Where Romance and History Meet - www.heartsthroughhistory.com/

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Entertainment or History Lesson?

I'm currently writing the third book in my spirit trilogy series that is set among the Wallowa Lake Nez Perce. I've enjoyed the research about this band of the Nez Perce tribe, but with this book I have to also take into account the the army that is chasing them from their home to Canada where they hope to find freedom.

I've used the names of the officers in charge of each troop that skirmished with the Nez Perce on that flight, but I've made up the rest. And I've not given the places of the skirmishes names. Even though I've been religiously reading from four books about the trek using points of view from the Indians and the military, I'm keeping it as vague as I can so it doesn't read like a military text book or a history text book. I'm trying to keep the story entertaining while showing both sides. (okay I am a bit more sympathetic to the Nez Perce than the army)But I've found the hardest part is finding ways to have the hero and heroine (he's a cavalry officer and she's the Nez Perce spirit) be together and make it not seem unrealistic. But she's a spirit and can move around with the ease of a bald eagle(her spirit animal.

So my question is: Do you read historical romance for exact history or do you read for the romance and prefer the history to enhance the story rather than take it over?

Blurb for Spirit of the Mountain available now:
Wren, the daughter of a Nimiipuu chief, has been fated to save her people ever since her vision quest. When a warrior from the enemy Blackleg tribe asks for her hand in marriage to bring peace between the tribes, her world is torn apart.

Himiin is the spirit of the mountain, custodian to all creatures including the Nimiipuu. As a white wolf he listens to Wren’s secret fears and loses his heart to the mortal maiden. Respecting her people’s beliefs, he cannot prevent her leaving the mountain with the Blackleg warrior.

Blurb for Spirit of the Lake available May 2011:
Two generations after his brother became mortal, Wewukiye, the lake spirit, prevents a Nimiipuu maiden from drowning and becomes caught up in her sorrow and her heart. Her tribe ignores Dove's shameful accusations—a White man took her body, leaving her pregnant, and he plans to take their land.Wewukiye vows to care for her until she gives birth, to help her prove the White man is deceitful and restore her place in her tribe.

As they travel on their quest for justice, Dove reveals spiritual abilities yet unknown in her people, ensnaring Wewukiye’s respect and awe. But can love between a mortal and a spirit grow without consequences?

Paty Jager
buy link:http://thewildrosepress.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=177_139&products_id=4170

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Peterloo Massacre

My current wip, Prisoner of Love: Brothers In Arms Book 8, begins with a riot. A riot that occurred in Manchester, Lancashire on August 16, 1819. Peterloo, as the resulting massacre of civilians by militia came to be called, started as a rally in support of universal suffrage in England. Only adult male owners of freehold land valued over 40 shillings could vote in 1819. After the Napoleonic Wars there was an economic depression which greatly affected the textile industry in Lancashire. The Corn Laws forced the price of food up when few could afford it by placing tariffs on foreign grain to protect English grain producers. And so the political reform movement grew in popularity in Lancashire, where so few had the vote.

There were to be speeches by several well-known orators at St. Peter's Field in Manchester that day, the most celebrated being the radical Henry Hunt. It was the crowd's enthusiastic reception of Hunt onto the makeshift stage in St. Peter's Field that prompted the local magistrates to issue a warrant for his arrest and call in the militia to arrest him. Until that point the crowd had been well-behaved and orderly. As a matter of fact, for weeks leading up to the rally citizens had been warned to be on their best behavior by organizers, even drilling to ensure an orderly arrival at St. Peter's Field for the speeches. But the entire movement for universal suffrage, and the physical proof of the numbers of disaffected people in Lancashire, worried local officials, who had tried to stop the rally from taking place several times. So it was not Hunt or the speeches, which were never heard, that prompted officials to act, but their own fears of a discontented populace.

The crowd was unarmed, the militia was not. The exact number of people killed and wounded is difficult to ascertain. Many kept their wounds a secret for fear of further retribution. Some sources claim 11-15 were killed, and anywhere from 400-700 were injured. Some were trampled by horses, some by the crowd, but most were injured by the sabers of the militia.

The number of women at Peterloo was significant. Female reform societies had recently been formed in England. There were some all-female contingents marching to St. Peter's Field that day, the ladies all dressed in white, the better to be seen. These women supported universal suffrage for MEN, but not for themselves. The women's suffrage movement had yet to take hold in England. Some eye-witness accounts indicate the militia targeted these groups of white-clad ladies, and the casualty numbers support their claims.

The heroine of my book is an enthusiastic supporter of universal suffrage. She has friends who are veterans of the Napoleonic Wars, and she is outraged that many veterans cannot vote. She goes to Manchester and dons her white dress to march, which puts her right in the middle of the massacre. The trauma of the event greatly affects her throughout the book.

