Category Archives: PBS

Christmas during the Civil War in 1862 from “Love Me Forever” Video about the two mistresses of Rosebriar — twins born more than 150 years apart #Christmas

Christmas during the Civil War in 1862 from “Love Me Forever” from Jina Bacarr on Vimeo.

Christmas is the time of year when we put aside our differences and celebrate the joys of the season.

Even during the Civil War.

No better place to do that than Rosebriar Plantation on Christmas Eve 1862.

The beautiful antebellum house in Virginia has been turned into a battlefield hospital after the Battle of Fredericksburg with Union Army surgeon, Major Flynt Stephens at the helm. There they treat the wounded from both the North and the South.

There’s also a mystery afoot in the major’s eyes. He swears there are two women playing the role of his fiancée and the mistress of Rosebriar.

Identical twins.

But which is which?

Liberty (his lady in gray and a time traveler).

Or:

Pauletta Sue (belle and spy).

I hope you enjoy this excerpt from LOVE ME FOREVER, my Kindle Scout winner.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

~Jina

==============

December 24, 1862

Christmas Eve

Later that evening . . .

 

Flynt placed the metal star at the top of the Christmas tree.

Behind him, he could feel the stares boring into his back. Men from both sides lay huddled together in the great hall of Rosebriar, each one believing it was his tree with his Christmas star.

North or South.

He smiled. Wasn’t it Dickens who said every man should keep Christmas in his own way?

That was as it should be, he thought, stepping down from the ladder and standing back to admire the fifteen-foot-tall pine tree the soldiers had erected in the main receiving room. Peace on earth. For now. The yellow flag Flynt hung outside the grand house ensured every soldier knew it was a hospital and both Union and Confederate wounded lay inside. The fresh red,   white, and blue candles glowed brightly and the small net bundles filled with nuts and golden apples hung on the boughs of the tree. Someone had made a strand of beans and strung it around the bottom. Glass ornaments, round and blue and silver, hung on the top branches.

New-fashioned ornaments he’d bought on a whim back in medical school before the war. Who could have predicted this horrible conflict? And its casualties. Outside, a heap of amputated feet, legs, arms, and hands lay at the foot of an oak tree a few yards from the main house, waiting to be taken away.

Light, melting snow covered the pile.

But the weather was turning clear and mild.

He prayed that was a good sign and next Christmas would be different, though talk was the country was discouraged after the devastating Union loss two weeks ago at Fredericksburg. The people didn’t want to continue the war. If Burnside and the other generals couldn’t pull off a victory soon, he doubted if the government would get the support it needed to go on with the war.

That meant supplies.

Field hospitals were in want of fresh food, especially fruits and vegetables, causing cases of scurvy to break out. Rosebriar, on the other hand, had more than enough stored food and wood and, thanks to Pauletta Sue, the wounded benefited. They had fewer deaths and less cases of typhoid. It amazed him how a few changes in procedure saved so many lives.

Flynt let his gaze wander over the soldiers brought into the hall, most reclining on straw mattresses. Some had spent days in tent hospitals, lying on the frozen ground with only pine or twigs underneath their blankets. Every man able to sit up or raise his head was brought in to enjoy the Christmas celebration.

He’d never forget the look on the men’s faces when Pauletta Sue went around to each wounded soldier and gave him a small glass filled with brandy, insisting on using as many clean glasses as possible. Aunt Fairinda raised a ruckus in the kitchen, but she calmed down when she saw the men smile. He could still hear the hushed voices of his cook and the other servants oohing and aahing over the tree, saying it was just like the old days before the war started. Even Old Dan shed a tear. Surprised Virginia folk knew how to do up Christmas right, he’d said, like Tennessee folk.

And the singing.

Flynt’s heart warmed to the voices of the wounded men lifted up in the chorus of a popular holiday carol. Pauletta Sue’s light soprano rang out loud and clear. She sat at the pianoforte, her fingers skipping over the keys, turning her head and flirting with every man who caught her eye. He stood in the corner, watching her. Wanting her. His glance moving up and down her body, taking in her deep green silk dress covered with black velvet trim spread out around her, setting off her ivory-skinned beauty like emeralds surrounding a precious pearl.

The perfect mistress of Rosebriar.

Every man in the room envied him.

The real question on his mind was, was this Pauletta Sue from Tennessee?

Or his lady in gray?

It didn’t take him long to find out. Somehow, when he wasn’t looking, he swore they’d switched places. The two women were playing games with him. The lady in gray tended to the soldiers earlier, then the real Pauletta Sue took her place to entertain the officers.

