CONGRATULATIONS!

Congratulations to Pam K., winner of Julianna Deering's new release, Murder on the Moor!

Congratulations to Alison (agboss) who won Susanne Dietze's The Reluctant Guardian!

Congratulations to Deanna Stevens, Annie of Just Commonly and Trixi O...new owners of The American Heiress Brides Collection!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hail to the New (Dutch) King

by C.J. (Eernisse) Chase



While millions of Americans watched the marriage of Will and Kate, few are probably even aware that the Netherlands will inaugurate a new monarch today. (Unlike in Britain, Dutch monarchs are not coronated. They are inaugurated.) What makes this one particularly interesting is that after three successive queens (Wilhelmina, Juliana, and Beatrix), the Dutch will have a king for the first time in 123 years.

I feel a bit of an affinity to new Dutch king, Willem-Alexander. After all, his great-grandmother Wilhelmina was the queen while my grand-grandmother Wilhelmina was named for the queen. I think that means I’m connected to royalty…somehow. (And hey, I am a child of THE King. See my tiara?)

As monarchies go, the Kingdom of the Netherlands is relatively young—just two centuries old. However, the relationship between the Dutch people and the House of Orange goes back another two-and-a-half centuries to when William (Willem) of Orange became the reluctant leader of Dutch independence. Think George Washington, in armor. 

Back in the 1500’s—through a series of royal marriages, intrigues, and conquests—the Low Countries came under the rule of the Spanish Empire. At that time, Spain was the richest, most powerful country in the world, her coffers flush with New World gold and silver. She was also militantly Roman Catholic, badly managed, and with a monarch as near to an absolute ruler as any in Renaissance Europe. 

With their emphasis on trade and commerce, history of local rule, and rising influence of Protestantism, the Low Countries were bound to clash with their Spanish king. And oh yeah, the Dutch thought their taxes were too high. (Sound familiar?)


The spark ignited in 1566. Afterward, a group of nobles sent a petition asking the king to end Protestant persecution. King Philip sent an army instead, with its leader, the notorious Duke of Alba, executing even loyalist Catholic nobles whom he felt had not dealt harshly enough with the rebellious Protestants. The revolt was on in earnest. A Catholic nobleman may seem an unlikely leader of motley coalition of merchants and Calvinists, but William (“the Silent”) had been one of the nobles to sign the petition. Like it or not, he was now an outlaw. The Dutch national anthem Het Wilhemus, considered the oldest national anthem in the world, tells the story of William in first person:

(Side note: that is only two verses. The full anthem is 15 verses long. Imagine waiting through that for the soccer game to begin!) 


Eighty years of battles and truces followed. Though war only officially ended with the Treaty of Munster (also called the Peace of Westphalia) in 1648, the Republic of the United Netherlands had been a de facto independent country for decades and was already entering its golden age. 
Dutch artist Rembrant Van Rijn (1606-1669) painted his famous work The Night Watch in 1642.

Republic? Yes. the new country was not a monarchy, although William (who had converted to Protestantism and was assassinated in 1584) and his heirs were stadtholders. Over the next two hundred years, only Stadtholder William III managed to rise to the title of king – of England! 

William’s marriage to Princess Mary led to his eventual assumption of the English throne. In England, he is conveniently known as King William III, and Williamsburg, the famous colonial capital of Virginia, was named for him. For a brief time, England and the Netherlands were united under one ruler. One wonders how European history might have changed if William and Mary had had children. (Her only pregnancy resulted in miscarriage.)

A century later, the Netherlands fell to Napoleon. But after his defeat at Leipzig, the once again independent Dutch brought back the heir of the last House of Orange stadtholder, this time as King William I. The Congress of Vienna, the royals and nobles who made the decisions regarding the dissolution of Napoleon’s empire, had seen enough of republicanism in France, and the newly created Kingdom of the Netherlands met with their approval. At the point where the modern world began its shift from monarchial to republican forms of government, the Netherlands traveled in reverse direction.

