The Spinster, the Rebel, and the Governor by Charlene Bell Dietz – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will award a randomly chosen winner a $25 Amazon/BN gift card. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Move over Susan B. Anthony. There’s an unsung woman asking for the vote 224 years before you, and murderous rebels and bigoted gentlemen can’t prevent spinster Lady Margaret Brent from wielding her power to defend Maryland settlers from plunder and obliteration.

Lady Margaret Brent, compelled to right wrongs, risks her life by illegally educating English women, placing her family at risk. She fights to have a voice, yet her father and brothers exclude her from discussions. Worried the kings’ men may know of her illegal activities, she flees to the New World where she can enjoy religious tolerance and own land, believing she will be allowed a voice. Once in Maryland, she presents cases in provincial court where she’s hired as the first American woman attorney, but there she uncovers perilous actions, prompting her to build a fort to shield those within from being murdered. Can Margaret Brent’s integrity and ingenuity protect Maryland from being destroyed?

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The Wells girl covered her eyes with both hands. Margaret, ignoring the buzzing of flies and the damp heat of the morning sun, worked to untangle the girl’s words in her mind.

“If the river doesn’t take me, then I shall have my baby alone and will have to live with Master Cole, and I shall never see my dear Tom again.” With that, she burst into tears.

“You do not look like you are about to have a baby. Why do you say your time is up?”

“Master Cole brought me here four years ago. He said after I had worked for him for four years, I wouldn’t owe him a tad more, and now he says I can’t leave, and so I might as well marry him. Lady Brent. I worked hard from early morning until after dark every day, and my time is up. Even the devil would say this isn’t right.” She sniffed and looked away.

Margaret set her jaw. “Heaven help us if other masters here in Maryland treat their servants in this manner.”

“There’s nothing I can do.” She bit her lip. “I thought maybe the next time you talked with Governor Calvert you might say something on my behalf, and I pray my request is not one of cheekiness.”

“Mary.” Margaret called sharply across to the soap making group. “Would you please come here?”

When Mary finished saying something, she trotted over to the garden. “Hello, Carrie. Are you not feeling well—your face seems flushed?”

“So, you are acquainted with Carrie Wells?” Margaret studied her sister, slipped the basket from Carrie, and moved it into Mary’s hands. “She brought these for us and herbs to scent your soap.”

“Sometimes on Sundays after church Carrie walks with me in the woods and shows me barks, roots, and herbs that heal.” She glanced at the basket. “Why, these are lovely.” She glanced at the young woman, then put her hand on Carrie’s arm. “Are you still having trouble with Jacob Cole?”

“Jacob Cole is about to have troubles with her. Has Giles returned from Kent for Assembly today? Will both our brothers be at the meeting?” Margaret’s frogs roiled inside her.

How dare these men take advantage of their servants?

“I saw him and Fulke along with some other men heading to Lewger’s home earlier.”

“Come, Carrie Wells. We shall also attend Assembly.”

“But—Margaret,” Mary grabbed her arm. “Certainly, women would not be allowed—”

Margaret shrugged Mary away, snatched Carrie Wells by her hand, and stomped off down the path.

“Sister,” Mary called after her, “you must take off that filthy apron. You’re covered in soil.”

Margaret jerked it untied and slung it. “There is a difference between God’s soil and men’s dirt. Carrie Wells and I are about to sort this very thing out with all those fine gentlemen of Assembly.”

About the Author: Charlene Bell Dietz lives in the central mountains of New Mexico. She taught kindergarten through high school, served as a school administrator, and an adjunct instructor for the College of Santa Fe. After retirement she traveled the United States providing instruction for school staff and administrators. Her writing includes published articles, children’s stories, short stories, and mystery and historical novels.


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Three Ways to Handle Negative Criticism by Charlene Bell Dietz – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Charlene Bell Dietz will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Three Ways to Handle Negative Criticism

Negative criticism hurts, yet you have to laugh. It’s built into our DNA. Don’t believe me? Scold a toddler and watch the outrage in form of pouting or temper tantrums. When we’re involved in creating something, we never want to hear it’s a failure.

