Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Spotlight on Europe- Interview!

Today I'm talking with Linore Rose Burkard, author of Before The Season Ends, available now from Harvest House and sold wherever you buy books.

What first drew you to Regencies?
Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen books gave me a love for the period, and there weren't any Christian regencies to be found. I wanted to change that.

How much time did you spend researching before you began writing Before The Season Ends?
Well, I researched a great deal, but in spurts, and over a long period of time, so it's hard to say. I put in hours at the library (before the internet became such a resource) and I collected books on the Regency, too. I gleaned information over a period of a few years.

What sparked the plot idea for Before The Season Ends?
I was watching a BBC show about drawing, and the woman on the show was attempting to draw this immense tree with tons of interlocking branches. I suddenly thought, "What a great tree on such a beautiful landscape!" I imagined my heroine trying to draw it, but in the book I changed that to a more adventurous scene as she gets stuck in the tree, instead. It didn't give me the whole plot idea at all, but my books generally start with ONE scene that speaks powerfully to me.

What was your reaction when Harvest House made the offer?
I was glad. By then, I'd been in contact with Nick Harrison, the editor who first approached me, for more than a month, and I was ready to get off the "self-publishing" platform. I love Harvest House--honestly, every person who works there that I've had any contact with is just wonderful. I love partnering with them to get my books out.

Having been self-published and traditionally published, what are some of the biggest differences you've noticed?
There's a big bias against self-published books--and their authors. But here's the real difference between the books: among the self-published crowd, there are many books that need a really good edit, and probably a few that never should have been published. Among the traditionally published books, there are many that need a better plot, or better characterization, or just plain better writing, BUT their 'i's' are dotted and their 't's ' are crossed. In other words, the copy-editing is usually far better. But we all know that a poor book can be published traditionally. Until self-published authors all begin to recognize the importance of good editing before going to print, however, the bias will remain. The bottom line is we should all be striving for excellence, no matter how we are published. Before leaving this question, I 'd like to add that having a traditional publisher has opened a lot of doors for me, helped me make some wonderful new friends, and is a joy for me as a writer. (I realize that not all publishers are created equal. Again, I can only say that I love working with Harvest House.)

I'm a stickler for historical accuracy, and I'm also an Empire/Regency re-enactor. Even though Regencies aren't my genre of choice I very much enjoyed the level of historical detail that you wove into the plot and setting. How do you balance inserting those little tidbits without bogging down the pace?
I think what you're asking is how do I create a scene that has enough detail to ground the reader in the time and place, but not bore them?

For me, the answer is that I put myself in the shoes of my heroine (or whoever I'm writing in that scene), and I want to see what they see, and feel what they feel. Then I describe it. I see my scenes like a movie unfolding before me; I'm the camera, so to speak. Whatever appears on the "screen" in my head is what I want to let the reader see as well. But I try to keep my camera focused on the action--I'm not going to describe what's up in the right-hand corner of that scene, unless it's something that matters. If it doesn't matter, it has no business being there. If it adds to the atmosphere--quickly--then it can stay. To other writers who may struggle with creating scenes, I would say, everything you write in must have a reason for being there. If you don't have a good reason for including something, no matter how nice it sounds, or how pretty--cut it. Actually, there's a question I ask myself when shopping that works just as well for writing--"Is it nice? Or is it necessary?" In writing--at least for genre fiction--you should only keep the "necessary."

Thank you so much, Linore! The sequel to BTSE, The House On Grosvenor Square, comes out on April 1.

Be sure to check out Mary Lu Tyndall's blog and Christine Lindsay's blog for more information about Linore and her writing.

If you love Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, and the Regency period, this is one book that you will love. We are giving away a copy of the book if 10 or more comments are left.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Spotlight on Europe

My reveiw of "In The Shadow of the Sun King". A little late I know. I please real life.

I finished it nearly two months ago and WOW! Very impressive debut novel. Rich storytelling, finely crafted characters and just the right amount of real feeling romance. You all know one of my biggest beefs with CBA romance is the lack of sensuality and passion. Being a Christian does not mean you are immune to the physical feelings of love, longing and loss.

Golden's research on the time period and on Versailles showed on every page, but will not overwhelm the average historical reader. The secondary characters draw you in just enough that you want to learn more about them. Which we'll get to do in the second book that releases next year.

The plot itself also addresses aspects of French history that are very much overlooked in the history books. The persecution of Protestant Christians was a very real problem in France in the 17th century and this book tackles the subject head on, sparing nothing. The historical reasons for the persecution are outlined, as well as what is believed to have been Louis' motive for it. The information is also presented in a way that blends seamlessly with the plot, and it's a crucial part of Madeline's motivation.

There are also little costume and hair dressing tidbits scattered beautifully throughout the book. It was a wonderful read, totally engrossing, and one that I will read again.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Long Awaited Update

I've been a bad blogger I'm afraid. Won't be getting better any time soon either. When one is falling in love with the man of her dreams blogging just isn't that important. Especially when one is a romance writer who likes to write about characters from different cultures falling in love, and that is exactly what is happening to me. Research doesn't get any better!

His name is Huston and he is a design engineer. He's originally from India and is of Portuguese descent, so everybody thinks he's from Mexico when they're first introduced to him. I met him online, at eHarmony. Yes, I did the eHarmony thing and I must say I had some pretty wonderful results with it.

We have the same goals and desires for our lives, and with the things I've posted here about wanting for my life that's not an easy thing to find in a guy. We had each just about given up on finding the person God created for us. He doesn't want a career woman, he wants someone who wants to stay home and raise a family. I want someone who wants a woman who wants to stay home and raise a family. He's also very open to adoption, which is another thing that's important to me.

He lives in Mississippi, so I'll be moving there next year after the wedding. We've met in person 3 times and he's coming here to my house for Thanksgiving. He's met most of my immediate family, but none of the crazy cousins yet.

The cherry on top (even though I don't like cherries on top of my sundae) is that he is very supportive of my writing, always asking me if I've written anything and how it's going. That means so much to me that it's important to him.

But that's still not the best part. The best part of all is that he is willing to pursue this relationship my way, which is an approach that is based on Biblical purity and the Biblical model of courtship. We have not kissed yet, and that's still a ways off. He has expressed to me that he wants to do nothing that will dishonor me in any way, whether it's physical or just thoughts. That is the most important thing to me.

Here's a picture of us, taken on November 8th at Destrehan Plantation on the River Road.

After Thanksgiving is over, on Spotlight I'll have an interview with Linore Rose Burkard, a fellow HisWriters member and author of "Before The Season Ends", a Regency romance in the style of Jane Austen. There will be a book giveaway, which is dependent on people commenting. If you love Regencies, romance and Jane Austen stop by for a chance to win this book!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Spotlight On Europe

This release snuck up on me! Ruth Axtell Morren's "A Man Most Worthy", set in Victorian England. It's a Love Inspired Historical and hit shelves on October 14th. I picked my copy up last week but haven't had a chance to read it yet.

From Amazon:
He was her father's poor bank clerk. She was a wealthy young lady. Though they were worlds apart, their innocent friendship bloomed into a mutual admiration. Then suddenly Nicholas Tennant was wrenched from Alice Shepard's life.

Now, years later, he has returned to London society wealthy and influential, determined to seek revenge on Alice's father—and Alice herself. But she is no longer the spoiled schoolgirl Nicholas remembers. She is a beautiful young widow of conviction and faith, raising a son on her own. Now Nicholas must look deep into his heart. For only in abandoning his thirst for revenge can he finally become the man most worthy of her love.

One of the members of His Writers has put together a list of upcoming and recent releases set in Europe and I hope to get that up this weekend. Eventually the page will become a widget on our blogs that stays updated.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I just don't get it

There's a trend in historical fiction right now that I just don't get and that is the use of first person POV. It's no secret to my friends that I don't like first person. It annoys the heck outta me and I just don't like it. Most of the time.

First person has its place, just like every other POV and narrative style. It's synonymous with chick-lit, locked room mysteries and hard-boiled P.I. stories. And that's great. This POV serves those types of stories very well. I have the first book in the Allie Fortune series now and I can't wait to read it. It's first person. It's also a P.I. novel.

I don't like chick-lit. I do enjoy a good locked-room mystery though, and a good P.I. book. So long as it's not all about sex. Hence my intense excitement about Miss Fortune.

But I don't understand why all of a sudden every other historical that comes out seems to be in first person. Seeing that POV in a historical automatically makes me put it BACK on the shelf, no matter how interesting the plot or setting may be. I'm sure I'm not the only person who does this and I wonder how many good historicals suffer in sales because they're not the third person POV most historical readers prefer.

I bring this up because yesterday I bought A Constant Heart by Siri Mitchell. Elizabethan is not something I know very much about and she's a fellow HisWriters. The plot intrigues me. Not to mention the cover is drop dead GORGEOUS. The close-ups of the lace on that dress make my inner costume historian squeal like a fangirl.

