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!

Hearts Through History’s Pitchfest

NWH RF typewriter 2Hearts Through History is pleased to host our first ever Pitchfest. This is a unique and exclusive opportunity for members of the Hearts Through History RWA chapter to pitch blurbs and the first 200 words of unpublished manuscripts to industry professionals.

We welcome editors Erin Molta and Robin Haseltine of Entangled Publishing. Thank you for taking the time to visit Hearts Through History and read our pitches. We hope you will find something you like. Happy Pitch Shopping!


Title: Celestina’s Burning
Genre/Subgenre: Historical
Word count of Manuscript: 100,000

Italia 1492

Celestina DiCapria jumped, the marble bowl of crisp biscotti almost flying out of her hands. The moan of Montanina, the mammoth black bell in the Tower of Boscoli, echoed through the city of Florence. One strike signaled a beheading was to take place in the prison courtyard.

Bong. Two meant a heretic was set to burn in the Palazzo della Signoria.

Bong. The tail end of the sound hung in the air. Three clangs were rare. Three clangs were a call to arms for the youth to rise against a new tyranny.

“Madre mia.” Celestina set the cookie bowl on the bakery counter. “Mother of God, Montanina is calling me.”

In the room behind her there was a thump. She rolled her eyes. Batting a thick rope of dough against the worktable was her grandmother Simona’s way of making a point. “Forget about that bell. Start more biscotti.”

The hairs on Celestina’s arms stood like an army of Cypress trees. She hated it when Simona shouted at her from the back room.

Outside there was a pop. Celestina dashed to the window. A black dress burned on a stake in the center of the street.

Title: This Is Us
Genre/Subgenre: Historical/WWII
Word count of Manuscript: 105,000

Sneaking into an Army Air Force pilot school to take up one of the planes was maybe not the best idea. After all, there was a war on. The place was literally teeming with uniformed men.
It wasn’t Vivian’s idea. She wasn’t even the pilot. Her friend Zanna needed to log more flying hours, and she wanted company in this escapade. So, here they were.

Dressed in men’s flight coveralls and boots, their curls hidden beneath aviator helmets, the women crouched behind a clump of bushes on the side of the barracks, waiting for a clear shot to the flight line.

“We’re gonna have to just try to blend in. Hank’ll be meeting us in five minutes. Besides, we look like regular cadets,” Zanna said. Zanna’s brother Hank, one of the flight instructors, had arranged clearance for their flight with a buddy in the control tower.

“Cadets with boobies and no facial hair. I’m sure that won’t draw any attention at all on a base with hundreds of men,” Vivian said.

“Just look purposeful. Hank will walk us to the flight line, and then we’ll get in a plane and be on our way. Easy-peasy.”

Except this wasn’t like usual.

Title: The House Carpenter
Genre/Subgenre: Historical/Civil War
Word count of Manuscript: 85,000

Lilly Roberre shook her hand free from Gideon’s and turned to watch the train rumble into the Philadelphia Baltimore depot. A whistle screeched. Bells clanged. Soot stung her eyes and made them water. She wiped the wetness away with the sleeve of her best dress, the cream silk she had sewn for her wedding. It would be ruined. But what did she care? He was leaving. There’d be no wedding.

“Please. Forgive me.” Gideon put a hand on her shoulder and brought her around to face him.
She peered up into eyes as gray as the rain clouds above—a farm boy, turned stranger, in his uniform of Union blue. Ignoring the hundreds of people around them, she ran her fingers along his smooth-shaven cheek. The man she loved was the least likely of soldiers—a dreamer, not a fighter—and he was leaving for war and might never come back. She stood on her toes to kiss him one last time.

Their lips joined and melded together. The length of his body pressed against hers, his heart thumping wildly. Longing burned through the layers of cloth separating them. The world stood still, and all her regrets scattered like the smoke rising from the huffing engine.

Title: Tangled Up in You
Genre/Subgenre: American Historical, non-western
Word count of Manuscript: 89,000

Missouri Territory
April 22, 1840

Nothing in Mercy Hallowell’s years with the finest tutors of New Haven, Connecticut, nor her stint in a New Orleans finishing school, had taught her how a woman in danger should navigate the world. A hasty escape from St. Louis, disguised as a young man, a river rat more precisely, had succeeded well enough in daylight, so long as she held at a distance any person who might spy the woman beneath the disguise. Even in the confines of a steamboat under the shadows of night she kept faith in the protection of her disguise. That faith vanished at the thought of entering the warm, dry and entirely masculine domain of the gentlemen’s cabin.

She stared out at the rain, pounding with enough ferocity on the deck to splash her pantaloons though she stood against the wall beneath the ample eave, another reminder of how her luck had run out. Reaching inside her coat, tucking her hand beneath her vest, she dug her fingernails into an itch. The boy’s clothes, allowing her more freedom in movement, were made of cheap fabric that abused her skin. A flash of lightening crossed the night sky, exposing her.

