I’m hoping this was run at the correct time, and if it’s a rerun, that’s okay. Ane is a marvelous writer and friend, and deserves more publicity 🙂
Today I’m thrilled to welcome author Ane Mulligan back as she explores her past and how it relates to her characters.
The $64,000 Question
Do you remember that old TV Show The $64,000 Question? It was the forerunner of Jeopardy. In my life the $64,000 question was: Who Do I Look Like?
I was adopted as an infant. They tried to match backgrounds, but my adoptive daddy was of Norwegian and Laplander. My adoptive mama was German and Scottish. I was Irish with two drops of French wine. I didn’t really look like anyone in my family.
Every time I passed a mirror I looked in it, hoping to catch a glimpse of someone I knew—other than myself of course. When I was at school and later in work, I always searched for someone I might look like. If I found one, I wondered if they could be a blood relative.
None of this is to say I had a horrible childhood. I didn’t. I had a great home life. My adoptive parents were loving. I was a chosen child and always made me feel special. The funny part is I always wanted to feel ordinary. One of the crowd.
As I grew older, and unexpected changes came upon me (who expects to grow old?), I’d look in the mirror and ask myself, “Are those my mother’s wrinkles? Whose ears are these?” Well, you get the idea.
Then in 2009, I became one of the crowd when I found my birth sisters—or rather they found me. You can read that story here. Then one day, a woman at my church knowing I was adopted, came to me with her excitement of adopting a child. One of those writerly “what ifs?” popped into my mind: What if the child she adopted was the grandchild (yes, I was old enough to be her mother) of one of my birth sisters?
That sparked When the Wind Blows (to release early 2018) and tells the story of two women brought together in Atlanta when each is at her most vulnerable—and the God-driven resolution that transforms pain and uncertainty into triumph for them both.
When the Bough Breaks, Jan 12, 2017, is a bit more my story. The main character, Sienna O’Shea is of Italian descent adopted by an Irish couple, who later have four children of their own. Sienna looks like no one. It’s the story of her struggle to belong. A struggle I know well.
The two most important things I’ve learned in my life are that I belong to God and that’s enough. The second is that He is trustworthy with our dreams. I incorporated those themes into When the Bough Breaks.
When the Bough Breaks
Her dream job has a Catch 22—and time’s running out.
Rookie lobbyist Sienna O’Shea is determined to make a name for herself in New York’s capitol city and use that influence to gain easier access to her birth records. For years she’s searched for her birth mother, but when she’s handed her first assignment—to lobby support for the permanent sealing of all adoption records—her worlds collide. Swept up into the intrigue of backroom politics, falling in love was not on Sienna’s agenda, but the candidate for Lt. Governor runs a formidable campaign to make her his first lady. When an investigative reporter discovers foreign money infiltrating political campaigns, the trail leads to Sienna’s inner circle.
Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea. She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. An award-winning multi-published author, Ane is the creative director of a community theater and a contributor to Novel Rocket. She resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a dog of Biblical proportion. You can find Ane on her website, Facebook, or her Amazon author page.
When the Bough Breaks
Sienna O’Shea slammed the door of her red Volkswagen Beetle, trying not to slip on the icy patches in the parking lot. She hurried to the elevator for the Legislative Office Building and her dream job in New York’s capitol. New York! Her heart kicked up its heels and she could hardly believe she’d made it. Her second day on the job and already she’d been assigned to testify before New York’s Senate Judicial Committee. She might be a rooky at lobbying, but she’d show them.
It took her half the night to work up her presentation, praying the whole time it would be good enough. It should be, her old friend Matt Dressler gave her the background information. If it was, she could leverage her position as team newbie into a force to be reckoned with—someone they’d be proud of. And for once, it would be because of something she did, not who she was.
She pushed the button and waited, catching her breath that came out in little puffs of fog in the frigid air. A long-legged man in a dark grey overcoat approached from between two cars and stopped beside her. He tipped his hat.
A courteous New Yorker? Wow. And a handsome one. Double wow.
The doors opened and they both entered the elevator. He stood in front of the numbered panel, blocking it. She’d been told the Senate Hearing room was on the third floor. Since he didn’t move…
“Third floor, please.”
He grinned and punched the button for the first floor. Sienna blinked and stepped back. So much for courteous, that was downright uncivil. Her heartbeat accelerated and she forced herself not to look at him. He could be a pervert. Good looking or not, the dude better not try anything.
She slipped her hand into her coat pocket and wrapped her fingers around the cold cylinder of mace. The same one she’d laughed at when Mom made her promise three times to carry it in her pocket. Well, she wasn’t laughing now. If he made a move toward her, she wasn’t going down with a whimper.
I think I messed up on the original post, and this one didn’t run when it should so I’m taking the liberty of running it–perhaps again.
Today we continue taking a look at April 3rd in history, as I welcome author Debby Lee as she sees how April 3rd, 1966 connects with April 3rd, 1860.
On April 3, 1860, a wiry fellow working for Russell, Majors, and Waddell, jumped on a horse in St. Joseph Missouri and with a whoop and a holler carried a mail pouch east. Cheers erupted from a crowd of spectators. Ten days later that mail reached San Francisco, and thus the Pony Express rode into history.
One hundred and six years later, on April, 3 1966, the day I was born, a different kind of noise reverberated across America. The number 1 song on the pop music charts was My Soul and Inspiration by The Righteous Brothers. On the country charts, I Want to Go to You by Eddy Arnold held the number 1 spot.
At the movies, the musical, Frankie and Johnny, graced theater marquis from St. Joseph to San Francisco. Elvis Presley and Donna Douglas starred in this show. Records were available from the movies sound track, and contained songs like Please Don’t Stop Loving Me and Down by the Riverside. Donna Douglas by the way, starred in The Beverly Hillbillies. Now who doesn’t remember that opening theme song?
The Dodge Charger rolled off conveyor belts and proceeded to cruise along roads all across the country. Technically, this car came out in 1964 but was only for show. It wasn’t available to the public until 1966. Although it probably made much more noise than the average pony, it could get you from St. Joseph to San Francisco a lot faster.
News of the Vietnam War occupied airwaves and newspaper columns, as protesters, took to the streets and chanted for peace. Flower Power was the slogan of the day, but demonstrations rose in volume and intensity before it was all over.
No matter what kind of noise was made in 1860, 1966, or even today, one thing remains the same. The Pony Express makes us think of thundering hoof beats, brave riders facing dangerous circumstances, and a special kind of romance that comes along for the ride.