Have you used actual historical events in your books? Which ones? Do you enjoy reading books that contain historical events like this? Why or why not?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Historical Conflicts that You Don't Find in Contemporaries

Historical Conflicts that You Don't Find in Contemporaries

This topic came up when a friend of mine used the term illegitimate and her teenage nieces asked what it meant. So obviously being illegitimate wouldn't be a problem of conflict in a contemporary story.

While today illegitimacy doesn't carry much weight, it meant a great deal in the Middle Ages.
We've all read romances where the hero is illegitimate. Today the term bastard is a pejorative about a man's character. But in the Middle Ages it was a description of a man's birth. William the Conqueror, later William I of England, as a boy was known as William the Bastard of Normandy, as his parents weren't married. His father did, however, acknowledge William and name him as his heir as he had no other son.

If you want to add conflict to your story by making the hero illegitimate, then realize how significant that stigma of illegitimacy could be. This is why bastard (description of birth, not character) son's either acknowledged or unacknowledged are always good for conflict, especially in a Medieval.

In the Middle Ages upper class and noble marriages were a business arrangement between two families for political, social or economic reason. (que the song What's Love Got To Do With It). This one of the reasons that a marriage of convenience works so well in Medievals, as often the bride and/or groom didn't choose his partner, but they were chosen for them.

And to preserve these political, social or economic ties, inheritance was important. Very important when talking about the landed aristocracy. Doubly true in countries where primogenitor, where to keep the land intact, the oldest son inherited it all.

So direct descent, or legitimacy was necessary to inherit. And the problem?

Now everyone knows who a baby's mother is (why there was always observers when a queen gave birth). But how do you know who the baby's father is? You have to take the mother's word for it. That's why a woman's virginity was the dowry that she brought her husband.

This is the value of a virtuous woman for a wife. A man knows the son who will inherit his property is his. You can see this Regency area novels, where a wife, if she had given her husband and heir and a spare (two sons), then she might take a lover if she is discreet.

Notice that most of this deals with male illegitimacy, not female. Being an illegitimate female was a minor consideration to that of a male, as most inheritance was thought the male line. Although, it happens in novels, illegitimate sons were rarely 'legitimized', though often acknowledged, especially if they turned out to be, or could be used as an asset to the family.

Henry VIII, while in desperate need for a son, only acknowledged Henry FitzRoy, making him the Duke of Richmond and Somerset.
This was a special problem for reigning monarchs. Remember this was the age of the diving right of kings. Scot kings who ruled Scotland by the divine right were God's stewards of Scotland. The 'd' in steward became a 't' (say both and see how similar) and the old spelling of the royal house of Scotland was Stewart. Since kings ruled by the grace of God, it was necessary the legitimate heir inherit. If a non-qualified person, an illegitimate person (one without the grace of God behind him), it was an invitation to disaster for the entire country. There would be invasions, famine or plague to show the wrath of God, who no longer protected the king and country.

A good example of how a country must have a legitimate rule can be seen at the death of Edward VI, the son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour in 1553. By this time the Protestant Reformation had a firm hold in England, and the majority of the people were Protestant. However, the oldest daughter of Henry VIII was Mary Tudor, a devout Catholic.

If she became queen it was obvious that she wold try to reconcile the country to the Catholic Church. Thus causing a repeat of the unrest caused by Henry VIII's break with the Pope. There was an attempt to supplant Mary with Lady Jane Grey, a Protestant. But even in the face of more religious turmoil, the overwhelming support for Mary, as the legitimate heir, put her on the throne of England.

Even in the next century, when Oliver Cromwell died the best the Commonwealth could come up with for continuing ruling was Cromwell's son, Richard - an implicit legitimacy in a ruler. And of course this didn't work out, and Charles II was recalled from exile an declared king with the Restoration, thus proving that legitimacy was very important.
PS - see my previous post about love/hate technology. It took me three times to get this blog posted.

So, if you're considering a bastard for your hero, I hope this helps.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

2011 - One Word

Lately, I've been challenged getting revisions done on my current book. Life keeps throwing me curves that require my attention. That is why this particular subject caught my attention a few weeks ago...

I listen to K-LOVE Positive Radio whenever I’m driving.

In January the two main radio hosts, Lisa and Eric, spoke about yearly goals and New Year resolutions and (unfortunately) how difficult they are to keep. Change is difficult--not impossible--but it requires strong commitment.

