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

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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

 

Pursuing Gold – Striving for Excellence

Cynthia Simmons not only writes about characters who face huge odds, she’s faced them herself. Please tell us about your experience, Cynthia.

Have you ever faced a task so daunting and intimidating you wanted to run the opposite direction? I did. We homeschooled all of our children, but then the Lord presented me with a special gift: my fifth child with severe disabilities. I was already a busy mother, but had found my sweet spot, my comfortable zone in teaching.

When God landed sweet little Caleb in my lap, I was quite frustrated because I felt I couldn’t do more. That feeling only grew as he turned out to have grand mal seizures and multiple disabilities. The psychologist who tested my son commented on the myriad of weaknesses without corresponding strengths to help him overcome.

I remember telling the Lord I’d had enough, and that someone would write on my tombstone, “She Homeschooled.” Certainly I would be teaching him forever since getting him to learn even the simplest task took Herculean strength.

Just imagine teaching a child to count. I always handed my kids blocks, and we’d pick up a block as we said the numbers, “one, two, three, four.” That worked with my other children, but failed horribly with Caleb. You see, he expended so much effort to pick up a block that he couldn’t say the numbers. Getting the numbers in the correct order was almost impossible too. (We call that sequencing, which was one of his disabilities.)

Of course, I didn’t know the list of problems he harbored when I started. His bloodcurdling screams rattled me. Imagine your son screaming, “I’m stupid. I’m stupid, I’m stupid.” Oh how that hurt!

Looking back, I see the Lord’s guidance at his birth. We’d named him Caleb after the Caleb in the Old Testament who trusted God could defeat the Canaanites. After wandering in the wilderness with the other Jewish people, he was seventy-eight when he entered the Promised Land and eighty-five when he climbed the mountain to defeat the giants the Israelites had feared. We told Caleb that story so many times. His namesake persevered, and he and I had to do the same thing.

“…we exult in our tribulations knowing that tribulation brings perseverance…” Romans 5

I didn’t want to give up, though I often felt as if I were pushing a bus up a mountain. When I stopped to measure, I’d gone an inch. Caleb reversed letters and numbers, making it hard for him to read or write. I had to use special techniques to help him discern the shape and direction of anything on paper. We wrote letters in whipped cream, sand, cookie dough, and play dough.

It still took him months to connect the shape of the letter with the name and sound. After that gut wrenching battle, he learned to read and write. Caleb has boundless compassion for anyone unhappy or suffering. Just like a bee rushes to nectar, he finds that one discouraged person and tries to make him or her feel better.

I’ve given you a brief summary of Caleb’s intense battles. Now I understand staying with the job, and striving for excellence was what God wanted for my husband and I. Both of us grew during those grueling years. We worked hard, and God blessed our efforts. Let me encourage you to do the same in whatever difficulty you face.

 

PG cover

With his father dead and his business partner incapacitated, Peter Chandler inherits the leadership of a bank in economic crisis. With only a newly-minted college degree and little experience, Peter joins his partner’s daughter, Mary Beth Roper, in a struggle to keep C&R Bank afloat while the Civil War rages around Chattanooga. Political pressure for unsecured loans of gold to the government stirs up trouble as tempers and prices rise. Their problems multiply when Mary Beth discovers counterfeit money with Peter’s forged signature. Can they find the forger before the bank fails? The two friends must pursue gold on behalf of their business, as they learn to pursue their heavenly Father to find hope and peace. Cynthia is giving away a print copy of this novel to one commenter on this blog. 

Cynthia 3

A Chattanooga native, Cynthia L Simmons and her husband have five children and reside in Atlanta. A Bible teacher and former homeschool mother, she writes a column for Leading Hearts Magazine. She conducts writing workshops, served as past president of Christian Authors Guild and directs Atlanta Christian Writing Conference. “Cyndi” is fond of history and offers younger ladies the elegance of God’s wisdom. She hosts Heart of the Matter Radio and co-founded Homeschool Answers. Her author website is www.clsimmons.com.

A Holiday Toast to “Old” Writers…

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We woke up to the season’s first snow this morning, transforming our grey, early-December Iowa into a wonderland. Today I’m sharing author Jane Kirkpatrick’s November post, because it holds encouragement for “old” writers. Like a fresh snow covering, we have a great deal to offer the world. May her words bless your Christmas stockings off!

Francis Bacon wrote: “Age appears to be best in four things; old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.” I present this wisdom as four “old” authors this past month have spoken to me about getting published. They have terrific story ideas, the time and energy to pursue their craft and demonstrated perseverance. What they’ve shared about finding a publisher is astonishing. At one conference, an editor said publishing older authors for the first time is just not cost effective because they “don’t know how to do social media or even what a platform is.”

