The Museum Muse–It is unlike any book you have ever read

Actress Audrey Hepburn once said that “Living is like tearing through a museum. Not until later do you really start absorbing what you saw, thinking about it, looking it up in a book, and remembering—because you can’t take it in all at once.” Museums are places where we take our history and chop it into bits so we can examine the fragments. In doing so—and with the help of a sympathetic museum muse—Mach, an award-winning poet, believes we would finally understand who we were, who we are now, and where we are going. This book is a search for that muse, and it’s a book you will want to read again and again.

You can order a signed copy of this book for only eight dollars ($8) postpaid direct from the publisher [Hill Song Press, PO Box 486, Lawrence, KS  66044]  You can, of course, order from the Amazon site, but you will find when you add their postage cost to their price, the book is more expensive than ordering it direct from Hill Song Press.

Here is what readers have said about The Museum Muse: 

“Tom Mach takes us on an entertaining, thought-provoking journey in The Mueum Muse. While reading this book, I felt as though I was sitting across a table from the author, sipping coffee while listening to him telll me about the multiple museums that abound in our lives. The writing is visual and speaks to both heart and soul. I found myself nodding in agreement on many of the 129 pages as I related to so much of what the author shows us. Illustrations sprinkled here and there added a bit of extra pleasure. This is a book that bears reading over and over. It is no surprise that Tom Mach is an award winning poet.”

“Museums are far more than recollections of the past, they are insightful guidelines to the present and thoughtful inspirations for the future. Some of the museums Mach visits are real places which the reader will recognize, some are historical storehouses of which they have heard or read, others are museums of the mind, all illuminating and illustrative of the far reaches of human memory. A prize-winning author in prose and poetry, Mach gives the reader great insight into who we were, are, and should be. I highly recommend this book.”

 

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All of These Books Have Enjoyed Great Reviews

Here is a brief summary of the above three historical novels Mach’s readers have loved & continue to treasure–

ANGELS AT SUNSET–Ater witnessing the 1871 Chicago Fire & jailed in 1917 for picketing for women’s rights, Jessica returns to Kansas, unaware of a revengeful man following, intent on murdering her family. A surprising spiritual experience ends the story. Click HERE

ALL PARTS TOGETHER–Jessica moves to Washington, DC days following the Quantrill raid that killed 200 unarmed men in Kansas. Civil War battles rage on while she is conflicted by affairs of the heart. She witnesses Lincoln’s assassination and her dream of the equality for freed slaves evaporates. Click HERE

SISSY!–In 1862 Jessica’s life changes after her parents’ murderer escapes. Disguising herself as a Yankee soldier, she is stopped by an “angel” from killing the wrong man. Featured are the Underground Railroad and major Civil War battle scenes. Click HERE

Here is a summary of a collection of short stories Mr. Mach has authored and which readers enjoy–

STORIES TO ENJOY–This is a collection of 16 different short stories which span various events of the human condition. For instance, “Read Characters” is about a writer who gets his wish–that his characters come alive. “Breakfast, Over Easy” makes you wonder about loyalty in the face of temptation. “The Plot to Kill Lincoln (Again)” lets you see if it would have been possible to reverse history. One reviewer surmised that Mach’s stories is reminiscent of O, Henry’s ability to provide shocking twists. Click HERE

Even if you claim you don’t like to read poetry, you will want to read Mr. Mach’s award-winning collection–

THE UNI VERSE shows how the earliest of astronomers and astrologers thought about the universe and how modern technology brought us to the realization that our God is indeed awesome. Click HERE

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The Sesquicentennial of the Quantrill Raid of Lawrence

One hundred fifty years ago on August 21, a horde of more than 400 ruffians, led by William Quantrill invaded Lawrence, Kansas, a town of around 1,200 people killing almost 200 men. The raid occurred sometime around 5:15 in the morning when it was just beginning to get light in the eastern horizon. Most of the Lawrence men were still asleep and did not have weapons to fight off these terrorists since the mayor had previously ordered all citizens to store their rifles and revolvers in the armory.

The invaders knew this, thanks to information from their spy, Fletch Taylor, who also said that the men on Quantrill’s death list—Reverend Hugh Fisher, Senator James Lane, and many others—would be in town that day. William Quantrill and his leaders—Todd, Anderson, Yeager, and Cole—planned to attack the town from the southea st, traveling from what is now 19th and Haskell to the Eldridge Hotel. Many reasons were cited as the motive for this attack, including • Sheriff Walker’s expulsion of Quantrill from Lawrence in 1860 • the Kansas City Jail collapse (which killed relatives of some of the guerillas–Bill Anderson’s sister, John McCorkle’s sister, and Cole’s cousin) • General Ewing’s Order Number 10, driving guerilla supporters from their homes.

