer and has written about historic architecture for Old House Journal and Arts and Crafts Homes. Her short story “Yemaya” appeared in Sixfold’s Winter 2013 fiction issue. Slave and Sister is her first novel.

For more information please visit Sabra's website. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Slave and Sister Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 27
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, October 28
Interview at Caroline Wilson Writes

Wednesday, October 29
Review & Giveaway at Forever Ashley
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Thursday, October 30
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection

Monday, November 3
Review at Book Babe

Tuesday, November 4
Spotlight at I'd Rather Be Reading

Wednesday, November 5
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Thursday, November 6
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews

Friday, November 7
Interview at Mina's Bookshelf
Guest Post at Just One More Chapter

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Interview: Elena Maria Vidal's "The Paradise Tree"

02_The Paradise Tree
Publication Date: September 19, 2014
Paperback; 252p

Genre: Historical Fiction

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The year is 1887 in Leeds County, Ontario. The O’Connor clan is gathering to mourn the loss of its patriarch Daniel O’Connor, an Irish immigrant. The story of Daniel and his wife Brigit is one of great hardships, including illness, ill-starred romances, war and political upheavals, as well as undying love and persevering faith. As Daniel is laid to rest, his grandson Fergus receives a piercing insight into what his own calling in life will be.


CW: Tell us why you choose to write
EMV: I have been writing since I learned to put two sentences together. I started keeping a diary at age seven. Writing has always been such an integral part of my life; it hardly seems like a choice. It is just something I must do.

CW: “The Paradise Tree” has a very unusual setting. Tell us why you were drawn to Ontario. 
EMV: I spent many glorious summer vacations in Ontario in the vicinity where the novel is set. It is a place of beauty and mystery as well as family memories and deep ancestral roots.

CW: Your website mentioned that you took a lot of pains to be authentic. What kind of research did that entail? 
EMV: It entailed finding long lost fourth cousins who had family heirlooms and documents that would provide me with the detailed information. It is the little things that make a novel authentic. I spent time at the Brockville Historical Society searching through deeds and records that mentioned family members and their property. It meant interviewing some of my older relatives (now deceased) who had memories of the children of Daniel and Brigit O’Connor. I studied old photographs and old maps and read lots of rare, out-of-print history books.

CW: You’ve published several books, all in different eras. Do you have a favorite? 
EMV: My personal favorite is Madame Royale, the story of the only survivor of the family of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette.

CW: Random question: If you could have a drink with a historical personage, who would it be? 
EMV: I would love to share a bottle of wine with Louis XVI. The King read widely; I would have enjoyed talking about books with him.

Thanks so much for joining us, Elena!

Praise for The Paradise Tree

"With this marvelous immigrant saga, Elena Maria Vidal reminds us why our forebears left the Old World for the New: for Faith, family, and freedom! Through three generations of an Irish clan in Canada, she invites us into their home for struggle and triumph, celebrations of joy and sorrow, music, feasting, and dancing. The Paradise Tree makes 'the past and present mingle and become one' for the reader’s great delight." --Stephanie A. Mann, author of Supremacy and Survival: How Catholics Endured the English Reformation

“Elena Maria Vidal’s latest book, The Paradise Tree, is the fictionalized true story of the author’s devoutly Catholic ancestors who immigrated to Canada from Ireland. It is filled with rich detailed history recounting the hardships and joys of the 19th century O’Connor Family. Beautifully written with great attention to historical, geographical and religious accuracy, this fascinating and moving family saga is a treasure that I highly recommend!” ~Ellen Gable Hrkach, award-winning author of In Name Only and four other novels

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About the Author

03_Elena Maria Vidal
Elena Maria Vidal grew up in the countryside outside of Frederick, Maryland, "fair as the garden of the Lord" as the poet Whittier said of it. As a child she read so many books that her mother had to put restrictions on her hours of reading. During her teenage years, she spent a great deal of her free time writing stories and short novels.

