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I am so blown away and proud of this article/interview with me by author/artist, Lisa Redfern. It is chock full of useful information, Google Maps to locations in Denmark mentioned in The King’s Consort-The Louise Rasmussen Story, and so much more! I couldn’t be more honoured to have inspired such an undertaking. Well done, Lisa!

Redfern Studio Blog

With online search tools and DNA testing, tracing family tree genealogy is easier than ever. What’s a writer to do when a famous or (infamous) skeleton is found lurking in the closet? Write about it, of course!

downloadCanadian author Debbie McClure is known and loved for her paranormal romance books. Louise Rasmussen (Countess Danner from Denmark) has been part of Debbie’s oral family history for as long as she remembers.  This year, she published The King’s Consort: The Louise Rasmussen Story. 

I asked Debbie if she’d share her process for bringing biographical fiction to life.

“Historical fiction is meant to engage, entertain,
and perhaps even educate the reader
regarding people of history who
intrigue and inspire us.”
~ Debbie McClure

When did you first become interested in Louise Rasmussen?

Debbie McClure (age seventeen) and Morfar (Grandfather Rasmussen) 1976 Debbie Jackson McClure (age 17) and Morfar – Grandfather Rasmussen 1976

I was a teenager when my mother told me a…

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typing-clipart-typing-on-computerI’m humbled and thrilled to receive my first 5 star review for The King’s Consort-The Louise Rasmussen Story.

When a reader takes the time to write a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or their blog, they are not only reaching out to other readers, they are reaching out to the author. After countless hours, months, years, the writer sits on the edge of his/her seat, waiting to see if anyone out there actually enjoys the story, as they’ve told it. We are anxious mother hens, hovering over our chick, pushing it forward, clucking away, and full of nervous excitement.

Reviews also affect the discoverability of a writer’s work on on-line venues, and in bricks-and-mortar stores. Just like word-of-mouth, it helps spread the word about a new release, or a book that’s been around a while. Places like Amazon use something called algorithms to help place the book in line with others of it’s kind, and rise it in the ranks of scores of other books. The more reviews a book gets, the higher up the line it rises, thereby making it easier for potential readers to discover. No one seems to know exactly how these algorithms work, but it is vital to the success of a book, and of course, to the writer and publisher.

When considering a new book, I know I check the reviews first, just like I do when considering whether or not to book a hotel. It isn’t that I rely on that information only when buying a book, but when I see a pattern (positive or negative), it sways my decision-making. I combine that information with my opinion of the cover art and back cover blurb, and if I like what I see, I’ll lay my money down.

Reviews may also help bookstores decide which books they give valuable shelf space to. Their business is to sell books, so it makes sense that a bookstore is going to want to place books that are more likely to sell.

Finally, (honest) reviews help the writer determine whether or not they’ve hit their mark with the story. It gives us much needed feedback, and feeds the fires of inspiration to keep us moving ahead with the next book, and the next, and the next.

shout-outBut how do you write a review? Honestly, it’s easy. Once you’ve finished reading a book, go to Amazon and set up your (free) account (most countries have their own Amazon sites). Next, search for the title or author, and click on that book. This brings you to the book’s sales page. Just below the author’s name you’ll see a series of five stars. Beside that you’ll see a line that states how many reviews that particular book has. Click on that, and it’ll bring you to a new page that gives all the reviews that book has received to date. Beside the star review, you’ll see an area that says “Write a customer review”. Click on that and follow the prompts. If you’ve read a book on a Kindle or via Kindle app, at the end of the book you’ll be taken to a “review” page, so this is where you can easily leave a review. Amazon, and other e-venues, is trying to make this really easy for readers, because they know how valuable your feedback is.

As for the portion where you can leave a comment, it can be as long or as brief as you like. Read through a few others on that book or any others to get an idea. It doesn’t have to be brilliant. It doesn’t have to be perfectly worded. It just has to be honest. Typically, it’s helpful to explain what you liked (or didn’t like) about the book. In some cases you can give a brief synopsis (no spoilers though, please), or not, and a recommendation, such as “I’d highly recommend this book to other lovers of _____.”

Once you’ve submitted your review, Amazon will notify you that it has been accepted, and what’s really cool, is that if your review proves helpful to another reader, you’ll receive an email notification to tell you.

On behalf of all writers out there, and for me, thank you for your incredible support. It means more to us than you know!

Finally, do you read reviews before purchasing? If so, tell us why. If not, share your reasons.

