Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tamera Lynn Kraft's Search for History Part One

Today we're delighted to welcome Tamera Lynn Kraft to Novel PASTimes. Tamera has always loved adventures and writes Christian historical fiction set in America because there are so many adventures in American history. She is married to the love of her life, has two grown children, and lives in Akron, Ohio.

Tamera is the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire For Kids where she mentors other children’s leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist. She has curriculum published and is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry.
Welcome to PASTimes! Thanks for joining us and sharing a bit about your writing world. Tell us about your latest book.

A Christmas Promise is a Moravian Christmas story set in the wilderness of Ohio. In 1773, there were a band of missionaries and Lenape Indians celebrating Christmas at Schoenbrunn Village, the first settlement in Ohio. They’d come to this wilderness and started the village a year earlier to preach the Gospel to the Lenape, also known as the Deleware.

This is the setting for A Christmas Promise. John and Anna settle in this Ohio village to become Moravian missionaries to the Lenape. When John is called away to help at another settlement two days before Christmas, he promises he’ll be back by Christmas Day.

When he doesn’t show up, Anna works hard to not fear the worst while she provides her children with a traditional Moravian Christmas.
Through it all, she discovers a Christmas promise that will give her the peace she craves.

Tell us about your books. What drew you to write them?

My stories always come from interesting things I learn about history, usually American history. For instance, when I visited Schoenbrunn Village and found out about the missionaries that lived there, I wondered what their lives would be like. Did they ever worry about the dangers of raising their families in the wilderness among hostile tribes? That's how A Christmas Promise started.

Another novella that was published, Soldier’s Heart, came about when I read about the heroic Ohio Seventh regiment that lost most of their men in their last battle. I wondered what it would be like for a soldier returning home from the Civil War with PTSD after losing his men in a time where there were no treatments for it.

Another one of my stories that hasn’t been published yet is about a woman abolitionist who attends Oberlin College, the only college before the Civil War that allowed blacks and women. She returns home during break to confront her father who is a slave owner. I wrote that story after reading about the women who graduated from Oberlin and how they were involved in every social cause in the late 1800s including abolition. I started wondering what it would be like for an abolitionist to stand up to her family. It’s called Red Sky over America.


As long as there are interesting facts to read about in American history, I’ll never run out of story ideas.

Tamera will be back tomorrow to tell us more about her writing. She's also giving away a copy of one of her books. To enter, please answer the following question in a comment: What favorite Christmas traditions do you use to celebrate every year?

And be sure to come back tomorrow for the rest of this interview.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Travel Guides and Historical Fiction


Today we welcome Michelle Ule, our guest blogger.


Who knew how important travel guides would be when I wrote a book set in Egypt 100 years ago?

You say Egypt and people think pyramids, King Tut and Luxor; all the famous places tourists have been visiting for years.

Since we know the pyramids have been there forever, I turned to a guide book to give me a sense of the where and what–as in, where are these tourist spots, what’s the weather like and what do people eat? I focused on the timeless–what would have been the same in 1914 as it is today.

So I checked travel guides–they’d have the basic information I need and provide maps, along with perspective. I started with Lonely Planet’s Egypt.

Lonely Planet’s travel guide gave me an overview of the entire country and its history. The index enabled me to look up items pertinent to my story: like just where the pyramids are in relation to Old Cairo, for example. It included a glossary of common terms an English speaker might need, including how to pronounce them.

Lonely Planet Egypt also interpreted foreign customs. Many understand “baksheesh,” and a beggar’s desire for a tip, but who knew a loud hissing sound is their way of saying, “watch out?” 

The travel guide that excited me most was found through Google books: Baedeker‘s 1914 Egypt.

The information is priceless! I learned the name of an occulist and his advice for guarding your eyes in a sandstorm; which tram to catch to Heliopolis and how much it cost (along with the schedule); that crows and kites live in the few city parks; the Fishmarket (which is not close to the Nile) is a disreputable quarter and soothsayers squat beside the road to tell fortunes by consulting the sand!

As this was the actual guide used by people living 100 years ago to tour the country, the details were extraordinary. It provided the names of shipping firms (including the ships that sailed between Southampton and Alexandria); explained how to catch the train and described the dusty exhibits in the Egyptian Museum–all information I used.

From Baedeker, I learned the streets were filled with the sounds of “cracking driver’s whips, jingling money at the table changers and the rattling of the brazen vessels carried by water carriers.” I’d never have imagined those sensory details.

He spared us information on the smells, but did provide a list of restaurants in Cairo and included warnings about places respectable ladies should not visit.


Travel guides might not be the first choice for a writer’s research, but their overviews and insights can supply details that make a story come alive—no matter in what armchair or what century you’re reading them!


Michelle Ule is a best-selling author of inspirational and historical fiction who lives with her family in northern California. When not traveling herself, she likes to read about foreign lands. Visit her website at www.michelleule.com


Friday, October 17, 2014

This Week's Winner

So happy to hear many of you like several different historical periods in your fiction!

