Sunday, May 23, 2010

Local Iroquois names and their meanings.

In upstate New York, many of the local rivers, lakes and even roads derive their names from native words. I live in Chemung county, which is in the Southern Tier of New York. The Chemung River flows through Elmira, the county seat, and legend has it that a woolly mammoth tusk was unearthed in a dry part of the river stream bed, hence the name Chemung which means "place of the horn".

To the north of Chemung County, the Finger Lakes stretch out across central New York in long, thin, finger-like spans, the closest of which is Seneca Lake. The Iroquois word Seneca means "great hill people". Cayuga is the Finger Lake closest to Ithaca, and its name means "at the landing". Keuka is one of the smallest Finger Lakes, and the Iroquois translation is "canoe landing".

Our area is abundant in lakes and waterways, many of which retain their native names. Onondaga means "on the mountain". Waneta translates "hemlock" and Lamoka is a small lake whose meaning is "set off by water". Oneida is yet another lake name meaning "on the standing rock".

Streams and rivers were a major trade and transportation venue for the Iroquois with their pine bark canoes, so it stands to reason each bears a native name. Conhocton is a river whose name means "log in the water". And then there is Catherine Creek, to this day a major trout source to which fishermen flock. Catherine was a queen from the Montour Clan.

Indian names abound in New York to this day. Susquehanna River runs near the border of New York and Pennsylvania. Its exact meaning is unknown, but it is said to derive from two words, "Susque", meaning "long reach", and "hanna", meaning "river" or "stream" in Algonquin. The place where the Chemung River meets the Susquehanna was a great trading ground among the Iroquois tribes, where artifacts can be found to this day.

Finally, Singsing is an Iroquois word meaning "stone on stone". Aside from the infamous downstate prison bearing that name, there is a lovely road in Horseheads/Big Flats by that name with beautiful horse farms and some of the earliest farmsteads in Chemung County.

The sheer number of Iroquois names for the landmarks and waterways in upstate New York bears testimony to the first inhabitants of this beautiful land full of lakes, streams and rivers.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Interview with Tina E. Pinson

I am excited to introduce Tina E. Pinson to you all. Tina and I have exchanged critiques for over a year, and her mentorship has helped me climb to the next level in fiction craft elements such as deep point of view, sensory detail, and adding conflict as well as smoothing out some of my writing passages. She has an incredibly inventive mind with the type of descriptions and scenarios that grip you and carry you along with them in a powerful way. Her sense of humor and sparkling personality make her a joy to know.

Tina has a couple of books contracted with Desert Breeze, the first of which releases in June. In the Manor of the Ghost will be available as an e-book for download to your Kindle or Sony e-reader. It has a haunting and atmospheric cover image, hinting of the captivating story inside.
Tina has graciously agreed to come and answer a few questions about her books and her writing journey.

Welcome, Tina. Thank you so much for stopping in to greet our readers here at History Repeats Itself. Your books span genres from historical to contemporary to futuristic, with elements of romance, intrigue and even mystery. What your readers can expect in common to all of your books is a riveting storyline with fast-paced plotting and flesh-and-blood characters that pull you in and transport you to their worlds.

In the Manor of the Ghost is a historical, set after the American Civil War in the 1870's Minnesota. Touched by Mercy is also a historical set around the same time frame in Nebraska, and comes out in December 2010.

What is the first thing you remember that you did when you heard the news that Desert Breeze offered you a contract? Did your husband have to pick you up off the floor, or did you shriek with glee, or otherwise impair your editor’s auditory nerves?

The first thing I did, hmm… I stared at the email that said that Desert Breeze wanted to publish my books and I cried. Then I jumped around a bit, and cried some more on Hubby's shoulder.

I was vaguely familiar with Desert Breeze Publishers before you shared your wonderful news with me. Since then, I have heard the name just about everywhere I read online. They have some great authors in their stable with an exciting line-up of releases. Can you tell us a bit about Desert Breeze?

