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Back to School Blog Hop

Microsoft Word - Document4Happy September! If your local school district is like mine, you’ve already been in school for two weeks. Nonetheless, I’ve always thought of September as Back to School month. This September, my books will be featured all month on a blog hop. Listed below are the bloggers who will be participating. Links to their blogs will be live once their Blog Hop post goes live. So put away those math books and click over to some interviews, book excerpts, guest posts, and other goodies.

Welcome to my Back to School Blog Hop!

 

September 2: Charles Ray  **  Charlie Ray’s Ramblings         
September 3: Apryl Baker  **  My Crazy Corner
September 4: Victoriya Aliferchyk  **  Vik Tory Arch           
September 5: Connie Peck  **  Connie Peck       
September 6: Angela Fristoe  **  Turning the Pages
September 7: Karin Rita Gastreich  ** Eolyn Chronicles
September 8: Courtney Vail  ** Gotta Have YA                     
September 9: Keeley  ** Keeley Reads                               
September 10: Evelyn Ralph  **  Evelyn’s Blog
September 11: Cheryl  **  Gwyneiira Book Blog               
September 12: Vanessa Aere  **  Book Butterfly Reviews          
September 13: Tiana Lemons  **  Ethereal Book Reviews        
September 14: Linda Ulleseit  **  Chicks Writing Rockin’ YA        
September 15: DelSheree Gladden  **  The Edible Bookshelf          
September 16: Judy Goodwin  **  My Writerly World       
September 17: Emily Thompson  **  Clockwork Twist            
September 18: Charles Ray  **  Charlie Ray’s Ramblings         
September 19: Mary Collins  **  Top Shelf Romance  
September 20: Lauralee  **  History From a Woman’s Perspective
September 21: Kira Tregoning  **  Fantastical Reads     
September 22: Susan Stec  **  The Grateful Undead
September 23: Cathy Dougherty  **  Catherine Dougherty             
September 24: Clarissa  **  Quirky Lady Bookworm                  
September 25:  Dianne Bylo  **  Tome Tender
September 26: Linda Ulleseit  **  Chicks Writing Rockin’ YA
September 27: JL Campbell  **  Reader’s Suite         
September 28: Audra Middleton  **  Audra Writes
September 29: Jonel  **  Pure Jonel Confessions of a Bibliophile                    
September 30: Linda Ulleseit  **  Books, Books, Books

Book Blast!

 

ac bookmark

 

NEW RELEASE –  Angels Club
Authors – Courtney Vail and Sandra J. Howell
Genre – Middle Grade General Fiction
Word Count – 55,000 words
 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22590337-angels-club

 Click here to enter the giveaway!

Synopsis: Nearly twelve, Jacinda Gonzalez collects  insults rather than friends in her new school, but she finds
escape from her bullies at the therapeutic riding farm where she
volunteers. When a malnourished horse shows up as a rescue, she takes it
on as a project horse, and the horse’s sweet nature inspires her to
spread kindness around to make a positive difference in the world.
Appropriate for horse lovers of all ages.

Click here to watch the Angels Club trailer!

Excerpt:  The tacked-on chores made it a long day of work for Kat and me. Emily helped out with some too. She especially loved opening the gate to let some of the horses out to play and graze.
After brushing Ginger and giving her the shiny apple I promised her, which she thanked me for with a sweet nuzzle, I dashed back to the barn holding the disheveled mare that was now my very own big project. Under all that dirt, I was pretty sure she was all white, but she could have some special markings too, which would be cool.

Kat and Em were still with her, talking about her current state of yuck. Man, I really wished they’d give her a break. She couldn’t help it, and this condition was only temporary.“Awww,” I whined, rubbing her between the ears on her matted head. “Poor thing. Besides neglect, I wonder what other nightmares she’s been through. It’ll be dark soon. We don’t have time to beautify her today. We’ll have to tackle that huge task tomorrow.”“Beautify her? Humph. Doubt that’s even possible,” Kat said, punctuated by a sneer.

“Sure it is. Have some faith, in her and in us. With a good wash, or a couple, and some grooming, she’ll at least look halfway decent, and definitely smell way better.”

