Sunday, October 30, 2011

Photos of Newtown Battle Field

Elmira, New York was not only the site of some important Civil War history, but also hosted a key battle in the American Revolution.

Continental Army General Sullivan's campaign against the Iroquois came to a pinnacle in upstate New York, right outside Elmira, on an eastern bluff overlooking the Chemung River Valley.

A plaque on the site reads: "One of the most violent battles of the Revolutionary War occurred at Oriskany on August 6, 1777. It was the first time that Oneida warriors, who openly sided with the rebellious Americans, fought against other Haudenoshaunee warriors who allied themselves with the British."
Oneidas at the Battle of Oriskany
painting by Don Troiani 2005.

The Iroquois people came from all over New York state, and were historically comprised of five nations, The Mohawk, Seneca, Onondaga, Oneida and Cayuga, with a sixth joining them, the Huron.

Another plaque reads: The soldiers in Sullivan's army were surprised to find cultivated fields and beautiful orchards. Following the war many returned to settle here. Some historians contend that opening the Indian lands for settlement was General George Washington's ultimate purpose for Sullivan's expeditions.

The immediate objects are the total destruction and devastation of their settlements, and the capture of as many prisoners of every age and sex as possible. It will be essential to ruin their crops now in the ground and prevent their planitng more.
General George Washington

Monday, October 17, 2011

A great time for Civil War fiction

April marked the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War. Fort Sumter's guns echoed in publications such as Smithsonian Magazine, accompanying a spate of new Christian fiction. What I had feared dead, interest in Civil War has actually revived in several new releases.

Golden Keyes Parsons has one coming out in November called His Steadfast Love.
The Civil War—a defining time of great sacrifice, change, and betrayal which will determine the fate of the Nation. It isn’t until it comes into her very home that Amanda Belle must face impossible choices of love, loss, and loyalty.

I just read and reviewed another, called Love's Raid by Darlene Franklin.
Clara Farley thinks she'll never marry so she draws up plans to run a school for girls in Maple Notch, Vermont during the Civil War. Daniel Tuttle has returned from war without one of his arms, and believes no woman would have him. He serves as town constable during a rash of bank robberies on the heals of a Confederate raid in a nearby town. As the robberies threaten his family's banking business as well as her plans for the school, Daniel must prove himself competent to the town, to Clara and to himself by solving the crime and catching the criminals. But as he gets closer to the culprit, will he drive away the woman who finally might consider him a suitor?

Yet another is Vickie McDonough's Long Trail Home.
A weary soldier returns from the War Between the States to discover his parents dead, his family farm in shambles, and his fiancée married. Riley Morgan takes a job at the Wilcox School for Blind Children and tries to make peace with God and himself. When a pretty, blind woman who cares for the children reaches through his scarred walls and touches his heart, he begins to find renewed faith and hope for the future. But when he discovers Annie feigned her blindness just to have a home, will his anger and hurt drive him away and ruin all chances for a future filled with love, faith, and family?

Ramona Cecil has Civil War ties throughout Freedom's Crossroad, which is a bundle of three novellas about Indiana history. The Underground Railroad makes an prominent feature in one of those novellas.

So, it turns out that this is a good time to write--and read--Civil War after all.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Interview With Grace Greene

Today I have the pleasure to introduce debut author Grace Greene.

Grace writes women’s fiction with romance, suspense, and inspiration, always with a strong heroine at its heart, and a happily-ever-after ending—most of the time. Grace is also an artist and photographer. She is drawn to houses and landscapes that ooze character and is fascinated by history and human nature. When she’s writing all of these interests show up on the page. She’s been honored with a number of writing awards over the past years as a finalist in The Golden Pen, Linda Howard’s Award of Excellence, Fool For Love, and other's. Grace is a member of Romance Writers of America, Virginia Romance Writers, International Thriller Writers, Faith-Hope-Love, and ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). A Virginia native, Grace lives in central Virginia with her husband of many years who is also her biggest fan and supporter.

KATHY: So Grace, we met during the first Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. You were one of the sane voices on those crazy loop discussions. It was instant friendship for me. Then I read your excerpt, which rose pretty high in the rankings as I recall. I remember you as an atmospheric writer, creating a real chilling mystery with your unforgettable character Kath Havens.
Recently you’ve gotten your coveted first contract. How did that all come about?

GRACE: Those Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contests were pretty crazy! We were kind of like pioneers being in the first ones, weren't we?

About that first contract - I was looking for a small press that offered print in addition to e-format. It was especially important to me to have a print edition for my first book. When Kim Jacobs at Turquoise Morning Press offered me that opportunity, I was thrilled - after I recovered from the shock. When I realized she was offering a contract for my second book, too - well, I was nearly overwhelmed. This was the opportunity I was looking for, the chance to share my stories and hopefully, to find readers who'll enjoy them and look forward to more.