And that is why Holland has a new king today. Oops, no, not Holland. Let me close with one last tidbit on Dutch history:



C.J. Eernisse Chase still gets a kick out of repeating the (no doubt badly mangled) Dutch phrases her grandfather taught her. She quit following his recipe for making strong, Dutch coffee, however, after her first attempt when she nearly choked her mother with the powerful brew.
After leaving the corporate world to stay home with her children, C.J. Chase quickly learned she did not possess the housekeeping gene. She decided writing might provide the perfect excuse for letting the dust bunnies accumulate under the furniture. Her procrastination, er, hard work paid off in 2010 when she won the Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Manuscript and sold the novel to Love Inspired Historicals. Her current release, The Reluctant Earl, is available  in online bookstores. You can visit C.J.'s cyber-home (where the floors are always clean) at www.cjchasebooks.com  


Monday, April 29, 2013

Overcoming Fear



On Friday of last week, I took my two youngest kids and my writer-friend Becca to the Rattlesnake Derby in Mangum, OK. Let me say clearly, I don't like snakes. I don't really like New Year's Resolutions either because, well, I suck at keeping them. Some folks I know forgo resolutions and instead choose a scripture verse for the year. Other folks ask God to give them a word. Since my success rate with resolutions was so low, why not go with a Word for the Year. 

So I prayed. And waited for God to give me one. Adventuresome wasn't exactly the one I expected. Me? Be adventuresome? I rarely talk to strangers. I am happy with my fears. But since that was my Word for the Year, after I heard the radio ad for the Rattlesnake Derby, I thought, "I'm soooo there."

In lieu of showing pictures of snakes (you're welcome), I thought I'd share this blog post I write a few years ago. I pray it's a timely reminder for you as it is me to "Fear not!"

OVERCOMING FEAR
by Gina Welborn

In the last eight years, since moving to Virginia, we've taken family vacations each summer. Virginia Beach. Kill Devil Hills, NC. Myrtle Beach, SC. Pigeon Forge, TN. DisneyWorld, FL. This past year's vacation was to Souix Falls, SD by way of LeRoy, Illinois, where we visited hubby's cousin and family. For the sake of brevity, I'll sum of the trip by describing the states: Virginia--beautiful, West Virginia--mountainy with practically no bathroom rest stops, Ohio--corn fields, Indiana--corn fields, Illinois--corn fields with an occastional windmill farm, Iowa--corn fields, Minnesota--corn fields, and South Dakota--corn fields, pig farms, and one wheat field that we might have imagined because we were sick of corn fields.


Cousin Mike's house was the halfway point between home and my grandma's house in South Dokata. While I do enjoy staying in hotels, staying with family makes for a fun time. (A loud time, too!)

Three summers ago, a family from church loaned us the use of their beach house located where the Rappahannock River dumps into the Chesapeake Bay. I was three/four months pregnant with chiltlin #5 at the time. Let's see. Four bathrooms, six bedrooms, and thirteen people related by marriage or blood. Sounds like a fun time.

One afternoon hubby, me, our two boys, and hubby's dad (FIL) decided to go riding explore the river on our Sea Doos (personal watercraft). Oldest son (12) rode with me. Younger son (6) rode with my FIL. Hubby knew I don't like riding in rough water so we took a tributary of the Rappahannock. After a bit, hubby told me to take the lead because the Sea Doo I was riding had a depth sensor.


I freely admit I'm fine with not having depth sensor reading skills.

Anyhoo, the sensor showed three/four feet so I knew I was okay, but the water around me looked like an oil spill, I slowed a bit and looked around. Something wasn't right. Since hubby was waving frantically like he wanted me to stop, I did. Apparently his "get out of there" sign is the same as my "stop" sign. Whoops!

Oil sludge? Nope.

Mire.

Ever heard a pastor quote a scriptures about the mirey pit? Well, I have, although I never really understood what a mirey pit was/is. What we were in was...well imagine a bucket of water with the bottom half mud sludge, the top half muddy water.

Needless to say, once I retarted the engine, I couldn't go anywhere. We were stuck. So was my father-in-law. Hubby who wasn't stuck tried throwing us a rope. Sadly, not long enough. Ended up hubby said we were gonna have to walk the Sea Doos out. Uggh.

