Tag Archives: Publishing

Caroline Dunford: A Death for a Cause

 

A Death for a Causesuff

I always vote. Whether it’s a local, general or European election, I’ll be there making my X on the paper. When friends have commented on this commitment to voting – a surprising amount of people don’t bother  – I used to jokingly reply that if I didn’t vote I was sure the ghost of Emmeline Pankhurst would haunt me. However, it was only  when I was researching for the latest Euphemia mystery, A Death for a Cause, that I came to appreciate how very much suffragettes did to liberate British women.

“I used to jokingly reply that if I didn’t vote I was sure the ghost of Emmeline Pankhurst would haunt me.”

On the 6th February 1918 women over the age of 30 got the right to vote. Let’s think about that. It’s less than one hundred years since women have been able to exercise the democratic right to vote. Or put another way, my grandmother wasn’t allowed to vote. As a woman she was not deemed fit. One glance at the news will tell you that there are still plenty of places left the world over where women do not have equal rights to men. In Britain we’re lucky and it is down to the efforts of the bands of women from all classes, who spoke up, marched and protested, that we have the rights we do. They endured imprisonment, permanent health damage from force feeding and even attacks (from both men and women) who did not agree with their cause.

Euphemia is inspired by my Great Grandmother, who left a life of privilege and wealth, after arguing with her father, to go into service. She never returned to her home, but instead married a tobacconist and had thirteen children, all of whom survived infancy. Like her, Euphemia is a strong woman struggling to make a place for herself in a world where the only future for women of her class was either to marry or cast herself on the mercy of relatives.

But in A Death for a Cause, Euphemia, who considers herself liberally minded and an armchair suffragette, is brought up against the reality of the brutality inflicted upon women asking for no more than the some of the rights men automatically gain at birth. She is introduced to a world where women are prepared to smash windows, sabotage telephone exchanges and even set fire bombs in the name of female emancipation. To be fair although the suffragettes did adopt the motto of ‘deeds not words’ there was some division within the ranks of how far it was right to go for the cause.

But for a long time their efforts were in vain. Prime Minister Asquith appeared to simply not take them seriously no matter what they did. He was known as a lover of women (in the literal sense), but the thought they might have equal intelligence to men was preposterous to him.

Women were constantly under-rated. Even when women began to be admitted to the universities, obviously to all female colleges, there were violent reactions from male students. To begin with women might study the same subjects, sit and pass examinations, but they not awarded degrees. Just as women who studied medicine where not, at first, allowed to practise.

It’s difficult for British women today to imagine this, but it’s true. It took an army of strong women to make a difference. We need to take the time to remember them – and always vote!

A Death for a cause

 

 

 

If you’ve been excited about the film Suffragette then you’ll love this new release A Death for a Cause which shares similar themes! Pre-order today or buy tomorrow! Not long to wait! 

 

 

Alaina Drake: No More Mr. Nice Guy?

Alaina Drake - Head Shot (2)Alaina Drake

Alaina Drake discovered her love of writing in the fourth grade when she won her first young author writing contest. After attaining a bachelor’s and master’s degree in English Literature, she set out to write novels that combine her two loves: erotic romance and classical literature. She has taught literature and writing at both the high school and college levels, and when she’s not writing, you’ll find her watching sports, baking cookies, and, of course, reading way past midnight. She is an avid rock climber and former ballerina, and she finds a lot of connection between the two activities despite their obvious differences. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and daughter. She loves to interact with her fans on Twitter, Facebook, and on her website where she blogs about writing, reading, and the everyday joys of motherhood.

No More Mr. Nice Guy?

Have you ever found yourself up late reading a book that simply everyone has been talking about? You’ve seen it on Twitter. You’ve seen dozes of posts about it on your favorite blog. So, you pick it up thinking that you will absolutely adore it.

And then you don’t. In fact, you want to throw it across the room. At one a.m., you go onto Goodreads and Amazon, flabbergasted at all of the five star reviews. You then begin to wonder if it’s just you. Everybody else loves it. Why don’t I?