KATHY: I am soo excited to celebrate the release of your debut novel! Tell me about Beach Rental.

GRACE: BEACH RENTAL takes place on Emerald Isle, an island off the coast of North Carolina, also in Morehead City and Beaufort. The heroine, Juli, grew up in foster homes, dropped out of school and worked hard to get by on her own. She was proud of her self-reliance - until she begins to realize she's worked herself into a dead end and all of her hard work won't build her a future worth living. The central theme is about trust and faith - learning to trust other people and having the faith NOT to do it all on your own, but to put your life in God's hands.

Here's the blurb:

On the Crystal Coast of North Carolina, in the small town of Emerald Isle…
Juli Cooke, hard-working and getting nowhere fast, marries a dying man, Ben Bradshaw, for a financial settlement, not expecting he will set her on a journey of hope and love. The journey brings her to Luke Winters, a local art dealer, but Luke resents the woman who married his sick friend and warns her not to hurt Ben—and he’s watching to make sure she doesn’t.
Until Ben dies and the stakes change.
Framed by the timelessness of the Atlantic Ocean and the brilliant blue of the beach sky, Juli struggles against her past, the opposition of Ben’s and Luke’s families, and even the living reminder of her marriage—to build a future with hope and perhaps to find the love of her life—if she can survive the danger from her past.

Something else that's important about this novel is the source of the inspiration. In recent years, several of my friends died of pancreatic cancer. They lived their lives to the fullest until they couldn't, doing everything in their power to ensure their families were provided for and important decisions were made to the best extent possible. They inspired me. One of the primary characters in BEACH RENTAL is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and he, like my friends, lived his life for the quality of each day and directed his care and concern toward his friends and family. These brave, selfless people inspired the plot and I couldn't think of a better setting to frame the story than with the peace of the beach at dawn and sunset, and the eternity of the ocean.

KATHY: Wow, Grace, that sounds like a powerful story. How many years have you been writing? What are your completed novels to date?

GRACE: I've been writing on and off for many years. Aside from the first completed one many years ago which I don't count, I've completed three and am well along with the fourth. The third, BEACH RENTAL, is the book that was just released. The second, KINCAID'S HOPE, is due out in January 2012.

KATHY: What do you enjoy reading, and how do you feel your books are similar or different?

GRACE: I enjoy books in almost every genre. I prefer a strong female protagonist and I must have a happy ending, or at least an ending with hope.

KATHY: Who or what are your muses?

GRACE: Muses...everything, I guess. Story ideas are around us all the time. Muses inspire us with ideas, right? And also help propel us forward when we flag? For overcoming obstacles, my muses are my writing friends, activities that reset my brain like bike riding and playing the piano, and prayer. All things are possible with God.

KATHY: Besides writing, what are your guilty pleasures? (mine are chocolate, Hobby Lobby and flea markets) :D

GRACE: My guilty pleasures? Sometimes certain foods or electronics, especially new computers or camera gear. My guiltiest pleasure (and my best re-charging) is to spend an entire day with a book, or watching movies with not one productive action to show for it.

KATHY: I love it! Lazy days can be so energizing. What are your wildest dreams? (skydiving, digging for buried treasure, a weekend at the spa, joining the Olympic equestrian team . . .) And have you done any of them?

GRACE: My wildest dreams are growing a readership and seeing the sights around the world (ie pyramids, Louvre, Hadrian's Wall, ). Seeing BEACH RENTAL in print and holding the book in my hands was like a dream come true. Better than that is hearing from people that they enjoyed reading the book. I'd like to compose and snap the perfect photograph that takes my breath away, paint the painting that speaks to others, write the book that lingers with the reader and maybe changes something in them - for the better, of course.

KATHY: What are you working on next?

GRACE: I love the old gothic and romantic suspense novels - those treasures from Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney, Dorothy Eden and so on. I still re-read them when I want to visit old friends. In KINCAID'S HOPE, I bring that genre in as a thread throughout the story. In my current WIP, I'm writing a contemporary version of the crumbling, atmospheric mansion and the dark, brooding master with a mystery. I'm loving it!

KATHY: Tell us how we can order or purchase BEACH RENTAL.

GRACE: BEACH RENTAL is available in eformats and print at the usual retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble Online, Smashwords, etc. I have links to some of these options on my website -

KATHY: It’s been a joy to have you here, Grace. I am sure I join my readers in wishing you all the best with Beach Rental and all of your future endeavors.

