Friday, January 18, 2013

Women in World War I by: Stephanie Burkhart

Prior to the 20th Century, a woman's job was to tend the home. They usually worked as domestics or raised children. They also found opportunities in nursing and teaching, but it wasn't until World War I did women's roles expand in a male dominated society.

Due to their service, dedication and hard work, women earned the right to vote in America in 1918.

In Great Britain, women over 30 were given the right to vote in 1918.

Women in Great Britain
With men heading off to war, women filled in the gaps men left. They found work in transpirations, driving buses,  working on the rail lines, nursing, factories, (ammunition) and in the RAF as mechanics on planes.

Young women received basic medical training and went to the war zone as nurses. They tended to the wounded men, cleaning wounds, and changing bandages. These nurses used aspirin and morphine as painkillers,  Known as VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) they weren't paid.

FANY's (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry) were also women with challenging jobs as well. They:
Drove ambulances
Disinfected rooms with wounded soldiers
Ran soup kitchens

On the home front, they became more active in farming and in the factories. In farming, they planted seeds by hand and used horses to till the soil, since the resources used to do those jobs were diverted to the war effort.

Women in America
When World War I began, the Navy enlisted close to 13,000 women. (The Army couldn't figure out how to get around the War Department's red tape. The Navy ignored it.)

Women worked as nurses, physical/occupational therapists, cooks, telephone operators, journalists, and entertained the troops.

In World War I at least 3 Army Nurses were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (the Nation's 2nd highest military honor), the Distinguished Service Medal, and the French Croix de Guerre.

Women in Russia
During World War I in the Czarist period, women were so involved in the war effort, they even took part in combat. Most dressed as men to join, but the Czar did allow women to openly serve. The most famous is Maria Botchkareva. She earned the respect of male counterparts on the battlefield. She was noted for bayoneting a German soldier to death and dragged several wounded to safety after a machine gun fight. Maria was allowed to recruit an all women's battalion. The women in Maria's Battalion of Death proved they were fierce fighters in war.

Women in Germany
The Prussian culture of Germany at this time was believed to have glorified brute force, supported a man's domination of women, and treated children poorly. When war struck, women went to work in munitions factories and served as civilian workers for the military in the rear as nurses, and clerks. After the war, German women were also given the right to vote.

Question: If you were a woman during this time, would you be drawn to military service? How would you choose to serve? What nation would you want to serve?

Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. From 1986-1997 she served in the US Army in the Military Police Corp. She spent 7 years assigned overseas in Germany and she was awarded the Army Commendation Award (3x) during her tenure. She earned a Gold Schutzenschnur (German Armed Forces badge of Marksmanship) and went on 2 Reforgers with the British Army in Northern Europe. During her tour from 1986-8, she was stationed in Munster, Germany, and worked with British soldiers on a daily basis.

Danube in Candlelight
Blurb: Morgan befriends a wolf who eventually turns her into one. Can she learn to live and love as a werewolf?

Morgan Duma sat back in her seat and looked out the train's window. She raked a hand through her hair and let out a slow breath. The train slowed to a stop at the Sopron station. A handful of people gathered near the doors. Her journey from England to Hungary had been long. Thank God her sister, Emily, was making it with her. Budapest was only an hour away now. It would be heaven to sleep in her own bed tonight. She rested her chin in her hand as several passengers disembarked.

Then she saw him. Adam Varga, shuffling toward the train, a duffle bag slung over his shoulder. At least, she believed it was Adam. The last time she had seen him was four years ago, before she'd left for England.
5 Stars, Reader's Favorite:
This story is the closest I have ever come to reading a book that feels like a movie!

4 Hearts, Sizzling Hot Book Reviews:
Once again, Stephanie Burkhart has touched my imagination and with her writing brings 1922 Hungary to life. Danube in Candlelight is a very romantic, yet spicy read. This is a must read if you enjoy the paranormal werewolf stories or even if you merely enjoy a great romance.