I didn't open it to look at the first page like I usually do, because I was so excited about the book itself and the fact that it was another European book that was not a Regency. You can imagine my shock, and a bit of dismay, when I learned today that it's in first person.

I still plan to read it and review it here for Spotlight on Europe. But a little bit of the enjoyment will be spoiled for me because it's first person. Though I am intrigued to find out she handles the alternating first person between the hero and heroine. Part of my biggest problem with first is that you're locked into one character's head and it's usually not the character I'm most interested in getting to know. It's no secret that I love the hero in a book. Nine times out of ten I prefer his viewpoint to hers in a romance.

There's nothing wrong with trying to pull in new readers or people who wouldn't necessarily read a historical because it's in third. But it shouldn't be done at the expense of the faithful readers who prefer historicals in third.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Spotlight on Europe

Historicals are heating up in CBA, and with that heating up some new European settings are coming out. This has me excited!

Just released last week is a book titled "In The Shadow Of The Sun King" written by fellow HisWriters member Golden Keyes Parsons. The cover on this book is nothing short of stunning! It's one of those I would have bought based solely on the cover.

I had the pleasure of meeting Golden in the bookstore at conference on Thursday night and telling her in person what an awesome cover it is. Got to sit next to her in a couple of workshops and had my copy signed at the booksigning Saturday afternoon.

This is the first book in the Darkness to Light series and it's loosely based on Golden's family history. The hero and heroine of the book are French Huguenots, which means they were Protestants in a Catholic country. Not exactly a good combination in the 17th and 18th centuries.

I've been absent from blogging for quite some time now. I'll post later this week with a life update.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Writer's Meme

Copied from Kaye's blog.

What’s the last thing you wrote? It was at the last LA-CFW meeting. Everyone wrote an opening line or two so we could identify the hook. That sentence will most likely end up being the opening line for an idea I'm working on.

What’s the first thing you ever wrote that you still have? It's in a spiral bound Lisa Frank notebook, written entirely in pencil. It's gosh awful and I wrote it when I was 13. The main character is still alive and well, though vastly different now compared to then.

Favorite genre of writing? Historical!!!

Most fun character you ever wrote? Hmm.... I think that would be Misha in The Epic. He's a bit of a troublemaker before the war breaks out. The lawyer, who is also sort of the bad guy, is also fun to write because he's a weaselly little snot who thinks he's smarter than he really is.

Most annoying character you ever wrote? I haven't gotten to this stage yet.

Best plot you ever wrote? If fan fiction counts, that would be the plot for Rhapsody In Murder. Hardy Boys Nero Wolfe style! It was grand fun to write and research because I killed a pianist on the stage in front of thousands of people.

Coolest plot twist you ever wrote? That would be Sasha's secret wedding mere weeks before he's captured by the Germans.

How often do you get writer’s block? Not very often. It's more of a lack of discipline of making myself sit down and actually write. I've been unemployed for the last 3 weeks and haven't written a single word. Bad me!

How do you fix it? I haven't yet figured that out.

Write fan fiction? Yup, but not currently. Most of it is posted here.

Do you type or write by hand? Both! I do love the speed of typing since my brain moves so fast. When I write long hand I often forget words and once missed an entire sentence. My hand can't keep up. But sometimes I just have to hold a pen and write that way.

Do you save everything you write? I do now, but I didn't always. I've thrown away a few things that I now regret.

Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it? So far I haven't. I went through a spell where I thought I might like to write YA and I had a cool horse series idea but it's abandoned now. I highly doubt I'll ever go back to it because my writing has evolved and that sort of thing no longer holds any appeal for me. Though you will still find lots of horses in my stuff, and not just because I write historicals.

What’s your favorite thing that you’ve written? I love The Epic. It is the book of my heart.

What’s one genre you have never written, and probably never will? Comedy/lits. I do like the occasional funny read, but for the most part I don't even read books like that. So of course I'm not really going to want to write them either. And I can't say I've never written or will never write mystery because the Hardy Boys are mystery.

How many writing projects are you working on right now? Two are actively being written on and several others are having their plots and characters worked on. I have written openings for half a dozen others but haven't actively worked on the plot details yet.

What are your five favorite words? I don't know. I guess that makes me a bad writer.

What character that you’ve written most resembles you? Nick's wife Tatiana. She's very strong and independent, but at the same time longs for children and a home. A lot like me.

Do you ever write based on your dreams? That would be a resounding yes. A dream once inspired a plot. But don't ask me which one it was because at this very moment I don't even remember.

Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write? Oh yes!! The policy manual that goes with my new job is most painful for me to read because of the all the spelling and grammar errors. I don't even read the local paper anymore because the grammar and spelling is atrocious. And so is the writing.

Does music help you write? Heavens no! It's too distracting. But then I'm not much of a music listener anyway. Usually just in the car.

How do people react when they find out you write? They ask me what I write and if I've finished anything.

Quote something you’ve written. The first thing to pop into your mind. In my defense, I did have to open the file to copy and paste this.

Pulling her hand out, she looked at the ring on her left finger. Even in the dim light cast by the bedside lamp, the diamond glittered. He'd completely surprised her with the cut and design, and even with the tiny emerald chips that surrounded the oval cut. The emeralds represented his family, their roots. A trademark of sorts. She pulled it off and as the warm metal left her finger bare, the chill created in the now bare place seemed to invade every pore of her being.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Saturday, June 28, 2008

New look!

The blog has been revamped. Again. The old look just wasn't "old" enough for me. In looks. But this one looks ancient and I like it. Still playing around with a few things. Not quite sure I like the graphic of St. Basil's, so any ideas are appreciated. This one isn't quite so easy to insert a custom banner at the top.

And yes, I've been a bad blogger again. I'm currently unemployed and have spent the last week catching up on a whole bunch of stuff I'd had to let slide the last couple of weeks because of work. I don't know quite yet what I'm going to be doing for the next little while but I'm looking around at different things. It's all complicated by being short on vehicles this past week. My sister was in a wreck last weekend so she's been using my mom's car. Which pretty much leaves me and my mom stranded here at the house! Not that I mind.

So, let me know what you think about the new look!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Random Fun

Grace Bridges of ACFW told me to watch this. Being a Picard fan I had to...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sentimental Journey

Writers are a sentimental bunch. We also tend to love reading about famous writers of the past, famous fictional writers like Jo March. This writer is also easily amused and completely in love with the Victorian Trading Company.

They're most well known for their stationary and notecards, although the company has expanded to include home furnishings, reproduction jewelry and clothes, among other things. One of the neatest things they have is their line of Victorian writing instruments.

To this writer, there's something very sentimental and romantic in thinking about how so many of my favorite books and so many of the classics were written with a dip pen and bottled ink. There's just something about all of that that makes me feel connected to all the great writers who have come before, in particular the ones who paved the way for women to publish. I'm talking about Ann Radcliffe, Jane Austen, the Brontes, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Louisa May Alcott and Kate Chopin just to name a few. They all wrote with a dip pen and bottled ink.

I've been drooling and lusting over this for quite some time now. VTC put it on sale a couple weeks ago so I decided to go ahead and buy it. It came last week and I am very pleased with my purchase. Will I actually write a book with it? Probably not. My brain moves so fast that my fingers can't keep up with it unless I'm at a keyboard. But it will be used to write notes, thank you cards, and things like that.

Someday I'd love to have the Chandler's Writing Chest and learn the art of Spencerian writing.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Friday Fact

Today is counted cross stitch. My addiction of choice! I was going to do images, but that's just too time consuming, so there's lots of links to click if you're interested. I love showing off my work to anyone and everyone.

I'm not sure how it came about and evolved into the art form it is now though. Separating its history from other forms of needlework is a little difficult. But it does date back to at least the 1700's and I think it made its first appearance on a sampler.

Counted cross stitch is made up entirely of little x's. You start out with a blank piece of fabric, your chart and floss (aka embroidery thread). Each symbol on the chart corresponds to 1 x on the fabric. Designs can be everything from simple and monochromatic to detailed containing over 100 colors. I'm working on 2 that have 90 colors each and are reproductions of actual pieces of art.

This one is my "baby". It's called St. Petersburg White Nights and was designed by Martina Weber, a German designer. I've identified most of the buildings in the completed design. She releases hers in 12 parts, and this is parts 1-4. The buildings start on the next part! I just haven't figured out which palace it is. Here's what the finished piece looks like.

This piece is from a fantasy artist named Nadia Tate. I adore her mermaids. This one is called Kimono Butterflies Mermaid. It was charted by Heaven and Earth Designs, a company that charts art work for stitching. Mostly fantasy, but they do a lot of pre-Raphaelite paintings too.

And this one is called A Favour, also from HAED. The artist is Frederick Leighton. It's a lady in Empire leaning over a metal railing with the sea in the background. I like to think it's the Mediterranean. Yeah, there's a lot of sky and that's the top of her head all by its lonesome.

