Friday, January 13, 2017

Treatment of Women in the Spanish Civil War

Before the Spanish Civil War, girls had a very poor education. Boys were permitted to stay on at school much longer, while for girls it was merely a means for learning domestic duties. It irritated Rosita and no doubt women in the real world that they were legally obliged to leave school at twelve, despite their love of education and desire for a career. Nor were women permitted to take a job outside the house without the permission of their father or husband.

But the war initially brought a change in status for women, as they wished to do their bit to help in support of their husbands. Many received their best education during the war years, assisted by Mujeres Libres, which did a great deal for the emancipation of women. This organisation didn’t do battle with men, but neither did it believe that women should be ruled by them. They claimed all women should be considered equal and have the same education and opportunities as men.

Women working in the war was not approved of by the Fascists, even if it was only doing the laundry for soldiers. Nor were they allowed to wear overalls or carry guns. Both left and right wing parties tended to dismiss women’s efforts as inappropriate, treating them more as sexual objects. They were expected to practise self-sacrifice and self-denial for their family, husband and the church. Some women tended to assume that the problems were more about class and economics, rather than gender. Others would deny they were feminists, nervous of endangering their efforts for equality and the fact they had no wish to be ruled by controlling men.

 The problem was that if the authorities could not find the man they were seeking, they would arrest his wife or children simply for that reason. They hoped that threatening a man with that possibility could result in his surrender. Tragically, family differences could on occasions reveal where a fugitive was hiding. Women were often imprisoned for helping family and friends to escape. They could even be denounced by a neighbour, alleged friend, or family member.

After the war, they were returned to the kitchen, rather as was the case in the UK following both world wars. Women yet again felt cloistered, offered a very limited education and every effort was made to prevent them from attending university. They were even denied the right of divorce, contraception, abortion, or to open their own bank account. And no job was allowed once they were married. Laws were set up to ensure that women acted only as good wives and mothers. Fortunately, this anti-women attitude did eventually change, although it took some time. And the characters in this book are generally strong women, who very much do their bit to help, no matter what the risks involved.


It is 1936 and Spain is on the brink of civil war. Across Europe, young men are enlisting in the International Brigade to free their Spanish brethren from the grip of Fascism, leaving sisters and lovers at home. But not all women are content to be left behind. In Britain, Charlotte McBain and Libby Forbes, friends from opposite sides of the class divide, are determined to do what they can; in Spain, Rosita García Díaz, fiercely loyal to her family and country, cannot stand by and watch. Three brave women, inspired by patriotism, idealism, love and even revenge, dare to go into battle against tradition and oppression. 

Tying them all together is Jo, Libby’s granddaughter. Five decades later she travels to Spain hoping to make sense of a troubling letter hidden among her grandmother’s possessions. What she learns will change all of their lives forever. Deceit, heartbreak, and a longstanding fear of reprisals must all be overcome if the deeds of the forgotten women are to be properly honoured.

Amazon UK 

Amazon US

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Eastenders and Creating Your Own Story





The BBC have given helpful guidelines to aspiring writers to help them create their own stories.

1. Set the scene: pick locations, props and characters.
2. Tell your story with dialogue, expressions and poses.
3. Click "Publish" to share your story with the world.

In a nutshell, this is the way to write books. Of course, a whole lot more goes into fleshing out a novel but this is great advice. Editors love to have your pitch wrapped up in one burning question. Here on a mini scale are some examples from Eastenders episodes;

Denise finds herself in an impossible situation - will the truth out?

​The day of Ronnie and Jack’s wedding has finally arrived - will they get the day of their dreams, or will it turn into a nightmare?

Carmel throws a surprise baby shower for Denise - how will she react?

A New Year; can things get better for Phil Mitchell?


And, as most of us know the answer to each question will dig the holes ever deeper for the characters to fall into. The series would be boring otherwise, and not the roaring success it has achieved today.

I asked one question before writing my bestselling shorter story, ’Lily’s Christmas Workhouse Baby’. What would a mother be prepared to sacrifice to save her baby? And so began Eastender Lily Flynn’s journey of discovery in the haunting atmosphere of a Victorian workhouse!

I hope 2017 will be full of dramatic writing questions for you.