This week's winner of Misty Beller's The Lady and the Mountain Man is Britney! Congrats! I already have your address, Britney.

Have a wonderful autumn weekend, everyone!

Cindy
www.facebook.com/cindyswriting

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Review: Hand of Fire


Hand of Fire

By Judith Starkston
Fireship Press, April 2014

About the Book

The Trojan War threatens Troy’s allies, and the Greek supply raids spread. A young healing priestess, designated as future queen, must defend her city against both divine anger and invading Greeks. She finds strength in visions of a handsome warrior god. Will that be enough when the half-immortal Achilles attacks? Hand of Fire, a tale of resilience and hope, blends history and legend in the untold story of Achilles’s famous captive, Briseis.

My Review

Starkston’s debut novel, Hand of Fire, is a retelling of Homer’s Iliad from an entirely different—and female—perspective. Here we hear of Achilles and the Trojan War through the eyes of Briseis, priestess of the healing goddess, Kamrusepa, and widow of the heir to the throne of Lyrnessos, which is sacked by Achilles and the Greeks. Briseis becomes Achilles’ prisoner and fights an attraction to the man who was responsible for the killing and plundering that destroyed her family and her city. Once a prisoner and in love with the doomed hero, Briseis becomes a pawn in the larger struggle, caught between two warring powers, Achilles and Agamemnon.

Briseis is a minor character in the Iliad and fans of the 2004 movie Troy might remember her as Achilles’ captive and lover in the movie, a girl of torn loyalties but still someone with a small role in the story. Here, Starkston brings Briseis to life and gives her the credit she is due. We experience her thoughts, her dreams, her perspective on the killing, raping, and pillaging of the Trojan War; her relationships with her family; and her growing fear as she is pulled between Achilles and Agamemnon.

Starkston dusts off the classic and gives the readers a view through the eyes of a participant, one who played an integral role in the events but one who has been largely overlooked by historians and readers over the years. We experience the events in ways that bind the reader to Briseis, a young woman in extraordinary circumstances but with more in common with modern women than one could imagine.

Starkston shows us the Trojan War in a whole new light, with a heroine that is fierce, brave, loyal, and intriguing. Everyone should experience the Trojan War through Briseis’s eyes.

Rebecca Henderson Palmer

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Author Misty Beller Talks about Misconceptions about Writers and Her Dream Office


 
Misty Beller writes Christian historical romance, and is the author of The Lady and the Mountain Man. She was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and two daughters now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.

God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.
You can find Misty on her website, blog, Goodreads, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

Misty is giving away a copy of her new novel, The Lady and the Mountain Man. The winner has a choice of paperback or e-book. To enter the drawing, leave a comment answering this question:

What's your favorite historical time period to read? (e.g. Biblical Fiction, Civil War, WWI, etc.)

Welcome back, Misty. Describe your workspace.

I tend to be a nomadic writer. My trusty laptop and I have written in a few coffee shops, on the beach, and around a campfire in the mountains. But most of my writing spots aren't nearly as romantic. I'm usually sitting Indian-style with my laptop on either my bed or the living room couch. One of the most important things for me is NO DISTRACTIONS. It's almost impossible for me to write with my husband or daughters around. Just too hard to get lost in the words.

Describe your dream workspace.

I would LOVE to have a cozy sitting room or library, with a comfortable overstuffed chair. With my laptop perched across my legs, and a cup of warm coffee on the side table, I would alternate between writing and looking out the window at a majestic mountain view. J Sounds perfect, right?

If you could be a character from your favorite historical novel, who would you be

That's a tough one. As authors, our goal is to make things pretty rough for our characters. I'm not sure I want to go through the things some of my favorite characters have had to go through! Carina Maria DeGratia lived such an exciting life in Kristen Heitzmann's series The Diamond of the Rockies. And I love how her Italian roots and family were so important to her. Or maybe I'd like to be Mariah Aubrey from Julie Klassen's The Girl in the Gatehouse. How exciting to be a secret female author in Regency England!

What is the biggest misconception the general public has about authors?

There are a couple major misconceptions, I think. The biggest is probably the perception that authors get to sit at their typewriter or notebook all day and write as our muse dictates. If only! There are so many other things required for successful authors, from blogging, to marketing, to months of editing. If I get to spend half of my "writing time" actually writing new words, I consider myself blessed!
 
What is the biggest misconception beginning writers have about being published?
 
That once you are published the first time, you're automatically "in" with all the rest of your books. That may be true with some authors and some publishing houses, but for many people that's not the case. So many factors play into whether that next book will be accepted for publication and by which publisher. How well did the last book sell? What's the genre and word count of the manuscript you're pitching? So much to consider!
 
What would you like readers to gain from reading your books?

