Thursday, August 30, 2018

Thoughtful About . . . Why We Need Heroes

I've written about literary heroes before. I've written about what we're remembered for and what I feel is so critical about preserving the legacies even of those with whom we don't agree.

But in listening to a book called The Closing of the American Mind and hearing the acclaimed Mr. Bloom discuss American' aversion to heroes and how he'd observed that it has impacted our culture as a whole, I realized that all my thoughts on literary heroes and my sorrow when I see statues of Southern heroes being torn down are really about this greater question.

Why do we need heroes? Not just in literature, but in life? And why don't we have them anymore?

The book in question looks specifically at university students and how they'd changed over the course of this professor's thirty years of teaching them. The book, though written in the 80s, certainly pinpointed the patterns that continued and which we're still seeing play out today. I don't agree with his every conclusion, of course, but there's no denying the general trends he puts to paper.

The root of them all is the current American mindset that we must accept all viewpoints, all cultures, all beliefs as valid, and that the only things that aren't valid are the ones that oppose that openness. Which of course is ironic, because no other culture believes the same, and so while we say we grant the validity of another culture, we don't really, because they're too "closed." It's a cycle that renders the starting point absurd and yet is fully embraced by Americans...which results in a shallow belief system founded on nothing.

Enter the idea of a hero. We had American heroes, in generations past. Washington and Jefferson. Adams and Hamilton. Lee and Grant. Even though we knew they were imperfect human beings, we still honored them for what they'd done in and for our country. At one point, hero worship of these founders and generals was so complete that it began to worry some educators, and they decided they better start reminding kids that Washington was still human. "He had wooden teeth!" they began to teach. A reminder that he had his weaknesses, his humanness. But it wasn't yet meant to strip him of his title of "hero." Merely to remind us that heroes are human.

As the years went on, the teaching continued on this trend. "Let's teach our kids about their heroism" became "Let's teach them how our heroes are human" became "Let's teach them about their faults and flaws" became "They can't be forgiven for their faults and flaws" became "These men weren't heroes, they were monsters, and we've founded a country on them! GASP!"

The logical conclusion is to tear down the country built upon such monstrosity. And that is exactly what we see happening today, especially in the educational arena.

But that won't just damage us as a nation. It will damage us as individuals. Because we need heroes.

We need people to believe in.
We need people to aspire to be like.
We need examples to follow.
We need causes to fight for.
We need causes worth dying for.
We need to believe there's something bigger than ourselves.

This is human nature. And when we don't fill those needs one way, we just fill them another. Anti-heroes become the people we believe in. We aspire to be like the rich since they don't ever pretend to be great on a human level. We follow our instincts. We fight for universal acceptance, never ourselves accepting that it's oxymoronic. We die
only for our own pleasures. And the only thing we're willing to grant is bigger than ourselves is our need to tell others they're the same as us.

Here's the thing--we have this idea today that heroes have to be perfect. Or that we have to agree with them 100%. That if we dare to honor someone for something and then we discover a fault, we've committed a grave sin and are endorsing the fault.

That's simply not true.

We do not have to be on the same side as a soldier to grant that he fought heroically. We do not have to agree with someone's cause to admire them for sacrificing themselves to save others fighting for it. Heroes don't have to be on the winning side.

This struck me a week or so ago when my dad had me looking up the memorials at Gettysburg. Thousands of men were lost on both sides of the war during that bloody battle. And memorials to men from both sides were raised after the war. Memorials that show how bravely they fought. That remember their names.

I'd never paused to realize that there were memorials for both North and South on that battlefield. But of course, there were. Because there were men who fought and died on both sides. There were acts of heroism on both sides. And in this case, it wasn't just the winners that told the story--and even the winners recognized that the cost was hardly worth the win. This was a story owned by both sides of the divide--a story that belongs to our nation, whether you live in the north or the south.

Activists today are making a concerted effort to destroy the memory of American heroes with whom they don't 100% agree. What they don't seem to realize is that by doing so, they're destroying themselves. Because if they teach the next generation that anything "closed-minded" is evil, what happens when that next generation realizes that their very teachers were closed-minded about something? They've rendered themselves null.

