Sunday, April 11, 2021

Pre-Order New Novel - ebook!

Pre-order for ebook only

So excited to announce that my fourth suspenseful historical novel is available on amazon for Pre-Order. To be delivered to your kindle on May 18, 2021!

"In 1898, the Portland Gale tore across Provincetown on Cape Cod's coast. Walter Ellis, a descendant of legendary Maria Hallett, loses his ship and livelihood. Forced to leave his family behind, he seeks gold in Alaska but never returns. Present day Nancy Caldwell travels to Alaska to visit family. She discovers an old letter destined for Provincetown from 1899 but never sent. Back home on Cape Cod, a 1780s house, a hidden 'pigeon's blood' ruby ring, and a past nemesis complicate Nancy's search for the missing fisherman."

 It's only been a few years since the first creative spark popped into my brain and ignited this multi-generational family saga.

During our semi-annual visit with our middle son, Tim, and his family in Alaska, we were on the island of Juneau. 

Landing in Juneau

Tim and Jenn's home
 

One morning, we woke to a storm-tossed exposed ocean floor. Outside their expansive windows overlooking the mysterious Pacific Ocean was a large white object, young Tim went to explore. 

View from deck

  
For a visual - I'm walking when tide is out. The rocks to my left are submerged at full tide.

We watched as our son walked further and further away until he stopped and took some pictures. We waited for his return. Surprisingly, it was the skeleton of what looked like a complete leg. After finally uncovering proof that the skeleton belonged to a large animal, we all breathed a sigh of relief. 

 


But my imagination took off and my plotting began for an adventure from one end of the country in Provincetown, to the other in Juneau and back again to Cape Cod.

Below is a book trailer that I made.

 
 
 

I'll keep you posted as to the date when you will be able to read this wonderful story as an ebook or paperback. Stay tuned.

If you are a registered reader on Net Galley, here's a link to get an early preview. If you liked the story, please leave a review. 

NET GALLEY
 

Until next time...

Barbara

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Pirates, Skeletons, and more...

 

Update from The Whydah Pirate Museum

Always exciting to read about the latest developments from Barry Clifford and his team. Recently they discovered the remains of six skeletons that had been encased in a concretion, which is a large mass that forms around underwater objects. 

Back in 2018, they found a leg bone and had hoped it was the captain of the ill-fated Whydah pirate ship, Black Sam Bellamy. But, through the science of DNA and a trip to England for a match from Sam's distant relative, their research proved it was not the infamous pirate. Undeterred, they continue and, as of today, they are on the hunt again for Bellamy. The Whydah Pirate Museum is open and located in South Yarmouth on Cape Cod.

There are many stories written about the 1717 wreck of the Whydah, Sam Bellamy and his lover, the mythical Maria Hallett.

My first two historical novels, The Old Cape House and The Old Cape Teapot follow Sam and Maria's story line. They're based on all the facts that we know to be true and accurate, all gleaned from old records and documents. Where there were holes in the search, that's where I fictionalized. Two important premises fueled my stories.

#1 They never found Sam Bellamy's body.

#2 Maria Hallett is not documented anywhere as to her connection to Sam except in folk lore.

The Old Cape House

 Nancy Caldwell relocates to an old sea captain's house on Cape Cod with her husband and four children. When she discovers an abandoned root cellar in her backyard containing a baby's skull and gold coins, she digs up evidence that links her land to the legendary tale of Maria Hallett and her pirate lover, Sam Bellamy.
Using alternating chapters between the 18th and 21st centuries, The Old Cape House, a historical fiction, follows two women that are lifetimes apart, to uncover a mystery that has had the old salts of Cape Cod guessing for 300 years.

2014 Winner ~ First Place in Historical Fiction ~ Royal Dragonfly Awards!

International Best Seller on Amazon!

 

The Old Cape Teapot

 Nancy Caldwell uncovers a pirate mystery that had the Old Salts of Cape Cod wondering for close to 300 years in the historical fiction, The Old Cape House. Was she lucky or a good detective? Nancy returns in The Old Cape Teapot, the second in a series, to uncover the trails of two survivors from the wreck of the 1717 pirate ship Whydah. Armed with the knowledge that in pirate culture the looted riches were equally shared, she takes us to the tropical island of Antigua and back to Cape Cod searching for clues to more treasure.

