Hearts Through History Romance Writers

History Podcasts: For Fun and Research by Jane Rosebery

History Podcasts

Podcasts entertain me during my daily commute, but I also love podcasts because I use them as a research tool. There are several history podcasts I listen to that help me with my research and also teach me about other eras or subjects.

There are a number of wonderful history podcasts that you might want to consider as a research tool.

The History Chicks is devoted entirely to women historical figures. There aren’t any other podcasts devoted just to women in history. The hosts are intelligent, funny and have a great rapport with each other. They spend hours upon hours researching each woman and putting the podcast together.  You can tell that it’s their labor of love.

Stuff You Missed in History class is a fun podcast devoted to lesser-known historical figures and events. A recent episode featured Emanuel Swedenburg. He’s a philosopher I’ve never heard of before and I took Philosophy 101 in college!

Footnoting History is a wonderful podcast that features, well, the footnotes of history.  Examples of two episodes are the invention of the chocolate chip cookie and the one-legged Nazi-fighting Jesuit, Rupert Mayer. I highly recommend this podcast. The episodes are well-researched and under twenty minutes long.

These are just three of the numerous history podcasts I subscribe too.  If you listen to podcasts, (history or otherwise), please let all of us know in the comments!

– Jane Rosebery

Monthly Member Spotlight: Becky Lower


Please help me welcome published member Becky Lower into the monthly member spotlight!

Before we start talking about your writing, tell us a little about yourself and what you write.

Thank you so much for inviting me here today. I’m Becky Lower, a woman with a passion for history. In particular, American history. I grew up in the Midwest, so every vacation was spent at a Civil War battlefield, or touring some of the original colonies. Boston was a particular favorite, as was Williamsburg, VA. I currently live in a small college town in northern Ohio, with my puppy mill rescue dog and my snowbird sister, who leaves town with the first snowflake and returns in April.

Do you write full-time or part-time?

I have retired from the 9-to-5 grind, but I’ve replaced that job with a full-time writing career, which is infinitely more satisfying.

What’s your favorite historical movie?

I’m going to date myself by saying one of my favorite movies was Roots, which was on TV ages ago. It’s now being remade and I’m looking forward to it. I also loved Dances With Wolves and Last Of The Mohicans.

9781440599330Who’s your favorite historical figure?

I’ve always been fascinated by Thomas Jefferson. I’ve toured Monticello several times and can feel the history that was created there. It vibrates off the walls in the big center hall where people waited to see him, sometimes for days on end. He was an inventor, a politician, an ambassador and a visionary.

If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be?

I would love to have met Jedediah Smith. Talk about a visionary! He explored the western half of America when it was a wilderness inhabited only by abundant wildlife and Native Americans. He made a lot of money (for the time) as a fur trapper, bought himself a fine home in St. Louis, and wanted to settle down and write his memoirs. But he went on one more trip, and never returned. His life fascinates me.

Give us a brief rundown of your process. Are you a plotter, a pantser, or somewhere in the middle?

I use Blake Snyder’s Save The Cat to plot points of my 3-act structure. If I can come up with enough points to make a story, and I like where the story points lead, I’ll start writing. I write a sloppy first draft, then I go back through it, using techniques from Margie Lawson and checking to make sure I include the senses and not overuse my crutch words. Things like that. The whole process takes about 3-4 months. Unless I get stuck. I’ve been working on my Jed Smith story for seven years now. I’ll get him written yet.

Can you tell us a bit about your journey to publication?

Since I write American historicals that aren’t westerns, finding a publisher willing to take a chance on me was a struggle. I heard F&W Media, the people who publish Writer’s Digest, was beginning a publishing arm strictly for romance and queried them just as they were starting up. My nine-book Cotillion Ball Series is now complete, along with a novella about how George and Charlotte met. They are the parents of the nine children featured in the books.

9781440579028 (1)Tell us about your latest release and what’s coming next for you.