I believe there are heroes. In the past, and among us today. I believe there is Truth. I believe there is Right. And I believe a person can be a hero even when they're wrong. I believe being human, having faults, doesn't negate what they do right. And I believe honoring them for their victories can teach us all something, even when we disagree with some of their stances.

If we don't believe in something we're left fighting for nothing. And that is sure to ring empty in the ears of those who follow.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Word of the Week - Popsicle

The heat of summer is fully upon us, and we all know nothing tastes as good on those hot summer days as cool treats. Ice cream, Popsicles, frozen coffees and yogurts and you-name-it.

My assistant's little boy asked where the word Popsicle comes from, so this Word of the Week is for Judah!

And it's a pretty simple one. =) Despite becoming the only word really used for icy pops these days, Popsicle is, in fact, a trademarked name (so should always be written with a capital P). It was registered in 1923 by a fellow in California, and while he didn't explain the name, it was assumed that it was a simple mash-up:

(lolly)pop + (ice)cicle = Popsicle

Interestingly, that was the same time period in which lollypop came to mean "candy on a stick." Before the 1920s, the word was definitely in use for sweets, but it was "a soft candy made of treacle and sugar" when it was created in 1784. By the 1840s, it came to means "something sweet but insubstantial." And then in the 1920s, we get that "on a stick" meaning that we all identify with today.

My family has become obsessed this summer with Outshine fruit pops. We love that they're real fruit and SO GOOD. What's your favorite frozen treat for a hot summer day?

Friday, August 24, 2018

Fridays from the Archives . . . Savoring the Moment

Original post published 8/11/2011

Though I don't have organizational skills that would wow anyone, I'm a planner. A goal-setter. And someone who doesn't often budge on those goals. When I say I'll have a book to the 75% mark by August 14, for instance, I do whatever it takes to hit that point in the manuscript. (I've only got 4K more to write by Sunday to be there, which is totally doable, LOL.) When I say I'll be somewhere at a certain time, I refuse to be late. When I say I'll help someone with something, that then goes ahead of my other tasks on the to-do list.

In general, I think this is a fine character trait. ;-) But this week I've also been very aware of its drawbacks. See, sometimes I'm so set on meeting my goals and getting to that oh-so-important future point that I forget to enjoy where I am.

With only a few days left until I leave for the OCW Conference in Oregon, for which I'll be gone through Thursday, I'm keenly aware of how long I'll be away from my kids and hubby. And I'm already geared up to miss them. So I've been gathering extra hugs and kisses, extra cuddles and quality time.

It's been a balancing act, even more than usual. Usually, I have my set work times, and I expect my kids to respect them. They don't, LOL, but I let myself insist on that half hour in the morning and those two hours during naptime. Other times of day I certainly try to squeeze in five minutes at my computer here and there, but it's totally common for a kiddo (or two) to be on my lap or asking for help, or requesting I come outside "because you gotta SEE this!" But this week, much as I want (okay, I think it actually classifies as a "need" for my personality type) to get to that 75% mark in my manuscript, I really want (and definitely need) to stock up on the kiddo-time.

It's made me think a lot about how I approach each moment. Yes, I want to walk for exercise. But you know, it's so fun to stop every three feet to jump rope with my daughter. Yes, I wanted to answer that email. But there's nothing quite like cuddling my son for those first 20 minutes after he gets up from his nap when all he wants to do is sit on my lap and suck his thumb.

Sometimes I'm so focused on what must be done next (bath time, book time, bed time) that I forget to fully enjoy what is. Sometimes I'm so distracted by what I didn't get finished that I can be grumpy during my family time. But this week, I've been very aware of how much fun my kids are, and how much I'll miss their silliness next week. This week, I've been working hard during work time and savoring each moment of play.

I'm going to do my best to extend that aspect of this week into the future.

Today I have my mother-in-law taking the kids to the park for a few hours so I can pack some solid work into the morning. Part of me feels guilty about losing those couple hours with them--but then, I think it's better to send them out to have fun than to have to plop them in front of the TV while I prepare my suitcase. And as always, it's part of the balancing game. I know well that I'll savor the other moments more once I've gotten some of my other looming tasks out of the way.

There are never any easy answers for balancing a home-based career with your kids (or ANY career with your kids). But I'm trying to be aware, not just of the amount of time I'm with them, but with the quality of the time. And I'm laughing a lot, smiling a lot, and cuddling a lot.