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womens_equality_CivilWar

LOVE ME FOREVER
She wore gray.
He wore blue.
But their love defied the boundaries of war.
And time.

I’d love to hear from you. You can find me on social media:
www.facebook.com/JinaBacarr.author

https://twitter.com/JinaBacarr
www.pinterest.com/jbacarr
https://instagram.com/jinabacarr/

And you’ll find more videos on Vimeo:

https://vimeo.com/user216350 

And don’t forget MERCY STREET on PBS, also about Civil War medicine beginning in January 2016!

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Cinderella’s Happily Edit After: My Kindle Scout Experience re: my Civil War time travel romance “Love Me Forever” Part 3

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Remember when Cinderella was all aflutter getting ready for the ball? Her fairy godmother shows up and poof! Cindy has a gorgeous gown, a carriage, and the sexiest pair of glass slippers. Next, she meets the prince, loses her slipper, gets it back, and marries the handsomest man in the land.

Then comes a reality check.

Cindy is a princess with a hundred and fifty room castle to manage, servants galore, royal obligations, and a demanding mother-in-law who can’t wait to show her off at high teas.

First, she must learn how to be a princess.

Kinda like putting out a good book. It’s a lot of work. Period.

After my 30-day campaign with Kindle Scout for LOVE ME FOREVER, my Civil War time travel romance, being on and off the Hot and Trending list, then waiting to see if I made the cut, came my reality check.

Edits.

Most writers would rather clean bathrooms for a week than open the Editorial Letter.

I was shaking in my slippers when mine came. I worked more than two years on “LOVE ME FOREVER,” getting the research right, the romance, settings. Not an easy task. My story is over 150,000 words.

Which brings me to one of my favorite things about Kindle Scout: the Kindle Press Team. With everyone jumping into the self-publishing arena, it’s easy to want to write, write, write and get it out there. Do-it-yourself, especially if you’ve been writing for a long time. I can wrap my head around a story pretty well. I’ve written several novels for trad publishers, non-fiction books, kids’ TV scripts, and plenty of magazine columns and stories.

But no writer is an island.

A good editor is as important as Cinderella’s fairy godmother. She/he can wave their magic wand and give you that extra spin on your book, make you dig deeper, cut excess. One thing that drew me to the Kindle Scout program was the idea of receiving editorial input.

I wasn’t disappointed. The editorial guidance at Kindle Scout/Kindle Press is awesome.

I’m thrilled to say that my editor at Kindle Press was thorough, gave excellent suggestions, made me think, and complimented me along the way when she particularly liked something. She’s definitely one of the best editors I’ve ever had. The turnaround was quick: a week to complete the edits. I admit I hardly slept and I maxed out the balance on my Starbucks gold card, but the KP Team gave me a heads up three weeks before as to exactly what day to expect the email with the attached files and they delivered.

So here we are at a new juncture in my Kindle Scout experience. Edits done; book on sale at Amazon.

Am I nervous? You bet I am. I put my heart and soul into this story, laughed and cried with my characters every step of the way. I’m anxious to give it every chance I can to succeed. But the best part is, I feel confident that as part of the Kindle Scout program, LOVE ME FOREVER is the best it can be.

~Jina

I’ll be back with Part 4 on Saturday, September 5th. Tomorrow, Friday, September 4th I have a special treat: my interview for Jennifer Skutelsky’s fabulous blog Writers Reach. This lady can ask some intriguing questions.

Stop by and find out what she asked me!

PS — very exciting news: Ken Burns’ Civil War has been remastered and will be shown in high definition on PBS beginning September 7-11, 2015. Be sure to tune in . . .

Love_Me_Forever_500x798

 

LOVE ME FOREVER

She wore gray.
He wore blue.
But their love defied the boundaries of war.
And time.

LOVE ME FOREVER is now available from Kindle Press at Amazon.com

The Slipper fits…the fairytale come true about my Civil War Kindle Scout book “Love Me Forever” Part 1

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You know the fairy tale, but here’s the story behind it:

How my Kindle Scout book, LOVE ME FOREVER, was selected for publication, Part 1.

What is Kindle Scout? you ask. How does it work? Is it right for me?

The best way I can answer that is to tell you my story. Adding tips and observations along the way that I hope will help guide you, whether you’re a reader or a writer…so here we go!

Once upon a time I had a book of the heart, a story I loved like a comfy, fave pair of jeans. I just couldn’t throw them away…

That book is LOVE ME FOREVER, a Civil War time travel novel that takes place from 1862-1863. It’s a big, family saga with two feisty heroines and the military men they love, coming in at 150,000 words. But as everyone knows, trad pubs don’t want Civil War…no problem, I’ll self publish it, right?