Kat said, “I don’t know. She’s a walking disaster.”angels club

The horse drooped her head low again and slowly munched up a blade of hay.

My heart ached for her. I really think she knows exactly what we’re saying. Or most of it. “She may be a walking disaster right now, but she has the most beautiful eyes ever. Did ya see ’em? They’re so gorgeous, they pull me right in. Not only do they hold so much emotion, look at those curly lashes. They’re like dainty butterflies.”

“What, do they speeeeak to you?” Kat mocked with a wiggly dance.

“Yes, they do, as a matter of fact. And they say, ‘I’m better than this. Don’t judge me.’”

“Hey, can I help you clean her up tomorrow? Please?” Emily cried with one clap and pleading eyes.

I looked at Kat for her opinion and she shrugged that she didn’t care. “Yeah, sure,” I said, “if your mom doesn’t mind you being here all day. Giving her a bath’ll be a lofty job. We’ll want to see if she’s been handled too. We can definitely use more helping hands.”

“No, my mom’ll be thrilled I found something to do on my own. She’s always wanting me to make more friends.”

I cringed with a lop-sided sneer because my mom was always nagging me about the same thing, but Emily’s frown and head droop said she’d read my expression all wrong.

“You don’t want to be friends?” she creaked. “I thought … I thought…” Two giant tears rapidly formed and rolled down her cheeks in uneven streams. I didn’t think tears could form and melt that fast. “You two are the only kids who’ve looked me in the eye all week. Whether I’m on my crutches or in a wheelchair, people ignore me and act like they don’t see me at all.” Her voice started breaking like glass. “So, I was hoping, I mean, I just assumed …”

“No! We’re friends, we’re friends!” I cried, cutting her off and waving my hands. “Oh my gosh. Please don’t cry. Of course we can be friends. I don’t have a single friend in school, not one. So when I did that whole face scrunch thing, I was thinking about how my mom’s always badgering me too, not that I didn’t want to be your friend. Sorry.” I looked at Kat with insistent eyes and a finger wave to back me up.

Kat nodded and rubbed Emily’s shoulder. “Yeah, of course we can be friends. We’re always looking for more friends, Em. So don’t flip.”

“Never. Trust me. You wouldn’t wanna see my cartwheels,” Emily said, smiling big at her own joke and wiping her eyelids.

We all fell into a fit of laughter at that. I was glad she had a sense of humor about her condition.

“Why would people not wanna look at you though?” Kat asked. “I don’t get it. You’re so crazy-adorable. Wish my curls were glossy like yours. All I have is a pompom.”

Emily bit her lip and her eyes got shinier. “Well, my mom says people feel sad or awkward when they see me in a wheelchair, or my funny walk, and they don’t want to offend me by staring or saying the wrong thing. But I’d much rather get a stare or a blunt question than the pretending-I-don’t-see-you thing I usually get.”

“That’s so awful,” I said, rubbing her upper arm. “Not to mention rude.”

“It so is!” Kat cried. “See? That’s why I like to be loud and sarcastic. Being short puts me below the eye level of most, but my big mouth makes me impossible to miss or ignore. You should try talking to people first, to break the ice and show off your inner sparkle. Jacinda and I can help you with that.”

“I’d love that. Thanks. Uh, I’m so relieved.” Emily patted her chest with both hands. “I thought I was getting ditched again.”

“Nah. We squabble sometimes, but we never ditch. Right, Kat?”

“Yep.”

Emily wiped the lingering wet ribbons off her face, and the white mare, with her head turned, saw that and circled around and moseyed up to her. She rubbed against Emily’s face and licked her.

“Oh my goodness! What a lovey-dovey girl we have here,” I cried, patting our new equine friend. “She’s so sweet like Ginger and Sassy. Even after all the neglect and whatever else she’s been through, she’s trying to cheer you up and comfort you, Em. See? I told you there are some special horses who are just naturally angels.”

Emily curled her fingers under her nose. “Uck, although she stinks like she’s lived with a gang of wild hogs, that’s what you should call her.” She giggled at the horse’s eyelash tickle. She stroked the horse’s head. But, not ready for a slimy face-to-face smooch, she tried to shoo it back with her fingers.

