In High Cotton

by Ane Mulligan  @AneMulligan

Do you ever wonder how authors choose their settings? Ane Mulligan, author of many Southern Fried Fiction novels, shares her process for her latest story, the first book in a series. She is also offering an e-book giveaway to someone who leaves her a comment.

A Journey of Discovery

I like to set my stories in fictional towns. Once I know who my characters are, I draw a map and place the businesses and houses where I want them. That way, nobody can say there wasn’t a store on that street. 

After writing five contemporary novels, my agent liked the premise of In High Cotton.She noted that it fit my brand of ensemble casts of strong Southern women, facing life’s issues together. She gave her blessing on the Georgia Magnolias series.

I wanted a rural setting for In High Cotton. I discovered an area around Uvalda in southeast Georgia. There is hardly anything near it, except two rivers (the Ocmulgee and the Oconee) converge near there to form a third (the Altamaha). The Indians called this area “Where Rivers End.” That gave me my town’s name of Rivers End.

As a kid, I spent summers at my cousins’ home in Winkelman, Arizona. I know. What kid spends summers in Arizona? It was heaven—a real-life cowboys and Indians town. My cousin owned an old Army Jeep I got to drive as a ten-year-old. What fun we had, chasing wild burros, every turn around tall Saguaros, spewing sand and dirt. 

Winkelman had a population of around 600, and my cousin owned a small grocery store. He let me work in it in the afternoons, when even kids melt in the desert sun. That served as my model for Parker’s grocery. 

From there, I let my imagination take over. I gathered lists of food costs, what was available, what Maggie (my heroine) would have carried in the grocery. Campbells only had twenty-one varieties at the time. Today, that number is 226. 

That led me to wonder about Depression era recipes. I’ve included several in the book, ones I found interesting. One thing I noticed, Georgians use peanuts as a staple source of protein. They were in many of the recipes I unearthed.

I’ve found I love writing in the Depression era. I’m looking at WWII for a potential series, too. But whatever the era, readers can count of it being Southern-fried fiction. What’s that? It’s strong, plucky women and loyal friendships, all served up with a dash of humor and a lot of heart. 

Ane Mulligan has been a voracious reader ever since her mom instilled within her a love of reading at age three, escaping into worlds otherwise unknown. But when Ane saw PETER PAN on stage, she was struck with a fever from which she never recovered—stage fever. She submerged herself in drama through high school and college. One day, her two loves collided, and a bestselling, award-winning novelist emerged. She lives in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a rascally Rottweiler. Find Ane on her websiteAmazon Author pageFacebookTwitterInstagramPinterestand The Write Conversation.  

In High Cotton, releasing August 3rd

Southern women may look as delicate as flowers, but there’s iron in their veins.

While the rest of the world has been roaring through the 1920s, times are hardscrabble in rural South Georgia. Widow Maggie Parker is barely surviving while raising her young son alone. Then as banks begin to fail, her father-in-law threatens to take her son and sell off her livelihood—the grocery store her husband left her. Can five Southern women band together, using their wisdom and wiles to stop him and survive the Great Depression?

Available on Amazon, LPCBooks, Target, and in bookstores.

Wings Like A Dove

If you need a good midwinter read, Camille Eide has one to offer. AND, she’s giving away a free e-book to one commenter here.

Here’s a taste of the story:

“Anna?” His voice was breathless with wonder. Thomas dipped his head closer and peered into her eyes, studying her carefully.

As clearly as if in a waking dream, she saw herself married to Thomas, saw herself loving him with all of her heart and soul. Which, of course, was impossible. Painfully so. Quickly, she dropped her gaze, blocking his scrutiny. Surely her eyes would give away both her foolish feelings and her dirtiness.

He reached up with his fingertips and gently tilted her chin upward, forcing her to look him in the eye. “Forgive me, but … I need to see if that was just my imagination.”

She swallowed hard. Look away, Anna …

And now, a little more about this novel.

Wings Like a Dove by Camille Eide

Have you ever felt as if you didn’t belong?

Growing up, Anna lived through many upheavals and displacements and has never truly felt at home anywhere, but at least she always had her family. Home was wherever she and her mother and siblings were. But since her family has come to America, she has found this new country not as welcoming as she had been made to believe. This feeling intensifies when, turned out of her home, she finds herself in a place where Jews are despised. But this time, Anna is far from family and friends. She is wired for community, thriving best when part of a larger whole, but now, alone in this strange, hostile environment, she faces not only danger without, but also heartbreaking loneliness within. 