Goals are great. Keeping them is important. But sometimes you've just gotta live in the moment.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Remember When . . . The Schools Were at War Too

Well, that time of year has come again. My family has officially started the 2018-19 school year. Part of me hates the loss of free time...and part of me is excited about all those awesome books we get to read together this year!

For those of you who have been reading the Shadows Over England series, you know that one of the most important things for the family of thieves-turned-agents is that with the advent of steady income they can, for the first time, afford to send the little ones to school. While "public schools" had long been available in England, they weren't what we think of them as today. They weren't free for the public--they were just available for anyone from the public to pay to attend. Free, compulsory schools were set up in the 1890s, at which attendance was required...until the age of 10. My family, however, didn't send the little ones to those for a few very good reasons--they weren't a legal family, and if the children were known by the system, they'd be taken away. So Barclay educated the children at home until such a time as he could pay to put them in a better school.

In An Hour Unspent, we get a glimpse of the kids finally taking on the roles of traditional children. They're attending school, fighting over books, struggling with Algebra. All things familiar to children today. But for them, this was huge. This was an opportunity. This was a new life unfolding before them.

But the war changed the school system just as it changed everything in England. Many of the teachers were gone, having enlisted. Meals, which had only been served in schools for 8 years at that point in history and were far from inspiring, became sparse and even less inspiring as shortages took effect. Older children often left school as soon as they legally could, usually between 10 and 12 years old, to get a job and help their families survive.

In some ways, the war hit colleges hardest. In my research, I found several mentions of professors leaving colleges when they closed in 1914--presumably because of lack of students. But then those same professors returned to their colleges in the later years of the war--presumably when more students came in.

As the war dragged on and shortages increased, the need for food was on everyone's mind. "Grow your own" became a necessity, and many schools created gardens and instructed their students in how to grow vegetables. Schoolchildren were also called upon to knit scarves and socks for servicemen, write letters to soldiers, and raise funds for the war, often by selling small flags and pins to be worn on special Flag Days.

Though hard days for everyone, the First World War did, in fact, lead to educational reform in England. In 1918 the school leaving age was raised to 14, with more options available for children 14 to 18, to train them for better paying, skilled labor. This was one of the huge things that led to the stop of child labor. Which meant it was opposed by factory owners, landowners, and even the Church. But it also paved the way for what we know today--mandatory education for children up to 18 years of age (which came into effect after WW2 in England).

Did you enjoy school or dread it? Would you have left school to get a job as a young teen had it been an option?

Monday, August 20, 2018

Word of the Week - Copperhead

It has been a rainy, rainy summer here in West Virginia. The result? Critters everywhere they shouldn't be. We live in the woods, and the rodents and spiders inside this year have been terrible.

Then...then...there's the copperheads. These venomous snakes usually prefer the tops of the mountains, not down where we are. But rainy seasons tend to wash them down (or so is the prevailing theory). My mother-in-law, who lives up the driveway, has been on this property for 30 years, and she's spotted copperheads maybe 3 times in years prior. But last week we saw our second of the season (and quickly dispatched it with a shovel). (And no, that photo is not mine!)

I shudder at the proximity of that most recent one to our house (it was right behind our car) and thank God above that my daughter spotted it while out of striking range. But this being me, I'm also thinking, "I know the term was used during the Civil War for those with secret allegiances...I wonder why they chose that snake in particular?"

In Circle of Spies, final book in the Culper Ring Series, I focus on secret groups--in addition to my Culpers, we have the undercover Pinkerton agents, and the Knights of the Golden Circle, which are the ones called Copperheads.
You can always order signed copies of my books in my store, don't forget!

Upon looking it up, I found an interesting explanation! In the parts of the South where the groups originated (including where I live), there are 2 main types of venomous snakes: rattlesnakes and copperheads. Rattlesnakes are easily spotted and warn you from a fair distance away that they're there. With the shake of their tail, they're saying, "Get back, now. I don't want to have to hurt you." This, according to an 1854 historian, is what an honorable Southern man would do most of the time. He would lay out his complaint against you in a forthright manner.