Kat nudged the horse away from Em’s face.

“Call her what?” I said.

“Angel.”

“Nah, I was thinking, Dirt Digger myself,” Kat said with a sneer, brushing the mare’s filth off her fingers. “It’s so much more fitting.”

“We are not calling her Dirt Digger,” I spat.

Kat cracked up. “How about Toad then?”

“No,” I growled. “I really like Angel. It’s a good name for her. Thanks for suggesting it, Em. I bet if we can get her looking up to her natural glory, she really will look like an angel, or the swift-footed carrier of one. Maybe she’ll even look like a unicorn.” I scratched the mare under the chin and neck, and she lifted her head, telling me, more, more, more.

“Doubt that, but you can call her whatever you want,” Kat said. “She’s your horse.”

“She’s not mine … just my sweet-as-candy project horse.”

“I really like ‘Angel’ as her name. It’s perfect.” Emily beamed.

“Perfect? Ha,” Kat shrilled. “She’s so far from heavenly, even demons are pinching their noses and are racing away to find some sulfur to sniff. I’m not even lying when I say that’s the ugliest, most wretched horse I’ve ever seen in my twelve years of existence.”

“She’s not ugly,” I said, rubbing her back. “She just … needs some sprucing and primping.”

“Or a lit match.”

“Hey, cut it out!” I whacked Kat’s arm. “That’s not even funny.”

“You know I’m kidding! I hate to see any creatures in distress.”

“You’re twelve?” Emily cried. “Never would’a guessed that. You look younger than me.”

“Yeah, tell me about it,” Kat groaned, crossing her arms. “I was asked to play Baby Jesus in the church play last Christmas, but they changed their minds when they saw my tinsel teeth.” She grinned wide and goofy to show them off.

Emily bowled over, laughing and clutching her stomach.“Apparently, Jesus doesn’t really sparkle.”Emily kept on laughing.

“Shut up,” I bellowed. “She’s exaggerating. She does that. Like, constantly.”

Emily looked at Kat and then at me with a crinkled nose of confusion. “Last week, Jacinda, you said you were almost twelve and live right down the road. You don’t go to the same school?”

I shook my head with my lips curled in. “Nope. Annoyingly, I was held back in third, so I’m only in fifth now, which puts me embarrassingly in the same new school as my six-year-old sister, Tia. Being in a sea of mostly ten-year-olds, and younger, only makes me stand out like a freakish, lumbering giant.”

“You’re not that tall.”

“I’m 5’4″, and most of the kids stand beneath my shoulders.”

“We’re all pretty much freaks then,” Emily said. “We’ve got a gimp, a tree, a shortcake and a smelly disaster of a horse.”

“Hey! Don’t call yourself a gimp!” I yelled.

“Oh joy,” Kat muttered. “We’re like the Island of Misfit Toys. We should form our own club.”

I could tell by her sarcastic tone she was joking, but I nodded, loving the idea. “Yeah. We should.”

“I was joking!” she screeched with laughter.

“I know. But it’s a fab idea. I’m just not sure what our club should be about, but we’re all unique and talented in some way. So, I’m sure, combined, we can all put our hashtagable awesomeness to good use. Once we get Angel looking parade-worthy, we should, at the very least, try to find Angel’s previous owner. It’s not his fault he was hospitalized or whatever. We can send him pictures and some ‘Hope You Are Feeling Better’ cards. I really do hope he’s doing much better.”

“Me too. You have a really big heart, Jacinda,” Emily said with a smile. “I like that. It’s a great idea, one I should have thought of because I’ve certainly seen my share of hospitals. I know, just know, that man will love it. You were very patient with me, waiting for me to get up on the horse. You pushed me in exactly the way I needed without making me feel like a baby chicken. Hey! Maybe we should just do nice things for people and try to help whoever we can, especially other freaks like us.”

“Exactly.” I nodded with my smile sliding into an even bigger crescent moon. “The world is full of meanies. Each one of us here has been beaten down or ignored, so let’s be the opposite and try to make the world a little brighter. Instead of being more monsters in the mix, we can be angels instead.”