 A year ago, before I wrote my first novel, I had a string of such books, and I tried to figure out why. When I lined up the books I was frustrated by, I realized that they all had one thing in common: the heroes were jerks.

Any reader will tell you that one of the most popular trends right now are the super possessive, ultra-dominant, uber-controlling, stubborn heroes who are so crass that my eyebrows are permanently furrowed.

They make me gape in awe as they are able to woo what are supposedly strong, modern women by their caveman behavior. They are sometimes so rude to everyone that a quarter of the way through the book I’m cheering for them not to get their happily-ever-after, which (of course) they always do.

Which troubles me even more.

I understand the detractors’ argument here. They’ll say, “Yeah, but look how much he grows by the end of the novel. Nobody is perfect. He has to start out a jerk so we can see him grow.” I understand the point here. Really I do. But, I have two problems with that.

First, it is usually the love of a virginal, virtuous woman who often saves him from his immoral or reckless behaviors. This trope is very tiresome to me.

Second, what makes me shake my head is that I wonder why the woman allows him to treat her like that. What is most troubling is that because he’s handsome, because he’s rich, because she lusts after him with every cell of her being, she grants him multiple passes often against her best judgment.

This thematic trope and characterization is not new, of course. My master’s degree is in Nineteenth-Century Literature, so I am well acquainted with the Byronic hero. Remember Mr. Rochester from Bronte’s Jane Eyre? Remember Heathcliff from Bronte’s Wuthering Heights? The list could go on and on. These heroes are considered Byronic because of their qualities: proud to the point of arrogance, moody, rebellious to the point of being anti-social, vengeful, judgmental, keepers of dark secrets and scars…

But they are also maddingly and darkly erotic. We’re pulled to them like a moth to a flame (I think we’ve all read this metaphor at least a dozen times). We’re consumed by them and their ability to have strong affections for the women they finally let in. And when we read such heroes, we get to imagine that we are one of those lucky women who get to fix them.

Sound familiar? Christian Grey? Gideon Cross? I could name dozens of heroes off the top of my head.

So now that we know that the current trend is not separated from a larger movement that crosses centuries and genres, now what? Do we continue to pen erotic romances in 2015 that fall in line? Do we need and want another Byronic hero? Do we need and want the erotic romance “alpha-holes”?

Most importantly, I asked myself, could someone write an erotic romance that was steamy, hot, volcanic (choose your adjective) without such a hero? Was it even possible? Could the nice guy also rip your panties and make the sheets pop off the corners of the mattress?

That was when the idea for my first novel was born: I set out to write the anti-byronic hero. I wanted my character, Beckett Stanton, to be the healer, the man committed to his morals, the approachable man who was easy to laugh and able to poke fun at himself. I wanted him to be honest with his emotions. Soon, Beckett was talking to me as I washed dishes or folded clothes. He told me he was a doctor who healed cancer patients. (I know, I know—surprise! The nice guy cures kids no less!) He was intensely emotional and sensitive. He had no deep scars that made him moody or judgmental. He had no skeletons in his closet (or a crazy woman in his upstairs apartment like Mr. Rochester). He didn’t need saving from a virginal, virtuous woman.

Thus, my heroine Hannah was born, and I fell in love with her. Because Beckett was a whole person who had strong convictions and a working moral compass, Hannah didn’t have to be it for him. She was allowed to grow too. She was given license to be a real woman that I could identify with. In fact, I’d love to sit and drink a bottle of wine with her and her three roommates.

What happens when two confident, assertive people who don’t have dozens of secrets in their past meet? How do they fall in love when their convictions are so strongly rooted in their personalities, not in their scars? These are the questions I wanted to answer, questions the Byronic heroes of today, or yesterday, don’t allow their authors to ask.

Did I succeed? Maybe. Readers will be the judge of that. But, I enjoyed the experiment whose hypothesis was that nice guys sometimes do get the girl.

I’d love to hear your thoughts as well! What type of hero are you most attracted to? What frustrates you about some heroes? What trends do you see in heroes?

An excerpt from her latest novel Forbidden Touch..