About Ride Into My Heart
Kimimela, a member of the Sioux tribe, works at a Pony Express station where she struggles to cope with the death of her sister. When she’s kidnapped by gun smugglers, can her Cherokee friend, Pony Express rider Gabe, rescue her before it’s too late?
Debby Lee was raised in the cozy town of Toledo, Washington. The American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America are two organizations Debby enjoys being a part of. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steven Laube Literary Agency. As a self proclaimed nature lover and avid listener of 1960’s folk music, Debby can’t help but feel like a hippie child who wasn’t born soon enough to attend Woodstock.
Debby loves connecting with her readers on Facebook and via her website at www.booksbydebbylee.com
Today I’m excited to welcome author Susan Page Davis back as she shares some insights into her writing process and answers some tough questions. Read all the way through to learn how to enter to win a free copy of Found Art.
When I set out to write a new book, it depends on whether it’s a new standalone or part of a series, and if it’s for a traditional publisher or will be independently published.
Let’s say I want to start a new series to be marketed to traditional publishers.
First, I spend a lot of time thinking about it. I usually start with the main characters. A lot of my books are character-driven. I want to come up with people who are complex and endearing, who have real problems. I want someone the reader will like and will root for.
In my book The Saboteur, I created a heroine who is very nervous around new people and has panic attacks when she has to stand up in front of a crowd. She dropped out of law school because of that. None of my usual publishers wanted to accept this book, and I have to assume it was because it did not have a “strong” heroine, which seems to be a prerequisite these days.
Last December, I finally got brave enough to self-publish The Saboteur. I’m getting a fantastic response from my readers. They love Debra! So far, all the reviews it’s pulled in are 5-star. The readers don’t seem to care that Debra needs to be rescued at one point, or that she is often at a loss for words with her new boss. They can identify with her.
Sometimes I think of a plot first. Then I consider who the characters should be. Who would carry out that plot best? Right now I am four books into a series called Maine Justice. I recently thought of a plot that could become book 7 or 8. I immediately wondered how I would make this case personal for the recurring characters of the series, and who should take the lead in solving the mystery.
Guess what? I’ve decided to let one of the secondary characters shine in that story—and give him some deep trauma. I don’t like doing bad things to my characters, but conflict is what keeps us all turning the pages.
After I’ve decided on the characters and the main plot points, I generally rough out an outline or synopsis. Then I start researching the things I’m not an expert on (which is nearly everything). I’ve learned that guessing isn’t good enough. You have to know.
After I’ve researched the most important things and adjusted my story to fit them where needed, I start writing the story itself. I’m one who writes in spirals. I keep looping back and fixing things so that the early part agrees with the later part. I can’t push on to the end knowing I’ve got contradictions or mistakes in the manuscript.
By the time I finish the first draft, the story is pretty well set. I go back over it and fill in gaps, elaborate on things I’d left sketchy, and fix mistakes. Sometimes I chop off the first scene, because the story doesn’t really start there. And sometimes I’ll add or delete scenes in the middle.
Then I have my husband read it. He’s a retired editor, so this is a helpful part of the process. When he gives it back to me with his notes, I go through it again. This is the minimum. Sometimes I another writer will read through it for me and point out inconsistencies or anything that just doesn’t feel right. Sometimes I let it sit for quite a long time before I go in and finalize the story, but I don’t usually have time for that.
If the book is going to a traditional publisher, I have to meet their deadline, so I send it in. A few weeks later, I get the editor’s notes back and start revising again.
For an independently published book, the process is much the same, but I don’t have a deadline. I have to make myself keeping moving forward with the project. And it’s doubly important to have several people read through before it goes to print. Editing is crucial to any book. Even authors who are good at self-editing miss things.
When it’s as good as I can make it, I send it to the publishing concern, and my new book is ready to go!
Susan Page Davis is the author of more than seventy romantic suspense, mystery, and historical romance novels. She’s a winner of the Carol Award, the Will Rogers Medallion, and the Faith, Hope & Love Readers’ Choice Award, and a finalist in the WILLA Literary Awards. A Maine native, she now lives in Kentucky. Visit her website at: www.susanpagedavis.com.
Susan is giving away a copy of her romantic suspense book Found Art. If the winner has read this book, she may choose another of Susan’s books. Paperbacks are restricted to the USA, but international readers can win an e-book, if allowed by law.
Buy Found Art: http://amzn.to/2rgPN7H
Find Susan at:
Sign up for Susan’s occasional newsletter at https://madmimi.com/signups/118177/join
Getting to Know Susan:
Why did you choose this setting and time period?
For this romantic suspense series, I chose the present day and a city I know—Portland, Maine.
I felt it was a large enough city to realistically be the setting for an ongoing crime series.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Since I lived in Maine most of my life, I am aware of regional name trends there. I’ve also considered generational names. In my generation, baby girls were given names like Linda, Sharon, Diane, Patricia, and Sandra. Twenty-somethings in my contemporary books are more likely to be called Lori, Alex, Chloe, Megan, or Bree. For my male characters, I deliberately gave the series hero an old-fashioned name, Harvey. The younger men in his detective squad have classic names: Eddie, Nate, Jimmy, and Tony. I save the very unusual names for minor characters. For last names, I use a mix of traditional Anglo-Saxon and French names for this series set in Maine. I’ve been known to grab a phone book and browse it for last names.
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
First, read a lot, and read widely. Write something every day. And don’t give up! It’s a lot of work, but with persistence you can do it.
About Susan’s writing process:
- What do you enjoy most about writing?
I like connecting with people and sharing stories with them.
- Do you have a dedicated place to write, or a nook or corner of a room, or the kitchen table?
Yes, I am fortunate enough to have a spare bedroom converted to an office. It has my desk, printer desk, seven bookcases, four file cabinets, and a closet where I keep shipping materials, old records, items I use for book signings, and … stuff.
- What can your readers expect from you next?
My fourth book in the Maine Justice series (Heartbreaker Hero: Eddie’s Story) will launch in July. I also have a couple of historical novellas coming out in collections later this year. The collection titles are: Captive Brides and Seven Brides for Seven Texas Rangers. I am also writing books in the Tearoom Mysteries cozy series for Guideposts.
Excerpt from Found Art:
An unexpected bonus turned up in the tobacco smuggling case we’d been working on for weeks. My best detective, Eddie Thibodeau, had investigated and identified the suspects. We’d raided their nondescript beige ranch house at dawn and sent the prisoners off in a marked unit.
Arnie Fowler was in charge of cataloguing the contraband we found in the garage. A red pickup with a Maine license plate and a green SUV with a Quebec plate were parked in there, and the SUV was ready for the run to Canada, where the taxes on cigarettes are extremely high. The boxes were piled in the back seat and behind it in the cargo area, with a tarp thrown loosely over them.