I'm also in love with this one, of course. It's St. Basil's Cathedral as imagined by Terrence Nolan of Dimples Designs. The fabric is a hand-dyed fabric. I have the frame for this one now, just need to frame it so I can hang it on the wall.

I like stitching Christmas tree ornaments too. The tree is formed by a word. Guess the word!

This one was the second "big" one I ever finished. A mermaid of course, the Queen Mermaid from Mirabilia Designs.

This piece nearly drove me insane. The designer is Teresa Wentzler and she's known as the Queen of Blends. That's when you take one strand of two different colors and put them together to make a new color. This piece had 64 blends in it! But it is gorgeous. The shading is magnificent.

It's kind of amazing what you can do with colored floss and a bunch of x's.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Friday Fact

Continuing in the series on needlework.

This week is needlepoint. NOT to be confused with counted cross-stitch. The two are totally different.

Needlepoint is one of the oldest forms of needlework. It dates back to the middle ages at least, and very likely even earlier. Tapestries were originally worked in needlepoint, and later on they were woven.

It's worked on mesh canvas in a stitch known as the tent stitch. Traditionally needlepoint was always worked with woolen yarn, but nowadays the fiber possibilities are endless. Your options include everything from cotton to bamboo. I've actually stitched with bamboo floss and my word! The stuff is SO soft and the colors are so vibrant.

Because of the canvas it's stitched on and the use of wool, needlepoint pieces are very sturdy and durable. During the Victorian era needlepoint seat cushions were extremely popular. The heroine in Hearts In The Highlands does needlepoint.

Next week will be counted cross stitch and I'll show off some of the things I've done. It's my addiction of choice when it comes to needlework.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Spotlight on Europe- Interview!

Today I'm interviewing Ruth Axtell Morren about her recent Love Inspired Historical, "Hearts In The Highlands".

Outside of Indiana Jones and the required dinosaur obsession, few people pay attention to archeology these days. Was Reid's occupation a conscious choice on your part or just what he told you he had to be?

Originally I had toyed with the idea of making him an archaeologist, then I'd decided on an art history professor, thinking that required less research. But my editor, Melissa Endlich, preferred a more exciting profession like archaeologist, so I rose to the challenge! It worked out well. I kept picturing Reid as Indiana Jones and Robert Redford in Out of Africa--rugged adventurers!

I'm also a fan of the Naked Archaeologist, so I loved the way you included the Holy Land as it was during the Victorian period. Why there and Egypt instead of Rome or Athens?

I was doing research on the Victorian period and found out how popular 'Egyptology' was at the time. Then it seemed a neat idea to make Maddie's parents former missionaries from somewhere in the region.

Tell us about your writing process.

When I get an idea (which can come from anywhere--from history books to a secondary character to a dream), I begin researching that time period both from books and online. The more I find out about a period, the more my plot starts forming. Sometimes the idea just comes to me almost complete (ie, the plot). Then the research just helps fill in the holes. Other times, it's a lot more sketchy and I need to think a lot about possible what-ifs for the hero & heroine.
Once I start writing, I aim for 10 pp a day, preferably working mornings till about 1 or 2 in the afternoon. Then I take a long walk, where I continue mulling on the plot, generally getting idea for the next day's scene. After finishing a first draft (anywhere from 2 months to 4), I start rewriting--then I send it off to my critique partner, then I further revise at least 2 more times before sending it to my editor for her suggestions.

And the big question: Are you a plotter, pantster or somewhere in between?

definitely somewhere in between. I used to be much more a plotter, but the more I write, and the more I know my historical period (and the tighter deadlines get), the more I begin writing before I'm quite ready to. That means, winging it more, knowing the ideas will come as I write.

What's your favorite time period to write about or research?

Definitely both Regency England and Victorian England. Growing up those were the periods I most like to read about. This doesn't mean I don't enjoy other settings, esp. exotic. Right now, I have an idea for a post-Napoleanic Paris-set story. And, I do enjoy the late 19th century downeast Maine setting I've used.

What advice would you give a beginning novelist who wants to write historical romance?

Read as many classics written in the time period you are writing in as you can. This give you a feel for dialogue and slang and what some of the everyday things people used were--things that aren't always easy to find in the history books.

Ruth can be found online at her website and her blog, which is linked in my blogroll.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Spotlight on Europe

I finally finished Hearts in the Highlands, so today I'm doing my review. Next week I'll have an interview with Ruth. Since the hero is an archaeologist I decided to time the interview posting with the new Indiana Jones movie.

Hearts in the Highlands was Ruth's first LIH, and my first book by her. I thoroughly enjoyed every page. Reid had just the right amount of tragic past to suit my tastes, and a big secret that prevented him from acting on his feelings towards Maddie.

And Reid's aunt... What a character! I loved her and hated her. She was the perfect stuffy high-society matron that you just want to throttle. A lot like Mrs. Harris in the Anne of Avonlea movie. (who actually shows up as a character in Anne of Windy Poplars) Or as the movie is called currently Anne of Green Gables: The sequel. (how lame is that?)

I loved the Scottish highland setting and the little glimpses of Scottish life. Some of my family roots are Scottish, so those books are always special to me.

The progression of the romance between Reid and Maddie was very well done and never once felt forced or contrived. Their mis-understandings in regards to each other's feelings was very believable, as were all of Maddie's incorrect assumptions about him.

I also really enjoyed the little touches of how quickly the world was changing in 1890. There's a wonderful scene with Reid teaching Maddie how to ride the new-fangled bicycles.

If you like Scottish settings, well-written romances and touches of the exotic, you will love Hearts In The Highlands.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Friday Fact

Yeah, I forgot last week.

So, I want to talk about all the different kinds of needlework. If you haven't noticed yet, I'm kind of obsessed with/addicted to it... This week is a forgotten needlecraft called candlewicking.

And no, it's not done with candle wicks. The only stitch used in candlewicking is the French knot. It was very popular during Colonial times. Basically, the outline of a shape was drawn on the fabric and then those lines were covered with evenly spaced French knots. Very simple and very elegant.

Candlewicking is pretty much a dead artform these days, but one of my great-grandmothers used to dabble in it a bit and there is a pillow at my Mamaw's house that was candlewicked. The fabric is red and the thread is white. The design is 3 candles, Christmas type candles.

Doug Phillips has continued his series about Marxism and motherhood on his blog, so please do check those posts out. There are 4 more posts and here's the link. The Peter Marshall he mentions by name is the son of Catherine Marshall who wrote Christy.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Evils of Motherhood

Yes, you read that title right. I'm borrowing it from Doug Phillips, founder of The Vision Forum.

I don't talk about politics much on here, but his two posts today struck a cord in me. About a month ago, we HisWriters ended up in a discussion about the Biblical model for womanhood and how today's society frowns on women just wanting to stay home. So many Christians have fallen prey to the attitude that raising children in a Biblical way isn't as important as providing every material comfort you can imagine. Many have also adopted the view that a woman should always have a back-up plan "just in case" marriage doesn't work out. I personally have major problems with that attitude and refuse to allow it into my thoughts.

I admire Doug Phillips a great deal. I've had the pleasure of meeting him several times and listen to him speak on many subjects. He's a very entertaining speaker and his heart for the Biblical family is obvious to anyone who spends more than 30 seconds talking to him. I read his blog every day and the posts today are title "Lenin on the Evils of Motherhood". You can read the posts here and here. He quotes from Lenin and the most disturbing thing about it is how Lenin's words mirror the thoughts of many Christians.

Since I'm obsessed with Russia, I know more than the average American about the atrocities committed by the Russian Communist Party. They had the Russian people so thoroughly brainwashed that most of them do not believe the Gulag system continued to exist after Stalin's death. The last gulag prisoners were not released until 1993, and even after that many Russians refuse to believe they were really in the gulag. Even after the book "Gulag" by Anne Applebaum, Russians refuse to believe it. The family unit in Russia was systematically destroyed--by the government no less--nearly 100 years ago and their society is now spiraling out of control. It may be legal to be a Christian again, but in no way does that mean the government will let you practice what you believe.

The same thing is slowly happening here in the US. It's not as overt because nobody makes speeches on the subject like Lenin did, but that doesn't mean it's not happening. Christians, and I mean ALL of them--not just the ones who share my particular brand of conservatism, should be appalled and outraged by this. And yet the majority stand silently by and many of them propagate those words to their own children and demean the Biblical family model. I bet most of them don't even know they're doing it.

The downfall of the Biblical family model is a major part of what's wrong with the world. God instituted the model the way He did for a very good reason, and we are now reaping the consequences of ignoring it. I've been accused more than once of being old-fashioned and unrealistic in my wants and desires, but gosh darn it I'd rather be in line with what God wants than what the world wants. If that makes me "unrealistic"' and "out-of-touch" with reality, so be it.

This young woman does NOT want to work. Even now. I am ready for this part of my life to be over so that I can move into the part that God made me for. Raising a family and upholding traditional, Biblical family values. I've also taken some flak for having a cast of characters in my head made up, in large part, of a big homeschooling family. That's what I know and that's what I believe, so why shouldn't I write about it? The one single theme that runs through every story idea I have is that of family unity and the Biblical model.