Emily’s bright smile said she adored the concept we came up with, and I took Kat’s nod of approval and shoulder shrug as good enough to be in too.

“Awesome!” I crossed my arms with a bounce of pride and elation. It was as ragtag and pitiful as this horse, and very tiny, but I had myself a club! An Angels Club.

Kissed!

Kissed banner copy

Today I’m thrilled to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for a new YA book–Kissed by Kimberly Loth. Check out the other stops on the tour, and click the links for more info or to buy!

The Power of Gratitude ~ A Guest Post by Kimberly Loth

The other day I had an interesting conversation with my husband. We were talking about the old days when were young, broke, and miserable. We always had families that we were friends with that we admired, people that seemed to have it all together. Truthfully, at times, we were green with envy. We wanted to have it all together too. How was that everything just fell into their laps. Plus, they were always so happy. I remember thinking, “Why did I get the short end of the stick?”

As we were reminiscing and walking down the streets of Cairo, I realized that we had become one of those families that had it all together. Honestly, our circumstances haven’t changed that much. We’re still broke most of the time, but we are happy. We have fantastic kids, jobs we love, and a good healthy marriage. Plus we live in Egypt and I just published my book. Life seriously doesn’t get any better than this.

Yet, I have colleagues who are in the same position we are and they’re still miserable. So what changed? Why are we happy and others are not?

One word. Attitude.

Particularly and attitude of gratitude (no, I didn’t make that up, but I can’t remember where I heard it.)

We thank God everyday for the blessings in our lives. Even on days when those blessings are hard to find, we express our thanks. But it doesn’t stop there. I ALWAYS say Thank You. Always. Sometimes multiple times. Those two little words are the most powerful words the universe. They aren’t hard to say and take almost no time at all. Yet they show the person that did something for you or gave you something that you appreciated it.

When I published my book, I wasn’t expecting the amount of support I received. I mean, I knew I would be supported, but I was blown away by how much people were willing to do to promote my book. Everyone has been so wonderful. My readers, reviewers, bloggers, friends, family, my team (agent, publicist, cover designer, etc), and a multitude of others that I can’t remember at the moment.

Without thinking much about it, I went about expressing my gratitude to those that helped me. It’s become a habit by now and part of me just assumed that everyone said thanks. It’s not hard, right? But something unexpected happened when I started writing all my thank you emails (well over a hundred). Bloggers would email me back and tell me that they appreciated my thanks because it was so rare to get that from an author.

Do you want to be happy? Say Thank You.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for your support. And as they say here in Egypt “Humdallah” (thank God).

kissed

Buy the Book for only 99 cents  http://amzn.to/1oeQAPf

 

About the Book

Naomi is rescued from her impending nuptials by the mysterious Kai who sends her off to Vegas with a sweet kiss and a promise of only a short time apart. But there Naomi meets Puck, a boy with wine colored hair and kisses that rival Kai’s. Soon Naomi is swept into a glamorous world where kisses hold power and not is all is at it first appears. Soon she must choose, freedom but heartache or love and captivity.

 

About the Author

Kimberly Loth can’t decide where she wants to settle down. She’s lived in Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Utah, California, Oregon, and South Carolina. She finally decided to make the leap and leave the U.S. behind for a few years. Currently, she lives in Cairo, Egypt with her husband and two kids.

She is a high school math teacher by day (please don’t hold that against her) and YA author by night. She loves romantic movies, chocolate, roses, and crazy adventures. Kissed is her first novel.

 Connect with the Author

Facebook

Website

Goodreads

Amazon

Twitter

 

Now Booking Blogs for September!

Microsoft Word - Document4

NOW BOOKING!!

This September I will be hosting a BACK TO SCHOOL BLOG HOP featuring all five of my books. I’m currently looking for bloggers who would like to post.

You will receive:

*blog button
*my bio, picture, links
*all five book covers, blurbs, links

In return, you sign up for a day (or more) to:

*post one or more book details as sent to you
*OR post an interview (send me the questions soon!)
*OR post a book review (email me–I’ll send you a free copy to review)
*OR post a guest post that I will write and send you

All of my books are historical fantasy or historical fiction, YA appropriate with wider audience appeal. Email me if you are interested or have questions.