Unwed and pregnant, adrift and alone, Anna finds not only solace and refuge among the rag tag family of orphans and their kind caretaker, but also champions. Thomas and the boys have taken a stand against the wave of bigotry in their community and refuse to be bullied. In their home, Anna may have found refuge and shelter against hate, but then again, she may have only landed in the eye of a storm. Finding out where she belongs in the world will have to wait. What she needs now is to protect herself, her unborn child, and this family she has grown to love… even though it means leaving her heart behind with these boys and the man who would do whatever it takes to raise them into men of faith, compassion, and honor. A man who longs for Anna in ways she is desperate to forget.

Anna faces hatred and danger, but her biggest fear is that she will never truly belong, never feel anchored again.

If you’ve moved a lot growing up or in life, what anchors you?

About the Book:

Can the invisible walls that separate people ever come down?

In 1933, Anna Leibowicz is convinced that the American dream that brought her Jewish family here from Poland is nothing but an illusion. Her father has vanished. Her dreams of college can’t make it past the sweat-shop door. And when she discovers to her shame and horror that she’s with child, her mother gives her little choice but to leave her family. Deciding her best course of action is to try to find her father, she strikes out . . . hoping against hope to somehow redeem them both.

When Anna stumbles upon a house full of orphan boys in rural Indiana who are in desperate need of a tutor, she agrees to postpone her journey. But she knows from the moment she meets their contemplative, deep-hearted caretaker, Thomas Chandler, that she doesn’t dare risk staying too long. She can’t afford to open her heart to them, to him. She can’t risk letting her secrets out.

All too soon, the townspeople realize she’s not like them and treat her with the same disdain they give the Sisters of Mercy — the nuns who help Thomas and the boys — and Samuel, the quiet colored boy Thomas has taken in. With the Klan presence in the town growing ever stronger and the danger to this family increasing the longer she stays, Anna is torn between fleeing to keep them safe . . . and staying to fight beside them.

About the Author:

Camille Eide is the award-winning author of inspirational fiction including The Memoir of Johnny Devine. She lives near the Oregon Cascades with her husband and is Mom, Grammy, and enjoys the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. She also loves the liberating truth and wisdom of God’s word, and hopes that her stories will stir your heart, strengthen your faith, and encourage you on your journey.

Her other titles include:Savanna’s Gift(Christmas), Like There’s No Tomorrow, Like a Love Song, The Memoir of Johnny Devine, and The Healer(exclusive to newsletter subscribers).

Please visit her website at www.camilleeide.com

An END OF THE YEAR WWII RELEASE!!

I’m always grateful for new friends gathered during the year, and 2019 has brought me a written friend from Idaho. I’m so looking forward to getting to know her better during the new year, and am delighted to share her new historical novel with readers. Happily, I’ve read this story, and still think about its characters. If you enjoy historical fiction of this era, this book belongs on your reading list!

Jan is offering a free paperback copy of ALL MY GOOD-BYES to one commenter here. Now, she shares with us a little of her family history behind this novel.

I Wish I’d Known

It dawned on me the other day that I was born just 9 years after the end of WW2. This boggles my mind. As I have been researching for my latest release, set in those years, I had it set in my mind that the war was far removed from me. But the more we discover about our pasts, the more we realize how things that happen long ago effect who we are today. 

If it had not been for certain circumstances of the war, I would not be here at all. I don’t mean to sound mysterious, okay maybe I do, but legacies were cut short for many of the men and women who fought and died then. World War II changed the course of history for families everywhere. 

I had to research to find out how my life came to be, because my parents both were gone by the time I became interested in their stories. I never bothered to prod them about their experiences as they lived through the depression and the war. I took for granted that life had been as smooth as mine. I never realized there were so many secrets unspoken, so many unpleasant memories tucked down deep. By the time I felt the weight of the past calling me to write, it was too late to ask those close to me all the important questions. 

This is now a sort of mission for me – to encourage folks to talk to their aging parents and grandparents and even great-grandparents. Some may still not want to explain their experiences, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Most of them have rich stories that should be written down and passed down to the next generation. How tragic that so many of these stories are being lost as the people of those war years die. 