Grace has graciously offered to give away a copy of BEACH RENTAL to one lucky commenter. Please leave your email addy with your comment, and we will draw a name Friday evening.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Upstate New York and Memorial Day

The commemoration of Memorial Day has its roots in upstate NY. In between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes in what is known as the Finger Lakes region sits the quiet little town of Waterloo, NY. Waterloo holds the distinction of conducting the first community event to honor the fallen veterans of the Civil War.

Decoration Day, as it was called in Civil War times, had been celebrated all over the South as women decorated the graves of their glorious dead. These were for the most part independent ceremonies, and varied from town to town, and county to county throughout the south, until the efforts of Henry C. Welles, a druggist who resided in Waterloo, NY unified and dedicated a day of observation. Welles and local war hero General John B. Murray organized a single, cohesive day to honor those who had fallen in defense of the Union.

On May 5, 1866, flags flew over the village of Waterloo at half mast. Dressed in black mourning clothes, a procession led by General Murray marched to the town's three cemeteries and decorated the graves of the slain. A band accompanied the march with martial music along the evergreen-festooned avenues. The following year, Waterloo commenced with the same commemoration on May 5.

By 1868, other communities organized their own events on May 30, which has been the official day of observance in the North ever since. The South continued to mark their own events and days to honor the Confederate fallen, and it wasn't until WW1 when all soldiers who gave their lives on the battlefield were honored that the south officially observed Memorial Day on May 30.

One hundred years after General Murray and Mr. Welles set aside a day in May to honor the men who died in battle, through a series of events, NY Governor Nelson Rockefeller, the United States Congress, and President Johnson himself recognized Waterloo, NY as the origin of Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Interview with Nike Chillemi, debut author of Burning Hearts

Welcome Nike, and congratulations on your imminent debut with Desert Breeze! I am excited about your Sanctuary Point series on a personal level. My mom grew up downstate New York during WWII, so this series will likely be very nostalgic for me, and a wonderful read for any fan of romance, suspense, and crime fiction. I have a feeling you are going to be the next big thing, and I am excited to have you here to discuss your wonderful book, Burning Hearts, which is set to release May 15.

I'm thrilled to be here. I love the 1940s. There's a kind of natural glamour and sophistication to the period. Ordinary women loved to dress up. The men were so debonair. I love the downstate, Long Island area because it's on the Atlantic ocean. I am crazy about the ocean. There's nothing better than sitting under a cabana, watching the surf come in with a good book. Again, thank your for having me.

Can a sheltered young seamstress, disillusioned by the horrors of WWII, escape an arsonist/murderer who has killed her employer and mentor, while trying to decide if she can trust the dashing war hero who’s ridden into town on his Harley—who some say is the murderer? Erica Brogna’s parents doted on her and taught her to think for herself. Many boys she grew up with have fallen in the war, shaking her childhood faith. In rides a handsome stranger, at the hour of her most desperate need. A woman who is her best friend and mentor is trapped in a burning house. After making an unsuccessful rescue attempt, Erica stands by as this man rushes into the inferno and carries her friend’s lifeless body out.
Lorne Kincade can’t out run his past on his Harley Davidson WLA, the civilian model of the motorcycle he rode in the war. He’s tried. He’s been a vagabond biker in the year since the war ended. His Uncle Ivar bequeathed him a ramshackle cottage in Sanctuary Point, on the Great South Bay of Long Island, NY and now he’d like to hope for a future again, repair the miniscule place, and settle down. The only problem is, a young woman with hair the color of mink is starting to get under his skin and that’s the last thing he needs.

So, a few questions for you. You are a pioneer in Christian edgy crime fiction. What authors have shaped your writing? and why do you feel that the Christian literary world is ready for this genre? (I know I am!)

A few years ago, when I seriously began writing for publication, I was shocked to find some inspirational judges in writing contests found my writing edgy. Erica Brogna, my heroine in Burning Hearts, is rather naive as far as men are concerned. And for that matter, Lorne Kincade, the hero, is awkward around women. They don't even kiss until the final chapter. So, that feedback floored me. I thought, what's edgy about this? When I did get more in-depth criticism, I realized it was because I don't present the darkness of life in a neat package. I don't soften the edges of evil, so I guess my writing is edgy in the classic sense of the word. I think Christian readers are not only ready for realistic writing with plausibility, they're hungry for it.

I couldn’t agree more, Nike.

The authors who shaped my early writing were general market authors. I couldn't find any Christian writers who wrote the way I wanted to. They were out there, but it took me a while to find them. Michael Connelly, who was the crime beat reporter for the LA Times for twenty-five years and who writes the bestselling Harry Bosch series influenced my writing the most. His knowledge of police and court procedure is vast and the man can write. The movie, the Lincoln Lawyer, recently out, is based on his book. Matthew McConaughey did an outstanding job -- oh, pluck my eyes out.
Then of course, I did find Christian writers. James Scott Bell was the first, then Robert Liparulo, J. Mark Bertrand, Steven James, and Sibella Giorello. I guess you could say, I follow in their footsteps.

