Friday, April 3, 2020

Spotlight: A Sparrow Alone by Mim Eichmann

A Sparrow Alone
by Mim Eichmann

On Sale April 15, 2020
Living Springs Publishers
eBook, Paperback; 374 pages

1890s Colorado:  desperate following her mother's sudden death, 13-year-old Hannah Owens is hired as domestic help for a wealthy doctor's family in Colorado Springs.  When the doctor declares bankruptcy and abandons his family to finance his mistress' brothel, however, Hannah is thrown into a vortex of gold mining corruption, rampant prostitution and the economic, political and cultural upheavals of the late 19th Century.

Two of Cripple Creek Colorado's most colorful historic characters, Winfield Scott Stratton, eccentric owner of the richest gold mine in Cripple Creek, and Pearl DeVere, the beautiful madam of the Old Homestead, come to life as this old-fashioned, coming-of-age saga unfolds, a tribute to the women who set the stage for women's right.

“I believe that I was most captivated by the women in Hannah’s story, and how they all continued to come together, even in times of turmoil and uncertainty. I found that this novel had incredibly strong female characters, and I could feel the unity that these women experienced. Hannah’s story is not only a wonderful historical coming-of-age tale, but also a novel about overcoming hardships, finding friendship, and female empowerment."  ~Deanna Frances, Windy City Reviews

Available for Preorder:

About the Author:

Mim Eichmann has found that her creative journey has taken her down many exciting, interwoven pathways. For well over two decades she was known primarily in the Chicago area as the artistic director and choreographer of Midwest Ballet Theatre and director of its home, Midwest Ballet Academy, bringing full-length professional ballet performances to thousands of dance lovers every year and was the recipient of many arts’ programming grants. A desire to become involved again in the folk music world brought about the creation of her acoustic quartet Trillium, now in its 15th year, a folk band well known for its eclectic repertoire performing throughout the Midwest that has also released four CDs. She’s also written the lyrics and music for two award-winning original children’s CDs, “Why Do Ducks Have Webby Toes?” and “Wander Down Beyond the Rainbow” and occasionally schedules concerts of her children’s music and movement programs.

Always captivated by the writings, diaries and journals of late 19th century women, as well as that era’s economic, social and political upheavals, Ms. Eichmann has now put pen to paper and the historical fiction novel she has been passionately researching, its rich synopsis gradually evolving over many years, has finally become a reality. We hope you’ll enjoy A Sparrow Alone and its sequel, Muskrat Ramble.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Blog Tour Q&A + Giveaway with Catherine Meyrick, Author of The Bridled Tongue

Please join me in welcoming Catherine Meyrick to Let Them Read Books! Catherine is touring the blogosphere with her newest release, The Bridled Tongue, and I recently had the chance to ask her a few questions about her story inspiration. I also had the pleasure of offering Catherine some editorial assistance, and I designed the cover! Read on and enter to win a paperback copy of The Bridled Tongue!

Death and life are in the power of the tongue.

England 1586

Alyce Bradley has few choices when her father decides it is time she marry as many refuse to see her as other than the girl she once was–unruly, outspoken and close to her grandmother, a woman suspected of witchcraft.

Thomas Granville, an ambitious privateer, inspires fierce loyalty in those close to him and hatred in those he has crossed. Beyond a large dowry, he is seeking a virtuous and dutiful wife. Neither he nor Alyce expect more from marriage than mutual courtesy and respect.

As the King of Spain launches his great armada and England braces for invasion, Alyce must confront closer dangers from both her own and Thomas’s past, threats that could not only destroy her hopes of love and happiness but her life. And Thomas is powerless to help.

‘People never forget. When the fancy takes them, they bring the old stories out and embroider them further.’

Hi Catherine! Thank you for visiting Let Them Read Books!

What inspired you to write The Bridled Tongue?

The spark was my own experience as the subject of gossip, a very long time ago. What struck me was the way a minor incident or slip of the tongue can be twisted, embellished and shaped into something else altogether. And while gossip, for us, is uncomfortable, I started thinking of how dangerous it was in other times, particularly if that gossip resulted in an accusation of witchcraft where normal evidential rules were set aside and the most dubious hearsay evidence could be enough to bring a person to the gallows. As the story is one of women living in the sixteenth century, I wanted to look at the corrosive effect on women’s relationships when they are valued mainly for their ability to produce healthy children and the poisonousness of favouritism in families.

Were the characters of Alyce and Thomas based on real historical figures?