​Love Carolx

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Romance is important and why I write!

I have been asked a few times why I write romance books, (sometimes complete with that look of disdain as though it was beneath them, you know, the common look people often give romance authors...)
I replied that the genre chose me, but on consideration, I realised that writing about two characters who find that instant spark - that immediate connection - is a privilege and a joy. Through my characters, I get to experience that initial rush of blood, the heart somersaulting and chemistry that comes when we find another person attractive and interesting.
Could there be a better topic to write about? Romance in some form is usually found in all genres, but a lot of people don't believe that. However, if you study some of the other fictional genres, you might be surprised to see that love between characters is usually a base to build stories on. For example: revenge on a murdered loved one (crime) or twisted love/stalker (horror)

Just like my characters, everyone needs romance in their lives.
Romancing a potential partner opens up so many possibilities in each other, especially the all important communication.
What is more perfect than feeling you are loved? Or more importantly, being shown you are loved?
And that's the piece most people mislay...Showing they love someone. We are all guilty of doing it as life gets in the way and we have pressures and responsibilities, etc. However, it takes but a minute to show you love someone. I make sure my characters do it.
In my book, Long Distance Love, Liam fills a room with flowers for Fleur, but it doesn't have to be that grand a gesture! It's the little things that makes a difference:
An email/text/message saying, I love you...
a phone call, just because you can....
a bath run as you walk in the door...
a special smile just for you...
dinner arranged and the cleaning up shared...
a shoulder to fall asleep on...
a kiss hello and goodbye - both are important...
a hand to hold...
cuddling on the sofa...
a cup of coffee brought...
stopping for a moment to say, how was your day...
taking care of them when they're ill...
listening to that special song you share...

The list is endless, of course, but the message is there, clearly - we all love to be romanced. We all need it in our lives. We all want our special 'other' to show us that they are thinking of us and that's why romance books and movies are so popular - if we don't have it for real in our lives, then we need to find it elsewhere. 

However, for me, there is also the satisfaction of creating love and romance for others to read, to experience, to search for in their own lives. It's true I put my characters through drama and hardship but in the end they find happiness, which is what we all want.

We should never accept the ordinary, but strive for the extraordinary.
An unashamed romance author.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Volunteers who helped in the Spanish Civil War

The aim of volunteers was not to establish communism in Spain, but to help the people hang on to democracy.’

The characters in my book were inspired to go to Spain for personal reasons and as a result of what they saw on the British Pathe news. Crowds of refugees escaping the bombing of their town, children crying and bodies lying everywhere. This was why many local Scots volunteered to join the International Brigade. Of course, some young men were seeking adventure or felt the need to escape from some problem back home. But hundreds of brave men and even women volunteered to help the Spanish people, believing in humanity and democracy. These comprised ordinary working and middle-class folk, students, artists, photographers and many others, both British and Scottish. They also feared that if fascism was not stopped in Spain, it would spread to a wider conflict across Europe and maybe to England. And with no support from the British government, they would make their own way to Spain.

Many Scottish Nurses went to help too. As Orwell states in his personal account of the Spanish Civil War - Homage to Catalonia, ‘Apparently there was no supply of trained nurses in Spain, perhaps because before the war this work was done chiefly by nuns.’ Possibly for that reason, their assistance was greatly appreciated, as foreign medical volunteers were much better trained. The Scottish Ambulance Unit made a vowed commitment to neutrality, pledging to treat the injured of both sides even if this sometimes proved difficult. The nurses too remained neutral.

Spanish women took on their husbands jobs once they’d joined up to fight. The government recommended families did this, thus enabling industry to continue, women having been granted more rights during the war. But as we know, the Fascists did not always approve of them working close to the Front, even when they were supporting the men by providing food and clean clothes. However, many brave women paid no attention to this attitude, some even fought alongside the men and were in need of volunteer nurses if they suffered injury.

Around 2,400 British nationals fought in the International Brigade in Spain and about 550 were Scottish. Very few had had training and ammunition was not easily available at first. There were some volunteers who had naively imagined the war would last only a few months, and when they realised that wasn’t going to happen, would escape and return home. Later, that was disallowed, although most volunteers fought hard to the end, many of whom never returned.