I once heard James Rubart say that every pastor only has one sermon, and the same is true with writers. In other words, there's one big-picture theme that pours from each of our hearts and into our writing. For me, it's the message that trusting God's plan for our lives brings us to a better place than we could ever imagine. Each of my heroes or heroines may have different hang-ups that keep them from allowing God to take the reins, but I want my readers to get a glimpse of the amazing outcome when we finally release our lives into God's capable hands.
 
Thanks for joining us here on Favorite PASTimes. Any final words for readers or writers?
 
I'd love to leave you with one of my favorite scriptures, Ephesians 3:16-21 (NKJV):

That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,
That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
May be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—
To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,
To Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
 
Thanks for the interview, Misty. Remember to leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for a copy of The Lady and the Mountain Man. To enter, answer this question:
 
What's your favorite historical time period to read? (e.g. Biblical Fiction, Civil War, WWI, etc.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Author Misty Beller - Historicals Portray a Simpler Life


 
Misty Beller writes Christian historical romance, and is the author of The Lady and the Mountain Man. She was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and two daughters now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.

God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.
You can find Misty on her website, blog, Goodreads, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

Misty is giving away a copy of her new novel, The Lady and the Mountain Man. The winner has a choice of paperback or e-book. To enter the drawing, leave a comment answering this question:

What's your favorite historical time period to read? (e.g. Biblical Fiction, Civil War, WWI, etc.)
 
Hi, Misty. Welcome to PASTimes. Tell us a little about what you write.


I tend to be a bit of a sentimentalist, so Historical Romance is perfect for me! I love the simpler life, where there's no rat race. Just hard work, plenty of alone time (can you tell I'm an introvert?), and a strong family unit. My stories usual center around horses and ranching, which comes from my love for the animals. I was completely horse crazy growing up, and actually trained and showed horses professionally for a couple years after high school.


Are you a full-time writer or do you hold a day job? What is the biggest challenge/obstacle you face in protecting your writing time?

Alas, I'm not one of the lucky full-timers yet… (dramatic sigh)  Kidding aside, I do enjoy my day job, but between that and my family, writing time is precious! I try to devote an hour to writing at night after my daughters go to bed, and at least two hours per day on Saturday and Sunday. I've found that I have to be flexible, though. Some nights I'm just too brain-dead to write coherent sentences, and some days I can sneak in an extra hour. The rule I try hard to stick to is getting my word count in for each week.

What historical time periods interest you the most and how have you immersed yourself in a particular time period?

So far, my writing has stayed between 1860 and 1875. I really do love that time period for several reasons. First, it was the time when ranching was really taking off—the beginning of the heyday for cowboys. And there were still a lot of sparsely populated places out West, which make perfect locations for the remote settings in my books! 
I have many dear family members in California, so growing up, my grandparents took us on numerous road trips across the country (from South Carolina to Southern California) Each time, we would try to take a different route, and my favorite part was always when we reached those first few western states. Texas, Wyoming, Montana—I adore these wide-open spaces and amazing views God provides. They capture my heart anew every time. I love the way animals and ranching are critical to the people in those states, and history is treasured! So far, all three of the series I'm working on are set in one of these areas!

Introduce us briefly to the main characters in your most recent book.

Gideon is the handsome, quiet cowboy hero. He reminds me so much of my older brother, David! Leah is kind and poised, but has a pretty strong stubborn streak when she's made up her mind.

What are you working on now?

I'm so excited about it! I'm writing a sequel to my book under contract with Prism Book Group.
This one is about a young Mexican woman named Alejandra. After losing both her papa and her fiancé in the bloody Las Cuevas War of 1875, Alejandra is left with her beloved almost-mother-in-law and the real threat of starvation in their small Mexican village. But when they escape across the border to her mother-in-law's Texas birthplace where food is plentiful, can she learn to embrace the country who killed her husband, and open herself up to the opportunity of a new love?
This is still very much a work in progress, so that storyline may change some. But I love it!
 
A reader once asked me this question, and I thought it was a good one. Is there ever a time when you feel like your work is truly finished and complete?
Hmm… If I let myself, I would probably edit each manuscript until it's just two words shy of a short story. J But at some point, I have to make myself stop, and send that manuscript to the next step in the publishing process. By then, I've usually been brainstorming my next story so I'm getting excited about it.
 
Join Misty tomorrow as she talks more about her new novel, The Lady and the Mountain Man. To win a copy, don't forget to answer this question in the comments:  What's your favorite historical time period to read? (e.g. Biblical Fiction, Civil War, WWI, etc.)
 
 



Friday, October 10, 2014

This Week's Winner!

This week's winner of Sherry Kyle's new book Watercolor Dreams is Bonnie Roof! Congrats, Bonnie! I have already passed your address on to Sherry.



This weekend I'll be meeting readers at this book festival. What are your plans?





Happy reading,

Cindy