Consider this my shouting from the rooftop statement. I AM NOT AFRAID TO EMBRACE MY CALLING TO BIBLICAL WOMANHOOD.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Case of the Blahs

I've got a major case of the blahs lately. It's really hit hard today. I'm restless, ready for the next part of my life to begin. Whatever that is. I'm so tired of feeling like I'm in a holding pattern, waiting waiting waiting... I'm not all that great at waiting to begin with.

I haven't written much, practically nothing. Still plotting and working on things in my head, just not much actual writing going on.

I did finally get started reading With The Armies of the Tsar and just as I suspected it's turning into a gold mine of info. I'm only a few pages in and have already come across one of those little things that historical authors dream of finding. You know what I mean, that one little authentic tidbit that history never records but you *know* will bring your scene to life if you can just find it. And oftentimes you don't even know you're looking for it until you find it. I have a feeling this book will be full of little sticky flags by the time I'm done with it. I'm hoping maybe it will also help me crack Yelena open a bit more. I don't know much about her just yet.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Interview with Susan May Warren!

Unfortunately it was not hosted by me. Christian Woman Online did it and it's a radio interview. Susie spends the first part of it talking about her next release, Wiser Than Serpents and the issue of human trafficking, then she goes on to talk some about her life now, life in Russia and towards the end there's a little bit about the next Josey book.

Susie's interview!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

No Spotlight

There's no Spotlight today. I've been completely engrossed in the sometimes strange ways God works things out for us.

The agent at the top of my list is a member of my European group. The announcement last week that Rachelle Gardner is open again to historical romances set us all atwitter and we started discussing her in particular and agents in general. I mentioned that she was on my list and some of the things others had shared would come in very handy. But Rachelle was not at the top of my list. Someone else is. Never in my wildest dreams or most overactive imagination did I think I'd get an invitation to query A Time For War.

Kelly Mortimer is a dear!!!! As with all agents, she won't offer representation on an unfinished manuscript. Which makes perfect sense, this is a business after all. But she does have a heart for new writers and wants to encourage us and help us on the path to publication. That's her purpose in letting me query.

So I've spent the last 3 days crafting my first query letter, running it through my crit partners and tweaking and cutting and shortening to one page. Finished it today and sent it off to Kelly's inbox. I'm anxious to read her comments and see what advice she has to offer.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Friday Fact

Today we'll wrap up the unofficial series on lace. This post will exhaust my knowledge of the artform!

One of the most popular forms of lace currently is knit lace. It's also one of the oldest forms of lace making, being nearly as old as knitting itself. However, it's not as delicately sturdy as crocheted lace and is used mainly as clothing. A knit doily just won't hold up very long and it would be a very bad choice to protect a chair from pomaded hair.

Knit lace is used mainly in shawls, like this beauty here designed by my friend Laura Patterson. Gorgeous isn't it? I haven't tackled knit lace yet, but I do have my first pattern picked out.

Next week I think we'll start wandering through some of the different kinds of embroidery.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Spotlight on Europe

As High As The Heavens by Kathleen Morgan

From CBD:
It is 1568 and Mary, Queen of Scots, is imprisoned in Lochleven Castle. But her supporters, including noblewoman Heather Gordon, are planning a rescue. Heather travels to a cottage in the frigid Highlands to teach a simple man, who just happens to resemble someone with access to Lochleven, how to act the part of a nobleman in order to gain entry to the castle. But in the close quarters of the cottage there is more stirring than political rebellion.

This one is a relatively recent release and appears to be rather popular. I've heard lots of good things about Kathleen's writing but have yet to read one of her books. I think this will be the first one. Partly because the publisher is Revell and partly because it sounds very interesting. This is not a plot that's very common right now. This time period in general is also doing well right now with last year's "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" starring Cate Blanchett and "The Other Boleyn Girl" from last month starring Natalie Portman and Scarlet Johansen.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Review- Better Than Gold

Better Than Gold
Lily is tired of her one-horse town. Lily Reese can't wait to escape Browning City, Iowa. She's sure she'll be happier in the big city, if only she can save enough money to get there. But then Ben Purcell rides into town, threatening not only Lily's place of residence and growing sense of family, but her safety and peace of mind, as well. And Ben has every intention of sticking around and becoming a small-town guy. How can Lily even consider the feelings he evokes in her? Rumors of a long-lost cache of gold bring danger swirling around them, but Lily and Ben find themselves on a quest for something more. Will releasing their plans and desires bring heartache or a reward they had never imagined?

This was my very first Heartsong. Yes, me. I read one and enjoyed it. Though I have a feeling it was mostly because of the person who wrote it, Laurie Alice Eakes.

This book is the third in a continuity series, but it's not necessary to read the other two in order to enjoy this one. Laurie Alice sprinkles enough backstory in that you know what all is going on. The romance was sweet and completely believable, and the spiritual thread was also very well done. You know from the beginning of the book how it's going to end, but the journey to the end never once felt contrived or that it was lacking chemistry or attraction between Lily and Ben. And I also did NOT figure out who the bad guy was! Laurie Alice gets major points for that.

My favorite part though, was that Lily crochets lace! She does needle lace too, but mainly crochet. It wasn't as popular in the 1870's as it was 15-20 years later, so the way the townsfolk snatched her lace up and begged for it was spot on.

I also got a real sense of Iowa, which is good considering the state theme for the series was Iowa. I've never been there, but do have a couple of friends who grew up there. I still have a hard time imagining wide open spaces without cotton fields being involved, but the sense of small town community that Laurie Alice portrayed was very real and beautifully done.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Friday Fact

Crocheted Lace

How many of you remember the old crochet doilies that were at your grandmother or great-grandmother's house? Or Diana having to have more doilies than Josie Pye when she got married? In terms of years, especially when compared to other forms of lace, they're really not that old.

Crocheted lace as a lady's artform has only been around since the mid 1800's, when Irish nuns started doing it. Before that crochet was not something that nice ladies did. I've been unable to verify what I'm about to write, but it's still a fun story. It's said that the term "hooker" came about from crochet lace factories where the crocheters, who work with hooks, were expected to turn tricks on the side for the factory owner. Read that in a book called The Happy Hooker and yes it's about crochet.

Anywho, Irish nuns are said to have gotten ahold of crochet lace and turned it into a respectable artform by selling it and teaching it to their students. To this day crocheted Irish lace is very highly prized and is exquisite.

Doilies were a necessary part of life for the Victorian lady, especially from about 1875 on. Hair pomades were all the rage and ladies didn't want that greasy gunk getting all over their beautiful furniture. So doilies were crocheted and pinned to the tops of chairs. Later they were also pinned to the arms, then used as table toppers, runners, dresser scarves, etc.

Nowadays it's commonly referred to as thread crochet and it's an artform that I dearly love. The intricate lacy patterns hold my attention in a way that regular crochet doesn't.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Just musing

Two posts in one day, ya'll are probably going to faint. I've been a bad blogger again. Work's been really busy the last few days. REALLY busy.

Last week I hit my first real milestone. I topped 11K on first draft of A Time For War. Needless to say I was totally thrilled. This is the most I've ever written on something.

I seem to be settling into a sort-of routine in regards to writing. When work is slow, I keep something open to be working on. Haven't written a word since Wednesday though. Busy, like I said.

Am in the midst of reading A Passion Most Pure. The book lives up to the hype! It is one of the best books I've ever read. I have seen a few questionable words and phrases, but the year is 1916-1917, so it doesn't jerk me out of the story like it would if the year was 1816. The characters are very well done and very gripping. Julie is a very talented author. The second book comes out in September.

Genesis results are out. I didn't final, but one of my crit partners did. CONGRATULATIONS, Rachel!!! And congratulations to Erica Vetsch for double finaling in Lit and Historical Romance. Mine was entered in HR and I'm nowhere near as good as Erica is. Yet. I plan to continue giving her a run for her money though.

Historical Scavenger Hunt!

Back in February there was a historical scavenger hunt going on. It's still going! The day the game went live the organizer had a baby. All the details area here. The game will end this Friday, April 11. So you've still got time to play and try to win these awesome books! The game started back in February, so you may have to go through some blog archives to find all the clues.

I've read two of the books and thoroughly enjoyed them. Have fun hunting!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Spotlight on Europe

Today is Hearts in the Highlands by Ruth Axtell Morren. It's part of the Love Inspired Historical line and hit the shelves yesterday.

From Amazon:
Maddie Norton had long since resigned herself to her spinster's lot. Her life was devoted to her simple yet enduring faith, to good works and to the elderly lady whose companion she was. She believed herself content. But that was before her mistress's handsome nephew returned to London, after many years spent abroad as an archaeologist.The shadows in Reid Gallagher's memory-haunted eyes touched Maddie's heart. When he asked her to travel with his family, to help with his work, she could scarcely refuse. And as she came to know this man better, amid the breathtaking beauty of the Scottish Highlands, she began to wonder if two solitary souls might yet find new life—and love—as one.