Having done extensive research of this event for my books, Sissy! and All Parts Together, I came across several interesting vignettes of the raid. For instance, Jesse James (George James’ younger brother) most likely did not participate in the raid because Quantrill may have thought that Jesse was too young, too inexperienced, and too impulsive. The Lawrence City Band gave their very first performance on the evening before the raid. The performance likely took place at 8 pm at a location near the river—presumably just north of present-day 6th and Vermont.

Just past midnight on August 21,, a courier delivered a message from Captain Joshua Pike to General Ewing that a horde of men were spotted crossing the Kansas-Missouri border and heading west. Ewing dismissed the importance of this sighting, saying that Quantrill had gone on many small raids across the border in the past. But a scout named Theodore Bartles urged Ewing to reconsider the importance of what was about to happen. Bartles, surprised that Lawrence had not been warned of a possible imminent attack, didn’t think he’d be successful in outrunning the marauders because he’d have to travel north of the Kansas River and lose valuable time. However, an Indian named Pelathe volunteered to do it because he knew the westward trails quite well.

Later, at around three o’clock in the morning near Hesper, Kansas, Mrs. Jennings, a close neighbor of Joseph Stone (a man Quantrill’s raiders wanted to murder) is awakened by a pounding on her door. After Quantrill’s men searched the house in vain, one of them kidnapped a 13-year-old boy named Jacob Rote and forced him to guide the group through the darkness to Lawrence. Todd, one of Quantrill’s men, found Joseph Stone and beat him to death out of revenge for being responsible for getting Todd arrested in Kansas City.

The town of Lawrence had two chances to be warned of impending disaster. One was the courageous ride of Pelathe toward the town. The mare he rode died, and by the time Pelathe got there on foot it was too late. The other chance occurred when Henry Thompson, a black servant ran eight miles from Hester to Eudora. It was about 4:15 am when he got to the outskirts of Eudora. He stopped a man named Frederick Pila and told him about the murder of Joseph Stone and why he knew Quantrill and his men planned to attack Lawrence. Pila drove through Eudora to find someone on horseback who could gallop to Lawrence to warn the townspeople. Two men volunteered to rush but one was hurt after falling from his horse and the other man stopped to help find a doctor.

There were some interesting details uncovered concerning the raid, which are mentioned in my award-winning book, SISSY! For instance, Quantrill, apparently interested in robbing the sanctuary of St. John the Evangelist Church in Lawrence and burning the building, didn’t follow through after Bishop Miege, who answered the door, spoke to Quantrill. According to the archivist wtih the Archdiocese of Kansas City, there was something Miege said that made Quantrill change his mind. The archivist had no record of what the bishop told him, but I came up with a reasonable explanation in Sissy! The day after the Quantrill raid was also important, and All Parts Together starts with that day and goes forward to the days following a new order from General Ewing. in retaliation for the Quantrill raid, Ewing issued Order Number 11, which ordered residents of several western counties in Missouri to leave their homes by the 9th of September. The horrific Quantrill raid of August 21, 1863, will forever be remembered by Lawrence, which some historians consider a citadel for freedom.

Tom Mach’s three award-winning historical novels—Sissy!, All Parts Together, and Angels at Sunset—follow the life of Jessica Radford who experienced the Civil War, the Quantrill Raid, Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s Theater, and imprisonment in 1917 for picketing the White House in support of the suffragist movement. More information about these books may be found on TomMach.com

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Finalist in International Book Awards–Angels at Sunset

Reviewers & readers alike have said this book is outstanding

Everyone who has read Tom Mach’s historical novel “Angels at Sunset” loved it. The judges were so impressed with it, they named this book as a Finalist in the International Book Awards competition.  While the suffrage movement is certainly a backdrop of this unusual story, the real story is one woman’s lack of forgiveness over the death of her daughter and one man’s desire for murderous revenge. It’s a guaranteed page-turner. To order, click HERE

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Entertaining & Thought-Provoking Books by Tom Mach

The above does not include all of the books author Tom Mach has written. If you scroll down this page you will be able to read more information about each of these books and where you can order them.