I tried sticking my feet in the mire. Totally freaked out. If anywhere is the best place to have a panic attack, this was it. No matter how many times I said to myself, "you can do this, Gina," I couldn't do it. Prayer did not help. At least I didn't feel it helping, but pain medication doesn't always feel like it's working until we no longer feel the pain.

Oldest son Matt told me to stay put. He'd gone with his sixth-grade class that past spring to a marsh land south-east of Richmond near the James River, which made him an "expert" on mire. He walked about 20-30 feet through the sludge to my FIL, who was unable to walk in the icky stuff. Then Matt and his younger brother, Jadan, pushed my FIL and his Sea Doo far enough for them to reach the rope so hubby could pull them out. Then Matt walked back to me. He insisted I could stay on the Sea Doo and he'd push me out.

Well, despite my utter fear and my understanding the my little boy wanted to be my rescuer, I knew I had to get off the boat. Only not one itty bitty part of me wanted to get off.

I was fear's willing captive.

Still, I backed of the back of the Sea Doo and slid down. My feet sank until I had sludge up to my thighs and muddy water up to my chest. While tears poured down my face, while I repeatedly prayed "Oh, God, help me," and while Matt kept telling me how proud he was of me for getting off the Sea Doo, I trudged through the mire until we reached (mostly) clear waters. Matt told me to climb back on (and I did) while he pushed/swam me and the boat out to deeper water. My hands shook. My heart raced. My eyes woundn't quit watering, although I'm sure that was because it was so sunny.

Once we reached hubby in the mire-free zone, Matt told me snakes live in murky depths. I laughed hysterically...and then threw up. I could have been eaten by a snake. Uggh. Certainly not one of my top ten ways to die.

Looking back, I see that day as the moment in life where I started my journey of learning to stop letting fears rule me.

So why did I choose to slide off the boat into the mire when I didn't have to I need to. For me. For my boys because I know I set the example for what they're gonna look for in a wife. I want to be a godly woman of character, of courage, of convictions. I want to be strong enough to go on an adventure with my boys yet honest enough to cry in front of them and tell them I'm scared. And I most certainly was scared.

Yes, I still feel rather stupid for leading us into the mire, for not recognizing what mire was, and even for stopping. (Although I did later recommend to hubby that he work on his hand signals.)

As we approach the beginning of a new year, let's all take inventory of our lives. What fears hold you back? What fear holds you in bondage? More so, why do you choose to stay in bondage to your fears, worries, "what ifs" when you know what a lack of peace you have?

 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. ~2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

In scripture when an angel of the Lord appears, he tells the person(s) he's visiting to "Fear not." Sure that's probably because angels are pretty visually intimidating. No cherubs are they. I like how D'ann so excellently introduced this theme by mentioning the rest of the story, rest of the angel's message beyond the "Fear Not," but I can't help but focus on the middle of the message.

Fear not FOR BEHOLD I bring you good tidings of great joy.



Why "for behold"? My translation of the middle part of the angel's message is "Hey, stop focusing on what it is that you fear because when you do, you're too busy to hear what I have to say next. God is at work, in you, in the world around, in your circumstances. He has a purpose and a plan to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future. How can you have any hope when you're focusing on what you don't know, don't see, don't know how to solve? Listen. Yes, listen to the message God sent me to tell you, but listen also for God's voice."

QUESTIONS OF THE DAY::
If an angel were standing before you and said, "Fear not for behold ____________," what would he finish the sentence with? Or answer it this way:

*I can only fear not and behold what God has for me IF I __________.

*I will only be able to fear not and behold who I can become WHEN I __________.

*I need to fear not and behold how much BIGGER GOD IS THAN __________.

*I must fear not and behold that I CAN TRUST GOD TO ____________.



