Category Archives: Grace’s Pictures

I’m Building a Street Team! Details here:

Thank you so much to everyone who read Grace’s Pictures and took time to post a review. I’m so happy so many of you liked the book! That is why I’m asking readers like you if you’d be interested in joining my launch team (or street team) for the next book, Annie’s Stories, due out July 2014. It’s critical that this book get off to a great start so that I will be able to continue to bring you more stories. Critical, truly. This is a call to arms! Are you interested in helping?
If so, here is what I’m looking for:
People who…
  • ·      Are willing to post reviews as close to the launch date as possible. (I can see that you get an advanced reader copy a few months prior.)
  • ·      Have a following of at least 100 people on his/her blog and/or at least 200 followers on Facebook or Twitter.
  • ·      Are willing to tweet and/or Facebook about the book’s launch at least once per day during the week of the book’s launch. (Street team members will have access to pre-written tweets and Facebook statuses to copy and paste.)
  • ·      Are willing to request that the book be purchased at his/her’s local library.
  • ·      Are willing to contact local bookstores to request the book.
  • ·      Have creative ideas to help my series reach readers.

Think that might be you? I have limited spots, so please answer the questions below and email (cindyswriting @gmail .com) or message me the answers. I will choose the Street Team members from there, but everyone who responds will get something in return for his/her trouble.
  • Are you on any other Street Teams?
  • What are your favorite books?
  • Are you on social media? If so, what are your numbers on Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Your blog? Etc.?
  • Do you have connections with local groups or organizations that you believe you could tap into to help promote me and my book? List them.
  • What ideas do YOU have to help promote me and my book that you’d be willing to spearhead?
  • Are you able to commit for a full year?
What’s in for you?
  • ·      A free signed copy of Annie’s Stories (not just the ARC.)
  • ·      Annie’s stories, the short stories Annie’s father wrote to her, mentioned in the novel. I will send them to you as soon as each is available. The first one is nearing completion now.
  • ·      One free Skype or Twitter chat with your group of five or more.
  • ·      Coffee with me if I happen to be in your area and we can meet up.
  • ·      Wee gifts and surprises. 🙂

Thanks again for reading and rating Grace’s Pictures!

Immigration: Hot Topic Then and Now

I don’t have to tell you immigration is a hot topic in America today. Congress has been debating a bill all summer it seems. Who is here legally? Who has rights? Who doesn’t? Who will take jobs from Americans? What immigration regulations need to be tightened or changed?

Sounds right out of today’s headlines, doesn’t it? But these are questions debated during the time I set my novel, Grace’s Pictures.

Of course, the headlines weren’t at all politically correct back then.

Harpers Illustration from 1898

And if you want to go further back in history you’ll find those living in America discriminating against the new arrivals for as long as we’ve been recording our history.

There surely are important issues to settle. I’m not about to debate them here. But even so it never ceases to amaze me how history repeats itself. The above headline (or more accurately, sub headline) appeared in the New York Times, December 23, 1901. In the article one of the points to be addressed by Congress was:

“To add to the present law whatever seems to be necessary to meet the advanced judgment of those who have been studying the immigration question carefully for the last quarter of a century.”

Cartoon from 1928.

It seems what was deemed necessary was to increase a “head tax” on aliens, triple it actually. They were concerned that the immigrations would become a burden, “criminals and paupers.” Tracking these individuals would be costly, thus the need to tax them. Anyone with a contagious disease, the insane, anyone likely to become a public charge was to be deported. Likewise polygamists, anarchists, prostitutes and those bringing in prostitutes. In addition, anyone who was promised work in America
was to be deported. They could work after they got here, but no one needing labor was to look for it outside of the US instead of employing Americans already here. Interesting, huh? There were exclusions for musicians, actors, ministers, or those to be employed in domestic service. It’s getting really complicated, isn’t it?

The article writer concludes that those who have examined this new bill claim it is “quite up to date, that it is built intelligently on the experience of those who have been administering the immigration laws for years, and that it does justice to all interests which it affects.”

Well, we can only hope our officials will keep this in mind today.

Win!! Prints That Inspired Grace’s Pictures

Update: Mandy is the winner! Thanks for entering, everyone. If you’d like me to run another contest like this, just ask! 🙂

I would love to give these four prints away to one of my readers. If I get a good response, I may do it again and perhaps add some different ones. You can use these for crafts (lots of inspiration over on Pinterest!) or just frame them as a set. They are printed on book pages (not my book, but a library discard!) The photos are in the public domain, and I think they are quite charming. They helped inspire me as I wrote Grace’s Pictures. What do you think?

Not crafty? Send one of your friends over and remind her you have a birthday coming up! 😉

What Police Corruption?

History of Police Corruption

In Grace’s Pictures I write about police corruption in New York City at the turn of the 20th century. If you know history, you probably know Teddy Roosevelt headed the police commission from 1895-1897 and brought wide sweeping changes. Together with a photographer named Jacob Riis (who makes an appearance in my novel) they traipse through Lower Manhattan neighborhoods in the middle of night, waking up sleeping patrolmen and taking flash photographs of the horrid living conditions.

Roosevelt was familiar with Riis previous to taking the position on the commission, having read his book, How the Other Half Lives. Roosevelt was a reformer, but his primary interest was wider in politics, so he only served in this role for two years. Perhaps if he’d been there longer, more changes might have been made sooner. He did bring attention to the corruption and insisted the police department act more professionally. He required firearm training for the force, for one thing, authorizing the purchase of Colt revolvers for his men. Yes, believe it or not, before that not every policeman was armed, and those that were did not necessarily know how to shoot a gun.