My family roots on my mom's side of the family are very Scottish. Doesn't get much more Scottish than Stewart! Unless your name is MacGregor or Bruce. The world's most popular plaid is my family tartan and I wear it with pride.

The hero, Reid, is an archaeologist who's just returned to Great Britain from Egypt. That's another subject that I enjoy reading about it and talk about perfect timing! The next Indiana Jones movie opens next month. Hopefully I will have a copy of this book in my hands before the day is over. As I'm typing this my mom is about to go to Wal-Mart. :D

Once I've read the book, watch for an interview with Ruth.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Spotlight on Europe

Today I'm finally going to post my review of The Briton! That I finished a month ago...

Author is Catherine Palmer, and the book launched the new LI Historical line. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The plot blurb:
The Britons, had lost all she held dear. She had been widowed in war, then robbed of the ancestral home that was her birthright. And now her last hope was a stranger-one with whom she'd shared a single tender kiss.

The foreign knight Jacques le Brun begged her to let him defend her honor-nay, her very life. But he owed fealty to the hated French who had conquered her country, England, and to the new faith they brought with them. Could Bronwen place her trust in the pure, untainted love she saw shining in this man's eyes-and follow him to a new world?

The book is set in the 12th century and Catherine did a marvelous job of capturing the turmoil that the isle of Britain was experiencing. This was the age of the first crusades and the Normans fighting over who was going to rule the island. Loyalties were divided and friends were hard to come by.

Bronwen immediately captured my attention. She's a very strong woman who is determined to uphold her family's legacy, but she does it all with grace and style. That's the kind of strong heroine that I like. Her first experience with Jacques is her first experience with the invading Normans and Christianity. The relationship grows slowly, but very believably. Jacques is just the kind of hero that I like to read about, strong and committed on the outside and a total mushy romantic on the inside. His offer of protection, with no strings attached, is what begins to soften Bronwen's heart towards the Normans and their God.

A highly enjoyable book and you should check it out even if you don't like medievals.

Monday, March 24, 2008


I grew up listening to the oldies. Music from the 50's, 60's and 70's. When you live in the middle of nowhere that's in the middle of nowhere and detest country music, that's pretty much your only choice. The first Christian station didn't arrive until just before we moved, so I would have been about 13. By that point I had already fallen in love with The Beach Boys, The Righteous Brothers, and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

One song that seems to reverberate in my head is All I Have To Do Is Dream. It's the refrain that I can't ever seem to shake. I have a novel named Dream. The title is after the horse in the book, but it also fits the theme of the novel very well. Broken dreams and finding the strength to dream again.

One of the side effects of a medication I take is weird dreams. Let me tell you I have had some doozies! Including ones that resemble acid trips or I wake up so mad that I could hit something. They're always in vivid color and full of details. I don't remember most of them, just fleeting impressions. I've dreamed about my characters before, but last night I dreamed about one of my characters going to Russia. That was a first. It definitely falls into the weird category and isn't anything that I can use in this person's story. Michael, kids on roller skates, glass hotel lobbies and a hot mineral spring in the middle of Red Square are not things that one should use in novels that are set in the real world.

Every character needs to have some big dream. It makes them real, makes them human. In the horse novel, Evan had dreamed of competing at the Olympics, but a false accusation and a monkey trial left him in jail and he was stripped of all the medals he'd won in international competition. He lost his dream, the driving force in his life, the one thing that might make his father see that he really was worth something. So he has to find a new dream. Without Windswept Dreamer, his beloved horse. His is a story of a young man who refuses to grow up, and then is forced to grow up and start over in a totally foreign way of life. Imagine a lad born in Ireland the son of a filthy rich businessman who runs the family empire. Then take this spoiled rotten kid with a too big ego who grew up just outside NYC, and stick him on a Colorado cattle ranch in the middle of nowhere. Yeah, he has to grow up whether he likes it or not.

Nick dreams of having his own large family, providing the same type of safe haven for troubled Russian orphans that his own adoptive parents provided for him. But his past haunts him, both literally and figuratively.

Michael dreams of being the next Bing Crosby and taking Broadway by storm. He does, but he's haunted by a lost love and the tragic death of his best friend. His dreams come true, but they're empty without her.

A character's dreams are so very important. Everyone has dreams and desires. These need to translate into our writing and make us root for the character, make us want to see the dream come true. But it can't just happen, they have to work for it and strive for it, make the reader believe that this is what they truly want.

What's your character's biggest dream? The one thing they would give anything to have happen?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

No, I'm not dead...

I'm not dead, I didn't fall off the face of the earth and I didn't move to Timbuktu. Surely by now they have Internet in Timbuktu... Which would have been a vast improvement on my situation.

I had every intention of doing a late posting of Spotlight. Work was extremely busy Wednesday, and I usually write blog posts in between jobs. And I had every intention of posting the Friday Fact and finishing up the series on lace. The weather had other ideas.

Twas a very blustery day Tuesday and the wind was blowing so hard that it was making the electric transformers pop and surge. Which fried the wireless router that my Internet runs through. Papa fixed that one, but I spent the day working at a desk that I don't like. Wednesday went great. Until about 2:30 that morning, when the other router died.

Right as Papa had to work for 2 days, so he couldn't fix it. I didn't get to work Thursday or Friday, didn't get to check my email, read my blogs or post on my own blog. It was a tough two days, let me tell you! I finally hightailed it to House of Java Friday afternoon to download my mountain of email.

It's fixed now. Hopefully. So far it's been 24 hours since anything acted up. That's a good sign. *knock on wood* But did I use that time to write? Nope. Ended up running errands for my mom, helping her clean a closet out and getting ready for my sisters BD party. Much fun was had though, so it's all good.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Blog tour- Laurie Alice Eakes

Welcome to the second stop on Laurie Alice's blog tour. The book we're featuring is Better Than Gold.

For the question to this first answer, plus another chance to win a copy of Better than Gold, visit:

This question is difficult to answer without perhaps offending someone, and I'll take a stab at it.

Poor research. The Internet, though possessing some great resources, is not the definitive source and needs to be augmented. Neither is reading one novel of the time and making an inference from it that that was how things always were. Especially before World War I, class distinctions were profound, and if someone doesn't understand this, they make stupid, avoidable mistakes. Too few authors understand this.

Dialogue is another one. Authors have started substituting dialogue for emotion and tension. Although dialogue can convey these things, pages of it in expository form is contrived and forced. No one talks like people put dialogue in books. This is mostly common in contemporary fiction.

Too many books are just plain boring. It has nothing to do with length. I've read 900 page books I couldn't put down, and 200 page books that made me sleep before the end of the table of contents. Seriously. I just put a book aside because the table of contents sounded like the subsequent chapters—fiction—would be utterly tedious and pointless.

Which brings me to the final problem—pointlessness. I read too many scenes in books or books themselves where my first reaction is: So what? Why should I care? Apparently someone did, since they're published, but I encounter it so much along side books I can't put down, I haven't yet figured out the appeal of the tedious ones.

1: Which do you like better, the writing or the research?

That's a tough one. I love them both, and they use different parts of my brain. Research is more left-brain, and writing more right. I think I am subconsciously writing with the right half while researching with the left. So I get the pleasure of doing both together. Pushed for an answer, probably the writing is more fun, but I do love research.

2: I have yet to meet a writer of historical fiction that isn't easily sidetracked on research rabbit trails. How do you deal with that temptation?

I'd like to say I'm really disciplined and stick to a schedule, and I cannot lie. I tend to follow them because they can turn out valuable. I'm so bad about research that if I read about something in an historical novel that doesn't sound familiar to me, I go research it. The Sarmacians for example. I recently read a book by Gillian Bradshaw called Island of Ghosts that was about a Sarmacian. I'd never heard of the Sarmacians, let alone that they were in Roman Britain. I spent a day reading about them. Totally irrelevant to my current work, but I had to know more.

3: Have you ever gotten a good story idea from a rabbit trail?

Oh, yes! In my newest book, Better than Gold, I got sidetracked reading newspaper accounts of the time in which my story was set—1876 Iowa. I had plenty of material for the story, but I couldn't stop reading these actual newspaper articles from the Davenport, Iowa paper. I read one that led to not only the sort of homey, community event that played well into the theme of my book, but gave my brainstorming partner and me an idea on how to solve the mystery. That's only the most recent one. It's happened many times over the years.

4: What was your favorite time period to read about before you started writing?

Revolutions—the American and the French. Both fascinated me since I was a child. They're not unconnected, you know. And I suppose they fulfilled my rebellious spirit. But by the time I started writing, no one wanted American Revolutionary War stories. I have one set in that time period, but mostly in England. It has some serious flaws, but I may try to rework it one day. It's still one of my favorite stories.

5: After Regency England, what period is your favorite to do research in?