Elena graduated in 1984 from Hood College in Frederick with a BA in Psychology, and in 1985 from the State University of New York at Albany with an MA in Modern European History. In 1986, she joined the Secular Order of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Elena taught at the Frederick Visitation Academy and worked as a private tutor as well as teaching children's etiquette classes. During a trip to Austria in 1995 she visited the tomb of Empress Maria Theresa in the Capuchin crypt in Vienna. Afterwords she decided to finish a novel about Marie-Antoinette she had started writing ten years before but had put aside. In 1997 her first historical novel TRIANON was published by St. Michaels Press. In 2000, the sequel MADAME ROYALE was published, as well as the second edition of TRIANON, by The Neumann Press. Both books quickly found an international following which continues to this day. In 2010, the third edition of TRIANON and the second edition of MADAME ROYALE were released.

In November 2009, THE NIGHT'S DARK SHADE: A NOVEL OF THE CATHARS was published by Mayapple Books. The new historical novel deals with the controversial Albigensian Crusade in thirteenth century France. Elena has been a contributor to Canticle Magazine, Touchstone Magazine, The National Observer, and The American Conservative. In April 2009 she was a speaker at the Eucharistic Convention in Auckland, New Zealand. In August 2010 Elena spoke at The Catholc Writers Conference in Valley Forge, PA. She is a member of the Catholic Writers Guild and the Eastern Shore Writers Association. She currently lives in Maryland with her family.

For more information please visit Elena's website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Other Titles by Elena Maria Vidal

Trianon: A Novel of Royal France
Madame Royale: A Novel
The Night's Dark Shade: A Novel of the Cathars

The Paradise Tree Blog Tour Schedule

Saturday, October 4
Review at Peeking Between the Pages

Sunday, October 5
Guest Post at Susan Heim on Writing

Monday, October 6
Review at Savvy Verse & Wit
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, October 7
Review at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, October 8
Review at West Metro Mommy

Thursday, October 9
Review & Interview at Back Porchervations

Friday, October 10
Review at Beth's Book Reviews
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books

Saturday, October 11
Interview at Supremacy & Survival

Sunday, October 12
Spotlight at Queen of All She Reads

Monday, October 13
Review at A Bibliotaph's Reviews

Tuesday, October 14
Review at CelticLady's Reviews

Wednesday, October 15
Review at A Book Geek
Interview at Caroline Wilson Writes

Thursday, October 16
Review at Book Nerd
Spotlight at She is Too Fond of Books

Friday, October 17
Review at Dianne Ascroft Blog

Saturday, October 18
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

Monday, October 20
Review at Book Drunkard

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Interview with an Author: Regan Walker and "The Red Wolf's Prize"

02_The Red Wolf's Prize
Publication Date: October 1, 2014
Paperback; 245p
ISBN: 978-06-15978-14-7

Genre: Historical Romance

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Sir Renaud de Pierrepont, the Norman knight known as the Red Wolf for the beast he slayed with his bare hands, hoped to gain lands with his sword. A year after the Conquest, King William rewards his favored knight with Talisand, the lands of an English thegn slain at Hastings, and orders him to wed Lady Serena, the heiress that goes with them.


Serena wants nothing to do with the fierce warrior to whom she has been unwillingly given, the knight who may have killed her father. When she learns the Red Wolf is coming to claim her, she dyes her flaxen hair brown and flees, disguised as a servant, determined to one day regain her lands. But her escape goes awry and she is brought back to live among her people, though not unnoticed by the new Norman lord.

Deprived of his promised bride, the Red Wolf turns his attention to the comely servant girl hoping to woo her to his bed. But the wench resists, claiming she hates all Normans.

As the passion between them rises, Serena wonders, can she deny the Norman her body? Or her heart?


A big thank you to Regan for joining us!

CW: Tell us a bit about your transition from law to writing?

RW: At first, it was difficult to take on a slower pace since my last job was pretty much 24/7. To give up the responsibility for the problems of others was not easy when that had characterized my legal career. I love solving problems and helping others, whether business or government leaders. But once I got used to having time on my hands, and setting my own schedule, I found I loved writing and reading (I am an avid reader and reviewer with my own Historical Romance Review blog). I love the research that goes into my novels. I learn something new every day. And that became very satisfying. Finally, my right brain was waking up after a very long sleep. I have no desire to go back to the practice of law.

CW: “The Red Wolf’s Prize” is set just after the Norman Conquest. What appealed to you about this era and/or plotline?

