A New Year with an Author From the Past

We remember Robert Louis Stevenson, a Scottish novelist, for Treasure IslandKidnapped, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. But even a little research reveals another legacy this author left us.

Stevenson lived only forty-four years, became a literary celebrity during his brief lifetime, and ranks among the 26 most translated authors in the world. Literary geniuses Hemingway, Kipling, Jack London, and Arthur Conan Doyle admired his works, and G.K. Chesterton declared that Stevenson “seemed to pick the right word up on the point of his pen, like a man playing spillikins.’


Robert loved to travel, and fell in love with a married American woman in France. Eventually, she returned to the States, divorced her husband, and married Robert. He gained two stepsons in this marriage, and the couple continued to seek adventures in California, Hawaii, and Samoa.

Perhaps not the perfect example of piety, but neither was King David–and millions still read both men’s writings. Stevenson still exhibited faith. During these days between Christmas and New Year’s, I consider the winter storm bearing down on the route we’ll soon travel to Arizona, and his Christmas prayer informs me.

“Loving Father, Help us remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wise men. Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting.

Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clean hearts. May the Christmas morning make us happy to be Thy children, and the Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake, Amen!”

Acknowledging the world’s hate and evil, Stevenson prayed for deliverance and “… to be merry with clear hearts …”  What does this mean? Perhaps to face evil and hate head-on, yet still find joy. RobertLouisStevens_3125983b

Stevenson knew pain first-hand, since he suffered from hemorrhaging lungs and lived only to the age of forty-four. He wrote many of his best manuscripts from bed, including Treasure Island, conjured after drawing a map for his son. First serialized in a magazine, this story captivated young readers’ hearts.

Since Stevenson’s death in 1894, evil and hate continue to have a heyday. But this author’s prayer still calls us to share the angels’ song and marvel with the shepherds and wise men.

As we enter a new year, his words fit this hurting world’s needs–and ours, to be realistic, prayerful, grateful and forgiving. To be merry with clear hearts–and to use our creative gifts to the best of our ability.

Sounds like a goal for 2016!    


My guest today is Liz Tolsma, author of Remember the Lilies and the other works listed at the end of this interview.

IMG_5947-5x7-smLiz, how did you start writing and what has kept you writing?

I’ve always loved to make up little stories. My fifth grade teacher had us do a lot of creative writing. I remember how much fun it was to write a tall tale because I could be as creative as I wanted. She told me that she hoped to see me as a published authoress one day. That sparked the dream in me. I veered off on other paths for a while, but one day I decided that I didn’t want to get to the end of my life and wish I would have at least tried to follow my dream.

Tell us a little bit about Remember the Lilies.

Interred by the Japanese, missionary Irene Reynolds comes across a mysterious note while working at the censor’s office. She memorizes the parts she must black out and delivers it to wealthy nightclub owner Rand Sterling. Before she knows what’s happening, she’s drawn into a web of secrets and danger.

Rand Sterling wants nothing more than to reopen his nightclubs once the war ends. But slimy Frank Covey wants his hand in the till—and has news that could threaten Rand’s reputation if it became public. More importantly, beautiful and intriguing Irene Reynolds cannot discover this information if he expects to persuade her to become his wife.

When Irene is attacked by a sinister Japanese guard and their secrets are exposed, they must learn the true meaning of forgiveness—if they can stave off starvation until the American troops bring freedom.LiliesHairA (2)

What inspired you to write this particular novel? When I was putting together the proposal for this series, my son noticed they were all set in the European theater. As a big Pacific theater buff himself, he suggested I set one there. I had heard about Westerners being interned at Santo Tomas a few years before that, and it was a perfect fit.

What do you like most about the area where you live and/or grew up?

I love that we live in the country, near farm fields and hiking areas and that I have room for a large flower garden and a vegetable garden. But it’s only 20 minutes to town, and so when I need something or want to shop, I can be there quickly.

 How does your faith play into your writing?

Either my characters are wresting with their need for God or else their faith is being put to the test. God is stretching and growing them.

The not so obvious way is how it affects me. As I struggle along with these characters, I find myself growing. I spend time in the Word as I develop them and find my faith strengthened.

Any upcoming projects you can share with us?

Nothing set in stone yet, but I do have a publisher interested in another series, this one following three American women journalists during WWII. The first one is set in England during the London Blitz. Where can readers engage with you?

They can find me at:  www.liztolsma.com/




 Thanks so much for joining us, Liz. Readers, Liz welcomes your comments! 

Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Lives
Snow on the Tulips August 2013, 2014 Selah Award finalist, 2014 Carol Award
Daisies Are Forever May 2014
Remember the Lilies winter 2015
A Log Cabin Christmas now available



Landmark day

catchLandmark day . . . my daughter helped me join the ranks of bloggerdom. But for someone who loves to play with words, they escape me right now. I imagine I’ll do better tomorrow.

The book cover you see here motivated me to take this drastic step. All credit for that goes to Roseanna White, of Whitefire Publishing. The tracks remind me of the old “dead roads” on our Iowa farm as I grew up.

But in this writing life, no dead roads exist . . . only new paths to travel, unique routes to explore, and I’m thankful to be on the journey. I appreciate Jane, Machelle, and all my other writing friends who have cheered me on to this point.

Happy trails –