An hour later, we landed, retrieved our suitcases, and claimed our rental car. We drove to a suburb where the houses got progressively bigger and the landscaping more Forbidden Touch Newelaborate. During our drive, Beckett’s glances drifted from the road to the passenger seat. “I want you to know I told my parents that we’re friends. While I don’t mind that my parents know we are … physical, I thought maybe this would be easier. We’ll definitely get fewer questions this way. And when I was trying to convince you to come with me, I made you that promise. I intend to keep it.”

“Thanks. I think it’ll make the weekend more enjoyable.” Trusting him was crucial to our arrangement and our friendship. Being able to do so took a weight off my shoulders I hadn’t realized I was carrying.

Beckett soon turned into a gated subdivision. As I looked out through the window, the passing scenes struck me. Gone were the lush green grasses and weeds. Gone were the trees with actual leaves. Those Boulder staples were replaced by rocks, sand, and stone. Gone was the feeling that nature was plush and abundant and warm. Despite the fact that Phoenix’s air was much hotter, it was colder here, harsher. As I stepped out of the car in front of a mansion of terracotta and landscaping boulders, I was sure that I’d never been on more unfamiliar ground.

Out Now

“A Week at Accent Press” by Rebecca Freese

Me at the Accent office

Me at the Accent office

I have had an interest in writing and English Literature since my GCSE years in school, and so I chose to continue with the subject for my A-levels. Accent Press came to my school one day before the summer holidays for the Young Editor’s Squad meeting, which I attended. Straight away I had an interest in the company and the work that was done there, and so emailed in about the prospect of me taking part in some work experience with them over the summer, to which they welcomed warmly.

Before arriving, I was nervous, thinking of possible tasks they would have me do, excited about the opportunities that awaited me. On Monday morning I was kindly greeted and given a tour of the office, being introduced to the team members along the way. My first day was full of busy tasks that involved helping to prepare to send off the nominations for the RoNA Awards, and being asked to start reading and editing a manuscript, which was amazing as it helped me improve my editorial skills and gave me a taste of what an Editor’s job would be like.

The next morning I was more confident coming into work, now having been shown the ropes on my first day, and I walked into the office ready and eager to start a new day of work. I was really excited when I was asked to write their Top Tip for Top Tip Tuesday’s, which would be posted on their author’s Facebook group page. I decided to write about how to ensure you and your book stands out amongst all the rest, and I thoroughly enjoyed adding my own spin of personality into the mix. That same day, I finished preparing the nominations for the RoNA Awards, sent them off, and was then ready to talk with the Editors at Accent Press. I was able to ask them questions about what the job entails, what universities they went to, and if they had any useful advice for me as a potential incomer to the industry. I found this meeting extremely useful as it helped me gain a clearer understanding of what an Editors job really entails and what to expect if I choose to go on to study English Literature at University. After the meeting, I continued my work on editing the manuscript. After another busy day, I shared stories with my family of my experiences, and was ready to dive into Wednesday morning.

On Wednesday, I was asked to work on a spreadsheet providing information on future up and coming books, and then asked to write a blog post of my experience, which I am currently writing. So far, I have really enjoyed myself at Accent Press and can’t wait to see what the rest of the week brings.

Thursday brought another action filled day, consisting of Editing, drawing up a spreadsheet of important dates, coming up with interesting questions for an Author Satisfaction Survey and researching competitions and prizes for businesses that Accent Press could be entered into. I also prepared to send off copies of Jodi Taylor’s ‘Just One Damned Thing After Another’, a brilliant book which ten lucky winners from GoodReads were to receive a free copy of.

So now we come to Friday, which is sadly my last day here at Accent Press. Throughout the week, I have been able to gain an insight to the world of Editing and Publishing, and given opportunities and experiences that I would never have expected to have. The team here at Accent Press have been welcoming and helpful, whether it be at lunch were they made me feel at home with a friendly humorous conversation, or when working, showing me the ropes and helping me with any issues or confusion that I had. I found Accent Press to be a professional, friendly company to work for, and I can now take my gained knowledge with me on my way to making decisions about my future career. I can also safely say that I will not be having any difficulty when mailing out post in the future.