The Shiloh Saga… One Down, Four to Go — Patricia Blake
Today I’m happy to welcome author Patricia Blake as she talks about her latest stories.
Historical fiction mixed with romance is the genre I chose to write my Shiloh Saga. I am an avid fan of Francine Rivers and Janette Oke, who use that genre so very well to tell stories about people who seem very human. Actually, I didn’t start out to write a saga. I just had a story to tell about Arkansas and the industrious, persistent pioneer stock that built my beautiful state. Being a novice writer, I had no idea that 685,000 words were too many to bind into one book until Eddie Jones, publisher of Lighthouse Books of the Carolinas, told me I hadn’t written one book but six. Regardless, I had accomplished my goal—or maybe dream is a better word—of writing a positive story about my home state, trying to portray Arkansas in a realistic, yet uplifting way…a way so contrary to how Arkansas is usually portrayed in literature and the media.
Since I self-published In Search of Shiloh in July, I have been humbled by the response of the many readers who have loved my story. Comments like, “I couldn’t lay it down.” and “You made me stay up half the night turning pages.” come frequently. Most surprising has been the number of men who have praised the book and asked for the sequel. They have made positive comments on the history and the descriptions I gave of Arkansas landmarks through which Mac and Laurel passed during their long, perilous journey from Washington County to Greene County in 1857. Perhaps my favorite praise came from a friend who said, “Pat, I’m not a reader. I started your book because you are my friend, but I finished it in three days. I didn’t want it to end. When will the next one be done?”
Part of the joy of the research was visiting these places on a road trip in the snowy March of 2014. Thankfully, we were driving over paved highways in a new Cadillac and not traveling rough paths or dirt roads using a mule-drawn wagon as were Laurel and Mac in the book. I am indebted to historians of Arkansas local history. The work a Craighead County historian, Herschel (Plug) Eaton has been a God-send. He wrote what little we know of the Greensboro community and published it the Craighead County Historical Journals.
The sequel, The Dream of Shiloh will be published before Valentine’s Day, 2018. While I will continue to self-publish the Shiloh Saga, I hope to have a future book accepted for publication. I think all writers yearn for that official validation from an established publisher that their work is “good enough.” Nevertheless, my readers’ love for my story is obvious by their comments and reviews. I think I have met my goal of presenting my great state honestly and well. I know the Lord has blessed me through this work. That is validation far beyond enough to keep me writing.
ABOUT THE BOOK: In Search of Shiloh
In 1857, the new state of Arkansas is seven years younger than Laurel Campbell. Single at the ripe old age of twenty-eight, both Laurel and the people of Hawthorn consider her the local spinster. When Laurel’s father announces he’s arranged a marriage for her, Laurel’s world transforms overnight. Suddenly, she’s Laurel MacLayne, wife of homesteader Patrick MacLayne.
Proud and headstrong, Laurel resents being married off but has little say in the matter.
As for Patrick, a painful past keeps him from getting too close to his new bride. He’s a good man, though, so when he asks Laurel to step out into the world with him in faith, she agrees. She may not love him, but she at least can give him her respect and support.
Whether that’s enough to build a marriage on will be decided on the road to Shiloh.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patricia Blake
Patricia Clark Blake holds a BSE in English, MSE in reading, and Ed.S. in counseling psychology from Arkansas State University. Now retired, she spent her career in Arkansas public schools teaching English, Spanish, oral communications, leadership and as a secondary-school counselor. She taught psychology and supervised counseling interns at the college level.
Known as Pat to her friends, Blake has published in juried psychological journals, but the Shiloh Saga novels are her first attempt at writing fiction. Her proposal for ‘Til Shiloh Come won an award from the Blue Ridge Christian Novel Retreat in 2016. This proposal eventually became her first novel, In Search of Shiloh. The next book, The Dream of Shiloh, in the saga will be released in February of 2018.
Blake volunteers in her church, teaches Sunday school, and leads water-wellness classes. She is passionate about genealogy and Arkansas history and uses both in her writing. She is blessed with a wonderful daughter and son-in-law. She is Nanna to a beautiful granddaughter and a fine grandson. She resides near the Greensboro community of Jonesboro, Arkansas, the town mentioned often in her Shiloh stories.