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ANESTHESIA: BELIEVE IT OR NOT

The Crimea War saw the advent of routine use of anesthesia in surgery.

Russia as well as the Allies (France, England, and Turkey) were somewhat reluctant to use chloroform because of frequent overdosing. Sometimes the nearly dead man could be brought back to consciousness by shouting his name into his ear and then giving him a large drink of wine. Alcohol (booze) was thought to combat shock and was still routinely used for that purpose in the U.S. Civil War.

Eventually Russia’s supplies of chloroform ran low, and when one patient cried out as surgeons began to cut into his leg without the use of anesthesia, a Russian surgeon punched him in the face.

At least one French soldier refused chloroform when his arm was amputated because he wanted to watch.

Antique Bone Saw circa 1850

Bone Saw circa 1850

 

The Protagonist:  Slumped-Shouldered Gloom

The leading man or woman is the character whose story lies at the novel's core.  Ideally thatFinal Front Cover HDIGH small size jpg character should be someone whom the reader can relate to or is cheering to success. I mean, really, who wants to read about losers? 

So why did I pick a milksop to write about in How Did I Get Here?  The most interesting event in Andrey's lackluster childhood was a year-long bout with anxiety-induced hiccups.  His spiritless teenage years weren’t any better; his notable exploit was hooking up with a neighbor girl in the church bell tower.

What does an author do when faced with a main character who is a cynical, horny, insipid recluse?  In writing How Did I Get Here?  I was confronted with a protagonist whose childhood resulted in an adult who didn’t engage people (including readers!) 

My response was to write the story from a present-tense, first-person point of view, enabling the reader to understand what was going on inside Andrey’s head, which was a lot more interesting than what his outward persona portrayed.  In entering Andrey's thoughts (and enjoying hefty doses of his wry sense of humor), my goal was to keep you, the reader, entertained in the midst of a gruesome war.
 

Geenleaf Collage

Author Pens a Book
Publisher Brings It to Life


Why does the author get so much credit for a book?  Yes, the author puts the words on paper, but creating a book requires a synergistic team of professional editors, proof readers, designers, and typesetters, plus gurus in distribution, marketing, accounting, and legal issues.  Each and everyone has to cooperate, communicate, and stay on schedule.

 How Did I Get Here? materialized into a first-class book only through the hard work of the employees and contractors of Greenleaf Book Group in Austin, Texas.  My deepest gratitude goes to every one of them.
 
Some members of my incredible Greenleaf Book team
 
Greenleaf Collage Cropped

MUCH MORE THAN THE LADY WITH THE LAMP

 Ask people what they know about the Crimean War and you’ll undoubtedly get a blank look.  Mention Florence Nightingale and you’ll at least get a nod.

In November 1854, 35 British female nurses encountered a nightmare of human suffering when they assumed their duties during the Crimean War.  Spearheading the medical effort was Florence Nightingale. Here’s what the nurses found.

      Typhus  Dysentery     Cholera     Malnutrition     Filth     Lice  Fleas      Rodents

      Inadequate clothing     Wretched ventilation    Crushed morale     Overlowing latrines

      Decaying buildings   Inch-thick feces on floor   Cesspool leaching into drinking water

At that time, nursing was regarded as lowly, immodest work performed by servants or the poor, a mere step above prostitution.  It was no surprise that Florence and her nurses met staunch resistance upon their arrival at the military hospital. When they were finally allowed to tend to the patients, one of the nurses, Elizabeth Davis, describes her experiences thus:

I began to open some of their wounds.  The first that I touched was a case of frost bite.  The toes of both the man’s feet fell off with the bandages.  The hands of another fell off at the wrist.  It was…six weeks since the wounds of many of those men had been looked at and dressed.…From many of the patients, I removed (maggots) in handfuls.
 
Pitting her strong will against the military establishment, Florence set her nurses to work cleaning the hospital and ensuring soldiers were properly fed and clothed. The troops were, for the first time, being treated with decency and respect.  Her work reputedly reduced the hospital’s death rate by two-thirds.  The trailblazer was said to have the sharpest mind and the most effective leadership on the British side of the war.
 nightingale
Florence returned to England as a figure of public admiration. Over the following decades, Florence helped establish nursing as a respectable career for British women.  She also trained nurses in workhouses to help treat the needy.  Her goal was to make medical care readily available to everyone, regardless of their class or income.
 
During the U.S. Civil War, she was frequently consulted about how best to manage military field hospitals.

The genesis of the nursing profession lies on the Crimean peninsula with the Russian Sisters of Mercy, the French Sisters of Charity, and Florence Nightingale’s British nurses.  Headway continued to be made by Clara Barton in U.S. Civil War.
 