“How could they take all this over the border?” Nate Miller asked. He was the newest detective in the Priority Unit, and Eddie’s partner.
“They wouldn’t try to go through the customs gate,” Arnie said.
Eddie nodded. “Yeah, they had a contact scheduled to meet them on a woods road. The border patrol plans to meet them at the drop tonight.”
There were places, lots of places, along the world’s longest unguarded border, where people and contraband could cross undetected, bypassing the checkpoints. A four-wheel drive and a little nerve went a long way. Although it might seem small potatoes compared to some drug operations, smuggling tobacco could be very profitable, and these guys had figured to make a bundle on the cargo of cigarettes.
Arnie turned to me, clipboard in hand. “All set, but there’s something odd here, Harvey. Help me set it out on the floor, Nate.”
They lifted a large, flat box out of the cargo area of the SUV and set it on the cement floor in front of me.
“This was behind the tobacco,” Arnie said.
“Did you open it?” I asked.
“Not yet.” Arnie handed Eddie his completed inventory of the items in the SUV. “You want me to?”
I stepped closer and looked it over carefully. A large cardboard box with “Panasonic printing with option—” on the side had been trimmed to fit the contents and taped around it, making a flat, rectangular box about three inches thick. When I picked up the package and shook it, it didn’t make any noise. I took out my pocketknife and carefully slit the filament tape along the seams and laid the cardboard back. Eddie, Nate, Arnie and his partner, Clyde Wood, stood silently watching me. The edge of a nice, hefty frame showed in the opening, and I lifted it out.
“A painting,” Eddie said.
“A good painting,” Arnie agreed. “What do you think, Harvey?”
I didn’t recognize the picture or the artist. It was an oil painting of fishing boats nuzzling each other in their harbor slips. A fretful, brown sky lowered over them. It reminded me a little of the Turner in the chief’s office, but it was newer and brighter. The boats had numbers on their bows—numbers with ME in front of them, the state’s designation.
“Not an old master, but it’s good,” I concluded. I squinted at the signature in the lower right corner and made out E. L. Nevar. “All right, Arnie, add it to your inventory. I’ll take it back to the station myself and do a little research.”
Leave a comment to enter a random drawing to win a print (US only) or ebook copy of Found Art:
In the book Found Art, this question is raised: Is having beautiful things in your home worth the security risk? What do you think?
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.
Engaged by Julie Arduini — Trish Maxwell returns to Speculator Falls with egg on her face and apologies to make as she tries to determine what’s next, especially when around paramedic Wayne Peterson. (Contemporary Romance from Surrendered Scribe Media)
Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter — When Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down. But when Josephine drives out to Noah’s North Georgia cottage to deliver the corrected papers, they are trapped there during a snowstorm. Things couldn’t get worse…until they are forced out into the storm and must rely on one another to survive. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Zondervan])
An Encore for Estelle by Kimberly Rose Johnson — A former A-list actress seeks to redeem herself in the most unlikely of places—a children’s theater. The writer/director didn’t anticipate a famous actress would ever show interest in his musical much less him. Will their pasts pull them apart or join them together? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
The Cowboy’s Baby Blessing by Deb Kastner — When Ex-soldier Seth Howell suddenly becomes guardian of a two-year-old, he needs Rachel Perez’s help. Though she is gun-shy about relationships, this handsome cowboy and his adorable son break through. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Finding Love by Toni Shiloh — Delaney Jones is putting her life back together after widowhood when in walks Army soldier, Luke Robinson. Luke had a part in the death of Delaney’s husband–will his secrets widen the gulf in their relationship or will he finally find absolution? (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit)
The Copper Box by Suzanne Bratcher — When antiques expert Marty Greenlaw comes to Jerome, Arizona to search for a copper box she believes will unlock the secrets of her past, deadly accidents begin to happen: someone else wants the copper box, someone willing to kill for it. (Cozy Mystery from Mantle Rock Publishing)
Coming Home – A Tiny House Collection by Yvonne Anderson, Michael Ehret, Kimberli S. McKay, Pamela S. Meyers, Ane Mulligan, Chandra Lynn Smith, Linda W. Yezak — Tiny houses are all the rage these days, but what can you do with something so small? Here are seven stories about people chasing their dreams, making fresh starts, finding love, stumbling upon forgiveness, and embarking upon new adventures in tiny houses. (General Contemporary, Independently Published)
Katie’s Quest by Lee Carver — Katie Dennis hopes for fulfillment as a single missionary nurse after the death of her fiancé. She trusts God for a new direction, but she’ll never fall for a pilot again. (General Contemporary, Independently Published)
A Sweetwater River Romance by Misty M. Beller — Rocky Ridge Stage Stop Manager Ezra Reid is put in a difficult situation when two ladies show up on his remote doorstep seeking refuge, one of them being Tori Boyd, the mysterious correspondence partner writing him letters for over a year now. Tori refuses the most proper solution to their circumstance—marriage. But when danger follows, it will take a lot more than luck to ensure Ezra’s heart is the sole casualty. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin — In German-occupied Brussels, a WWI nurse struggles to keep two life-threatening secrets. She’s in league with the British Secret Service, and she’s harboring a wounded British pilot. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])
Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands Romance Collection by Susan Page Davis, Susanne Dietze, Darlene Franklin, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Gina Welborn — Meet seven of Turtle Springs, Kansas’, finest women who are determined to revive their small town after the War Between the States took most of its men. . .and didn’t return them. The ladies decide to advertise for husbands and devise a plan for weeding out the riff raff. But how can they make the best practical choices when their hearts cry out to be loved? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
The Captain’s Daughter by Jennifer Delamere — When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater that is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage. A hand injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he’s glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can’t wait to leave behind. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)
Mail Order Sweetheart by Christine Johnson — Singer Fiona O’Keefe must make a wealthy match to support her orphaned niece. Musically talented Sawyer Evans is a self-made, but not wealthy, sawmill-manager. Unwilling to live off his father’s railroad fortune, can Sawyer prove to Fiona he’s the man she needs when she’s already determined to mail-order a rich husband? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Freedom’s Price by Christine Johnson — On a quest to find her mother’s family in Louisiana, Englishwoman Catherine Haynes enlists a dashing Key West man seeking revenge for his own family. When an incredible secret comes to light, she and Tom will face a choice. Can they relinquish their dreams to step forward in faith? (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])
Sutter’s Landing by Betty Thomason Owens — Still reeling from tragic losses, Connie and Annabelle Cross face life with their signature humor and grace, until fresh hope arrives on their doorstep. (Historical Romance from Write Integrity Press)
Hidden Legacy by Lynn Huggins Blackburn — When someone threatens the baby she’s adopting, Caroline Harrison must rely on Detective Jason Drake, the man who once broke her heart, to figure out why. If Jason wants a chance at a future with with Caroline and her son, he’ll first have to help them outrun a hit man. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Weaver’s Needle by Robin Caroll — Pitted against each other to recover a map to the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, two recovery specialists follow the trail to Arizona. But someone doesn’t want them to find the map. . .or the mine. They must work together despite their mistrust and growing attraction, to save themselves. (Romantic Suspense from Barbour Publishing)
Redemption’s Whisper by Kathleen Friesen — Desperate to escape her past, a suicidal young woman flies from Toronto to a Saskatoon pastor’s home, the only people who may be able to help her. If only someone could love her, in spite of all she’s done. On the flight, she meets a young man torn between seeking affirmation in the big city and helping his parents in Saskatoon. Can these two troubled souls gain the peace they need—and in the process, find love? (Women’s Contemporary from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])
All Things Now Living by Rondi Bauer Olson — Her whole life Amy has been taught the people of New Lithisle deserve to die, but when she falls for Daniel, she determines to save him. (Young Adult from Written World Communications)
Every author has been asked: Where do you get your ideas? The short answer is: Everywhere. Something you see or read germinates an idea and a story unfolds. Sometimes the story comes together quickly, but most often weeks of building mental scenes and snippets of dialog, setting, and action must be waded through before pen […]
Book 5 in author Katheryn Maddox Haddad series, They Met Jesus, is our featured book today.