So instead of making a list of New Year resolutions, they asked people to consider having one word for the year. Eric’s word was DEEPER. He wanted a deeper relationship with his wife, a deeper walk with God. In contrast, Lisa said her word was SHALLOWER, as she tended to go overboard on everything in life—doing too much, never saying no…

It made me think about what my one word would be.

My life has been filled to the brim with so much busy-ness lately. I make sure there is food in the fridge, the house is clean (to a point), and there are clean clothes for everyone to wear, but I want so much more than that. I want time to write down the stories in my head--the one's about honor and bravery and love that overcomes all. So, after careful deliberation, I have decided my one word for this year is: SIMPLIFY.

To start, I’m clearing out the things that clutter my life. I'm going through things I’ve had for years and never used—old clothes, old books, old music--and clearing them out. I’ve heard it said that your possessions own you. Well—I’m not going to give them a chance! I’ll admit I have several things that I will never get rid of because they have deep meaning to me, but there are other things that can go—and will go.

But now I’m curious. What is your one word for 2011?

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Kathryn Albright is the award-winning author of The Rebel and the Lady by Harlequin Historicals. To know more about her and her books, visit her website: www.kathrynalbright.com

Monday, February 7, 2011


Laudanum Bottle
would have a cork
in the top
Laudanum is a very old drug, but use became widespread during the Victorian era. Some authors suggest that use was a major health problem. Certainly many notable people of the time were addicted: Lord Byron, Percy Blythe Shelley, John Keats, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allen Poe, William Taylor Coleridge, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (as well as his character Sherlock Holmes) are only a few. I confess I’m more than a little surprised that Charles Dickens appears on the list. Before we judge, however, we have to understand the times.

Look in your medicine cabinet. If yours is like mine, you stock pain relievers for headaches and arthritis, coughs, Immodium, allergies, and gas relief. In the 1800’s, mortality from cholera, malaria, and dysentery was very high. Now we only have to take an Immodium tablet or something similar, but diarrhea actually killed huge numbers of people while they suffered terrible cramping. Even if laudanum couldn’t cure them, it eased their pain.

New Rx's
decrease death
Tuberculosis was a problem, made worse by living conditions and hard work necessary for life in those times. Think of the furor when there’s an outbreak of e-coli, but that must have been commonplace in Victorian times and hardly newsworthy.

It’s hard to realize just how deadly these diseases were because we have sanitation that has diminished cholera and dysentery. The drainage of swamp lands decreased malaria, a disease one of my ancestors contracted from living in the Brazos River Valley near Waco, Texas in the 1880’s. Introduction of aspirin in 1899 provided an alternative medication for pain relief. Along with antibiotics, modern pharmaceuticals have diminished the severity of all those diseases.

A century ago, a
sick woman would
have taken
I wouldn’t feel comfortable providing the recipe I discovered for making laudanum, but it was 10% opium and 90% alcohol and usually flavored with cinnamon and sometimes also saffran. Not only was it available over the counter, it was recommended by doctors for everything from menstrual cramps to tuberculosis. It was much cheaper than any other form of pain killer, and that made it attractive to those in the lower economic classes. By no means was laudanum used only by the poor. Wealthy women even used it to achieve a coveted pallid complexion, and even infants were spoon fed laudanum. Only later did people realize that laudanum use was habit forming and demanded greater and greater doses to provide relief.

eliminate formerly
fatal diseases
In 1906, the Pure Food and Drug Act required that certain specified drugs--alcohol, cocaine, heroin, morphine, and cannabis--be accurately labeled with contents and dosage. Previously, many drugs had been sold as patent medicines with secret ingredients or misleading labels. Authorities estimate that sales decreased by one third after labeling was required. The Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914 restricted the manufacture and distribution of opiates, including laudanum, and coca derivatives in the United States. Not until the middle of the 20th century did the U.S. government limit the use of opiates. In 1970, the U.S. adopted the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, which regulated opium tincture (laudanum) as a Schedule II substance and placed tighter controls on the drug.
Caroline Clemmons writes romance and adventures—although her earliest made up adventures featured her saving the West with Roy Rogers. Her career has included stay-at-home mom (her favorite job), newspaper reporter and featured columnist, assistant to the managing editor of a psychology journal, and bookkeeper. She and her husband live in rural North Central Texas with a menagerie of rescued pets. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with family, reading, travel, browsing antique malls and estate sales, and genealogy/family history. Her latest contemporary and historical romance releases include THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE, OUT OF THE BLUE, SNOWFIRES, SAVE YOUR HEART FOR ME to be released March 10th, and the upcoming HOME SWEET TEXAS HOME. Read about her at http://www.carolineclemmons.com/ and http://carolineclemmons.blogspot.com/. She loves to hear from readers at caroline@carolineclemmons.com