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.

 

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT

* 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.

 

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ABOUT BRETT:

                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.

LINKS

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brettarmstrongwv

Twitter: @BArmstrongWV

Website: www.brettarmstrong.net

Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Destitutio-Quod-Remissio-Brett-Armstrong-ebook/dp/B01580RR5M/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1486854766&sr=8-1

Barnes and Noble Paperback: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/destitutio-quod-remissio-brett-armstrong/1120709573?ean=9781490889849

NOTE

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 – http://bit.ly/2hxHUXw    Part II – http://bit.ly/2gun1Ya

 

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.

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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.

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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.

Pinterest: pinterest.com/haddad1940

Monthly Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/3dM0v

Facebook: www.facebook.com/KatheryMaddoxHaddad

Website:  InspirationsByKatheryn.com
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1CjXcSz

 

RT Readers’ Choice Awards nominees list

So exciting to see many familiar names on this list!

RT Book Reviews REVIEWERS’ CHOICE AWARD NOMINEES 2016

INSPIRATIONAL ROMANCE 

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

INSPIRATIONAL NOVEL  

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

INSPIRATIONAL MYSTERY/SUSPENSE/THRILLER  

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

Mary Magdalene, Maligned Throughout History — Patricia Kirk

Today I’m excited to welcome author Patricia Kirk as she shares insight into the main character of her latest release, Martha’s Sister, Beloved Prodigal.

My biblical novel, Martha’s Sister, Beloved Prodigal required research. Not only did I need to be careful about Biblical information, I wanted a true picture of first-century AD Jews since Jesus came from that group. I had no knowledge of either. As I wrote, many times I found myself interrupting a sentence to look up this or that.

A prominent part of the novel is the foot washing of Jesus by the sinner. When I researched this scene, the name Mary Magdalene popped up over and over. If I search her name, a link goes to the story of the foot washer. But the book of John (11:2) tells us that Mary, the sister of Lazarus, washed Jesus’ feet. They couldn’t be the same person. Mary Magdalene came from Magdala near Galilee. The family of Lazarus lived in Bethany, just two miles from Jerusalem.

So why has Mary of Magdala been so maligned by history?

The period between 30AD and 33AD listed many confusing Marys, including the mother of Jesus;  Mary  mother of James and Joseph who wanted Jesus to seat her sons on each side of him in heaven; Mary, mother of Zebedee‘s sons–And Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany.

Mary of Magdala and Mary of Bethany worshiped the same God. They inhabited the same world. Maybe they talked when they met.

Jesus healed Mary of Magdala of seven demons. She did not crash Simon the Leper’s party and wash the feet of Jesus. It’s difficult to imagine a demon possessed person as desirable. Who would pay money to spend time with her? The only demon possessed people in the Bible that I remember:

  1. The man who kept breaking his chains. He frightened people. No worries about sexual sin there.
  1. The servant girl who followed Peter to tell everyone that Jesus was God. She angered Peter and he cast out her demon, destroying the income of her owners. No sign of sexual sin.
  1. Jesus healed a man of a blind and mute spirit. Matthew 22:3
  1. He healed Mary Magdalene of seven demons. Luke 8:2.

 

Nowhere does it say Mary’s seven demons were sensual. Did she have a deaf and dumb spirit? Did she have an embarrassing flow of blood that continued for years? Was she simply ill?

Do you remember other instances of demon possession in the Bible?

Mary of Magdala supported Jesus financially. Where did she get the money? I don’t believe Jesus would accept ill-gotten money so it didn’t come from prostitution. Did her husband give it to her? Or did it come from a widow’s estate? Why do we imagine her unmarried?

Jesus chose her to find the empty tomb, and then to meet him on the road after his crucifixion–special honors he gave to her. He assigned her to tell the others. He loved her as a faithful servant.

So there you have it–Mary Magdalene as a harlot was fake news circa 30 AD

About Patricia

Patricia Annalee Kirk’s biblical novel,  Martha’s Sister, Beloved Prodigal is scheduled for publication July 1, 2017. Readers may click http://makerstouch.typepad.com/sample_copies. to read the first five chapters. Graduated from the University of Kansas in are  about one hundred years ago when they still had an art department. Find her records in the school of Architecture but ask me to design a house at your own risk.

 

Chapter 1: Mary Left

 Martha: The day Mary left dawned with sunshine. Light shone on the white leaves and red centers of the lilies and red windflowers in the doorway. My mood lifted with the promise of a pleasant day.

