Let’s Dance!

on June 29, 2019

I’m researching San Francisco in 1919 and came across this great art!

The hats! The hair! The skirts! The tails!

Makes me want to cut a rug. How about you?

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, 23 November 1919.

 

Last Call for Ana’s June Newsletter Sign Up

on June 4, 2019

My June newsletter is coming out next Tuesday. If you would like to receive it in your very own email box, just sign up on my website.

My newsletter contains info about what I’ve written & what I’m writing and where I’m going to be & what I’m doing as Ana Brazil Author.

AND it usually includes some fun facts about Fanny Newcomb’s 1889 New Orleans, celebrations of some of America’s historic heroines, and some reading suggestions.

Rhys Bowen’s IN FARLEIGH FIELD

on May 26, 2019

I downloaded IN FARLEIGH FIELD to my Kindle a while back and just started reading it today. I know, I know, it’s an award winner, it’s highly recommended, but still, there are so many great historical novels out there to read.

And I must admit that I try to read historicals “in my era”, that is the Civil War through WWI. And I try to read American historical fiction because it is so wondrous and original.

I was impressed with IN FARLEIGH FIELD from the very first screen, when it provided a CAST OF CHARACTERS. And the characters were identified much as a working writer would describe them.

And then there was the first chapter, set in an English cricket field, showing how life was lived outside and inside in England in 1939.

And then we get to WWII and the work at Bletchley Park.

So no, this isn’t a review, because I’m so very little into the story, but I wanted to share what I realized from these few pages: I always think of, rely upon British historical fiction to be VERY ORDERLY. In England, everything & everyone has a place and a purpose and very little ever seems random or jumbled. Even during wartime.

And in that, IN FARLEIGH FIELD does not disappoiint.

England, and historical fiction about England, seems very controlled and scripted and defined, with a CAST OF CHARACTERS and the same English cricket field in every village. I’m not saying the fiction or the setting is dull, I’m saying that I appreciate entering a world that has provides me with order and continuity.

Perhaps because there seems very little of that in contemporary life, English or otherwise.

And as a writer, it’s a fine thing to start a story with a controlled, orderly setting. Because when you blow up that setting, the story will be even more brilliant and the characters will need to be even more heroic to survive.

Want to read THE AWAKENING?

on April 14, 2019

You can read Kate Chopin’s 1899 novel THE AWAKENING for free. At many places. Including your public library, of course.

Just to make it easy for you, here’s where you can find THE AWAKENING on Project Gutenberg.

ENJOY!

 

Kate Chopin Tussles with a Novel Ending – Now Available!

on March 25, 2019

I’m very pleased to announce that my historic short story “Kate Chopin Tussles with a Novel Ending” has been published in Fault Lines: Stories by Northern California Crime Writers.

This stunning anthology includes “19 short stories that explore crime, guilt, and justice in our earthquake-prone region and beyond.”

My “Kate Chopin Tussles with a Novel Ending” is one of the “beyond” Northern California stories, and examines fault, blame, and guilt in late 19th century Louisiana.

Kate Chopin, author of The Awakening

Here’s more from my author’s note:

Although Kate Chopin’s novel The Awakening is celebrated today as a declaration of female sexual independence, when it was first published in 1899 it was scorned, derided, and deemed vulgar.

What, I wondered, would have happened if author Kate were confronted by one of her early readers? A reader who—like Kate’s protagonist Edna—had her life changed forever by her sudden sexual independence? But a reader who—unlike Edna—would stop at nothing to blame Kate for where that independence lead her.

Writer or reader, it’s not always easy to know who’s really at fault.

For those of you keeping chronological score, “Kate Chopin Tussles with a Novel Ending” takes place in 1899, ten years after my Gilded Age New Orleans novel Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper.

I hope that you enjoy both of these Gilded Age Louisiana stories about ambitious and intelligent women.

“Writer’s Inspiration” – how it happens

on October 5, 2018

A working writer of any kind (technical, marketing, short story, historian, etc.) can’t “wait for inspiration to strike”. Nope, if you’re a working writer, you’ve got to choose your story, sit your butt down in a chair, open up the computer, and get to work.

For all of that hard work, your first draft will probably be mostly crap.

But somewhere in that draft (or in the next or in next, next draft), because you did sit your butt down in a chair and get to work, you might be inspired. You’ll start to tingle, because you’ve come across something that’s so right for you. You might even have a hard time breathing, because, dayum, that something sure is thrilling.

But to get that thrill, you’ve gotta work for it. And here’s how I did it recently.

My husband and I went on a road trip. California to Nevada. Through Utah and Wyoming. Into South Dakota. Back to Wyoming and into Montana. Crossing Idaho and lingering in Seattle. Down Highway 101 to Oregon (loved you, Florence!) and back home to California.

Since this was a vacation, I was not going to write or edit any of my own fiction. I was only going to read three or four novels that I had lined up on my Kindle.

As we traveled along Highway 80 from California to Nevada and we passed Donner Summit, my thoughts lingered on the horrible true story of the Donner Party, those pioneers who–when confronted by the harsh winter of 1846–47–ate each other. Or as Wikipedia writes “Some of the pioneers resorted to cannibalism to survive.”

I began to wonder about the men and women who “resorted to cannibalism”. Specifically, I began to wonder about Mrs. Donner, although I didn’t know if there even was a Mrs. Donner. Or if there were several Mrs. Donners, or if there was only a Miss Donner.

Donner Pass, 1870s, via Wikipedia

I began to wonder…What if Mrs. Donner was ready to resort to cannibalism, and not just to keep herself and her family alive? What if during the wagon trip, she had been fighting with other women and she had been wishing them dead for weeks?  Was there a new interpretation, a new way of looking at the historical character of Mrs. Donner that I could work on? Was there a quick-flash-of-unexpected-character-thing that was dramatic enough for a 100-word short short story? (Keep in mind: I still don’t know if Mrs. Donner existed during the winter of 1846-47, so please understand that I’m taking a short story writer’s dramatic point of view rather than a historian’s accurate point of view.)

And so I mused on Mrs. Donner for a while, even creating a few titles for the short story I might write. Which I’ve already forgotten.

I enjoyed musing on Mrs. Donner so much that I decided that on each day of our vacation, I would muse on another historical American woman, one specifically drawn from the locations that we travelled each day. So in Utah, I thought about Mrs. Smith or Mrs. Young and what their untold-and-dramatic stories might be.

My musing continued until we reached Cody, Wyoming, where–since every day of my vacation I had been musing about American women of the historical west–I was rewarded with INSPIRATION.

It happened at the most unexpected location ever: the Cody Dug Up Gun Museum. Which is a blog post for another day.

New–and very short–contest!

on August 1, 2018

I’m a guest blogger on Suzanne Adair’s Relevant History blog this week. Enjoy my Sanborn Fire Insurance Map post and enter my contest to win a 13 oz. can of New Orleans’ Cafe du Monde’s French Roast Coffee and a Kindle ebook copy of Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper.

To enter, just comment at the end of the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map post. The winner will be chosen Friday (that’s August 3!) at 6 p.m. ET. Delivery is available in the U.S. only.