 

A New Adventure for EOLYN

Eolyn_Audio Cover compressedThose of you who read my reviews or are former students know how much I love the novel Eolyn by Karin Rita Gastreich. Today I have the honor of hosting the next stop on the blog tour for the audio book version of Eolyn. Below you’ll find a post by Karin, links to purchase, and lots of other goodies.

I am especially thrilled to post this article about how the forests of the Pacific Northwest inspired Karin’s forest in Eolyn. I spent many wonderful camping trips in similar forests when I was a child, so I connected even more strongly to East Selen.

PREVIEW  audio version here.

Buy all versions of EOLYN here.

Born of Fire: The Forests of East Selen

By Karin Rita Gastreich

 Earlier in this tour, I talked about the forests that inspired Eolyn’s childhood home in the South Woods. Before we close our official celebration of the release of the audio edition of EOLYN, I want to spend some time talking about the other great forests of the Kingdom of Moisehén.

The eastern border of Eolyn’s homeland consists of a vast, crescent-shaped swath of woodland that extends from the Paramen Mountains in the south to the towering peaks of the Surmaeg in the north.

The southern reaches of this forest, where Eolyn was born, are dominated by ancient oaks and other deciduous trees. As one travels north, the oak-dominated forests give way to dense stands of towering firs, reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest of the United States.

During the summer of 2011, I had the opportunity to participate in the Long Term Ecological Reflections program at Andrews Experimental Forest in the Cascade Range of Oregon. This fantastic experience immersed me in the type of forest that I have always associated with East Selen, the birthplace of Akmael’s mother, Queen Briana.

Andrews Forest Old Growth

photo by Rafael Aguilar Chaves

Mage Corey, an important character in Eolyn’s journey, is also a child of East Selen. By the time Eolyn meets Corey, the powerful clan that comprised his family and once ruled these forests is gone, having perished under the wrath of the Mage King Kedehen. Through a special concession secured by Queen Briana, these lands nonetheless remain in Corey’s hands. Though Corey spends most of his life elsewhere, he forever considers the forests of East Selen his true home.

Like Andrews Forest, East Selen is dominated by ancient fir and hemlock. Each tree stretches in a stunning pillar toward the sky, trunks solid and wide at the base with a dark and deeply furrowed bark, living records of the passage of time. Moss drapes over high branches, large stones, and fallen logs. The breeze is cool and crisp during the summer months and bitterly cold at the height of winter.

Crystalline streams cut through this landscape in sparkling ribbons. One of the untold stories of Eolyn’s world is that Briana and Kedehen, like Eolyn and Akmael, began their friendship on the banks of one of these rivers.

Andrews Forest Lookout Creek

photo by Rafael Aguilar Chaves

According to the beliefs of Magas and Mages, forest streams are places of meeting and transformation. Here the sun breaks through the dense cover of trees and mingles freely with earth and water along a thin corridor of open air. With the forest canopy held at bay, there is very little that can hide. Plants and animals that wouldn’t stand a chance in the forest deep often find a foothold here. Streams provide unique habitats where creatures from different worlds can coexist.

According to the legends of Moisehén, the great firs of East Selen have a special relationship with Dragon, the entity that brought High Magic to humankind. Firs are ‘conceived by fire’. Their seeds only germinate after flames have ravaged the forest, leaving open stands of charred trunks and prickly undergrowth. Among Eolyn’s people, wildfires are believed to be started by the breath of Dragon. This breath confers upon fir seeds a magic and power shared by no other tree in the forest. It is through the use of the fir branches that mages and magas achieve the power of flight.

If you would like to experience something similar to the forests of East Selen, visit the ancient woodlands of the Pacific Northwest. With some patience and a little imagination, you will hear the voice of magic on the wind. Perhaps you will also catch a glimpse of the spirit of Maga Briana, laughing while she dances through forests she loves.

Intrigued? You should be! If not, here is a teaser for Eolyn:  Sole heiress to a forbidden craft, Eolyn lives in a world where women of her kind are tortured and burned. When she meets Akmael, destined to assume the throne of this violent realm, she embarks upon a path of adventure, friendship, betrayal and war. Bound by magic, driven apart by destiny, Eolyn and the Mage King confront each other in an epic struggle that will determine the fate of a millennial tradition of magic.

