Susan G. Mather shares her transition to writing Historical Fiction

Susan Mathis joins me today to talk about her latest release and how her journey shifted from writing non-fiction to writing Historical Fiction.

Thank you for joining us. Susan, you’ve had a long career in writing. Tell us how your journey shifted to writing novels.

I can’t remember not writing. I’ve taught Language Arts for nine years to 4-8 graders, had my own newspaper column, wrote missions curriculum, and have written just about anything God put in my path.

 

Before I jumped into the fiction world, I served as the Founding Editor of Thriving Family magazine and the former Editor/Editorial Director of 12 Focus on the Family publications. My first two published books were nonfiction, co-authored with my husband, Dale. I also authored two picture books and am published in various book compilations including three Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Ready to Wed, Supporting Families Through Meaningful Ministry, The Christian Leadership Experience, and Spiritual Mentoring of Teens. 

 

I swore I’d never write fiction, but never say never! My hubby and I went to a book talk/signing, and after we left, I jokingly said, “I could write a story about a quilt!” I then proceeded to tell him the entire story, and he said, “Well, write it!” Thus began my journey of writing historical fiction.

 

 What is your most difficult writing obstacle transitioning from non-fiction to Historical fiction?

Transitioning from writing nonfiction to historical fiction was a huge leap but a wonderful discovery in finding my sweet spot. I studied fiction writing for about two years before launching out in this wonderful journey. I read books about the craft, went to writing conferences, and learned from mentors, crit groups, and more, and I’m thrilled to dedicate the rest of my writing career to this genre. Now I’ll have five published historical fiction books on the market and am working on another for the end of the year.

 

What is your latest published project, Devyn’s Dilemma?

 

It’s 1910, in the Thousand Islands, New York. Others may consider The Towers castle on Dark Island an enchanting summer retreat, but to Devyn McKenna, it’s a prison. Yet as she works as a maid for Frederick Bourne, former president of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, her life blossoms under the kindness of his family and fascinating entrepreneurs such as J.P. Morgan, Thomas Lipton, and Captain Vanderbilt. But more than anything, the growing friendship of Mr. Bourne’s valet, Brice McBride, begins to pry away the painful layers that conceal Devyn’s heart.

Brice is drawn to the mysterious Devyn even though he’s certain she’s hiding a secret, one far more dangerous than the clues they find in The Towers that hint of a treasure on the island. When Devyn is accused of stealing Bourne’s investment in Vanderbilt’s New York City subway expansion, he might not be able to protect her.

Why did you choose this time and setting for the second in your Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, Devyn’s Dilemma?

 

I grew up just twenty minutes from the Thousand Islands. In fact, my husband and I visit the Thousand Islands region in upstate NY every summer. It’s a beautiful, largely unknown, piece of the world where the St. Lawrence River meets Lake Ontario. There are nearly 1800 islands there, including the largest, Wolfe Island, which is in Ontario, Canada.

 

I chose the Gilded Age because that’s when the playground of the rich and famous took off…1872 until about 1910.

The Bournes were one of the Gilded Age titan families from New York city whose “hunting lodge” called The Towers was built on Dark Island. Intrigue, mystery, and beauty surround this Thousand Islands Gilded Age story.

 

All summer long, tourists enjoy cruising around the Thousand Islands, passing by Pullman Island, and hearing the stories of yesteryear. As a historic landmark, Pullman Island is invaluable, and so are the stories that go with it.

 

What kind of research did you have to do?

 

Ah, how I love research, and I love to be accurate. Besides combing through volumes of information, there’s nothing like being there, on the island. The owner of the island has had us over to visit the island twice now. He’s toured us around and let us roam at will to get the “feel” of being there. My sweet hubby took hundreds of photos, which make it really nice to jog my memory as I write.

 

I’m also super blessed because my historical editor is the president of the Thousand Islands Historical Association and has written several nonfiction books about the island. She’s awesome and has gone through each of my manuscripts with a fine-tooth comb. When I mistakenly have my character take a left instead of a right to get to the kitchen, she faithfully corrects me.

 

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If you could go back in time where would you go?

I’d love to meet my great-great-grandmother, Margaret, and hear what she thinks of her story, The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy.