Writers hold dear the stories in their heads, which they mold into words and sentences for others. If wise, we have others critique our works before we send them out into the world. We do this by asking our friends, families, or the worst critiquer of all, our mothers. More accurate critiques come from dedicated critique groups. These groups have individual experiences of being told what’s wrong with their own writing. Trust me, they can’t wait to share their newfound knowledge.

For example, one might say to you, “When you write a gerund, don’t you know you must never say ‘you’ but ‘your’ before the gerund, such as, ‘I appreciate your giving me this hacksaw.’” Your critique partners will use their hard-earned information as a point of brilliance in their offering to make your work better. However, you know this advice is incorrect, because you’re focusing on a person, Sam, instead of the hacksaw. Your protagonist has asked five other people for a hacksaw, but it’s Sam who gives her one. You’re correct in writing, “I appreciate you giving me this hacksaw.”

When a piece of your writing gets a negative critique, or a reader suggests a correction in your published book, you have many ways to respond. A defensive, “How dare they!” reaction often jumps into our head. Next, we feel compelled to defend our writing in question. Neither response yields productivity. Instead, try my three ways to handle negative feedback.

Before reacting, take a deep inhale and exhale through your mouth, completely. This resets your brain and body, releasing tension. Practice doing this discretely when others are around so you can secretly deep breathe in your critique group. If you do this three times in a row, you’ll be surprised at how much calmer you feel.

Be polite, but chose to ignore: If your critiquer is an individual or a part of a group gathered for this purpose, say, “Thank you, I’ll take your suggestions into consideration.” Then you can let the advice simmer in your mind and decide later. When you’ve cooled down, if it’s right advice for your work, accept it. My first book opened with the words, “Die, old lady, please die.” My critique group exploded. I had to, they demanded, get rid of that line. They insisted, and so I did. I shouldn’t have. Many revisions later, that detonation of a line opened my story. Trust me, even if they reread your revised version, they’ll not remember what they said or know you’ve ignored their generous wisdom.

Recognize the truth and acknowledge: My first novel went through countless revisions, after being applauded, as well as, in part, shredded by my critique group over the years. When I knew it shined and emitted perfection, I’d send it off to a writing contest. However, the results would come back with a bit of praise, and in my mind, lots of scathing remarks. I don’t remember what the judges wrote, but they’d say something like this: Your first chapter doesn’t engage. This section doesn’t move the story forward. You aren’t letting the reader know what the other characters are doing. The reader needs more descriptions. The husband of the protagonist is one-dimensional. You’re writing in the weeds, here. You need another murder closer to the beginning. You’re overwriting.

Yikes! Should I quit? Should I respond back to them and explain why I wrote what I did?

No. Never give up. Never explain or justify. They don’t want to hear it, and they don’t care. It’s their opinion. Your job is to look at your manuscript with fresh vision. What if they’re right? You don’t have to believe them, but “What if?”

I rewrote my novel, giving careful considerations to the judges’ comments. I reinserted the “Die, old lady . . .” first line my critique group found objectionable. Then, I found a publisher. This book, The Flapper, the Scientist, and the Saboteur, won first place in the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards, and when sent to Kirkus Reviews, it earned their coveted Kirkus Review: starred review.

When given negative feedback, take a deep breath, ignore it, or accept what’s appropriate and expand your writing knowledge.

A privileged teenager from Minneapolis in 1923, scraps her college scholarship and runs away to become a flapper in dangerous, chaotic Chicago. In her search for illusive happiness, she confronts the mob and then must contrive a way to not be murdered.

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Kathleen continued, “You said you wished you could go to college with me. What if we could go somewhere together, not to college, but someplace where we could dance and act and you could sing? I bet with our talents, we could turn this horrid world into something much more joyful—help make it one big party.”

“How?” Sophie’s eyes opened wide.

“We’ll go where you won’t have to teach kids piano, or act or dance, unless you want. You’ll be able to sing your heart out and, who knows, maybe even write your own songs.”

“My mother would never let me.” Sophie looked off into the near distance.

“Sophie, we’ll get to wear sparkly dresses. And wouldn’t you love to wear those modern, classy clothes? We’d bob our hair even shorter, wear lipstick, and be around people who know how to have fun and not have a care in the world.” Sophie should see the photos in Kathleen’s collection of theater magazines again. Then she’d be excited too.