And here is a link to my review of Eolyn

And here are the people behind the new audio version:

About the Narrator:

With experience of 34+ years as a Speech-Language Pathologist, more than 20 years as a stage & film actor and over 20 years as a trained singer with knowledge and insight into the mechanics of the voice and speech, Darla Middlebrook brings a wealth of experience to bear to develop character voices (male, female, mature, extremely elderly, creepy, bright exotic, etc) with an impressive emotional range.​

Currently, Darla is one of many voice actors who narrates podcasts for AIRS-LA (an audio internet service for individuals with visual challenges) in addition to narrating audio books. She is able to produce retail quality audio books from her home studio in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan – Canada.

 

Narrator Web Links:

 Website: http://www.darlasvoice.net/Karin Rita Gastreich
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/damiddlebrook
Twitter: @GypsyCatVoice

 

About the Author:

KARIN RITA GASTREICH lives in Kansas City and Costa Rica. An ecologist by trade, her past times include camping, hiking, music, and flamenco dance. Karin’s first fantasy novel, EOLYN, was released by Hadley Rille Books in 2011. The companion novel, HIGH MAGA, is also available from Hadley Rille Books. Karin’s short stories have appeared in Zahir, Adventures for the Average Woman, 69 Flavors of Paranoia, and A Visitor to Sandahl.   She is a recipient of the Spring 2011 Andrews Forest Writer’s Residency. Follow Karin’s adventures into fantastic worlds, both real and imagined, at http://eolynchronicles.blogspot.com and at http://heroinesoffantasy.blogspot.com.

Win a Free Copy of My Book!

final coverToday UNDER THE ALMOND TREES is featured on the historical fiction blog Novel Pastimes.

There’s  an interview with yours truly then a question. Answer the question (it’s an easy one–your opinion) and you’re entered to win a free copy of the book. Pass it on!

DAY TWO interview is up on Novel Pastimes. Check it out. You know you want to.

Excerpt From Under the Almond Trees

From Chapter 8, Ellen 1871final cover

Yellow has always been a color that is sunny, bright, and optimistic. No coincidence then that the suffrage movement has adopted it. This afternoon the hall we rent at the new Unity Church glows yellow. Early spring roses and daffodils, from the gardens of the ladies assembled here, fill tables covered in yellow cloth. The Women’s Suffrage Association gathers in style, as they have for the past year.

Issues raise their heads and roar, each one clouding the main cause of the vote. I support temperance and abolition, but I long to vote. In Santa Cruz, my Women’s Suffrage Association works with the churches and the other ladies’ clubs to bring progress to each of our causes. There is a lot of work to do, but at least suffrage now has a face in our fair town.

“Good evening, Mrs. VanValkenburgh.” The speaker is younger than I am, but a married woman. “So glad to be a part of this fine effort.”

“Yes, Mrs. Hihn, thank you again for coming,” I tell her with a polite smile.

“She says that every month,” L’Amie, standing beside me, whispers.

“Yes, dear sister, but her husband is a member of the County Assembly and has real power to help us.” For two years L’Amie has been back at my side where she belongs.

A few men, mostly husbands of the members, sit in a row of chairs along the back wall. I wish I could measure the depth of their devotion to the cause so as to determine if and when they are willing to act. I fear most are merely waiting for their wives.

Continuing to scan the room, I spot Marion pouring tea at the refreshment table. My oldest daughter has excellent posture, poise, and erudition, and her character is above reproach. Not bad for fifteen years old. When Mama passed three years ago, she left us money that keeps us housed and fed and pays for the simple but stylish dresses we wear. It is not enough, however, to fill the space she left in my heart or to attract a suitor for Marion. My political views are even more of a detriment, and now she has allied herself with the suffragists, possibly sealing her fate as a radical spinster. Her entire life has been molded by strong women with strong ideas, though, and I am proud of the young woman she is becoming.