New York City has been on the hearts of many this week recently. With the passing of Reverend David Wilkerson, and of course the death of Osama bin Laden, New York City seems to be in the cross hairs spiritually, politically and emotionally. You’ve been a long time resident downstate, and a passionate Christian. How are the two—New Yorker and Christian—disparate, and how are they inseparable for you?

I just Googled, "how many Christian churches in New York City?" The answer was 6501. So, the Christian church is alive and well in Gotham. Any place where you have a population of about 8 million, you're going to find activity of many sorts going on. Also, an urban environment so vast offers anonymity and cover for those engaging in nefarious activity. If you want to do something immoral or illegal what better place to do it than where you aren't known by everyone and can operate largely unseen. I write about villains who choose to behave in this premeditated fashion, but they may live in a small village like Sanctuary Point.
David Wilkerson who recently died in a car accident in East Texas founded the Times Square Church. He was the spiritual force behind the renaissance in the formerly degenerate Times Square area. Rudi Guiliani was the political force behind the cleanup. Rev. Wilkserson also founded Teen Challenge. His passing is definitely mourned in the body of Christ.
As to Osama bin Laden. Oh, Lord, words fail me. I'm so proud of our Navy Seals who completed such a complicated military operation with such finesse. It seems so obvious to me that the US intelligence community is largely responsible for this terrorist's demise and probably for keeping the homefront safe all these years since the 9/11 attack. I thank our military and CIA, Homeland Security, FBI and all other agencies from the bottom of my heart.

How have both influenced your world view?

I suppose urban living has influenced my worldview and my writing. Though NYC is so vast, I actually live in a residential area filled with houses that have backyards. Our house is only a short walk to a protected salt marsh that empties into the Atlantic Ocean. I am just as drawn to the ocean as I am to the city. That's why my Sanctuary Point series is set on the Great South Bay of Long Island. Yet its urban neighbor influences my tiny fictitious village. Erica reads a fashion forward women's magazine and makes slacks for herself that she wears around the village. Needless to say, some eyebrows are raised.

What do you hope that readers will take away from Burning Hearts and the Sanctuary Point Series?

I want to show how ordinary people can rise to great heights in standing for what is right and against evil. I hope my readers can see the "natural nobility" unpretentious people can display when against all odds they do the right thing. I hope my main characters Erica and Lorne come off in this way. As we've talked about in the earlier questions, there is great ugliness in the world. I don't want to deny the ugliness, but want to show there is greater beauty. I hope my readers come away knowing the greatest, most powerful force on earth is love.

Give our readers a link or two where they can order your book, and where they can learn more about you and your writing.

Burning Hearts can be purchased from the Desert Breeze Publishing site.
It can also be obtained through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
You find me shooting my mouth off mostly on my Facebook page.!/profile.php?id=1408995495
My blog is

Thank you so much, Nike, for sharing your heart and allowing us to celebrate with you on your upcoming debut. I thrilled for you and wishing you every success!

Thank you for having me. This was great fun.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Finally a Bride by Vickie McDonough

Vickie McDonough is one of those authors who can do it all. She made me laugh, she moved me with sympathy, and she had me totally engrossed in this story of three romances-in-one. Jack is the headstrong daughter of Rachel from the first book in the Boardinghouse Brides series. She falls head over heals for the new preacher in town, except that the new preacher isn't really all that new to town. . . Noah has a secret. He not only used to live in Lookout, Texas, but he was the town's former schoolyard bully. If folks--especially Jack--discover his secret, he will lose everything, including his job and his hopes for love.

Rand Kessler is the wealthy bachelor from the first two books who I longed to see hitched, since he was so patient and understanding after being scorned twice. I wouldn't have minded him having a bigger role, but the center stage was rightfully occupied with Jack, Noah and also Garrett and Carly, two other returning characters.

Carly struggles to feel accepted after serving time in prison. She longs for a chance at love and family, but the constant glares from townspeople make her dreams look impossible, until Garrett Corbett comes a courtin'. He was the prankster from the first romance, who ordered three mail order brides for his cousin Luke. The trickster has mellowed with age, but retains an endearing cantankerousness that puts him and Carly at opposites. And we all know that opposites attract like north and south magnetic poles.

Finally A Bride was the best of the series, in my opinion. Historical romance has a rising star in Vickie McDonough. You won't want to miss this book!