 

 

 

 

 

louise-rasmussen

 

 

 

 

Over the past several years it’s taken me (yes, about two years in total) to write The King’s Consort-The Louise Rasmussen Story, I’ve had many people ask me why I decided to write a (bio) historical fiction novel. This is a small departure from the genre of my first two titles, which were paranormal romances (soon to be re-released). I say a small departure because the romantic lead male in those novels is the ghost of an English Lord, Sir Richard Abbottsford.

The truth is, I’ve wanted to write this story for a long time; ever since my mother told me her paternal family may be related to Louise Rasmussen, Countess Danner. Intrigued, I listened with avid interest as my mother told me about Louise—a woman who was born the illegitimate daughter of a seamstress and became a ballerina with the Royal Danish Ballet, then married King Frederik VII of Denmark in the mid-1800s.

I’ve always been fascinated by strong women who step beyond their “station” in life and live remarkable lives, thereby affecting the lives of others around them. Seldom do those in positions of power accept these women. Often, the opposite is true. They are vilified and called terrible names in an attempt to keep them in their so-called “place”. But if not for women like Louise, significant, lasting reforms and changes might not ever have been made. In my eyes, these women are heroes. They accept the unwanted challenges placed before them and forge ahead. I don’t believe these women have no fear. In fact, I imagine they experience a great deal of fear. To be denigrated for being born into a certain social caste must be a terrible burden that women all over the world still suffer today. To be seen as unworthy of high achievement is demoralizing and tremendously difficult to overcome. Yet these women choose to take up the battles anyway.

Why do they do it? I don’t know for sure, but I expect that some do it out of an inability to accept injustice. Perhaps some do it to right terrible social wrongs, and I imagine that some do it because they come to understand that they can. I doubt any of the strong women of history, or of today, rejoice in the negative light they are portrayed in, or who suffer strong consequences for their actions and their voicing of injustice. As with Countess Danner, who at the end of her life created a safe house for poor and abused women, unwed mothers and their children (that still exists today), the road that lead them to take such unprecedented action would have been extremely difficult.

,

Danner, Copenhagen, Denmark

Danner, Copenhagen, Denmark

The fact that Louise and many other women like her didn’t have to do what they did, speaks volumes to me about their character. For instance, by the time Countess Danner created what fondly became known as Danner House (Dannerhuset), in Copenhagen, Denmark, she had married King Frederik VII. She had money, land, and a respectable title. She could have chosen to live a very comfortable life and ignore the plight of the poor women of her country. Instead, having grown up poor and giving birth to her own illegitimate son, she took it upon herself to do something about a social plight that she understood all too well. Initially unable to find a suitable location for her women’s shelter, she opened a portion of her home at Jaegerspris Castle, to the women who so desperately needed such a facility. Today, Jaegerspris Castle is open to the public as a museum, with tributes to King Frederik VII and Countess Danner.

It seems to me that when women decide to take up a tremendous challenge, they don’t do it lightly. They seldom do it for fame, money, or social position. In fact, most of these women go into battle knowing they are alone and stand to lose a great deal. In some cases, they lose everything, including their lives or the lives of those they love. There can be no greater service, and the chances of success are negligible. They risk all for others.

No, I believe these women undertake such risks because they see a need and realize that no one is going to do anything to change it, if they don’t do it themselves. They have a vision for a different life for others. They do it for love of humanity. I believe they do it because they feel they must.

The legacy these women leave behind isn’t always felt on a huge or global scale. Sometimes it’s very small, affecting only those whose lives they immediately touch. Sometimes the cause is taken up by others, who continue it long after the woman who first sought to make significant change has died. They inspire others to follow suit, thereby ensuring the vision lives on long after their own years on this earth have passed. What an incredible gift.

So, the reason I wrote The King’s Consort is because I felt compelled to do so. I felt that Louise, whether it is ever proven that I and my maternal family are related to her or not (no, I haven’t gone down that road yet, but I will) deserves to be recognized for her contribution to the women of Denmark. Her story is a remarkable one that I wanted to share with others, not just because she rose from nothing to marry a king, but because she loved with all her heart, and was loved in return. She gave back to others with a generosity of heart that history seldom recognizes her for. Together she and King Frederik VII made significant contributions to the country and people they loved, and in my eyes, that deserves to be written about and held up as an example of what we are all capable of, if we choose.

Please share with us who some of the strong women of today or yesterday are that you admire, and why?

Note: The King’s Consort-The Louise Rasmussen Story is a work of fiction based on the life of Louise Rasmussen, Countess Danner of Denmark. Although many events and people in this story are real, the story has been fictionalized for entertainment purposes, and is not intended to replace historical facts.