Thomas and Alyce are entirely fictional, but I have drawn on elements in the lives of a number of contemporary men and women. Margaret, Lady Hoby, the author of the earliest known diary written by a woman in English, particularly interested me, and it is her industrious life I have used as a model for Alyce’s at Ashthorpe. Margaret began writing her diary as a religious exercise, and while it includes details of her religious practices, prayer and reading, it also provides a glimpse of the busy domestic life of a woman managing a large household and estate, often in her husband’s absence. It also gives a strong sense of the breadth of skills possessed by women in these positions, from entertaining guests, sewing, preserving foods and making sweetmeats, to pulling hemp, weighing and dying wool and spinning, as well as distilling medicinal salves and tinctures and treating the household, labourers and tenants, keeping the household accounts and managing the wider farm.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Who Was Margaret Clitherow? Guest Post by Tony Morgan, Author of The Pearl of York, Treason and Plot

Please join me in welcoming Tony Morgan back to Let Them Read Books! Tony is celebrating his newest release, The Pearl of York, Treason and Plot, and I'm happy to have him here today with a guest post about the heroine of his novel, Margaret Clitherow!

The Pearl of York, Treason and Plot –
Who was Margaret Clitherow?

When Margaret Clitherow is arrested on the dark streets of Tudor York, her friends, led by a youthful Guy Fawkes, face a race against time to save her from the gallows. As events unfold, their lives, and our history, change forever.

This is the premise behind my new novel, The Pearl of York, Treason and Plot, but who was Margaret Clitherow?

Margaret’s life had a profound effect on many lives. Some dedicated their future to her. In time, others called her the Pearl of York, whilst Queen Elizabeth wrote a letter to the people of the city condemning her treatment.

In 1553, Margaret was born in Davygate within the city walls of York in northern England. It was a time of change and turbulence in a country which had oscillated between Catholicism and Protestantism. In the reign of Queen Mary, it was firmly Catholic.

York had experienced decades of decline, triggered by the Reformation, plague and pestilence, but Margaret was fortunate. She was born into a prosperous family. Her father, Thomas Middleton, was a wax-chandler and a successful businessman. Margaret’s mother Jane looked after the children, supported the business and ran the household.

When Queen Mary died in 1558, her half-sister Elizabeth became queen. The state religion transformed back to Protestantism. Margaret’s father was part of the city’s governing class, and so the family conformed. Margaret was raised a Protestant.

Thomas Middleton was a popular man. In 1564, he was elected Sheriff of York. By all accounts, Margaret was raised in a happy household. She was brought up to respect hard work, and learned many practical skills needed to run a business, in the expectation she’d marry a man of similar social class and be expected to stand in for him on occasion.

Although he’d not been a well man, it must have been a shock in 1567 when Thomas died, leaving behind a legacy for his family, and a small amount of money for the city’s poor, on the understanding they’d pray for his soul.

Margaret’s mother Jane wasn’t a widow for long. In Tudor times, it was commonplace for women to remarry quickly but, even then, four months may have appeared quite soon. What’s more, Jane’s new husband, and Margaret’s stepfather, Henry Maye, was considerably younger than Jane and hailed from a lower social class. Tongues must have wagged on the streets of York!

To be fair, Henry was a hard worker. Supported by Jane’s assets and the family’s standing, he transformed their home into a successful inn, and pursued many other business interests. Over time, Henry, and his new family, prospered, until he took his own place amongst York’s governing class by becoming an alderman.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Guest Post + Giveaway: Hannah's War by Jan Eliasberg

Please join me in welcoming Jan Eliasberg to Let Them Read Books! Jan's debut historical novel, Hannah's War, was released today, and I'm thrilled to have her here with a guest post about the real-life inspiration for her novel, Dr. Lise Meitner. Read on and enter to win a paperback copy of Hannah's War!

Berlin, 1938. Groundbreaking physicist Dr. Hannah Weiss is on the verge of the greatest discovery of the 20th century: splitting the atom. She understands that the energy released by her discovery can power entire cities or destroy them. Hannah believes the weapon's creation will secure an end to future wars, but as a Jewish woman living under the harsh rule of the Third Reich, her research is belittled, overlooked, and eventually stolen by her German colleagues. Faced with an impossible choice, Hannah must decide what she is willing to sacrifice in pursuit of science's greatest achievement.