One thing I discovered as I pulled out family photos and documents is that most of them were not marked with names and dates. It would have been so much easier to put the puzzle pieces of my family together if those items had been identified. This is something each family can do when they are together for the holidays – catalog all those pictures of places and people. 

As I finished up my historical series, I was so thankful for the treasures of knowledge I had gained. But I long for more. I want my children to know where they came from and the solid, courageous, and honorable heritage they can be proud of. I tell what I know, even when they look bored or roll their eyes.

But I’ve noticed one thing…the little ones are fascinated by the stories I tell. 

Like me, my grown children may not be all that interested until it’s too late, but when I’m not around to tell them anymore, my books will be. This is why I must keep writing them. It’s my way to leave the story legacy of the family for the future. 

I hope if you haven’t gleaned those experiences from your loved ones that you will take a few minutes to make a plan for the new year. Go through your closets and find the old albums and use them to start conversations with your elders. Or if you are the elder, initiate a reveal of those special memories. 

My book All My Goodbyes is based on the life of my mother and I hope the parts I had to guess about are close to accurate. It is a work of fiction but with real life entwined, with a surprise at the end. I hope you will read it to inspire you to uncover your own legacy. 

I would love for you to follow me on Facebook at Jan Cline author. Also, you can check out my website and sign up for my monthly newsletter to receive a free short story. Jancline.net

Blessings to your and your family. 

Jan

The Lure of Historical Romance

Here’s a genre we don’t often feature: Regency Romance, by Karen Cogan. Karen, welcome to DARE TO BLOOM. I really like the play on words in your title. And here’s the cover . . . Karen is offering a FREE download…go for it!

The Lure of Historical Romance

Do you find historical romance intriguing? I personally love a good Regency novel. The quaint customs of language and activities are fascinating  Unlike our evening at the movies, their evening at the theater lasted most of the night. Sometimes a local blacksmith might set bones for humans as well as for animals. Drinking the water at Bath, England was said to cure gout, lameness, infertility, and diseases of the skin along with many other ailments.

The speech of this time was charming. Women “took a turn” around the parlor or garden”, meaning they took a walk. They used the term “droll” to mean odd, humorous, or whimsical. If they“fancied” a crumpet or spot of tea, it meant they wanted it. This infatuation with the speech and customs inspired the writing of my Regency romances.

My most recent clean Regency novel is titled A Relative Matter. In this story, we are introduced to Anne and her young brother, Jeremy as they arrive from India to live with their grandfather in England. Though they do not know him, the kindly man proves a balm for their hearts wounded by the death of their parents. When their grandfather also dies, he leaves the estate to Jeremy. Since the boy is not yet of age, his grandfather’s nephew, a man with a mysterious past, is named guardian of the property and soon arrives to take up his duty. Though he is kind and loving to Anne and Jeremy, he has a son who is evil and cunning and stands to inherit the estate should Jeremy die. Since he intends to inherit it, he will stop at nothing to get his hands on the property.

Meanwhile, Anne keeps company with Lord Westerfield who is kind and handsome and deeply in love with her. As murder and threats of murder soon threaten young Jeremy, Lord Westerfield is the only one standing between Jeremy and death. Will he be able to protect him?

A Relative Matter is a free download at kecogan.blog and scroll down to the novel.

You may also connect with Karen at https://www.facebook.com/karencoganfanpage/

Novels and More Group:  https://www.facebook.com/Novels-and-More-438244389944940/

See my other Regency romance at: https://www.amazon.com/Karen-Cogan/e/B001JSB9XE%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/karencogan

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/cogan0238/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/karencogan2727/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/karencogan2727/

Blog: https://kecogan.blog/

Whom Shall I Fear?

Feeling Grateful For a Full Fridge: On Rationing and the Black Market in WWII Britain

What was it like for British citizens during World War II, when it came to feeding their hungry families? Read and see…and please leave author Anne Clare a comment, as she’s giving away a copy of her debut novel, Whom Shall I Fear to one commenter. I’ve read this book, and it reminded me that there’s ALWAYS more to learn about this tough time in history. Thanks for visiting!

As I’m writing this, it’s Saturday morning, which is “hot breakfast” morning in my family. This morning, I was in the mood for French Toast. I pulled open my fridge and grabbed eggs- there were plenty left from the 18 I’d bought last shopping run. The milk was a little low, but I could just pick up more later. With the cheap loaf of bread I’d picked up on sale yesterday, I was all set!