Leave a comment with your email addy and follow this blog for your chance to win a copy. Winner to be announced Friday, May 6.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Surrender the Night by MaryLu Tyndall

The second book in the Surrender to Destiny series, Surrender the Night reads among the best of Christian historical romance. Set in Baltimore during the War of 1812, the story's drama lifts off the page with invading British looking to pillage and plunder nearby farming villages. The unsuspecting heroine, Rose McGuire, tends her farm pets as the alarm bells sound and the menace draws dangerously near.
Alexander Reed, Second Lieutenant for her Majesty's Royal Navy, accompanies his First Lieutenant on a mission inland. He must choose whether to obey wicked orders or his conscience when the mission turns into an assault on an innocent civilian--the lovely and terrified young Rose McGuire. Alex defends Rose and takes a bullet his leg. Rose must overcome her terror and loathing of the British by whom she has suffered greatly, in order to tend Alex. By saving his life as he saved hers, she risks detection by those who would hang both of them.
Tyndall creates two endearing and sympathetic characters foist into uncommon circumstances, and the natural attraction which grows between them charges the book with as much tension as the ongoing war and imminent British invasion. While Alex must choose where his loyalties lie, Rose must overcome her past terrors and learn to trust both God and men again. Their obstacles are as imposing as the titanic force mustered against the fledgling country, and I was turning pages to see how either the romance or the American country would survive.
The dynamic climax of the book swept me away with the awe and power of Providence at work on our nation's behalf. Tyndall writes a gripping and factual account of events one would almost have to suspend belief to take in were they not historically true. It is a book not to be missed--a true classic of the genre.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Interview with Tina Pinson, author

Welcome, Tina! I have read both of your books, and I am a solid fan. It’s funny how different In the Manor of the Ghost is from Touched by Mercy, and yet how many similarities they share. They are both authentic romances, brimming with redemption, featuring strong, courageous women, and where children play pivotal rolls. Both tugged at my heartstrings with the genuine goodness of your happily ever after endings.

KATHY: If you were to compare Touched by Mercy with a famous movie or two, which ones would they be and why?

TINA: Coming up with movies for this story isn't easy. But here are a few, Oliver Twist, Sound of Music, Bleak House. Allan has touches of Gary Grant, John Wayne, Gregory Peck, Jimmy Steward, Mr. Darcy, and Hoss Cartwright; tall, handsome, strong, funny and gentle and tender. And he's fashioned after Christ and what I believe a real man embodies. He, by being faithful and patient touches the lives of Samantha and Grimes whos lives have been marred by hurt and abuse.
Grimes and the other orphans give it undertones from Oliver Twist. Grimes is fashioned after the Artful Dodger, Tricks is a bit of Oliver, both living in a world with their own Fagin. A man who sounds like he cares for the boys he's supposedly protecting, but merely wants to use them to get what he wants.
The nuns at the Abby in the Sound of Music inspired the actions of the nuns at the orphanage. I see them with humor, gentleness and heart.
As for Samantha, she is somewhat like the Esther in Dickens Bleak House, only because Esther's godmother/aunt like Samantha's stepfather, and perhaps grandmother, make her feel worthless. And leaves her with feelings that she can never be loved. Feelings that Allan wants to erase.

KATHY: Same question for In the Manor of the Ghost.

TINA: I'd have to say, Beauty and the Beast meets Wuthering Heights and Phantom of the Opera put together would depict In the Manor of the Ghost.
Kaitlyn our beauty, weds our beast, Devlin Clayborne in a marriage of convenience and soon finds herself living in Clayborne Manor. The house doesn't sit on the moors, but it is somewhat a dark home, filled with secrets and a resident ghost.

KATHY: Let’s discuss happily ever after. Redemption is a theme we write about, but do you believe in it? I have been a Christian for over thirty years, and I still struggle with believing everything works for the good for those who love God and those who are called according to his purposes. Your books illustrate this scripture in some poetically beautiful ways. How has God shown you some happily ever after moments in your life? How have your books borrowed from these experiences?

TINA: Let me say WOW… Talk about some tough questions. For myself, I'd love to say I have no struggles with belief. But I do. I know everything works for the good to those who love God… I know we are supposed to give thanks in all things… I know we are supposed to count it all joy when we face trials.. I know we are to have an abundant life in Christ. But knowing all these things and living them constantly isn't easy. I too, struggle with the why and wherefores of life. Why do some people have financial problems and others don't? Why do some marriage last and some don't? Why do some people get sick and healed and others don't? Where is that happily ever after life I was supposed to have anyway?
Do I believe in redemption? Yes, I do. I believe God can and does redeem us, and uses us to glorify him even if we've truly failed or turned away in anger. That's what I talk about with Devlin in In the Manor of the Ghost. And Kaitlyn is given the task of breaking down the walls around Devlin's heart and home.
Samantha from Touched By Mercy, looks at the world with distorted vision. Coming from a "Christian Home" where the stepfather was abusive leaves her to wonder if there is a God at all. If so, why would he allow such things to happen? Allan is left to answer those questions and show Sam that God didn't abandon her. I use that he is a carpenter/woodworker, to depict the character of Christ working in our lives.
When I write the answers from Kaitlyn and Allan, it causes me to consider my beliefs. And maybe in some ways, I write them stronger because I know I'm probably more a Devlin or Samantha about then and need the reminder. If that makes sense?