THE UNI VERSE, which won the Nelson Poetry Book Award, is a collection of poetry dealing with the wonders of our universe. Many of these poems are written in a style of Walt Whitman and contain incredible insight about our cosmos. One top Amazon reviewer said of this book “There are sparks in these poems that are bright shining diamonds lurking amongst other minor gems.” It’s available for only $6 + $4 for postage and handling. (For an author-signed copy mail your check for $10 to Hill Song Press, PO Box 486, Lawrence, KS  66044.) You may also order this book as a paperback by Amazon by clicking here: The Uni Verse or as Kindle eBook by clicking here: The Uni Verse-Kindle eBook. or as a Nook eBook by clicking here The Uni Verse-Nook eBook. Here is a summary of the author’s other books.–

ANGELS AT SUNSET –The novel begins in 1920 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where Jessica Radford listens to the very first radio broadcast on KDKA, which broadcasts the presidential election returns. Because of the passage of the 19th Amendment, this is the first time she has ever voted. Many years earlier, she advocated against slavery and pushed for equal rights of the freed slaves. Later, she joined Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and other suffragists – not only for the right to vote but for other rights women ought to have, such as the right to speak in public, the right to have a profession, the right to have property and the right to her own children if she got divorced, as well as many, many other rights denied to them simply because they were women. It was a hard-fought struggle and Jessica relives it as she reads her a biography that her daughter had written about her. AND-all the while, unknown to her, a man is planning to kill her. How will it end? A top Amazon reviewer said this was best book he’s read !!  (For an author-signed copy mail your check for $17 [$13 + $4 postage] to Hill Song Press, PO Box 486, Lawrence, KS  66044.) You may also order this book as a paperback by Amazon by clicking here: Angels at Sunset or as a Kindle eBook by clicking here: Angels at Sunset-Kindle Ebook or as a Nook eBook by clicking here: Angels at Sunset-Nook Ebook.

ALL PARTS TOGETHER –The opening scene is the day after Quantrill’s massacre of 200 people in Lawrence in August, 1863. Jessica Radford, homeless, is able to travel to Washington, DC with a man named Otto and his wife Penelope (Jessica’s aunt). Working as a nanny for Otto’s two children, Jessica still finds time to write as well as push for the abolishment of slavery. Her life is complicated  because she thinks she loves Otto while refusing a rmarriage offer from Matt, a close friend. After witnessing the shooting of Lincoln at Ford’s Theater, she feels her cause for eventually citizenship of freed slaves is shattered. But a knock on her hotel door by a suffragist changes her perspective. Historical information in this novel is extremely accurate, including the minute details surrounding Lincoln’s death. Mr. Mach was, in fact, invited to the book shop at the Lincoln Presidential Museum three times. If you’ve enjoyed Gone With the Wind, you will fall in love with All Parts Together.   (For an author-signed copy mail your check for $18 [$14 + $4 postage] to Hill Song Press, Press, PO Box 486, Lawrence, KS  66044 ) You may also order this book as a paperback by Amazon by clicking here All Parts Together or as a Kindle eBook by clicking here: All Parts Together Kindle eBook or as a Nook eBook by clicking here: All Parts Together Nook eBook. 

SISSY! is the name of a guardian angel that only Nellie (a freed slave girl and an adopted child by Jessica’s family) sees. In 1862, Jessica is confronted with tragedy. Her parents are burned alive by border ruffians and Nellie is kidnapped by a man named Sam Toby.  Out for revenge against the Confederacy, Jessica dresses as a male Union solder and fights in the Civil War.  Roger Toby, Sam’s identical twin brother buys Nellie to earn her freedom. But while fighting on the Confederate side, he is wounded and is almost killed by Jessica, who, at that point, is delusional from lack of sleep. Jessica sees and hears the angel Sissy telling her to refrain from killing Roger. After she is discovered to be a woman she is forced to return home to Lawrence, Kansas, only to be pursued by Matt Lightfoot, a close friend who eventually makes love to her on the night prior to the dawn raid of William Quantrill. Will Matt be killed in raid? What will happen to Jessica?  The history of this book was so accurately detailed that the author was invited by Kansas University to talk to a history class. For an author-signed copy mail your check for $16 [$12 + $4 postage] to Hill Song Press, Press, PO Box 486, Lawrence, KS  66044 ) You may also order this book as a paperback by Amazon by clicking here Sissy! or as a Kindle eBook by clicking here: Sissy!-Kindle eBook or as a Nook eBook by clicking here: Sissy!-Nook ebook

STORIES TO ENJOY –A collection of 16 short stories by the author. For example, “Real Characters” is about a writer who gets his wish that his characters come to life. “Breakfast, Over Easy” makes you wonder about loyalty in the face of temptation. “Frozen History” is look into the future of a man who has the ability to freeze the world. If he uses that power, what will happen? “Son” makes you feel differently about compassion. One novelist called these stories memorable and engaging, with surprising O. Henry twists. For an author-signed copy mail your check for $14 [$10 + $4 postage] to Hill Song Press, Press, PO Box 486, Lawrence, KS  66044 ) You may also order this book as a paperback by Amazon by clicking here Stories To Enjoy or as a Kindle eBook by clicking here: Stories To Enjoy-Kindle eBoook or as a Nook eBook by clicking here: Stories to Enjoy-Nook eBook

ADVENT–Only available as an eBook for $2.99, this is a futuristic novel of what might happen if a man–with the support of Iran and Syria–threatens to destroy other nations with an EMP weapon while, at the same time, a comet is on a collision course of the Earth. A page-turner filled with suspense and wonder and a surprising ending. To order this as a Kindle eBook click here Advent-Kindle eBook or as a Nook eBook by clicking here: Advent-Nook eBook.