Roosevelt Did Not Clean up the Police

Tammany Hall, the political force that influenced elections in the city, was strong, and with Roosevelt and Mayor Strong (who supposedly supported a bipartisan agenda) gone, the police department continued to be an “every man for himself” kind of operation. Not to say there weren’t good men, and their work wasn’t effective. Some steps were made in the right direction, but at the time of my story gangs still ruled the streets, and shopkeepers not only had to make them happy, but also the local patrolman who collected “protection” money.

One thing they seemed to excel at: parading. Here is a Thomas Edison film from 1899.

It’s a myth that Teddy Roosevelt cleaned up the New York Police Department, but with Jacob Riis’s help he certain cast light on the problems.

Below is a good summary from The History Channel. The part about Roosevelt’s role in the New York City Police lasts until about the 3:00 mark.

Our Ancestors Endured

This part of history is another facet in the story of our immigrant ancestors. How they managed to not only get through it, but to thrive enough to raise their families is nothing short of courageous.

Unfortunately police corruption still exists in places, but nothing in this country compares to that time in history. If you couldn’t trust the police, who could you trust? This is the question foremost in Grace McCaffery’s mind in Grace’s Pictures.

What part of this history, if anything, surprises you? Our history classes did not teach it all, I don’t think.

Author Alton Ganksy Interviews Me!

It was an extreme honor to be interviewed this week by novelist Alton Ganksy. Alton has a YouTube channel filled with interviews with authors and industry professionals. Be sure to check out his other videos.

Here is my interview. I hope you enjoy hearing a little bit about why I wrote Grace’s Pictures and why I think baseball is important to my writing. 😉

When Father’s Day Hurts

Father’s Day did not become a national holiday in the U.S. until 1972. It’s not that it wasn’t suggested and even recognized before, it’s probably because fathers didn’t get behind it. Men, as we know, are not as sentimental about such things as women are.

But now you cannot watch television without being reminded to remember your father this Father’s Day. And if you don’t have one, or have a dysfunctional father-child relationship, you probably don’t appreciate these reminders.

If my father were still alive this Father’s Day, I would bring him licorice, bake him a chocolate cake, pour him a lemonade or a hot cup of tea. And we would talk about everything, and know that if only the world would operate the way we KNOW it should, all life’s problems would be solved.

See what I mean? That’s one example of not wanting to think about Father’s Day and what you’ve lost. Of course, the best way to look at is to remember your dad and the good times, and be thankful.

But if your experience was unpleasant, that’s another matter all together. In my novel Grace’s Pictures, Grace McCaffery had an abusive father who used to tell her she was worthless, not smart, and just someone others wouldn’t want to be around. He said she was lucky he had her to take care of her. And then she didn’t. He died, and she wasn’t so lucky and was physically thrown out of her home and into a workhouse. Her father’s messages never completely left her, despite her mother’s attempts to speak words of worth to her. Grace tries to hold on to those words, but she is separated from her mother. Perhaps coming to America will help her to start anew. If she can just overcome those negative messages.

Families can be difficult, and even good ones are far from perfect. Grace finds a way to overcome her past, but it’s a difficult journey for anyone. There is hope, however, and if this describes you, my prayer for you is that you will find that hope.

I found this song inspiring. I hope you do too.

Do You Know Coral Bells?

I actually did discover on an Internet search there is a person with that name, but I’m talking about the flowers. In my book, Grace’s Pictures, the woman Grace works for, Alice Parker, adores coral bells. She is an avid gardner, but she doesn’t have these flowers in her garden, and she plans to plant them.

Later Grace and the Parker children she cares for, all named for trees, plan to plant these flowers for their mother.

When I wrote the book, I had never had any coral bells in my garden. What about you?

Of course, I had to plant some this year. Mine are a variety with purple foliage, probably not what was available in 1901 Manhattan. Here is my plant. You can’t tell much by the photograph, but they seem to be doing well, and in the closeup you can see that it’s about to bloom!

I planted it among some vinca vines (or creeping myrtle). I hope that’s okay!
A bloom!
What about you? Do you have any perennials folks would have had in the early 20th century? Perhaps something your grandmother or great grandmother would have had? Or even a start from her plants??

Experience the Ellis Island Museum Right Here!

This is an excellent video for anyone wishing to experience Ellis Island but can’t get there. It may just make you schedule a trip, though! Did you know over half of Americans can trace their roots through Ellis Island?

These kinds of stories inspired my Ellis Island Series.

Grace McCaffery hopes that the bustling streets of New York hold all the promise that the lush hills of Ireland did not. As her efforts to earn enough money to bring her mother to America fail, she wonders if her new Brownie camera could be the answer. But a casual stroll through a beautiful New York City park turns into a hostile run-in with local gangsters, who are convinced her camera holds the first and only photos of their elusive leader. A policeman with a personal commitment to help those less fortunate finds Grace attractive and longs to help her, but Grace believes such men cannot be trusted. Spread thin between her quest to rescue her mother, do well in a new nanny job, and avoid the gang intent on intimidating her, Grace must put her faith in unlikely sources to learn the true meaning of courage and forgiveness.