New Mexico, 1945. Returning wounded and battered from the liberation of Paris, Major Jack Delaney arrives in the New Mexican desert with a mission: to catch a spy. Someone in the top-secret nuclear lab at Los Alamos has been leaking encoded equations to Hitler's scientists. Chief among Jack's suspects is the brilliant and mysterious Hannah Weiss, an exiled physicist lending her talent to J. Robert Oppenheimer's mission. All signs point to Hannah as the traitor, but over three days of interrogation that separate her lies from the truth, Jack will realize they have more in common than either one bargained for.

Hannah's War is a thrilling wartime story of loyalty, truth, and the unforeseeable fallout of a single choice.

About Dr. Lise Meitner
By Jan Eliasberg

One of the great luxuries of living in New York City is having access to the Public Library’s extraordinary microfilm collection; it was there that I read the issue of the New York Times on the day the Americans dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. In the Times’ summary of the complex and secret history of the Manhattan Project, one paragraph leapt off the page: “The key component that allowed the Allies to develop the bomb was brought to the Allies by a “female, non-Aryan physicist.’” Who was this woman? And why isn’t her face staring out of every science textbook?

I knew I had to tell her story. So began a ten-year quest that took me deeply into the history of the atomic bomb and the physics that propelled it. My mystery woman was Dr. Lise Meitner, an Austrian female scientist, a Jew, working at the highest levels of research at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin. I tore through her diaries and letters and discovered that she and her partner, Otto Hahn, were on the verge of splitting the atom when Austria was annexed. Meitner’s privileged position, and all the protections her colleagues had promised, evaporated within six terrifying hours as she fled Berlin within minutes of being captured and sent to the camps.

Otto Hahn, who remained in Berlin, was so dependent on Meitner that he continued to collaborate with her, even after she’d fled to Sweden. He sent her the results of their experiments on postcards via courier. It was Meitner, not Hahn, who analyzed the results and discovered that they had split the atom. Because she was Jewish, the papers published in Germany did not have her name on them; if they had borne her name, they would immediately have been discredited as “Jewish Physics.” It wasn’t surprising to find that rabid Anti-Semitism in Germany had prevented Meitner from getting the credit she had earned.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Blog Tour Guest Post: Far Away Bird by Douglas A. Burton

Please join me in welcoming Douglas A. Burton to Let Them Read Books! Douglas is touring the blogosphere with his debut historical novel, Far Away Bird, and I'm so happy to have him here today with a fantastic guest post about Empress Theodora and the origin of women's rights Read on and enter to win a copy of Far Away Bird!

Inspired by true events, Far Away Bird delves into the complex mind of Byzantine Empress Theodora. This intimate account deftly follows her rise from actress-prostitute in Constantinople’s red-light district to the throne of the Byzantine Empire.

Her salacious past has left historians blushing and uncomfortable. Tales of her shamelessness have survived for centuries, and yet her accomplishments as an empress are unparalleled. Theodora goes on to influence sweeping reforms that result in some of the first ever Western laws granting women freedom and protection. More than a millennium before the women’s rights movement, Theodora, alone, took on the world’s greatest superpower and succeeded. Far Away Bird goes where history classrooms fear to tread in hopes that Theodora can finally take her seat among the greatest women in history.

Theodora seems impossible–yet her transcendence teaches us that society can’t tell us who we are deep down. Before there was a legendary empress, there was a conflicted young woman from the lower classes.

And her name was Theodora.

Award Winner!

Grand Prize Winner 2019 Manuscript Contest for historical fiction-Writers’ League of Texas

Bronze Medal for Best Debut Novel in historical fiction-The Coffee Pot Book Club

Gold Medal Book of the Year historical fiction- The Coffee Pot Book Club


Empress Theodora and the Origin of Women’s Rights

By Douglas A. Burton

There are many currents that flow into the story of women’s rights. Many cultures are recognized for their egalitarian traditions and we have countless examples of great women in power—from the pharaoh Hatsheput to Queen Victoria to Eleanor Roosevelt. But one woman—Empress Theodora— achieved such a decisive victory for women in her time that her relative obscurity is breathtaking. 

More than fifteen hundred years ago, Theodora helped influence massive legal reforms aimed at improving the plight of women. During her reign, she influenced parts of a legal codex known as the Corpus Juris Civilis, which included a wave of specific rights for women. Historians credit this body of Roman law as central source material to the legal tradition of Western civilization. Whoa. Therefore, Theodora made direct contributions to a legal system that survived into the American Constitution, English common law, and even international public law. It’s rare to see such lofty legalism in the early Medieval era, but rarer still to know the individual woman behind the campaign. 

But who the hell is she? What laws did Empress Theodora change? And how could such an influential woman be forgotten?