“I’m sick of funerals and consoling others,” Kathleen continued.

“Look at how miserable Dolly is. Aren’t you tired of that too? We’d be around progressive people, thinking people, people who know how to make the most out of life. They’re searching for talent, Sophie. We’ll fit right in.”

“Where, Kathleen? No one much appreciates our abilities here.”

“Chicago. There are all sorts of openings for attractive young ladies with well-turned ankles and voices like canaries. That’s what theadvertisements say.”

About the Author:Charlene Bell Dietz’s award-winning mystery novels The Flapper, the Scientist, and the Saboteur combines family saga with corporate espionage, and The Flapper, the Impostor, and the Stalker propels readers back into 1923 in frenetic Chicago. The Scientist, the Psychic, and the nut gives readers a frightening Caribbean vacation. Her latest novel The Spinster, the Rebel, and the Governor is a historical biography about Lady Margaret Brent, the first American woman to be called an attorney, whose integrity and intelligence saves pre-colonial Maryland from devastation. This book won the New Mexico Press Women’s first place award and an award by the National Press Women. The Spinster, the Rebel, and the Governor will be released as a second edition by Artemesia Press in February 2024. Two of her Flapper books have won the coveted Kirkus stars, and two were named best book of 2018. Charlene, a retired educator, lives in the foothills of the mountains in central New Mexico where abundant wildlife, solitude, and natures’ beauty inspires her creativity.

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The Flapper, the Scientist, and the Saboteur by Charlene Bell Dietz

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Charlene Bell Dietz will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

A workaholic bio-medical scientist, Beth Armstrong, is torn between saving her sabotaged ground-breaking multiple sclerosis research or honoring an obligation to care for her chain-smoking, Cuba Libre drinking, ex-flapper aunt. Nursemaid ranks just above catching the plague on Beth’s scale, yet her ex-flapper aunt would prefer anything deadly to losing her independence under the hands of her obsessive compulsive niece. While a murderous culprit runs loose in the science institute, the raucous aunt entertains Beth’s neglected husband with nightly cocktails and stories form the Roaring twenties. The Flapper, the Scientist, and the Saboteur intertwines a corporate espionage mystery with a generational battle-of-wills story between a dedicated professional intent on fighting chaos to restore order and a free-spirited aunt who needs her niece to live in the moment.

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Beth lunged to the bed, snatched the cigarettes out of Kathleen’s hands, crushed them, then flung the pack into the waste basket. She bent close to her aunt and inhaled deeply.

“Beth, what in the world—”

“I don’t know you, but I know people like you. You seriously need help.”

“What on earth are you fretting about?”

“Fretting? Not me, I’m happy as a loon.” Beth’s lungs needed more air.

“Beth, I didn’t start that fire.”

“Now you’re going to say it was Mrs. Harrison?” Beth’s words filled the room. Until today, she never yelled.

“It wasn’t her.” Kathleen said.

The room felt small, dark, smoky—no air. She heard her breath coming in short little bursts.

“Dear, you didn’t mean to, but you started the fire.”

Something snapped in Beth’s brain. She shook her head. But Kathleen, with innocence etched in her wrinkled face, kept looking at her.

About the Author Charlene Bell Dietz writes science and historical-suspense, award-winning mystery novels and short stories. Her award-winning short stories have been published in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers 2016 Anthology and SouthWest Writers 2019 Anthology. The Flapper, the Scientist, and the Saboteur combines family saga with corporate espionage. The Flapper, the Impostor, and the Stalker propels readers back into 1923 frenetic Chicago during the Roaring Twenties. Both these novels were named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2018, and each won the coveted Kirkus Starred Review. Her latest novel, The Scientist, the Psychic, and the Nut, gives readers a frightening Caribbean vacation. Her current work in progress, a biographical historical novel, starts in England in 1638 and ends in precolonial Maryland. Charlene, a retired educator, traveled the United States as a consultant for Houghton Mifflin Publishers after a career of teaching little ones, older ones, and college graduates. Surrounded by forests and meadows, she currently lives in the foothills of the mountains in central NM several miles from the small village of Torreon. Charlene is the current president of Croak & Dagger, New Mexico Chapter of Sisters in Crime. She belongs to Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers, Mystery Writers of America, and SouthWest Writers.

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