The steps between “I want this to eat” and “Hey kids, it’s breakfast time!”  were so simple that it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t always so.

Before the onset of the Second World War, the island nation of Great Britain had imported around 70% of its food—not to mention other goods—requiringmillionsof tons of shipping. 

Then, war broke out. 

German U-boat “wolf packs” prowled the Atlantic, blocking shipments, destroying ships, and threatening to starve Britain into submission. How were the British people to be sustained?

The British Ministry of Food enforced a strict rationing program to ensure that there would be sufficient food to go around. Families would register with local sellers to receive their weekly allotments. Lines, or “queues” were long, and families had to plan out how they would use their ration coupons and points from week to week—assuming, of course, that the items they were standing in line for wouldn’t have run out by the time they got to the front. 

THE HOME FRONT IN BRITAIN DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (D 25035) People queuing at a greengrocers in High Road, Wood Green, North London, a familiar wartime sight. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205195174

  People queuing at a greengrocers in High Road, Wood Green, North London, a familiar wartime sight. © IWM (D 25035)

Kitchen staples like milk, sugar and fat fell under rationing. Average weekly rations for an adult would include 8 oz sugar, 4 oz bacon or ham, 3 pints of milk, 2 oz of tea, and one fresh egg.*

“A shopkeeper cancels the coupons in a British housewife’s ration book for the tea, sugar, cooking fats and bacon she is allowed for one week. Most foods in Britain are rationed and some brand names are given the designation “National”” Photo and caption courtesy of Wikimedia commons.

Non-food items, like clothes, shoes, gasoline and soap, also fell under ration. 

However, fruit and vegetables did not, and many people participated in the “Dig for Victory” program, planting gardens in every available bit of soil. Others found clever ways to make up for items they couldn’t get—girls might paint their legs to simulate “stockings” or use beetroot juice to color lipstickless lips.

Some people, however, chose less reputablemeans to supplement their rationed goods. 

Illegal activities took many forms. In some cases, it might be as simple as someone “forgetting” to mention that an elderly relative had died and continuing to collect rations with their books. Or perhaps someone might raise chickens but not register the eggs that were produced. In the cities, bombed out buildings were a strong temptation for looters. And, as might be expected, a black market thrived. 

Don’t Touch Black Market Goods (Art.IWM PST 16537) whole: the image occupies the whole. The title is integrated and positioned across the centre, in red and in white. The text is integrated and placed in the lower quarter, in white and in yellow. image: a half-length depiction of a sinister-looking black market trader, seen in shadow so that only his eyes are clearly visible. He holds a parcel tied with a red ribbon in his hands. text: DON’T TOUCH… Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/33457

Image courtesy of the Imperial War Museum © IWM (Art.IWM PST 16537)

If someone wanted to find something and couldn’t through legal means, “spivs” had wares to offer, off the books, for a price. Even reputable shopkeepers might have a few things under the counter. As the war dragged on, even people who wouldn’t have considered theft in ordinary times might be tempted to supplement their rations if something that had “fallen off the back of a lorry” just happened to be for sale in their area. 

While some steered clear of illegal goods, the temptation was strong—according to the Imperial War Museum, “By March of 1941, 2,300 people had been prosecuted and severely penalized for fraud and dishonesty.” ** And there were still four years of war left to go.

As I was researching all of this for my recently released novel, Whom Shall I Fear?—in which one character finds himself deeply entangled in the underworld of the black market, with dangerous consequences—I found myself newly grateful for the often-overlooked blessings of a fully stocked pantry and grocery stores!

Thank you for letting me visit today, Gail! 

For more information, see my sources below, or for fascinating anecdotal stories about Britain’s wartime experiences, check out the BBC People’s War Archives. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/)

*Stats taken from the BBC news article “Breaking the Law During World War II” by Duncan Leatherdale ( https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-33566789)

**Quote taken from IMW article “What You Need To Know About Rationing In the Second World War” ( https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/what-you-need-to-know-about-rationing-in-the-second-world-war)

Connect with Anne online:

http://thenaptimeauthor.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/anne.clare.1610

Twitter: @anneclarewriter

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Whom+Shall+I+fear+anne+clare&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

Dwindling July Days. . . New Book Ideas

It’s that time of year . . . the dill shows so many shades of green and yellow. Today I found a few stems perfect for picking – my mother-in-law taught me the shade to look for, and of course, the pungent smell.

