Guest Blog

Germany’s First Female Physician. A Guest Post by Historical Fiction Author P.K. Adams

I’m thrilled to host P.K. Adams’ discussion of the inspiration behind her book, The Greenest Branch, which follows the story of Germany’s first female physician.

Greenest Branch eBook Cover LargeSynopsis of The Greenest Branch

In The Greenest Branch the medieval era comes vividly to life in all its romanticism and splendor, but the societal strictures that prevent women from being able to access education and live independent lives are also on display.

The year is 1115, and Germany is torn apart by a conflict between the Emperor and the Pope over who should have the right to appoint bishops and control the empire’s vast estates. In that atmosphere, young Hildegard is sent to the Abbey of St. Disibod in the Rhineland as her parents’ gift to the Church in accordance with a custom known as the tithe.

Hildegard has a deep love of nature and a knowledge of herbal healing that might make more than one Church official suspicious of witchery, and she hopes to purse medical studies at St. Disibod. But no sooner does she settle into her new life than she finds out that as a girl she will not be allowed to attend the monastic school or use the abbey’s library; instead, she must stay at the women’s convent, isolated from the rest of the community and from the town. It might seem that Hildegard’s dreams have quickly come to an end. Yet she refuses to be sidelined.

Against fierce opposition from Prior Helenger, the hostile head of the monks’ cloister, she finds another way to learn – by securing an apprenticeship with Brother Wigbert who runs the infirmary and is in dire need of a capable assistant. Under his supervision, she begins to train as the abbey’s first female physician and makes rapid progress. When Hildegard’s reputation starts to spread throughout the Rhineland, Helenger’s persecution escalates as he fears losing control over the women’s community. But that is not the only challenge she must grapple with. She has also developed feelings for Volmar, a fellow Benedictine novice, that force Hildegard to re-examine the fundamental assumptions she has made about her life. Is the practice of medicine within the monastic confines her true calling, or is a quiet existence of domestic contentment more desirable?

With the pressures mounting and threatening to derail her carefully-laid plans, Hildegard becomes locked in a struggle that will either earn her an unprecedented freedom or relegate her to irrevocable oblivion.

The Greenest Branch is the first in a two-book series based on the true story of Hildegard of Bingen, Germany’s first female physician and one of the few women to attain that position in medieval Europe. Set against the backdrop of the lush oak forests and sparkling rivers of the Rhineland, it is a tale of courage, strength, sacrifice, and love that will appeal to fans of Ken Follett, Umberto Eco, Elizabeth Chadwick, Margaret Frazer, Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden, and to anyone who enjoys strong female protagonists in historical fiction.


 

The Inspiration Behind The Greenest Branch, an account of Germany’s First Female Physician

Guest post by P.K. Adams

I first heard about Hildegard of Bingen (c.1098-1178) in a history of music class in college. Her chants are sublime, and as I fell in love with them I started to read more about their composer – the first woman in the Western world to do so.

It turns out Hildegard did much more than that – she was a pioneer in many fields thus far reserved as a man’s domain. One such field was medicine. She was a skilled herbalist who applied treatments in a way most medieval physicians did not, namely by observing the outcomes of the cures rather than relying on ancient texts for guidance, irrespective of whether they worked or not.

As I researched Hildegard’s life, two things began to puzzle me in the (admittedly sparse) historical accounts. One is that she was enclosed at a young age (possibly as young as eight or ten) at a very strict women’s convent, where the residents lived in enforced poverty and isolation from the world. In such a place, historians tell us, she lived for the next three decades.

This, to me, is hard to believe. The psychological and intellectual toll such privations would exact on a child would be extremely damaging. Yet Hildegard re-emerges in contemporary chronicles, around the age of forty, as an accomplished physician, writer, and composer, and a diligent student of nature. She is already well-known in the Rhineland, and her theological writings are about to catch the attention of Pope Eugenius III. She is also preparing to leave the abbey of St. Disibod, where she had been enclosed, and start her own foundation.

Clearly, something happened during those decades that allowed her curiosity to be fostered, her intellect to develop, and her creativity to flourish. There is no reliable record of her early life beyond the few basic facts of her provenance and enclosure, and that is what inspired me to imagine what that life may have been like.

The Greenest Branch is a fictionalized account of the early life of Hildegard of Bingen, but it is rooted in what we know about her and the world she inhabited. It is a world, needless to say, that is not conducive to female empowerment. That she managed to accomplish so much is a testament to her fierce intelligence, strength, and determination.

The second book in the series, titled The Column of Burning Spices, traces the second half of Hildegard’s long and eventful life. It will be released in early 2019.