 

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

I enjoy reading everything from children’s picture books to nonfiction to contemporary and historical fiction. But if I had to choose, I’d settle in with Christian historical romance and that’s what I’m writing from now on. Smiles.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

My dining room table overlooking the Rocky Mountain Front Range, Pikes Peak, and the Air Force Academy.

 

About Susan:

Susan G Mathis is an award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Her first two books of The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, Devyn’s Dilemma and Katelyn’s Choice are available now, and she’s working on book three. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise are also available. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com for more.

 

Susan is also a published author of two premarital books with her husband, Dale, two children’s picture books, stories in a dozen compilations, and hundreds of published articles. Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs, enjoys traveling globally with her wonderful husband, Dale, and relishes each time she gets to see or Skype with her four granddaughters.

 

Lighthouse Publishing: https://shoplpc.com/devyns-dilemma

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Devyns-Dilemma-Thousand-Islands-Gilded/dp/1645262731

Website: www.SusanGMathis.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/@SusanGMathis

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

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6044608.Susan_G_Mathis

 

Photos of Ancestors are valuable research tools

Last week I mentioned historical diaries for novel research. Today I want to talk about old photos as a research source. You can find them on-line by googling historical photos or something more specific like photos from the Civil War. These can be helpful.

But for me the best place to find historical pictures is in family photo albums. The ones my grandmother or great-aunts passed down. There you can see what people really wore on the prairie and in the fields and in the big city. For some of you that would be your great-great-greats.

My great-grandmother Ervin. Notice her elaborate collar.

When I do research for clothing for my historical novels, which take place in the mid-1800s I love to look at old photos. In case you weren’t aware photography was available then. There were photo studios in the larger cities and photographers who traveled from town to town capturing pictures. I’ll not go into detail about how photos were taken at the time. My post is about the use of said photos today.  Those who could afford the luxury would go to a photographer in their best attire to have a picture made.

A tintype of my Great Aunt Katie.

I love the photos taken by traveling photographers. They often capture the whole family, including their pets. Special items such as a gun or quilt might be held in their hands. Often the setting was in front of their house. Photographs like these give me an idea of architecture and other details.

Between my husband and I, we have many of these sorts of pictures from the early 1840s into the 20th Century. I love to look at their fashions. Simpler lines in dresses, men in suitcoats even when farming. Overalls were not always the preferred dress of farmers.

Schoolchildren’s clothes changed over the decades depending on whether the class photo was taken in front of a one-room schoolhouse or a town school.

My ancestors were farmers and coal miners in central Illinois. And my mother’s parents started their married life in Peoria Illinois and spent over 50 years in the same house.  My husband’s ancestors were also farmers who’d lived in the same area of Southern Illinois for 150 years. Family stories connected with many of our photos make for great story ideas.

This is Huge Kirkwood my great-great-uncle he and his brother joined the gold rush of 1849. Hugh became ill and stayed back. When he went to join William he was never found. A family mystery that gives me so many story ideas.

All the pictures in this blog are from these family photo archives. The advantage for me in sharing these is none have copyright issues and I can use them without concern. I don’t need to ask permission to post them because the photos belong to me and the relatives are all deceased. I can also use these photos in articles and guest blogs to promote your upcoming historical novel.

Do you have photos of your ancestors? If you write any historical genre do those pictures give you ideas?

 

 

Diaries are a Gold Mind for Author’s Research

Some of the journals I’ve kept over the years. Great Aunt Ruth’s is written in a simple composition notebook.

If you write any sort of historical fiction, delving into journals of the time period is essential.

I love reading diaries. Not the ‘I have a secret crush’ teen diary but historical ones. As a writer, the insights I gain while reading personal diaries is a gold mine. These people didn’t write the diaries with a goal toward publication. Some dealt with a situation through journaling.  Anne Frank; The Diary of a Young Girl is an example of that.  Others wrote them for their children and grandchildren. The entries were spontaneous, full of emotions and commentaries of their day to day lives.