Book Trailer on You Tube:


Monday, January 14, 2013

Unputtdownable new book from Jen Black!

The Dowager Duchess of Yaxley escapes from an abusive son-in-law to become a housekeeper in a remote Northumbrian village. The Master of the house, Jarrow, is a widower with a delightful daughter, but few funds. Jarrow has his scars, but he also has a secret life that unnerves Melanie when she discovers what it is that occupies his nights. This historical romance with its great sense of time and setting, leads the reader through the clash of the scarred personalities, troubles with excise men to a resolution which surprises them both.

Available only from Kindle: here

“Fascinating and beautifully created characters, plenty of secrets, and a compelling love story between a hero and a heroine that tugs at your heart strings, makes this a must read.”


‘Gavington House, Miss.’

The coachman, no doubt anxious to reach his journey’s end before dark, was briskly polite as he drew the coach to a halt on the road between Corbridge and Morpeth. Descending unaided and with some difficulty, given her hooped skirt, she saw he had deposited her bag beside the imposing stone pillars of an open gateway. He tipped his hat to her and sprang back up to his perch with a cry to his horses. She watched the coach roll along the lane, and waved away the cloud of dust and grit that flew up behind the large wheels.

Green hedgerows divided greener fields, and there was not a dwelling in sight. Looking around, Melanie shivered. The snarling griffins with claws dug into the top of the stone gateposts added to her feeling of unease. Stepping closer, she realised the griffins protected a date incised into the stone beneath them: 1524. Gavington House had stood here for three hundred and forty years.

A little unnerved by such a span of time, Melanie stooped, gripped the handles of her portmanteau and marched between the gate posts with a determined stride. The gates had been opened and then abandoned some time ago, for tall weeds grew on both sides of them. Odd, she thought, as she walked along the weedy gravel drive that led through a shadowy clump of pine trees. Though she had packed only the necessities and a fresh gown for tomorrow’s interview, her leather bag was heavy and the gravel drive did not make for easy walking. Full of shallow gradients and curves, it wound through the trees in a most annoying way. Now and then, through gaps in the foliage, she caught sight of what must be Gavington House.

Had she been in the comfort of a sprung carriage, she would have found the approach charming and no doubt been delighted with each pretty vista as it appeared. But after twenty minutes of energetic walking, Melanie hesitated. The drive was about to take one of its unnecessary bends away from the house, which was plainly visible two hundred yards away in the opposite direction.

With a frustrated sigh, Melanie gripped her bag firmly, brushed through the low hanging branches and strode out across the lawn. If she were shot for it, she would not follow that drive an instant longer. Hurrying across the open stretch of recently scythed grass, she glanced over her shoulder, half expecting an irate gardener or gamekeeper to chase her off the hallowed turf.

Excerpt 2

‘Circumstances change, sir. A new master appeared, with staff of his own.’ In a way, that was true. Her step-son, the new duke, had summoned his lawyer friends and cheated her out of the dower house and everything else to which she had been entitled.

A grim smile touched the corners of Lord Jarrow’s mouth. ‘Well, at least your mistress was prepared to give you good references. These are excellent.’

‘Thank you, sir. I hoped they would serve.’

His eyes narrowed, and Melanie’s stomach clenched in response. Her tone had been a little too pert. Lord, it was so difficult to strike the right balance. Dipping her head, she surveyed her clasped hands and waited to see what direction he would take. Be subservient, she told herself. Think subservience, and you will practice it. If you do well, you will be his housekeeper, and have the security of a roof over your head.

‘Gavington is perhaps not what you expected,’ he said slowly, sitting forward with his forearms on his desk. ‘The house is virtually closed. I keep few staff, only those necessary for the comfort of myself and my daughter. I do not welcome visitors. Now you have seen how isolated we are, do you still wish to be considered for the post?’

‘Of course, sir.’


Jolted, she met his quizzical glance. ‘Why, sir?’