RW: I was drawn to the medieval period and specifically to England after the Conquest. I kept wondering what a feisty English maiden would do when her country was conquered, her beloved father was killed at Hastings and she and her lands were given to a Norman knight. I knew this happened many times after the Conquest, so I was writing a story that could have occurred. It was an adventure to dive into the 11th century and take a look at England after the Normans descended. It wasn't all a pretty picture, to be sure. William the Conqueror was a brutal king who treated his enemies despicably. But the knights in my story, The Red Wolf's Prize, are of a noble bent, inclined to pay homage to womanhood, even if the hero does lust after the heroine. And of course, my heroine is brave and noble of heart, though her independence leads her into trouble. I wanted to sweep readers away to that time and let them fall in love. I think I achieved my purpose.

CW: Was research terribly difficult given that nearly a thousand years has passed?

RW: Well, it was much more difficult than that for my other stories. I had to learn all about the Saxon/English culture (housing, food, dress, horses, armor, fighting techniques and weapons) and I had to learn about the Normans and the changes they brought to England, which were considerable. I spent hundreds of hours pouring over books, maps, old paintings and drawings as well as all the online material that was available. In the end, I found more than I thought I would—even some reported quotes by William the Conqueror himself.

CW: What are your influences? Perhaps a favorite author?

RW: I like the deep historicals where history is a real character. The authors whose names come to mind whose books I love are Jan Cox Speas and Kathleen Givens (Scottish historicals), Penelope Williamson, Kathleen Woodiwiss, Virginia Henley (my mentor of sorts), Elizabeth Stuart, Candice Proctor (Australian historicals), and many others. I have featured their novels on my “best lists” and shared my reviews of their books on my blog.

CW: Random question: If you could live during any historical period, what would it be?

RW: It would probably be Scotland, on a gorgeous lake (“loch”) in a castle, most likely prior to 1600 in some rare period when the clans thrived, had enough food and the Scots were not plagued by England. Hard to find.

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Praise for The Red Wolf's Prize

“Ms. Walker has the rare ability to make you forget you are reading a book…the characters become real, the modern world fades away and all that is left is the intrigue, drama and romance.” - Straight from the Library

“An engrossing love story grounded in meticulous research. Regan Walker makes the transition from Regency London to Anglo Norman England with consummate ease.” - Glynn Holloway, author of 1066 What Fates Impose

“Regan Walker has delivered an exciting tale and a passionate love story that brings to life England after the Conquest—medieval romance at its best!" - Virginia Henley New York Times Bestselling Author

“Regan Walker has once again written a story that grabs hold and doesn’t let go. There is intrigue, action and a beautifully developed romance." - Vickie Moore, The Reading Cafe

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About the Author

As a child Regan Walker loved to write stories, particularly about adventure-loving girls, but by the time she got to college more serious pursuits took priority. One of her professors encouraged her to pursue the profession of law, which she did. Years of serving clients in private practice and several stints in high levels of government gave her a love of international travel and a feel for the demands of the “Crown” on its subjects. Hence her romance novels often involve a demanding sovereign who thinks of his subjects as his private talent pool. Regan lives in San Diego with her golden retriever, Link, whom she says inspires her every day to relax and smell the roses. For more information please visit Regan Walker's website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

The Red Wolf's Prize Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, October 1

Review at Flashlight Commentary
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection

Thursday, October 2

Interview at Flashlight Commentary

Friday, October 3

Spotlight at Historical Tapestry

Monday, October 6

Review at Historical Romance Lover

Tuesday, October 7

Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Wednesday, October 8

Review at Historical Fiction Obsession

Thursday, October 9

Spotlight at Book Reviews by Lanise Brown

Friday, October 10

Review at Unshelfish

Saturday, October 11

Spotlight & Excerpt at The Lusty Literate

Monday, October 13

Review at The Life & Times of a Book Addict

Tuesday, October 14

Interview at Caroline Wilson Writes

Wednesday, October 15

Guest Post & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Thursday, October 16

Review at Book Marks the Spot

Saturday, October 18

Spotlight at Romantic Historical Reviews

Wednesday, October 22

Review at Princess of Eboli
Spotlight & Giveaway at bookworm2bookworm's Blog

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