But unlike the rattler, the copperhead is sneaky. Stealthy. And aggressive, often biting before people even realize they're there. This is what the secret societies began to do. They abandoned the overt and went for the silent strikes. Well before war broke out, these societies had been dubbed "Copperheads."

By the time the war was in full swing, the term had come to be applied especially to Northerners with Southern sympathies. That terrifying "fourth column" that Lincoln himself mentioned, and which comes up in my book. =)

So there we go. A quick lesson in terms inspired by a too-close call with a nasty little snake in my driveway!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Thoughtful About . . . Lessons from Peter

We've been reading through Matthew lately, and really digging deep, as we tend to do in our Bible studies. This weekend, we were in Matthew 14--quite a chapter! We learn about the beheading of John, and how Jesus sought some solitude after getting the news, He tried to go off by Himself...only to be followed by quite a crowd that He ended up feeding. After that miraculous meal, He sends the disciples off on the boat, goes to get that prayer time that was interrupted before, and then catches up with the middle of the storm-tossed lake. On foot.
These familiar stories that we know oh-so-well can sometimes be hard to dig deeper into. We've heard them so many times, we just assume we know what they're saying, and what they mean, and what their import really is.

This time, something new jumped out at me.

As Jesus is walking to the disciples on the water, they see Him and think it's an apparition. The Greek work used is phantasma, from which we get phantom--used to mean vision more than disembodied spirit, for which they frequently used angelos (angel). Regardless, the disciples are a little freaked out, to say the least.

And Jesus is quick to say, "Hey, chill out! It's just me!" (Totally his words. Very literally translated. Ahem.)

We all know what Peter said in response. But have you ever really thought about it? Look at this.

"Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water."

Um...what? Who here has ever reacted that way? "Lord, if that's You nudging me to do something, command me to perform a miracle"... "Lord, if that's you tugging on my heart, tell me to jump out of the airplane"..."Lord, if that's You beside me in my troubled times, tell me to do the impossible."

That isn't the human response. We never ask for anyone, even God to prove Himself by having us do something risky and awe-inspiring. We ask Him to do it, maybe...but in this passage, He already was. He was walking on the water already. (I mean really, who else could it have been??)

That takes a particular kind of faith, that Peter invokes. And as my husband said, "I wonder if this is the moment where it became so clear that Peter was the Rock on which the church should be built." Because he's the only one who greeted terror with, "Lord, let's do something miraculous together." Yes, he took his eyes off Jesus, and when he did so, he began to sink. But still--let's not forget that first he not only asked to join Him, he demanded it as proof.

Do we do that? Do we demand, as proof of our Lord's identity, that He do something amazing through us?

Should we?

When Peter and Jesus make it back to the boat, the storm ceases, the wind dies down. And the disciples all say--for the FIRST TIME in this Gospel--"Wow. This dude's the Son of God."

Why? Why then do they proclaim it? Just a few chapters before, Jesus calmed another storm on a tumultuous sea, and it made them ask. Made them wonder who this guy was. Why, this time, did it become clear?

My first thought was that it was because He did that little walking on water bit.

But many prophets had subdued nature and the laws of physics before. We have Elijah praying for no rain, then for rain. Making an ax-head float. Making oil never run out. We have a dead man springing to life by merely touching his bones.

Miracles, all. So Jesus calming storms made them certain He was, at least, a prophet.

But there's a big difference between a prophet and the Son of God.

A prophet could have calmed the storm. Maybe a prophet could have even walked on water (after all, if an ax-head can be made to rise to the top of the water, why not a person?).

As I debated this question in our study, there was only one thing I could come up with that really set this incident apart as Son-of-God-unique. And that was Peter. That Jesus could command Peter to come to Him. So far as I can recall, no other prophet could confer the miracle like that. Yes, they had people act in faith--go dip in the Jordan five times; pour out the oil and make a cake. But the miracle wasn't performed by them.

Peter partook in the miracle, though. Peter was the doer of it. Much like the disciples went out and did the work in Jesus' name. That means that Jesus had to have the authority, to grant it to them. Only an heir could do that. Only a Son of the Most High.

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Peter...and in this passage, he really taught me something about what my faith should be. It shouldn't just ask for God to should demand He do it through me. It should demand to partake of the miracle. Not just to watch, but to do. To be a co-heir. To have some of that authority.