The last book in my Cotillion series, The Forgotten Debutante, was released in April, and a bundle of the last three books in the series came out in June. Since my long series is finished, I’ve taken some time to experiment with my writing. I wrote a sweet contemporary Christmas novella that has just been picked up by a small press. Then I have a full-length historical based in part on some family lore, which has also been picked up by a publisher. And I’m working on a YA historical set in Boston during the Revolutionary War. It’s been a busy time, but so much fun. I took a workshop in writing the cozy mystery, which might be next. And then there’s the Jed story…

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

I’ll quote the great Nora Roberts here, who said she can fix everything but a blank page. When I heard her comment, it gave me the green light I needed to forge ahead with my style of writing. It’s okay to write my sloppy first draft. I can always fix it, but not if I don’t write something first. If I go back and constantly fiddle with my work, I’ll never get done. Once I get the story written, then I’ll fiddle.

Thanks for stepping into the spotlight this month, Becky! To find out more about Becky, you can visit her website or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

I need more members for the spotlight! Unpublished or published members, would you like to be featured in the member spotlight? Just drop me a line at christy@christycarlyle.com!

Major Blizzards in U.S. History

This has been a difficult snowy winter in the north east. My husband has used the snow blower more this winter than he has in a total of the last ten years. In researching a topic for today, I found this list on the History site and wanted to share it with you. For full disclosure, this is directly from their site. The picture, however, is the Japanese maple in front of our house.

Snow on Sagamore Ave

Snow on Sagamore Ave

March 11-14, 1888
More than 120 winters have come and gone since the so-called “Great White Hurricane,” but this whopper of a storm still lives in infamy. After a stretch of rainy but unseasonably mild weather, temperatures plunged and vicious winds kicked up, blanketing the East Coast in snow and creating drifts up to 50 feet high. The storm immobilized New York, Boston and other major cities, blocking roads and wiping out telephone, telegraph and rail service for several days. When the skies finally cleared, fires and flooding inflicted millions of dollars of damage. The disaster resulted in more than 400 deaths, including 200 in New York City alone. In the decade that followed, partly in response to the 1888 storm and the massive gridlock it wrought, New York and Boston broke ground on the country’s first underground subway systems.

January 27-28, 1922
The Knickerbocker Storm battered the upper South and middle Atlantic United States for two days, dumping a record-breaking 28 inches of snow on Washington, D.C. But by the evening of January 28, the storm was winding down, and several hundred people ventured out to catch a showing of the silent film “Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford” at the Knickerbocker Theatre, the capital’s largest and most modern movie house. During the intermission, the theater’s flat roof gave way under the weight of the wet snow, and concrete, bricks and metal rained down onto the audience. One of the deadliest in Washington’s history, the disaster claimed 98 lives and gave the storm its name.

Noah Webster – America’s Lexicographer

by Anna Kathryn Lanier

Noah Webster

Noah Webster’s (1758-1843) first edition of AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE was released on April 14, 1828. I remembering hearing years ago that Webster wrote his dictionary because whenever he would say something to his wife over the breakfast table, she would reply “Now, what’s that supposed to mean?” I don’t know if this is true, an urban legend or just a joke.

Prior to the release of Webster’s Dictionary, he was already well known. From 1783-85, he released GRAMMATICAL INSTITUTE OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, a three-part speller, grammar and reader. It made him the chief American authority on the English Language, which he felt had been corrupted by the British Aristocracy. According to www.reference.com, “The appropriate standard for the American language, argued Webster, was, ‘the same republican principles as American civil and ecclesiastical constitutions’, which meant that the people-at-large must control the language; popular sovereignty in government must be accompanied by popular usage in language.” (more…)

Lottie Deno: A Gambling Southern Belle

A lady gambler who was also one of the founding members of her Episcopal church, the woman who went by the name Lottie Deno was an unexpected sight at the Post-Civil War Texas gaming tables of San Antonio, Fort Worth, and, perhaps the most notorious town of its day, Fort Griffin Flat.  Where did this gorgeous, red-haired, southern belle come from and, perhaps more importantly, how did she end up winning money from the likes of  Doc Holiday, earning the respect of her patrons for her skill, and keeping her reputation as a lady in tact? 

 Lottie Deno was born Carlotta J. Thompson in 1844 to a devout Episcopalian family who owned a farm in Warsaw, Kentucky. Her father, an inveterate gambler who frequented the gaming tables of New Orleans when he was there on business, believed his daughter should have some skills in this world and, having no sons, taught her the games of chance that he enjoyed. Carlotta was an excellent pupil and accompanied her father to New Orleans on several occasions. (more…)