Cover Reveal: Stephanie Dray’s Becoming Madam Secretary

My friend Stephanie Dray asked me to help her spread the word about her new book, Becoming Madam Secretary. Don’t miss out! Her book is now available for pre-order and will be published March 12, 2024.

✭✭✭ ABOUT THE BOOK ✭✭✭

New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Dray returns with a captivating and richly dramatic novel about Frances Perkins, one of the greatest political figures of the twentieth century, and an unsung heroine whose legacy is woven into the fabric of every American life.

Raised on tales of her revolutionary ancestors, Frances Perkins arrives in New York City at the turn of the century, armed with her trusty parasol and an unyielding determination to make a difference.

When she’s not working with children in the crowded tenements in Hell’s Kitchen, Frances throws herself into the social scene in Greenwich Village, befriending an eclectic group of politicians, artists, and activists, including the millionaire socialite Mary Harriman Rumsey, the flirtatious budding author Sinclair Lewis, and the brilliant but troubled reformer Paul Wilson, with whom she falls deeply in love.

But when Frances meets a young lawyer named Franklin Delano Roosevelt at a tea dance, sparks fly in all the wrong directions. She thinks he’s a rich, arrogant dilettante who gets by on a handsome face and a famous name. He thinks she’s a priggish bluestocking and insufferable do-gooder. Neither knows it yet, but over the next twenty years, they will form a historic partnership that will carry them both to the White House.

Frances is destined to rise in a political world dominated by men, facing down the Great Depression as FDR’s most trusted lieutenant—even as she struggles to balance the demands of a public career with marriage and motherhood. And when vicious political attacks mount and personal tragedies threaten to derail her ambitions, she must decide what she’s willing to do—and what she’s willing to sacrifice—to save a nation.

✭✭✭ PRE-ORDER  NOW ✭✭✭

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0593437055

B&N: https://tinyurl.com/yjus7u42

Books-A-Million: https://tinyurl.com/5a4skm6n

Bookshop.org: https://tinyurl.com/2zkbsmuh

Apple: https://tinyurl.com/d6mf8nb7

Google: https://tinyurl.com/5ef3mw9z

Kobo: https://tinyurl.com/y4ks4j3s

Walmart: https://tinyurl.com/yc2jaets

✭✭✭ Learn More ✭✭✭

www.StephanieDray.com

Closing Out Women’s History Month with 31 Must-Read Books

I can’t believe the month is almost over! It seems like yesterday that it started with my book release. I was supposed to post this way earlier in the month, but things have gone crazy round these parts (in a good way…more on that in a future post) so I’ve had very little time for author stuff.

I had the pleasure of being asked by my fellow author Janis Daly to participate in her 31 Titles for Women’s History Month promotion. This list is chock full of my friends and writers I admire, like Kate Quinn, Lauren Willig, Susan Vreeland, Sarah Bird, Alison Weir, Marie Benedict, Paula McClain, Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie, Tracey Chevalier, Jennifer Chiaverini, Susan Meissner, Therese Anne Folwer and more.

In fact, I’ve read 11 of these books already! I’m making it my personal challenge to read the rest by the end of the year. And to be listed among them is such a great honor! I hope you will take a look at them and find (or more!) that you like.

I’d also like to thank Janis for having me and Madame Presidentess as part of this promotion and to highlight her new release The Unlocked Path, which is about Eliza Pearson Edwards, who was one of the early graduates of the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania.

Janis is also taking suggestions for her 2024 list, so if you can think of any, please drop her a note!

Remember, women’s history isn’t just for March! It should be celebrated all year long!

Cover Reveal: The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray

My friend Stephanie Dray’s newest historical fiction, The Women of Chateau Lafayette, has a beautiful new cover for its paperback release and I wanted to share it with all of you.

My Review

I’m currently on my second time reading this book. I don’t know if I have words to tell you how much I love it.  It is a triple-time period story that is woven together expertly to join the lives of three strong women who lived and loved through wartime. My favorite storyline is Adrienne Lafayette because of my love of all things Hamilton (and also a connection to a book I’m writing), but they are all great.

This is Stephanie’s best novel yet. The voice and atmosphere is incredible and grabs you from the opening pages. Her passion for the subject was obvious and as always, her attention to historical accuracy and detail was perfection. Her characters were so well rounded I felt like they were people I would enjoy having tea with (that’s a bit of an inside joke for those who have read the book).

If you have any interest in reading this book, don’t hesitate. It’s long, but well worth the read.

About the Book

A founding mother…

1774. Gently-bred noblewoman Adrienne Lafayette becomes her husband, the Marquis de Lafayette’s political partner in the fight for American independence. But when their idealism sparks revolution in France and the guillotine threatens everything she holds dear, Adrienne must renounce the complicated man she loves, or risk her life for a legacy that will inspire generations to come.

A daring visionary…

1914. Glittering New York socialite Beatrice Chanler is a force of nature, daunted by nothing—not her humble beginnings, her crumbling marriage, or the outbreak of war. But after witnessing the devastation in France firsthand, Beatrice takes on the challenge of a lifetime: convincing America to fight for what’s right.

A reluctant resistor…

1940. French school-teacher and aspiring artist Marthe Simone has an orphan’s self-reliance and wants nothing to do with war. But as the realities of Nazi occupation transform her life in the isolated castle where she came of age, she makes a discovery that calls into question who she is, and more importantly, who she is willing to become.

Intricately woven and powerfully told, The Women of Chateau Lafayette is a sweeping novel about duty and hope, love and courage, and the strength we take from those who came before us.

✭✭✭ BUY NOW ✭✭✭

https://bit.ly/3C1Xe37

 

The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray – Out Today!

My friend and fellow historical fiction author, Stephanie Dray, has a new book out today! She calls The Women of Chateau Lafayette a seven-year labor of love. I know all about books that take years to come to fruition so I can’t wait to read this one. I’ve read her previous books, America’s First Daughter and My Dear Hamilton and loved them, so I’m sure this one will be excellent as well.

Oh and it was picked as one of OprahMag’s most anticipated historical fiction novels, so….Be sure to check it out!

✭✭✭ ABOUT THE BOOK ✭✭✭

An epic saga from New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Dray based on the true story of an extraordinary castle in the heart of France and the remarkable women bound by its legacy.

Most castles are protected by men. This one by women.

A founding mother…

  1. Gently-bred noblewoman Adrienne Lafayette becomes her husband, the Marquis de Lafayette’s political partner in the fight for American independence. But when their idealism sparks revolution in France and the guillotine threatens everything she holds dear, Adrienne must renounce the complicated man she loves, or risk her life for a legacy that will inspire generations to come.

A daring visionary…

  1. Glittering New York socialite Beatrice Chanler is a force of nature, daunted by nothing—not her humble beginnings, her crumbling marriage, or the outbreak of war. But after witnessing the devastation in France firsthand, Beatrice takes on the challenge of a lifetime: convincing America to fight for what’s right.

A reluctant resistor…

  1. French school-teacher and aspiring artist Marthe Simone has an orphan’s self-reliance and wants nothing to do with war. But as the realities of Nazi occupation transform her life in the isolated castle where she came of age, she makes a discovery that calls into question who she is, and more importantly, who she is willing to become.

Intricately woven and powerfully told, The Women of Chateau Lafayette is a sweeping novel about duty and hope, love and courage, and the strength we take from those who came before us.

✭✭✭ADD TO YOUR GOODREADS LIST✭✭✭

✭✭✭SIGN UP TO BE NOTIFIED✭✭✭

✭✭✭ FOLLOW STEPHANIE ON BOOKBUB ✭✭✭

✭✭✭ BUY NOW ✭✭✭

Amazon | Apple Books | Audible | Book Depository | Bookshop.org | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | IndieBound | Books-a-million | Target | Kobo

✭✭✭ ABOUT THE AUTHOR ✭✭✭

STEPHANIE DRAY is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal & USA Today bestselling author of historical women’s fiction. Her award-winning work has been translated into eight languages and tops lists for the most anticipated reads of the year. Now she lives in Maryland with her husband, cats, and history books. For more, see: StephanieDray.com

A Day Late – Cover Reveal for Kate Quinn’s The Rose Code

I hope Kate Quinn can forgive me for posting this a day late. My day job took over everything yesterday and the day got away from me. I’m really excited to read this new book of hers. I’ve loved every one of her past books. 

COVER REVEAL – THE ROSE CODE by New York Times bestselling author Kate Quinn (Morrow; on-sale March 9, 2021)

ABOUT THE BOOK
The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Huntress and The Alice Network returns with another heart-stopping World War II story of three female code breakers at Bletchley Park and the spy they must root out after the war is over.

1940. As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes. Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything—beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses—but she burns to prove herself as more than a society girl, and puts her fluent German to use as a translator of decoded enemy secrets. Imperious self-made Mab, product of east-end London poverty, works the legendary codebreaking machines as she conceals old wounds and looks for a socially advantageous husband. Both Osla and Mab are quick to see the potential in local village spinster Beth, whose shyness conceals a brilliant facility with puzzles, and soon Beth spreads her wings as one of the Park’s few female cryptanalysts. But war, loss, and the impossible pressure of secrecy will tear the three apart.

1947. As the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip whips post-war Britain into a fever, three friends-turned-enemies are reunited by a mysterious encrypted letter–the key to which lies buried in the long-ago betrayal that destroyed their friendship and left one of them confined to an asylum. A mysterious traitor has emerged from the shadows of their Bletchley Park past, and now Osla, Mab, and Beth must resurrect their old alliance and crack one last code together. But each petal they remove from the rose code brings danger–and their true enemy–closer…

Get your copy today! I did!

Vive La Bibliographie!

(While I’m busy working on two books I’m finding it difficult to find time to blog, so I’m going to repost some of my favorite posts from Spellbound Scribes, the group blog I contribute to once a month. Warning: I am SUPER opinionated. This one was written less than a week ago.)

For years now, nay decades, historians and historical fiction authors have had a tenuous relationship. Well, from my perspective, it’s the historians who have their noses out of joint; most historical fiction authors, myself included, just want to write our books.

You see, some (not all, mind you) historians see us fiction writers as encroaching on their territory and doing it a disservice. I think with the word “fiction” in our genre and “a novel” written on most of our book covers, that is just silliness. I also think the reader has to take some responsibility for understanding the difference, but perhaps I am giving people too much credit. Tudor historian John Guy found that after Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall series was published many of his current and prospective students took what they read as fact. His complaint? “The writing was so good that some people think it is true.”*

Because we are writing a (hopefully entertaining) story in addition to providing historical facts, historical novelists sometimes have to or choose to bend those facts or go outside of the historical record. One thing many of us do to make up for this is include an Author’s Note at the end of our books. In this section, which for some is only a few paragraphs, but for others can be quite lengthy and detailed, *cough*me*cough,* we explain what is true and what is not and why we changed things when we did. Other authors provide additional historical information on their websites or in their blogs. Some even include a bibliography or a brief list of sources at the back.

Ironically, it is Hilary Mantel herself, a historical fiction author who is NOT a historian, who rails loudest against this practice. She’s fine with including an Author’s Note (which she does in her own books), but draws the line at a bibliography. At the Oxford Literary Festival in 2017 she accused historical novelists of “try[ing] to burnish their credentials by affixing a bibliography.”**

[cue eye roll]

No, Dame Mantel, that is not what we are trying to do. We are trying to show that we’ve done our due diligence in making our books as historically accurate as we can. We’re trying to raise the respectability of our genre, which, not that long ago was conflated with period costume bodice-rippers that were rightfully called mere escapism. (Remind me to write a post on the history of historical fiction sometime.) But since that time, the genre has come a long way in building credibility with readers and critics and today’s authors are much more concerned with portraying time periods and places correctly, as our source lists show.

In addition, we’re providing a list of sources for those who wish to learn more or want to fact-check the book. As a reader, I LOVE the Author’s Note and am sorely disappointed if there isn’t one or little effort was put into it. As a writer, I have looked at the bibliographies of other historical fiction writers in my time period to get a sense if I am going in the right direction in my own research. These pages at the end of books serve very important purposes that cannot and should not be dismissed out of hand.

We are in no way pretending to be what we are not. Most historical novelists will freely admit to not having a PhD if that is the case. And there are a few who do have one (such as Alison Weir and Anne Fortier), so does that give them the right to include a bibliography in their books while the rest of us can’t? If that is the case, that is elitism, pure and simple. Many of us are self-taught researchers or may have been trained through courses of study besides history (English or law, perhaps) but that doesn’t mean our research is automatically of lower quality and undeserving of being documented.