Two days before, we celebrated Mary’s sixteenth birthday. On this day at noon I sent her to the market. Each week, she shopped for the items we didn‘t grow or raise. When she left, she wore a scarf wrapped around her head. Coins hung from the edges to display her availability for betrothal. Despite her beauty, no one asked my husband, Hamel, for permission to take her as his wife.

Five hours later, I paced between the fire pit and the door. I gazed at the street, waiting for her to return, frantic with worry.

Hamel and Lazarus walked through the door together after a long work day. I rushed at them. “Mary went to the market hours ago. She didn’t come home. What can we do?”

Lazarus put his arm across my shoulders. “She met a friend. You know how distracted she gets. Here, Hamel and I will bring her home.”

Hamel nodded and smiled. He took my hand and rubbed it. “Don’t worry. I’m sure we will find her.”

Both men bounded through the door to the street, nearly tripping one another. When they returned, several hours later, neither man had eaten for hours. Anxious to find Mary,  they ignored their hunger. Hamel trudged through the entrance, followed by Lazarus. Lines marked my brother’s forehead, brows nearly meeting.

Hamel walked to the table. “No one knows where she went. I’m hungry. Please forgive me. I must eat.”

“Of course. Your food is ready.”

“No one has seen her. It’s dark. I pray she stayed with a friend. Her reputation already suffers.“ Lazarus fought tears. “We’ll rest and try again tomorrow.”

I stared. What does Lazarus mean? What don’t I know about Mary?

“We can’t see. Our torches flicker.” He flashed a painful smile. “I’m sure she will walk through the door at any moment, embarrassed at the concern she caused.”

 

 

 

January New Releases

 

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley by Valerie Comer, Mary Jane Hathaway, Elizabeth Maddrey, Danica Favorite, Lee Tobin McClain and Annalisa Daughety — Is love possible for a makeshift mom and a handsome widower? What about a bed and breakfast owner and the farmer next door? A curvy jilted bride and a mysterious, handsome chef? Then there’s the real estate consultant and the grandson of her elderly client; a high-powered lawyer and a woman farmer, and a formerly engaged couple. Can love make a difference in their lives? Exploring food, friends, and family in Arcadia Valley, each of these novellas kicks off a three-book series, intertwined with the works of the other authors. This collection is only the beginning of your adventure! (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Restoring Love by Jennifer Slattery — Mitch, a contractor and house-flipper, is restoring a beautiful old house in an idyllic Midwestern neighborhood. Angela, a woman filled with regrets and recently transplanted to his area, is anything but idyllic. As Mitch struggles to keep his business afloat, and Angela works to correct the mistakes of her past, these two unlikely friends discover they have something unexpected in common–a young mom fighting to give her children a better life after her husband’s incarceration. While both Mitch and Angela are drawn to help this young mother survive, they also find themselves drawn to each other. Will a lifetime of regrets hold them back from redemption and true love? (Contemporary Romance from New Hope Publishers)

Historical Mystery:

Murder on the Moor by Julianna Deering — Drew and Madeline Farthering visit the Yorkshire moor to catch a killer and solve a mystery that involves an old feud, a new rivalry and a huge, spectral hound that may or may not be a harbinger of death. (Historical Mystery from Bethany House [Baker])

Historical Romance:

A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander — A master violinist trained in Vienna, Rebekah Carrington manages to get an audition at the newly-formed Nashville Philharmonic. But the conductor–determined to leave his mark on the world of classical music–bows to public opinion. Women are “far too fragile and frail” for the rigors of an orchestra, he says, and Rebekah’s hopes are swiftly dashed. Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb is Nashville’s new orchestra leader. And despite a reluctant muse–and a strange buzzing and recurring pain in his head–he must finish composing his symphony before the new opera hall opens. But far more pressing, he must finish it for his dying father, who inspired his love of music. Then Tate’s ailment worsens. Rebekah can help him finish his symphony. But how do you win back a woman’s trust when you’ve robbed her of her dream? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

The American Heiress Brides Collection by Lisa Carter, Mary Eileen Davis, Susanne Dietze, Anita Mae Draper, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Lisa Karon Richardson, Lynette Sowell and Kimberley Woodhouse — Meet nine young women in America between 1880 and 1911 who have been blessed by fortunes made in gold, silver, industry, ranching, and banking. But when it comes to love, each woman struggles to find true love within a society where “first comes money, second comes marriage.” What kind of man can they trust with their greatest treasure—their hearts? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Two Suitors for Anna by Molly Jebber — In 1903 Ohio, a young Amish woman must choose between the life she has long planned for with her beloved Noah Schwartz, and a new, very different future… But Noah has a surprise for Anna: once they’re married, he wants them to travel and live in other communities. Anna, who loves her home and her job at the quilt shop, is distraught when he takes her hesitation as rejection—and leaves. Daniel Bontrager’s arrival adds to Anna’s confusion. Since taking over his late brother’s farm, the handsome roofer has offered friendship and gentle attentions. Yet the pull of first love is strong and deep, especially when Noah returns. Through each revelation, Anna must search her faith for guidance, knowing she is choosing not just a husband, but a life to nurture and to share… (Historical Romance from Kensington)