Hmm. The whole Georgian period, encompassing Regency, is great. But probably the Restoration—Charles II was just a romantic figure, though he was, in truth, a bit of a reprobate and quite immoral. Still, the romanticism of his story re-collected a shattered kingdom and got them through some terrible times like wars with Holland France and the black plague epidemic and the great fire of London. But I haven't been inspired to write in that time period—yet. I've just researched it extensively. Probably one of those rabbit holes.

6: If you could go back in time to one historical event, what event would it be?

To get the answer to this question, plus another chance to win a copy of Better than Gold, go to

The drawing here will stay open until Saturday. To be entered, just leave a comment and if you're not one of my regulars please leave an email address where you can be contacted.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Laurie's blog tour!

Here's the schedule for Laurie Alice's blog tour. I highly recommend reading each interview. Each participant is asking a different "category" of question.

Monday: Marylu Tyndall

Tuesday: Rachel Wilder

Wednesday: Louise M. Gouge

Thursday: Susan Lohrer

Friday: Melanie Dickerson

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Friday Fact

Bobbin Lace

Bobbin lace is one of the oldest forms of lace making and is also one of the most delicate. It's estimated to have been in existence since at least the mid 16th century. Here's a link to more detailed info about the history of bobbin lace. Back then, each region had its own pattern variations and you could tell where a piece of lace had been made based simply on the pattern

It gets its name from the bobbins that are used in the process. The bobbins can be made of wood and can be very plain, or they can be very ornate and carved from things like rosewood and ivory. There are 3 things you MUST have to make bobbin lace. The bobbins obviously, and the other two are flat head straight pins and a pillow. The lace itself is made by setting the bobbins up in pairs and then twisting and looping them around the pins that have been stuck in the pillow. The pins make the template for the pattern.

Bobbin lace is another one of those beautiful dying arts, and another thing on my list of Crafts That I Must Learn The Basics Of Before I Die. I have the beginner's kit that is sold by The Victorian Trading Company, but I haven't yet made the time to sit down with it.

If you're interested in pictures of the lace or bobbins or pillows or how it's made, check this site out.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Historical Fiction 101- Part 4

Today, I'm going to take a look at some of the CBA publishing houses that have a strong presence in the historical fiction genre.

Bethany House pretty much created CBA historical fiction with Janette Oke and Gilbert Morris. Both of these authors started writing in the early 80's, when Christian fiction was still in its infancy. The first House of Winslow book was the second "adult" book that I ever read. They've also published much of Michael Phillips' writing, as well as Judith Pella. Recently the entire structure at Bethany was turned upside down, and their historical division isn't getting as much attention as it used to. The current VP of sales wants to branch out and cut back on the number of historicals Bethany publishes. I find that rather sad.

Heartsong Presents from Barbour is an extremely popular book club that has a line of historical fiction, Heartsong Presents Historicals. They tend to be on the shorter side though, between 40 and 50,000 words. And that's just fine for some people, but I'm not one of them. I've never actually read a Heartsong. Brief guidelines can be found here.

The parent company of HP, Barbour, also publishes historical fiction in their trade paperback line. They have just re-released Susan May Warren's "Olga", now titled "The Sovereign's Daughter" and I also know that they will very soon be re-releasing Gilbert Morris' Appomattox Saga series. If you love Civil War fiction, this is THE series to read.

The recent launch of Steeple Hill's Love Inspired Historical line catapulted them very firmly into the historical genre. Submission guidelines can be found here. At this point they're open to pretty much everything except the American Revolution. As I've said before, there are multiple Regencies in the pipeline. The word count for LIH is 70-75,000.

Tyndale House has published all of Tricia Goyer's novels so far. Unfortunately she recently announced on her blog that Tyndale will not be publishing any more of her historicals. I think it has something to do with the Spanish Civil War Chronicles sales numbers. I don't know what the current status is for them accepting historicals, so if anyone who reads this does know, please leave a comment.

Zondervan also publishes a few historicals, but they're more well known for their thrillers, suspense, non-fiction and the NIV. They have Brandilyn Collins and Terri Blackstock.

Revell also has a growing presence in the historical genre. They published the blockbuster hit All The Tea in China, and they've published Deanne Gist's A Bride Most Begrudging and Courting Trouble. Revell and Bethany are both owned by the Baker Publishing Group. Revell is also the publisher of A Passion Most Pure that's making all kinds of waves in the CBA. I plan to order the book this weekend and will be posting a full review. Revell seems to be open to content that's edgier and a little more passionate. I'm looking forward to seeing what else Revell will publish.

This is just a very very basic list, but it should give you a pretty good idea of what all is out there. In the realm of historical fiction there is truly something for everyone.

Next Tuesday, please stop by for an interview with Laurie Alice Eakes. She has a Heartsong coming out. I'll post the full blog tour schedule over the weekend. We're doing something pretty unique with the interviews and in order to read all the answers you have to go to every blog on the list. But don't worry! There's only 5.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Historical Fiction 101- Part 3

OK, so we've looked briefly at what historical fiction is and what time periods qualify as historical fiction. Here's where the waters get kind of muddy.

Are you writing historical fiction or historical romance? There is a difference, and that's what we're going to talk about today.

Historical romance is exactly what it sounds like. It's a romance set in a historical period. Usually, the romance is the focus of the plot. The only technical difference between historical romance and contemporary romance is the setting. The subtle differences between the two is almost a craft series in itself.

Straight up historical fiction isn't always so easy to identify. The line can be very blurry. The general rule of thumb is this: If you can remove the romance element without losing any of the plot, then you're not writing a historical romance. That said, even most straight up historicals still have a romance element in them somewhere.

Gilbert Morris is the author who first comes to my mind as the author who straddles this line and helps make it blurry. But he does it so well that I personally don't really mind. He does not write romance. He writes historical fiction with a strong romance subplot. Much of his writing does meet the test though. If you remove the romance thread, you still have a good book. Maybe not as riveting, but still a good book.

In my mind, the most classic modern example of historical fiction is Michael Phillips' Secrets of Heathersleigh Hall series. It's not one of his better known series, but it is one of his best written. It follows the life of a family in England, who live at Heathersleigh Hall. When the series opens, no one in the family is a Christian. In fact, the father fully believes and endorses Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and encourages his children to question everything. Even his authority as their father. As the series progresses, he wisens up to the errors of his ways and watches the evolution lies destroy his daughter. Being as this is Christian fiction, she does eventually come back home and accept her father's change, but at a great personal cost. It's a story of redemption really, and how much fathers love their daughters. It's riveting and some of Michael's best writing IMO. But it's not a romance.

Another hallmark of straight up historical is that the historical events are as much a character in the novel as the characters themselves. This particular plot could not happen believably in any other setting because it needs this particular event to make it happen.

Historical romance was pretty much created by Janette Oke. Unfortunately, far too many people associate the term "historical romance" with the prairie westerns that Janette is famous for. That's something that is slowly changing. Today's masters of historical romance include Catherine Palmer, Deanne Gist and Tamera Alexander.

Much of my own writing is very difficult to categorize using just these two terms. The Epic is not historical romance. There's a strong romance subplot going on with Yelena and Dmitri, but if I remove that subplot I don't lose any of the story. But at the same time marketing it as just historical fiction doesn't feel right either. I'm glad I'm not the one who will make the final decision on where it belongs.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Historical Fiction 101- Part 2

My apologies for not posting the Spotlight yesterday. My sister was kind enough to bring home a nasty cold and share it with her siblings. (don't slip in the puddle of sarcasm...) I could barely keep my head on straight enough to work, much less write a coherent blog post.

Time Periods

There is actually quite a bit of confusion out there as to what the different time periods are that make up historical fiction. I'm going to give a pretty basic list and not go into a whole lot of detail. This is 101 after all.

Biblical- This is the sub-genre that covers Genesis through the 1st century Christians in Rome. The series that most CBA readers will think about for this period is Francine Rivers' Mark Of The Lion series. Also, the Thoene's AD Chronicles series falls into this sub-genre. There's not a lot out there in the CBA market that goes into the later years of the Roman Empire. I would guess that the reason has something to do with the pagan culture of ancient Rome, as well as the pagan cultures the Romans encountered during their conquering of much of western Europe. The Roman period sort of segued into the Byzantine/Ottoman Empire, which also seems to be a taboo period right now because of the emphasis in this period on the creation of Islam and the Eastern Orthodox church.

Medieval/Middle Ages- This period also is not very popular in the CBA. A big part of the reason is that Christians at that time were 95% of the time Catholic. For some reason I don't understand, many CBA publishers seem to have a hang-up about novels with Catholic characters--historical or contemporary. At one point many years ago, there was an editor who didn't think it was possible to be a real Christian before the Reformation. Which is utterly absurd. The thoughts on medievals in CBA seems to be changing though. Love Inspired launched their historical line with a medieval, The Briton, and Lisa T. Bergren's medieval set trilogy has been getting fantastic reviews.