Whenever I'm in doubt, I shouldn't just say, "Lord, show me the way I should go." I should be saying, "Lord, do the impossible through me."

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

It's My Birthday!

As you may know, my next novel, An Hour Unspent, releases in just THREE weeks! I can not wait for you all to meet Barclay and Evelina. In fact, I am so excited about this story, that I wanted to give you a sneak peek. So, MY gift to YOU today is the PDF for the first chapter of An Hour Unspent!!! Yay! And in case you were wondering, YES! It is, in fact, my 29th birthday...again...

Keep your eyes on alert for my next newsletter. I have an exciting contest and giveaways coming to your inbox on September 4th (release day). There will be giveaways for my US AND International Readers.

Companion Guide Coming Soon

Watches Part 1

Don't forget to check out my BLOG on Wednesdays for the historical background of the story. After release day, these posts will be compiled into a companion guide in an easily-downloaded PDF. Perfect for readers groups or your own curiosity.

An Hour Unspent

An Hour Unspent Sneak Peek

This sneak peek is exclusively for my newsletter group! If you want to access this sneak peek, sign up for my newsletter and you will receive the link in your welcome email!
You can pre-order a signed copy of An Hour Unspent on my website HERE.


If you missed it, I also have a book coming out in September through Guidepost. This is a book that you can ONLY purchase from Guidepost. BUT, I am going to give away THREE copies to my newsletter subscribers! Sign up for my newsletter and the entry form will be in your welcome email! Fill out the form and I will draw 3 winners on August 21st. Giveaway open to US addresses only. Void where prohibited.

Now, go eat some cake!


Monday, August 13, 2018

Word of the Week - Beware

Last Wednesday, I was invited to speak at retailers event near Lancaster, PA. As my husband and I were driving through Pennsylvania, also known in our family as "the land of oh-so-helpful road signs," we saw first the "Don't Tailgate" sign. And then one that said "Beware of Aggressive Drivers."

My husband, who had only caught of glimpse of that one, said, "Did that say 'beware aggressive drivers' or 'beware of aggressive drivers'? Because it would be funnier if there were no of. Then we wouldn't know if it was warning us to beware of them, or just warning them."

Naturally, this led to the next question of, "So is beware just be + aware?"

"Probably," I said. "Or be + wary. In fact, I bet aware and wary are variations of the same word."

And so, it turns out, they are.

Beware is from around 1200, a contraction of "be wary" or "be on one's guard." It's from the Old English wær, which means "prudent, wary, aware, alert." Aware is also directly from the Old English, from gawær, which is obviously just a slight variation, meaning "wary, cautious."

So there we go. Our musings were correct. And Pennsylvania will forever remain the Land of Oh-So-Helpful Road Signs. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Remember When . . . The War Brought Darkness

War changes things. We all know that, but most of today haven't lived through a "total war" that really impacts everyone at home, whether we or our family are directly involved in the fighting or not. Most people are very aware of how WWII did this...but most of us don't realize that the things we're so familiar with from that war, had their roots in the First World War.

But London, for instance, experienced huge changed when war was declared, and it was interesting to show these through my characters in An Hour Unspent.

London Blackout - Wiki Commons
One of the first changes to be put into place was a blackout in coastal towns and London. As early as 1913, Churchill, as the First Lord of the Admiralty, drew up a plan for a blackout in the event of war. For the first time in history, people had to fear enemies coming not just from land or sea, but from the air. Many still primarily feared rockets or missiles that could be launched from naval vessels, but there was (rightfully) a growing fear that aircraft could be weaponized. At the start of the war, airplanes weren't the biggest threat--they had a difficult time crossing the channel and couldn't carry much by way of bombs or guns. But zeppelins were a different story.

As a result, eight days after England declared war on Germany, blackout restrictions were put in place. In London, this meant no electric lights were permitted outside. Street lamps were painted over to dim them. Most houses at this time still had the old gas lights installed as well as the new electric ones, and they had to use those after dark, or use curtains to keep the light from shining.

The streets became hazardous after dark. Before, when gas street lamps were the norm, there weren't automobiles zipping around. The combination of faster vehicles and less light was, let's say, not a good combination.

