Characters in Conflict — Pegg Thomas

Today we welcome author Pegg Thomas as she shares some insight into how to write about characters in conflict, and as she shares her latest release, Embattled Hearts.

Without conflict … there is no story. Some conflict is more physical than others. For my heroine, Alannah Fagan, it’s very physical. Her stepfather is abusive. The opening scene was painful to write, and I hope it’s painful for the reader to read.

Why did I start a historical romance story with a scene of domestic violence? Because life isn’t always pretty. At that point in history, women had very little protection from men in their family. A man was supposed to protect and provide for his family, but at the same time, it was legal for him to beat his wife. Imagine that! While evil men still beat women today – a tragedy each and every time it happens – at least there is legal recourse for women now.

What hope did a woman have in 1861? That’s the question Alannah is faced with in Embattled Hearts. She makes the daring decision to escape with Conn, her younger brother. They have nothing, no means of survival in a vast area of unsettled Wyoming Territory. Even so, she’d rather face death in the elements that death at her stepfather’s hand.

Stewart McCann is the hero of the story. He’s the Pony Express stationmaster at Horseshoe Station. Stewart has his own conflict, but it’s not physical. His conflict stems from a totally different source. (Which will not be told here … because I don’t do spoilers!)

Sometimes it’s easy to empathize with the person who has physical reminders of the conflict in their life. The person covered with bruises, or scars, or confined to a wheelchair after an auto accident. It’s more difficult to empathize with the person whose conflicts are internal. The soldier with PTSD, the boy with autism, the lonely old man down the street with no family left.

Fiction stories can – and I believe should – deliver a message deeper than what’s happening on the surface. Romance stories are boy-meets-girl stories. But they don’t have to be superficial. Boy-meets-girl can contain deeper issues than surface angst about sexual attraction. While that is undeniably a source of conflict, it’s not enough to keep the story alive with the reader after they close the book.  My hope is that Embattled Hearts will be the type of story people will think about, talk about, and pass along to a friend.


What genres do you write in and why?

Historical is my favorite genre but I haven’t been able to break through to publication with one of my historical novels yet. I started writing Historical Romance because of the demand for it. At times I’m still a little uncomfortable writing romance, but I’m getting used it to. It’s definitely stretching me as a writer. Both genres allow me to indulge in my love of history.

Tell me about your ideal reader.

My ideal reader is a woman above the age of 30 who has lived enough years to appreciate both the present and the past. She enjoys reading. It’s something of an escape for her, a way to pass her lunch hour or de-stress at the end of the day. But she wants more than a benign story of human angst. She wants something meatier, deeper, something that she’ll think about after she closes the book. She appreciates history and the struggles our forefathers – and mothers – worked through to create the place we live in today.

Tell us about your next book & when is it being published?

My next story, In Sheep’s Clothing, will appear in another historical romance collection from Barbour Publishing, The Bouquet of Brides Collection. It will release in January of 2018. I’m having a lot of fun writing this one! The heroine is a spinner and weaver in 1702 Connecticut Colony. I settled the story in Milford, Connecticut, where some of my ancestors lived. I learned to spin a yarn – the fiber kind – when I was 16 years old. Let’s just say that’s been a while ago. I’ve raised sheep for more than 20 years. Being able to combine my love for the fiber arts with my writing is a treat. Researching for this story has taught me a lot about how King William III’s Wool Act of 1699 changed the way Colonial America clothed itself.


Pegg Thomas lives on a hobby farm in Northern Michigan with Michael, her husband of *mumble* years. A life-long history geek, she writes “History with a Touch of Humor.” When not working on her latest novel, Pegg can be found in her garden, in her kitchen, or on her trusty old horse, Trooper.










Embattled Hearts – Chapter One – first page


She ignored the boot that shoved against her ribs. The next shove came with more force, and Alannah Fagan let a groan escape her swollen lips. Only she knew it was a groan of rage, not pain, although there was plenty of that.

“She’s alive.”

She forced herself not to flinch at Edward Bergman’s guttural voice. It was better they thought her still unconscious. They wouldn’t bother to care for her, so she’d have a chance to escape once darkness fell.

“Leave her.” Hugh Bergman’s voice rose from the direction of the camp. “She’ll come ’round by mornin’.”

“Might rain tonight.” Edward’s voice carried no hint of concern.

“Then she’ll get wet.” Hugh Bergman’s held even less. He may have married her ma, but he was no stepfather to her or her brother. “Whatever she put in the pot looks done. Come eat.”

Edward shuffled to the fire. More steps announced that his older brothers, Carl and Arnold, joined them. The scent of scorched salt pork and beans brought Alannah a slender thread of satisfaction. The clatter of plates and spoons, an occasional grunt from one of the men, the stomp of a horse’s hoof came from behind her. Whoosh of an owl overhead. Clicking of insects. Rustling and murmurs as members of the wagon train settled down for the evening.

Where was Conn? Her brother had left to fill the canteens at the creek right before…before Hugh’s fist had knocked her unconscious.

Alannah eased open her right eye. The left refused. Pain radiated from her left cheek, engulfing that side of her face. Careful not to move more than she must, she inched her head off the ground to peer above the prairie grass. The creek lay a quarter of a mile or so ahead of her. Their canvas-covered wagon was parked behind her in the large circle they formed each evening.

The sky darkened until she couldn’t see the willows along the creek anymore. The night sounds swelled and overtook the noise of the wagon train. A sentry walked past on his circuit. If he saw her, he didn’t pause. The whole wagon train would know what had happened by now, but nobody would confront Hugh Bergman. Not since he’d beaten the wagon master half to death over a senseless dispute about where to camp one night. Now her step-father ran the wagon train, ruling it by fear.