International Best Seller on Amazon!

If you're interested in reading more...

Fellow Cape Cod author Elizabeth Moisan wrote her version of Sam and Maria.  Based on the facts that we know, her novel is an accurate swashbuckling pirate adventure...but Maria's story is a bit different from mine.  Master of the Sweet Trade a good read.




Friday, November 20, 2020

History of Thanksgiving - posted 2013 - still interesting!


In 1621, the Plymouth Colonists and the Wampanoag Indians shared a feast that lasted several days. It was not called a holiday or Thanksgiving. It was simply a meal of gratitude because they had survived a year on a new continent. Of course, it only happened because  the Wamponoag Indians taught them how to stay alive and how to reap a good harvest over the summer. Most importantly, the Indians gave them hope that they could make it through another coming cold season.  Still sad that 42 of them had already died out of 102 pilgrims, either on the voyage, from the frigid weather, or sickness, the early settlers wanted to celebrate for the future.

Photo courtesy of Plimouth Plantation
According to Edward Winslow in a letter to a friend in England in 1621, he wrote, “And God be praised, we had a good increase…. Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling that so we might after a special manner rejoice together….” He continued, "...many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others."

In my research, I sometimes find the reasons behind historic events that are not necessarily taught in school. For instance, peace between the Indians and early settlers lasted only 50 years or one generation. After which, the decimation of the Native Americans began with earnest as more people came to the New World. The new pilgrim arrivals required more land and took it from the Indians, either by legitimate trade, purchase, or war. The survival of the Indians was not uppermost in their minds, their own well-being came first. It surely was a sad time in American history. If only our forefathers would have been more compassionate with the plight of the American Indian. I often think there had to be a way for both peoples to live side by side in peace. Let's hope that history will never repeat that era.

Here are a few more facts, but on the lighter side of Thanksgiving – people always celebrated a harvest but the festivities were never on a Sunday because that was the day of the Lord, so a weekday was chosen.



In the 1700s – 1800s, there were regional celebrations of Thanksgiving throughout the colonies and states but no set date.  In 1863 amidst the Civil War, Lincoln declared a day of Thanksgiving to be celebrated on the last Thursday of November.

Photo - Cast of "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" – 1938

Then in 1939 during the Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the holiday to the third Thursday of November. He wanted to stimulate the economy and give retailers more time for promoting Christmas sales. People didn't like it. They called it 'Franksgiving'. Reluctantly in 1941, President Roosevelt changed the day back to the fourth Thursday of November.


As far as the traditional food of the season as we know it, it was different by region throughout the 19th century. When the southern states finally joined in the holiday around the late 1800s, they brought with them some of our favorites, such as corn bread, ham, and sweet potatoes. In New Mexico, chilies and southwestern flavors appeared in stuffing. Crab was important on the menu around the Chesapeake Bay. Key Lime pie sat next to pumpkin pie in Key West. New England had a big influence on the Thanksgiving menu, adding cranberry sauce and probably scallops, especially here on Cape Cod.

There is no mention of Thanksgiving or Christmas in my first historical novel, The Old Cape House because it was not celebrated as we know it today. The Puritans frowned upon dancing, singing, or pretty much anything that was fun. But every fall season around the harvest, I'm sure a thank you was on everyone's lips and in their hearts, happy that their cupboards and root cellars were stocked for the approaching cold season and that they would survive another winter once more. 


                                                          Happy Thanksgiving!


From our table to yours...be thankful for whatever good is in your life and wish the same to others. 




Thursday, October 29, 2020

"It was a dark and stormy night..."

 

Linnell Landing, Brewster
 

"It was a dark and stormy night..."

This familiar and clich├ęd opening line is not recommended to be used as the beginning of your novel. But I couldn't resist, just once.

Here's a little background about where it came from and who wrote it first. 

It was the opening line to Bulwer-Lytton's 1830 novel, Paul Clifford.  The rest of the sentence is quite entertaining.