Greenest Branch eBook Cover Large

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Order the The Greenest Branch on Amazon US  and Amazon UK

GoodreadsjpgLearn more about the book from GoodReads

 

“Hauntingly beautiful and meticulously researched. P.K. Adams writes about the Middle Ages like someone who has lived there. Hildegard’s story is inspiring, and her voice feels so real that it’s almost spooky.” – Jessica Cale, author of Tyburn.


PKAdams

About The Author
P.K. Adams is a Boston-based historical fiction author, whose debut novel The Greenest Branch is the first in a two-book series based on the life of Hildegard of Bingen, Germany’s first female physician. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia and a master’s degree in European Studies from Yale. When not reading or writing, she can be found hiking, doing yoga, and drinking tea (though usually not at the same time).

Learn more about P.K. Adams at her website and @pk_adams.


 

Apricots and Wolfsbane, Guest Blog

My novel inspired poems!

@GeorgiaTell is working on a project to write 1,000 poems and two of them are inspired by Apricots and Wolfsbane! In the book, Lavinia dreams of being captured in poetry and now she has!

Check out Georgia’s website, and read her beautiful poems below.


of the same kind

a drop of poison
thief dead on the floor
saw off his finger
he keeps the ruby ring no more


I enjoy

the squeak of a chair
watching their eyes realize
life was draining away

the stillness of the body
when my poison won
taking proof

the silence when it was done
echoing in my head
until confession welcomed God’s voice back

Guest Blog, Writing Tip

Guest Blog: Mastering Multiple Characters Through Point of View

I am deep in editing Apricots and Wolfsbane with a Sunday editorial deadline (eek!) So I’m a most grateful for today’s guest blogger, Caryl MacAdoo. Caryl is a fellow Texas, Christian, historical fiction author who has written an impressive list of books. Best of all, her Texas Romance, Daughters of the Heart, is FREE for Kindle until Thursday (6/8/17).

Thank you so much to Caryl for the fantastic advice below, and the giveaways!


19021456_10213693078109147_1681730785_nDaughters of the Heart, book five in my Texas Romance historical family saga, is a prime example of how Point of View is paramount to “telling” or more appropriately, “showing” a story with an ensemble cast—in this case the three co-heroine sisters. The characters will think differently according to their age and personalities. This must show, and POV is the way to do it!

Now if I tell you Bonnie Claire is a precocious twelve-year-old who thinks she’s almost grown, it isn’t the same as putting you into her head to see her heart, hear her thoughts and spoken words. In Bonnie’s POV, you’ll immediately identify with her because you’ve been there yourself or knowing someone who is or was. She should think and speak like a young lady on the verge of becoming a woman.

This is accomplished through me getting into that character’s head and remembering how I felt as a twelve-year-old. Of all the techniques, tools if you will, of writing creative fiction, this is the one that elevated my work to where my  mentors and peers started saying, “Good read, Caryl” at my weekly read and critique writers’ workshop.

Reporting ONLY what Bonnie, the one with the most emotion at risk in that scene —hence my POVC (Point of View Character) — sees, hears, feels, thinks, wonders, smells, loves and hates will place your reader right there living vicariously with that character. And that’s why readers read. She will not be thinking with the same rationale as her two older sisters, Gwendolyn or Cecelia.

So when I move to a scene where Gwen has the most emotion at risk — that’s how you choose who’s scene it is — I have to ramp up the maturity and remember when I was eighteen and held the world in my hands! So now I’m thinking and writing as a confident young woman ready for a great future. That will show in her thoughts — the narrative — and her dialogue. Characters can’t ALL sound like their author in thought or speech.

18983393_10213693082909267_1497275459_nBut dialogue is a whole different topic 🙂 You know, if POV has eluded you somewhat— I thought it was the hardest tool to grasp as a new writer thirty-something years ago — I have a book which might help: Story & Style, The Craft of Writing Creative Fiction. It’s written in an easy conversational tone with lots of examples. Plus is you have questions, you can contact the author! 🙂

18945176_10213693095749588_1057908741_nOH and don’t forget DAUGHTERS OF THE HEART is FREE right now through Thursday midnight! Though it’s book five, it does stand alone, but be forewarned, you’ll love these Buckmeyers and may have the need to read all ten novels in the series! 🙂

GIVEAWAY: I’ll send a print copy of book one in the saga VOW UNBROKEN as a giveaway for K.M.’s blog chosen from one of her commenters!