My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas by Erica Vetsch — Journey to Fort Bliss, Texas, where a battle of emotions versus ideals is about to be waged. When a high-steppin’ eastern fashion artist, Priscilla Hutchens, swoops down on the fort to gain custody of her twin niece and nephew she is met with resistance by their uncle, post surgeon Major Elliot Ryder, who thinks he knows what is best for them. Who will win the battle? Or will a truce be called for the sake of love and family? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

Dead Run by Jodie Bailey — Kristin James’s morning run turns deadly when she’s attacked by a stranger who’s after something her deceased soldier brother stole overseas. Her neighbor Sergeant First Class Lucas Murphy steps in to help her and won’t let her brush the attack under the rug. He’ll do everything he can to keep Kristin alive, but he can’t tell her that he’s under orders to investigate her link to her brother’s misdeeds. Kristin has no idea what the bad guy is after and doesn’t want to believe that her brother wasn’t on the straight and narrow. But as evidence against him piles up, can they catch the criminals without becoming the next casualties? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Justice Delayed by Patricia Bradley — It’s been eighteen years since TV crime reporter Andi Hollister’s sister was murdered. The confessed killer is behind bars, and the execution date is looming. But when a letter surfaces stating that the condemned killer didn’t actually do it, Detective Will Kincaide of the Memphis Cold Case Unit will stop at nothing to help Andi get to the bottom of it. After all, the person who confessed to the crime is Will’s cousin. They have less than a week to find the real killer before the wrong person is executed. But much can be accomplished in one week–including uncovering police corruption, running for your life, and falling in love. (Romantic Suspense from Revell [Baker])

Undercover Protector by Elizabeth Goddard — Undercover at a tiger sanctuary, Special Agent Grayson Wilde is convinced the owner’s involved in a wildlife trafficking ring–until someone tries to kill her. Gemma’s determined to rebuild the tiger oasis she lost when her family died, but someone wants her out of the way, and she’s starting to wonder if her parents’ and uncle’s deaths were really accidental. Grayson says he’ll do anything to protect Gemma, but she can’t shake the feeling that her alluring new volunteer might not be all that he seems. With a vicious criminal closing in, though, she has to trust Grayson…because she won’t survive without him. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Buried Memories by Carol J. Post — A soldier hero suffering from PTSD and a young woman struggling to overcome a traumatic childhood fight for their lives and find healing together. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Still Life by Dani Pettrey — Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright–and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart. Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead–and the photographer insists he didn’t take the shot. Worse, her friend can’t be found. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat. (Romantic Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

Supernatural Thriller:

Fatal Accusation by Rachel Dylan — Attorney Olivia Murray hopes her life in Windy Ridge will get back to normal after a hard-fought trial. But she soon finds out that the forces of evil have not given up. An embezzling scandal rocks the community church to its core. The New Age groups are ready to declare victory when a high-profile prosecutor files criminal charges against the local pastor. However, Olivia is not willing to give up on the community she’s come to love. She takes on the defense pro bono knowing it could destroy her career, but it’s a case she is called to defend. The battle will be fierce, but she’s not fighting it alone. Her friend and fellow attorney Grant Baxter is by her side. Olivia must use all the tools in her arsenal to combat those who seek to destroy the believers in the community. If Olivia can’t prove the pastor’s innocence, more than her career is on the line. The entire community of Windy Ridge could fall to the forces of darkness. (Supernatural Thriller, Independently Published)

A Midwife’s Tale by Leeann Betts

I wrote this story a few years back and just recently revisited it. In fact, I had to take out some stuff I’d put in from my Christian worldview that wouldn’t have been the worldview of the characters in this story, including my understanding of the Lamb of God.

I don’t know why, but this story resonates with my soul.

Join me as we travel back into time and hear from a character who isn’t mentioned in the Christmas story. True, I don’t know if this woman even existed, at least in this form. But she could have. So sit back and suspend your disbelief for a few minutes. . .

Frantic pounding on the door downstairs woke me. In the dim light from the full moon outside, I squinted at my husband. He grunted and turned over, pulling the itchy wool blanket with him.

My name is Hannah, and I am a midwife in Bethlehem. I am accustomed to being called out at all hours to help women through their labor, to deliver babies into a world ruled by cruel overseers from Rome. Sometimes it is too late by the time I get there, and all I can do is usher the mother or child, often both, into the hereafter.

