Through Jade's Eyes

This blog is about the fictional character, Jade del Cameron (www.suzannearruda.com), and the historical time period in which she lives.

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Location: www.suzannearruda.com, United States

I'm the author of the Jade del Cameron historical mystery series set in 1920's Africa. Lots of action, intrigue, mystery and a dash of romance. Follow me at www.twitter.com/SuzanneArruda *The audio link (view complete profile) is an interview by Baron Ron Herron (9/17/2009, Santa Barbara {CA} News-Press Radio, KZSB, AM 1290

Monday, August 30, 2010

1921-22 – “GROWING UP IN NAIROBI – TRACKING WITH THE GIRL GUIDES

This blog made the short list for Best Author's Blog as awarded by www.completelynovel.com Thank you everyone who voted for me.


An early part of the Girl Guide activity schedule was to get the girls outside “spooring” – and there was a section in the guide handbook on tracking. Jade shows the girls how to track and has them practice on people in THE CROCODILE’S LAST EMBRACE.
But just what was the approved method of teaching tracking?

The section on “Woodcraft” begins on page 44 of The Handbook for Girl Guides with instructions to take girls either to the zoo to observe animals and their habits or to a farm, depending on whether one lived in the city or the country. Girls were taught to stay still and to match their clothing to the background so as to blend in and not startle the animals. Again, the influence of Agnes Baden-Powell’s brother, General Baden-Powell, can be seen in the examples given. “A Zulu will keep his head perfectly steady for an immense time, hoping that he will be mistaken for a stump or a stone. If he is not detected, he will very gradually lower his head, inch by inch, into the grass again, and crawl quietly away.” (p. 46)

Stalking games were recommended such as one where the instructor plays the role of a deer, slowly moving as if walking and browsing. The girls were to stalk the “deer” but whenever one was spotted by the instructor, the instructor “directs her to stand up as having failed.”

By page 81 of the handbook, Guides were being instructed in observing sign, letting no small detail escape their attention including scents as well as broken twigs etc. Examples were given as to tracking horses, birds, as well as bicycles and motorized vehicles.

However it was taught, learning to track will save more than one life in Jade’s sixth adventure. The Crocodile’s Last Embrace is released September 7, but you can get a sneak preview at www.suzannearruda.com Click on “read an excerpt” and see for yourself.

Quotes and images taken from The Handbook for Girl Guides, by Agnes Baden-Powell

NEXT WEEK: MORE OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES - TRACKING

By the way, The Crocodile’s Last Embrace just received a starred review by Publishers’ Weekly who called it “rip-roaring.” Romantic Times gave it 4 Stars and called it “Enormously fun” and Library Journal’s starred review stated “Do not miss this one.”

MORE MYSTERY TOPICS:
1) Does mystery have to equal murder? I weigh in with the Suspense Sirens on their blog posting at : http://bit.ly/cpprpx

2) Interested in some insight into what makes me and Jade tick? Go to SCENE OF THE CRIME http://bit.ly/ao2gjg for an interesting interview at a great website by author J. Sydney Jones.

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, and The Leopard’s Prey, all available in trade paperback. TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH is available in hardcover. THE CROCODILE’S LAST EMBRACE will be released Sept. 7, 2010. An excerpt and information on ordering signed copies is available at the website: www.suzannearruda.com. Follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda

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Monday, August 23, 2010

1921-22 – “GROWING UP IN NAIROBI – THE GIRL GUIDES-PART 3”

This blog made the short list for Best Author's Blog as awarded by www.completelynovel.com Thank you everyone who voted for me.


When reading the Handbook for Girl Guides, it seems as if the organization was tailor made for young girls growing up in Nairobi, Kenya Colony. Several of the examples cited for bravery and endurance were of British nurses and men of South Africa during the Boer War. “Nurse Craufurd,” in particular, was referenced for her bravely removing the wounded while under fire. And the tracking and throwing games often involved someone playing the role of a lion.

Girls were encouraged to be strong, handy, and be prepared for the frontier life. Pages 24/25 state “many of you in Great Britain will some day go out to one of the British Dominions across the seas – many of you are already there, and you know how necessary it is to be able to look after yourselves away from all help. However well placed you may be, times do come when you have to know how to . . .cut the firewood. . . defend yourself for your life and many other things which you are inclined at home to leave to others. All these things you can learn as a Girl Guide.”

And that’s what Jade and Beverly are teaching the girls in the opening of The Crocodile’s Last Embrace, how to defend themselves using a sling and a stone. You can get a sneak preview at www.suzannearruda.com Click on “read an excerpt” and see for yourself.

Quotes and images taken from The Handbook for Girl Guides, by Agnes Baden-Powell

NEXT WEEK: MORE OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES - TRACKING

By the way, The Crocodile’s Last Embrace just received a starred review by Publishers’ Weekly who called it “rip-roaring.” Romantic Times gave it 4 Stars and called it “Enormously fun” and Library Journal’s starred review stated “Do not miss this one.”