Reader Question:

If you were faced with the prospect of a life of drudgery with someone you loathed or escape into a wilderness you might not survive … which would you choose?


Behind the Scenes of “The Lydia Collection” by Lisa M. Prysock

I am really excited to welcome author Lisa Prysock today as she shares about Behind the Scenes of her latest series, The Lydia Collection. Read all the way through as she’s offering a free download!


I walked into church one day not long after finishing my debut Regency Romance novel, To Find a Duchess.  I was somewhere in the middle of writing a Victorian Romance series, The Victorian Christian Heritage Series.  That particular morning, we had guests acting out short skits from the Bible.  One of the scenes they acted out was about Lydia from Acts chapter 16, the seller of purple from the New Testament.  Lydia made and sold purple linen in the marketplace.  She was faithful to serve the Lord, learned from Paul, and her entire household was converted into the faith.  She gave of the proceeds of her linen to help keep Paul and Barnabus doing mission work.  I knew immediately that the Lord wanted me to give as much as possible of the proceeds from my books to missions.

This inspired me greatly and The Lydia Collection was born.  I began giving the majority of the proceeds from all of my books to missions.  The books in this collection can be read in any order and do not intersect.  If you love Historical Romance but don’t want to be stuck in one era or time period, this collection was made with you in mind.

The first book is FREE.  You can download it here:   The Redemption of Lady Georgiana.  This story is a loose adaptation of the Biblical Ruth love story with a Regency setting (1810-1820) in England and France during the Napoleonic Wars.  Prince George IV is the Regent Prince ruling in place of his father, King George III (due to his madness which deprived him of the ability to rule).  The theme of the story is kindness and redemption.  Some of the story takes place in the beautiful French Alps and later, in the English countryside of Essex.  During the time when I was writing this story, my mother was coming to live near my family here in Kentucky.  I felt the Lord allowed me to shower my mom with many kindnesses during this transition, much like Ruth showed to her mother-in-law, Naomi.




Protecting Miss Jenna takes place during the Antebellum Era (1812-1861).  Being a resident of beautiful Kentucky, I really enjoyed researching this story.  The more I read personal accounts of slaves, the more I felt compelled to write this story against slavery.  In researching the life of Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, I discovered she also felt divinely inspired to write this book that influenced Americans to want to abolish slavery and the suffering it caused.  I felt as though we had kindred hearts at once.  Real life events during this time period inspired many of the events in my book.  The hero, Wade, is a renegade for standing up to his slave owning father against slavery.  I toured beautiful plantations, including one where Abraham Lincoln stayed, Farmington House.


I also enjoyed a riverboat ride as part of my research.  Forgiveness and developing healthy self-esteem are two additional theme threads in this book.  These were things I struggled with in my own life and it was easy for me to write about them.

Persecution & Providence is a Jane Austen-ish mail order bride adventure that starts out in England and takes readers to Kentucky during the 1870’s Pioneer Era when the west was still expanding.  The theme is the depths of the Lord’s love for us.  This story has a number of farm animals which readers helped me name.  The book includes a humorous, satirical character sketch and a map of the fictional town setting.  I have to share one little known fact with readers though… the fictional town of Arbor Ridge is loosely based on two small towns in my neck of the woods.  Also, the book includes a scene from the real life town of LaGrange and the city of Louisville. The first lines of the novel are a parody of Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.

Don’t forget to download your FREE copy of The Redemption of Lady Georgiana and remember that when you purchase any of my books or read any of my books which are enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, you are helping to support missions.  (Both of the other books in this collection are enrolled in KU, but may not be for long.)  Also, thanks so much Donna for having me on your blog!


About Lisa:

Lisa M. Prysock lives in the countryside of beautiful, rolling Kentucky just outside of the greater Louisville area near horse farms and four board fences with her husband of 19 years.  She homeschools the two youngest of their five children (three grown).  She and her husband live in an average, two story, Colonial style home they are continually updating– with a funny looking Heinz 57 dog; an adorably dainty lady cat; two teenagers; a vegetable garden; numerous flower beds; and a tree house undergoing a remodel.  When not in teaching or writing mode, she is teaching herself to play the piano and violin.  In regards to that, she laughs:  “It’s a pretty painful process, but I’m truly enjoying it!”

Lisa loves all things old-fashioned and has adopted a slogan of “The Old-Fashioned Everything Girl.”  A few of her interests and passions include doll houses, long dresses and hats, gardening, reading the Classics, butterflies, swimming, walking, working out, cooking, sewing, crochet, cross stitching, arts and crafts, scrapbooking, decorating, and drawing.  Recently, her husband remodeled a room in their home with a picture window overlooking a valley which contains a creek and wooded area, transforming the space into a serene and sublime writing office/sewing room.  “It’s a great source of peace and inspiration for me… and pure joy not to be writing from the busy kitchen amidst the household chaos on a laptop.  Growing teenagers eating every five minutes makes for a constant stream of happenings!”