RWA-Faith Hope & Love chapter president Gina Welborn worked in news radio writing copy until she had a stunning epiphany—the news of the day is rather depressing! Thus, she took up writing romances because she loves happily ever after. She is an active member of ACFW and RWA and the author of three inspirational romance novellas. A moderately obsessive fan of Battlestar Galactica, Community, and Once Upon a Time, Gina resides in a wee little town outside a larger (but not large) town in SW Oklahoma. Thanks to her pastor-husband's ability to spray a fabulous chemical called Demon, her children don't get to enjoy raising hunter spiders, grasshoppers, and crickets. While they are (mostly) saddened, Gina is delighted. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Shadowed in Silk by Christine Lindsey

A Review of 
Christine Lindsey's SHADOWED IN SILK
by Gina Welborn

(For FTC purposes, a copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers.)

In the last year, I've agree to endorse a few books. The plus is I get free copies. The con side is that occasionally the book isn't my cup of tea. However, the problem I'm having with book reviews is that . . . well, you see,  my heart's desire is to rave about a book without being obligated to rave. I LOVE LOVE LOVE sharing about books that literally (in a metaphorical manner) glued me to my seat. Actually in this case, the sofa.

SHADOWED IN SILK is one of the best written novels I've ever read.

Oh, let me tell you the basics about the book. Abby marries a swanky British soldier after a whirlwind romance. Only following their honeymoon, her husband leaves to serve in India. Fast forward a few years, and Abby and her son are traveling to India to put their family back together. What man wouldn't want his beloved wife with him?

Problem for Abby is that her husband actually doesn't want her with him. He'd been happily content living apart. I blame the fact he has a . . . secret he doesn't want Abby to know about.

Well on the journey to India, Abby meets a great guy on the boat. Geoff has a mission he can't tell Abby about because, well, he has a very good reason. Over the course of the novel, Abby and Geoff face all sorts of awful things about themselves and others. Before I go more into that, here's the official details about the novel.

She was invisible to those who should have loved her. 
After the Great War, Abby Fraser returns to India with her small son, where her husband is stationed with the British army. She has longed to go home to the land of glittering palaces and veiled women . . . but Nick has become a cruel stranger. It will take more than her American pluck to survive.
Major Geoff Richards, broken over the loss of so many of his men in the trenches of France, returns to his cavalry post in Amritsar. But his faith does little to help him understand the ruthlessness of his British peers toward the Indian people he loves. Nor does it explain how he is to protect Abby Fraser and her child from the husband who mistreats them. 

Amid political unrest, inhospitable deserts, and Russian spies, tensions rise in India as the people cry for the freedom espoused by Gandhi. Caught between their own ideals and duty, Geoff and Abby stumble into sinister secrets . . . secrets that will thrust them out of the shadows and straight into the fire of revolution. 

 Now because Abby is married and because this book is targeted to the Christian market, both the author and the publisher ensured that the reader understood Abby's circumstances and empathized with her struggle to love the man she married and not love the man she loves.

Now the romance storyline really isn't the prime focus. Both Abby and Geoff have their own journeys they have to travel apart from one another. Yet through it all, God kept drawing them together, which is a great reminder to the reader that He continually is working to take the unpleasantness of life and turn it into good.

About the Author

Christine Lindsay is an award-winning writer of Christian Inspirational Historicals. SHADOWED IN SILK is her debut novel, which won the 2009 ACFW Genesis award in the historical category. Christine, her husband, and their grownup family live in British Columbia, Canada. She loves being Nana to her 3 little grandsons.

The lushness of Christine's world building made India come to life in my mind. I feel the need to watch the first three Indiana Jones movies even though they're set about 20 years after Christine's novel.

Christine's Book 2 in this series, CAPTURED BY MOONLIGHT, is available for pre-order by clicking HERE.



CAPTURED BY MOONLIGHT by Christine Lindsay

Prisoners to their own broken dreams… 

After a daring rescue goes awry, Laine Harkness and her friend Eshana flee to the tropical south of India…and headlong into their respective pasts. 

Laine takes a nursing position at a plantation in the jungle, only to discover that her former fiancĂ© is the owner…but fun-loving Laine refuses to let Adam crush her heart like he had years ago. 
Eshana, captured by her traditional uncle and forced once more into the harsh Hindu customs of mourning, doubts freedom will ever be hers again, much less the forbidden love that had begun to flower. 