So in an effort to keep people off the streets after dark, many traditional nighttime events like operas and plays and concerts were moved up to earlier hours or canceled entirely.

First Zepplin sighting 1915 - Wiki Commons
But dimming the lights wasn't the only step London took to confuse an aerial attack. They knew that a night attack was most likely for zeppelins, and they knew that if they were to come across the Channel, it would have to be on a clear night.

A clear night meant moonlight. And moonlight would reflect most off...water.

Everybody of water in London would become a homing beacon. So they drained the lakes and ponds in the parks, leaving nothing but muddy expanses where once there had been beautiful vistas.

What they couldn't drain, however, was the Thames. And in the first zeppelin raids, the river was indeed what the airships followed.

By the end of the war, all this was no doubt old hat. But can you imagine seeing one of those drained lakes at the start? How sobering a reminder it would have been that the world had gone mad and that the very skies should be feared? Quite a scary thing. And one my characters had to encounter and combat.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Word of the Week - Whisker

I live in a house with both a man and cats. So naturally, the debate about which came first, whisker for a man's facial hair or whisker for the long, sensitive hairs on a cat's face, has come up. (Yeah, okay, so my family's all weird, LOL. Or my word-nerd ways have rubbed off on them. We do seriously have these sorts of conversations on a daily basis.)

First, a bit about where they came from in general. Whisker comes directly from whisk--"to move with a sweeping motion." Interesting, the noun whisk is from the late 1300s, while the verb is from the late 1400s. It wasn't until around 1600 that whisker came into being, as a playful form of whisk--a thing that sweeps. And it was attributed first to...

Ready for the answer? ;-)

Men's facial hair! It took another 70 years or so for it to be applied to animals.

Which does make me wonder what it was called on animals before that? Anyone know?

Friday, August 3, 2018

Fridays from the Archives ~ The Right Thing

When we get discouraged, it can be hard to remember if we are, in fact, doing the right thing. Were we supposed to take this path? Were we supposed to turn right instead of left back there? I am here to tell you that you are not alone on this journey! 
Original post published 5/2010

This may be rambling, so we'll have to see where I go with it--at the moment, I'm not quite sure.

There are times in life when we know absolutely what we have to do. Times when the Lord speaks so clearly, guides so strongly that we have no doubts. We recognize His hand, His touch, and when we obey, we feel His blessing.

Until we don't. What do we do then?

I've come across a lot of devotions and really beautiful essays by some kick-butt believers on this subject--and none of it really helps when you're actually in the doldrums. Without wind in your sails, you're just paddling along, and having someone spout some lovely lyrics doesn't always help and certainly doesn't keep your muscles from screaming. Right? So what do we do?

Right at this particular moment, I'm not there. But one of my dearest friends just talked to me last night about how her doctor diagnosed her with moderate depression. This didn't totally surprise me; just made a few things click, like, "Oh, guess that's why you said you weren't eating . . . or ever leaving your house . . . or . . ." Still, I'm one of those that think often times "depression" is over-diagnosed. Not that people don't have issues, just that drugs aren't the cure-all for them. And this friend feels the same way. She told her doctor, "Thanks. Now that I know this isn't something to brush off, I won't brush it off anymore. I'll pull myself together."

She also realizes she can't do it alone. She was telling me this at Bible study, which marks one of the first times she's gotten out to a church function in months, even though every time I talk to her, she says how she needs it. She's been going out every day and making sure she's eating a balanced diet. She's praying and talking to her friends.

Will it "fix" her? I don't know. But I know she's doing the right thing.

But what about the problems I and my writing friends face so often? When we have one success followed by score after score of disappointments? When we know God called us to this career, when we followed His open doors, and somehow ended up here--with abysmal sales numbers and no direction for the future?

In those moments, it's hard to believe that we were ever right to begin with. Maybe we shouldn't have followed this path, maybe we made a wrong choice somewhere along the line. We've got these plans that seemed inspired, but is anything really going to help?

I don't know. I really don't. I think maybe sometimes God leads us to these barren places because we're not ready for the bounty. I think sometimes it's to teach us to rely on Him. I think sometimes it just happens because that's the way of the world--and in those times, it's not our part to question his leading to begin with, but to put our hand in His, close our eyes, and say, "If it's your will, let this cup pass from me. I really don't know how to deal with it. But still--not my will, but yours be done."