Family Diaries

My husband’s great aunt wrote a diary from 1940-42. She and her sister kept house for their bachelor brother who was working in the oil fields of Southern Illinois.  They lived in a huge tent with a wooden floor. Ruth journaled about what they fix for dinner, sewing projects and my husband’s parents who lived in a neighboring tent. They’d get a ride into town once a week to do their “trading.” She wrote that she paid a few cents more for a quart of milk. “It was worth it. Jersey cows give more cream.” Then on D-Day, when Pearl Harbor was bombed she made no reference. Instead, she continued to speak about those things near and dear.  Her journal gave me a glimpse into life in Southern Illinois in a time before I was born. And a deeper understanding of my mother-in-law who also talked about doing her “trading in town”. Such a fun journal to read.

I am presently reading some diaries written by William Huff. He may be related to my husband, Charley, through the Huff branch that moved to Texas. He printed the diaries from the internet back in the 90s when the web was young. The diaries were found among his descendant’s thing. The yellowed pages passed from generation to generation. William Huff traveled from Texas to California in 1949. The details of the geology of the area and his observations of his fellow-travelers are fascinating. He was a journalist who’d been outfitted by a businessman who wanted to know if a gold rush venture would be of value. Unlike others who struck out on this journey, his family was well-cared for while he was gone. There was only one woman among the travelers on his wagon train, Mrs. Dixon. William spent several paragraphs praising women for their ability to keep men civilized. He also talked about European immigrants in his group. I was surprised to hear a Prussian immigrant carried only a sword for protection.

The idea of a story set on a wagon train is why I’m reading this. I am noodling with this setting for a future novel.

How diaries influenced my debut novel

Historical Romance

When I was writing Secret & Charades I read journals and diaries of women in the West. They talked about the food they prepared and the chores they did. Some spoke about more private things. Some had traveled west; others had pursued a new path such as being a doctor. The things they shared helped me add realism to my stories.

I cried when I read the account of a woman who opened her door one morning to find her dead brother on the porch. She spoke of her numbness and pain.

I’d read historical diaries even if I never used the content in a book. They remind me of all the sacrifices of those who shaped our country.

Do you use personal accounts in your research, or have you read an ancestor’s diary?   I’ve maintained journals in years past, how about you?

 

 

Author John Holland pays a visit from Downunder to share his writing journey

Today we go down under for an interview with Australian multi-genre author John Holland. Welcome, John. It is always a delight to have author interviews and it isn’t often that I have authors outside the US. Let’s get started. Tell my readers a little about your writing journey.

I always wanted to write. My love for books comes from my childhood growing up on cattle stations (ranches) in the Australian outback. Not that we called it the outback. It was always referred to by us as “the bush”.

We had no TV and only some short-wave radio to listen to music on. Movies were something we attended when in town. Those trips to town were typically about three months apart. But we had books! Lots of books.

The first “proper book” I remember reading was The Hobbit. I also remember Zane Grey’s book Tappan’s Burro and sneaking away somewhere private to read God’s Little Acre, which I had been forbidden to read.

My writing journey began there. I grew to love books and wanted to be one of those people who told such magical stories.

Now that you are creating those magical stories what is your latest published project?

My latest published book is Mark Taggart and the Circle of Stones. It is a middle-grade fantasy, co-authored with Nicci Carrera of San Diego. It is about portals and beasts. and of course, a quest that could change the lives of many people back on earth. Set in the Australian outback to begin, it involves two boys who are drawn through a portal into the Elemental Realm. A quest begins to defeat the great beast Gorge, who had his genesis in this world as well.

How did you research for your book?

I didn’t have to do much research. I already knew most of the things the story touched on. Apart from the Elemental Realm and the beings encountered there. That part is pure imagination on mine and Nicci’s part. 

What inspired you to write your book?

The plot of the book revolves around a site where a massacre of aborigines occurred in the past. Such things did happen and I was aware of a place I was forbidden to go, where it was rumored a massacre had taken place, long ago.

I think part of the story had been in my head ever since and when I started to write I knew I wanted to tell this story but tell it in a different way via an entertaining storyline. My friend Nicci became very interested in the story too and together we set out to create the story.

My writing prior to this book is usually quite dark in places. I credit Nicci with rounding of some of my sharp edges in this book.

 

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

I am a poet as well as a writer of fiction, so I’ll give you a short poem of my own.

Episodic Memories

 

I like to go back into the dreaming.

 

Following the current of time

as it pours over a remembered

lake and turns it to grey-black earth.

With a surface baked

hard as rock by a pitiless sun.