Elizabethan/Renessaince/Reformation- Think Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Martin Luther, the Sistine Chapel, Venice at its height of glory. This period is also a hard sell, but you have more belief system options for your characters. Catholicism was still the way of much of the western world, but the Church of England was emerging at this time, as were the Puritans and the Pilgrims. This period also gave birth to the greatest Christian allegory ever written- The Pilgrim's Progress.

Awakening/Georgian/Colonial- Also a hard sell for some strange reason. The 18th century was generally known in England as the Georgian era, and here in the Colonies it was the time of the Great Awakening, a huge spurt in popularity for non-Calvinist denominations, and the seeds of revolution were planted all over the Western world. You have the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the rise of Napoleon, the downfall of England and the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution all happening in the same stretch of years. It was a very busy century, and one that most publishing houses won't buy. Kinda sad in my opinion because there was so much going that is absolutely crucial to the reasons why the Colonists were so dead set on overthrowing British rule.

Regency/Empire/Federal- This period is enjoying a huge moment of popularity thanks to the 2005 version of Pride & Prejudice, the new Jane Austen movies made by the BBC and Disney's "Becoming Jane" starring Anne Hathaway. This span of time covers about 1795-1830. In England it was the Regency, in France it was the Empire, and in the newly formed USA it was the Federal. This period is most noted for its simple, comfortable clothing and clean lined furniture. The 1830's don't really fit in anywhere because they were so vastly different from the preceeding and following decades. The 1840's were just as gloomy and dark as the 1830's were gaudy and brash.

Victorian- This is actually a HUGE span of time and many other periods fit into it. Technically speaking the Victorian era stretched from 1837-1901--the years that Victoria reigned as Queen of England. Women were all about copying Victoria. Her tastes in furniture, clothing, books and music ruled Western society for nearly 3 generations. Her reign is often seen as England's Golden Era, and it's also my favorite period to read about. She encouraged innovation, experimentation and family devotion. The American Civil War falls into this category, as does Reconstruction and Antebellum fiction, along with a host of other stuff like British India and British Africa.

Edwardian- Not to be confused with Victorian! Edwardian started in 1901 and went until about the time of the Titanic. Anne of Green Gables is set in the Edwardian period, as is the American Girl doll Samantha Parkington. The Gibson Girl is usually associated with the early Edwardian period with her sweeping updos, angelic face and leg o' mutton sleeves, but she actually had her start in the 1890's.

WW1- After the Titanic disaster, the world started gearing up for war. World War One, or The Great War as it was called by the people of that time. Again, it's a hard sell in the CBA. My personal thoughts on that is because the war didn't have a clear rallying cry. There was no central "evil" to fight. It was just a bunch of kings and arch dukes playing with their toy soldiers. This led to the Russian Revolution and the overthrow of the Russian monarchy, the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and the rise of communism.

Roaring Twenties/The Depression- The Roaring Twenties are most known in the US for jazz, Prohibition and the mob. Also a hard sell in the CBA because of the very loose societal morals of the day. While felt the most in the US, the effects of the Depression stretched into every corner of the modern world. It was a time when Communism was very appealing with its promises of food for all and world peace. Nobody knew then how much of a lie it was and how many millions of people were dying in Russia because of Stalin's paranoia and a government induced famine.

WW2- The first truly global war with battles fought in all hemispheres and on nearly every single continent. With a good, gripping story that hasn't been told yet, you can sell a WW2 story easily in the CBA market. Judith Pella sort of blazed the way for Cold War spy novels with the last book in her Daughters of Fortune series, and I for one would love to see more of those types of stories. Guess that's why I'm writing one...

And that's pretty much where historical fiction ends right now. Some houses consider the Korean War as historical, some don't. Ditto for the 60's and Vietnam. Those two are a very difficult sell because of the culture you have to write about. I imagine in another 10-15 years, the line for what is a historical novel will move forward a decade or two.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Historical Fiction 101- Part 1

What exactly IS historical fiction? That's what I'm going to answer today.

Webster's defines historical as "of, relating to, or having the character of history". I like that definition. It works well with historical fiction.

I think we all know what fiction means. So when you put the two together, we get something along the lines of "a work of fiction that relates to or has the character of history." I particularly like this because I love historical novels where the actual history is as much a character as the characters themselves.

Having spent 4 years working at a plantation, I regularly encountered the opinion that history is boring and dull. That it was just a list of numbers, dates and facts. Any history nut will tell you otherwise. History is fascinating. Why did people think like that, what forces shaped their world, how did societal values affect daily life. I believe it is the duty of the historical fiction author to portray these things in a manner that the public can relate to, then bring it to life and help people see that history is not boring or dull.

Every culture in the world needs to know their history. Those who do not know the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat those mistakes. Unfortunately that seems to be happening more and more here in the U.S. So if it's happening here, I would imagine it's happening in other countries as well. We must know our history. We must preserve it for the next generation and we must make it real. I believe that is an integral part of writing historical fiction.

The next installment will be Thursday, and we'll look at the different time periods that fall under the heading of historical fiction.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Historical Fiction 101

I'm about to do my first craft series! I'm terribly excited about it. The plan right now is to post it on Mondays and Tuesdays and possibly on Thursdays. I don't expect it to take more than 5 posts to do. But I reserve the right to change my mind.

The series will talk about the differences between historical fiction and historical romance, go through the different time periods that are included under the historical umbrella and hopefully impart some of my history passion to my readers.

We'll kick things off tomorrow by finding out exactly what historical fiction is.

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Friday Fact

Hairpin Lace.

I had planned to do a lace series before I saw this week's episode of Project Runway. Chris's use of hairpin lace in one of his looks only made me to decide to move hairpin up the list. I imagine there are an awful lot of Project Runway fans who haven't got the faintest idea what hairpin lace is. I shall attempt to remedy that.

Hairpin lace isn't an old form of lace, relatively speaking. It's done with a crochet hook, so it's only been around since the early 19th century. It gets the name "hairpin" from the loom that's used to make the strips. It looks like a hairpin, only the sides are straight and both ends are closed. Here's a picture of a lovely walnut loom. This form of lace was extremely popular in the late Victorian period.

The lace is woven in strips on the loom with the use of a crochet hook, and then the strips are crocheted together to form scarves, shawls and edgings. And here is a tutorial with pictures, written by Sandra Petit, ACFW member, published author and my brother's mother-in-law. Just for the heck of it, a lovely hairpin lace shawl. You can really see the strips and the weaving in that picture.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Spotlight on Europe

This week's feature is a little different, not something I would usually feature. But it's such an amazing concept that I have to tell about it!

The book is titled A Curse Dark As Gold, and it's a YA historical fantasy. This novel is the debut novel of Elizabeth C. Bunce. I met her over a year ago on one of my cross stitch message boards, and go to watch her go through the final edits of the book, get it turned in and then start on all of the promo stuff. The book is getting amazing reviews, and I know for a fact that it's already sold out twice on Amazon.

It's a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, set in the old mill towns of England. I had found the year a few days ago, but now I don't remember what it was...

From Elizabeth's web site:
As Charlotte struggles to manage the difficulties she inherits along with Stirwaters Woollen Mill, she discovers a shadow world at the fringes of the familiar: Dark magic, restless spirits, a mysterious Helper. A wicked uncle, an age-old curse.... How can Charlotte prevail with such forces allied against her? In this novel inspired by “Rumpelstiltskin,” the miller’s daughter of the fairy tale comes to life as a young woman determined to save her family and her mill--whatever the cost.

Just as an FYI, this is NOT a Christian novel, so the fantasy elements are probably not light fantasy. I haven't read it yet, but I plan to. It's based on a fairy tale, how can I not?

Elizabeth also does Renessaince Faires and is an amazing seamstress.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Munchkin is sick

The Munchkin has a cold. Her eyes are watery, she's sneezing her little head off and she can't breathe through her nose. So her mommy has to call the vet in the morning and get her some drugs.

It really is funny to listen to a cat sneeze though. Especially the way Zoe sneezes. On and on and on....

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Romance.... or Love Story?

Like most females, I love a good romance. Boy Meets Girl. Girl Hates Boy. Boy Hates Girl. Girl Falls in Love With Boy. They Fight. They get married. Good romance follows a formula. Writing to a formula does not make something inherently bad. Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys are based on a formula, and a very successful formula at that. How many other teen detectives are still sleuthing after nearly 80+ years? None!

But I've never been comfortable applying the romance label to my own stuff. For one thing, I rarely start at the beginning of the relationship with Boy Meets Girl. More often than not, the story begins in the middle of the relationship and is usually centered on some sort of tragic event that drives a wedge between them, and they have to work through the tragedy in order to stay together. Even though my life has had very little tragedy in it, that's just the way my brain works.

Yesterday, I read that Nicholas Sparks' refers to his romances as Love Stories. The reason for this is that he doesn't end with a Happily Ever After. The HEA is crucial to a successful romance formula. His books end happily, usually with some sort of tragic element that leaves you happy and satisfied, but reaching for the Kleenexes. The end of The Notebook gets me every time.

