Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew - Spotlight Book Tour

The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew 

 by Denise Heinze

Publication Date: September 29, 2020
Blackstone Publishing
Hardcover, eBook, AudioBook; 176 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

Determined to set the historical record straight, and clear her conscience, Temperance Flowerdew -- the wife of Virginia's first two governors -- puts quill to paper, recounting the hardships that nearly brought the Jamestown colony to its knees, and the extraordinary sacrifice of her servant girl, Lily. When she steps aboard the Falcon in 1609, Temperance Flowerdew was not only setting sail from England to the distant shores of America, she was embarking upon a future of opportunity. She didn't yet know how she would make her mark, but in this new place she could do or be whatever she wanted. 

Willing as she is to brave this new world, Temperance is utterly ill-equipped to survive the wilderness; all she knows is how to live inside the pages of adventure and philosophy books. Loyally at her side, Lily helps Temperance weather pioneer life. A young woman running from lifelong accusations of witchcraft, Lily finds friendship with Temperance and an acceptance of her psychic gifts. Together, they forge paths within the community: Temperance attempts to advise the makeshift government, while Lily experiences the blossoming of first love. But as the harsh winter approaches, Lily intuitively senses a darkness creep over the colony and the veneer of civilized life threatens to fall away -- negotiations with the Indians grow increasingly hostile and provisions become scarce. Lily struggles to keep food on the table by foraging in the woods and being resourceful. Famine could mean the end of days. 

It's up to Lily to save them both, but what sacrifice will be enough to survive? A transporting and evocative story, The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew is a fiercely hopeful novel -- a portrait of two intrepid women who choose to live out their dreams of a future more free than the past.


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Denise Heinze, a former literature professor and a PhD graduate of Duke University, writes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. She is the author of the novel Sally St. Johns and her work has appeared in Now and Then, Thought and Action, Reunions, Wow! Women on Writing, THEMA literary journal, and Gemini Magazine; her story The Grid, was a quarter-finalist for the Ghost Story Supernatural Fiction Award. The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew is her second novel and was a finalist for the University of New Orleans Press Publishing Lab Prize. A descendant of Louisa May Alcott, she lives in North Carolina.

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Heeding the Voices: Tales of the Creative Process

Nearly halfway into my novel, The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew, writing in a white heat and full steam ahead, the most remarkable thing happened. I started hearing voices.

I pulled up short, mid-sentence, and instead of panicking, said, “huh.” After all, I figured, many writers, some famous, have reported the sudden onset of unexplained phenomenon during the creative process. Muses, automatic writing, channeling, even an occasional doppelganger, all have been credited with giving it up for writers. Rather than scoff at these reports, I was invariably chagrined by them, wishing more times than I care to count, that something would --whoosh--grab hold of my hand and crank out, say, a doctoral dissertation.

It never happened, and I trudged ahead the old-fashioned way, putting on paper what popped into my single, solitary mind. But then, there I was, zeroed in on 17th Century Jamestown and its two principle characters, Temperance and her servant girl, Lily, when the first voice said faintly, timidly, “Tell my story.” The voice immediately conjured a faint image in my mind’s eye of a Jamestown settler I’d read about in the course of my research who’d met a tragic ending. I swatted him and his plaintive whine away and forged ahead. I knew where this novel was going from start to finish, what would happen, and how it would all play out. I would not be distracted or derailed.

But then, it happened again, louder, like a child chiding an inattentive mother. “Tell my STORY.” This time, I sat back, took a breath. Maybe I could fit this fellow in; he would add depth and color to the novel, a dash of nuance. “Nah,” I concluded. “Stay the course.” Unified, focused, resolute. Or so I thought. The story, which had heretofore unfolded effortlessly, suddenly came to a screeching halt. Something--or someone-- was missing. Temperance and Lily were fully realized, but the story itself felt thin, one-dimensional. That’s when I heard the voice a third time, like a Silver Alert. “TELL MY STORY!” I gave in. The author-whisperer got a chapter.

I thought that would be the end of it. Instead, it opened the floodgates. At critical junctures in the novel, I heard other voices, exhorting me to tell their story. An agoraphobic sentry. A lay preacher besotted with the Powhatan chief’s wife. The Puritan beauty married to a debased tragedian. An epicurean starving to death. They had not come from thin air. I’d read about them, or settlers like them, in the many firsthand accounts of Jamestown. I knew that by adding them in, the warp and weft of the novel might snag, contort. It might even result in the novel imploding into a cacophony of voices. And yet, I felt compelled to include them. Jamestown in those early years teetered perpetually on the edge of ruin. What saved the settlers was each other, all of them--with few exceptions--engaging in uncommon acts of bravery and courage. Temperance and Lily, though the central figures in the novel, could not, I realized, encapsulate the breadth and scope of the historic settlement alone. They needed help.

In understating these strange visitations, I’d love to cast them as eerie and supernatural, a flash mob of spectral figures from the astral plane. A good psychoanalyst, however, might conclude otherwise-- that in my voracious reading about these early Virginians, I had neatly tucked them away in my subconscious. When the hard drive of my conscious mind crashed (less dramatically known as writer’s block), the cloud of the subconscious stood at the ready. But why I heard that stored data clairvoyantly, and each voice in turn at the most opportune times, is a mystery of the first order, the creative process as part science, part leap of faith, and ever vociferous.

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 5 paperback copies of The Brief and True Report of Temperance Flowerdew! To enter, please use the Gleam form below. The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on October 9th. You must be 18 or older to enter. 


  1. Thank you so much for hosting Denise today! We appreciate the blog tour support!

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