Tickweed blossoms in our back yard couldn’t be brighter.


And the zinnias are not to be outdone. Talk about the “layered look!”

Then there’s the phlox . . . plain old-fashioned lovely.

Being gone for a couple of weeks in the middle of summer brings surprises when you return. I’ve been “gone” from my blog for too long, too, and this gets me started again. I’ve been editing the first book in the Women of the Heartland series, though, so haven’t gone completely AWOL.

In Times Like These shall rise again . . . and be all the better for it.

Now, a book on very early Arizona history has captured my attention. I really can’t imagine what it would have been like to ride those gorgeous canyons, viewing Sedona’s gorgeous red rocks or the outrageous beauty of Mogollon Rim Country for the first time. What would it be like happening on the Tonto Natural Bridge on horseback, or seeing a saguaro cactus in the distance?

There might even be novel fodder here. Who knows?

Writing the Past: the Dust Bowl

Writing the Past: The Dust Bowl

Author Cleo Lampos visits with us today. I marvel at people surviving the Dust Bowl in the thirties, and Cleo’s parents did just that. During that time, people took whatever life gave them and did what they could to make ends meet. And Cleo has made this story from the Dust Bowl into a novel I’m looking forward to reading. She is offering a free book, e- or paperback, to one fortunate commenter. AuthoNow I’ll let her tell the story:

Blame it on the letters.

When my mother passed away, there was not much left of her earthly life. But a box of letters and journals came back to my home on the south side of Chicago. Too grieved to read them, they collected dust in the back of a closet until my age crossed the sixth decade. I decided to delve into my mother’s past.

Born in 1910, the oldest of eight children, Mom grew up on an Iowa farm and married my father in 1930. Just in time for the Great Depression.  I can hear her now, saying, “Your father always had a job. We had food.” Times were tough.

Cleo’s father.

My father dug irrigation ditches, spud cellars, or drainage ditches for highways. There are photos of him with his dragline surrounded by curious Lakota Indians. Because his work was location specific, the letters were addressed to 26 different addresses in Wyoming, Colorado and Utah in a five year period. The address to Greeley, Colorado remained for over twenty years because my big brother needed a permanent place to go to school.  Many of the letters were those written by my mother to my grandmother as she described her life out West.

It was first hand historical information with a personal appeal. Especially all the entries in the journal in which my mother is making another quilt square. She describes how she obtained the scraps needed to make the square, and the design used. Much fabric was taken from the remnants of the feed bags that she utilized to create aprons, curtains, and pillowcases. My sister guards one of the quilts that she made during this period. Quilting became important to me because it represents the women of this era.

While living in tents, cabin camps and a small wooden trailer hitched behind the dragline, my mom and dad visited Hoovervilles. They bought trinkets created by desperate people etching out bare subsistence. My parents carried their young son to view the mountains, square dance with sheep herders, and hunker in during the Black Blizzards that terrified even the most devout. All of these stories were in the letters and the journals of my mother.

Researching the decade of the 1930s uncovered so much information about the people who would become the Greatest Generation. With this background and my own perspective from living, the historical novel, Dust Between the Stitches,was written. As I penned this work, the emotions of the men and women who faced daily challenges of food, shelter, foreclosure, and destitution forced me to think of how they would respond. Much of what I researched pointed to a generation that held tenaciously to a faith forged from the difficulties of life. It is that solid-rock faith that I hope comes through in my writing.

Bio: Cleo Lampos was born in Greeley, Colorado, but lives on the south side of Chicago. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and from St. Xavier University-Chicago. After 26 years of teaching behavior disorder/emotionally disturbed students, she is retired with her husband, Vernon. Together they volunteer at the community pantry garden, and are urban farmers on their own city plot. Church and 11 grandchildren fill their lives with activities. Lampos has written numerous magazine articles, and seven books.

Contact Cleo at: FB: Author Cleo Lampos

Website: www.cleolampos.com

E-mail: cleolampos@gmail.com

RUSH…a Trip Back in Time

I’ve always thought it would be fun to bring an ancestor to life for a modern-day audience. A few months ago, I read Jayme Mansfield’s RUSH and vicariously spent some time claiming land in Oklahoma with Jayme’s great-great grandmother. Jayme is giving a print copy of RUSH to a commenter. 