The moment finally came when Franco declared he’d won and all foreigners must leave. Those who did return home were often assumed to be communists, as a consequence of their support in the Civil War, and had problems finding a job. Some men went to join up and fight in World War II, many believing that if the British and French government had done more to help Spain fight for their democracy, Hitler might never have started that war. Mussolini too might have thought twice about what he did. Yet many Spanish lives had been saved thanks to the International Brigade, including evacuated children. But sadly, Spain’s problems continued for some time.



It is 1936 and Spain is on the brink of civil war. Across Europe, young men are enlisting in the International Brigade to free their Spanish brethren from the grip of Fascism, leaving sisters and lovers at home. But not all women are content to be left behind. In Britain, Charlotte McBain and Libby Forbes, friends from opposite sides of the class divide, are determined to do what they can; in Spain, Rosita García Díaz, fiercely loyal to her family and country, cannot stand by and watch. Three brave women, inspired by patriotism, idealism, love and even revenge, dare to go into battle against tradition and oppression. 

Amazon UK

Amazon US


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

As the year draws to a close, I'd like to thank all my readers for their support during 2016.
In the new year I'll have exciting news regarding six of my older books which are having a revamp with new covers, and I'll have a new website up and running!

Until then, please everyone have a safe and happy holiday and a wonderful 2017.


Friday, November 18, 2016

Guest Author: Emma Hornby

Please welcome to the blog, guest author, Emma Hornby, who writes historical sagas set in Lancashire.


I've always had a deep passion for the Victorian era and have read sagas for as long as I can remember. Therefore, writing historical sagas was the inevitable route I took once I was hit with the author bug. I chose to set my books in Lancashire; it has such a rich and interesting history.

 I’d been researching my family tree for years and was fascinated by what I unearthed. Generation after generation lived, worked and clawed out a life in the poorest slums in Bolton and Manchester. I’d spend hours imagining what their lives must have been like, picturing these faceless characters, wondering about their struggles, their daily lives, their relationships, loves, fights, hopes and struggles. My mind was soon swamped with imaginary scenarios and I began penning down snippets, immersing myself in the research of the time. The result was a full-length novel and an overflowing trunk of ideas now sitting patiently in my mind, just waiting to be turned into a future stack of books.

A Shilling for a Wife, a gritty northern saga, is my debut novel. The eBook and hardback are now available to buy, and paperback will follow on the 23rd February. Audio and large print will be with you in the near future. My second book is out May 2017.


Blurb:

Sally Swann thought life couldn't get much worse. Then a single coin changed hands.

A dismal cottage in the heart of Bolton, Lancashire, has been Sally’s prison since Joseph Goden 'bought' her from the workhouse as his wife. A drunkard and bully, Joseph rules her with a rod of iron, using fists and threats to keep her in check.

When Sally gives birth, however, she knows she must do anything to save her child from her husband's clutches. She manages to escape, and taking her baby, flees for the belching chimneys of Manchester, in search of her only relative.

But with the threat of discovery by Joseph, who will stop at nothing to find her, Sally must fight with every ounce of strength she has to protect herself and her son, and finally be with the man who truly loves her. For a fresh start does not come without a price . . .

Amazon UK:


Amazon US:



Social media links:


https://twitter.com/EmmaHornbyBooks

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Remembrance Day - WWII novel

On of my favourite eras to write in is World War I, however, I have written a book set in World War II.
Broken Hero was a great story to write. Audrey and Jake are wonderful characters, each with their own issues to overcome.
I hope readers enjoy it too as they commemorate Remebrance Day this year.



Blurb:
Audrey Pearson's life changed dramatically when WWII broke out and her large home, Twelve Pines on the East Yorkshire coast, became a convalescence home for wounded soldiers. Her life is no longer lavish with entertainment, beautiful clothes and surrounded by a loving family. Soldiers, physically and mentally wounded now fill her home. The smell of disinfectant replaces her mother's perfume and gone are the friends and acquaintances - instead nurses roam the hallways. 
Captain Jake Harding, a doctor training in psychiatry arrives at Twelve Pines. Audrey immediately finds herself attracted to the Captain, but he is remote towards her. Puzzled by his cold behaviour, Audrey tries to learn more about the handsome Captain. He reveals that he's lost a wife and baby in childbirth and refuses to ever remarry. 
However, despite this, Audrey believes she can change his mind and make him aware he doesn't have to spend his life alone.The ice around Jake's heart begins to melt. For years he has rejected the possibility of finding love again because of the pain it caused him before, but the beautiful Audrey shows him her love and she needs someone to love her in return. 
Could he honestly walk away from her, from the love that could be his? 