AN ANGEL FOR FATHER –Only available as an eBook for $2.99, this novel raises an interesting question–what would happen if a priest, unjustly accused of molesting a child, is murdered and all the evidence points to one particular woman? It seems to detective Matt Gunnison like an open-and-shut case until he discovers the shocking true identity of the real murderer.  If you love whodunnit murder mysteries, you will certainly enjoy this one. To order this as a Kindle eBook click here An Angel For Father-Kindle eBook or a Nook eBook by clicking here: An Angel For Father-Nook Book

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Why You Really Ought To Know About Jessica Radford

Down deep inside everyone’s soul is a need for love, but that need can be fulfilled if we give that love away freely to someone else. That’s why I want to tell you about Jessica Radford.

Jessica is a 19-year-old woman who comes home to Kansas after spending a year at Carlotta College. She’s attractive but her head is filled with dreams that appear unrealistic in view of the fact that her parents are poor and that her uncle (who provided money for her education) was killed at Shiloh. Oh, did I tell you that this takes place in Lawrence, Kansas in 1862?  Well, how would you feel if I told you that she has an adopted 16-year-old black sister named Nellie who insists that she sees her guardian angel named Sissy? And how would you feel if I told you that both of her parents are burned alive that evening by border ruffians? I think you might say that Nellie is disillusioned (no one else sees Nellie’s guardian angel) and if your parents were killed like that you’d want revenge. Right? That’s exactly where Jessica found herself.

But the question is–How do we go from that horrible situation to a place of forgiveness for the murderer who got away?  Well, in my history-inspired novel Sissy! and in the following two books on Jessica called All Parts Together and Angels at Sunset, she struggles with the issue of forgiveness. I can relate to that because a member of my own family refused to forgive her brother for something he did many years ago. Forgiveness is tough but forgiveness is a decision and not a feeling.

It might help you to know a little more about Jessica Radford. I tell my readers that she’s a 21st century woman living in the 19th century. Jessica believes there should be no distinction between men and women as far as all rights were concerned. To see for yourself why Jessica was so different than other women of her time, read the opening to Sissy!

        “Thank you, but I’m not helpless,” nineteen-year-old Jessica Radford said when the stagecoach driver offered her his hand after she opened her door.

         The man narrowed his eyes in surprise as he dropped his hand. “Sorry, ma’am, I was only askin.’”

         Jessica hope she didn’t sound rude, but men shouldn’t assume all ladies were helpless. After all, she used to plow Pa’s field and chop wood at home, didn’t she?

Jessica asserts her independence again—as well as her abolitionist feelings toward slavery  in All Parts Together when, the day after her town of Lawrence was destroyed by invaders, she walks through the rubble with Tinker a former black slave….

     “You were right to feel outrage, Tinker,” she says. “Why yesterday some of these rebels heard an infant cry, and they ran into a cornfield, shooting a man dead—with the man’s infant still in his arms. These pigs don’t deserve compassion.”

     “Except, Miz Jessica, the Good Book say dat we should—”

     “I don’t care what the Good Book says.” She stopped, spun around, and glared at him. “Tinker, this is foolish. Walk next to me. I don’t have any dreaded disease that you have to walk behind me the whole time.”

     “I jest don’t feel comfortable walkin’ next to a nice, respectable white lady. But I’ll come up if yah say so, Miz Jessica.”

      “I do say so, Tinker.”

Later, in Angels at Sunset, Jessica again asserts her free spirit and her “I don’t care what you think” attitude when she meets a suffragist named Alice Paul and Ms. Paul’s planning committee, which includes Lucy Burns and Crystal Eastman. Lucy speaks first….

 “Mr. Wilson will be a challenge. When he was president of Princeton University, he discouraged negroes from applying for admission. He will likely do the same with women in denying us a hearing concerning our right to vote.”

“Exactly,” says Crystal. “That’s why we plan to humiliate him.”

Jessica opens were mouth in surprise. “How?”

Alice leans forward in her chair and dissects Jessica with piercing eyes. “Any suggestions?”

Jessica is taken aback by Paul’s unexpected rudeness, but she meets her eyes with an angry stare of her own. “Alice, we need to find a way to slap some sense into his stubborn head.”

Alice Paul finally betrays a hint of a smile. “Ah, Jessica, I see you are a woman of courage as well.”