Jayme, how did you choose your genre? What about the writing process for this genre challenges you most? 

I love reading historical fiction, so it’s a natural draw to write in that genre. Researching for accuracy and depth of story and characters is essential. Since there are so many means available for research, it’s not difficult as much as time-consuming—in a good way! I’ve learned so much while researching and find special gems of information to add to the stories. RUSH was particularly exciting to research as the story is based on my great-great grandmother’s experience in the 1893 Oklahoma Land Rush. My family had a treasure trove of letters, documents, photographs, and an oral history to pull from that brought her story to life.

Tell us about your characters. Do you have a favorite?

Several of the characters are closely based on real people from my family lineage. Mary Louisa Roberts is the real name of my great-great grandmother and the main protagonist. Her perseverance, independence, and faith are not only inspiring, but endearing for readers. Since I share her bloodline, I admit she is my favorite! To fictionalize her life and round out the story, I created several characters. One whom readers wish was real is the handsome and kind illustrative journalist from Boston who becomes Mary’s love interest. Of course, there are several bad guys, and one in particular makes the skin crawl!

What struggles in Mary Louisa’s story are still applicable for women today?

Even though life is much different today than back in 1893, women often still struggle with identifying and following their true calling, especially in the midst of caring for others. Mary is not only a woman in a man’s world, but she is a single mother of a young child. Forgiveness, daring to love again, and trusting are timeless challenges.

What underlying moral premise undergirds your story? (What universal truth can readers take away?)

RUSH’s book trailer, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lbdg6w0c3JA, shares the message that there’s something special about the past—it draws us in and reminds us we are part of it. It’s a beautiful trailer and I hope you take a brief moment to enjoy it.

In what ways has writing changed your life?

Oh, where to begin? Besides all the wonderful people who are now part of my life, my work focus has shifted from teaching language arts and visual arts to primarily writing. I still spend a great deal of time running my art studio, but writing seems to permeate everything and is always on my mind.

Gail, thank you for inviting me to share about my passion for writing. Here’s to all of us crazy about books!

Jayme H. Mansfield is an author, artist, and educator. Her award-winning novels, Chasing the Butterfly and RUSH, are book club favorites and Amazon bestsellers.

Her stories weave artistic, visual imagery with compelling plots and captivating characters. Romance, nuggets from the past, and timeless truths provide the fiber to make her novels rich and memorable.

Jayme lives in Lakewood, Colorado, where she and her husband have survived raising three hungry, hockey-playing sons. Currently, a very needy Golden Retriever runs the roost. When Jayme isn’t writing, she teaches art to children and adults at her long-time art studio, Piggy Toes.

Visit Jayme at www.jaymehmansfield.com and subscribe to her monthly newsletter. She’d also love to connect with you on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/JaymeHMansfieldAuthor/

 

Writing Through Immersion

Please welcome Norma Gail Thurston Holtman today, who is giving away either a paper or e-copy of her debut romance novel Land of My Dreams. Your choice, just leave your contact into with your comment.

Norma, please tell us how your work takes shape. 

LoMD Bookvana cover

When the idea for a story begins to consume my mind, I mull it over for days or weeks until I grasp the characters and setting. I’m a pantster, only plotting when I get stuck or something doesn’t work.

When I finally sit down at the computer, I write in layers, first getting concepts on paper, the story deepening with each pass. Each time through the story, I concentrate on stronger hooks at the beginning and end of scenes. The characters emotions deepen, their dialogue strengthens, their interactions with setting and other characters reveal deeper meaning, and the plot intensifies. Most important, the spiritual journey of the characters congeals.

Creating a story world is very much like a method actor preparing for a role. Immersion is the key. See the setting as another character. Read books, watch movies, talk to people, do anything that helps you identify with every possible aspect of what your characters will experience. Live their life in your mind.

I create playlists on my phone for each story, try the food, travel if possible, and craft metaphors that paint clear pictures for my reader. I make screensavers that contain hundreds of photographs showing flora, fauna, geography, architecture, and everyday activities.

Research is critical. I study the geographical area, time-period of the novel, history, local hotspots, food, clothing, traditions, music, and matters of importance to the people. These have to be believable and recognizable to people who live or visit there. There is nothing wrong in creating fictional places, but there needs to be a balance with reality.