MORE MYSTERY TOPICS:
1) Does mystery have to equal murder? I weigh in with the Suspense Sirens on their blog posting at : http://bit.ly/cpprpx

2) Interested in some insight into what makes me and Jade tick? Go to SCENE OF THE CRIME http://bit.ly/ao2gjg for an interesting interview at a great website by author J. Sydney Jones.

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, and The Leopard’s Prey, all available in trade paperback. TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH is available in hardcover. THE CROCODILE’S LAST EMBRACE will be released Sept. 7, 2010. An excerpt and information on ordering signed copies is available at the website: www.suzannearruda.com. Follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda

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Monday, August 16, 2010

1921-22 – “GROWING UP IN NAIROBI – THE GIRL GUIDES-PART 2”

This blog made the short list for Best Author's Blog as awarded by www.completelynovel.com Thank you everyone who voted for me.


The official handbook for the Girl Guides states “"The Girl Guides" is an organization for character training…” In Jade del Cameron’s upcoming mystery: The Crocodile’s Last Embrace, she’s assisting Lady Avery Dunbury in leading the Nairobi troop and who better to build character than those two former ambulance drivers. But, in reality, what was that early Nairobi troop like? Last week we examined the few newspaper accounts of the Nairobi troop, this week we’ll look at their handbook.

The handbook continues with “Its aim is to get girls to learn how to be women self-
helpful, happy, prosperous, and capable of keeping good homes and of bringing up good children. The Method of training is to give the girls pursuits which appeal to them, such as games and recreative exercises, which lead them on to learn for themselves many useful crafts.” (Agnes Baden-Powell)

The handbook’s note to instructors suggests that girls sew their own uniforms and knickers, haversacks, flags, and other cloth items. It states “Remember that the girl on joining wants to begin ‘Spooring’ (animal tracking) right away so don’t dull her keenness, as is so often done, by too much preliminary explanation at first.” It seems that 1921 girls were just as adventuresome as their brothers and one might expect this to be especially true of girls growing up in the African colonies.

The recommended first evening’s agenda is to “address the girls on ‘Scoutcraft’ . . . with demonstrations or lantern slides.” After that, engage the girls in making their flags. On the following day, get them outside in activities. Readers of the Jade del Cameron series can guess what sort of outdoor activities Beverly and Jade have planned for the girls. You can get a sneak preview at www.suzannearruda.com Click on “read and excerpt” and see for yourself.

Quotes and images taken from The Handbook for Girl Guides, by Agnes Baden-Powell

NEXT WEEK: THOSE INITIAL OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

By the way, The Crocodile’s Last Embrace just received a starred review by Publishers’ Weekly who called it “rip-roaring.” Romantic Times gave it 4 Stars and called it “Enormously fun.”

MORE MYSTERY TOPICS:
1) Does mystery have to equal murder? I weigh in with the Suspense Sirens on their blog posting at : http://bit.ly/cpprpx

2) Interested in some insight into what makes me and Jade tick? Go to SCENE OF THE CRIME http://bit.ly/ao2gjg for an interesting interview at a great website by author J. Sydney Jones.

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, and The Leopard’s Prey, all available in trade paperback. TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH is available in hardcover. THE CROCODILE’S LAST EMBRACE will be released Sept. 7, 2010. An excerpt and information on ordering signed copies is available at the website: www.suzannearruda.com. Follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda

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Monday, August 09, 2010

1921-22 – “GROWING UP IN NAIROBI – THE GIRL GUIDES”

This blog made the short list for Best Author's Blog as awarded by www.completelynovel.com Thank you everyone who voted for me.


By 1921, Nairobi was no longer a ‘wild west town’ of bachelor landowners and hunters. There was a thriving society and a large number of families. Sporting teams (cricket, football etc.) had “singles” teams and “marrieds” teams. So it comes as no surprise that, just as Jade’s friends, Beverly and Avery Dunbury and Madeline and Neville Thompson became parents, so did a lot of other Kenyans. Children’s society was a growing concern and in the upcoming book: THE CROCODILE’S LAST EMBRACE, Beverly has the foresight to plan ahead for her daughter by becoming the leader of a Nairobi company of Girl Guides.