Lisa is an Amazon bestselling author of To Find a Duchess, an Inspirational Regency Romance; a Victorian Christian Romance Series which includes Hannah’s Garden:  a Turn of the Century Love Story and Abigail’s Melody; and ‘The Lydia Collection,’ which includes The Redemption of Lady Georgiana (a Ruth love story of modern day Regency proportions), Protecting Miss Jenna (an Antebellum Era Christian Romance Adventure), and Persecution & Providence (a ‘Jane Austen-ish’ mail order bride story from the Pioneer Era).  She is also the author of a devotional/Bible Study, Arise Princess Warrior.  Lisa writes clean and wholesome literature that shares her faith in Jesus Christ.  She is a member of ACFW and Louisville Christian Writers.  You can find out more about Lisa at:

Links:  (author page)

Where you can purchase the first 4 of Lisa’s books (Protecting Miss Jenna & Persecution & Providence are exclusive to Amazon, but her other books can be found at these locations.  Her devotional, Arise Princess Warrior, is currently available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble on line in a full color paperback version or black and white on cream paper.  Also available in Kindle eBook format at Amazon.)  These links will take you to her debut novel, To Find a Duchess:

The Victorian Christian Heritage Series (also available at Kobo, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble online):

The Lydia Collection:

Devotional (also available at Barnes and Noble online):

4 of Lisa’s titles are also available at Apple iBooks.




The Story Behind the Story of The Planter’s Daughter By Michelle Shocklee

Today I’m excited to welcome author Michelle Shocklee as she shares where she got the idea for her latest release, The Planter’s Daughter.

Ask any author where they get story ideas and you will receive a hundred different answers. A life event, a trip, a book, or an interesting picture can all ignite an active imagination. I’ve even had the concept for the perfect story come in the middle of the night, requiring a scramble out of bed in the dark to locate a piece of paper and a pen.

The idea for THE PLANTER’S DAUGHTER began when I read UNCLE TOM’S CABIN by Harriet Beecher Stowe for the first time. It deeply moved me, in the same manner it moved people back when it was first published in 1852. I still remember how heartbroken I felt reading about the treatment of Tom and the other slaves. When I finished it, I knew I wanted to write a book that involved slavery, because the slaves and what they endured should never be forgotten.

Because we live in Texas, I wanted to set the book in the Lone Star State. I began reading about antebellum Texas and was surprised to learn of the many plantations that existed as well as the vast number of slaves who lived in the state. By the end of the Civil War, there were over 250,000 slaves in bondage in Texas, a number that still shocks me considering half of the state was considered the frontier.

While I researched the story, I discovered a book called I WAS BORN IN SLAVERY, true narratives of former Texas slaves. To hear their stories told in their own words was invaluable. Many of the scenes, experiences, and even some of the slave names in THE PLANTER’S DAUGHTER are based on the actual lives and events of former Texas slaves.

At the heart of the story, however, is the romance between Adella and Seth. I am often asked where I find names for my characters, and I must admit that the story behind Adella’s name is the most interesting. My husband and I live on a 400-acre ranch in the hill country of Texas, and directly across from our house is a small graveyard. I say small, as in there is only one marker (although I am convinced there are two residents!). The headstone is very worn, with much of the information gone, including the first and last name of the deceased. Her middle name, however, is very clear: Adele. Adele lived in the 1800s. She was born in Switzerland and was a beloved wife. I often refer to her as my neighbor, and I wanted to name my heroine after her, because a woman living in the wilds of 1800s Texas was surely a brave and interesting woman. I chose the name Adella in her honor.

My hope is readers will enjoy the historical details found in THE PLANTER’S DAUGHER, and immerse themselves in a satisfying tale of love, hardship, and courage.


Born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Michelle Shocklee is a Rocky Mountain girl at heart. But after living in Texas the past thirty years with her tall Texan husband, she has grown to truly appreciate the Lone Star State’s rugged beauty. Her family lived in Williamson County, the setting for her debut novel THE PLANTER’S DAUGHTER, for more than twenty years. She and her husband currently live and work on a 400-acre ranch in the Texas Hill Country where they can often be found spoiling llamas, sheep, and chickens, and enjoying the abundant wildlife. Passionate about history, she considers it pure joy to immerse herself in stories from the past, whether fiction or true-life tales. She is a contributing author in numerous Chicken Soup for the Soul books, magazine articles, and writes the Life Along The Way blog.




DREAM MAKER by Katheryn Maddox Haddad

Today we welcome author Katheryn Maddox Haddad back as she previews the second book in her They Mey Jesus series, Dream Maker.

Welcome, Katheryn.

Do you ever feel like the triumph of good over evil is impossible? That’s what the Jewish revolutionary zealots tried to deal with.

Do doubts about the existence of God haunt you? John the Baptist kept asking for signs and reassurance who Jesus was.

Does Satan tempt you to do wrong to accomplish good? That is what Satan tried to do with Jesus.

How about making a list of your beliefs, then searching the scriptures to see if they are true? That’s what Andrew and Philip did.

Are people angry with you because you always tell the truth? That’s what Nathaniel was like, and Jesus praised him for it.

Is tithing a requirement? In the Old Testament it was in order to support the priests. But Jesus said the poor widow who have one penny gave more than the tithers.

Do you hold a position in your denomination you are afraid of losing if you pursue truth? That’s what Nicodemus faced.

Are you falsely accused of doing bad? The woman at the well lost five husband, perhaps in death, for she was respected by people in her city.

Is it okay for someone in high office to humble themselves? Check out the centurion who did.

Have you ever been very sick and unexpectedly got well? That’s what happened to Peter’s mother-in-law.


This series of eight novels—THEY MET JESUS—is dedicated to everyone who has ever doubted. It shows people who met Jesus in their stark humanness and curiosity, sometimes loving him, sometimes hating him, but never left the same. I was very careful about adding words of Jesus that are not in the Bible. At the end of each chapter are “Life Application Questions” for individual readers or book clubs, and ancient historical sources such as Josephus. At the end of each book are suggested readings for special occasions. COME, MEET JESUS ALL OVER AGAIN.


