Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Excerpt and Giveaway: Tower of Tears (The McClusky Series, #1) by Rhoda D'Ettore


Betrayal. Despair. Murder. Mystery. Romance. Blackmail. “

If God be good, Mr. Landon will burn in the eternal flames of hell. 

If God be bad, he will suffer much worse.” 

In 1820, a young woman and her son leave Ireland for a better life in America. 

She soon suffers heartache and tragedy, while residing with family whom she has never met. Unbeknownst to her, the family had already set her up with employment in a factory–a factory run by a lecherous man. 

This is the first book in a series that will follow the McClusky family while they become Americanized while face with the Potato Famine, the US Civil War, and the Industrial Revolution.


Chapter 1: The Voyage

At 22 years old, Jane McCluskey held her three year old son's hand, and embarked on a transcontinental journey. With two bags full of clothing, very little coins in her pocket, and the hopes and dreams in her head of a better life in America, she climbed the wooden ramp onto the ship. This was the first time she had ever been away from her little farming community with its one room mud homes, crushed spirits, and familiar faces. Now she was surrounded by various languages she could not understand, was being pounded by passersby, and was engulfed by the stench of body odor, sweat, and fear.
She was terrified knowing that her future lay in the hands of a cousin in Philadelphia that she never met, and her 30 year old husband, Thomas, that was staying behind in Ireland. She and
Thomas had been married for almost four years, and although he was older, he was a very protective and loving husband. He was a good friend of her older brother Matthew, and when Thomas saw Jane for the first time, a thunderbolt struck through his heart. He promised her his undying love within a few weeks, within months they were married, and soon their first child, Liam, was born. 

Since then, Jane had gone through two more pregnancies, but did not carry to term. The heartache of a mother losing a child cannot be measured, but Jane was determined to find a better life for the child she still had. In their little village, the life expectancy was about forty years
old, hunger or disease being the main culprits. She had accepted the fact that Thomas may not live long enough to see their children grown, but often, the children were taken by disease before
puberty. It was a fact of life in Ireland, due to poor hygiene, bad health care, and lack of food. Usually the summer months were called the "starving months" because the crops from the prior year did not last the whole way through the season. When fall came about, tables and bellies were once again filled with food, and of course, potatoes. That is, until the next summer arrived.
But that was behind her now.

She and Liam followed the other women and children to the lower deck, trying to find a place to
settle in. The men stayed above to limit abuse, crime, rape, and worse. The deck on which they were staying had nothing but straw on the floor with blankets to lay over it, as makeshift
mattresses. It was very dark, lit only by a few candles along the walls. As she tried to claim a section for her and her son, she wondered how many people laid on that straw before her, how
many bugs had crawled over it, and even how many men may have urinated in it. As she tried to prop Liam comfortably against a wall, using their sack of belongings as a pillow, the inevitable
came, "Mamai, I need to go!" Just like a child to wait until a mother is busy.

Turning to a non-threatening older woman, Jane asked, "Could you please point me in the direction of the facilities?"

The woman smiled, a toothless smile as her long curly graying hair wrapped her face, "Oh, lass, you have never hopped one of these fish before?"

Not entirely sure what the woman meant, Jane responded, "No. I have never left my village. Can you help me, please? My son needs to relieve himself." Hoping that would get a more direct
answer, she waited.

"We ain't got no facilities on this fish, the chamber pots are down a bit, follow the stench, and you will find them." Chamber post. Using them at home was one thing, but doing that sort of
business in public, in front of strangers was another.

Jane considered her options, wondering how long she would have to endure such a deplorable situation. Afraid to leave her belongings, she grabbed her bags and her son again, pushed through the chaos of families trying to get settled, and found the chamber pots at the far end of the ship. A thin sheet was the only privacy available to her. When Liam finished, she relieved herself as well, trying to hold his hand so he did not get lost in the confusion. There were
piles of filthy rags near the pots for wiping, and the thought of using them made her sick. "Jesus, Mary, Joseph! I hope America is worth this!" she muttered to herself. She then tore a piece of her
dress to use, because there was no way that she or her child were using those rags.

She and Liam pushed back along the ship trying to find a place, and when they approached their previous spot, another family was there. "They took my spot! Mamai! Where we go now?" Then tears started draining from his eyes. He was rubbing his eyes, as drool came out of his mouth. He was tired, it had already been a six hour day, and they had not set sail yet. Jane heard stories of people getting the sea illness, so she was not sure how she and Liam would react to the rough sea. She just looked around for another spot, when a woman with two children offered to move over to make room.

"Come here lad! Come sit by us. We have toys," said the woman to Liam. She began moving their own sacks over so that Jane and Liam could both fit comfortably.