No matter how long I do this work, it is never easy to be dragged from my bed in the dark of night. Why does it seem babies always wait until the wee hours to make their appearance? It is almost as if they hold on as long as they can—perhaps these little Jewish babies know where they are best off.

I pulled my day shift on and tied my head wrap around my hair as I trudged down the steps to answer the door. Pausing at the table in the eating area, I lit a small oil lamp that just a few hours before my children had sat around, practicing their letters for school the next day. Grabbing the rough wooden handle of the solid door, I winced at the stab of a splinter in my palm. Pulling my hand to my mouth, I sucked at the spot where the sliver of wood stuck me. Spitting out the intruding wood, I watched as a drop of blood oozed out, shining nearly black in the dark. Amazing how much that small spike could hurt.

The pounding on the door started again, pulling me from my contemplation of my pain. I wrenched open the door, a retort ready on my tongue.

My sharp words fell to the ground like dust at the sight of the man on my doorstep.

A hooded figure faced me, clothes dusty, beard slightly unkempt. In the flickering flame of the lamp, I could just barely make out his eyes and mouth. Worry and hard work had lined his face, and the weave of his cloak suggested he was not from Bethlehem.

He clasped his hands together in front of his chest, bowed his head, and fell to one knee. “I most humbly beg your pardon, but are you the midwife?”

Sarcasm and criticism boiled to the top again, threatening to spill over. Anyone who lived in Bethlehem knew I was not only a midwife, but one of the best.

I pointed to the small sign next to the portal. “Can’t you read?”

The words “Midwife for hire” had been painstakingly carved into a flat piece of olive wood by my oldest son as a practice piece. The letters may have been crooked, and the last word cramped together as evidence he needed more work on his spacing, but they were clear enough.

The stranger didn’t raise his head. He didn’t answer my question, either. Instead, he reached one hand into a money pouch hanging around his neck and withdrew a small silver coin, holding it in the palm of his hand. “Is this enough?”

Enough? A hundred times that was not enough for being roused from your sleep in the dead chill of night. And if it was a difficult birth, a thousand times would not cover my time and energy. But if it ended badly, I would not take even this small morsel.

Still, the unspoken creed of a midwife is, “God gives life freely, and the midwife merely does His will.” As such, I am honor-bound to deliver any child, no matter how small the thank offering.

I pushed his hand away. “We will not defile the labor bed with talk of money. Children are not bought like slaves, even if it will likely live as one.” I pulled the door closed behind me. “Come, let us go. You can express your gratitude to me after the birth.”

I snatched my supply satchel from the hook near the door and slipped my cloak over my shoulders.

He turned on his heel and hurried up the narrow path to the main street. Pausing occasionally to look over his shoulder to make sure I was keeping up, he continued along the dusty walk.

I wrapped my cloak closer around me to ward off the chill night air. After several blocks, he paused and looked around, confusion evident on his face.

I stopped beside him. “Which way?”

My breath blew a white cloud in the dark.

“I’m not sure.”

“Not sure? How can you not be sure?”

“I am not from Bethlehem.”

Ah, my earlier observation was confirmed, and my earlier criticism evaporated. “Where are you staying?”

“Near the inn in the market square.”

“This way.” I grabbed the sleeve of his cloak and turned to the left. “The inn is just over here.”

Another turn at the next corner, and we were there.

I paused. “Are you here for the census?”

He nodded.

“You were lucky to find a room.”

“I did not find a room.”

“Then where are you staying?”

Horror filled my heart at the thought of delivering a baby out in the open, like a lamb for the slaughter.

Now it was his turn to direct me, past the inn, down a dark alley, into a small courtyard behind. He pointed to a small hole carved in the wall.

My heart leaped in my throat. This was worse than I had feared. “In the stable? Animals, dirt, mold. This is not a fit place for a child to be born.”

He nodded, eyes downcast, his embarrassment evident.

“If you are here for the census, you have family. Why not stay with them?”

“We were detained on the road because my wife could not travel quickly. When we got here yesterday, there was no room for us anywhere.”

I nodded. The city was filled to overflowing. Even my own small house, tight quarters for me, my husband, and my four children ordinarily, now housed two extra families in response to the decree for everyone in Judea to return to the city of their forefathers and be counted. More than likely a new tax would be the result. I might be a simple Jew, but I’m not stupid.

The man reached the entrance to the small cave-like structure and stopped. He called softly, almost a whisper. “Mary, it is me, Joseph. I have brought the midwife.”