KATHY: It does. Perfect sense. I need constant reminding.

TINA: Writing forces me to look at myself… who I am before Christ. It has helped clear up some of my own fears and misconceptions. Do I still question? Sure, especially when I get hit by something and feel like God stepped out somewhere.
But I have had some happily-ever-afters, although, they come at a price. Sounds like my views are conflicting. Let me explain. When I commit to what God wants, in my relationships and my life, things are, for the most part, better. I say for the most part, because life happens and bad things arise. Also, I tend to focus on the dismal sometimes… which brings me to another point. I can choose to dwell In the Manor of the Ghost, like Devlin, building walls, shutting people out and complaining. Or I can live like Kaitlyn, in faith, believing that no matter what, God is in control and he has a plan. Does that mean that life will always happy? No. Life has hard times, life has sorrow. God didn't say be happy. He said count it all joy.

KATHY: If one of your readers is struggling, say they believe they will never find their one true love, and that they are not worthy of being loved, how do you think Sam, your heroine would answer them?

TINA: The love of your life is already waiting… patiently for you. He made you fearfully and wonderfully. He knew you before you came into being. You are unique. You are lovely. You are fashioned by God's own hand. He loves you so much, he wants to wipe the tears from your eyes. So much, he died for you. When you see your worth through his eyes, and love what he so beautifully created, then you'll taste true love. Then… when, and if, God blesses you with someone to love and share life with on earth as he blessed me with Allan, you'll be able to offer them a true love as well.

KATHY: Beautiful answer, Tina. I couldn’t have said it nearly so beautifully.
And your hero Allan. I LOVED him! I loved how he takes the young man Zeb/Grimes from his past and models masculinity and tenderness to him. Woodworking is a wonderful metaphor you use to show the transformation of a life. Allan is a carpenter like Jesus. He has so many traits of the gentle Carpenter that I felt he was like Jesus with skin. Are there real men out there like him? (I know there are, my husband is one of them, but I want to hear your answer. LOL)

TINA: Yes, real men should emulate Christ in their actions and in the way they love. So should women. I've heard for years about how men should be strong in their homes and keep their wives in line. I always hear about how women should submit to men and lot of times the preceding verse is overlooked… Ephesians 5:21 says Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Some translations say Love.
So the starting point for real love is submitting to each other because of our love and reverence for Christ.
Allan could have pushed and prodded Samantha to see she was way off in her thinking, and that probably would have sent her further into confusion. Instead, he submitted to Christ and loved her toward truth be becoming the example of Christ's love in her life -- a hard task for men who want to fix everything. I think a real man who wants to live for Christ, knows the first step is realizing he can't fix everything, not without Christ working in and through him.
For Christ to work through him, he has give himself up and stop trying to be the big bad macho man. That's tough. That takes a lot more strength and determination in my book though then pounding someone into submission. Does that mean a man shouldn't be the fierce warrior sometimes? No, he has to be fierce, God created him that way.
And a women needs to realize that's ingrained in him, that he has to take a stand. And sometimes I just need to step back and let him handle the battle.
My husband and I used to be at odds over a few things. My writing and singing among them. I felt like he kept trying to hold me back, didn't want me to excel. Didn't want me to do what I felt God was calling me to.
But I could see areas where I wasn't letting him be what God wanted for him either. We finally talked it through and realized that we were putting up blocks out of fear and perhaps envy. Fear that living for God would pull us apart somehow. Kind of dumb in retrospect, but it was there. So we began to pray that God would mold us into the people he wanted us to be and use us how he desired, and things began to change. We began to desire the same things for each other, and we began to see that what God wanted wasn't going to tear us apart. If we followed his desires, they complemented who we were as a couple.
God knew my life had been touched with abuse. Thankfully, I had a father who tried to show God's love. I was afraid I would never find a man in my life to love me, but God blessed me with a gentle, tender and patient husband. As first I couldn't see me submitting, cause I had submitted before and been hurt. But I began to realize it was better for me to not do something if my husband disagreed. I began to find that with his help and encouragement I was moving ahead. And my husband, who had always had a tender heart, grew even more willing to do for me. I know he'd go to ends of the earth for me.