"Thank you, ma'am. I was starting to feel very much alone, in a crowd," Jane said, already missing home.

"What are you talking, girl? We're Irish, we are never alone, you know we all have ten more siblin's somewhere!"

They both laughed. It was nice to know that she was going to have a friend on this voyage.
Jane asked her, "Where are you headed?"

"Well, it's a city called Philadelphia. My husband's a cabinet maker, and has been there some years tryin' to save up. Of course, the factories want the Germans, but even with a name like
McNealy, my husband was able to send us tickets for this trip. God Bless 'em!"

Hearing that made Jane relax a little, she was concerned about Thomas finding and keeping work in America. "We will be heading to Philadelphia also!" She then thought about asking so
many questions, but her most immediate concern was, "When will be setting sail? How do we find out?"

The woman, who identified herself as Anna, mother of two, wife of a cabinetmaker, said with a smile, "Ah, no one warned ya? We could be sitting at port for days, even weeks waiting for 'em to fill the ship. They won't sail 'less they feel it was worth the trip in gold! We girls would be more worried 'bout the chil'ren having to be on these ships so long. One o' these days, women will rule the world, you'll see!" Jane was not pleased to hear this news at all. Weeks, just sitting at dock? That did not sound appealing to her at all.

"This was not told to us when we bought our ticket. As a matter of fact, I was told we would have separate quarters. The ticket cost almost a years' harvest." Jane said with a frown.

"Aye, they don't tell you the truth when they are taking your money--that is how they make it their money. Separate from the men is what they meant, and separate we are."

Anna and Jane conversed, with the children playing practically on their laps. They were from villages not far from each other, and had very similar lives. Anna's husband leased a farm in Ireland, but the landlord kept raising the rent so high that they could not afford it any longer. When he got to America, he found a job as an apprentice, learned quickly and excelled in his craft. His work was desired by many, but once they heard his name, he was paid half that of the German carpenters, although his work could rival theirs. This worried Jane, Thomas was a farmer, what kind of work could he find in the city, and would he get paid half of the normal worker?

Jane began to wonder how Thomas was doing already. They had never been apart, and with her and Liam gone, he decided to take in two boarders, hoping to raise money to meet her in
America. For the last month, she had been teaching him to cook, clean, and scrub. She wanted to make sure that he could take care of himself and the boarders before she left. He abided by her wishes, and did as she told him. He did not want her worrying about him, she had enough to worry about in the new land. Living with a new family was going to be hard enough, kin or
no kin. Her aunt had moved from Ireland to Philadelphia when Jane was very young, and although Jane's mother would read to her the letters from her newly Americanized family, Jane did not remember her her aunt at all.

After Jane's mother died, she continued writing to both her Aunt Eva, and Eva's daughter, Katie.
It was Katie who extended the invitation to come live with them in America. She had hoped all would work out, and she intended to be an excellent guest. As nice as Aunt Eva and Katie were in their letters, Jane wondered if they would have the patience to slowly teach she and Liam the ways of the new world. Knowing it could take a year or more for Thomas to save up money to follow her was unnerving.

At that thought, the ship began to sail. It was almost nightfall, and already her body was stiff from sitting on the wooden floor, in a cramped space. She was already exhausted, and with Liam
nestled closely to her, she crawled into a fetal position as she drifted off to sleep. In the distance she could hear babies crying, mothers correcting their children, and children wrestling, but it was
seeming further and further away as she fell into her dream.

National Military Family Association
$1 per sale will be donated, regardless of what format is purchased—ebook, print, audiobook & regardless of site purchased—will be donated to the National Military Family Association. This organization helps families reconnect when the parents return from deployments, as well as helping families with other transitions and keeping the children active while the parents are deployed.

About the author:
Rhoda D’Ettore was born in Woodbury, New Jersey, into a family of 5 siblings–which has provided her with plenty of comical material. She began working at the United States Postal Service at 25 years old, and over the past 15 years has accumulated many humorous stories about situations that the public never gets to know about. Her first ebook, “Goin’ Postal: True Stories of a U.S. Postal Worker” was so popular that readers requested it in paperback. Recently, she published the humorous “Goin’ Postal” in paperback along with another story entitled, “The Creek: Where Stories of the Past Come Alive”. Combining these two into one book may seem strange, as one is humorous and the other is a heart wrenching historical fiction, however, doing so proves to the reader Rhoda D’Ettore’s versatility.

Rhoda D’Ettore received her degree in Human & Social Services while working at USPS, has travelled extensively, and loves history. Over the years she has volunteered for several community service organizations, including fostering abused and neglected dogs for a Dalmatian rescue.

For more information please visit Rhoda’s . You can also find her on  and .

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