“I am also a woman of rage,” Jessica adds.

Yes, at times, Jessica is a woman of rage, but she is a woman who tries hard to ignore the little girl within her who is  weeping in pain for the need to be understood. (Isn’t that what compassion is all about anyway—the need to understand others?)  In Sissy, her heart is broken when her parents are killed. In All Parts Together, her heart is broken when her much-admired President Lincoln is assassinated, and in Angels at Sunset, her heart is broken when she finds she was wrong to condemn a wonderful man who married her daughter.

Incidentally, Angels at Sunset is being released in February 2012 as a printed book, but if you want to get a significant discount on this book by pre-ordering it now please press the “Contact Me” button on this page and I will provide you with more information.

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ANGELS at SUNSET –”accurate history disguised as a novel”

 

 

 

What do the following events have in common?

  • the Great Chicago Fire of 1871
  • the women’s suffrage movement assassination during 1865-1920
  • the assassination of President McKinley in 1901

Answer: These events are covered in an extremely well-researched historical novel, Angels at Sunset about a woman who relives these episodes as she reads a biography about herself in 1920. Little does she know she is being followed by a revengeful man who is intent on killing her and her family. Who is he, why is he following her, and why does he want her dead?  (The answers lie in this book, which you will find hard to put down.)

ONLY  $16.95    CALL 1-800-BOOK-LOG to order

The novel begins in 1920 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where Jessica Radford listens to the very first radio broadcast on KDKA, which broadcasts the presidential election returns.  Because of the passage of the 19th Amendment, this is the first time she has ever voted. Many years earlier, she advocated against slavery and pushed for equal rights of the freed slaves.  Later, she joined Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and other suffragists–not only for the right to vote but for other rights women ought to have, such as the right to speak in public, the right to have a profession, the right to have  property and the right to her own children if she got divorced, as well as many, many other rights denied to them simply because they were women. It was a hard-fought struggle and Jessica relives it as she reads her a biography that her daughter had written about her.  AND–all the while, unknown to her, a man is planning to kill her. How will it end?

If you’d like to receive a sample chapter of this book absolutely free, simply send your request to: Free Sample Chapter, Hill Song Press, PO Box 486, Lawrence, KS  66044  This sample describes the first woman to run for President of the U.S.–in 1872.

OR–Click on www.TomMach.tumblr.com

OR–If you want to read the story of myself and about my book, click on http://www.seniormonthly.net/Senior-March2012.pdf

Best-selling mystery author Nancy Pickard said that “Tom Mach brings the accuracy of a historian and the insight of a novelist to his dramatic and entertating story.” The Midwest Book Review says that Angels at Sunset is an excellent pick for community historical fiction collections.”

To get an author-signed copy of ANGELS AT SUNSET send $16.95 plus $3.05 postage to: Hill Song Press, POB 486, Lawrence, KS  66044.  For a non-signed copy you can either buy through Amazon.com or order it by calling 1-800-BOOK-LOG.

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Angels at Sunset is like the movie “Titanic”–bringing to life the gripping story of despised but determined heroines

ANGELS AT SUNSET is now also an Ebook for $2.99.  

COMMEN TS?  Please write to author Tom Mach to tell him anything that’s on your mind. It doesn’t just have to be about his books. Maybe you have other questions. Simply click on this word–Comments–and the site will redirect you.  Thanks.

 In Angels at Sunset, Mach vividly describes the humiliation and trials women had to endure to have the right to a voice concerning their future. Weaving the history of women’s suffrage into an emotional, factually-accurate story, author Tom Mach makes us aware of the great privilege of voting.  Coline Jenkins, a direct descendant of that famous suffragist, Elizabeth Cady Stanton—who wrote the foreword to Angels at Sunset—says we should never forget that future generations will stand on our shoulders. Mach contends that if today’s woman was fully attuned to the sufferings these heroines endured just to get the vote, she would more likely rush to the ballot box instead of conjuring up an excuse for not voting. 

Look at these two photos. The top one is a photo of  Tom Mach standing before the Kansas House of Representatives. The one to the right shows author Tom Mach meeting with Kansas Governor Brownback, who enthusiastically had this photo taken of the author and his latest work, Angels at Sunset.  These two photos were taken as a result of Tom Mach’s original suggestion of a resolution to the Kansas legislature to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the passage of women’s suffrange in Kansas.

A senior reviewer for Midwest Book Review said that “Angels at Sunset is somewhat like the Titanic—the movie was to the real Titanic what this novel is to the real struggles faced by women in that day.”  While there is a thread of fictional suspense woven through the book, the basic story of women’s suffrage from 1865 through 1920 is told in an emotional and compassionate way, and yet in reliably accurate detail.

