When on June 18 I heard I’d been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, it took me only an hour or two to know one of the things I wanted to do with the time I had left.
Most readers of this blog know I write three contemporary mystery series. But I have to admit that my first love is writing historicals, and I’ve had five historicals published that are set in 19th century Maine for ages 8 and up. (Many of my readers are also adults, and I’ve been thrilled when adult literacy or English as a Second Language groups have chosen to read them, too.)
My historicals have been honored by being nominated in 14 states for student choice awards, and I’ve always especially loved speaking to school groups.
But two of the historicals I’ve written were never published. Editor or publishers changed; other genres (fantasy, dystopian, vampires) became more popular; so my books have been sitting patiently in my computer, waiting for their time to come.
And I’m now thrilled to announce that they’re out in the world — on Amazon for now (in paperback and e-book formats) but soon to be on other sites, and in some bookstores. Tuesday night I introduced them at a library talk in Southport, Maine, and sold all the copies I had (I’ve re-ordered) so I hope that’s a sign of things (and sales) to come.
The first book, FOR FREEDOM ALONE, set in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1846-47, is the story of a father and his three children who were among the tens of thousands of Highlanders thrown out of Scotland by the English between 1780 and 1860 during what became known as the Highland Clearances. (The English replaced those they thought of as their tenants with sheep.) Displaced, some families were able to get to Canada or Australia, and a lucky few to the United States. But many found themselves sharing slums in Glasgow and Edinburgh with survivors of the Irish potato famine and the industrial revolution. Very little has been written about this period, or what it cost the Scots to survive. Today historians estimate that ninety million people around the world claim Scottish ancestry — many of them descendants of those displaced during the Clearances. Perhaps you are a descendant of one of those families.
In FOR FREEDOM ALONE a father who has always taken care of his family finds he cannot find work in Edinburgh, although women and children can get jobs in mines, factories, and some businesses, because they cost less to employ. Fifteen-year-old Meggie is lucky to find work as a hotel maid. Kirstie, only four, huddles in a dark room to be safe. And twelve-year-old Rab must learn the ways of the streets, and of the boys who live there. As they all struggle to make their dream of getting to America come true, they learn truths, some bitter, about themselves and each other.
The second book, CONTRARY WINDS: A STORY OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION , is set in 1777, in Boothbay and Wiscasset, Maine, and then at the Battles of Saratoga, and revolves around the lives of an newly immigrated family: the oldest son is in the Continental Army, the second son is a member of the Seacoast Defense, a group in Northern New England who attempted to defend the coast from the British Navy, and the younger two children play critical roles. Sarah goes to stay with an English woman she met on her trans-Atlantic journey and who now lives in Wiscasset, where there are more people (and food) than on ends of District of Maine peninsulas. She soon learns there are more Royalists, too, and that everyone must be watched. Meanwhile, her brother Rory runs away to join the York Militia, which marches from southern Maine to the banks of the Hudson to reinforce troops that will fight the first decisive battles of the Revolution: the Battles of Saratoga.
Filled with accurate details of life both on the home front and in the militia, Sarah’s and Rory’s exciting stories alternate, as they both find their courage can make major differences to the future of their new nation.
With hopes you’ll check out these newest books, and, if you enjoy them, you’ll write reviews, and recommend them, so they can reach as many readers as possible.
And — yes — I have one more historical — this one an adult historical mystery — that I’m polishing. Stay tuned!