He stooped over and disappeared inside. I waited a moment, then followed.

The first thing that struck me was how quiet it was in this small structure. The man lit a small lamp, and the shadows danced in the corners. The strong smell of hay tickled my nose, and the dust stirred up by my feet danced on beams of light filtering through an opening carved in the stone. In the far corner, a ewe hovered over its lamb, their eyes reflecting amber in the dim light.

In the center of the small shed knelt the woman. Crouched over, her forehead nearly touching the hay-strewn floor, dust fringed the edge of her skirt. She looked up, her face white. Perspiration glowed on her forehead and upper lip, and an ugly grimace crossed her face as another spasm came over her. I waited until the wave of pain passed, giving her the respect due her at this time.

A low moan escaped her lips, and my eye caught a restless movement in the corner. The lamb stood and pressed closer to its mother. The ewe nuzzled the infant, and it settled to its knees again in the hay.

The young woman moaned again, and my training took over. I knelt beside her and looked deep into her eyes. Laying my hand on her forehead, I was glad to feel the coolness of her skin beneath my fingers.

I looked to her husband. “Wait outside.”

He cast an anxious look at his wife.

She nodded at him, then turned to face me again, her dark eyes filled with worry. “Tell me what to do.”

I set my satchel beside her head and loosened the strings. “Is this your first child?”

She nodded.

I pulled a small sheet from the bag. “Have you ever assisted at a birth?”

She shook her head, eyes closed. A tear ran down her cheek.

I forced a smile I didn’t feel. “Fear will steal your joy. Don’t be afraid. You are in good hands. I am one of the best midwives in Bethlehem.”

She opened her eyes and smiled at me. “I don’t know you, but I trust God, and I trust Joseph, and so I will trust you.”

I laid a hand on her protruding belly. Deep inside, the contractions that would soon increase to push this baby into the world pulsed. “Sit for a moment, take a rest. This baby isn’t going to come this minute.”

She relaxed onto one hip, and I leaned my head to her stomach and listened. Her heart beat regularly, and there—the baby’s heartbeat, strong and sure.

Sitting back on my heels, I patted her hand. “Everything sounds fine. Now, let’s get you in position to deliver this baby.”

We worked together, this frightened young woman and I, to get her in the delivery position. I went over the stages of labor she could expect, and how long each might be expected to last. As scared as she was, I left out the description of what could go wrong.

She had enough on her mind right now not to deal with that.

When she was as comfortable as she was going to get in this dark, damp cave, we knelt together, two women alone in the dark, as Joseph paced outside, and the sheep in the corner nodded.

In between her contractions, when she could speak, we did what women do, what they have done for eons.

We talked.

I learned that Mary was a new wife, married only six months before. My eyebrows raised at that, let me tell you. She told me the story of the baby she was carrying, about an angel of the Lord, and that she was to name him Jesus, the Lord saves. I thought she was just trying to cover her indiscretion.

Joseph poked his head in through the doorway, and Mary smiled at him. “She doesn’t believe about our baby, Joseph. Tell her about your dream.”

And so Joseph related the details of a most extraordinary dream he’d had, of God confirming Mary’s story about the child in her womb being conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Okay, so I really wasn’t in any position to contradict their story. I hadn’t been there. And, I had a cousin who swore she was still a virgin after she had her first baby, even though we all knew better. Who was I to limit God?

The thing that really convinced me was their complete and unshakeable belief that God not only could but would work through them. Joseph was a carpenter, not an educated man filled with prophecy, able to argue the scriptures to prove his point. Many hours of hard work had toughened his hands. His strong fingers bore the marks of chisels and planes.

All he knew was what he believed God had told him in his dream.

And he believed Mary when she told him about the visit by the angel.

This was the first time I had seen anyone risk their entire being for their belief in God. Their faith humbled me.

After another hour of minor contractions, Mary’s labor began in earnest.

I ushered Joseph out into the dark. “Pray that God will ease her pain and make this child come soon.”

Joseph’s wan smile filled my heart. “Nothing will go wrong.”

His simple words of faith and his complete trust in God pricked at my conscience. Here I was, a woman whose faith was none too evident in her life, a woman confident of her career, secure in her marriage, successful and comfortable, feeling a little envious of the uncomplicated faith of a carpenter and his wife in a stable in Bethlehem.

I wanted what they had.

Within a short time, Mary had put every ounce of strength she had into pushing a tiny baby boy into the world. His full head of dark hair heralded his coming, and his strong cry soon filled the stable. Joseph came into the cave at the first cry, the worry lines erased. Kneeling beside his wife and new son, tears streamed down his face. He reached for the child, and Mary passed the infant gently to its father.