An easy way to purchase a copy of Angels at Sunset ($16.95) is to simply call 1-800-BOOKLOG.  To get an author-signed copy, however, you can submit payment (including $2.05 for postage) to:  HILL SONG PRESS, PO Box 486, Lawrence,  KS  66044

 

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The angels at sunset. Why did they have to wait 144 years?

[Scroll down to read a sample chapter]

Women asserting their right to protest? Women jailed? Treated like common criminals?

Hello, welcome to the United States of the early 20th century. In 1913, they paraded in Washington, DC for the cause of women suffrage and they were booed, hissed, and cursed at. In 1917, they were arrested when they picketed the White House. They were not allowed a jury trial, thrown in prison, forced to eat contaminated food, and live in a filthy, unsanitary cell.  One jailed suffragist on a hunger strike had food forced down her throat. Another had her head bashed against a prison wall. Yet another had a heart attack.

Welcome to the United States of the 19th century, where married women were not allowed to sign contracts or own property (even it was theirs before marriage)–and, if divorced, had no right to their own children. They were discouraged from publicly speaking, from going to college, from having a profession, and from serving on a jury. And they were not allowed to vote–despite the fact that were taxed and subject to the laws made by representatives. (Recall how patriots of the Revolutionary War decried that “taxation without representation is tyranny?”)

Many people are not aware of the long wait of 144 years (from 1776 to 1920) that women had to endure just to be free to vote anywhere in the country. Many women today take for granted the rights that were denied them for so long. Many others don’t care to read a long, boring history about this event.  Welcome to “Angels at Sunset” which projects this history in a most entertaining and enlightening manner because it’s history disguised as a novel. Angels at Sunset tells you what these historical figures–such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Alice Paul–were REALLY like. They will touch your heart and make you feel as if you are actually there witnessing all of this. It makes everything come alive.

Angels at Sunset is truly a well-written page-turner. Check out the reviews. Talk to folks who have read it.  Author Tom Mach took it upon himself to get Kansas to recognize 2012 as the 100th anniversary of the passage of Kansas suffrage. As a result, the Kansas legislature passed, on April 25, 2012, a resolution commemorating the “Kansas Angels at Sunset Centennial.”

Go to the right-hand side of this page and see the book trailers for Tom Mach’s books, including on for “Angels at Sunset.” And please contact Tom Mach if you have any questions. He would love to hear from you.

Angels at Sunset is available both as a paperback and as an eBook.  To order it from Amazon as a paperback, click HERE    To order it from Amazon as an eBook, click HERE  Or if you wish to receive a copy autographed by the author himself, send a check or money order for $17 to the following address: Hill Song Press,  PO Box 486,  Lawrence, KS  66044

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Sample chapter from Angels at Sunset

(The above composite image and the text shown below are copyrighted by Tom Mach and any reproduction of any of this by any means is illegal and strictly forbidden.)

A note of explanation…It is 1920 as 78-year-old Jessica Radford reads her biography, as written by her daughter Emma. As she reads the horrible account of the 1871 Chicago Fire, she recalls how Devin Alcott, a gifted black musician, had eloped with her other daughter, Mitzi and is now attempting to escape the ravaging fire. Nellie (mentioned in this chapter,) is Jessica’s adopted black sister. The following scene occurs about halfway through the novel…

October 9, 1871  1:15 am   (Chicago, Illinois)

Clutching his oboe with one hand while holding Mitzi with the other, Devin walks quickly toward the Washington Street entrance of the opera house. Mitzi shrieks at the eerie sight before them. Leaping, hungry flames spring across the horizon from the southwest. The glow from multiple fires gives an uncanny sense of daylight to a sky that ought to be black. A howling wind gusts and dust and ash sting their faces.

Mitzi coughs and gasps at the pungent smell of the grayish-black smoke. “I am frightened, Devin.”

“Do not be, my darling. We should be safe here. Both the stage and auditorium have steam-powered pumps that can flood this building with water.”

While he is reassuring her, men rush into the front office building carrying buckets of water. “Be sure to soak that roof,” one of the men orders.

“If they can keep that roof wet,” Devin explains, “it should prevent the fire from destroying this fine building.”

Two colorful banners, hanging from the top floor, one announcing “Crosby Opera House—Grand Opening” and the other “Theodore Thomas’ Unrivaled Orchestra,” flap violently in the driving wind. A small firebrand carried by the relentless gale lands near the entrance and a man quickly extinguishes it.

Devin and Mitzi enter the building and, along with several others, follow a man carrying a large lantern up the staircase. “When we get to the top floor,” the man explains, “you will be able to see the scope of the fire.”