So that got me to thinking, and I've pretty much come to the conclusion that this particular romance sub-genre is what fits a lot of my romance. Contemporary and historical. I usually have some sort of tragic element, and I rarely have a HEA. They're happy at the end of the story, but you get the feeling the troubles aren't over. But you do know that the couple can survive whatever life may throw at them, because they have God and each other.

So that's what I write. Historical and contemporary love stories. And the more tragic the setting, the better I like it!

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Friday Fact

All Tied Up

This week I'm going to tell you about tatting. It's a form of lace that is made with knots. It's also one of the oldest known ways of making lace.

The most important part of tatting is the shuttle. They're about 3 inches long with a hook on one end, and a bobbin in the middle. The bobbin usually pops out and this is what you wind your thread on. Then the bobbin goes back in.

Tatting can only be done in circular motifs. These motifs can then be stretched out in a single line, or formed into other shapes. But it's all based on a circle. With knots. Kind of like macrame.

Tatting was at its height of popularity during the Elizabethan period. It was very fashionable for ladies of the court to wear a tatting shuttle on their belts. Some of these were very ornate and made out of things like ivory, mother of pearl, silver and pewter.

Nowadays there's a form called needle tatting. I'm determined to conquer shuttle tatting though. Especially after I found out that one of my great-grandmothers used to do it all the time. I would love to have her shuttle, but one of my great-uncle's ended up with it and there's no telling what happened to it.

In Michael Phillips' "Secrets of Heathersleigh Hall" series, all of the ladies tat.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Interview with Lynette Eason

Today I have a short interview with Lynette Eason, author of the LI Suspense novel Lethal Deception.

Where did the initial idea for Lethal Deception come from?
I was sitting the Department of Motor Vehicles thinking I would NEVER get out of that "jungle" when I just started brainstorming the first chapter of Lethal Deception. I had a screaming two year old in front of me who became the daughter of missionary friends who needed a guardian. I threw in a few bad guys, a hero to the rescue and a loving God and voila! I know, that's a really weird way to get a story idea, huh?

Not as weird as where some of mine have come from!

Did you choose the human trafficking issue on purpose, or did it just happen? (this issue is something I follow very closely and address in my own stuff, so you could say it's very close to my heart)

I had seen something in the news or in the paper, I can't remember which, about this issue and it's just horrifying. Then the light went on, and I thought that would be a GREAT platform for my heroine. So, I worked it in the story. Plus, it's a major issue in Brazil and Venezuela and other countries and I feel like people need to be aware of it. Great question! Thanks for asking it.

I'm a total sucker for guys in a uniform, especially if they have the Navy SEAL trident pinned on it. Where did Gabe come from?
Oh, I'm like you. I love SEAL stories, RANGER stories, etc. I picked Navy SEAL for Gabe because it just fit him. And I'd already done some research on SEALs so everything seemed to work together in the story for him to be a SEAL...with a troubled past!

Will we ever find out exactly what happened to Micah? I don't believe for a minute that he's really dead...

YES! You will find out in book two. RIVER OF SECRETS is coming out in August of 2008 and you'll know exactly what happened to him... I LOVED writing that story.

Thanks, Lynette! I for one am very much looking forward to RIVER OF SECRETS.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Spotlight on Europe

Today we're going to take a look at a Ruth Axtell Morren's Winter Is Past. It's the first book in her Regency series, and was also her debut novel in 2003.

From Amazon:

A rising star in Parliament, widower Simon Aguilar needs a reliable woman to care for his gravely ill daughter, Rebecca. He finds an exemplary nurse -- and much more -- in the indomitable Althea Breton.

Raised amid privilege, Althea renounced wealth and social position to serve God, and is reluctant to work for a man who became a Christian only to further his political career. But realizing that all things are possible with God's love, she accepts the position in the Aguilar household.

Despite Simon's skepticism, Althea comforts Rebecca by teaching her about God and salvation. Meanwhile, an attraction grows between the darkly handsome MP and the understated beauty whose integrity and competence win over his entire household. Althea admires Simon's devotion as a father, his sense of justice as a politician and his tenderness as a man, but his antipathy toward her faith divides them. When Simon's world suddenly falls apart, can Althea convince him to open his heart to God's love -- and her own?

The series is up to 4 books now, with the most recent addition being The Rogue's Redemption.

Ruth will also have a couple books coming out later this year in the LI Historical line.

In other Spotlight On Europe news, I have The Briton in my hands and have thoroughly enjoyed the first chapter. I'll post a review once I've finished it.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

And now...

Welcome to! My blogger address will still work, as does

I'm not ready to have actual content on my website, but I am ready to start building name recognition. I did make the banner, and it'll do for now. Historical fiction is my first love, and I've already established a history presence on this blog, so I think the new banner captures that. It also uses the image that I want associated with my name. Whenever people hear "Russia", one of the first images their mind presents is St. Basil's Cathedral. Someday I hope to be able to use my own photograph of St. Basil's on my website. But for now, I'll make do with clip art.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Friday Fact

Napoleon is most remembered as a military genius. If you ignore Waterloo... He had a far more lasting effect on the world of fashion.

The French Revolution decimated all levels of French society. People were starving and the economy tanked. That's part of how Napoleon was able to come to power with very little opposition. One of the first things that he did, and one of the least known things, was to set about reviving the French fashion industry. This included making of fabric and the lace industry. Before the Revolution, French lace was the best lace in the world.

He did this by issuing very strict court apparel guidelines. Every single time a woman appeared in court, she had to wear a different dress. Even if she appeared 3 times in the same day, she couldn't wear the same dress. This led to an unnaturally high demand for fine fabrics and lace, thereby giving the stagnant lace industry the exact boost it needed to come back to life. Sometimes the dresses could be remade, but most ladies chose to just get another one.

This edict had many other side effects. Seamstresses never ran out of business, lace exports went back up and dress shops abounded. It put France back on the forefront of European fashion. During the Revolution years, that honor belonged solely to England. The Spencer jacket is English in origin, and is the one clothing item most associated with the Regency/Empire period.

From my perspective, the best side effect was the vast number of beautiful dresses that were left behind by all these court ladies. Since they could only wear the dress once, the fabric wasn't repeatedly exposed to body oils and sweat. Fabric lasts longer that way. There are literally hundreds of surviving Empire gowns for costume historians to go nuts over. No other pre-20th century fashion era has more surviving clothing than the French Empire.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Spotlight on Europe

Recently released is the third book in Tricia Goyer's Spanish Civil War series. You may have noticed the book mentioned Monday when I posted about the scavenger hunt game that's going on.

From CBD:
The fighting between the Nationalists and the Republicans grinds on across Spain, threatening to destroy everything and everyone in its path. International volunteers Sophie, Philip, and Deion are slowly coming to grips with the fact that if they are going to survive to help the people of Spain, they must escape this foreign land soon. But the line between friends and enemies is increasingly blurred, and the journey out of the country is fraught with danger. And then there's the gold. Walt has a plan for the treasure that he promises will help the people of Spain if Sophie will help him get it out of the country. But Michael is hot on their trail with plans of his own for the precious metal. The Whisper of Freedom reminds readers that victory is often unsure in times of war. Danger and darkness can threaten to silence all courage and faith. But as this committed band of volunteers and Spanish patriots learns-hope is more precious than gold.

This series has been getting a lot of buzz because of the time period. The 1930's. Tricia's been getting a lot of flak for having characters who are Communist. In my mind this is how it should be. Back then Communism was very appealing. People all over the US and Europe were starving and Communism promised food for everyone. Lenin's Bolshevik rallying cry was "End the War and bread for everyone!". The cry worked, even though the bread for everyone part never came true. But Americans didn't know that part then.

To me, this is another classic example of people trying to judge history according to what we know today. It doesn't work that way. What we know now about Communism, we didn't know back then. Nobody knew that Stalin was a despot dictator who killed more Jews than Hitler. Nobody knew he was paranoid or that the Russian people were starving to death.


I've been a really really bad blogger the last couple weeks. My excuse is that I've been caught up in training for my new job and I've been totally focused on that. To the exclusion of everything else, lol. But training is just about done so I hopefully shall be returning to the land of regularity very soon.

Monday, February 11, 2008

It's a Historical Scavenger Hunt!!!

It’s a Historical Scavenger Hunt!

Playing is easy. Get the list of clues at Then visit the links below to learn about the authors and their books—you’ll find the answers to the clues in the Q&A posted there! Once you have all 18 answers, send an email to to be entered to win:

Six autographed books!

A Whisper of Freedom by Tricia Goyer

The Lady of Milkweed Manor by Julie Klassen

A Passion Most Pure by Julie Lessman

The Sovereign’s Daughter by Susan K. Downs & Susan May Warren

The Rogue’s Redemption by Ruth Axtell Morren

On Sparrow Hill by Maureen Lang

Visit these sites for the clues!