Of course we know what a platform is. It’s a pair of shoes. No, really, it’s a mission statement, what one is willing to stand behind and for. We older authors have had platforms for years as young people going to war or taking stands against them; about the environment; as parents advocating for kids; as business owners and/or employees working long hours with integrity because we believe in what we’re doing and in the communities we’re doing it in. We know how to create a writing platform, one we can stand on and for, just as we know how to write a story.

More importantly, we bring life experiences to the stories we tell. We know how to create empathy for a character because we’ve shown empathy for others in order to live in community. We know how to give voice to those seldom heard because we’ve been listening for years. And we know how to memorialize, how to write about what matters not only to ourselves but as ways to reach others, most of whom are much younger than we are. Perhaps we can prevent in real life the mistakes that our characters make by telling stories constructed on our platforms.

As for social media…one of my “wise” author friends noted, “We have networks from years of working, contacts made while researching, people excited for us in retirement as we pursue another occupation, that of becoming an author.” We can get thousands of friends and “likes” and Twitter followers. She noted too that while many of us aren’t savvy about social media, we have resources to hire people to help us with the technology required of this writing world. At the very least we have 15-year-old grandkids or nieces and nephews to offer guidance. And because we read and are a part of this fascinating world, we also undertake new challenges with vigor knowing that even old rats, when given new mazes, grow new brain cells. If an old rat can learn new tricks, I can!

With my latest book This Road We Traveled about (in part) a 66-year-old woman who didn’t accept her adult children’s plan for her life and struck out on the Oregon Trail with her own wagon, I’ve become especially sensitive to the passions of age. It was what Tabitha Moffat Brown accomplished after she was 66 years old in 1846 in her adopted state of Oregon that moved the 1987 legislature to name her “The Mother of Oregon.” Many of the historical women I write about came “of age” in what we might call their “old age.”

The Psalmist wrote “The Lord knows my lot. He makes my boundaries fall on pleasant places.” Personally, I think publishers are missing the passion of a great story when they let a border like age define an otherwise very pleasant place. Bring on that old wood, aged wine and trusted friends! And yes, old authors.

Thanks so much, Jane. If you’ve yet to read any of her wonderful historical fiction, now would be a great time for a taste! 

Seasonal Changes

Back in the forties, autumn saw my heroines harvesting the last produce from their victory gardens, hauling burlap bags of potatoes and carrots to the hideaway under the windmill, drying walnuts to pick through on winter nights, and stripping dry bean and pea pods to save for next year’s seed.

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With more time ahead for indoor work, perhaps some women looked forward to sewing and mending. Addie didn’t, that’s for sure. But she did enjoy knitting sweaters for the soldiers, and even tried her hand at fine stitching.

Recently, I found an amazing cache of someone’s hankies from that bygone era at a garage sale. The more I consider them, the more they overwhelm me with a sense of all the time someone spent  stitching their decorative touches.

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Can you imagine the hours this required? And how about these?

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So many colors … so much creativity. Picture some weary woman crafting these in her “leisure hours” after a full day of hard physical labor.

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Those of us with limited stitching skills (I sew on buttons and  do hemming. Period), stand in awe. Besides fashioning these gems, the Greatest Generation women and their forebears carefully laundered and ironed these useful items, these tear catchers.

How things have changed, eh? Paper tissues catch our tears during life’s ups and downs. I’ve been going through some changes too. Yep. Because of an eye challenge, my computer time is now greatly limited – yes, I’m looking into one of those new-fangled speak-into-your-computer programs.

The past few weeks may have found me remiss with online duties, and that may continue. But stories still bounce around in my head, and the sequel to In Times LIke These will release with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas in February 2017.

Several readers have encouraged me lately with their reviews of Addie’s story – one woman commended me for not giving Addie an easy way out. I try to hard to avoid pat answers, which really don’t help struggling people much. In her words:

            I appreciated that you didn’t have easy answers for Addie’s troubles.  I tend to shy-away from Christian fiction for fear of the platitudes. I have recommended this read to a couple of my friends.

So satisfying – words from readers mean so much! For those who’d like to communicate with me, I check my e-mail address gkittleson@myomnitel.com, most often. Thank you.

And thanks for your patience, and oh! I’ve shared the title of the sequel numerous times, but it’s been changed to With Each New Dawn

As fall transforms into winter, may you keep discovering new reading delights!