Joseph stared into the child’s face for several moments as Mary and I watched. The infant reached a tiny hand to his father’s beard, grasping it between his miniature fingers.

Joseph smiled, then raised the child over his head. He closed his eyes and looked toward heaven. “Elohenu.”  Blessed are You, O Lord our God.

That was strange. He was praying the traditional Passover blessing over his child.

But this was not Passover.

And this child was not—

“Thank You for entrusting us with this gift from You, Yahweh. You have favored us with Your presence in the form of this child. We will raise him and train him to hear You. He is Emmanuel, and He will save His people.”

I was spellbound with this dedication of the child to God. I knelt before them, my heart full and my eyes overflowing. I may not know much about the ways of God, but at that moment, I knew I was in His presence as never before. And for perhaps the first time in my life, I was speechless.

I don’t know how long I knelt there, praising God in my heart. All I know for sure is that when I finally stirred, the sun was peeking over the eastern gate.

I rose stiffly, knees protesting the hours spent on the floor. Mary and Joseph slept side by side on the hay, and the infant lay in a manger, wrapped in old cloths Joseph had found tucked in a small box.

This didn’t make any sense to me. Why would he treat this child like a lamb for the slaughter?

Outside the stable, I heard footsteps. I walked toward the opening of the cave and peered out.

Several men dressed in shepherd’s garb paused outside the stable. They looked back at the fields surrounding the city and then back to the stable.

The oldest one spoke. “Is this where the Christ child can be found?”

Christ child? I knew about the Christ. The one promised who would set the Jews free, who would operate in the anointing of God.

“What do you know of this child?”

Another shepherd stepped forward. “An angel appeared to us while we were standing watch over our sheep. He told us to come here to see the Christ.” He gestured to his fellow shepherds. “Then more angels heralded the child’s praises.”

More angels. This couldn’t be any ordinary baby. “Is that how you came to be here?”

The youngest nodded. “The angel told us to look for a baby wrapped in lamb’s rags and lying in a manger. We have spent many hours searching every stable in the city.”

Lamb’s rags.

I pointed to the baby inside. “He is in there.”

I wandered out into the courtyard area, listening to the sounds of the city coming awake for another day. I felt sorry for the people. I’m pretty sure they had missed a miracle.

I’m going to keep an eye on this Christ-child. I think He is destined for something bigger than His parents, than these shepherds, even than I can imagine.

And I want to be there when that happens.

 

 

Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. She has released four titles in her By the Numbers series, with Broke, Busted, and Disgusted releasing November 2016. In addition, Leeann has written a devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk, Counting the Days, and with her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, has published a book on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold, a compilation of essays, articles, and exercises on the craft. She publishes a free quarterly newsletter that includes a book review and articles on writing and books of interest to readers and writers. You can subscribe at www.LeeannBetts.com or follow Leeann at www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com All books are available on Amazon.com in digital and print.

 

 

The First American Missionaries — Tamara Lynn Kraft

Today I am happy to welcome author Tamara Lynn Kraft as she shares some information about early missionaries, and as she tells us about herself and her book.

Most people don’t know about some of the first American missionaries, the Moravians. I wrote a Christmas novella about Moravian Missionaries in the 1770s called A Christmas Promise. Their dedication to spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the 1700s amazed me. The Moravian Church was started in Bohemia in the 14oos and suffered great persecution for the first 300 years of its existence.

In the 1700s, the Moravian Church experienced a renewal that led to evangelism all over the world. The renewal started when Count Zinzendorf started a village for refuges from the struggling church in Hernhutt, Germany. The members of the church started praying 24 hours a day in a prayer meeting that would last for over 100 years. 30 more villages were established, and missionaries were sent out all over the world, including North America. This was the first large scale missionary movement by a Protestant church.

The Moravians’ battle cry was “May the Lamb receive the reward of His suffering.” Two missionaries sold themselves as slaves to become missionaries to the slaves on the island of Saint Thomas. Some missionaries settled in Georgia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania to preach the Gospel to Native Americans.

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A group of missionaries in Pennsylvania moved to Ohio and set up two villages, Schoenbrunn and Gnadenhutton, to preach the Lenape Indians. They printed the Bible in the Lenape language, and many Lenape, also known as Delaware, joined the villages. They also built the first school and protestant church in Ohio.

Moravians brought something else to America besides their missionary zeal. They loved to celebrate Christmas, and many of our Christmas traditions come from the Moravians. My Christmas novella, A Christmas Promise, is about a missionary couple who lives in Schoenbrunn in 1773.