I pass through ghost water.

Throwing up the clues that they

will puzzle over, in the chill halls

of their new learning.

Very nice, John.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

I’m not sure my younger self would listen! Perhaps I would tell him to start early on in life and not wait as long to start writing.

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

My friend Nicci Carrera is one constant support. She had helped me with editing etc on other books, before we wrote Mark Taggart and the Circle of Stones together, We are in touch frequently, even though we live on opposite sides of the Pacific. My constant companion while I’m at my desk is my English Staffordshire Bullterrier, Meg. She has a calming effect on me and is very wise!

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

I do less reading for fun these days than I did before I started writing. I like some of the works of Stephen King. I also like to re-read old classics like The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird and Poor Man’s Orange, which to those who are familiar with the book, was written by the Australian/New Zealand writer Ruth Park.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I’ve converted a small spare bedroom into my writing space. I type directly into Word and just work with that application.

Why multi-genre?

When I call myself a multi-genre writer it is because others see my work that way. I just write a story that tells itself the way it wants to be told. The one exception is Mark Taggart and the Circle of Stones. We did have a younger audience in mind when we wrote that story.

I’ve published books of poetry, literary fiction, speculative fiction, youth adventure/survival and youth fantasy.

Can Americans understand Aussie slang?

I think so. I’ve tried not to use any obscure slang in my books. However, I’m sure some has slipped in there somewhere. I just tell people to google the word up if they don’t understand it. Then they will have learned a new word or concept.

In some cases, such as in the speculative fiction book, Old Year’s Day, I have deliberately written as an international who wants to be understood by all.

Book Blurb:

Australian twelve-year-old Mark Taggart can’t wait to finish his correspondence classes each day, so he can get out on the family cattle station to help his dad. But his life is changing and the future is threatened by a prolonged drought. His dad owes money to Bull Corcoran who is demanding payment. Not only is Mark’s family about to lose everything, he may never get a chance to visit a forbidden site on the land, a circle of stones that has drawn his imagination and curiosity for years. So Mark and his friend visit the site that marks a long-ago crime. When they enter the area, the world drops away beneath their feet. They land in another world and learn they’ve been summoned to the Elemental Realm. This powerful place is under attack. Now Mark must lead an army against a darkly magical being and the beasts he controls to make it back home, save his family, and right an ancient crime.

More about John:

John Holland grew up in outback Australia. Living on cattle stations his father Jack Holland managed in Queensland, the Northern Territory and the Kimberley. He has been a stockman, miner, road worker, speechwriter/media officer for a Queensland state member of parliament and a newspaper columnist. John now lives in Townsville, tropical North Queensland and writes full time.

Links:

Mark Taggart and the Circle of Stones: (also at most online outlets)

https://www.amazon.com/Mark-Taggart-Circle-Stones-Holland/dp/1075249910

John Holland, Amazon author page:

https://www.amazon.com/John-Holland/e/B00E5PYM3W/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Nicci Carrera, Amazon author page:

https://www.amazon.com/Nicci-Carrera/e/B00QR4UGHU/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_1

Nicci Carrera’s site:

https://niccicarrera.com/

John Holland social media:

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/PoetrySansFrontieres/

LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-holland-5bb1009b/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/BingCrosby9

 

If you have young adult readers grab a copy of Mark Taggert and the Circle of Stones.  Click here. Thank you, John for being my guest today.

 

 

 

My April Reads and a Giveaway

I love to read. What books have you read now that you stay at home?

Writers must read, it is part and partial of what helps us grow as authors. I love to read. More accurately I love escaping to other times and places. I have since I first learned to read. I want to share with you some of the books I’ve read so far in last month. I’m in the middle of my own writing projects so I don’t read as furiously as I like.  I enjoy a variety of genres. Each of these stories inspired me. The research was well-done and the story arcs solid. Things that writers need to see done, not just read about in craft books. These are fresh off the presses novels that I hope you’ll take a chance on. These authors write great stories.

Contemporary Romance/Suspense

Book Blurb of Within Golden Bands by Norma Gail:

Newly married Bonny MacDonell finds the transition from American college professor to Scottish sheep farmer’s wife more difficult than she expected. When her miracle pregnancy ends in a devastating miscarriage, she fears her husband’s reaction will hurt more than the loss of their child.