Blessings from Texas, and thank you K.M., for inviting me to visit 🙂


19021477_10213693085909342_438154923_nAward winning author Caryl McAdoo currently writes four series: the historical Christian ‘Texas Romance’; a contemporary ‘Red River Romance’; The Generations, her Biblical fiction and a mid-grade The King’s Highway. The prolific, bestselling novelist loves singing new songs the Lord gives her and painting. In 2008, she and her high school sweetheart-husband Ron moved from the DFW area—home for fifty+ years—to the woods of Red River County. Caryl counts four children and sixteen grandsugars life’s biggest blessings believing all good things come from God. Praying her story gives God glory, she hopes each one will also minister His love, mercy, and grace to its readers. Caryl and Ron live in Clarksville, the county seat, in the far northeast corner of the Lone Star State with two grandsons, Christian and Benjamen.

 

 

Guest Blog

Guest Blog: Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Today I’m excited to host Guest Blogger Jenna Brandt, another Christian historical fiction mom-author, who describes how she balances it all. Her debut novel, The English Proposal, will be released May 29 and is also highlighted below.


I have been asked before, “How do you manage all you do?” I suppose I do have a full plate with running my home, raising three girls, including a toddler, taking care of the accounting for our family business, volunteering at our church and being in several small groups. Additionally, because it’s been my dream since I was a little girl, I decided to start pursuing publishing my first series of books (Window to the Heart Saga) in January of this year.

So, what does a day in the life look like for someone with that busy of a schedule? I get up at 6:45 AM to make sure my oldest two girls are ready for school and then drive them there. All in all, that takes up the first two hours of my day. Next, I try to read my daily Jesus Calling devotional and then usually look at what I will be planning for dinner. If it’s a crock-pot meal, I prep and start it or if something that needs to be defrosted, I start that process. Then I pull out my MacBook while I put Sesame Street on for my toddler. Keeping an eye on her, I work on writing, marketing or networking depending on where I am in publishing (right now I am in a marketing blitz with my first book, The English Proposal, coming out May 29th). I follow that up, by going out to our business office and taking care of bills, correspondence, etc. Somewhere in the day, I try to get house work done, but I admit, it’s usually low on the priority list.

By this time, I usually need to do some grocery shopping for my family of five and after that, I go pick up the kids from school. My afternoons revolve around homework and hearing about the girls’ day at school, followed by dinner with the family. In the evening, we either go to a small group, Girl Scout meeting or school event with the exception of Friday nights, which is always reserved for family hangout.

After I get the kiddos to bed, I go back to writing/marketing/networking while I watch a little TV or read a book. I usually try to get to bed before midnight but that isn’t always doable. I go to sleep and wake up and do it all over again.

So, back to that original question, how do I manage everything? I just DO. I keep moving and working, and continue until everything I need to do gets done. Here’s the caveat, it NEVER gets all done. There is always something left on the list and usually more than one thing.

Someone once referred to me as “Superwoman,” and I realized, I didn’t like that term. It implied that I had to be supernatural to get everything done in my life, and if I wasn’t supernatural, I would fail. I am a normal woman. A mother, wife, friend, Christian, daughter doing the things I need to do to help the ones I love and those in need while fulfilling my own dreams. Finding balance is difficult, but it can be done. I think it’s like my dad always said, “Don’t sweat the small stuff, it’s all small stuff.” If you don’t hyper-focus on one thing, you will end up getting way more done in the long run.

*As I finish writing, this, I realized I forgot to pay one of the bills. Better jet out to the office and take care of it…


About Jenna Brandt: she is a Christian historical fiction author and her books span from the Victorian to Western eras with elements of romance, suspense and faith.

She has been an avid reader since she could hold a book and started writing stories almost as early. She has been published in several newspapers as well as edited for multiple papers. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from Bethany College and was the Editor-in-Chief of her college newspaper.

She is an on-going contributor for The Mighty Website and her first Blog was published on Yahoo Parenting and The Grief Toolbox as well as featured on the ABC News and Good Morning America websites.

Writing is her passion but she also enjoys cooking, watching movies, reading, engaging in social media and spending time with her three young daughters and husband where they live in the Central Valley of California. She is also active in her local church where she volunteers on their first impressions team as well as writes features for the church’s creative team. You can visit her on her website at www.jennabrandt.com and make sure to sign up for her newsletter. Her books (including the one plugged below) are available on Amazon as well as all other platforms.


The English Proposal: Christian Victorian Era Historical (Window to the Heart Saga Book 1) 

Sheltered on her family’s country estate, Lady Margaret, the daughter of an English Earl, is betrothed due to a family promise. Although Henry, the Viscount Rolantry, has been her best friend since childhood and she is expected to marry him, she never felt butterflies until she meets the Duke of Witherton. Against her father’s wishes, Margaret finds herself captivated by the forbidden duke. Caught between family loyalty and her own wishes, Margaret searches for a way to satisfy both her responsibilities and her longings. When tragedy strikes, Margaret finds herself seeking answers at church. But when she finally makes her choice, through her newfound faith, will she be able to live with the repercussions of her decision?