Katheryn began writing at age ten, and was “published” that same year in her local newspaper. She grew up in the cold north and now lives in Arizona where she do not have to shovel sunshine. She basks in 100-degree weather along with my palm trees, cacti, and a computer with most of the letters worn off.

With a bachelor’s degree in English, Bible and social science from Harding University and part of a master’s degree in Bible, including Greek, from the Harding Graduate School of Theology, she also has a master’s degree in management and human relations from Abilene University.

Her newspaper column appeared for several years in newspapers in Texas and North Carolina ~ Little Known Facts About the Bible ~ and she has written for numerous Christian publications.

She spends half her day writing, and the other half teaching English over the internet worldwide using the Bible as text book.  She is a member of Christian Writers of the West and is also an energetic public speaker.


Monthly Newsletter:




The Character’s Voice — by Susan Page Davis

Today we welcome author Susan Page Davis as she shares about the character’s voice. Read all the way through, since she’s giving away a free copy of My Heart Belongs in the Superstition Mountains, (US only for print).

One challenge I’ve faced in writing historical novels is making my characters sound appropriate to their time without all sounding alike.

In My Heart Belongs in the Superstition Mountains, my characters are from several different locations and backgrounds.

Carmela speaks proper grammar. Her uncle has schooled her to speak like a lady, in order to gain respect from her audiences. For example, when she tells Freeland, the deputy marshal, about her travels during the Civil War, she says, “By the time we got to St. Louis, travel was becoming difficult. The farther east we went, the more crowded the trains were. Uncle Silas rented a house in Massachusetts, outside of Boston, as a home base, and we lived there off and on throughout the war, traveling for my engagements.”

Her uncle, if anything is even more proper. Asked to help dig a grave in the desert, he says, “I fear my heart wouldn’t stand it.”

The other men surrounding Carmela are less formal. The stagecoach driver, for instance, speaks directly to the point. When asked if an abandoned way station has horses they can swap for their tired team, he says, “Nary a one. This team’s tuckered out. We’re going to water them and give them a half hour of rest, and then we’ll go on. I’m sorry there’s no meal waitin’ for you. Just keep your eyes open, folks. Tom and I think we’re alone here, but we could be wrong.”

Freeland, the hero, speaks properly for the most part, but without pretense. He’s a font of local information and entertains Carmela during their arduous journey with several snippets, including this after they drink from a stream:

“They say once you drink out of the Hassayampa, you can’t tell the truth anymore.”          “Does that mean we’re both liars now?” she asked.

“Maybe. It’s because of all the false claims they’ve made—the miners. They’ve sold more worthless claims in this valley than anywhere else on earth, I reckon.”

Dix, the deputy’s prisoner, isn’t particular about his language. After they are robbed, Carmela confronts him as he bends over the unconscious Freeland, and they have this exchange:

“You’ve got two good hands, missy. The deppity’s got the key to this bracelet in his pocket. Get it out now.” His voice was smooth, almost slimy.

She shuddered. “Why should I?”

“Because I can’t do nothin’ chained to him. He’s dead weight.”

Still she hesitated.

He leveled a small pistol at her. “And because I’ll kill you if you don’t. Now, come closer.”

In Prescott, the governor’s wife is more meticulous: “Now, tell us about your adventures,” Mrs. McCormick said. “I’m very curious as to why you are traveling in these parts, Miss Wade.”

Mrs. Finney, who runs a boardinghouse, has a more folksy tone: “One of the gents says he heard you speak your piece once. Not here. In Albuquerque. . .Said he saw you with your uncle, only he thought you looked different.”

Finding the right voice for each character is part of the fun of writing a novel, but it does take thought, and sometimes a bit of research. I hope you enjoy “listening” to all of the voices in My Heart Belongs in the Superstition Mountains.


About Susan: Susan Page Davis is the author of more than seventy published historical romance, mystery, and romantic suspense novels. She’s a winner of the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award, the Carol Award, and the Will Rogers Medallion, and a finalist in the WILLA Literary Awards. A Maine native, she has lived in Oregon and now resides in Kentucky. Visit her website at:

Find Susan at:

Buy My Heart Belongs in the Superstition Mountains at Amazon:

Barnes & Noble:


GIVEAWAY—one copy of My Heart Belongs in the Superstition Mountains (US only for print) — winner will be chosen from a random drawing of all those who leave a comment.


April, 28, 1861– Tucson, New Mexico Territory


“You get out there, and I mean now.” Uncle Silas glared at Carmela, his white eyebrows nearly meeting over his thin nose.

“I don’t think I can do it.” Her voice broke.

“Of course you can. You had it word-perfect last night.”

Her breath came in shallow gasps. She brushed back a strand of hair with a hot, moist hand. Carmela was frightened. Ma and Pa would never have made her do anything like this. But they were gone now, and Uncle Silas was in charge.

She peeked around the doorjamb. The large room was filled with noisy people, all except for the clear space at the front, where she was supposed to go and stand.

“It’s all men,” she choked.

“No, it’s not.”

She peeked again and spotted a few women with their hair piled on top of their heads or hanging down in braids. A few ranchers and merchants had brought their wives, but by far the majority of the people packed in were men.

One woman seated between two men in the front row wore a bright yellow dress with a plunging neckline. The stage driver had told her uncle that Tucson was home to about eight hundred people, and more than half of them were Mexicans. But this territory was part of the United States now, so more and more Americans were moving in. She wondered if every single American in Tucson had turned out for this performance.

“I’ll go out and introduce you again,” Uncle Silas said. “Then you’d better come out.”

His voice menacing voice made Carmela shudder. She supposed she would have to do it. He had said they would earn some money tonight, and that it was a way for her to repay him for coming all the way from Massachusetts to fetch her.

He strode out before the crowd that had jammed into the biggest saloon in Tucson—the largest space they had available indoors.

“Ladies and gents,” he said, holding up a hand. The assembly quieted. “I think you will understand my niece’s reticence. It is only a few weeks since she was rescued from her ordeal among the savages, and she has not met a crowd this large or been expected to tell her story to half so many people.” He always said that, although Carmela knew it was a lie. Her parents had died nearly three years ago.

“I ask you to hold your applause and remain quiet,” Uncle Silas went on, “not only so that you can hear her soft voice, but so that you don’t frighten her. Remember, she is not used to loud noise. After what she went through, yelling and clapping might sound to her like an approaching battle. I have assured her you mean her no harm, so please give her your attention, but restrain your enthusiasm. Without further ado, Miss Carmela Wade.”

She pulled in a deep breath and stepped into the doorway. A smattering of restrained applause greeted her. She walked slowly across to stand beside Uncle Silas. The room grew very quiet. She could hear their breathing. A hundred or more eager faces gazed at her, hungrily taking in every detail of her simple dress, leather leggings, and braided hair, but especially the ugly black and blue designs on her face. She could see pity in their eyes. A few women’s faces convulsed as though the sight of her revolted them.

Uncle Silas put his hand on her back and pressed against the layers of her clothing.

“H-hello,” she said.




Historical Fiction Based in Fact — Marguerite Gray

Today I’m excited to welcome author Marguerite Gray as she shares insights in where to find the history in your fiction. Read all the way through to find out how to win a free copy of her latest release. And don’t forget to keep scrolling to read the first page of her book, Surround Me.

I have always been a reader and writer. When I lived in England as a child, I had the opportunity to travel with my family to castles and palaces. My father took us to every church and cemetery and played games to learn the kings and queens of England. I started a journal in fifth grade and never stopped. I get the ideas for my novels from my travels and reading. I’ve traveled to every main setting of my stories hoping to obtain a true feel for the town, building, people, history, food, and art.

For the Revolutionary Faith series, I found my inspiration from my father as he was giving a tour of our family antebellum home. He showed items belonging to my eight times great grandfather Louis Lestarjette. For some reason, I was fascinated that I was attached to these items through history—the candlesticks, the locket, the walking cane. Soon I found myself in Charleston, S.C., deep into research and my first novel in the series. I bought and read 25 books before I wrote the first word.

The period is pre-American Revolution and American Revolution 1772-1776. Surround Me picks up in 1773. The setting is Charles Town, South Carolina. The two main characters, Louis Lestarjette and Elizabeth Elliott, were my ancestors, but their lives in the novel are fictional. I tried to develop an environment true to the period keeping close connections to the historical venue. The question that always surfaces is “How does someone go about his everyday life when chaos is brewing around them?” I love where my characters lead me. It’s a journey of faith, hope, and forgiveness.

Hold Me Close (Book One) covers 1772-1773; Surround Me (Book Two) 1773-1774; Bring Me Near (Book Three)  1775-1776; Draw Me to Your Side (Book Four)  1776-1777.

My books are historical Christian fiction. Surround Me is book two in the Revolutionary Faith series. Set in 1773 Charles Town, Surround Me takes the reader into the lives of colonists confronting imminent change and unpredictable circumstances binding them together to become a formidable force.

As the dark curtain of the rumors of revolution threatens to descend, Louis Lestarjette pursues his relationship with Elizabeth even as the emotional and physical struggles set the course for a life of changes. Will his commitment to God stay firm, or will the tide of change cause fear and flight?

The chance of reconciliation with England moves further out to sea, leaving Elizabeth Elliott on the shores of surrender to a greater challenge. Although others of unwavering courage give her strength, she must choose to allow God’s love to surround her. How can she enter a marriage during a time of uncertainty? Will selfish, safer options take her away from Louis and his love?

Who is your Ideal reader?

My writing tag is Entertain. Educate. Encourage. I want my reader to experience all those areas. The fictional aspect hopes to entertain the reader. The historical genre seeks to educate. The overall Christian theme lends opportunities to encourage.

What is your “go to” routine?

As odd as this may sound, I like to write at the zoo. I usually sit at a table beside the monkeys. The huge umbrella shades me from the heat and sun while I converse with my characters. Some days I might move to be “mused” by the giraffes. When I write at home, I like the view from my window of the birds and squirrels with my cat Cleo sprawled out across my table.

What is your next book?

I write the kind of books that I like to read. Ever since I read The Source by James A. Michener in high school, I have found the genre I love the most to read—historical fiction.

My next book is Bring Me Near: Revolutionary Faith Book Three. It is scheduled to be released in June, 2017. It continues the story of Louis and Elizabeth and the citizens of Charles Town.

Question for the reader: How do you choose what book to read next?

Leave a comment, and one lucky winner will be chosen to receive either an eBook copy or a print copy of  Surround Me (print in US only).

About the author:

Marguerite Martin Gray is the author of Hold Me Close: Revolutionary Faith Book One and Surround Me: Revolutionary Faith Book Two.  She enjoys studying history and writing fiction. An avid traveler and reader, she teaches French and has degrees in French, Spanish, and journalism from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, and a MA in English from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. Marguerite is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Abilene Writers Guild, and Daughters of the American Revolution. Originally from Louisiana, she currently lives in Abilene with her husband.


Chapter 1

Atlantic Ocean

May 1773


His hands gripped the railing tightly, turning his knuckles a startling white compared to his wind chapped tanned skin. The pressure in his grasp mimicked the turmoil in his head. Louis Lestarjette’s gaze lifted to a sea of deep-blue waves. Charles Town and any semblance of land had disappeared days ago. Why the upheaval now when he had weeks to prepare for his journey and his family reunion? Could a prodigal son truly go back to his home and family? How would he be received?

If he had made a mistake, he would never forgive himself. All the “What ifs” jumbled in his mind, tumbling into compartments he thought he’d closed in order to keep doubts and insecurities away. Where was the peace he had claimed? At this hour, just when the sun was setting to the west sending threads of yellow and orange across the vast Atlantic, Louis dreamed of Elizabeth Elliott, with her blue-gray eyes and curly light-brown hair, and the hope she dispersed in his once troublesome, wayward life. Would she be waiting when he returned? Why the doubts when the voyage had barely begun? An ocean away from his heart’s desire, he longed for his fiancée. Their relationship was a secret kept from her family in order to shield her from scrutiny and questions while he fulfilled a challenging mission.


30 Scenes in 30 Days by Amanda Zieba

Today I’m happy to welcome author Amanda Zieba as she shares her process of writing thirty scenes in thirty days.


One year ago I wrote and posted my very first blog entry. Happy 1st Blogiversary to me!

“Writer, writer, word delighter, how does your business grow? Submit and wait and indeterminable length, You only reap the rewards you sow.”

Never has this rung truer for me. When you plunge a tiny seed into the unknowable depths of the future, you never know the crop you’ll yield. It’s hard, sometimes, to take the time, energy and courage to plant these seeds, with the knowledge that there is no guarantee they will grow. And to be honest, not all of them will grow. So then why? Why do we do it? Let me tell you.

Last week I had five bountiful harvests. Five seeds I had planted grew into five wonderful, profitable, measurable, visible yields. Some crops came from seeds I planted last spring while at a conference in Milwaukee. Some new growth occurred because I reached out to an old contact and reminded them of my (in their words) “excellent blog entry” they had wanted to repost. Another sprouted slowly, the correspondence of two busy people making headway to something amazing one inch at a time. And a few new crops grew seemingly overnight or in front of my eyes because I simply ASKED them too.  Five seeds, planted at different times, in different locations, at different venues, for different purposes… all bloomed in the same week. It felt pretty darn miraculous.

But do you know what is even more exciting than having a successful week in my passion project? It is the knowledge that planting my seeds is the right thing to do. It is the confidence in knowing that if I continue to do what I am doing, I will get where I want to go.

In March I am planting a new seed. A big one. This seed has taken a lot of development, a bit of research and a ton of think time. On March first I will launch 30 Scenes in 30 Days. This seed is an online writing community, a group full of word nerds who want to write a story, but are not sure where to start. Or maybe they know where to start, but just need a little motivation, or an accountability partner (or seventeen). For 30 days in March I will post a scene prompt. Participants will respond and then offer feedback to the other community members. We will build our story one day at a time, one scene at a time. When the month is over I hope we will all take away a solid foundation to our stories as well as a newly established writing habits and a few good word nerd friends.

You can click right here to sign up. If you can’t wait to get started writing, click here to get 5 FREE WRITING PROMPTS!

Who knows how this new seed will grow. Will participants walk away feeling like they gained useful writing knowledge? Will my epic plan build creative friendships and brilliant story lines? Will this be the first of many online communities/courses I create/teach? Will I really be able to get up at 5am each morning and post the prompt (and live to tell the tale)? Who knows! But I’m ready to dig in, plant this seed, water it and find the sunshine that I know is hiding somewhere, to make it grow.

So, who’s putting on their garden boots and coming with me?


In case you skipped all the way to the end, here’s the run down.


30 Scenes in 30 Days

What: A month of writing prompts to help you grow your story seedling into a strong sturdy oak of a story.

Who: Any writer! Do you have a story idea, but don’t know what to do with it? Are you ready to start on the next book in a series? Do you want to build up a writing habit, but don’t know where to start? Just plain love to write and hang out with fellow word nerds? If you said yes to any of these questions, then this is for YOU!

When: The entire month of March.

How does it work: Participants will join an online platform (Yahoo Groups) and be given access to our private group. I will post a story prompt each day and participants will respond with their written scene. Then we will help each other out by offering up kind and constructive feedback.

How much does it cost? 30 scenes in 30 days, for $30. Makes sense, right?

How do you get signed up? Head over to my website,

Have any questions? Just email me!

About Amanda

Amanda Zieba is a full-time teacher, a wife and mother always, and a writer any moment she can squeeze in. She is the author of seven (soon to be eight!) books for children and young adults and one adult novella. Amanda also uses her experience as a teacher/writer to create and sell teaching materials in the online marketplace Teachers Pay Teachers as well as facilitate young writer’s workshops across the great state of Wisconsin. She lists Diet Pepsi, Cherry PopTarts and gel manicures as her vices and has no plans for giving any of them up in the near future.

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Amanda’s website:

Amanda’s author Facebook page:

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On Being Daniel Boone – Brett Armstrong

Today I’m excited to welcome author Brett Armstrong who finds creative ways to compare authors and the writing process to Daniel Boone and–well, just read on.


The most elegant piece of insight into writing novels I try to relate when asked is, for an author, writing a novel is a bit like being Daniel Boone. An author stands atop a ridge in a mountain range and can generally see a number of peaks in the distance. What lies between those peaks—the dales and glens, rivers, forests, and other features that distinguish one mountain landscape from another—aren’t viewable at the onset. This is what I experience when I write a novel. Very early on, I can see the peaks looming in the distance. These are the distinct plot points (sometimes called beats) within the story. The beginning, a twist here and there, the climax, and—if perhaps a bit indistinct for the distance to cover—the end.

Knowing key high points in the narrative arc upfront doesn’t mean the process of writing a novel is something that is rigidly planned and structured. Much like the pioneer I mentioned, setting out with the intentions to get from Point A to Point B is rarely so direct, and being from West Virginia, I can tell you no mountain road follows the principle of the shortest path being a straight line. This is where the artistry and intrigue of the writing process lives. As the writer sets out into the story, leaving behind those high points, entering the vale below, all manner of things can happen the writer never intended or expected at the onset. Some would attribute characters taking on a life of their own to the subconscious. Personally, I believe God guides us into the depths of the story to tell it how it must be told. To quote JRR Tolkien in The Fellowship of the Ring, “Not all who wander are lost.”

At times an element of the story will present itself, an irresistible realization totally defying your expectation. Rather than go over the next mountain directly, you may have to follow a winding riverbed around the base and then climb up the next peak by a means you hadn’t intended at the onset. I think the most startling example of this for me came while writing a fantasy novel I have yet to publish. One of the protagonists dies towards the end of the book and I did not see that coming when I started, but it was like a fixed feature of the landscape and I could not ignore it or navigate around it.

This can be true of any part of a novel, even the title. When I gave my debut novel, Destitutio Quod Remissio its title, it was an artistic choice and I admittedly used an internet translator as my source of Latin. I thought it meant, “Forgiveness that is from destitution.”  It doesn’t. Shortly before publication I found it actually loosely means “Destitution that is of/from forgiveness.”  And while it is the reverse of my intention, it better reinforces the central theme than I could have ever hoped. The whole novel is a meditation on Colossians 3:13, in short, “forgive as Christ forgave you.” Destitution that comes from forgiveness, then sounds very much like the forgiveness Christ showed from the cross. Choosing to love and offer forgiveness to mankind, knowing it would lead to hurt and suffering from those who hated Him. Such a thing is the beauty you find on the journey from Point A to Point B, which an author never sees at the outset.



* What genre(s) do you write in and why?

I generally answer this with historical fiction, because I believe real history lives within every fiction story in some capacity. A more conventional answer is I write any genre in which a compelling story resides. For instance, I disavowed writing horror for a long time, because I felt like it can be a shallow genre at times. Then, not long ago, I started imagining all these scenes between a couple of characters who could only live within that genre and suddenly this novel that deals with skepticism, belief, and how cultures handle history and legend coalesced for me and I felt like the Lord was subtly showing me there is no genre in which He cannot use me to tell a really meaningful story if I will just let Him.

* Tell us about your next book & when is it being published? Why do you write the kind of books you do?

Harkening back to what I said about genre and finding meaningful stories, Desitutio Quod Remissio is an adult novel set in 4th Century AD Rome and my upcoming book, Day Moon, is set a young adult novel set in AD 2039 Appalachia. In Day Moon, a prodigious seventeen year old, Elliott, is assigned to work on a global software initiative his deceased grandfather helped found. Project Alexandria is intended to provide the entire world secure and equal access to all accumulated human knowledge. All forms of print are destroyed in good faith, to ensure everyone has equal footing, and Elliott knows he must soon part with his final treasure:  a book of Shakespeare’s complete works gifted him by his grandfather. Before it is destroyed, Elliott notices something is amiss with the book, or rather Project Alexandria. The two do not match, including an extra sonnet titled “Day Moon”. When Elliott investigates, he uncovers far more than he bargained for. There are sinister forces backing Project Alexandria who have no intention of using it for its public purpose. Elliott soon finds himself on the run from federal authorities and facing betrayals and deceit from those closest to him. Following clues left by his grandfather, with agents close at hand, Elliott desperately hopes to find a way to stop Project Alexandria. All of history past and yet to be depend on it. As most people I talk to about it say, it is a timely story, but it is also a very deep one. It’s about our relationship with reality, truth, freedom, security, and it’s wrapped in this really fantastic story that also deals with first love, finding your place in the world, and reconciling the legacy and conflicts of your family.

* How has being published changed your life? If you aren’t published yet, how do you think being published will change your life?

Being published hasn’t changed my life too drastically in how it is structured, but more of my outlook. I think it has been a very good teacher in humility for me. It forced me to look at the thousands of other writers out there and realize if the Lord blesses me with a story, that’s something special, because He could use literally anyone out there if He chose. Also, just about everyone positive turn in my published writing has come with the least effort from me. That’s not to say I don’t work hard on every aspect of writing, but that work doesn’t necessarily translate to the kind of incredible privileges I’ve had like talking to room full of writing teachers and reading lovers at the library I grew up visiting or hearing from a reader that she gave a copy of Destitutio Quod Remissio to a loved one who was going through a hard time, because she thought it could help their loved one. Those are incredible blessings and not something I could have brought about just by my efforts.




                Brett Armstrong started writing at age nine by penning a tale of revenge and ambition set in the last days of the Aztec Empire. Twenty years later, he is still telling stories though admittedly his philosophy has deepened with his Christian faith and a master’s degree in creative writing. His goal is to be like a brush in the Master Artist’s hand. He also enjoys drawing, gardening, and playing with his beautiful wife and son.