But Kieran never shows up at the hospital. When found, he is beaten and unconscious. The only memory of his attacker is the words, “Get off my land.” Reeling from the threat to her husband and the loss of their child, Bonny struggles to hold her marriage together. When faith in love is not enough, where do you turn? Buy link.

My Review: This book is so new you can’t write reviews on amazon yet.

I loved Land of Our Dreams, book #1 in the series. Within Golden Bands is even better. The first book brought Keiren and Bonnie together and you expect a happily ever after. But Within the Golden Bands from page one presents a myriad of trials that could break a marriage. Add to that someone is trying to destroy everything they love. The character’s reactions to the situations are so real. Norma Gail’s description of the Scottish settings and the splattering of Gaelic throughout drew me into the story in a deeper way. There is a faith thread that is unmistakable but not preachy. The action will have you turning pages well into the night. A great story.

Contemporary Romantic Suspense

Book Blurb of Traces by Denise Weimer:

Even if she evades The Eye, someone wants her silenced.

When a failed romance and a $500,000 prize lure Kate Carson into participating in the reality TV show, Traces, the least she expects is to pick her partner. After all, she’s the PR spokeswoman of the company that derived a thirteen-lens, rotating camera from military use and installed it atop Atlanta’s tallest skyscraper. But she never would have chosen to evade techno hunters for twenty days with “G.I. Joe.”

Stoic, ex-military Alex Mitchell is the sort of man she always vowed to avoid, while the shadows of Alex’s past cause him to spurn emotional involvement. When Kate’s insider knowledge makes her a target of someone more threatening than game show hunters, Alex offers her only hope to reveal the dark plans of proponents of The Eye. Buy link.

My review of Traces:

Denise Weiser has taken a what-if moment to create a wonderful love story and so much more. Putting two people together with nothing in common to compete in a Reality TV show is interesting enough. Add someone trying to kill them and you have a heart-pounding Suspense Romance that leaves you wondering just how much Big Brother is watching. Love the vulnerable characters and the inspirational thread that made me root for their happily ever after moment, even more. Denis Weimer delivers well-written stories with satisfying endings. I find myself thinking about the characters throughout the day anxiously waiting for a chance to rejoin them on their quest. Grab a copy.

Women’s Fiction

Book Blurb for Libby’s Cuppa of Joe by Rebecca Waters:

Sonja Parker is about to find out.

Excited to leave her stale life in the big city behind, Sonja takes the money her grandmother left her and purchases Libby’s Cuppa Joe, a thriving coffee shop in a small community in Wisconsin’s Door County. Sonja may have business sense, but is she ready to face the world on her own?

Sonja soon discovers owning a business requires more than offering a good cup of coffee. She must make major repairs to the building as well as major repairs to her heart. Do the former owners, Libby and Joe hold the answer? As Sonja seeks to make Libby’s Cuppa Joe a viable business, can she also find herself and the God she has abandoned?

Libby’s Cuppa Joe is a riveting tale of second chances, forgiveness, and not living on borrowed faith. Buy link.

 

My Review of Libby’s Cuppa of Joe

Sonja Parker is your sweet naive girl next door who buys a successful coffee shop in Door County. The story is told from her viewpoint and we watch her stumble about as she finds her brand for the business. She makes foolish mistakes and discovers her need for true faith. Sonja is bright but deals with the fear of failure. The community of shopkeepers and year-round residents help her find her way. Door County is a wonderful setting and the coffee shop makes the whole story more intimate. A fun inspiring read for lovers of Women’s fiction. I look forward to more from Rebecca Waters.

Book Blurb for Devyn’s Dilemma (Book two of the Thousand Island Gilded Age series) By Susan G. Mathis

Longing for love, can she escape the shadows that follow her to Dark Island?

1910, Thousand Islands, New York. Others may consider The Towers castle on Dark Island an enchanting summer retreat, but to Devyn McKenna, it’s a prison. Yet as she works as a maid for Frederick Bourne, former president of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, her life blossoms under the kindness of his family and fascinating entrepreneurs such as J.P. Morgan, Thomas Lipton, and Captain Vanderbilt. But more than anything, the growing friendship of Mr. Bourne’s valet, Brice McBride, begins to pry away the painful layers that conceal Devyn’s heart.