I pulled this from the Desert Breeze site. I figured they could explain it far better than me. Desert Breeze Publishing, Inc. was conceived, developed and launched to provide a place for readers and authors to go where they can find non-erotica/non-erotic romance novels without having to search through the plethora of erotica currently offered.

You have been writing for several years, with many books and stories to your credit. I had the pleasure of reading the beginning chapters of your 2010 Rattler Contest finalist, Counting Tessa, and also the first half of Touched by Mercy. Both stories feature heroines full of strength and resilience, both of whom show a slightly stubborn streak and a big heart. I have a feeling that your fictional ladies reflect facets of their creator’s nature. Tell us about your personal journey and the things you’ve overcome to get to this moment as a published author. How did your faith help you arrive at your desired haven?

I started writing in elementary school. I actually wrote my first novel then. It was novel alright. I continued to write, working on short stories, poetry, songs and some longer stories. When my children were born, I cut back and didn't try to push as hard getting the stories done. I wondered if that was the right decision and decided with my husband in the Navy and gone a lot and three boys, I couldn't wrap my head around a story and give it the due attention it needed. Once the boys were in school, I picked it up with a bit more fervency. I sat down and wrote a 900 page novel in a few months time. Which promptly got lost in the computer when it fried on me. Thank heaven I made a hard copy and was able to plug it all in again.
My heroines carry a lot of my strength and resilience or perhaps the qualities I wished I had more of. There were many times I wanted to quit writing altogether, but couldn't because it's like breathing to me. I know I have a gift and I need to use it. Whether I see print or not.
After several rejections, and impatience, I decided to take matters in hand (got a bit ahead of myself ) and self- published a couple books. I learned quite a bit and out of it, found my way to ACFW, through the help Vickie McDonough. She reviewed my book and liked the story but knew I needed help with layout and editing on my stories. So I guess self- publishing wasn't a complete lost.
Anyway, long story short. I kept working, won some contests, kept getting rejections then finally got signed on with Desert Breeze.

What are the themes you most often write about? What message do you hope your readers will take away from reading your stories?

My themes usually deal with forgiveness and grace and overcoming insurmountable odds. And telling about a God who is bigger than any troubles, scars or sin my characters may have. He's a God of second chances and a God that carries us sometimes, and other's allows us to walk through valleys while guiding us. To help us grow. Having been a benefactor of that grace on many occasions, I want people to know and understand the love God has for them. I try not to be too preachy, I hope. I want to show how you get from Point A to Point B with God. It's a process and my characters get to go through it. A process that has been cathartic for me.

Has your family been supportive of your writing? Was your publishing contract an “ah-ha!” moment to them, or is it a victory for them as much as for you?

My family has been pretty supportive. My husband, Danny, encourages me and listens to my rants, ya know… I'll never make it… My stories are dumb… I wonder if I'll sell one book. He assures me that my books are wonderful. So much so he spent the money to self-publish. He wants me to see my potential, my God given gift and wants me to use it. He said he'd be my chauffeur when the time came and I was published. I'm just glad I get to lean on him and use his shoulder.
My children have big plans for my earnings, when and if I get some. Not really. They just tease me that since they were there at the beginning, and lived through cold meals and the repetition of stories told over and over, they should get a percentage.

Have you had mentors along the journey? Who are your favorite authors/books/movies? Does music or other artistic expression inspire your writing?

Back before I took a break from writing, I attended my first writer's conference with Susan Lenzkes, author of, When the Writing on the Wall is in Brown Crayon. She encouraged me to study the writing craft and use my gift. She always encouraged me to do it in my time, using my voice, invaluable information, especially when everyone has an idea about how your book should go. You need to know who you are as a writer. A writer needs to be true to who they are and their voice. I mentioned Vickie McDonough already, her help and encouragement was the thing I needed at the time to get on the right track again. Then there's our esteemed interviewer Kathleen, who has been a great source of encouragement and a great critique partner who I appreciate immensely.
As for music, certain songs will get in my head and make me think. But I usually dream about a book, or a scene that gives me inspiration for a story. I don't know that I have any favorite authors/books/or movies. I like Doris Day movies. But I'm pretty open to most genres in movies. Music and books as long as the story, tune catches me.

Can you tell us about In the Manor of the Ghost and what led you to write it? Would you characterize it as a romance, a love story, or a ghost story, or all of the above?

I would say In the Manor of the Ghost is all the above. It has romance, a love story and a ghost. But it's important to know that some of the houses we reside in aren't always made of lumber or stones. They are fashioned from our fears and are as thick around us as a wall might be. And some of the Ghosts we face are those fears, real or perceived they haunt us.
While the main scene for In the Manor of the Ghost does take place in a manor, the story was written with the spiritual aspect in mind as well. Because the greatest love stories come out of two people growing together through some of those things mentioned above, and growing together in the Lord. As for why I wanted to write it. I think where I was at in life pulled it out of me. Though like Kaitlin, I wondered how I fit, and had lost a loved one, (my father had passed away not long before), I actually identified more with Devlin in some aspects of the story. He's on journey to find himself.

Ditto for Touched by Mercy. Please give us a look at the dauntless Samantha and her quest to find her orphaned niece Angelina. I particularly liked the affectionate role that the nuns had in helping Samantha and the orphans. Do your characters have living counterparts who inspired you?

Touched By Mercy does have some characters, like the nuns who are taken of the real person in history. I think it gives a true picture of the time and what the nuns were trying to accomplish with the Orphan Trains. It also tells the story of one woman's journey to grace perhaps. Samantha comes from a background of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Having been molested as a child, I identify with Samantha even more than Kaitlin from In the Manor of the Ghost. The story was pretty much my rite of passage. Coming to a point where I believed God could find me lovely. Yes, I made it a bit harder on Samantha than myself, but only to show the beauty of God's grace on us, his arms around the brokenhearted. Samantha hadn't done anything wrong, as far as the molestation went, but she spent years believing she had. I went through long years of wondering like Samantha.
I think many of us have areas where life catches us, uses us and beyond no fault of our own, leaves us feeling dirty and unlovable. It literally spits us out. That's the nature of abuse. I wanted people to see that God knows exactly what happened. He hurts to see that his creation could be so cruel, and he loves us and wants to heal the scars. If we'll allow him to, he has gentle hands, strong arms and loving heart.
This link directs you to my website and will allow you to learn a bit more about me. By following the links Bits and Pieces and Touched By Mercy you can take a look at other books I'm working on.

How can our readers purchase a copy or learn more about you and your books?

You can find my book and by using the following link.
My Blogsite—

Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to share my books and myself.In honor of the release of In the Manor of the Ghost, I am running a contest for the entire month of June 2010. Giving away some pretty awesome gifts, if I must say so myself. Check out my blog for the particulars.

Thank you, Tina! I am excited to celebrate the debut of your wonderful books with you. May your characters be household names, and may the message God has laid on your heart to write find many hearts ready to connect with. Blessings, both to you and to your books.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Love finds You in Golden, New Mexico by Lena Nelson Dooley

I've really enjoyed every Summerside romance I've read so far, and this one is no exception. The "Love Finds You in. . ." series has given me a glimpse of places to which I may never travel, with lovely descriptions of the land and architecture and history of the towns featured.

Golden, New Mexico is a desert mining town, set in 1890 after the initial gold rush. Jeremiah Dennison is a former mine owner turned rancher who looks after an elderly friend and mentor, Philip Smith. Philip's health is failing, and he seeks a caregiver to ease his last days, so he asks Jeremiah to take out an add for a mail order bride for him. But there is more to his motivation than wanting a bride for himself.

Madeline Mercer is a privileged young lady from a wealthy Boston family. When her father died, the Mercer estate is left up in the air when one of his business associates makes a claim to his business and Madeline's hand. Meanwhile, Madeline's charitable heart leads her to help an impoverished young lady about to give birth in a freezing shanty. The girl dies but not before she makes Madeline promise to raise the child. When Mr. Mercer's colleague presses his suit and threatens the baby, Madeline must flee Boston. Enter Philip's mail-order-bride ad.

When Madeline reaches Golden, will it be a golden opportunity for a fresh start, or will she have toughened ore to pick through before she finds the vein? I enjoyed Madeline's determination and pluck as she endeavors to raise a child, navigate a new town, minister to Philip, and hold her finances together, all the while deciphering her confusing feelings for Jeremiah.

I loved the tender portrait of elderly friendship and faith, and the unique personality the author gave to the infant. Characterization is a well-honed skill of Lena Nelson Dooley, and her three-dimensional people really add a depth to the book.
Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico is one of those romances that was so much more than a romance--it is a story of the love of a land, love that surpasses generations, and the forgiveness that makes a love relationship between God and man possible. A beautiful read.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Wildflower Hearts by Vickie McDonough

Vickie McDonough is quickly becoming my favorite writer. With her skilled way of building her story world in the Dakotas amidst the rugged and untamed beauty of the badlands like a Rich Mullins CD, she did it--she placed me there and made me never want to leave. From there, she crafted characters who grew on me, from independent and proud Mariah, the dime store novelist who steals master artist Adam MacFarland's heart, to Anna MacFarland and her US Marshall Beau, and finally, my favorite of the three short novels' heroes, Quinn MacFarland and his young bride Sarah.

Each story stands alone, but all three together build until the last and eldest MacFarland sibling falls hard to romance. McDonough's lively and suspenseful plotting and pacing make each of these stories un-put-downable, but at the same time, I wanted to savor every nuance and relish every word. I have read many books that compelled me with a clever plot or engrossing characters to skim to the end, but in Wildflower Hearts, the writing itself was so lovely, I had to pour over every line.

In Wild at Heart, Adam MacFarland must overcome a secret he has kept since his father's untimely death, a secret that keeps him from peace with God and his calling as an artist, and accepting the love of others. When he invites a novelist from back east to spend time out on the family ranch for research, he never suspects a woman. Not to mention, a woman like Mariah Lansing. Refined and accomplished, she surprises him with her pluck and willingness to adapt to ranch life. But is the attraction he feels for her enough to over come a burden of guilt and regret that seems destined to keep him single the rest of his life?

Outlaw Heart features Anna MacFarland, Adam's twin, who has been chided to learn the arts of housekeeping and to give up her tomboyish ways by her practical older brother Quinn and her mother. She yearns for freedom and adventure, which takes her to Bismarck in search of work outside the home. She finds excitement of a different sort, in the aftermath of a bank robbery. Confused for an accomplice by the town Marshall, she is followed by the handsome Brett Wickham, who seeks to avenge his brother's death in the robbery before he retires his badge. Can Anna prove her innocence with her sweet carefree ways and steal his heart before his overwrought sense of justice ruins the potential for romance?

Quinn MacFarland's romance, Straight for the Heart, proves the old adage "the bigger they are the harder they fall." Quinn has been the solid rock after the father's death, the go-to guy that saved the family ranch. Now that his mother has passed and his siblings have married and moved away, he is alone with a well-intentioned but meddling grandmother who plots to marry him off. Enter nineteen-year-old Sarah Oakley, an orphan left to care for her two younger siblings after their parents' tragic death. She had sought refuge with an uncle who turned out to be a dangerous outlaw, and as she attempts to escape with his gold and their lives, her path crosses with Quinn. Can the aloof but tender heart inside him yield to Sarah's innocence and devotion?

After reading two of McDonough's previous books, and loving them, I am on the fast track to fan-hood. This short novel collection not only did not disappoint, but each was a surprising delight.