When all the medical officers have retired for the night, and silence and darkness have settled down upon those miles of prostrate sick, she may be observed alone, with a little lamp in her hand, making her solitary rounds.

                                                                                             - London’s The Times
                                                                                               November 1854

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RUSSIAN RULERS PODCAST

Russian Rulers History Podcast
The Crimean War

Red Square Many people have told me that they knew next to nothing about the Crimean War piqued prior to reading How Did I Get Here? 
 
If your interest in the Crimean War piqued, check out Russian Rulers History Podcast.  It contains 13 podcasts that cover the gamut of the Crimean War, everything from the role of Leo Tolstoy in the conflict to how the war altered the dynamics of power in Europe.  If you have speakers and an Internet connection, you should have no trouble accessing the podcasts.

1. Visit the
Russian Rulers History Podcast website. 
2. Scroll to the bottom of the page.
3. In the Keyword Search box, type Crimean War.  Click Search Now.

TIMELESS RUSSIAN WISDOM & WISECRACKS

 
Gorky Tolstoy 1900
 
 
"Happiness always looks small while you hold it in your hands,
but let it go and you learn at once how big and precious it is.

                                        -  Maxim Gorky (1868-1936)

                                        photograph of Gorky (right) with Leo Tolstoy in 1900

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                   

A SYNCHRONIZATION NIGHTMARE!

Old Style vs. New Style
Warning: The Following Is Convoluted!

Russia is unique in many ways, one of which is how it measures time.

old dates calendar during nicholass reign russia used the old style julian calendarFor eons, most of Europe used a calendar that dated back to the time of Julius Caesar.  However, the Julian (aka Old Style
) calendar had a slight problem - it was off by one day every 128 years.  Not one to be content with sloppy timekeeping, Pope Gregory instituted the Gregorian (aka New Style) calendar in 1582, which eventually became the world’s standard. 

Russia, on the other hand, clung to the Old Style calendar until 1918.  So for centuries, the date in Russia lagged behind the Western European calendar.  During the 19th century, the difference was 12 days.  During the 20th century, the difference was 13 days.
 
Here's an example of the confusion.  The Emancipation Manifesto that freed the serfs was signed by Tsar Alexander II on Sunday, February 19, 1861 (Old Style).  The following day, Monday, March 4 (New Style), Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as president of the United States.

In 1918, the Bolsheviks decided to get in line with the rest of Europe and switched to the Gregorian calendar.  Thus, Russia’s October Revolution occurred on the Old Style date of October 25, 1918, but the event is now remembered on November 7 (New Style).
Imagine doing research on the 1850's Crimean War in preparation for writing How Did I Get Here, in which one of the military forces used Old Style while its opponents used New Style.  In addition, there's inconsistent use of the two calendars by books, articles, and online references.  Then try to coordinate the actual events (some New Style, some Old Style, and some not designated as either) into a fictional story in which timing is crucial. 
 My forehead is still black-and-blue from beating it against my desktop!
______

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PROVERBS LOST (SOMEWHAT) IN TRANSLATION

 Russian: 
           A sparrow in the hand is better than a cock on the roof

 
 English equivalent:  
           A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
 
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SLAVIC SLAPSTICK

Where did the Romanovs get their coffee?

                                                                                     ~ Tsarbucks

 Alexander II small

 

 

Tsar Nicholas Alexander Romanov

The last tsar,  1868-1918

 

For more slavic slapstick and wacky historical tidbits, view the current edition of my e-newsletter

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Escape from your busy day & 
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4-times-a-year, free e-newsletter Petrovo Potpourri

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Let's showcase it on my website and in my newsletter, Petrovo Potpourri.

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Hollys book club

 

FREE AUDIBLE BOOK

I am giving away 25 free Audible downloads of How Did I Get Here.
 
Want a free copy?  Send an email ASAP to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Include your name and that you heard about the offer on my Website's blog.   
 
If you're a winner, I will email you instructions on how to obtain your free download from Audible.com.  If you would like to give the book as a gift, you can pass the instructions along to a friend to use.
 
One request per person.  First come, first served.

No gimmicks.  No strings attached.  No surprises.   You have my word.

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2nd NOVEL IN PETROVO SERIES

Sig email Eliz Andrey 283x

 

How Did I Get Here? is the story of a cynical, funny, very horny Russian medical student during and after the 1850's Crimean War.

Listen to the first 3 minutes of the story and watch the video trailer at JaneMarlowBooks.com

Available at major on-line retailers in paper, eBook, and Audible. If you prefer to support your local bookstore, they can order the book for you.