The president’s gavel brings the meeting to order, and I see Mrs. Hihn hurry to sit with Mrs. Kirby and Mrs. Blackburn and Mrs. Manor. They are the elite of Santa Cruz society, leaders of every civic group that supports the arts and the downtrodden. Their presence is a benediction, but I need warriors. They’ve not yet proven themselves as such.

“Hundreds of those freed negroes have arrived in Santa Cruz County,” our president, Mrs. Howay, declares with just the right mix of pride and horror.

Having yielded my year-long presidency to the pretty woman with more vision than action, I stifle a groan. Abolition of slavery is a victory, even if it means former slaves will be our neighbors. The women here don’t all agree. Heads nod, but are accompanied by nervous titters. I am tired of nervous titters. I am tired of head nods, too. We must do something to make our struggle visible to the community.

“Actually, the group was not that large.” Marion’s interruption draws attention, and a roomful of skirts rustle as everyone turns toward her. “They joined a negro group already in Watsonville. That is not the issue.”

“She’s magnificent, Ellen,” L’Amie whispers.

I agree. Marion is afire with youthful passion, idealism at its best, clad in one of her first grown-up floor-length skirts.

“What, pray tell, is the issue?” Mrs. Howay’s tone is frostier than it should be. I frown in her direction. All other eyes are on my daughter, who reminds me of L’Amie at the same age.

“The Fifteenth Amendment has been ratified. Those negroes will be voting on our new trustee.” Silence follows her words, and I know Marion has captured them. Everyone’s face reflects outraged horror at the idea of negro men being able to vote but not fine upstanding female citizens. The trustee election will put a new member on the board that runs our county and our town.

“Whatever will we do?” A theatrical gasp punctuates Mrs. Howay’s words. It’s a blatant attempt to retake control of the meeting. It doesn’t work.

Marion is young. She has made her observation, but has no idea what to do now. She looks to me, panic starting to show on her face. Last year, when I started this organization, I was proud to serve as its first president. The ladies are eager to attend the meetings, but they dither about like a flock of chickens with a dog in the pen—lots of noise and motion, but no progress. They read the newspapers from New York and San Francisco. They held a grand party when Wyoming women won the vote in 1867, and they elected Mrs. Howay for our second president. Clearly they are lost. They need a leader. I step forward.

“The Fourteenth Amendment clearly states that all persons born in the United States are citizens. The Fifteenth Amendment prohibits the government from denying citizens the right to vote.” At my words Marion smiles with relief, and the others are listening. “I think we should take advantage of that and register to vote in the next election.”

A cacophony of clucking erupts.

“But those amendments were meant for the negroes!”

“Can we do that?”

“The Sentinel would support us.”

“The Surf would ridicule us!”

“My husband would not approve.”

That last comment deadens the room. More than one of the ladies present agrees, or suspects it’s true. I’m not sure how many will risk disapproval that will rock their homes, but I must continue. “We can sit here and sip tea, whining about what we want, or we can go get it. Some of our opponents say that women wouldn’t vote if they had the right. We can refute that. The election is in April. That gives us a month.”

Mrs. Howay proves she has worth. “An excellent idea, Mrs. VanValkenburgh. Shall we vote on the idea?”

A motion is quickly made and seconded. It passes. We’ll be showing up to vote at the trustee election. Somber faces look at me.

“All of us?” I ask.

“I don’t think that will happen,” a reluctant voice near Marion says.

“Maybe we can elect a representative,” suggests Mrs. Howay.

Everyone’s already looking at me. They continue to do so as my name is suggested, a motion made and seconded, and the vote taken. Not long ago, L’Amie would have been included, but she is to be married later this week. She will be on her wedding trip during my attempt to register for the vote.

“Mrs. Ellen VanValkenburgh will be our representative. She will present herself to the registrar’s office for the next election.” I can’t decide if Mrs. Howay is proud of me or relieved they didn’t ask this of her.

A wail from the back corner announces that my younger children are bored with the proceedings and beginning to bicker. At nine, Henry’s main source of amusement seems to be eliciting a shriek from his twelve-year-old sister, usually with a pinch. Ellie obliges, her blue eyes outraged. Marion hurries over to chastise her brother and soothe her sister, but the mood is broken and the meeting adjourns.

 

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