Welcome to History Ever After!

This is the home of Jennifer Hallock, author of the Sugar Sun series. Whether you are a long-time fan of the larger Altarejos clan or just learned about the series through the Romancing the Past anthology, this website offers history and extras for everyone.

For Readers
Banner of full Sugar Sun series against background of Luneta Park, Manila, 1899.
Learn all about the Sugar Sun series epic family saga set at the beginning of the twentieth century. Books are listed in publication order but do not need to be read that way. All are interconnected-yet-standalone happily-ever-afters.
I have written a lot of history on this blog—no surprise since it is my day job. Here are links to the most relevant posts, complete with illustrations.
Want to learn more about the setting of the Sugar Sun series? Click on any of the graphics of this page, or explore the maps of the Philippines & Manila at the bottom of the post.
Here is an alphabetical listing of the Sugar Sun glossary terms. Simply click on the graphic of your choice to open the annotated post in a new window. This list will be updated to include new terms as their posts are written.
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On this guidance page, you can find book-by-book breakdowns, a short discussion of accuracy, and some general notes on heat level.
For Writers
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I have collected a slew of tools that I use regularly to enhance my character and setting development. This includes everything from how different height characters would look kissing to what the sky above them would really look like at night. I did not program these tools, but I have gathered them in one place for you.
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I was honored to be able to present my research and ideas about the fabricated historical chronotopes in romance genre fiction at the 2018 IASPR conference in Sydney, Australia. Part one looks at how the bestsellers in historical romance are disproportionately: (1) set in Great Britain; (2) overpopulated with nobles; and (3) selective in their historical accuracy.
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Part two looks at how the aggregate impact of these chronotopes can be harmful to our understanding of history, to the romance market as a whole, and particularly to authors of diverse books.
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Who likes to read about average? No one! We want to read about the outliers, the dangerous, the obscure, the interesting! Part of what authors are selling is the chance to live someone else’s life for a little while. Read about how micro-history can help authors offer exactly that.
For Both
Find out more about the author and what people are saying about the series in my full media kit.

 

If there is something you are looking for that is not covered by one of these banners, please use the search box to the left to find it. You can also find several ways to contact me. Thank you for reading, and here’s wishing you a History Ever After!

 

Sugar Moon acknowledgments

Sugar Moon is a work of fiction, but the attack in Balangiga, the American counterattack on Samar, and the Pulahan War were all true events that happened between the years of 1901 and 1907. I relied heavily upon the outstanding scholarship of Rolando O. Borrinaga, George Emmanuel R. Borrinaga, Bob Couttie, Brian McAllister Linn, and Daniel C. Talde. I am also grateful to Scott Slaten and the whole Philippine-American War Facebook Group for their photographs, stories, and shared knowledge about this period.

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Two outstanding scholars on the Balangiga Incident, Rolando O. Borrinaga and Bob Couttie. Bottom right is my photo of the monument to the attackers in Balangiga town.

Some characters in this novel are based on real people but they have been renamed, conflated, and woven into a simplified account that serves my story. Ben Potter is loosely based upon Sergeant Frank Betron. This American soldier studied arnis from the real police chief in Balangiga, Valeriano Abanador. He also may have had a brief romance with the church caretaker, Casiana Nacionales. Betron remained in the Philippines after his escape from Balangiga, possibly to look for Casiana. He failed to find her, married a woman from Cebu, and settled elsewhere in the islands. Casiana, also known as Geronima or Susana, is one half of the model for Valentina. Accounts place her in Balangiga during the attack, but it is not known whether she stayed to cover the departure of the other women or to help coordinate the ambush by sneaking weapons into the church. The other model for Valentina is a real Pulahan priestess, resistance fighter, and healer, Bruna Fabrigar.

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It is no accident that my hero, Ben Potter, is drawn to smart, passionate women—but only Allegra wins this soldier’s heart. Actually, this phrase is doubly appropriate: “soldier’s heart” was the contemporary term for combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder. Ben’s struggle is inspired by first-hand accounts from three of my best friends: two U.S. Army veterans of the Vietnam War, Jim (MACV-SOG, I Corps) and Rudy (11th Armored Cavalry, III Corps); as well as Rich, a Marine survivor of the 1984 terror attack on the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. I have taken Ben’s story in directions that none of these men would have imagined, but I could not have imagined any of it without their help.

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Allegra Alazas was a scene-stealer in Under the Sugar Sun, and I always knew the next novel would be hers. Her iconoclastic character was sparked by the sly half-smile of a Filipino woman in a lantern slide taken by E. W. Goodrich, Tremont Temple, Boston, and housed at the University of Michigan Philippine Photographs Digital Archive. Allegra is not based on any single person—she has always had a voice of her own, right from the beginning—but she would be honored by any resemblance shown to the brilliant Regina Abuyuan. Gina was a writer, editor, school founder, teacher, pub owner, mother, wife, advocate, and friend. We love and miss you, Gina.

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Gina and I with friends Ben, Paul, Derek, and Regine at the Fred’s Revolución in Escolta.

Allegra’s attitudes toward colonial education policy came from the many questions that arose during my research, especially about the thoroughly inappropriate children’s readers imported from the United States. In 1907 the first Philippine primers were published by the World Book Company—though unlike Allegra’s series, these were written entirely by Americans. Sometimes history needs a shove in the right direction. See scholars Roland Sintos Coloma, Kimberly A. Alidio, and A. J. Angulo to learn more.

Also essential to creating Sugar Moon were my language gurus: Liana Smith Bautista (Cebuano); Stephen Fernandez and Adriana Sanchez (Spanish); Scott Giampetruzzi and Andres Reyes (Latin); and Suzette de Borja (Waray). I cannot thank my beta readers enough: Teresa Noelle Roberts; Priscilla and Jim Lockney; and the members of the Weare Area Writers Guild. Also, a big thanks to the authors at NECRWA and #romanceclass for being mentors and friends.

This book would not have been possible without the editing, advice, design, technical expertise, and support of my husband, Stephen. He is the hero who makes my dreams possible—at the cost of many hundreds of hours he would have otherwise set aside to play guitar. If he does not become the next Richard Thompson, you have just read why.

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People are talking about Sugar Moon!

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The live tweeting has begun! Thank you to author Mina V. Esguerra and book blogger/podcaster Kat from BookThingo for sharing their reactions to Sugar Moon:

Mina’s Live tweet thread on Sugar Moon

Kat’s Live tweet thread on Sugar Moon

And thank you to all those reading and talking about Ben and Allegra:

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A special thank you to those who have taken time to write an honest review on Amazon or Goodreads. This helps readers find my books, and I cannot thank you enough for helping spread the word.

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Sugar Moon is here!

The nights were their secret…

The papers back home call Ben Potter a hero of the Philippine-American War, but he knows the truth. When his estranged brother-in-law offers him work slashing sugarcane, Ben seizes the opportunity to atone—one acre at a time. At the hacienda Ben meets schoolteacher Allegra Alazas. While Allegra bristles at her family’s traditional expectations, the one man who appreciates her intelligence and independence seems to be the very worst marriage prospect on the island.

Neither Ben nor Allegra fit easily in their separate worlds, so together they must build one of their own. But when Ben’s wartime past crashes down upon them, it threatens to break their elusive peace.

Find it at Amazon now in both Kindle and print editions.

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Excerpt
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Pick up The second novel in the Sugar Sun series today!