Or—and here’s where temptation comes in, like circling the pastry case at Starbucks, should I try Kindle Scout? The Amazon publishing venture where readers pick the books they publish:
https://kindlescout.amazon.com/about 

So I did…and for thirty days I was on a wild rollercoaster ride during my campaign for LOVE ME FOREVER. I’d check the “Hot and Trending” List all hours of the day and night on my cell phone—fretting when I wasn’t on the list and cheering when I was.

Bonus: if you nominate a book and it’s selected for publication, you receive a free advance copy before it’s published.

Here are some tips re: submitting to Kindle Scout:

1 – Format your book as if you’re going to self-pub it. I renamed my original .doc and then took out the copyright page and TOC, links to my other books, no header needed (you can add the copyright, links, and TOC back in later if you’re selected). I left in the page numbers (not needed for self-pub), but they don’t show up on the excerpt. If your book is selected, you’re ready to begin your final read-through. If not, you have your original .doc if you decide to self-publish your m/s.

2 – Don’t wait until you’re ready to submit to Kindle Scout to answer the questions, write your bio, description, etc. It took a lot of preparation to answer the questions in a way that highlighted who I am as a writer (3 questions), bio, description, logline—all have character length restrictions. I’d recommend getting that out of the way before you finish your book or do a final read-through.

3 – Cover: I did a dreamy Civil War lady cover with a beautiful rendering. It says “romance” right away so you can attract that reader. Also, keep it clean and simple with a strong focal point to grab the eye, but not confuse it. Be sure to adhere to the required size: 4500 pixels high and 2820 pixels wide (or a 1.5 height/width ratio). PNG (.png) or JPEG (.jpeg or .jpg) format, no larger than 5MB.

4 – Read the contract carefully – the percentage is 50 percent royalties instead of 70; you have to ask for your book back in writing if they don’t publish it after the 45-day exclusive; the $1,500 advance is against royalties; Amazon owns the exclusive digital and audio worldwide rights for 5 years in all languages—renewable.

Your book is published by Amazon Kindle Press in e-book, not print. Here is the breakdown from the Kindle Scout website:

Royalty Table:
E-Book: 50% of Net Revenue
Digital Audio: 25% of Net Revenue
Translation in e-Book format: 20% of Net Revenue

I believe they have 6 months to publish it or you get your rights back (you have to ask in writing).

5 – I see Kindle Scout as a new, exciting venture that combines both self-pubbing and traditional. You write, edit, copy edit, format your book and submit your own cover, but if you’re selected, you have Kindle Press as your publisher with an additional copy edit, PR, etc.

For me, it was also the opportunity to put my story out there during the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. I blogged every day with stories and excerpts about the Civil War. I added graphics I did myself with Royalty Free stock I bought a while ago. I enjoy designing the graphics, so that’s a plus. You can see my graphics here on my blog by looking at older posts.

6 – All in all, I’m extremely happy with the professionalism at Kindle Scout. I submitted my package online (very easy to fill out and submit) and my book was accepted within 2 hours and went live 2 days later.

Here is the link to my Kindle Scout page: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/1EBUHZH3PWQRK

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The selection process:

I was on the Hot list more than half the time during the 30-day campaign. I would get on the list, jump around for a few days from first to last (about 10 books average are on the list at any one time), drop off for a day or two, then pop back on.

I blogged, tweeted, etc. every day, which helped me get the message out on a consistent basis, but I believe support from good people like you was very important to staying on the Hot list. Again, thank you.

I’m not sure what other criteria KS uses to make their selection. I submitted the cleanest m/s I could. I spent a lot of time checking it after it was written and giving it a thorough copy edit before I submitted it, checked the timeline, looked for inconsistencies, etc. It’s vital to give them the best book you can.

==========
The next step:

After my 30-day campaign ended, it took only two days for me to receive word my book was selected. My book cover was up on the KS header almost immediately along with the other selected books. I had 30 days to make any changes. I went over my manuscript for content, punctuation, spacing, etc. I also printed out a hard copy and gave it a quick read-through. You’d be surprised what you see on paper that you don’t see on a computer screen.

Next, after you submit your Final m/s, your book receives a Kindle Press copy edit. I’ll talk more about that in a future post. The Kindle Press Team is the best–all the KS authors are pleased with the entire process.

The contract becomes active as soon as you receive their email. It also indicated the accounting team would contact me. (I spoke with a member of the KP team a few days afterward). I’m already self-pubbed with Amazon, so I have an account with bank numbers, tax info, etc. in place, but KP has additional paperwork to be filled out.