KATHY: Give us an excerpt of Touched my Mercy. I would love to share a taste of your wonderful imagery and clever phrasing and endearing characters with my readers.

TINA: Here's the scene with Allan and Grimes (Zeb) you spoke of. I think it needs little explanation.

"I'll have to admit you certainly had the touch with that cow," Allan chuckled, as he pushed the door to his cabin open a bit later. Actually, the cow had the touch with Zeb. She butted him into a nice, newly laid patty. Allan grabbed a sprig of weed from Zeb's head as he passed. "We'd better get you cleaned up before Sam wonders what you've been up to. You can strip down in there. I'll lay some clothes out for you."
Zeb hesitated. He looked at the back room and back to Allan then peered toward the door. His eyes filled with such fear, Allan expected him to bolt. But the boy stood frozen in the middle of the cabin, clutching his muddied coat to himself as if it were a shield. Shivering. His breathing labored, he gulped and swallowed hard enough his shoulder's lifted plum near to his chin. Allan was tempted to feel his head for horns.
He needed to console the boy and started forward only to stop when Zeb flinched and held his breath. His terror-filled eyes all but took up his face, saying more than Allan could bear to hear. Allan stepped back and managed a smile instead. "You go ahead and get cleaned up. Don't want Sam getting a whiff of you. I'll be out in the shed when you're done," having said his piece, he backed to the door and slipped out.
He wasn't surprised when the bolt slipped into the latch a short time after. Stepping into the shed, he gulped back a few fears of his own. He had an idea why the boy had those nightmares now. While he thanked the Lord for the insight, he slumped his shoulders in disgust. And hated being a man.
Allan was taking his frustrations out on a sturdy piece of cherry wood when Zeb found the courage to join him. Allan heard him come up. He stood near the door, afraid and uncertain. Allan kept on with his work, waiting for the boy to make whatever move he decided. He hoped he'd make it soon, because the warmth from the stove was rapidly evaporating, and cool air from the open door behind him took its place. Allan decided he'd freeze if he had to, but he wouldn't scare that boy no more.
"What ya doing?" Zeb whispered.
Allan glanced up then back to the wood, the boy stayed on the edge of his sight. With deft fingers he cut at the design. "Making a chair for my niece."
"Oh," Zeb replied. He reared up ever so slightly on the balls of his feet to get a better look. He looked about the room. "You make this stuff?"
"Yep," Allan replied, his eyes on his work. One more decisive nip with the chisel and with a stroke on the wood -- a gentle stroke he hoped Zeb hadn't missed -- he laid it aside. "Would you care to learn?" He met the boy's gaze.
Zeb shrugged nonchalantly, slipped his hands his the back pocket of his britches. "Don't know."
Allan brushed the flakes of chiseled wood to the edge of the table and caught them in his open hand. Dumping it in the bucket by his leg, he grabbed another piece of the chair and lay it before him. "It takes a lot of care and time, but I'd be willing to teach you."
The boy hesitated. Did he wonder if Allan would want something in return? Allan could almost hear the wheels in the boy's head spinning with the question. He wasn't sure how to placate the boy's fear. "I can show you, and whatever you make will be yours."
"Mine?" the boy whispered reverently. His eyes filled with renewed interest.
"Yours… you won't have to give me anything in return except your undivided attention when I teach you." Allan assured him. "Well?" Trust me, boy, Allan's heart cried out. It smiled when the boy closed the door and came, ever so slowly, to his side.
"Just my attention?"
Allan nodded. "I don't have to ask you to do your best." The boy's lips curled with hesitancy. It was a start, Allan decided. A small victory. He had only to be patient to win the war. "We'll start here." Allan pointed to a pile of wood.
Zeb seemed baffled. He tucked his hands deep in the pockets of the britches he'd borrowed from Allan. His brows furrowed.
Allan grinned. "I suppose, if you're like most boys, the only thing you know about wood piles is the discipline you received behind them."
Zeb snickered.
"We'll just help you see it from another perspective." Allan knelt by the pile. "Before we make any cuts or designs, we pick our wood." Allan lifted a small piece of oak from the pile and ran his fingers along the grain. "My father told me every piece of wood has a design in it. Like God put it there. You've got to get to know the wood, feel the texture..." It hurt for Allan to remember his father. His words were strong in his head as he studied the wood, remembering days in the woodshop under his father's instruction. Allan stood and held the oak out.
Zeb touched it with hesitant hands. He met Allan's eyes. "It's feels kind of warm. What's in this piece?"
Allan shrugged and suspired long. "I've been wondering that for a long time. Every now and then, I get a hankering to carve it, but I don't have a feel for the design in it. Maybe you do." Allan placed it in the boy's hand. As Zeb cradled it, Allan stepped around the table and picked up his chisel. "You get acquainted with that piece and, when you're ready, we can draw whatever you feel." He started on his chair again, aware of the boy who stared at a lump of wood beside him.
That's what you must do, son, the voice of his heart whispered. Try the wood, feel the textures, and chisel away the layers that have hidden the beauty for so long.
It will take some time. The layers are deep.
Yes, and it will hurt, but you must take care. You must remind him that I love him. Remind him that he is not alone. With patience and love, the design will come forth. With patience and care, a child will be whole again.