I'm not sure about the Right way to handle these times. But I know that every time I'm in them and cry out, "God, please! Send me something!" He does. Has it been huge contracts and best-selling numbers? Um, no. But it's been something just as good, if not better. It's been people who let me know I matter, that my words matter.

Time and again we're told that publishing is, when it comes down to it, a business. True. But writing is not. Writing is between the author and God, between the reader and God.

Remembering it--that's the Right Thing.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Summer Reads & Giveaway! - Say Goodbye to Your Heart

Today I am sharing some books that will shake you to your core! Now, I had a little help from my assistant, Rachel, with today's list...But trust me, you don't want to miss these books this summer!

Sons of Blackbird Mountainby Joanne Bischoff

When Aven Norgaard leaves Norway to serve as housekeeper to her late husband’s cousins in Appalachia, she expects lads in need of care, not three grown men—each in need of a wife and bound by a powerful brotherhood. As the men carve out a living by brewing artisan liquor, young Haakon’s pursuit tempts Aven’s lonely spirit . . . but it is his deaf brother, Thor, whose silent strength shows her the depths of real love.

Unable to speak to any woman, Thor Norgaard never anticipates Aven will befriend him, let alone treat him as her safe harbor. Though hard cider is their livelihood and his greatest talent, he fights his way to sobriety with Haakon’s help, defying the bottle for Aven’s hand—only to face a battle of the heart that tests even the strongest bonds of brotherhood. (Goodreads)

The Lost Castle
by Kristy Cambron

Launching a brand-new series, Kristy Cambron explores the collision of past and present as she discovers the ruins of a French castle, long lost to history.

A thirteenth century castle, Chateau de Doux Reves, has been forgotten for generations, left to ruin in a storybook forest nestled deep in France's picturesque Loire Valley. It survived a sacking in the French Revolution, was brought back to life and fashioned into a storybook chateau in the Gilded Age, and was eventually felled and deserted after a disastrous fire in the 1930s.

As Ellie Carver sits by her grandmother's bedside, she hears stories of a castle . . . of lost love and a hidden chapel that played host to a secret fight in the World War II French resistance. But her grandmother is quickly slipping into the locked-down world of Alzheimer's, and Ellie must act fast if she wants to uncover the truth of her family's history.

Sparked by the discovery of a long forgotten family heirloom, Ellie embarks on a journey to French wine country to uncover the mystery surrounding The Sleeping Beauty--the castle so named for Charles Perrault's beloved fairy tale--and unearth its secrets before they're finally silenced by time.

Set in three different time periods--the French Revolution, World War II, and present day--The Lost Castle is a story of loves won and lost, of battles waged, and an enchanted castle that inspired the epic fairy tales time left behind. (Goodreads)

A Refuge Assured
by Jocelyn Green

Vivienne Rivard fled revolutionary France and seeks a new life for herself and a boy in her care, who some say is the Dauphin. But America is far from safe, as militiaman Liam Delaney knows. He proudly served in the American Revolution but is less sure of his role in the Whiskey Rebellion. Drawn together, will Liam and Vivienne find the peace they long for? (Goodreads)

(The astute reader will notice that there is a connection between A Refuge Assured and The Lacemaker. I love when authors collaborate together.)

The Lacemaker
by Laura Frantz

When colonial Williamsburg explodes like a powder keg on the eve of the American Revolution, Lady Elisabeth "Liberty" Lawson is abandoned by her fiance and suspected of being a spy for the hated British. No one comes to her aid save the Patriot Noble Rynallt, a man with formidable enemies of his own. Liberty is left with a terrible choice. Will the Virginia belle turned lacemaker side with the radical revolutionaries, or stay true to her English roots? And at what cost?

Historical romance favorite Laura Frantz is back with a suspenseful story of love, betrayal, and new beginnings. With her meticulous eye for detail and her knack for creating living, breathing characters, Frantz continues to enchant historical fiction readers who long to feel they are a part of the story. (Goodreads)

Enter to win your choice of ONE of the above-listed books. Print or eBook. US addresses only, please. Void where prohibited.
Giveaway open 8/1/2018 12:00am EDT - 8/7/2018 11:50pm EDT.
Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.