Title: Lord James’ Challenge
Genre/Subgenre: Historical Romance
Word count of Manuscript: 80,000

Lieutenant Lord James Forster stood at attention before the board of inquiry and wished to hell that someone would start a war. Any time now would be fine. In fact, right now would be perfect.

The admirals ranged across the table from him like a line of battleships with all flags flying. They must have been born elderly. Otherwise, they would have had understood what it felt like to make a tiny error from over-exuberance. This dim room fitted them perfectly; it reeked of tradition. He could almost smell the whale oil and pomade from wigs worn in centuries past. The lone sunbeam that had strayed in through the window did nothing to lighten the atmosphere—even the damned dust motes circled the sunbeam in a stately manner.

“Well?” A stern voice rang out from the darkness across the table. “What do you have to say for yourself?”

What the hell. He took a deep breath. “My lords. The fireworks display might have started precipitately. If there had been adequate precautions against fire, there would have been little property damage.”

He spread out his hands in a gesture of appeal. “And it was only a minor consulate, really.”

Title: Dance With Destiny
Genre/Subgenre: American Historical
Word count of Manuscript: 70,000

Susannah Myers pummeled her husband’s shoulders as her lips pressed together in a tight, angry line. “Running off to war and leaving me alone to care for our four little ones is not right. I can’t do this on my own. How will we ever survive? We are only good if we can face our hardships together.”

William took hold of her hands and stilled them. He kissed her callused fingers and then grazed her lips. She stopped fighting him and laid her head on her husband’s broad shoulder, letting her hot tears fall.

“It’ll only be for a few months, Susannah. Summer’s coming on, so it won’t be so hard for you to get by. There are plenty of chickens for food and eggs, I’ve stocked the smoke house with deer, and Jacob can start on the planting, so you’ll have potatoes and fresh vegetables. I have no choice as to whether I stay or go. I have to volunteer. Daniel was out here just the other day to make sure I’d sign up.”

Susannah straightened up and took a deep breath. She moved away from him, trying to distance herself from the feeling of abandonment. To get used to the feeling of abandonment.

Title: Rebel Girl
Genre/Subgenre: YA Historical
Word count of Manuscript: 35,000

“Over here, Red. I’m in need of more drink.”

Kathleen O’Malley turned toward the person who had issued the order, although she didn’t need to. There was only one man in this tavern who thought he owned the place. Owned her. British General Aloysius Broadman.

Kathleen tried to affix a smile on her face before she arrived at General Broadman’s table. And almost got there. As she reached across the table to pour more ale into his mug, he pinched her bottom. She jumped and her aim faltered, spilling ale all over the table, and onto the general’s uniform. She clamped a hand over her mouth and backed away, eyes wide.

“Beggin’ your pardon, General.” She handed him a napkin.

He snapped it from her hands and wiped away the liquid from his front. His beady eyes grew even smaller, reminding her of one of the rats who lived behind the tavern.

“You ignorant Irish lout. You did this on purpose. I’ll tan your backside for it.”

He reached out and grabbed one of her pigtails, pulling her toward him.

Out of nowhere, a tall, handsome man appeared at the table and removed the general’s hand from Kathleen’s hair.

Title: Gold Lust Conspiracy
Genre/Subgenre: Historical Romance
Word count of Manuscript: 106,000

It was a gorgeous day in May, 1880, the kind of day inspiring hope, the kind you can get lost in. It was the first day Jessie Blackstone dared to dream. Love was a dangerous, intriguing illusion dangled in her face, so she was pursuing it. She didn’t deserve it but she had a shot at happiness. She was taking it. Mama, be damned!

Jessie entered the secluded ‘personals’ closet on the steam engine train, did her business and exited to return to her seat.

Swish! Hot outside air assaulted Jessie. The connecting door between cars had opened and closed. Before she could turn to see who entered, rough hands gripped her shoulders. The intruder spun Jessie around, slamming her against the wall. Stunned, Jessie blinked. A gasp caught in her throat. Her heart skipped a beat. She shook her head clearing her vision.

“What in tarnation!”

A burly man in soiled deerskin leaned into Jessie. A wicked grin exposed what was left of rotting teeth.

Yuck! An array of revolting odors assaulted her, the stench of perspiration and something….dried blood and urine? Smothering steamy breath reeked of cheap whiskey and decay. Jessie shivered despite the hot weather.

Title: Stormy Hawkins
Genre/Subgenre: Historical Western
Word count of Manuscript: 67,000


Startled out of his dreamless sleep, Blade Masters jerked his Stetson off his face and stared into the mouth of two cold steel barrels.