‘It is a simple question, Miss Grey. Why do you, a young and attractive woman, wish to disappear into the countryside when you have had command of a house such as Rockford?’ He looked down at her reference ‘Why, there must have been forty staff there when I visited Middlesex three years ago. Here, we have less than six.’

Dear God, he’d been to Rockford House! Three years ago? She blinked, frantically searching her memory. Had he been a guest at dinner? No, she would have remembered him. But if he’d paid a call on the duke in the estate office at the far end of the west wing, she might never have seen him. That must be what had happened. Thank goodness he showed no sign of remembering her.

Available only from Kindle: here

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Mapping it out.

When writing a historical novel, research is naturally a vital instrument in making the story rich in detail and as authentic as possible to the reader, sweeping them up and transporting them back in time to a place that is as true to the real thing as we, the writer, can make it, then allowing the reader's imagination to take them the rest of the way.
Part of my research that I find very important and enjoyable is studying maps of the areas I set my books. I have spent hours pouring over the smallest details on printed maps that I've managed to find drawn from the eras I write. By having maps of those eras at hand, I am able to send my characters down the correct roads, across the right rivers, and climb the named moors and mountains of the area. To my characters, who have lived in that area they need to know the places, roads and rivers as well as if they actually lived there, as do I.
A good map will always be of valuable use to a writer, and in turn, that information will be of great benefit to the story and hopefully make it more enjoyable and real for the reader.

For example, in my book The House of Women, which is set in Leeds, West Yorkshire, I have found maps of 1870 to help me get a feel of the area my characters would travel.

The House of Woman, example:
The rumble of the carriage wheels sounded loudly in the slum quarters of the town. A half moon shone in the star-littered black sky, etching the town in long shadows. They passed revellers and private parties where the light and noise spilt onto the street, but the chill of the cloudless night kept most indoors. Too many of the town’s inhabitants, New Year’s Eve was an ordinary night and tomorrow’s start of another year gave them no cause for celebration. Nothing was going to alter their circumstances, no matter what the year date proclaimed.
A tomcat’s cry rang out through the narrow lane as Doyle assisted Grace from the carriage. Back-to-back hovels lined either side of the lane. She lifted her skirts from the sludge-covered stone flags.
‘This way.’ The messenger showed them towards an archway between the houses. No glow of light filtered from windows to help them to find their way through the cut. Its limited width forced them to walk single file. The short passage opened onto a square yard bordered by rundown houses that seemed to lean against each other for support. Even in the shadowed gloom, the filth and waste was visible. A lingering stench assaulted their noses, making breathing unpleasant.
‘Your aunt lives here?’ Grace was alarmed to think of the dapper Mrs Bates living amongst such conditions.
‘No, she lives a few streets away, she covers the whole area,’ the man replied, opening a door. He waited until they were beside him in the dark stairwell. ‘This is a place where people go who’ve a penny to spare for a bed.’
‘A penny for a bed.’ Grace shook her head as they followed him up the rickety stairs to the next landing. There, he paused, before opening another door and stepping back to allow Grace and Doyle to enter on their own.
‘Oh my…’ Grace breathed. She stared at the bunks of beds lining the walls and grouped in the middle of the room. Women and children lay huddled together; some coughed the phlegm cough of the dreaded tuberculosis. Few spoke in low voices, but most slept letting their weary bodies get what rest they could. As Grace passed the beds, those awake clutched at their meagre belongings thinking they might be stolen.
‘Put your handkerchief to your nose, Grace.’ Doyle muttered. ‘I hate the thought of you within the confines of this hideous house.’
A single lantern, suspended from a beam, issued a weak light. Grace walked on. Her eyes, now accustomed to the dimness, picked out Mrs Bates at the end of the long room. She hurried to her side, only to stop short upon seeing the figure on the bed. Stifling a cry, Grace bent low to stare at the woman on the bottom bunk. Mrs Bates is wrong. This cannot be Letitia.

The House of Women can be purchased in paperback or in ebook formats from various places such as Amazon USA and Amazon UK.