Brice is drawn to the mysterious Devyn even though he’s certain she’s hiding a secret, one far more dangerous than the clues they find in The Towers that hint of a treasure on the island. When Devyn is accused of stealing Bourne’s investment in Vanderbilt’s New York City subway expansion, he might not be able to protect her. Buy link.

My review of Devyn’s Dilemma

I so enjoyed learning about The Thousand Islands through this sweet romance. The characters were well-developed and Devyn’s love interest Brice being Irish added to the story with his appropriate Irish sayings scattered throughout. Exploring the castle summer home of the Bourne’s, real life people from the early 20th Century, held my interest. The details regarding the secret passages showed how much research the author did to capture the setting. The dialog and attitude of the time were spot on. I cheered on Devlyn and Brice and booed the bad guys as the story unfolded. I will say although Devlyn had a guilty secret that haunted her, I thought she cried or held back tears way too much. That said, I loved all the characters, even the wicked ones and can’t wait for the next book in the series. Stories such as this set in Historical places have always perked my interest. Susan Mathers has done such an excellent job of sprinkling history and historical characters throughout the story that I learned all sorts of wonderful things about the time period. I will definitely be ordering the next book in this series when it comes out.

Before April is over I plan to finish a few more books on my to be read pile. What have you been reading since your confinement? I’m offering a $10 Amazon card to one lucky winner who posts what they are currently reading or their favorite genre. I will notify the winner next Monday.

 

 

 

Faith and Frontier Party Room: a new kind of online book party.

Tomorrow several Smitten authors will have their Facebook party in a group rather than an event. We are excited to see how the party goes with over 300 people joining our group. We wanted to have a party to bring some fun to all our social distancing. Maybe each of us will gain some new readers. Each of us will enjoy sharing about our novels and giving away some prizes.

Here’s the link to the party.

We are trying something different by making our party a group. Facebook recently has made events difficult. the Facebook police will block you if you comment too much during an event. So weird. We will see how this goes. I’m excited to see how the group party compares to an event party.

Part of learning the marketing curve is to be flexible when the social media you use changes how it responds to posts.

My time is 6pm EST I’d love to have you join the party. I’ll be sharing insights into my what if moments and my characters. I’ll be giving away a $10 Panera e-card to support the restaurant industry during this tough time. And the grand prize is a $50 e-card. There will be book giveaways and fun posts. Come join the fun and support authors during these uncertain times.

Hope to see you there. Here’s a few mes for both of my Historical Romances.

 

Returning to Writing After Life Interrupts and a Giveaway

During this time when life threw us a curveball. I think this guest blog by Norma Gail is very timely.  The time gap between her first novel and its sequel is a lesson for all of us Thank you for joining us, Norma.

In the midst of building your writing career what put the skids on it for a season?

The first book came too easy. I received a contract following my second writer’s conference. The second was to take six years. My debut novel, Land of My Dreams, released in April of 2014. Two years later, the sequel was written, but it was rejected. I set it aside and concentrated on promoting the book I had, fearing more rejection. Sure enough, when I got up the courage to pitch it again, the editor rejected it. Then life got complicated.

About four years ago, I began to make a five-hour trip about every 2-3 months to help my childless aunt and uncle in their 90’s. My mom died halfway through that time period, shortly after my second knee replacement. Within two months, my cousins and I moved our aunt and uncle to assisted living near me. I helped clean out both houses. My aunt died several months after their move, and I had two ablations for atrial fibrillation. I still care for my uncle.

Throughout these experiences, there has been a lot of pain and struggle. I couldn’t write a sentence that didn’t sound hurt and angry. That’s not a heart attitude that allows you to share your words with others.

I understand that feeling. But you did begin again.

When did you know it was time to resume writing and how did you go about restarting?

When you fall off a bicycle, you get back on and try again. Twenty-five percent of the reviews for Land of My Dreams ask for another book. I felt a responsibility to give them one. I also knew that God had given me the story for the sequel, one very dear to me. I started slow, just re-reading the manuscript, which had been edited. Reading it reminded me of how much I loved the characters and the story. I wanted it to be read. I began to write again, and things just flowed. The editor loved it more than the first book.