============
What I would have done differently:

I wouldn’t have waited so long to reach out to groups for help and support. I’ve always been a shy kid and still suffer from good girl syndrome after attending numerous parochial schools, but I credit the Sisters of Mercy with teaching me good tradecraft re: writing. I can diagram a sentence with the best of them and that’s helped me as a writer.

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I’m here for questions about Kindle Scout and anything you’d like to ask about the process. I really enjoyed writing LOVE ME FOREVER, about two very different women, Liberty Jordan and Pauletta Sue Buckingham, who are thrown together in a mad, crazy scheme of spying, lost love, and passionate desire for what they can’t have.

The men they love.

Do they get their men?

Well, it is a romance, but it’s also a wild dramatic journey based on actual events in the Civil War. Liberty and Pauletta Sue will make you cheer, then cry, then hold your breath when it looks like all is lost…

Thanks for stopping by and check out LOVE ME FOREVER on Amazon and Kindle Scout!

~Jina

Check back tomorrow, Wednesday, September 2nd, for: Cinderella at the Ball: My Kindle Scout Experience Part 2

PS — very exciting news: Ken Burns’ Civil War has been remastered and will be shown in high definition on PBS beginning September 7-11, 2015. Be sure to tune in . . .

Love_Me_Forever_500x798

LOVE ME FOREVER

She wore gray.
He wore blue.
But their love defied the boundaries of war.
And time.

LOVE ME FOREVER is now available from Kindle Press at Amazon.com

Mr. Selfridge and the Working Girl

A working girl needs a killer wardrobe, though in my upcoming Cosmo Hot Reads from Harlequin, NAKED SUSHI, Pepper O’Malley, my heroine, wears only yellow pom pom chrysanthemums and a banana leaf for her gig as a sushi model.

Lucky girl.

But most of us with 9 to 5 jobs have to plan what we’re going to wear each day. Casual …or sexy heels and skirt? Jeans and a tee? Whatever your choice, we have much to choose from in our local department store or boutique.

It wasn’t always that way.

I’ve been watching Mr. Selfridge on PBS.org about the American who opened up Selfridge’s department store in London in 1909. He believed the emancipated woman was the future, not a thorn in his side. In a recent episode, the employees stage an all-nighter to decorate the windows at Selfridge’s to show their support for the suffragettes, not alienate them.

Oh, what fun! The beautiful store windows alone make it worth watching, but the interesting facts about how department stores have changed over the past 100 years is fascinating. And how he changed the life of the working girl.

Did you know that before Selfridge’s

Ready-to-wear didn’t exist; a lady came in for fittings, then her garments were made. Selfridge’s believed that would change and predicted mass production of clothes.

Cosmetics were sold under the counter so as not to offend a lady’s delicate nature. Mr. Selfridge wanted to bring lip rouge in from the cold so women could embrace makeup, not shun it.
 
Harry Selfridge made shopping an event for working girls, not a chore. He displayed a small plane in his store and even had the famed ballerina Anna Pavlova dance for his customers.

And– 

Photo by Jina Bacarr

Photo by Jina Bacarr

Perfume was sold at the front of the store to mask the smell of horse manure clinging to the customers’ shoes. Mr. Selfridge wanted working girls everywhere to enjoy the scent of a lovely lavender while they shopped.

So the next time you go shopping at your local department store, stop at the perfume counter at the front of the store and enjoy a splash of your favorite fragrance.

You have Mr. Selfridge to thank for that.

Click here to see a wonderful array of photos and pix from Selfridge’s.

Four Working Girls hit the mark in “The Bletchley Circle”

I was delighted to discover a wonderful new PBS mini-series, The Bletchley Circle, that spotlights women coders and gives us great characters to root for on so many levels. These four working girls used their skills during World War II to help Britain win the war; yet like so many women, afterward they find themselves pushed to the side.

Not so far off from reality. 

Women fought on a different battlefront back in the dark days of World War II in Great Britain. Women cracked code. And saved many lives. 

But after the war, they became “ordinary” again, to quote a character in the story. 

These ladies are anything but ordinary. 

This excellent mini-series about women who write code reminded me of the women, or rather the lack of females, in the world of high tech software. Like Pepper O’Malley in my October 2013 Cosmo Hot Read from Harlequin, Naked Sushi, about a heroine who writes code and becomes involved in corporate espionage. Pepper would have loved to be a part of this posse.

In Episode 2 this Sunday of The Bletchley Circle, the four heroines use their skills and their wits—not to mention their daring—to find a serial killer in 1952 London. 

Four working girls with the brains and smarts—and most of all, the perseverance—to get the job done. 

I can’t wait for Sunday’s episode…

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