"Yes," Allan whispered. Taking his smallest chisel, he cut at the intricate design of the budding rose, wondering when the boy would shed his fears. Wondering when Sam would shed hers. Wondering how fragrant the blossomed rose would be. He had an itch to push the progress along with both of them but had learned from experience the cuts had to be made painstakingly slow. Otherwise, the design could be marred and ruined.
Painstakingly slow was killing him.

KATHY: Thank you, Tina. As always, it is fun hanging out with you and sharing your heart with others through story.

For more information on Tina, Touched by Mercy and In the Manor of the Ghost, please visit:
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Friday, February 11, 2011

Lady in the Mist by Laurie Alice Eakes

Cinematic. Atmospheric. Sweeping. These descriptors are usually reserved for theatrical presentations, but I found Laurie Alice Eake’s novel Lady in the Mist brimming with these very qualities.
With writing that was insightful, intuitive, almost clairvoyant, Lady in the Mist enraptured me with a beautiful story of discovery, shame, loss, betrayal, hope, faith, and love’s redemption. Laurie Alice Eakes stands shoulder to shoulder with the greats with her deeply moving romance featuring Tabitha Eckles, a midwife caught in the middle of local and international crosscurrents, and Dominick Cherrett, an exiled Lord seeking restoration from disgrace.
Ms. Eakes’ romantic savoir-faire evoked the bittersweet beauty of falling in love in the most unaccommodating circumstance and choosing that love, defying reason, and risking all. She enlists deepest passion while maintaining the utmost purity in her writing, and then raises the stakes with conspiracy, suspense, and a plot that unfolds with increasing intensity.
Few novels have inspired my imagination as this one has. Set in coastal Virginia in 1809, the tale is told with beautiful imagery, historic detail that shimmers like gemstone, and with a soul that transcends time and place to deliver a powerful, emotional experience and a poignant message of grace.
This novel is the first in The Midwives series, setting the stage for more turbulence leading up to the War of 1812, and no doubt, more epic romance.

purchase your own here

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Writing Sabattical

November brought a big silent pause to my life. Even more than the busyness of Christmas preparation, and the need to find a job outside the home for the first time in a decade, I found that rejections and disappointments had sapped my desire to write. I was ready to call it quits.
My devoted friends and critique partners all encouraged me, but there was no returning in my mind. I said goodbye to a few writing groups, including an invaluable critique group full of very talented and dear folks. I would have left the rest, too, except I found my time consumed to the point of being unable to go online to do so. I grieved the loss of more years than I could count writing. I wondered what had it all been for?
I thrust myself into my retail job, working 38 hour weeks and desperately trying to keep up on my kids' homework and my housework, all the while dying to my dearest dreams and deepest desires. It was over, and I couldn't figure out why. Had God told me I was done, or had fatigue?
Then January came after the Christmas rush and my hours slackened off at work. I could breathe again. I dreamed a new story and woke to write it down in detail. I wanted to write, and the grief was gone.
My friends were right. God hadn't given me a moratorium, He had given me a sabbatical. And my head is clear enough again to love weaving words and story once again.
Thank you, John, Debbie Lynne, Leann, Suzie H, Suzanne C, Scribes 213, Barb, Tina P, crazy-hair Diane, MaryAlice, Nancy, Payton, Matt, Tracy, James, Gordon, Grace, Linore, Melanie, Laurie Alice, and my countless friends in this crazy writing world. You have all blessed and touched my life with your courage and tenacity.

Some words to ponder by a great Christian music artist, Jason Upton

No Sacrifice

To you I give my life, not just the parts I want to
To you I sacrifice these dreams that I hold on to

Your thoughts are higher than mine
Your words are deeper than mine
Your love is stronger than mine
This is no sacrifice
Here's my life

To you I give the gifts
Your love has given me
How can I hoard the treasures that you've designed for free?

Your thoughts are higher than mine
Your words are deeper than mine
Your love is staronger than mine
This is no sacrifice
Here's my life

To you I give my future
As long as it may last
To you I give my present
To you I give my past

Your thoughts are higher than mine
Your words are deeper than mine
Your love is stronger than mine
Your thoughts are higher than mine
Your words are deeper than mine
Your love is stronger than mine
This is no sacrifice
Here's my life