Add a comment for a chance to win a copy.

I couldn’t blog or write anything after my mom died, exhausted from surgery and emotion. A year later, I attended another writer’s conference and pitched my sequel again. I felt this story was truly what God wanted me to write. A publisher who knew the first book, and believed there was a market for the second one, offered to publish it for me. The result is Within Golden Bands, the story of my heart.

How did it feel to finally get words on paper again?

I had let Within Golden Bands go, but the book wouldn’t let go of me. As I regained strength, the desire to write returned. After I knew it would finally be published, I began blogging again. I’m not doing as much as I did before, that will come with time, but I am writing again. I’ve been through a lot. Sitting down and writing is good therapy. It helps me heal and it’s a good escape.

 I admire your determination. What lessons did you learn during this time?

The biggest lesson is that it’s a mistake to quit writing completely. If all you can do is journal, then journal every day, but never stop putting words on paper like I did. That hurt more than anything else. To not write created a hole in my heart. If I had written, I would have healed faster. Two deaths, four surgeries, and all the family dynamics that surround such major life changes needed an outlet.

Writing is a gift, and God calls us to use the gifts He has given us. After leading women’s Bible studies for over 21 years, I knew better than to ignore a call from the Lord. I also felt the need to minister to someone out of all the things I experienced. Both writing fiction and the devotionals for my blog stem from what the Lord has done in my life, lessons learned from walking with Him for many years. Once I began to write, all the hurt from my difficult experiences began to heal.

Fiction speaks to people who will never attend a Bible study. My feelings come out through the experiences of my characters. Writing allows me to share how the Lord has worked in my own life, even it’s not my personal story. I see writing as a ministry, the same as leading Bible studies. I must write.

About Land of My Dreams:

Alone and betrayed by a former fiancé, American professor Bonny Bryant accepts a position at a small college in Fort William, Scotland. But when she meets a fellow professor, Bonny discovers her wounds may be the scars of healing Kieran MacDonell needs to reach past his own grief. Land of My Dreams spans the distance between New Mexico’s high desert mountains and the misty Scottish Highlands with a timeless story of overwhelming grief, undying love, and compelling faith.

About Within Golden Bands:

Newly married Bonny MacDonell finds the transition from American college professor to Scottish sheep farmer’s wife more difficult than she expected. When her miracle pregnancy ends in a devastating miscarriage, she fears her husband’s reaction will hurt more than the loss of their child.

But Kieran never shows up at the hospital. When found, he is beaten and unconscious. The only memory of his attacker is the words, “Get off my land.” Reeling from the threat to her husband and the loss of their child, Bonny struggles to hold her marriage together. When faith in love is not enough, where do you turn?

Norma, your feelings do truly come out in your words and many women will be touched by them. Thank you for coming. I look forward to having you visit a few more times as the release of Within Golded Bands draws near.

Giveaway:

While we wait were going to have a drawing for the first book in the series: Land of My Dreams.

Tell us about any struggles you are having trying to get words on paper or just say I’d love a copy of the book in the comment section below.

Your name will be entered in a drawing. The winner may choose either a Kindle or a paperback version.

About Norma Gail:

Norma Gail writes Fiction to Refresh Your Spirit. Her contemporary novels, Land of My Dreams, which won the 2016 Bookvana Religious Fiction Award, and Within Golden Bands (releasing May 19, 2020), explore the theme of women whose faith triumphs over trials. A women’s Bible study leader for over 21 years, her devotionals and poetry have appeared at ChristianDevotions.us, the Stitches Thru Time blog, Inspire a Fire, 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 44 years. They have two adult children. To connect with her, you can follow her blog, or join her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Goodreads, or Amazon.

Follow her on social media:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorNormaGail/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Norma_Gail

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/norma-gail-holtman-3b271a42/

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/normagailth/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/normagailwrites/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7874459.Norma_Gail

Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.com/Norma-Gail/e/B00ILHXBAK/

Order her books:

Land of My Dreamshttps://www.amazon.com/Land-My-Dreams-Norma-Gail-ebook/dp/B01ENKEL02/

Within Golden Bands – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B084TSQ432/

 

Before I sign off, don’t forget to comment below for a chance to win Land of My Dreams.