Author Spotlight:

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

I write Christian historical fiction. Although I’m very eclectic in my reading, I always get my ideas from learning fun historical facts. I especially love to read and learn about American history. I start thinking about what it was like for the ordinary people going through such extraordinary circumstances. Once I do that, my story is birthed.

What is your “go to” routine that helps you get in the mood to write?

I usually write in the mornings. I’ll have breakfast with a cup of one of my favorite Teavanna teas. Then I’ll start my essential oil diffuser with brain power to get the creative juices going. After that, I get dressed and get busy.

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

My next novel is called Alice’s Notions. It is set to be published by Desert Breeze Books in April, 2017. Alice’s Notions is set right after World War 2 and is a cozy spy novel. I love that time period and had a lot of fun writing it. Here’s what it’s about.

Alice Brighton goes home to Burning Bush, West Virginia after the war to open Alice’s Notions, a fabric shop. Her heart is broken because of her husband’s death, and she wants to be somewhere safe. When she decides to plan a quilt barn tour for the town, she discovers things aren’t as they seem in the quaint village where she grew up. Between her mysterious landlord who gets on her nerves, a German refugee who works at the shop, her peculiar neighbors, and a dreamboat security expert trying to romance her, she doesn’t know who she can trust. She needs to find out what’s going on and why they want to close the mountain road leading out of town before something terrible happens.

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A Christmas Promise

By Tamera Lynn Kraft

A Moravian Holiday Story, Circa 1773

During colonial times, John and Anna settle in an Ohio village to become Moravian missionaries to the Lenape. When John is called away to help at another settlement two days before Christmas, he promises he’ll be back by Christmas Day.

When he doesn’t show up, Anna works hard to not fear the worst while she provides her children with a traditional Moravian Christmas.

Through it all, she discovers a Christmas promise that will give her the peace she craves.

To read an excerpt from A Christmas Promise, click this link. http://pelicanbookgroup.com/ec/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=68_41&products_id=512

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Bio:

Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures and writes Christian historical fiction set in America because there are so many adventures in American history. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and was a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest. Her novellas Resurrection of Hope and A Christmas Promise are available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble. You can find her online at her website: http://tameralynnkraft.net.

Teresa Lilly — Author Spotlight

 Help me welcome author Teresa Lilly back today as I ask her some tough questions.

 

  • How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

Writing about historical, imaginary towns helps me to keep sane.  Whenever I create a town in a story, I make it a place I would love to live and while I’m writing about it, I find myself relaxed.

 

  • What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did

you overcome it?

Time. I wanted to write for years, but was busy raising three children and homeschooling.  I finally worked out a plan to do my writing from 9pm to midnight, when everyone else was asleep, and that gave me the time I needed.

  • Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

Probably a lot. I usually write about strong willed women who are ready to handle to world alone, but don’t mind finding that Mr. Wonderful who helps them along.  My characters often make foolish mistakes because of their strong headed ways, and I have done that so many times. But, as in my stories, God always shows them the way out.

 

Teresa Ives Lilly lives in San Antonio, Texas and writes Christian Romance Novellas like Love Found in the Snow:  When Shera Logan stepped off the train to stretch her legs, she never expected to twist her ankle and be abandoned at a coal stop, sixty miles from the next town. After walking for hours, she realizes that she can go no further, so she lays down in the snow, makes a snow angel and her most special prayer asking God to either send someone to help her or to take her home.

Mathew Tucker, intent on returning to his ranch after a visit to town, never expected to find a woman collapsed in the snow almost frozen to death.

Will Shera’s prayers be answered by this cowboy who tries to save her or will she become a real angel….

 

You can purchase this book https://www.amazon.com/Love-Found-Snow-Country-Christmas-ebook/dp/B00NA1B5NC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1478646150&sr=8-1&keywords=love+found+in+the+snow

 

See Teresa’s other books at Teresa Ives Lilly

 

 

What is Historical Fiction? — Teresa Lilly

 

Today I’m thrilled to welcome author Teresa Lilly as she explains what historical fiction is — and isn’t.

 

The question is, what is historical fiction? Now most would answer, a story set in a previous time, however, I want to focus on the word fiction.

Fiction means:  literature in the form of prose, especially short stories and novels, that describes imaginary events and people.

So, with that being said, I believe that not only can the story be fictional, but the history can also be a bit fictional. That’s not to say, if I write about life on the prairie, I should have them cooking on an electric stove in the 1800s.  But, the setting of the story can be fictional.

I find it’s easier to write that type of historical fiction, rather than try to pull all the true events of history that happen in a town into my short novella stories. However, I do research the area I set my story in, and the year and I will often pull in several facts about that time.