Available for Kindle and all other online forms of reading devices.
Amazon USA
Amazon UK

Also available in paperback
Amazon USA
Amazon UK

Saturday, October 15, 2016

A PROMISE BETWEEN FRIENDS and the 1950's



Out of the four decades that followed the Great War, the 1940’s were the most austere, but romance was at its most dangerously seductive as the 1950’s fashions edged their way into the female wardrobe. For over a decade women had drawn stocking seams on the backs of their legs and made underwear from barrage balloon materials. Now, at the start of the 50’s, there was no holding back.
I’ve long wanted to write about the new freedoms and luxuries, the fabulous music and broadened culture of the 1950’s. And so Ruby walked onto the stage; self-confident, assured, spirited, tasteful, ambitious and yet hopelessly naive. She brought a certain honesty to A Promise Between Friends - and sense of humour. She made me laugh and she made me cry. I hope she does the same for you.
Published in paperback on October 20, you can pre-order at Amazon with a price guarantee. Or if you’re a Kindle or ebook reader, then A Promise Between Friends is already on Amazon’s shelves. Whatever kind of reading you like, I think you’ll find Ruby a stimulating companion. I can assure you of one thing - she’ll step into your world and won’t dream of leaving until the very last page.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Where Dragonflies Hover to be published in Norway!

It is with great excitement that I can now reveal I am going to be published in Norway with my split era novel, Where Dragonflies Hover.

The translation rights have been bought for Where Dragonflies Hover by Norwegian publisher Cappelen Damm AS. https://www.cappelendamm.no/
This is an excellent opportunity for one of my books to reach an ever wider audience by being translated into another language.
I am so thrilled with this new development and am looking forward to seeing this new partnership grow.

More information about the trade deal can be found here. http://www.booktrade.info/index.php/showarticle/66293


Sometimes a glimpse into the past can help make sense of the future …Everyone thinks Lexi is crazy when she falls in love with Hollingsworth House – a crumbling old Georgian mansion in Yorkshire – and nobody more so than her husband, Dylan. But there’s something very special about the place, and Lexi can sense it.

Whilst exploring the grounds she stumbles across an old diary and, within its pages, she meets Allie – an Australian nurse working in France during the First World War.

Lexi finally realises her dream of buying Hollingsworth but her obsession with the house leaves her marriage in tatters. In the lonely nights that follow, Allie’s diary becomes Lexi’s companion, comforting her in moments of darkness and pain. And as Lexi reads, the nurse’s scandalous connection to the house is revealed …

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

Amazon Australia

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

A review of a book I recently read.



Circling the Sun by Paula McLain.
Blurb:
Brought to Kenya from England as a child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl is raised by both her father and the native Kipsigis tribe who share his estate. Her unconventional upbringing transforms Beryl into a bold young woman with a fierce love of all things wild and an inherent understanding of nature’s delicate balance. But even the wild child must grow up, and when everything Beryl knows and trusts dissolves, she is catapulted into a string of disastrous relationships.

Beryl forges her own path as a horse trainer, and her uncommon style attracts the eye of the Happy Valley set, a decadent, bohemian community of European expats who also live and love by their own set of rules. But it’s the ruggedly charismatic Denys Finch Hatton who ultimately helps Beryl navigate the uncharted territory of her own heart. The intensity of their love reveals Beryl’s truest self and her fate: to fly.

My thoughts;
I really enjoyed reading this book. Set primarily in Kenya, Africa, with little bits in England, this story is based on a true person, and is a lot like the book, Out of Africa. 
The author has done a great job in the telling of Beryl's life and has also given the reader a glimpse into 1920s colonial life in Africa. The descriptions of Africa makes you feel like you're there.
Highly recommended.