Amid cyclones, epidemics, and clashing faiths, will the love of the True Master give hope to these searching hearts?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

You Must Be Doing Everything Wrong!


 
 by Susanne Dietze

"Your life is such a mess, you must be doing everything wrong. After all, if you’d been following God’s will, everything would be hunky dory, right?"

Ever heard somebody say that?

Have you ever experienced  a season where things just seem hard, or everything goes wrong? I'm in a bit of a season like that, myself. In other words, I'm not on a path. I'm stumbling along a rocky hike. Mulling through my head are prayers, reminders to trust in God, but also the niggling thought that maybe God is disciplining me. Maybe if I were "better" my path would be smoother.
Well, God is a God of discipline. But is it always true that, Blessing=God likes you? Trials=God is mad at you?

Thankfully, the Bible says that isn't necessarily true.

Take Joseph. As you might remember, Joseph was his father Israel’s favorite son. He's the one who got the colorful coat of an overseer, but he was also a good kid, and the Bible tells us he went the extra mile to obey his father’s orders.
File:Jacob blesses Joseph and gives him the coat.JPG
Joseph's Coat of many colors. Owen Jones, public domain.
The Lord also gave Joseph dreams, revealing the promise that Joseph would be elevated above his family. In a horrible scene of sibling rivalry, his brothers threw him down a pit, where the seventeen-year-old begged for his life. They wanted to kill him; however, they ended up selling him (cheaply) as a slave to passing Ishmaelites.
File:Joseph cast into the pit.JPG
Joseph cast into the Pit, Owen Jones. Public domain.
Joseph’s troubles didn’t end there. As a slave, he was falsely accused of sexual sin and then was imprisoned. He didn’t deserve any of his punishments. For years, Joseph was humbled, and anyone looking from the outside in would have judged him as lowly, guilty, and scorned by God.

When Joseph correctly interpreted the dream of Pharaoh’s cupbearer, in which the cupbearer would be reinstated to the Pharaoh’s favor, Joseph saw an opportunity to get out of prison.

Pharaoh's chief cup-bearer, however, forgot all about Joseph, never giving him another thought. Genesis 40:23 NLT

Joseph must have wondered all those years if those dreams God gave him so long ago had been imagined. Or if God forgot about him. Or if he'd done something wrong to deserve this cruddy life. While the Bible doesn't say he complained, he might have been tempted to have a pity party or question his God the two whole years it took for the cupbearer to remember him…and this was the moment when God pulled Joseph out of prison to exalt him to be the vizier of all Egypt, to use him for His purposes to save and protect His people Israel, and to glorify Himself.
File:Joseph made ruler in egypt.jpg
Joseph in Egypt (living a good life!). Public Domain.
Sometimes we sit in a prison of circumstances that aren’t of our making, and it can make us wonder if we’re on God’s path. Especially when other voices suggest we're way off base (friends, the enemy, etc).

I've certainly been there. When my pastor husband was called to our parish, we sold our house in our old town and bought one in our new community. The day before escrow closed, however, the buyers of our home backed out. In turn, we had to back out of the house we'd bought and put our old house back on the market—and you all know how great the real estate market’s been the past few years.

Our house sold again quickly, but would you believe this scenario repeated itself not once but twice. During this difficult season, I questioned whether we’d done the right thing, whether we’d heard God correctly, whether we’d done something wrong.

Surely, others told us, if God wanted you to do this, the transition would have been easier.

That certainly wasn’t true for Joseph. I don’t know why God took our family through that difficult period (although we were refined through it), but I can tell you He miraculously sold our home three times in a bad real estate market. He was there, whether or not we felt Him or saw His hand making the path straight. And then He lifted us out of it, to His glory.

When we are in difficulties and question whether or not God cares, or is even punishing us, submit the event to the Lord. We may well be on the wrong path, but we may also be walking through a valley by His leading.

Let Him do with it what He wills and choose to grow through it. He may have a big picture we cannot see.