Do you know someone who is spiritually deaf, mute or blind? Jesus healed the deaf, mute and blind instantly.
Are you terrified of a confrontation you must have with someone powerful? Jesus had to face Satan from the cross, so was encouraged by Moses and Elijah.
Do you know someone who is loud and brash? James and John were that way, and become great men of God.
Do you feel your little bit of effort is nearly worthless? Jesus sent out seventy-two teachers and said he saw Satan fall during that time.
Do you know people who are pretending to be sinless? Jesus saved the adulterous woman from such accusers by making them admit they sin.
Are you accomplishing so much good, jealous people are attacking you to draw attention away from your good works? Jesus healed a blind man, then was attacked for doing it on the wrong day.
Are you being threatened with excommunication for believing something your congregation does not? That’s what the parents of the blind man were threatened with.
Are you so busy on church committees, you are drowning under them? Jesus told Martha to just spend her time sharing his word.
Have you lost a loved one in death? Jesus brought Lazarus back to life and said he would do that at the end of time for the godly.
Are church leaders condemning you out of jealousy? The chief priests did that to Jesus and just showed their true colors.
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: http://eepurl.com/3dM0v
Today I’m excited to welcome author Jenna Brandt as she shares a character interview from her latest release, The English Proposal; answers some tough questions so we can get to know her better; lets us take a sneak peek into her book; AND offers a lucky reader a free ebook. Read all the way through to find out how to enter the random drawing.
I caught Sarah sitting in the parlor working on a cross stitch piece, and thought it would be a good time to ask a few questions.
- If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do? “I would go into town and purchase a scone from the local bakery and sit and read a book.”
- What impression do you make on people when they first meet you? “I do not know. I have never thought about it… I suppose I come across reserved.”
- What’s your idea of a good marriage? “I hear the earl and his late wife had a good marriage and I hope Lady Margaret will have the same when she marries the viscount.”
- What are you most proud of about your life? “I have managed to keep my lady out of trouble, despite all her antics over the years.”
- What are you most ashamed of in your life? “I knew about my lady’s secret meetings with the duke and I never did anything to stop it.”
- What do you believe about God? “That He loves me and He watches out for me.”
- Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t done? “I have never swum in a lake and I hear there is a splendid one on the Brookehaven estate.”
- What’s the worst thing that’s happened in your life? “What did you learn from it? “Both my parents died from consumption within a year of each other when I was little. I learned to rely on myself.”
- Tell me about your best friend. “Lady Margaret, although with her getting married, I have been distancing myself. She needs to put her relationship with the viscount as her priority.”
- What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done to someone? Why? “Once, when the duke came to talk to the earl, I made sure to slip a little too much Tamarind into his cup of tea while he waited. I worried he was going to ruin my lady’s relationship with the viscount, so I wanted to cause him to not want to come back. I heard from some servants at his estate that for three days after, he was constantly visiting the privy and couldn’t eat.”
- What would you like it to say on your tombstone? “She was a kind and faithful servant who loved her mistress.”
- Describe your ideal mate. “Like I have mentioned, I think Lady Margaret is quite lucky to have the eye of the viscount, so I am partial to fair-haired men with deep brown eyes. I would not mind catching the eye of another man who looks like that.”
- What are you most afraid of? “What will happen if my lady chooses the wrong man to marry.”
- What do you like best about yourself? Least? “I like that I am loyal. I wish I could be more assertive.”
- What do you like best about Lady Margaret? Least? “I like that she is kind to all of the servants and she genuinely tries to please her father. I do not like the fact that she thinks she is in love with the Duke of Witherton.”
Jenna Brandt is a Christian historical fiction author and her books span from the Victorian to Western eras with elements of romance, suspense and faith. Her first book, The English Proposal released on 5-29-17 and it is the first book in her series, The Window to the Heart Saga.
She has been an avid reader since she could hold a book and started writing stories almost as early. She has been published in several newspapers as well as edited for multiple papers. She graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in English from Bethany College and was the Editor-in-Chief of my college newspaper. She’s an on-going contributor for The Mighty Website and her first Blog was published on Yahoo Parenting and The Grief Toolbox as well as featured on the ABC News and Good Morning America websites.
Writing is her passion but she also enjoys cooking, watching movies, reading, engaging in social media and spending time with her three young daughters and husband where they live in the Central Valley of California. She is also active in her local church where she volunteers on their first impressions team as well as write features for the church’s creative team.
She is offering the prologue and first two chapters of The English Proposal for free on Wattpad.
To find out more about Jenna, to sign-up for her newsletter, or to purchase her book, visit her website at http://www.jennabrandt.com/
Universal buy link: http://books2read.com/u/49xBDd
Getting to know Jenna:
- What genre(s) do you write in and why? I write Christian historical books with romance and suspense elements. I was always drawn to historical romances but did not like all the graphic sex scenes in the books. Then I read a Christian historical romance and realized I could write a book with all the romance of the books I loved, just without the vulgar scenes. Plus, I got the bonus of adding themes about faith and God’s love. I was hooked.