Mitzi is out of breath when she reaches the upper floor. “I feel like an elephant climbing up a ladder,” she says, forcing herself to laugh.

“I’m sorry, darling,” he says as he peers through a window. Blazing tongues of red flame spread from the gasworks close to Monroe and Market to the Lakeside Publishing Company in the Clark and Adams area. The conflagration is a half-mile wide, shooting hundreds of feet of burning destruction into the air. The fire appears to advance slowly toward them, growing taller and gaining momentum like the ocean surf about to pounce on a sandy beach. The wind gusts and whirling embers ping against the windows. The bell continues to toll from the courthouse cupola. On the street below, crowds are gathering, many carrying bundles, some pushing their belongings onto horse-drawn wagons.

“I want to get out of here, Devin,” Mitzi cries, pulling on his sleeve. “Please!”

“Certainly, darling.” Devin, still holding his instrument, escorts her down the steps, and as he does so, he sees Albert Crosby and his cousin Uranus rushing through the art gallery taking paintings off the walls. Albert’s head turns and he briefly glares at Devin. He then orders someone to take some of the artwork down to the street.

Mitzi smiles weakly at Devin. “It appears Mr. Crosby is upset with you. Perhaps you will not be permitted to play.”

“I am not concerned about that. Besides, we will not be able to stay here. Come, I will find us another place of safety.”

The wind is fierce when they emerge and Mitzi covers the side of her face with her hand. Burning embers spin against the buildings. Two men, struggling with a large metal cash box, emerge from a bank. Four other men carry an expensive divan and parlor chairs from the Field, Leiter & Co. department store down the other side of Washington Street. They place their pieces of furniture in the street and rush back.

“They are undoubtedly trying to save their important merchandise,” Devin explains. “I suppose they will eventually load it all on a wagon.”

“Where shall we go to hide?” Mitzi says, her breathing getting heavier.

Devin hesitates, looking down both sides of the street. “I think we ought to head toward the river. The fire will certainly not travel that far.”

“If you think so,” Mitzi says, her voice shaking. She squeezes his fingers so tightly he winces in pain. Her eyes are now blue marbles of fright and her face contorts as if she is about to cry.

Devin escorts her up to the raised wooden sidewalk along Dearborn Street and feels her body tremble. He recalls having once read how, just three years ago, General Grant gave his nomination speech back there, at the original Crosby Opera House. But now it may soon be up in flames—as might also be true of the courthouse in the center of the square. That, too, is an important structure, Devin reminds himself. It is where the body of President Lincoln lay in state more than six years ago.

“Take me out of this terrible place!” Mitzi shouts.

“I will, darling. I will. Let’s go to Charlotte’s house. She lives on Canal Street north of here. As I say, the fire will most certainly not cross the river.”

“I don’t believe I can walk that far in my condition.”

“I will hire a conveyance.” Clutching his oboe as if he were choking it, he grips her hand as they gradually make their way into the street. An out-of-date steamer passes them by, then a hose cart. In the excitement, Devin releases her hand and almost trips over the metal track of a horse-drawn trolley. “I am all right,” he tells her, but he feels disoriented, as if he were aboard a boat about to capsize.

As he stands staring at his oboe, surprised he had not dropped it, he barely misses being struck by the powerful hooves of a galloping horse pulling a shay. Inside the chaise is a man dressed as if he were going out to a formal occasion. He curses at Devin and drives on. A young woman wearing a filthy petticoat and carrying an infant cries in anguish as she runs down the street.

“Please do not be concerned,” Devin says comfortingly to Mitzi, as he gently squeezes her hand. “We will find someone.” He spots a wagon being loaded with crates, food, and clothing while two horses nervously clip-clop their hooves on the brick street, anxious to depart.

A bearded, middle-aged man is hurriedly stacking into his wagon merchandise a woman is handing him. Surely, this man will help me, Devin thinks.

“I have a pregnant lady here,” Devin shouts at him. “I need to get to Canal Street across the river.”

“Sorry, I am not going there.”

“Then take us anywhere, but we have to leave.”

“I cannot do that, mister. The missus and me have got to leave right away. We cannot carry passengers. You need to get out of here. This entire area will soon become a tinderbox.”

Devin releases Mitzi’s hand and forces his way onto the man’s cart. The stranger rears back in surprise. Devin clutches the man’s collar. “You must take us!” he yells.

“John,” the woman next to the man says, “let them travel with us. We will just have to make room.”

 “Well, then, it will cost you,” John growls at Devin.

“How much?”

“Fifty dollars.”

“Fifty dollars? For that short distance? That is absurd!”

“Well, if you are not interested, then I shall be on my way.”

“No, wait!” Devin presents him with the oboe, now covered with soot. “Here, this is worth a lot more than fifty dollars.”