The Girl Guide troop, precursors to our modern Girl Scouts, formed up early in January, 1921 in Nairobi. One of the first newspaper accounts of the troop is in The East African Standard, March 4, 1921 issue where it is reported that “On Saturday last, 50 Guides and Brownies proceeded to Kabete Farm.” Unfortunately, the rest of the text is too faint to read. The next report is seen on March 19, 1921 where “60 Girl Guides and Brownies were entertained at Government House by Lady Northey.” During this outing, they met Queen Victoria’s grandson, Lord Leopold Mountbatten, “who very kindly inspected the girls and remarked on their smart appearance.” The girls had tea followed by Lady Northey personally giving them a tour of the grounds and “explaining interesting facts about the numerous animals” including a hyena that had broken its leg which had been set by a veterinary doctor. The girls gave “three hearty cheers” to Lady Northey in appreciation of the “two hours of happiness she had afforded them.”

The Leader of British East Africa gave a report of the troop’s first year in the December 31, 1921 issue. Due to ink stains on the copy, it isn’t possible to give the actual number of girls involved, but it looks as if there were 50 or 56 girls including the Brownies. “Meetings have been held once a week on Government House grounds” and “once a week at Head Quarters where the senior girls have received instruction from the captain.” "Before being able to win a Proficiency Badge, three examinations have to be passed.” At the end of the first year, these were the awards given: 24 Ambulance, 20 Sportswoman, 4 Horsewoman, 4 Musician, 2 Entertainers, 4 Thrift Badges. Prizes were also given for “best collection of leaves, wildflowers, grasses, ferns, and butterflies.”

Readers of the Jade del Cameron mystery series will wonder just what sort of leaders Beverly and Jade would make and what sorts of skills would they teach the girls. You can find out in THE CROCODILE’S LAST EMBRACE (Sept 7, 2010). (quotes taken from the aforementioned newspapers. Headline image from the East African Standard, Marc 4, 1921.)

NEXT WEEK: MORE ON THE GIRL GUIDES

By the way, The Crocodile’s Last Embrace just received a starred review by Publishers’ Weekly who called it “rip-roaring.” Romantic Times gave it 4 Stars and called it “Enormously fun.”

MORE MYSTERY TOPICS:
1) Does mystery have to equal murder? I weigh in with the Suspense Sirens on their blog posting at : http://bit.ly/cpprpx

2) Interested in some insight into what makes me and Jade tick? Go to SCENE OF THE CRIME http://bit.ly/ao2gjg for an interesting interview at a great website by author J. Sydney Jones.

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, and The Leopard’s Prey, all available in trade paperback. TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH is available in hardcover. THE CROCODILE’S LAST EMBRACE will be released Sept. 7, 2010. An excerpt and information on ordering signed copies is available at the website: www.suzannearruda.com. Follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda

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Monday, August 02, 2010

1921-22 – CROCODILES: Basic Models and More

This blog made the short list for Best Author's Blog as awarded by www.completelynovel.com Thank you everyone who voted for me.


Crocodile’s are an amazing beast, designed to survive, which they have in one form or another since the time of the dinosaurs. Unlike other reptiles with a three chambered heart (two atria and one ventricle), their ventricle has been divided which means that the oxygenated blood back from the lungs doesn’t mix with un-oxygenated blood. This means a croc has plenty of oxygen to allow for some fast movement in the water and on land. Yes, crocs can run and run fast. They don’t sprawl when they run either, as to lizards. They can bring those legs up underneath of them for a good sprint.

But as one African saying goes: A crocodile’s strength is in the water. That’s where they are dominant. Their dark green to brown coloring and their ability to lie low in the water makes them nearly invisible. Having nostrils that sit high and a translucent membrane to cover the eyes allows them to ride low in the water. Once a crocodile has passed the critical edible stage as a juvenile, it’s nearly unconquerable. Even shooting one with a rifle is difficult as the brain pan is well protected by a thick skull as well as heavy scales.

Jade del Cameron’s crocodile in: The Crocodile’s Last Embrace (Sept 7, 2010), has all this and more. Its coloration is different. The term is “piebald” and it results from a trait called leucism, where all pigments are reduced, but in the piebald’s case, it’s blotchy as not all cells are affected. It gives this beast a particularly menacing look.

Another saying is: Do not insult the crocodile until you have crossed the river. Jade would contend that even then, it’s not a good idea.

Next week: THE GIRL GUIDES OF NAIROBI

By the way, The Crocodile’s Last Embrace just received a starred review by Publishers’ Weekly who called it “rip-roaring.” Romantic Times gave it 4 Stars and called it “Enormously fun.”

MORE MYSTERY TOPICS:
1) Does mystery have to equal murder? I weigh in with the Suspense Sirens on their blog posting at : http://bit.ly/cpprpx

2) Interested in some insight into what makes me and Jade tick? Go to SCENE OF THE CRIME http://bit.ly/ao2gjg for an interesting interview at a great website by author J. Sydney Jones.

NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, and The Leopard’s Prey, all available in trade paperback. TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH is available in hardcover. THE CROCODILE’S LAST EMBRACE will be released Sept. 7, 2010. An excerpt and information on ordering signed copies is available at the website: www.suzannearruda.com. Follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda

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