Tuesday, March 30, 2010

CROWN interview

Tammy Doherty has graciously given me an interview today on her blog, Faith, Fiction and Friends. In the interview we discuss history, writing, research, and mostly, my historical writer's marketing group, CROWN.
I hope you'll stop by Tammy's blog and read about how CROWN is busily promoting writers like Lena Nelson Dooley, Vickie McDonough, M.L. Tyndall and many others who write for the inspirational market. See a sneak preview of upcoming releases.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Wind of the Spirit by J.M. Hochstetler

Jonathon Carleton has been adopted into the Kispekotha sect of the Shawnee tribe as the fearsome warrior White Eagle in the previous book, and Elizabeth Howard is a spy for General Washington among well-to-do British circles in New York City. They long for one another, but neither knows if the other has survived or still thinks fondly. Both have tempting love interests, but cannot commit their heart to another.

When mutual friend Charles Andrews arrives in New York to propose a trip west to find Carlton, Elizabeth jumps at the chance. Little does she know the adventure, danger, hardship and thrills awaiting her.

White Eagle/Carleton holds a fragile balance in the tribe between believers in Moneto's son, and those with murderous intent, set in their traditional ways. He must prove to the Shawnee his loyalty as his nemesis stirs up distrust and ill will toward him, by marrying a woman among the tribe.

When Elizabeth arrives, he is thrown into an impossible choice. Offend the people who have become his family, or forsake the love if his heart.

Rich in history, brilliant in imagery, evocative in beautifully written passages and resonant with characters who bring to life the longings of young, forbidden love, this book is the best of the American Patriot series so far. More of what I loved in Daughter of Liberty and Native Son, this brings the simmering love story and the dramatic backdrop of the American Revolution to full boil. Heartbreaking, riveting, promising, and engaging, this is a book I will not soon forget.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Thomas K. Beecher

Among the famous Beecher family of mid 19th Century America was born Thomas Kinnicut, brother to Henry Ward Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Like Henry, Thomas trained as a Congregationalist minister. Like Harriet, he had a keen interest in social issues of the day, except, curiously, abolition.

Starting out with a congregation in New York City, Thomas moved to Elmira, NY and became the minister of Park Church in 1854. During his tenure, he cultivated an approachable reputation, riding a tricycle through town in his overalls, and making himself available to his people any time, for any reason they might have need of his help. He believed in a concept he called "muscular Christianity" in which he participated in lively activities with men in the community such as cricket, baseball and billiards as alternatives to saloons and gambling. Beloved by his congregation and by townspeople alike, he worked hard to dispel the arrogant and distant facade of the ministry, and to win converts by his lifestyle rather than preaching alone. No job or task was beneath him if he could help someone, from laying brick to chopping wood.

Thomas Beecher took an avid interest in science. He dabbled in watchmaking, and opened his own science academy where astronomy was studied. He preached Sunday sermons at the opera house, and drew criticism by his contemporaries for his deviation from propriety, yet thousands turned out to hear him speak. He enlisted as a chaplain in the Civil War in the 141st NY Volunteers. Later in the war when Elmira hosted a prison camp for captured Confederates, he ministered to them on Sunday afternoons. He and his wife Julia adopted three children, and cared for others in the community.

Though not an abolitionist per se, Beecher nonetheless befriended or assisted individual slaves seeking freedom on the Underground Railroad, among them John W. Jones, a prominent former slave who settled in Elmira. He personally believed in slavery, and somehow maintained close friendships with the known abolitionist Langdon family whose daughter married Samuel Clemens. Beecher himself was a contemproray and personal friend of Clemens, better known as Mark Twain. The reverend had the rare sort of personality to express his strongly held views, and yet to manage not to disenfranchise those of the opposite persuasion.

He and his wife served the Park Church for over forty years until his death in March 1900 following a stroke. His wife enjoyed national fame for her stocking dolls, which she hand-made and sold for the benefit of charity. The couple worked in the temperance movement toward the end of their lives, and Thomas ran for Elmira mayor under the Prohibition Party.

Though not as famous as his bother Henry Ward Beecher or his sister Harriet Beecher Stowe, Thomas left a deep impression on the city of Elmira which stands to this day in a statue of his likeness downtown, the beautiful historic church which he built, and an Elementary school named in his honor. But it is the legacy of charity and help, and the marks of kindness on souls which deserves the lasting tribute of this great, innovative 19th century man of God.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Historical Book Cover Art

Discussion has come up on the modern look of some Christian historical fiction covers. Many publishing houses are using photos shoots with live models instead of the lovely evocative paintings I have always associated with historical romance.

I'm coming out of blogger hibernation to weigh in on cover art. In general, what I LOVE about historical covers has always been artwork that evokes the period in which it was written. I am not a fan of live model covers at all. Very few have pulled them off, IMO. Linore Burkard's Before the Season Ends is a rare cover I liked, and it's the playful looks on the H/h's faces that hooked me. I could feel the chemistry between them.

Not sure if this one was done with a model, but Colleen Coble's new book, the Lightkeeper's Daughter is lovely. It looks painted, and that's what I like about it.

When it comes to the old-school painted covers, like Golden's first example, I am taken in by ambient lighting in subdued, muted tones, the luxuriant fabric of period costume, and the look of "old". That's the whole reason I read historical in the first place. I don't want technicolor or high definition or the feeling I'm watching something in bluray. I'll turn the TV on if I want that. Give me soft edges and a dream-like fade and let my imagination fill in the blanks.

I do not like female models for historical who:

1. wear obvious lip gloss, blush, mascara, eyeliner. . . except maybe the kohl that a Hebrew woman might have worn, if it's a Francine Rivers cover.

2. sport a tan if she's supposed to be a southern belle who prized a milky white complexion

3. have that former-braces-wearer, perfectly-straight white-toothed smile, like a commercial for Orbit gum. "Brilliant!"

4. have that modern, angular, gym-member body. Women from different eras seemed softer.

5. are wearing what is trying hard to look period, but seems more like a weird ensemble gathered from a local goodwill prior to the shoot. Wrinkled and all.

Just my opinion. Hope it was worth a chuckle.