Dismay washes over Mitzi’s face. “No, Devin! That instrument means a lot to you.”

“Not as much as you, darling.” He turns an angry stare at the driver. “Well? Will you accept this as payment?”

The man grabs the oboe. “I will take you and your companion as far as Lake Street. I need to pick up my brother there and then Claire and I will be heading out to Wells and Hubbard across the river.”

“But that is in the direction we need to go also.”

“There won’t be any room. My brother has a wife and three children to take with him. Do you want this instrument back, sir?”

“No. We’ll go to Lake Street.”

“We are wasting precious time having this conversation.” The man helps Mitzi up to a forward position in the wagon. He laughs with a sneer as he turns to Devin. “Is that your colored baby in the white woman’s belly?”

Devin clenches his fist, but Mitzi grabs Devin’s arm and gives him a gentle squeeze. “It will be our first child,” Mitzi says in a happy voice as she tries to ease the tension.

Claire moves over to Mitzi and whispers to her. “Please forgive John. He’s in an awful state. His son is missing in the fire.”

“What are you murmuring about back there, woman?” John demands.

“Nothing,” Claire says, moving back to her original seat.

As the wagon makes its way north, Devin hears the terrifying sound of collapsing walls and ear-piercing screams from a rushing crowd. He turns around to see the courthouse ablaze while the bell continues to toll, as if sounding its own death knell. Plate glass windows crack and timbers snap like matchsticks as the fire guts the building. Just then, the courthouse cupola collapses and a huge boom resonates as the huge five-ton bell crashes to the ground. Burning pieces of board fly high overhead, setting more fires to the east.

The wagon driver cusses at the coaches, carts, and costermongers’ wagons blocking the street. He jumps out of the wagon and leads his horse around the clutter. Another man across the street waves a bottle of whisky. “Hell has finally come to earth!” he yells at no one in particular. He takes a swig from his bottle. Hot cinders are falling, thick and fast. The waist-length hair of a little girl catches fire. “I’ll put that out fer yah,” the drunk shouts, as she runs toward him. He pours the contents of his bottle on her. The girl screams as her hair turns into a blue flame.

“Stop!” Devin orders the driver. “Save that child!”

“If I stop,” the man replies as his horse gains speed, “we’ll all be dead.”

Devin is about to object further when he hears Mitzi utter a loud groan. Her eyes are wide with surprise and worry lines cross her forehead. “Oh my God!” she cries, a look of disbelief washing over her.

“What is it?”

She grasps his sleeve. “I think maybe it is time,” she says in an apologetic tone.

“Time? I don’t understand.”

Claire gestures to him to look down at the floor as a small pool of fluid forms on the floorboards.

“We will have to stop, John,” Claire says with concern. “This woman might be in labor.”

“No matter,” he answers, “we’re almost there anyway.”

John and Devin help Mitzi down from the wagon. Claire wrings her hands helplessly as John whips his horse to move faster. “You might have time yet, but you need to find a doctor if you can,” she calls out, trying to be heard above the din from the crowds and the crash of buildings in the distance.

Devin shakes his head in despair as he watches the wagon drive away, disappearing into a haze of dust and ash. “Of course I need a doctor,” he mutters. “But where do I find one?”

***

1920 Chicago

Jessica stopped reading as the Maxwell slowed and threaded its way past trolley cars, automobiles, and horse-drawn carriages. Emma found a space at a parking lot by City Hall near LaSalle and Washington. From there, it was about a three or four block walk to Dearborn. Jessica carried the manuscript with her and said nothing as Emma went on about the history of Chicago and how quickly it had rebuilt after the fire.

“One would never have known,” Jessica said, as she walked with Emma on Washington toward State Street, “that a majestic opera house once stood here. Now all we have in its place are monuments to business—stores and office buildings.”

Emma shrugged. She strolled a bit farther before adding, “Would you care to go with me to Marshall Field’s? I would like to see what they offer in women’s fashions.”

“No, I want to read what you’ve written about Mitzi in Chicago. Maybe I’ll stop at a restaurant and have a cup of coffee.”

“Okay, Mother. I’ll join you.”

“I’d rather be alone with this manuscript. Why don’t you shop and meet me here?”

“But, I—”

“You don’t understand, Emma. I feel as if I were standing near the gravesite of my daughter. I need to be alone.”

After Emma departed, Jessica thanked the waitress for bringing her coffee. From the restaurant window, she watched Emma cross the street and head for the Marshall Field’s store. Jessica knew what the next events in the story should be. Even though the restaurant was comfortably warm, she nonetheless felt a chill. She opened the manuscript to 1871 Chicago, trying to ignore a feeling of dread that began to unfold before her eyes….

© 2012 by Tom Mach

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