 

My debut novel, Land of My Dreams is set in Scotland and New Mexico. I do a lot of contrast and comparison, and readers seem to like it. Scots-Gaelic and lowland Scots, as well as slang create interesting language differences. The Scottish people use English words in ways that are unfamiliar to Americans. In my home state of New Mexico, both Spanish and Native American words are part of everyday conversation. The two locations create some interesting interactions between the characters.

 Writing fiction is a great adventure. At some point, the writer and characters merge and the characters take over; leading to scenarios the writer never imagined. When the writer feels the emotions of the characters, readers will as well. © Norma Gail Thurston Holtman, August 28, 2017

Norma 2017

Norma Gail’s debut contemporary Christian romance, Land of My Dreams, won the 2016 Bookvana Religious Fiction Award. A women’s Bible study leader for over 21 years, her devotionals and poetry have appeared at ChristianDevotions.us, the Stitches Thru Time blog, and in “The Secret Place.” She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Historical Writers of America, and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Norma is a former RN who lives in the mountains of New Mexico with her husband of 41 years. They have two adult children. If you’re interested in connecting with me, I invite you to follow my blog, join me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Goodreads, or Amazon.

 

HISTORICALS: STAYING TRUE TO THE TIME

I’m glad to welcome Cynthia Roemer as she celebrates the publication of her first historical novel. Cynthia, please tell us about your experience researching this story.

Book cover - final

I’m as old-fashioned as they come, so historical novels are a perfect fit for me—both reading and writing. As a reader, I love the nostalgia and all the life lessons one can learn from those who’ve gone before us. But as a writer, I enjoy delving into the past and researching the time period, more specifically the nineteenth century. When writing a historical/historical romance novel, research is a must to ensure the book is true to the time period.

My debut novel, Under This Same Sky, which released in late April, took place in 1854. I’ve been thrilled at some of the comments thus far by reviewers stating the novel “makes you feel exactly like you lived back in those days”. How gratifying such comments are to an author who’s spent countless hours trying to be certain every detail is true and accurate.

The well-known facts are easy to achieve. Under This Same Sky took place on the Illinois prairie in the mid-1800s. Most everyone knows settlers lived in log cabins, but do they know how the cabins were erected and what materials were used to chink the log walls? It’s widely known that covered wagons were often used when traveling across the prairie, but not many will know that a bucket of tallow was kept handy so that when the wheels began to squeak and squeal they had to be greased much like a car engine needs oil to run smoothly.

There were so many questions I had to ask as I wrote the novel: What type of clothing was worn in 1854? What farming equipment was available? Had screen doors been invented? How would my characters cross the Mississippi? What would the city of St. Louis have looked like back then? What type of lighting was used? It’s these fine details that make a novel either believable or, if left out, leave readers with a less than satisfied reaction.

Though research is a vital part of writing a historical novel, that’s not to say a writer can’t have a little fun creating fictional people and places along with the true ones. Under This Same Sky is a blend of fictional and real. My main character, Becky Hollister grows up a few miles outside of the fictional town of Miller Creek, IL, but later travels to the very real town of St. Louis, Missouri. Only one of my characters is based on a real person. The others are products of my imagination.

What’s wonderful about historical fiction is that we can have the best of both worlds—the reality of the past blended with the creativity of fiction. A match that—in this author’s opinion, can’t be beat!

            ~ She thought she’d lost everything ~ Instead she found what she needed most. ~

Illinois ~ 1854

Becky Hollister wants nothing more than to live out her days on the prairie, building a life for herself alongside her future husband. But when a tornado rips through her parents’ farm, killing her mother and sister, she must leave the only home she’s ever known and the man she’s begun to love to accompany her injured father to St. Louis.

Catapulted into a world of unknowns, Becky finds solace in corresponding with Matthew Brody, the handsome pastor back home. But when word comes that he is all but engaged to someone else, she must call upon her faith to decipher her future.

bio1

Cynthia Roemer is an award-winning inspirational writer with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the lives of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the 1800s prairie. She writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband and their two college-aged sons.

 Contact Info:

Website: http://cynthiaroemer.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com@cynthiaroemer

 

Purchase Info:

Available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Under-This-Same-Cynthia-Roemer/dp/194509415X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1494271640&sr=8-1&keywords=under+this+same+sky