Sunday, September 25, 2016
It continues the story of Eleri from A Secret Hope, who was abducted by British pirates on the day of her baptism and taken from Ireland to Britannia.
Some of the story takes place in Luguvalium, now modern-day Carlisle in Cumbria, England. Luguvalium was a British fort on Hadrian's' Wall.
The wall was built by Emperor Hadrian (naturally) about 122 AD, across the "waist" of what is now Scotland and England, to mark the northernmost border of the Roman Empire.
Almost 2000 years later, much of the wall still stands. I visited it a few years ago doing research for the book, and for an ancient history buff like me, it was a fascinating trip.
So I searched through hundreds of photos of the wall for my book cover. I was ready to give up until I stumbled across this amazing photo above, named Hadrian's Wall at sunset. I corresponded with the photographer, Wayne Brittle, who has kindly agreed to allow me to use the photo for a small fee.
Wayne roams all over England, Scotland, Italy and other places doing his thing, with almost other-worldly results. His photos have been featured in magazines, calendars, brochures, and books. He has had articles published in the most highly respected photography magazine in the UK. He teaches classes for aspiring photographers and sometimes even takes them out before the crack of dawn to get those great photos! So I'm humbled and thankful to be able to use this image from a world famous photographer like Wayne.
Please check out his Facebook page: Wayne Brittle Photography and his website: Wayne Brittle for some awe inspiring photos.
Wayne, I can't thank you enough for this awesome photo. It perfectly captures the mystery and drama of this ancient place. I love it so much I decided to put it at the top of my blog.
Monday, August 8, 2016
All the World Loves a Baby!
That was one of the signs that hung above the Baby Incubator attraction at Coney Island. In my pandemic flu novel I have several scenes that take place at that fabled amusement park.
Coney Island specialized in the bizarre and unusual, with sideshows and attractions that today would be considered racist, barbaric, humiliating, and unacceptable to many people. But one of the most unusual and well-loved attractions, little known today, was the Incubator Babies.
In the early part of the 20th Century, babies born at home too early, what we now call preemies, almost always died. The medical specialty of Neonatology was nonexistent then. A French obstetrician, observing the "poultry warmers' used for baby chicks, theorized that the same thing could be done for preemies. But in America, there were no hospitals yet willing to undertake this venture.
|Dr. Martin Couney|
Until Martin Couney came along. Couney, a protege of another French doctor who perfected the use of the glass and steel boxes, asked Couney to accompany him to the Berlin's World Fair in 1896 to oversee a small group of incubator babies. It was overwhelmingly successful and from there, Couney traveled around the world with the babies to Expositions and World Fairs. At the end of the tour, he decided to settle at Coney Island.
The Baby Incubator acted as a small hospital. It was kept scrupulously clean. The nurses, always dressed in starched white uniforms and caps, came from accredited schools all over the country, and received specialized training to care for the infants. The parents of these preemies were never charged a penny. The admission fee to enter covered all the costs of care, equipment, and staff. The spectators were kept behind an iron guardrail, which you can see in the photo above.
For 40 years, his life's work, Dr. Couney ran the baby incubators. It's estimated, that out of approximately 8,000 preemies who were rushed to his facility, about 6,500 were saved. Some of the incubator babies returned to visit Dr. Couney with their own children.
By 1939, American medicine finally caught up, and preemies began to be treated in hospital settings. In 1943, Dr. Couney closed his little hospital at Coney Island.
Dr. Couney singlehandedly changed the face of preemie care in America. In 1983, 40 years after he closed the show at Coney Island, I gave birth to twin boys at 33 weeks, and they, too, spent time in those "incubators." Thank you, Dr. Couney, for all your hard work!
|Dr. Martin Couney|
Thursday, July 21, 2016
My character, Kate Wilkes, in my Civil War novella, The Battlefield Bride, isn't quite as sedate as the nurse in the photo above. And she sure didn't sit much, either. She was definitely a fun character to research and write. Most of those Civil War nurses were no-nonsense ladies! I guarantee you will love Kate if you like feisty characters.
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Monday, July 11, 2016
I've been immersed in 1918 for about a year now, working on a novel about the Pandemic Flu.
The pandemic flu of 1918-1919 killed more people worldwide than the Great War, WWI. Estimates vary, but it's believed about 100 million people died of this virulent plague, and very possibly even more than that because many deaths went unreported.
An influenza epidemic usually results in higher mortality at the beginning and end of the age spectrum: infants and small children, and the elderly. This flu was different and completely unexpected as most of the fatalities were in the 20 to 40 years of age group.
People in their prime of life.
If you go back into your own family history it's quite possible you have an ancestor who died in this pandemic. Or if you happen to be in an old cemetery and see many deaths in the same family in 1918, again, it's quite likely the flu killed them.
The scary thing about the Pandemic Flu is that it will happen again.
Monday, March 21, 2016
I was searching for some 19th century photographs today, to use as a model for my character Gracie Grantham, lost love of Henry Lindenmayer. Here is a little blurb, from my work in progress:
Henry Lindenmayer was always something of a flirt, but Gracie Grantham loved that about him.
Until the evening of their engagement party.
Wallace Granville, who wanted Gracie for himself, secretly arranged for her to see Henry with another woman, which confirmed the vicious rumor he had already circulated about Henry. Gracie broke her engagement with Henry without telling him why, and sailed out of his life for a Grand Tour of Europe with her parents. Confused and heartbroken, Henry retreated to his estate at Wasahana and never married.
That could be the face that launched a thousand ships. I love the mysterious depths of her eyes. Doing things like this today is the fun part!