“On your feet, mister,” a sultry voice ordered. “Keep your hands where I can see them.”

Blade drew a quick breath of relief. Female bandits plying the Missouri River usually wanted money, not blood. Still, he’d not expected to be robbed at dawn on the windswept prairie.

The rising sun silhouetted his attacker, and he was hit with another surprise. Instead of black petticoats and lacy neck chokers, this brigand wore denims and a faded boy’s shirt. A battered, wide-brimmed leather hat topped braids as red as a St. Louis firepumper.

She held the shotgun steady as he clambered to his feet, took a half step forward and extended his hand. “Name’s Blade, ma’am. I’m looking for the owner of this fine property.”

“And I’m a can–can dancer,” she scoffed. “You bank boys know darn well this is Hawkins Ranch land.” Pride, as well as possession, rang out in her voice.

Quickly, he assessed what she’d just revealed. She was in financial trouble, and the Hawkins Ranch was big.

Title: Silver Sky at Dawn (Silver Sky Ranch Saga #1)
Genre/Subgenre: Western Small Town
Word count of Manuscript: 53,500 words

Lorena Bernhardt is certain of only two things: her cheating husband’s refusal to change his ways and her undying love for her two children. If Lorena and her children can escape their war-zone of a home with their lives, she knows they can survive anything.

Danny Silver Sky’s heart refuses to heal as he lives everyday with the memory of his late wife on the Oregon cattle ranch he built for her. However, when an icy accident brings Lorena crashing into his life, something rekindles in his broken spirit.

Despite resistance from the women and Danny’s life and the constant worry of Lorena’s ex-husband finding her, can Lorena and Danny leave their unwilling pasts behind in hopes of a future together on Silver Sky Ranch?

Title: The Rake Who Wed Me
Genre/Subgenre: Regency
Word count of Manuscript: 50,000

Algernon Saye, Lord Severn, straightened up from his half-lounge on the ottomane couch, for Marrack’s widow was entering the salon. A tight bodice holding her generous bosom drew his eye. It was a dark affair, with lace that lay against flawless skin. Her skirt flowed beneath it, made of some silvery spangled stuff that clung to her slender hips and long legs.

“Delicious armful, eh, Gerry?”

Severn smiled. Viscount Garland, one of his two rakish companions on the couch, was a noted connoisseur of widows.

The other, Baron Blackpool, was more direct. “Hunt over Marrack territory by day and sport in the widow’s bed at night—not a bad prospect.”

While she exchanged greetings with the hostess, the older man on her arm raised his quizzing glass in the direction of the ottomane couch. Severn acknowledged the gentleman’s regard with a nod and was completely ignored.

But not by Mrs. Marrack.

“Careful, Gerry,” Blackpool murmured, “she’s buried one rake already—and Jack Marrack was a nasty piece of work.”

He scarcely heard, for Mad Jack’s widow was coming nearer, the curve of her full lips enhanced by a pair of sparkling gray-blue eyes—and a question wrinkling her delicate brow.


Check back for updates to see which pitches caught the eye of the editors.

Good luck to all who pitched!


Entries #1, #4, #5, #9, #10, & #11 all received requests for FULL manuscripts from three different editors at Entangled Publishing. Partials were requested from the other submissions. Congratulations to all! Here’s hoping for future book deals.


I’ve Been Runed!

Ledberg Runestone

The Ledberg Runestone

The first writing systems used by the Germanic people were runic alphabets. Like Egyptian hieroglyphics, runes were more letters each was an ideographic or pictographic symbol. To the Ancients, they were associated with the principles of power and write a rune was to invoke the force for which it stood.  The word rune means ‘letter,’ ‘secret’ or ‘mystery.’ Its original meaning may have been ‘hushed message.’

Runes, tied to the principles of power, had magical significance and were used to create spells and foretell the future.

In folklore, the runes were given to mankind by the Odin, the Norse God of mythology. He died and passed on to the afterlife where he gained wisdom and passed his new wisdom to his people in the form of Runes.

Runes date back to the first century  c.e. until well into the Middle Ages. The Roman alphabet became the preferred script in most of Europe.

runes3We’ve learned that the runic alphabet is out outgrowth of two distinct sources—one magical and the other literate. Many Bronze Age rock carvings, primarily in Sweden, have pre-runic symbols.  Some of these symbols are alphabetic letters, while others represent ideas and concepts, sigils. These concepts were incorporated into the names of runes (sun, horse, etc.) and, unfortunately the meaning of these sigils and their purpose are lost to us. They were, however, believed to have been used for divination or lot casting. It’s believed that sigils contributed to the magical aspects of the later runic alphabets.