 "It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

As we near Halloween, my thoughts turn to the past. My mother always said her ancestors came from Hungary, and the words 'Roma/Gypsies' were used to describe several of her aunts. 

My mother told us a story about a distant relative who came to visit the family. She was only three but remembers a scary looking woman, one of her relatives, arguing with her mother. The following week, her oldest sister who was five years old, became sick and died within a few months of an unexplained illness. Her mother said the woman had put a curse on her child. The story only adds to the mysterious side of my family.


Roma (Gypsies) originated in the Punjab region of northern India as a nomadic people and entered Europe between the eighth and tenth centuries C.E. They were called "Gypsies" because Europeans mistakenly believed they came from Egypt.

Growing up, I knew my mother's nationality was Hungarian but never paid much attention to the word, Roma, and how it would connect to me, until 1986 when my husband and I were living near Chardon, Ohio with our three children. We decided to look for a bigger house. It was a beautiful brick house built in 1868 with acreage.

 

Chardon, Ohio 1986

We always dreamed of owning an old home with lots of secrets. The first time the family went to view the potential purchase, everyone was excited. As we walked closer and entered the side door that led into the kitchen, the kids immediately began exploring. For some reason, I stayed put. Something held me back. I could hear the kids talking as they ascended the beautiful ornate staircase all the way up to the widow's peak. I cautiously ventured a little further in. I waited only a few minutes before I called out to my husband. "Okay. I'm done looking. I really don't like it." My words were ignored, lost in the echos of animated voices. "I yelled a little louder, "Going outside."

Tim joined me on the grassy driveway. "You don't like it?" 

"Not really. Not sure why. I just feel uncomfortable. I'd rather not go back in and I don't think we should buy it." 

There was some discussion later that night. Tim knew I was as stubborn as my mother and agreed to look no further. To this day, he still fondly remembers the missed opportunity of our decision to not buy that old Victorian. I felt confident that it was the right decision.

A year later in 1987,  our summer vacation stretched into almost three weeks of sun, fun, sand, and looking for an old house within the Lower Cape. We started in Barnstable, just for the fun of it, even though we preferred the other end of the Cape. One of the houses we considered buying was The Crocker Tavern on Route 6A. 


Crocker Tavern, Barnstable

 

Again, everyone was excited, especially Tim. It would be the perfect location to open his gallery, right on the Old King's Highway or Route 6A. I was the last one to enter through the red door of this circa 1754 wooden structure. The problem was I didn't want to cross the threshold. I held back again. I was uncomfortable once more. I waited outside, only peeking into the house occasionally. I was cordial to the real estate rep but knew in my heart, this house was not for me. 

By the time we left for home, back in Ohio, we had looked at several other houses and finally decided to buy an old 1880 farmhouse in Brewster, the Sea Captains Town and make our big move to Cape Cod. This time, I felt at ease inspecting each room in the empty house.

 

Brewster Home - 1987   

Once we moved in almost a year later, in June of 1987, an article in the Cape Cod Times appeared that October. It stated that Cape Cod had several haunted houses and of course one of the most famous was the Crocker Tavern in Barnstable! I was right.

We also discovered our Brewster home was not without secrets. Another few years went by and we were awarded a citation for Best Christmas decorations from Brewster Chamber of Commerce. Upon receiving it, we wanted a picture for publicity. We pulled out our Polaroid camera and a picture was taken of me holding the award in front of the barn. That night, we showed the image to our children and noticed a white mist floating in front of me in the photographed picture.  Was it a friendly spirit or just bad developing from the Polaroid camera? We'll never know.

What I do know is I'm always comfortable in our lovely home because I think the house must hold a friendly spirit and maybe, just maybe, the spirit was pleased we've taken such good care of the old place.

Brewster Home 2020  

When our daughter, Heather, opened her own Struna Galleries in Chatham, it was in the Captain Dodge House on Main Street. Every so often, customers would come in and ask how she liked living with a ghost? Confused at first and finding no evidence of such a haunting, she assumed it was a friendly spirit. I agreed. All the years she was located there, I never felt any thing strange about the quaint little gallery. 