- What do you think about when you’re alone in your car? I think about my family, my writing, my to-do list which is never-ending between my writing, my family, church activities and our family business. My mind races while I am in the car, and often results in worry. That is when I turn on the local Christian radio station and worship in my car. It calms me down and keeps me focused on what’s important.
- Tell us about your next book & when is it being published? Why do you write the kind of books you do? My next two books are The French Encounter on 6-12-17 and The American Conquest on 7-10-17 which are books 2 & 3 in the Window to the Heart Saga. I also have plans for book 4 & 5 which are based around characters from the first three books. I write the type of books I do with the purpose of encouraging fellow Christians and sharing God’s love with non-believers.
Question for readers: What’s the most important aspect of a book to you?
I will give away an ebook of The English Proposal to a reader randomly drawn from those who leave a comment.
1853 Brighton, England
It was a warm spring day as four children played tag in the English garden of the Viscount Rolantry’s country estate. Two of them looked identical with their black curly hair, deep violet eyes, and pale white skin, except one was a boy and one was a girl. The third child was a fair-haired boy with remarkable brown eyes and slender build. The fourth boy, with black hair and matching dark eyes, was not from England but was visiting while his French father conducted business.
“I caught you, Mags,” the dark-haired boy, Randall, yelled at his twin sister, using the nickname he had given her.
Sulking, the petite Margaret complained, “Randall, you promised you would try to catch Henry first.”
Margaret tried to pull free from her “captor” but was unable to break loose and screamed, “Help me, help me,” knowing that one of the other boys would come to her rescue. For even at that age of eight, men fell at Margaret’s feet.
“I demand you release the lady at once,” yelled the French boy, Pierre.
“I will save you, my love,” the fair-haired Henry cried out as he rushed up and stood between the twins, wooden sword in hand. “On guard, you scallywag. Unhand the princess at once,” Henry taunted.
“You cannot have her. She is mine forever,” returned Randall, as he pulled his own wooden sword free from his waistband and swung it at the other boy.
For several moments, the three boys play-fought around Margaret with their wooden swords until Henry grabbed Margaret’s arm with his free hand and said, “You are wrong. She will be mine! I am going to marry her one day.”
Everyone froze for a moment as all the boys, with the exception of her brother, were smitten with Margaret, but none of them ever discussed it.
The twins looked at each other with wide eyes, and then laughingly, they said in unison, “Ewwww!”
Both nodded, not needing to talk of their plan, then bolted in opposite directions.
Heartbroken, Henry hung his head and walked over to the tree nearby. He leaned against it in discouragement.
Margaret turned to see if any of the boys were chasing her and realized Henry was upset. She went to stand next to him and gently put her hand on his arm, asking, “What is wrong, Henry? We were just playing.”
He looked up to meet her eyes and said with sadness, “You are never going to love me like I love you, are you, Margaret?”
“Do not be silly, Henry. You will always be my best friend.”
He looked at Margaret and knew that would never be enough.
Today I’m excited to welcome back author Cynthia L. Simmons as she shares her writing journey for her latest release, Pursuing Gold. She has graciously included the first chapter, and if you read all the way through, you’ll find out how to win a free e-book of Pursuing Gold.
Can you imagine losing everything? That happened to many Confederates after the Civil War when banks collapsed. Here’s the story.
Whenever you think of money, you probably envision the dollar bill we are so familiar with. However, before the Civil war, most people used gold coins. (That changed for both sides in the war.) If a woman purchased a fine, light-weight wool skirt in 1860, she would pay two dollars and seventy-five cents in gold. How times have changed!
You might wonder why gold became a medium of exchange. Before cities or countries created currency, people bartered with useful materials like beads, shells, salt, silver, or gold. Over time, gold or silver became preferred forms of payment. Early governments made coins from combinations of gold, silver, and other metals. In the 1860’s no one valued paper in the same way they did gold.
So, why the change to paper bills during the Civil War? Money became tighter because war creates numerous expenses. In addition to that, the Confederacy needed income to set up their new government. So Southern banks loaned all their gold to the new country. In turn, officials promised to make regular interest payments, however, they paid in paper bills that bore more interest. In the interim, Southern banks printed paper money for exchange. When the Confederacy surrendered, banks which depended on repayment in gold went under. It’s heartbreaking to think of those families who lost their money or livelihood. What suffering!
I can’t imagine living through that, but there is hope. However, let’s consider Matthew chapter six. “…do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing? When Jesus said those words, he lifted us above the everyday things of life. Our lives are bigger and more important than the daily routine that keeps us on earth. That’s transcendence! We have something huge to live for. Let’s look at more of the passage: “for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”
What a promise! God said if we seek Him, he’d provide even if the banks fail and our life crashes. Certainly difficulties in this life will seem small in heaven. I encourage you to strive for the eternal and for your heavenly father so you can rise above all of life’s heartache. Pursue God!
About Cynthia: A Chattanooga native, Cynthia L Simmons and her husband have five children and reside in Atlanta. A Bible teacher and former homeschool mother, she writes a column for Leading Hearts Magazine. She conducts writing workshops, served as past president of Christian Authors Guild and directs Atlanta Christian Writing Conference. “Cyndi” is fond of history and offers younger ladies the elegance of God’s wisdom. She hosts Heart of the Matter Radio and co-founded Homeschool Answers. Her author website is http://www.clsimmons.com.
About Pursuing Gold: With his father dead and his business partner incapacitated, Peter Chandler inherits the leadership of a bank in economic crisis. With only a newly-minted college degree and little experience, Peter joins his partner’s daughter, Mary Beth Roper, in a struggle to keep C&R Bank afloat while the Civil War rages around Chattanooga. Political pressure for unsecured loans of gold to the government stirs up trouble as tempers and prices rise. Their problems multiply when Mary Beth discovers counterfeit money with Peter’s forged signature. Can they find the forger before the bank fails? The two friends must pursue gold on behalf of their business, as they learn to pursue their heavenly Father to find hope and peace.
April 12, 1862
Office of C&R Bank
What a dilemma! Peter Chandler glared at Mr. Shaw, the burly Confederate bureaucrat lecturing him. Shaw could easily snap someone’s neck and in his role, the man posed a real danger. After Peter had seen the Confederate government sell Negroes like cattle, he had to turn them down. Somehow, he must appease Shaw and convince him to leave. More important chores demanded Peter’s time. His black leather chair groaned as he leaned forward, taking advantage of a pause in Shaw’s diatribe. “I’m sorry. C&R Bank will not loan money to the Confederacy.”