Twitter: @BArmstrongWV


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I can give away a free e-book for Destitutio Quod Remissio

Here is a link to Part I and Part II of a companion novella for Destitutio Quod Remissio I’ve been giving away on my Facebook: Part I –    Part II –


PAGE 1 – Destitutio Quod Remissio

I    Fire and Rain

The grisly, grey swirls churned up before Marcus, a thin mask to the merciless heat. Dimly he could perceive the fiery furor’s warmth caressing his cheeks in an increasingly unpleasant way. His thoughts were not of himself at that moment, nor even of the fire consuming all his possessions in this world. Instead, his eyes, stung by the acrid mixture his tears made when suffused with the smoke’s tendrils, looked beyond the ravaged home he had returned to. To a point, beyond the scope of simple sight, to where his love was lost. He could not know how many hours late he had arrived. Be it many or few, for the fi re seemed so hot, so vicious, it could have lapped up the palatial estate in its searing maw with mere minutes.

He had stood there for close to an hour now. Incapable of moving. Incapable of speaking. Incapable of perceiving the destruction wrought upon him, in full. Within the interior of the blaze, increasingly obscured by the serpentine coils of smoke, he could make out the form of the structure itself, those portions still standing. Without fully realizing he was doing so, he traced the lines up, into where they were lost in the smoke, and the smoke into the obsidian sky above.

Steady rumbling sounds echoed across the landscape, like the heavy footfalls of band of soldiers. How brutish had they been in handling the things he had cherished? As they clomped across the ivory and ebony swirls of his home’s marble floors, did they slow? Did they admire their surroundings when they lit torches with wicked flames and condemned him with a flippant toss? Were they merciful in the execution of his beloved wife?



STAR SONG by Katheryn Maddox Haddad

This is the first in a series of books by author Katheryn Maddox Haddad set in Biblical times. I will be featuring her other books in the coming months, so stay tuned.

Welcome, Katheryn, to HiStoryThruTheAges.

Do you feel too young to take on certain responsibilities that have been given to you? Mary was probably fifteen years old when she became pregnant with the Son of God.

Are you too shy to do a good work you’d like to do? Elizabeth went into hiding the first six months of her pregnancy until Mary arrived.

Have you ever felt betrayed by someone you love? Joseph stuck with that person he had thought betrayed him, and became the earthly father of Jesus.

How do you stand by someone everyone is gossiping about? Joseph knew how. People in Nazareth could count, and they knew she was pregnant before they married.

Do you know someone who seems to be a loser at everything? Shepherds in Bible times were at the bottom of the social totem pole, but angels appeared to them.

Have you prayed for something for decades and it goes unanswered? Old Anna and Simeon experienced this for a long time.

Do you wonder what God wants you to do? The wise men did, and must have found their answer by searching the Jewish scriptures.

Have you ever felt like the only one worshipping among unbelievers? The wise men did, then had to flee to protect the one they worshipped.

Have you ever received an answer to your prayer, and it was so great, you thought it was not possible? Zechariah did.

Do you know anyone who is dangerous to the church? Archelaus was like that, and God took care of him.


This series of eight novels—THEY MET JESUS—is dedicated to everyone who has ever doubted. It shows people who met Jesus in their stark humanness and curiosity, sometimes loving him, sometimes hating him, but never left the same. I was very careful about adding words of Jesus that are not in the Bible. At the end of each chapter are “Life Application Questions” for individual readers or book clubs, and ancient historical sources such as Josephus. At the end of each book are suggested readings for special occasions. COME, MEET JESUS ALL OVER AGAIN.


Katheryn began writing at age ten, and was “published” that same year in her local newspaper. She grew up in the cold north and now lives in Arizona where she do not have to shovel sunshine. She basks in 100-degree weather along with my palm trees, cacti, and a computer with most of the letters worn off.

With a bachelor’s degree in English, Bible and social science from Harding University and part of a master’s degree in Bible, including Greek, from the Harding Graduate School of Theology, she also has a master’s degree in management and human relations from Abilene University.

Her newspaper column appeared for several years in newspapers in Texas and North Carolina ~ Little Known Facts About the Bible ~ and she has written for numerous Christian publications.

She spends half her day writing, and the other half teaching English over the internet worldwide using the Bible as text book.  She is a member of Christian Writers of the West and is also an energetic public speaker.


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RT Readers’ Choice Awards nominees list

So exciting to see many familiar names on this list!



A Son’s Vow Shelley Shepard Gray, Avon Inspire, January

Playing the Part Jen Turano, Bethany House, March

Land of Silence Tessa Afshar, Tyndale, May

The Lady and the Lionheart Joanne Bischof, Mason Jar Books, August

The Name I Call Myself Beth Moran, Lion, October

The Pattern Artist Nancy Moser, Shiloh Run, December


Game Over Andrew Klavan, Thomas Nelson, January

Song of Silence Cynthia Ruchti, Abingdon, April

Fraying at the Edge Cindy Woodsmall, Waterbrook, August

The Long Journey to Jake Palmer James L Rubart, Thomas Nelson, August

Long Way Gone Charles Martin, Thomas Nelson, October

The Cherished Quilt Amy Clipston, Zondervan, December


Always Watching Lynette Eason, Revell, February

Remembering Dresden Dan Walsh, Bainbridge Press, May

Medical Judgment Richard Mabry, Abingdon, May

When Death Draws Near Carrie Stuart Parks, Thomas Nelson, August

Conspiracy of Silence Ronie Kendig, Bethany House, December

Annabel Lee Mike Nappa, Revell, March