Highly Recommend

Highly Recommend

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well Worth The Read

The Seven Year Dress took me back to a terrible time in Germany’s history – the Holocaust. Told from the point of view of a young girl coming of age, the reader comes to understand what that experience must have been like. This heart-wrenching story had me in tears, smiling, and sick at the many inexplicable injustices done to other human beings. It also reminded me of what’s important – life, love, humanity. Mahurin has penned an incredible tale that will reside with me for a very long time. For those who love historical fiction with real grit and honesty, I highly recommend this book.

Life BalanceFor those who’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ve likely noticed I’ve been suspiciously absent in my posts for some time. The reason is simple; life keeps getting in the way.

I didn’t set out to let this happen. Each day and each week kept getting busier and busier with so much stuff, and I told myself I’d get back to my blog next week. I didn’t. Then I realized I needed time to attend to life’s duties and the increasing demands to get my current WIP edited and in to my publisher. For those who aren’t writers, let me tell you, editing is a loooong, sloooow process that drives writers crazy. We can’t hurry it along (although we desperately want to), and we can’t take short cuts. It takes as long as it takes, and it’s not the fun part of writing. Still, it’s absolutely essential to creating something you want to put out there in a public format and ask people to purchase with their hard-earned dollars. In the end, it’s time well spent.

I’m also working with a new publisher, Books We Love (BWL). They are a Canadian publishing company that I have to say that I’m enjoying working with so far. They’ve been quick to respond to my emails and questions, and they’re diligent about staying on top of everything from editing to cover art and final preps for publishing a book. I like that, but it does mean I’m having to learn (and in some cases, re-learn) what I thought I knew about publishing, but that’s all to the good too.

The problem, as I was starting to see it, is that life kept getting in the way of my writing work. I started resenting not having the time to attend to my duties as a writer, or get the next blog posts written and published, or even breathing, it seemed.

Stumbling blockSo, I’m headed down one road when suddenly I’m tripping and stumbling over blocks in the road. I’m thrown on my ass, and it takes a while to figure out which way is up. We’re still dealing with the realities of aging parents and Alzheimer’s with my mother-in-law, a disease that we’ve all learned to hate (are there any diseases we don’t hate?). We’re coping.

Then I had a set-back with my own health issues. I have Sjogren’s Syndrome . The dry eyes and mouth associated with the condition worsened in about that same March/April time frame. Stress? Maybe. The problem really became a problem when my eyes became so dry, despite multiple applications of special eye drops a day, that my vision was impaired. For about two weeks I really couldn’t see well enough to drive. I had to have my husband drive me to a memoir writing workshop I was giving in a nearby town, and after the workshop I had to hightail it into the bathroom to insert more drops for the drive home. Eventually that issue resolved itself as well and I’m back to normal, whatever normal is for me.

I was actually going along pretty good for a month or so, until we put our park model home on the market so we wouldn’t be carrying two residences each month. Good news. We sold it. Woo Hoo! Oh, then I realized I would have to leave the wonderful area of Grand Bend and Port Franks, Ontario and live only in the city. That really bummed me out for a while. I also knew I’d miss the “mini house” and all the memories associated with it. I’d miss living up near the lake and being able to slip down to the beach at a moment’s notice. I was sad to be putting aside another chapter in my life.

Along with the sale came the stress of moving everything we owned out of it and figuring out what the heck to do with all the stuff we’d accumulated there over the course of five years! I’d just moved back to the city in December, remember? Now I was having to downsize yet again, and amalgamate, give away, or throw away more stuff. That all takes time. Time I wasn’t writing. Time I wasn’t editing. Time I wasn’t blogging, or reviewing books, or interviewing other writers.

ConnectionWhat I did do was stay current on social media through all of it. It kept my hand in the game, which kept me up to date on what’s been happening with who. I read writing related articles of interest galore. I wrote when I could. I edited when I could. I gave myself permission to do what needed to be done and not beat myself up too much over it. I also periodically vented to my husband. He’s an excellent listener, so his ears got a good workout. I’m grateful for his patience, believe me!

This past six months has served to remind me that I can’t control everything. I have to “Let go, and let God,” as I’ve heard the expression said. I’ve learned that sometimes good enough has to be good enough. I also knew that some things would just have to work themselves out. I consoled myself over the sale of my mini-house by acknowledging that it was a good, sound financial decision to sell. The single woman who bought it was thrilled to have her own little place with a good-sized garden and beautiful view of the wooded area across the street. I’m sure my old neighbours welcome her into their midst, and I sincerely hope that she’s able to settle in and make it her own.