Lifting one massive eyebrow, seemingly reflecting his opinion of Peter’s idiocy, Shaw slapped a sheaf of letters on the desk, and growled, “These refusals you sent me place you in danger. We want to know where your loyalties lie. When the war is over, you will be glad you sided with us.”
Peter had to think fast. “We are a small bank fully invested in the community, so we cannot shoulder the risk of another loan.”
The man’s dark eyes flared. “You are far too hasty. I might have to speak to my Nashville friends about your bank charter.”
“Nashville? The Union holds the city now. You won’t get anywhere talking to them.”
“My friends still have the reins of power. Let me enlighten you—”
Peter tuned out the rest of the speech. If Shaw knew the right people, he could attempt to get the bank charter revoked. Assuming he succeeded, Peter would lose the bank.
“Our employees are busy helping farmers and businesses provide for our citizens.”
“Surely you can spare a few hundred dollars for your country.”
Peter shoved his chair back and rose. “Those dollars have been invested in blockade runners. We all know our dependence on those valiant men who slip goods past the Union barriers.”
“I recommend austerity measures—after providing for your country.”
Peter had poured over his law books for hours. Every decision he made would be legal and fair. No government official had the right to dictate how he handled the bank’s money. “As I said, we are invested in local businesses and local citizens.”
“I shall tell you what I suspect.” Shaw’s face reddened. “You are not brave enough to stand up to the Union sympathizers in Chattanooga. But the people in power after the war might make sure you don’t have a bank or any other job.”
Peter itched to get his loaded rifle out of the cabinet behind him, but his father had taught him to be a gentleman, even under pressure. “The government does not require this loan you request.”
Shaw stood and pounded Peter’s desk. “They should. I could throw you in jail where you belong. I can’t respect someone who refuses to support his country.”
No one would abuse bank property. Peter slid open the drawer and pulled out his father’s ancient pistol to tuck under his belt. “It’s time for you to go, sir.”
Shaw spread his legs and folded his arms. “If you shoot me, the sheriff will incarcerate you.”
Peter pointed the man toward the exit. “This way out.”
Opening the door, Peter swallowed the fiery words on his tongue. “Mr. Riddle, will you help Mr. Shaw outside?”
“I shall return in a few weeks to collect your loan.”
“Don’t waste your time.”
Once Shaw was gone, Peter threw a sharp right punch, smacking his left palm. The clock proclaimed the time as seven—past closing—yet he still had unfinished paperwork. He was, however, too riled to work now.
“Sir?” Mr. Riddle opened the door. “There’re a couple of things you need to know.”
Peter braced himself for more. Real men accepted such burdens. “Go on.”
“Today I heard rumors … Northern spies approach us.”
He’d grown weary of the gossip, but sometimes small talk rang true. “Did you have confirmation from city officials?”
“No, sir. But two families withdrew their funds so they could leave.”
Peter maintained outward calm while gritting his teeth. Notwithstanding inflation and the Confederate policies, clients who moved away could ruin his bank. “Thanks for the update.”
“You also received this missive from Miss Roper.”
An image of Mary Beth flashed in his mind. He pushed down the pang of longing and tenderness so he could focus. His fingers eagerly broke the seal.
“I hope the news is good.”
“Indeed. Roper is improved.” Talking to his partner outranked all his other work. “I shall stop by the Roper home tonight.”
He stalked across the room to retrieve his leather portfolio and stuffed in a pile of prospectuses from potential clients. Briefcase in hand, he paused at the painting of his late father. Papa’s eyes exuded a confidence Peter lacked, yet longed for.
You abandoned me, Papa. God help me.
Peter stepped outside and locked the door, the weight of C&R Bank, indeed, the future of the Confederacy, burdening his shoulders.
# # #
Mary Beth Roper arched her back to relieve muscles stiff from nursing and paced across the woolen rug. The sitting room, all the mahogany furniture gleaming with a new coat of wax, was ready for visitors. But none had arrived.
Maud entered holding folded papers. “You must be mightily important, miss. These here jus’ came for ya.”
“Thanks.” How she longed for companionship tonight. She broke the first seal and read silently:
Have you heard the rumor about spies approaching the city? My mother is beside herself and has decided to leave for my grandparent’s home. Since my father is gone to fight, I may not return until the war ends.
With a groan, Mary Beth opened the next one:
Dearest Mary Beth,
I hate to cause you distress right now, but I must beg your forgiveness tonight as I will not attend your tea party. My father was at the telegraph office when news of the stolen train reached the city. He believes the spies are coming here. Further, he convinced Ida’s father of the danger so she will be absent also.
I offer my deepest apology. You and your father remain in my prayers.
Maud turned to leave. “I be getting that tea.”
“There’s no need. I shall have no guests. Papa is so much improved I felt I could spend a few hours with friends, but this horrid war interfered.”
“There be no fightin’ here abouts, ma’am.”
Mary Beth held up the pages she’d just read to herself. “These came from my friends. Rumors of approaching spies frightened everyone No one wants to be on the streets for fear they’ll be in danger.”
“I wished I’m a never. I be hearing nothing today, not even a word of such.”
“I should be thinking of marriage and children at my age instead of all this worry. Once Papa gets well, I want to marry and have a houseful of children. But this war frightens me.”
“You be gettin’ upset. I can see that. I’d best be getting that tea. Nothin’ like a warm drink ta calm ya nerves.” Maud darted out.
Mary Beth jumped as something brushed her leg. Mr. King! Her cat rubbed against her skirt with a loud purr.
Her heart pounded hard as she glared at him. “I prefer someone who talks, Mr. K.”
He tossed her a superior look and jumped onto the brocade sofa.
“I see you are more concerned about your comfort than the rumors. Maybe you are wise.” She edged onto the plush cushions beside her cat. “Perhaps we all must take comfort where we may.”
Mr. King closed his eyes as she caressed his soft fur. “You are so elegantly clothed. My dresses are threadbare—I cannot find even a small bolt of new fabric.”
“Miss Mary Beth?” Elsie, her former nanny, stepped into the room. Her plump form filled the doorway. “Mr. Peter is comin’ up the sidewalk. I thought you be wanting to know.”
“I appreciate the warning.” Peter. Like his father, an air of confidence surrounded him.
Elsie stepped out. Mary Beth’s pulse tapped a happier rhythm. She’d hoped her message would bring Peter right away. One could depend on him.
She stood and turned to the gilded mirror over the sofa and arranged her blonde curls. At least, she hadn’t pinned up her hair. Peter preferred the waves about her shoulders.