In my uneducated opinion, I don't believe in ghosts but I do think there are good and evil forces in the universe. Sometimes these spiritual forces can be felt by certain people, if they  are open to their energy. 

I don't know if I'm one of those special folks who can sense spirits. I do know that before my two daughters purchased their first houses, they asked their Mom to take a walk through them and then sought reassurance from me about my feelings. Were they good or bad? 

Update on my latest historical novel, The Old Cape Blood Ruby. Publication will be coming in early 2021.

"In 1898, the Portland Gale tore across Provincetown on Cape Cod's coast. Walter Ellis, a descendant of legendary Maria Hallett, loses his ship and fishing livelihood. Forced to leave his family behind, he seeks gold in Alaska but never returns. Present day Nancy Caldwell travels to Juneau, Alaska to visit family. She discovers an old letter destined for Provincetown but never sent. Back home on Cape Cod, a 1780s house, a hidden 'pigeon's blood' ruby ring, and a past nemesis complicate Nancy's search for what happened to the missing fisherman."




 

Monday, September 7, 2020

Coming Winter 2020 - The Fourth Novel in "The Old Cape Series".

Pigeon's Blood


What first prompted me to write my fourth suspenseful historical? On a walk in Orleans - Cape Cod,  I passed Gallant Jewelers on Main Street. It's a favorite shop of mine when looking for, everything jewelry, and I wondered if they would answer a question I was mulling over in my head.  The mystery of a rare ruby ring called 'The Pigeon's Blood'.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Spring 2020 ...and remembering Sister Barbara.

Family, Friends, and Faith

Last month, the world lost a beautiful soul...my sister, Sister Barbara.

Co-writing her memoir took me on a different journey, other than my usual historical fiction, and became a labor of love.


  Family, Friends, and Faith - an inspirational memoir of how one woman made a difference in thousands of lives.


Sister Mary Barbara Eppich O.S.U.



An Ursuline Sister for more than sixty years, she dedicated her life to living at the feet of Jesus and sharing his love to all who met her.

Sister Barbara entered the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland, Ohio in 1954. I was five years old and she was eighteen. In her early eighties, whenever I had a chance to visit with her in Ohio, she relived the challenges she encountered within the confines of the paternalistic Catholic Church. I recorded her words on audio, captured her thoughts with my written notes, and gleaned her feelings from her journals. We crafted her story together through love, laughter, and tears. She recalled that without the kindness of the Ursulines, she could not have experienced the pure joy of teaching so many young children, who in their simple ways, made her laugh, and oftentimes taught her life lessons.

Early years showing her love of music and teaching children.

We combined our words into a simple story of family, friends, and faith. Sister Barbara's words are printed in italics. My thoughts are interspersed in chapters relating my memories and commenting on the culture that surrounded Sister Barbara throughout her life of giving.

Were doors closed to her? Yes.

Why did she stay as an Ursuline sister? 

This is the story of an ordinary person who has done extraordinary things. I hope that after reading her memoir, you will find one idea that will inspire or enlighten you.

I am what I am because of the people in my life. S.M.B.



Stories are the way into our lives.  S.M.B 

Family, Friends, and Faith is currently available

FREE to read as an ebook on Kindle Unlimited

through  Amazon

and paperback Amazon 

 Struna Galleries online

Proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland. If you would like to make a donation, you may do so at

Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland


 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Amazon Giveway - The Old Cape Hollywood Secret






Easy to enter my Amazon Giveway to win a Kindle Copy of The Old Cape Hollywood Secret!!

All you have to do is follow me on my Amazon Author page.

This suspenseful historical novel takes place in 1947 and present day. When young Maggie Foster and her cousin Gertie leave Cape Cod for glamorous Hollywood, one returns home with a secret, while the other disappears only to be found seventy years later by present day Nancy Caldwell. It's a page turning back and forth using alternating chapters between time periods. 

If you're can't wait to start reading, the novel is available as an ebook at Amazon, B&N, and iBook for $3.99.

Links to buy are on the right side of the blog. 

Thanks for your support!