Blue Starburst by Debbie McClure

Blue Starburst by Debbie McClure

Surprising, to me at least, is the fact that I discovered a new creative outlet. I began experimenting with acrylic abstract painting and I love it! I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler (my son, brother, and grandson can, but I’m hopeless). What I do have is imagination and a good eye for colour, or so I think. I’ve even started doing a few large paintings for family and friends who’ve requested them, so that’s pretty cool. I’m not a professional painter, by any means, and I’ve hated some of what I’ve created, but as with writing, I can go back and fine-tune, or erase what I’ve done and start over. It’s become a great stress reducer, and I believe it stretches my imagination in other ways I hadn’t encountered before. It’s also a great way to just zone out, and sometimes that means I’m able to work through writing issues, without having to actually work at it. I like that.

The King's Consort Cover ArtIn the meantime, I’m happy to announce that my most recent (bio) historical fiction novel is finally done! This book has been a long labour of love, since my mother tells me her paternal great aunt claimed we are related to Louise Rasmussen, Countess Danner. Whether it’s true or not, I became intrigued by Louise and King Frederik VII of Denmark’s remarkable love story, and knew I had to write my (fictionalized) version of it. For information and a brief synopsis of the story, head over to the Amazon link provided below.

The great news is that my publisher let me know that we’re looking at an e-book release date of September 10th, 2016 for The King’s Consort-The Louise Rasmussen Story, followed by a print release a few weeks later. For anyone interested in ordering their copy right away, it’s available for pre-order now (see link above). I’m so excited! I’m also extremely nervous (that’s another post). It has taken me two years to get this book to this point, and now I’m standing on the threshold of seeing all that hard work come to fruition. Yikes! I truly hope you enjoy it, and if so, please consider leaving an honest review on Amazon (it really, really helps the writer), email me, or drop me a line on the blog, and of course, share the news with your family and friends.

As for what’s next, well, I’m in the process of getting my first two books, In The Spirit Of Love and In The Spirit Of Forgiveness, re-released – complete with new cover art and titles (details to follow once I have them). My plan is to re-release these two books and follow them up with a new series that continues Sir Richard and Claire’s story, and adventures. I’m really excited about that too, so check my website periodically, or social media sites, for new information. I have a second (bio) historical romance novel I started working on several months ago, and am itching to get back to, so it’s in the works for a little further down the line.

I’ve settled into our city house and am loving my little courtyard garden. The weather has been hot and summery. My family are all doing well, and I have my life back—for now. I know life will rear its head again soon, but today I’ll celebrate the good things and not worry about what’s around the corner.

We all go through life challenges. How have you dealt with some of yours lately? Share ideas for what’s worked for you – you never know who might benefit from your insight and wisdom. Thank you for sticking with me, and I’ll talk to you soon. Promise!

COVER REVEAL!

Cover Reveal!

Cover Reveal!

I couldn’t be more excited to share the cover art for my latest novel, The King’s Consort-The Louise Rasmussen Story, a new bio historical fiction that I’m told will be released in the next month or two!

Stay tuned for details in the coming months.

Many thanks to my publisher, BWL (Books We Love), and cover artist, Michelle Lee!

 

Write On The Beach

Write On The Beach

This weekend I wrapped up a 2 day inaugural writers’ workshop I was co-hosting. It was a ton of work, but an extremely exciting and successful event – which is what really matters. I’ve never attempted anything on this scale, and bringing together 4 diverse, very successful authors to Grand Bend to teach 90 minute workshops to an equally diverse audience of new and “wannabe” writers proved to be no small challenge.

We couldn’t have done it, and done it so well, if not for the help of my partners-in-crime, Mary Alderson and Jonathon Roulston. Of course without the financial grant support of the Grand Bend Community Foundation, the Lambton County Creative County Fund, and the Grand Bend Art Centre, none of it would have been possible. I’m incredibly grateful for these groups and individuals who pulled together to make this entire event and weekend a success. Our instructors were also a real treat to work with. Jeff Rasley, Alicia Rasley, Bonnie Burnard, and Robyn Doolittle are professionals of the very finest merit. Their wisdom, humour, and expertise were appreciated by everyone. Judging by the comments I received from attendees, each session was chock full of insightful, helpful information and take-aways.

Grand Bend Harbour

Grand Bend Harbour

One of our added goals was to increase awareness of Grand Bend, Lambton Shores, and all we have to offer residents and visitors. Long known for our beautiful, wide sandy beaches, incredible sunsets, beach town vibe and family-friendly restaurants and activities, we wanted to showcase Grand Bend’s cultural and creative side as well. Visitors to the workshop, including instructors Jeff and Alicia Rasley who travelled from Indianapolis, Indiana, came away impressed by Grand Bend, and stated more than once that they’ll be back.

These are all true win-wins for everyone involved. I like that. It also means we’ll definitely be going ahead and doing one again next year, so stay tuned next spring for details.

 

 

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