Deals, steals, and news from author Michelle Isenhoff.

As a writer of historical fiction, I see again and again how the events of the past have transformed our present. It happened again last week. August 18 marked the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave American women the right to vote. But the getting there was a long, hard-fought battle, a process that can't help but pop up in my writing on occasion. Early skirmishes related to that fight play out in my Civil War Ella Wood trilogy in an interesting way.

For this series, I wanted a strong young heroine, but despite the glamour and of the Antebellum period, the South was an extremely restrictive place for women. Especially unmarried women. So I knew immediately that Emily's character would put her at odds with her father. I just had to brainstorm what that would look like. Then I discovered the Maryland Institute.

The Maryland Institute for the Mechanical Arts was established in 1826. "Mechanical" is simply an old term for "vocational." Its purpose was to provide Baltimore's working class with training in a variety of marketable skills, among them cheesemaking, ironwork, drafting, and textile design, with a heavy emphasis on new technology and invention. In 1854, and lucky for my purposes, the Institute opened its design department to women. So I gave my Southern heroine a talent for the arts and a desire to (gasp!) pursue a career within them. My conflict was in place, and I had the convenience of a school as far south as Baltimore.

Eventually, Emily changes her focus from painting to photography, a hot new field with tons of improvements happening about the time of the Civil War, not to mention the importance of film in bringing war home to the masses. It was the perfect backdrop for the worldviews that would split father and daughter...which would also overflow into conflict over the morality of running a plantation built on slave labor, the primary conflict of the series and the times.

Want to read Emily's story? The first book of the Ella Wood trilogy is always free at all major online vendors. Just click the image above!

Before you go, be sure to check out the books and promos featured below. They're always free or bargain priced. I generally bounce between speculative and historical fiction (the main genres I write in), and sometimes some fantasy, middle grade, or a bit of romance, just to keep things interesting. 

Happy reading!


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Michelle Isenhoff

A former teacher and longtime homeschooler, MICHELLE ISENHOFF writes for children and adults. Her work has been reader-nominated for a Cybils Award, the Great Michigan Read, and the Maine Student Book Award. Michelle writes from Michigan where she bikes all summer and wears flip-flops all winter.