Elsie opened the door and gave her a covert nod. “Mr. Chandler is here.”
Peter crossed the room toward her offering a smile. “Good afternoon.”
She’d always thought him as handsome as his late father. Right now, she’d welcome a gentle hug like her father gave her when she was young. But she shouldn’t think such.
“It’s so good to see you.”
“You look so tired. I’ve been concerned about you.”
“I despise this war, but father’s illness truly wears on my soul. Should something happen, I would be alone.”
“Not quite.” He took her hand and squeezed. “You have me. If the worst happens, we would be business partners. But I understand your father improved.”
Did she see wistfulness in his eyes? She hoped so. What a mistake she’d made with Eddie.
She sighed deeply as she searched Peter’s face. “He is not out of danger, but much improved. I vowed to do anything and everything for him. Dr. Smith recommended several herbal preparations. I now grow the herbs and mix them myself.”
Peter’s face brightened. “I admire your persistence, and I know the strong ties you have with your father.”
She nodded, and then waved him to a chair before sitting on the couch. “Have you heard the rumors today?”
He sat in the wing chair beside the sofa. “Mr. Riddle said something about spies.”
“A band of Union soldiers stole a train somewhere north of Atlanta, and everyone says they are coming—here.”
“Where did you hear of this?” The skin around his eyes and mouth tensed.
“Jane said her father believed the news and convinced Ida’s father.”
“Ah, Jane’s father is quite reliable. However, I should have heard from the local militia.” He leaned back as he drew down his brows. “Did you talk with either of them in person?”
She shook her head. “Each sent a written message. Jane said the news came from the telegraph office and set the city abuzz. Spies stole a train called The General.”
“The news sounds authentic.”
“Northern spies have been burning bridges nearby, but these men are supposed to be coming toward us. Do you think it safe to stay here?”
He rubbed his chin. “At this point, I cannot say for sure. This story could be another wild rumor like the ones we heard when Nashville fell. But maybe not. We need more information.”
“I long to feel safe—like the days when we played together as children. First, they draft all the young men in the city, and then we experience shortages. I’m so weary of baseless rumors about an attack.”
He gestured toward the window. “Sooner or later Union forces will target Chattanooga.”
She shut her eyes and moaned silently. War could not come here. Must not come here, ever. “But when the war began, the newspaper said the mountains around Chattanooga would protect us from advancing armies.”
“Whoever wrote that did not consider the steam engine. The railroad will bring the battle right to our doorstep. I feel sure the Union wants our city.”
She covered her mouth as she pictured soldiers marching into Chattanooga. “How dreadful. Papa will not be able to travel for quite some time, and I cannot leave him alone.”
The muscles in his face tensed, but he offered no resolution.
She inhaled, trying to keep her dinner in place. Peter always told the truth, and sometimes he dumped it by the bucketful.
“I fear I alarmed you. That was not my intention, I assure you. In light of the war, we must keep praying for your father’s recovery.”
She turned away, trying to focus on her father’s improved health. Breathe. In and out, in and out.
“The war unsettles everything,”
“Sometimes, especially at night when I sit with my father, I wonder if we truly have a God who is good. Why wouldn’t he stop such suffering?”
“He’s our only hope.” Peter’s voice was soft.
“You have no idea how sick my father has been. Several nights, I feared I would lose him. I watched each tortured breath and hoped it wasn’t his last.”
“I’m sorry you must suffer like this.”
She no longer had the energy to continue this topic. If only she had kept her uneasiness to herself, but her fears slipped out. “I believe you came to see my father.”
“Yes, I did.” He eased toward the door. With his hand on the doorknob, he turned. “But I should like to talk with you again before I leave.”
As he slipped out, she bowed her head, putting her hands to her face. What will become of me?
To win a free ebook copy of Pursuing Gold, leave a comment along with your email address when prompted, and you’ll be entered into a random drawing.
Today I welcome author Christina Lorenzen as she shares her journey to letting go.
Read all the way through to the end to find out how to enter a drawing to win a free print copy (US Only) of Healing Seas
For several years, I had toyed with the idea of trying my hand at writing a historical novel. The push I needed came when my publisher was putting together novella collections for each of the fifty states. Not only did I want to write a novella set in my state of New York, but I was thrilled she was interested in a story set on Long Island, where I live. Long Island, a long narrow island with a population of seven and a half million people, lies at the bottom of New York State, appearing on a map as an almost appendage looking piece of land. We have everything here – beaches, vineyards, lakes and a rich, fascinating history. The perfect setting for a book.
My dream of writing a pirate story set in the 1700s was going to come true. I did quite a bit of research. I wrote the first chapter. Then the doubts crept in. Was the dialogue accurate? Were the details historically correct? The excitement and joy I had felt quickly turned to stress and discouragement. Within a week I gave up. Looking to destress, I sat down to watch a movie with my daughter. Dealing with a few bumps in the road to her senior thesis, she was the perfect movie companion. Ironically, the movie The Titanic became our escape.
Between us, we had seen the movie more than a dozen times. As a filmmaker, my daughter loves to point out camera techniques and the effort that went into recreating the costumes from the period. I can’t watch the movie without thinking about Grandma Dorothea, my husband’s grandmother. My daughter was so blessed to know her great-grandmother into her early teen years. Two things my daughter and her great-grandmother talked about were the phases of the moon and the Titanic.
Being born March 3, 1912, a week before the sinking of the Titanic, Grandma grew up hearing stories of one of the biggest tragedies of that year. When the movie came out in 1997, my mother-in-law had no choice but to take her mother to see it. To this day she remembers feeling as if time had stopped as they sat in the theater that day, captivated by sights and sounds. That memory led me to the idea that became my first historical novel, Healing Seas.
Though Healing Seas is my fifth novella, it was a first learning experience for me as a writer. I’ve always been determined not to veer from my plans once I have made them. But writing this novella has taught me that sometimes we have to let go of the tight grip we have on our plans. If we’re willing to let go of what we think we want or need, God always provides something better. As I begin my next book, I will remember to let go and see where He takes me once again.
About Christina: Christina started writing as a young teen, jotting stories in wire ring composition notebooks. Her first typewriter made it faster to get all those stories out of her head and down on paper. Her love of writing has sustained her through a myriad of jobs that included hairdresser, legal secretary and Avon representative.
Luckily for her, writing proved to be successful and a lot less walking than going door to door. Healing Seas is her fifth book. She is currently working on a contemporary spin on the fairy tale, Rapunzel. When she isn’t writing or reading, she can be found walking her dog, talking to her herd of cats and spending time with her family.