It would be far worse if historical novelists a) didn’t bother to do proper research and/or b) left readers to their own devices to figure out what is true. Then you really would have historical confusion.

I could be completely wrong, but it feels like opinions like this stem from two things: an old-world us vs. them snobbery in which we novelists are seen as on a far lower plane than professors of history, and a feeling of being threatened because the average reader is more likely to read a historical fiction novel than an academic work of history.

As an author who has written both and plans to eventually get her PhD in history, I will say there is no reason for historians to feel threatened. They do what they do and we do what we do. Each has our own audience and when there is crossover, it benefits us both. But we cannot shoulder the responsibility for how our readers interpret our work alone. If they want to believe it is true all we can do is warn them it’s not and direct them to books by historians to find out what really happened–that is exactly what the bibliographies found in our books do!

I think the idea that historians somehow sit on a loftier pedestal than historical authors is a function of the insular nature of academia and will hopefully (eventually) burn itself out. It is this misguided attitude that makes it somehow okay for someone who started out as a historian to later go into historical fiction, but not for a historical novelist who lacks a PhD to ask to be taken seriously. Unless historical novelists start claiming that their books are the truth–rather than influenced by the truth–(as best that historians can interpret it; it can be argued that all of history is fiction as it is written by the victors and is often revised by memory, time and author prejudice) there is no need for us vs. them. We are both working toward the same purpose: educating a public that increasingly doesn’t give a fig about history. We just go about it in different ways.

And as for me, you can pry my bibliography (fiction or non-fiction) out of my cold, dead hands.

*Quoted in McQuin, Kristen “The Truth Is Better Than Fiction: Accuracy In Historical Fiction.“ Bookriot. March 19l 2018. https://bookriot.com/2018/03/19/accuracy-in-historical-fiction/

**Furness, Hannah. “Hilary Mantel: Women writers must stop falsely empowering female characters in history” The Telegraph. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/31/hilary-mantel-women-writers-must-stop-falsely-empowering-female/

Surprise! Mistress of Legend Named Book of the Year by Author’s Circle

Wow, I got the shock of my life last night when I logged in to Facebook to see that I was tagged by Author’s Circle. I had entered their contest, so I was hoping for good news, but I certainly didn’t expect to see that Mistress of Legend was named Book of the Year!

This means that all three books in the Guinevere’s Tale Trilogy have received Book of the Year Awards: Daughter of Destiny from Chanticleer Reviews (2015) and Camelot’s Queen (2016) and Mistress of Legend (2018) from Author’s Circle. Author’s Circle also named The Once ad Future Queen: Guinevere in Arthurian Legend as their Non-Fiction Book of the Year in 2017.

This is my fourth Book of the Year award. When I received the first one I was absolutely shocked. The second I thought was a fluke. The third was just unbelievable. But four? That’s like beyond mind-blowing.

Mistress of Legend Short-Listed for Chaucer Award

You read that right! Mistress of Legend doesn’t even come out for 22 more days, and it’s already on its way to its first award! It has been short-listed for the Chaucer Award for historical fiction talking place prior to 1750 by Chanticleer Reviews.

I’m especially honored to be on the list with my friend, the amazing writer Anna Belfrage, who is shortlisted for not one, but two novels! And there’s another Arthurian book on the list. I hope this is the beginning of trend!

My Friend Won Book of the Year, Too!

Remember how The Once and Future Queen won Non-fiction Book of the Year in the Author’s Circle awards not long ago?

Well, I just found out that a really good friend of mine, Sara Dahmen’s, novel Widow won for Fiction Book of the Year! I reviewed Widow a while back, under its original title, Dr. Kinney’s Housekeeper. It’s definitely one to put on your list immediately.

 

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that we were both honored in the same year. Sara and I met at the Chanticleer Author’s Conference in 2016, just after Daughter of Destiny was published. (That’s the same event at which Daughter was named Book of the Year by Chanticleer Reviews.) We have been to several conferences together and are pretty close online. I am so proud of her.

Now, go read her book!