The facts about train stations is one of those areas I like to fictionalize. If I make up a town, I make up a train station stopping in that town.  Please forgive me if I don’t look up old maps of old transcontinental charts. I’ve sold hundreds of books with these fictional train stations in them, and so far, not one reader has complained that the setting wasn’t real.

In my novella, Love Found in the Snow, my character steps off a train, misses getting back on and has to walk through a snow storm for miles and miles.  Sorry, that train and track probably do not exist in the real world, but I believe the reader can imagine the event.

So, do your research, but remember that not all historical fiction has to be dripping with true facts, events, and places. I find that sometimes those things only clog up the story.

 

 

Teresa Ives Lilly lives in San Antonio, Texas and writes Christian Romance Novellas like Love Found in the Snow:  When Shera Logan stepped off the train to stretch her legs, she never expected to twist her ankle and be abandoned at a coal stop, sixty miles from the next town. After walking for hours, she realizes that she can go no further, so she lays down in the snow, makes a snow angel and her most special prayer asking God to either send someone to help her or to take her home.

Mathew Tucker, intent on returning to his ranch after a visit to town, never expected to find a woman collapsed in the snow almost frozen to death.

Will Shera’s prayers be answered by this cowboy who tries to save her or will she become a real angel….

 

You can purchase this book https://www.amazon.com/Love-Found-Snow-Country-Christmas-ebook/dp/B00NA1B5NC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1478646150&sr=8-1&keywords=love+found+in+the+snow

 

See Teresa’s other books at Teresa Ives Lilly

 

 

The Extra Ordinary Christmas — Wade Webster

Today please welcome author Wade Webster as he shares about a wonderful surprise. Read all the way through to find out how to win a free book.

 

Sometimes a blog experiment can turn into a new course for a writer’s life. That’s what happened to me in December 2011.

I started blogging on my 50th birthday. I didn’t know where it would take me as I followed the advice from the top agents’ blogs I read. I wrote about my life growing up on a farm on the edge of nowhere in Michigan.

As Christmas approached I decided to try my hand at biblical fiction. The characters in the Bible’s account of Jesus’s birth had lessons for us all. So began a journey I hope never stops.

Since I blog once a week I decided to spend my breakfast with each scene during the week. I read and re-read the story. I asked questions of the people as I tried to put myself into that event. The results were amazing.

I didn’t used to think the Bible had much to say about Joseph, Jesus’s stepdad. With this method of Bible study I discovered he was an incredible young man. The way he had to step up to protect Mary made her love him all the deeper before they were truly intimate in their relationship.

On the practical front my blog subscribers more than tripled during this experiment. I ran into one of those top agents at some conferences so I passed the idea of making this into a book by him. He said if I could make it 24 chapters He could sell it.

I knew there were some scenes I skipped. Some of the chapters could be split into two. Within half an hour my thirteen chapters grew into 24. That agent said this book has merit, but he’s too busy to take this project on so I went with a small publisher to make The Extra Ordinary Christmas, How God used ordinary people to bring the most extraordinary person into the world, a real book.

If you’re familiar with the Christmas story get this book. When you’re finished with it you’ll get to know the people in this incredible epic on an intimate level. You’ll also be challenged on many levels by the lessons each of these people has to teach us.

One woman left a comment that blew me away. It was the time the shepherds showed up in the stable after Jesus was born. She said the story was so well written she could smell the straw in the stable as she read my blog. I never mentioned straw. That was her personal experience.

I continued with the Easter story on my blog, then senior citizens, teenagers, widows and orphans in the Bible. I’m currently working through prayers in the Bible. Like I said earlier I hope this never stops.

Leave a comment here for a chance to win one of these books for yourself.

Fun Facts About Wade Webster:

My favorite bug is the Monarch Butterfly because it baffles evolutionists by its life cycle.

I actually enjoy running, not marathon distances, but the exercise part of it keeps me healthy.

One time I rebuilt a carburetor in the Texas panhandle at a rest area during a vacation. Yes, the car ran fine afterward and got us back to Michigan.

My favorite part about writing is feeling that I’m being used by God to further His kingdom. Sometimes when I finish writing something I look around for who wrote this. That’s when I know God is using me as His instrument. There’s not a better feeling in all creation.

I must be an uber-introvert since I enjoy those lone stretches of highway in a big rig when God speaks to me in special ways. I think it’s that being still to know God that most folks miss out on.

Wade lives by himself but he’s never alone. His best friend, Jesus Christ, is always near as He promised to be several times in the Bible.

Social Media Links:

Website: http://wadewebster.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorWadeWebster/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WadeWebster1

Tate Buy Page: https://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=9781683330868