The name “futhark”, like the word “alphabet”, is derived from the first few letters in the runic sequence. The futhark originally consisted of 24 letters, beginning with F and ending with O, and was used by the northern Germanic tribes of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Northern Germany.  This is knows as the Elder, or Germanic Futhark forms of the runic alphabet.

Runes were used well into the 17th Century and were known by the common people who used them for simple runic spells. They also consulted them (like Tarot cards). Runes and the magical arts were banned in 1639 as part of the Church’s efforts to “drive the devil out of with Europe”.  The rune masters were either executed or went underground, and the knowledge of the runes appears to have died with them.  Some had the knowledge passed on in secret, but it is almost impossible to separate ancient traditions from more modern esoteric philosophies in such cases.

Knight of Rapture Final Cover RACasie 400x600

Available March 30th

In my new story, Knight of Rapture, magical runes play a large part in the story. Rebeka must decode the runes and the ancient prophecy it hides to save all she loves.

For months Lord Arik has been trying to find the precise spell to rescue his wife, Rebeka, but the druid knight will soon discover that reaching her four hundred years in the future is the easiest part of his quest.

Bran, the dark druid, follows Arik across the centuries, tireless in his quest for revenge. He’ll force Arik to make a choice, return to save his beloved family and home or stay in the 21st century and save Rebeka. He can’t save them both.

Rebeka Tyler has no recollection of where she’s been the past five months. On top of that, ownership of her home, Fayne Manor, is called into question. When accidents begin to happen it looks more and more like she is the target. Further complicating things is the strange man who conveniently appears wherever trouble brews—watching her, perhaps even….protecting her? Or is he a deliberate attempt to distract her? Rebeka can only be sure of one thing—her family name and manor have survived for over eleven centuries. She won’t let them fall… in any century.

One of the Druid Knight stories, Knight of Rapture releases March 30. For more information please visit my website at www.RuthACasie.com

Ruminations On RWA Nationals

I recently returned from the 2014 RWA Conference, and, after unpacking and trying to get back into my routine, I took some time to reflect on what my experiences were like. This was my third RWA conference, and each time, my choice of sessions, and what I considered important changed, as my career has progressed. During my first conference, I was in awe of the talented ladies who were in attendance. After all, I had entire bookshelves devoted to Nora Roberts, Jayne Anne Krentz, Eloisa James and Julia Quinn, among others. And here I was, in the same hotel, in the same room, breathing the same air as they were! I went to every chat session with these powerful women, and came away thinking what a fun bunch of people I’d landed into. I went home inspired.

By the time my second conference rolled around, I had a publisher and a debut book under my belt. This time, I had joined the ranks of author, just like those women I so admired during my first conference. I forged lasting relationships with some of the ladies from my publishing house, and began networking, which is so vital to being a successful author. I went home inspired.

This time, I had multiple publishers to meet and spend time with, and my days were carved up meeting my obligations from special interest chapters, publisher dinners, and meeting up with friends and fellow authors. I’m not quite ready yet for the Jumbotron, but I’m getting there. I came home inspired. Each year gave me a different experience, and each year I could tailor the conference to fulfill the goals I had as I moved my career along toward publication and developing my backlist. Which is the moral to my ruminations. It doesn’t matter where you are in your publishing journey, or what route you end up taking to get there, the RWA Conference will have some session, or some author, or some other industry professional who will meet your needs and answer your questions. Next year, the conference is in New York City, and it will be expensive. Start saving your pennies now so you can attend. You will come home inspired.

The sixth book in my Cotillion Ball Series will be released September 1. Here’s a taste of what to expect, as Rosemary Fitzpatrick takes center stage this time. roses2 In 1859, ladies of New York society were expected to do three things well: find a husband, organize a smooth-running household, and have children. Rosemary Fitzpatrick’s agenda is very different. As the author of the popular Harry Hawk dime novels, she must hide her true identity from her new publisher, who assumes the person behind the F. P. Elliott pen name is male. She must pose as his secretary in order to ensure the continuation of her series. And in the midst of all this subterfuge, her mother is insisting that she become a debutante this year.

Henry Cooper is not the typical Boston Brahmin. Nor is he a typical publisher. He’s entranced by Mr. Elliott’s secretary the moment they meet, and wonders how his traditional-thinking father will react when he brings a working class woman into the family. Because his intentions are to marry her, regardless. Rosemary’s deception begins to unravel at the Cotillion ball, when Henry recognizes her. The secretarial mask must come off, now that he knows she is a member of New York society. But she can’t yet confess who she truly is until she knows if Henry will accept her as F. P. Elliott.

The more time they spend together, the closer they become. But when Rosemary reveals her true identity to him, will Henry be able to forgive her or has her deceit cost her the man she loves?

For more information, visit Becky Lower’s website at http://www.beckylowerauthor.com