WHEN ALL THE DOMINOES FALL PERFECTLY

Dan Smith Oolite AndreySometimes you just get lucky.

I experienced that marvelous quirk of fate when I contracted with video-wizard Daniel Smith of ooLite Media to produce my video book trailers.   Knowledgeable, conscientious, flexible, patient, and a great laugh -- what more could I ask for?

When I mentioned to Daniel that I needed a sound studio to record my audiobooks, he pointed me in the direction of Peak Recording's  Gil Stober, who became the guru overseeing the making of my Audible books. Ditto, ditto, ditto for all the good things I said about Daniel.
 
Peak Recording Feb 2018 Gil Jane John cropped
Gil, in turn, lined me up with actor John Hosking to narrate the Audible version of my books.  More dittos, but add a voice that flows like warm caramel.
 


   

AUTHOR Q & A

Elena, my publicist, recently requested that I answer a Q&A about my life.  When I asked her why, she replied, “People are interested.”

My face scrunched into a giant question mark.  Why would people be interested in plain Jane? But Elena’s a pro at her business, so how I could I refuse?  Below are my answers to a few of her questions.

 

Why do you think are you drawn to books?

My attraction to books can be traced back to my days of pigtails and anklet socks.  Although I was raised in the quintessential modest house, my parents splurged on one item: a wall of built-in bookshelves.  Among my earliest of chores was a twice-a-year dusting of the shelves and their contents.  While flicking the feather duster, I daydreamed of the day I’d be old enough to actually read the novels and Readers Digest Condensed Books.

Jane 7th Grade cropped

 

What did you read while growing up?

When I reached junior high, I put the Nancy Drew series behind me. Being a typical girlie-girl, I became enamored by the first adult, mainstream novel I read, Gone with the Wind.

During my teens, things changed (as they tend to do). I gravitated toward science as well as James Harriot’s All Creatures Great and Small stories. That combination lead to a fulfilling 30-year career as veterinarian.

 

Do you have a favorite author?

If only I could be as talented a writer as Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Russo!  During a seminar on writing fiction, the instructor told us that taking pen in hand and writing and re-writing good passages from favorite books would promote brain neuron connections that would improve our own writing.  I must have copied the same passage from Nobody’s Fool several hundred times.  If you were sitting here with me right now, I could recite all 672 words for you!

 

What insights do you want your readers to glean from How Did I Get Here?

I hope readers find several take-home messages.  First, the old adage, “Beauty is only skin deep.”

Second, malevolence and injustice can mold a child, but fortitude plus a helping hand can remake the man.

Third, every person is obligated to give back to society.  And not just according to what he received from it, but at a higher level.

Fourth, an enhanced understanding of the demons of war as manifested in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

PTSD on bench

 

CRIMEAN WAR? WHAT'S THAT?

Final Front Cover HDIGH small size jpg

 

How Did I Get Here?

2nd in the Petrovo series

 

While I was conducting research for the first novel in the Petrovo series, I kept bumping into this thing called the Crimean War.  Eventually, I realized it simply had to be the backdrop of my next novel for 3 reasons.

First, the Crimean War was the proverbial guinea pig for a myriad of innovations (such as, railroads, trench warfare, telegraphs, surgical anesthesia, medical triage, nurses) that forever changed the nature of warfare.

Small Map of Crimean War Brown CroppedThe second factor that grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go was the War’s magnitude as a gruesomely ugly historical reality.  Although the battlefield carnage was hideous, an even greater number of fatalities were attributable to disease, malnutrition, winter exposure, and incompetent leadership.  Not until World War I would more people die as victims of war.  

Third, the War forever altered the power in Europe.  Never again would tsarist Russia be considered indomitable. 

Because the Crimean War had little influence on the United States, most history classes tend to skim over it.

FOCUS. FOCUS. FOCUS.

I always thought creativity was first and foremost when writing a novel. Wrong! There’s untold amounts of tedium while sitting at the computer. Below is what the second copy edit with my publisher looks like. Three more rounds of editing to go before HOW DID I GET HERE is released in May. My eyes are crossed from overload and my fingers are crossed that every blunder has been fixed. 

 

Example of Editing

AVAILABLE MAY 2018

Final Front Cover How Get HereMy next novel in the Petrovo series contains the story of the little-known Crimean War  (1853-1856) seen though the eyes of a cynical, funny, very horny medical student. 

It's a war story that's written in intimate human terms that appeals to both women and men. 

Plus you'll be able to catch up on some of your favorite characters from Who Is to Blame.

The book will be available in May in print, Kindle, and Audible.