Where to find Christina:
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/ChristinaLorenzenAuthor/
Amazon buy link: http://tinyurl.com/ybrw8mo3
About Healing Seas:
In just a matter of days, Addie Mayfield’s life is upended. Through an arrangement her father makes, she sets sail on the RMS Titanic as governess to the two young Fairchild children. When tragedy strikes, she finds herself rescued alongside strangers on the RMS Carpathia, headed for New York City. Far from home, she is taken in by the O’Reilly family to wait for her family to send for her. With no money for her passage home, she’s brought to the small hamlet of Montauk to become a caretaker for a great aunt she has never met.
Captain Frank Shea is a man without a ship. Removed from duty as captain of the RMS Morrow, he’s come to Montauk to recover from a leg injury. More painful than the injury is his fall from grace after spending his entire life at sea. The ocean was his home and he has never needed anyone. Now faced with an uncertain future, he’s desperate for a way back to the sea. Until he meets Addie Mayfield, a woman who is just as lost as he is.
Can these two people find hope for the future after all they’ve lost? Can an unexpected love heal two broken souls?
FIRST PAGE of Healing Seas:
Addie Mayfield pulled the ill-fitting, long wool coat closer to her body and huddled against the cold vinyl backseat of the touring car. Mrs.O’Reilly, pregnant with her sixth child, had gifted her the coat, not having been able to fit in it for years. As noisy and chaotic as the O’Reilly house had been, it had been a comforting escape from the tragedy she’d been through three months ago. But even days filled with laughing and crying children couldn’t help her escape once the sun went down. Every night she would lie in bed, fighting sleep and the ensuing dreams that took her back to that horrific night in April when the RMS Titanic and the Fairchild family succumbed to the icy ocean.
Despite the warm late June sun, she felt a chill, in part because of lingering memories and in part because she was headed to the home of a great aunt she had never met. Her plans, or rather her parent’s plans, had changed on a dime. Just three months ago she had been sailing on the Atlantic, her two charges tugging playfully at her dress, or rather one of the dresses Mrs. Fairchild had ordered for her, breathing in the sea air.
Becoming a governess to rather rambunctious children had not been her dream. She wasn’t quite sure it had been her parents’ dream for her either. But it had been a means. A means to escape the life her parents did not want for her. They wanted better. Velma and Arnold Mayfield were hard working people. Velma was a seamstress and cleaning woman, juggling the two demands while raising Addie and her sister Emma. Her father worked on the railroad and at night would often work down at the docks. Between them her parents had four jobs. Addie was the oldest and they’d taken great care in deciding what she should do. While Addie had pleaded to pursue drawing, she’d been drawing for as long as she could remember, her parents had argued for sensibility. And there was no money for art school. Despite their hardships, occasionally her mother would go into a ‘proper lady’ jag when it came to her mention of a career. No. They wanted for her to marry a man who could provide for her and provide for her well.
How to win a print copy (US only): leave a comment and your email address, and you will be entered into a random drawing.
Welcome back to Part 2 of TammyJo’s blog on weddings and marriage in Ancient Times. If you missed Part 1, you’ll find it right below this one.
What we would call a wedding ceremony was a three-day event in Athens. On the first day, the bride and her father made sacrifices to the gods, including her childhood toys, and then the bride and groom would bathe in sacred water (probably separately, but that’s unclear). On the second day the bride’s father held a banquet, after which all who attended (and some who were hired) escorted the bride from her father’s house to the groom’s (or groom’s father’s) house, accompanied by singing and dancing. On the third day, people visited the bride and brought her gifts for the new household. For most of us in the U.S. today the religious wedding ceremony is generally 30-60 minutes, while a civil ceremony is often less than 30 minutes long. Whether a judge or a religious leader officiates, it is common to host a reception or party either immediately after the wedding ceremony or at some later date.
Compare the Athenian ceremony with what most of us do. If we are religious, we might incorporate a ritual, though generally not a sacrifice; we had prayers and communion at my wedding back in 1992. Both bride and groom probably do bathe and physically prepare for the ceremony. If we have a banquet it is generally after the wedding ceremony proper and often at a rented location or religious building, not the father of the bride’s house. The same goes for any dancing we might do to celebrate. Gifts are indeed exchanged, and the burden of writing thank you notes still tends to fall on the bride. However, we exchange gifts not only after the wedding ceremonies but also during “showers” for the bride, and increasingly for the groom as well. I had three showers before I got married; my husband was at one of them, and his friends gave him a separate party as well.
Roman marriage ceremonies were similar to Athenian and modern Western traditions in several ways. As in Athens, there were feasting, parades of attendees, a sacrifice at the temple, and an exchange of gifts. The bride moved into the groom’s house at the end of the ceremonies in Rome.
But Rome gives us several unique traditions and legal requirements as well. The most important of these is the requirement for both the bride and groom to give their legal consent; the parents were not supposed to be able to force a marriage. Roman wedding ceremonies were primarily religious, overseen by a priest and/or priestess, though they did not have to happen at temples. At the end of the ceremony, seeds were tossed over the new bride, possibly as an appeal to the gods for fertility. We had rice thrown over both of us as we left the church, but today many couples are using birdseed, flower petals, or nothing as a way to be more environmentally cautious. The Roman bride’s head, but not her face, was veiled during the ceremony. Red was the proper color in Rome, while for most brides today the color would be white, at least for a first wedding.
The final aspect of Roman wedding ceremony depended on the legal type. There were two basic types of marriage in Rome. For a marriage with manus, the ceremony had to be overseen by the Pontifex Maximus (the highest ranking priest in the city) and his wife, who was a priestess. During that ceremony the couple split apart a small spelt cake and ate it together. Some historians think this may be where we get the idea of the wedding cake. This would have been a solemn moment and not disrupted by smashing cake into each other’s faces.
So there you have it, a very basic description of wedding ceremonies in Classical Athens and ancient Rome. If you’d like to learn more about marriage in either of these cultures, let Donna Schlachter know by commenting, and perhaps I’ll write another guest blog and give some more information. If you’d like to learn more about my non-fiction and fiction writing, check out my website.
Works Consulted for this Essay:
Blundell, Sue. Women in Ancient Greece.
Blundell, Sue. Women in Classical Athens.
Cantarella, Eva. Pandora’s Daughters.
Gardner, Jane F. Women in Roman Law and Society.
Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity.
Reflections of Women in Antiquity, Edited by Helene P. Foley.
Women’s Life in Greece & Roman: A source book in translation, Edited by Lefkowitz and Fant.