“I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” Genesis 45:4-5

***
Fun Question: What do you think Joseph's coat of many colors looked like?
Serious Questions: Have you submitted your difficulties to the Lord to use as He wills? Like Joseph, can you serve God no matter what your circumstances?

***

Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she writes in the hope that her historical romances will encourage and entertain others to the glory of God. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, travel, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos. She won first place in the Historical category of the 2011-2012 Phoenix Rattler, and her work has finaled in the Genesis, Gotcha!, and Touched By Love Contests. Susanne is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. You can visit her on her website, www.susannedietze.com.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Writing Historical Mystery




What’s it like to set a mystery series in 1930s England?

Interesting.  Frustrating.  Wonderful.

After decades of reading Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple), Dorothy L. Sayers (Lord Peter Wimsey) and the unjustly forgotten and underrated Margery Allingham (Albert Campion), I decided to try my hand at writing something similar.  Besides that, my first three books were medieval, very serious, very lush and romantic, and I wanted to do something a bit lighter and more fun.

The 1920s and ’30s were the golden age of crime fiction and are still a great time to set a story.  There had just been a world war and another was looming black on the horizon.  Industry was becoming more and more mechanized.  Women were increasingly taking their place in business and in politics.  Everything was changing, change causes conflict and conflict is essential to a great story.  Jackpot!


Naturally, some of the most appealing aspects of writing about this era are the clothing, the modes of transportation and the social conventions.  These things are the “jewelry” of the historical novel.  I love to watch Masterpiece Mystery and “ooh” and “ah” over the men in eveningwear, the women in glorious formal gowns, the most astonishing hats ever, the grand touring cars, and the manor houses teeming with servants and seething with history and mystery.  I love that certain classes of people dressed for dinner every single night and family honor was something they were willing to die – or kill – for.


Of course, what draws a reader into the story world is the judicious use of accurate historical detail (just as the lack of same will quickly and firmly pull him out).  Thanks to the internet, it has become easier to give a novel those touches of authenticity that make the story seem real.
In researching my new series, The Drew Farthering Mysteries, I’ve found wonderful websites that detail such things as the hierarchy of domestic servants, the proper attire for any 1932 social function, and even the kinds of golf clubs and balls that would have been used.  I’ve been able to see how specific streets are laid out and where certain landmarks are, all without leaving my office.  And since 1932 is fixed in time, I don’t have to worry about the technology in my story becoming outmoded or emerging world events affecting my plot.



I do have to make sure I get all the details right.  My series is set mostly in Drew’s family manor, Farthering Place, and in the fictional English village of Farthering St. John.  Since I wanted Drew and his friends to be able to visit real places, I set them down in a spot about 70 miles southwest of London and five miles south of Winchester.  I created a fictional bank in a neighboring real town, but I made sure to put it in a real street that would have been likely to have such an institution.  As long as the places I create are described consistently and are believable in the real world, readers will accept them as real in the story world.



Fortunately for my research, talking pictures were really coming into their own in the early ’30s, and they afford one of the best ways to see and feel and absorb the era.  Keeping in mind that they were entertainment and, as such, not always a perfect reflection of real life, they’re a wealth of information about social customs as well as details about food, clothing, slang, work, play and just about anything else.  Just remember to add color to your descriptions.  In much the same way, books written in that time period, books that portray “modern” life, are also invaluable.  Reading Christie, Sayers and Allingham and a host of others has  helped give me a sense of what does and doesn’t belong in Drew Farthering’s 1932 world.

Once I know that, I can focus on helping Drew and his American sweetheart, Madeline, figure out what to do about the dead body in the greenhouse.

Jackpot!


What makes a historical novel really capture the period?  What will pull you out of a period piece the quickest?  What is your favorite historical?  Your favorite mystery?




DeAnna Julie Dodson has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. She is the author of In Honor Bound, By Love Redeemed and To Grace Surrendered, a trilogy of medieval romances, as well as Letters in the Attic, The Key in the Attic, The Diary in the Attic and, coming up, The Legacy in the Attic, contemporary mysteries. Her new series of Drew Farthering Mysteries will debut in the Summer of 2013 with Rules of Murder from Bethany House.  A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats.