History

An Interview with Kathleen Rouser, Author of Rumors and Promises

Posted by on Jul 1, 2016 in Blog, Books, History, Uncategorized | 6 comments

Hi Kathy, Thank you for sharing a bit about yourself and your new release, Rumors and Promises

Please tell us something about yourself, Kathy.

Janet, thank you for having me as a guest on your blog. Hmm . . . what can I tell you about myself? This is how I describe myself on my Twitter page: Wife, mom, author of inspirational historical romance. Loves to make jewelry, knitting, bike riding, God’s Word, my cat and all things chocolate.

I raised three sons, having homeschooled them for about 21 years. That was a big chunk of my life. After that I went Kathy Rouser 2back to school—twice—and wound up becoming a dental assistant. But writing is my true calling.

I also enjoy long walks, especially when I take the time to pray during that time, or listen to Bible teaching. I’m also a bit too fond of chocolate and I love spending time with my funny little cat, Lilybits. Last but not least, my husband and I have been married for 34 years.

What sparked your interest in writing?

My mother read to me when I was a little girl and taught me to love books. Before I could read them myself I wanted to be able to write stories. It’s something the Lord seemed to make a part of me and laid on my heart to do early on.

Here is the blurb from the back of Rumors and Promises:

Sophie Biddle, an heiress on the run with a child in tow, considers herself abandoned by her family and God. Wary, self-reliant Sophie is caught off guard when meeting a kind, but meddling and handsome minister at the local mercantile. 

Cover“In 1900, Reverend Ian McCormick is determined to start anew in Stone Creek, Michigan, believing he has failed God and his former flock. He works harder than ever to forget his mistake, hoping to prove himself a most pleasing servant to his new congregation and once again to God.

While Sophie seeks acceptance for the child and a measure of respect for herself, the rumors swirl about her sordid past. Should Ian show concern for Sophie plight, he could risk everything – including his position as pastor of Stone Creek.

Now the pair must choose to trust God and forgive those who slander and gossip, or run. Will the scandals of their pasts bind them together forever, or drive both deeper into despair?” 

What drew you to the period and setting for the story?

I live in a rather small town in Michigan, so it’s easy to imagine what it might have been like. Also, I think the early part of the twentieth century is an interesting time when the world, life, and society were facing changes, but family and traditional values were still important. I really enjoyed L. M. Montgomery’s books which were set only a few years later. I guess I find it easy to picture my characters in that era.

Rumors and Promises deals with the sensitive subject of rape. What was your motivation to write about a subject that often goes unaddressed, particularly in that era?

Sophie Biddle’s story in Rumors and Promises really began as an attempt to convey a story similar to the account of the woman at the well in chapter four of the Gospel of John. At the time editors weren’t interested in biblical fiction. But I was also constrained by the guidelines of Christian publishing. How could I have my protagonist be a woman of bad reputation while preserving her purity? The character of Sophia Bidershem, an heiress concealing her identity with a slightly different name and trying to pass off her toddler daughter as her sister, was born. The out-of-wedlock-pregnancy had not come about by her volition, but she loves her child anyway and does what she must to take care of her. She bears the brunt of the resulting shame.

Then I thought about who had the most to lose in becoming involved in the life of these runaway girls, just as the disciples became shocked Jesus would associate with the Samaritan woman. Pastor Ian McCormick would have much to lose if his reputation was besmirched by friendship with a “fallen woman.” Of course, that’s where the similarities end. Jesus is sinless while Ian is a flawed man trying to start over with a new congregation because of past failings.

At the same time, as I worked on the first draft, one of my critique partners told me her story and helped me to understand the flashbacks and the damage done by rape. Even though I kept the details in the background, Rumors and Promises wasn’t a story publishers were willing to take on right away. I pray the story will be a healing one for those who have been victims of this heinous crime. I’m thankful that LPC was willing to take a chance on this story and subject matter.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 

My main characters, Sophie and Ian, are struggling with life-altering incidents from their pasts. For Sophie it’s the injustice and how she feels deserted by those she thought loved her. For Ian, he cannot forgive himself for past failure. Though no harm was intended, he thinks he let God and others down.

It is so easy to get stuck in the past. I struggle with it myself, but I hope people who read my book will realize that Christ (and what He accomplished for us on the cross and being raised from the dead) is much bigger than our past failures or the injustices done to us. He is there to guide and heal. When we can grasp hold of that truth we can move forward in our lives.

God often teaches us something through our writing. What did you learn about life, faith, or yourself in the process of writing Rumors and Promises?

Tenacity and patience. But not only those things. I also learned what it meant to be a writer. I struggled with self-confidence and taking myself seriously as an author. It’s been quite a process!

Can you tell us anything about a current work in process? 

The working title of my next novel is A Good Medicine and I was recently blessed with a second contract from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. It’s stand alone, but also the next book about Stone Creek. One of the main characters is Ian’s sister, Maggie Galloway, who was a secondary character that appeared quite often in Rumors and Promises. You might say she had a supporting role.

Here’s the current blurb:

When Zeke Harper and Philip Galloway get into trouble for throwing punches, they aren’t the only ones to clash. Philip’s outgoing mother, Maggie Galloway, and Zeke’s reserved father, Thomas Harper, are complete opposites. The feisty widow, Maggie, has been on her own for a time and has aspirations to buy a bakery in her hometown.

Disorganized Thomas, a grieving widower, only wants to bring up his four rambunctious children in peace. In addition to the challenges of his new pharmacy, he becomes gravely ill. Bitter toward God about the loss of his wife, Thomas believes no one could ever replace her in his heart.

Maggie Galloway is called upon by her brother, and pastor, Ian, to help the Harper family. She is instrumental in nursing Thomas back to health, reorganizing the pharmacy and taking the children in hand. Maggie unwittingly becomes attached to the raucous Harper brood and their quiet father. When a former hometown suitor, comes calling, Thomas realizes his growing love for the angel of mercy who came to their rescue. She must make a life-changing decision to stay near the Harpers or leave Stone Creek. Will Thomas be too late in declaring his intentions to Maggie?

Lord willing it will be published sometime later in 2017.    

Thank you so much, Kathy, for being my guest.

I so appreciate your having me as a guest, Janet. It’s been fun and I appreciate your time and thought-provoking questions.

Where can readers find your books?

Rumors and Promises is available at:

Amazon.com – http://tinyurl.com/jqmw93e

Barnes and Noble – http://tinyurl.com/hdus93p

And Kathy can be found at:

Website: kathleenrouser.com

Facebook: facebook.com/kathleenrouser/

Twitter: @KathleenRouser

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7427871.Kathleen_Rouser

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

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A Motivation Behind The Story ~ Promise of Deer Run (Book 2 of Deer Run Saga)

Posted by on Jun 15, 2016 in Blog, Books, Commentary, History, Uncategorized | 8 comments

Yesterday, I told you about Promise of Deer Run, Elaine Cooper’s second story in the Deer Run Saga. It releases on June 16. Today, Elaine Cooper shares about a childhood experience that left an indelible memory and teachable lesson.

  BEFRIENDING THE FRIENDLESSPromise of Deer Run - Cover (2)

I will never forget my childhood friend named DeDe. She was smart and had a great sense of humor. But that is not the main reason I remember DeDe. She is the one friend in elementary school who taught me about being a friend to the friendless.

There was a girl in our class—I’ll call her Jennifer—who was afflicted with a congenital problem that left her with difficulty speaking, an awkward gait, and an odd look to her face. Jennifer was shunned by most in the school, except for DeDe. She was totally unafraid of what others thought and she made every effort to be kind to Jennifer.  Her bravery caused me to be kind to the shy classmate as well. I admit I was still a bit uncomfortable hanging out with Jennifer, and it took patience on my part to wait until Jennifer could painstakingly speak even just a few words. But DeDe always cheered Jennifer on in her attempts to communicate.  It was such a lesson in kindness to me.

In Promise of Deer Run, the character of Sarah Thomsen befriends the social outcast of the village—Nathaniel Stearns. The young veteran is seven years her senior, but Sarah has memories of the kindness that Nathaniel had extended to her when she was a little girl. It was a kindness never forgotten. Sarah looked past the recluse who seemed so different awaiting the return of his father from war. Many in the town laughed behind Nathaniel’s back. Why would this veteran who frequented the local tavern on a regular basis and who still believed his father was alive, be of a sound mind? Even the churchgoers snickered and avoided him like the plague.

But not Sarah. She saw past the exterior to the heart and soul of Nathaniel Stearns. She dared to speak to him. She dared to befriend the friendless.

It reminds me of DeDe looking past the physical anomalies of Jennifer.

A few years ago a friend from high school told me they found out Jennifer had become a nurse, helping others in their need. I was amazed but pleased—and I remembered DeDe leaving her comfort zone of hanging out with the “cool” kids. I sometimes wonder if DeDe was the one who had given Jennifer hope for a future, years before on the playground at school.

I wonder how many other lives can be changed for the better by befriending the friendless. I pray that I will be the brave one.

Elaine Cooper DRAward-winning author Elaine Marie Cooper is the author of Fields of the Fatherless, Bethany’s Calendar and the historical trilogy called the Deer Run Saga. Her passions are her family, her faith in Christ, and the history of the American Revolution. She grew up in Massachusetts, the setting for many of her historical novels.

Her upcoming releases include Saratoga Letters (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, October 2016) and Legacy of Deer Run (CrossRiver Media, Dec, 2016)

Cooper has been writing since she penned her first short story at age eleven. She began researching for her first novel in 2007. Her writing has also appeared in Fighting Fear, Winning the War at Home by Edie Melson and the romance anthology, I Choose You. She has also written articles for Prayer Connect Magazine, Splickety Prime Magazine, Better Homes & Gardens, and Life: Beautiful Magazine. She began her professional writing career as a newspaper freelancer.

 

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Promise of Deer Run (Book 2 of Deer Run Saga)

Posted by on Jun 14, 2016 in Blog, Book Reviews, History | 3 comments

Elaine Marie Cooper’s second book in the Deer Run Saga will be released June 16, 2016

Promise of Deer Run - Cover (2) Promise of Deer Run is a tender historical romance that stands on its own, but also brings us back to the characters we loved in Road To Deer Run.

The year is 1790. The American Revolution is long since over, yet the battles still live in the hearts of the survivors.

One young veteran is haunted by the painful memories of war. He still awaits a father who has never returned from battle and feels the sting of betrayal from a former love. He withdraws into his own world, clinging to one hope: Perhaps his father still lives.

Only one person in Deer Run seems to understand him: Nineteen-year-old Sarah Thomsen, who feels a kinship with the loner veteran. She senses the wounds in his spirit as much as she struggles to bury her own traumatic memories of war. And the veteran’s search for his father touches a chord of empathy in Sarah, as she feels the loss of a father she never knew.

While the couple begins to find hope in a mutual affection, others determine to destroy it. Slander and misunderstandings ignite a fire of doubt and mistrust, destroying whatever faith they had in each other.

Can two souls longing for healing and trust love again? Can faith—and a family—be restored?

Come back tomorrow and find out about a childhood experience that left an indelible memory for Elaine and was a motivation behind Promise of Deer Run. 

 

Award winning author Elaine Marie Cooper is the author of Fields of the Fatherless, Bethany’s Calendar and the historical trilogy called the Deer Run Saga. Her passions are her family, her faith in Christ, and the history of the American Revolution. She grew up in Massachusetts, the setting for many of her historical novels.

Her upcoming releases include Saratoga Letters (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, October 2016) and LElaine Cooper DRegacy of Deer Run (CrossRiver Media, Dec, 2016)

Cooper has been writing since she penned her first short story at age eleven. She began researching for her first novel in 2007. Her writing has also appeared in Fighting Fear, Winning the War at Home by Edie Melson and the romance anthology, I Choose You. She has also written articles for Prayer Connect Magazine, Splickety Prime Magazine, Better Homes & Gardens, and Life: Beautiful Magazine. She began her professional writing career as a newspaper freelancer.

 

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A VISIT WITH ELAINE COOPER, AUTHOR OF ROAD TO DEER RUN

Posted by on Dec 9, 2015 in Blog, Books, History, Uncategorized | 9 comments

Elaine Marie Cooper’s story ROAD TO DEER RUN takes us to Massachusetts in 1777 after the Battle of Saratoga. Wounded British lieutenant Daniel Lowe has escaped his Continental Army guards and is hiding on the Thomsen property. Midwife Thomsen’s daughter, Mary, finds him and nurses him back to health.

In reading the author’s notes, we discover that the characters in your story are based on your ancestors. Please briefly share that with us.

When I was quite young, a relative informed me that one of my ancestors was a British soldier during the American Revolution. I was quite horrified! As I grew older, however, I began to wonder about that soldier—who he was, where he came from, how did he end up staying in America. Not all of my questions were answered but I learned quite a bit about him Road to Deer Run - Coverthrough research. It was like discovering a genealogical goldmine! I was so excited to learn about my heritage and I included as many facts in my story as I could. Obviously, much of the story is fictionalized because I don’t have any family diaries, but where I could, I incorporated true facts.

How much research was involved in telling this story? Do you have a particular method of searching for the facts? Did this involve traveling, interviews, searching library, or church records?

Since Road to Deer Run was my first historical novel set in this locale and time period, research was mind-boggling! I searched the internet, Google books from the town, records from the local doctor’s office, church record, maps, and book after book about life in Colonial America. But visiting the site where my ancestors lived and worked was the most inspiring part of research. And interviewing the local historian in Williamsburg, MA was incredibly helpful. There’s nothing like having an informative local historian to bring history to life!

The situation of an American patriot nursing a British soldier, the enemy, is compelling. How much of their story did you know about and how much did you create?

Since I did not have the details about how the real Daniel and Mary met, much of it is fiction. But I surmised that it was very possible the real Daniel could have sustained injury in the Battle of Saratoga. I knew the King’s Army had been starving during that time so Daniel’s weakened condition was plausible. And there is an excerpt in A History of Williamsburg in Massachusetts that reads thus: “One British soldier, worn out and tired of fighting for what seemed a lost cause, dropped out from the irregular line of march at Springfield and returned to Williamsburg. There, on an old road leading from Williamsburg to Goshen, he built a log cabin. Later this man, Daniel Prince, married a Miss Packard of the neighborhood and reared a family.” This excerpt leaves out much detail, but my writer’s imagination took this story and ran with it!

ROAD TO DEER RUN has timeless themes of romance, grief, anger, bitterness, and forgiveness and you pace the story very well. Did you plot out your story ahead of time or did you allow it to develop as you wrote it?  

I guess you could call me a “seat of the pants writer” as I let the story develop as it went. I had spent numerous hours ahead of time forming a basic plot in my imagination. Then, when I could no longer keep it just in my head, I had to release it to the written page. It’s always interesting to me to “watch” the plot unfold and have the characters begin to speak. It’s the strangeness of being a writer. LOL

ROAD TO DEER RUN is the edited version of your earlier book THE ROAD TO DEER RUN. Why did you re-do the book? This is the first story in the DEER RUN series. Will you be editing and re-publishing the other stories in the series?

When I first wrote Road to Deer Run, I discovered the publishing industry was in a down turn. With many new writers being ignored and companies laying off editors, I decided to self publish. While self-publishing can be a good alternative for some, it was not a wise decision for my first novel. It lacked proper editing. When I pitched the series to CrossRiver Media, they immediately contracted all three books, much to my joy! They have an excellent editor (Debra Butterfield) and she has worked with me to improve the read. The book covers needed re-doing as well because they tend to make the book appear as if it is for children, although it is geared towards adults. Promise of Deer Run releases next June, 2016, and Legacy of Deer Run releases in December of 2016.

When you started writing the original story, did you know this would be a series, or was your initial intent for it to be one book?

I initially thought it would just be one book, but an editor suggested I turn it into a series. I followed his advice—and I’m glad I did.

Elaine Cooper

     Elaine Marie Cooper

What do you want your readers to take away from ROAD TO DEER RUN?

The belief that God is still there, even in the most desperate of circumstances. And that despite what others may do to hurt or offend us, God still expects us to forgive. It’s not usually easy, but it is necessary if we are to be freed of bitterness.

 

What has writing the original story or the edited one taught you?

When you write the personal thoughts of a character who is wrestling with a dilemma, you sort through the struggles in your own mind. I suppose the characters become an extension of the author and help bring clarity to our own thinking.

 

Please tell us about the sequel(s) and when they might be available.

Promise of Deer Run focuses on the now grown up Sarah Thomsen and follows characters who are impacted by the war with post traumatic stress. Legacy of Deer Run follows Mary and Daniel’s oldest son and his work in Springfield as he must leave Deer Run in order to make a living. Of course romance is a central theme in both of these books, and Mary and Daniel play a prominent role in the whole saga.

 

Thank you so much, Elaine, for being my guest. I know folks will enjoy the story.

Thank you so much for having me, Janet! I am honored to have been your guest.

Where can readers find your books?

Road to Deer Run is available at the CrossRiver site http://www.crossrivermedia.com/portfolio/road-to-deer-run/gallery/fiction/ and will be available at Amazon on December 10. The kindle version can be downloaded at http://www.amazon.com/Road-Deer-Run-Saga-Book-ebook/dp/B0189AH21M

Bethany’s Calendar is available at http://www.amazon.com/Bethanys-Calendar-Elaine-Marie-Cooper-ebook/dp/B00QXY38F6

Fields of the Fatherless at http://www.amazon.com/Fields-Fatherless-Historical-Fiction-Elaine-ebook/dp/B00FYV5EOM

Author Bio:

Elaine Marie Cooper is the award-winning author of Bethany’s Calendar and Fields of the Fatherless. Her re-release of the Deer Run Saga begins with Road to Deer Run this month and will be followed by Promise of Deer Run (June 2016) and Legacy of Deer Run (December 2016). Saratoga Letters will release in October 2016. Elaine’s passions are her faith, her family, and the history of the American Revolution, the era in which her historical fiction novels are set. You can read her blog on her website at: www.elainemariecooper.com

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Meet KATE BRESLIN ~ Author of WWI and WWII Inspirational Fiction

Posted by on Sep 9, 2015 in Blog, Books, History | 8 comments

Please tell us something about yourself, Kate. I’m a sister in Christ, a wife, a mother, and a grandma. I was a bookseller 15 years and have a mountain of books, all of which I hope to read one day. I was born in Florida, but my dad’s job moved us around the U.S. a lot, so I’ve lived in many different places. After my husband and I married 36 years ago we settled near Seattle, Washington KATE BRESLIN AUTHOR PROMOwhere I never tire of viewing the snow-capped peaks and evergreen forests. Our son and grandson live nearby too, so we get to enjoy being together often. I love animals, cats in particular, and have a persnickety feline named Coco who likes to stand in front of my computer screen whenever she wants my attention. I’ve been writing for years and finally contracted with Bethany House for my debut novel, For Such A Time, which released in April 2014.

 

I’m going to start with some questions writers in particular may be interested in.

 

What sparked your interest in writing? As a child I loved writing poetry. Everyone in the family received handcrafted birthday cards filled with my purple prose. The talent also served me whenever I was in hot water with my mom. I’d write her a sweet poem of apology and tuck it under her pillow at night. The next day all was forgiven. We still joke that she was my first critic.  Later, I wrote short stories for class then song lyrics to accompany my playing the guitar. I’d reached my early thirties and read every historical romance novel written by my favorite authors before I decided to try crafting my own.

 

Tell us about your journey to getting published. As I said, I began serious novel writing when I reached my thirties. During that time, I was also in the construction industry then semi-retired to become a bookseller, writing all the while. I spent twenty years submitting manuscripts, receiving rejection letters, revising, rewriting, and starting the process all over again, determined to see my book in print. At first, I tried to publish in the secular romance market and came close a few times. I was a finalist in RWA’s Golden Heart contest, and I landed my first agent. But God has His way of intervening, and it was only after I came full circle with my Christian faith and received a huge nudge from the Spirit that I completed my first inspirational novel, For Such A Time. Soon after, I found an agent and a publisher for that story and recently celebrated the release of my second novel with Bethany House.

 

Did you get an agent before submitting to a publisher?  Yes, I did, and today that seems to be the norm for authors seeking a traditional publisher. Years ago when there were fewer writers and more publishing houses, one could submit directly to an editor and then find an agent; now submission invitations from an editor are rare and usually occur with a conference meet.

 

What is your writing schedule and where do you write? I love writing in my office, a tower room which we added onto our home several years ago. I enjoy Office View R (1)a lovely view of our bay; I have my Celtic weapons against one wall, and a floor-to-ceiling library along the other. Can you tell I used to be a bookseller? 

I start writing in the morning when I feel most creative, Monday through Friday with weekends off, unless I’m on deadline.Kate's Bookshelf

 

What is your process? (Spreadsheets, Outlines, Seat of the pants?) I’m a plotter, not a panster.  I like to create a story outline once I’ve done my research on the place and time period I’m writing about. My characters usually develop from the story. Each day I start by reviewing the pages I wrote the day before, to make any immediate corrections and to reacquaint myself with the scene, then I try and write at least 4-8 new pages. Some days the words come easier than others, so allowing myself an average keeps me motivated. Once the first draft is finished, I begin to revise and edit, which includes sharing pages with my critique group of many years. I find their “fresh eyes” and offering suggestions and comments invaluable.

 

What words of advice would you give to beginning writers? Believe in yourself and keep writing. If God has other plans, He’ll make them known to you. Also, finish the book! Years ago, I made the mistake many new writers make, polishing those first three chapters until they gleam but struggling to get past that point. Turn off the editor and simply write. As someone wise once said, it’s easier to edit a terrible first draft than it is to edit a blank page

Ok, now the story:

For Such A Time - WebsizeI enjoyed your first book, For Such a Time. It was a riveting WWII love story of suffering, sacrifice, and redemption. And it was fascinating the way you based it on the Biblical account of Esther.

Thank you, Janet! For Such A Time is not only my first published novel, it was a spiritual journey for me as well.

 

 

Your latest book, Not By Sight, takes place during WWI. Please tell us a little more about the story.

I’d love to! Not By Sight is a story about heroine, Grace Mabry, a young, wealthy suffragette who arms herself with white feathers of cowardice and crashes a FINAL layout_Breslin_Not by Sight.inddLondon ball in 1917 to seek out draft dodgers. When she bestows her first feather on hero, Jack Benningham, future earl, renowned playboy, and pacifist, she cannot know he’s really a spy working for the British Crown. Nor does she realize her actions will set into motion danger and treachery that follow them even to the pastoral landscape of Kent.

 

God often teaches us something through our writing. Is there a spiritual theme in Not By Sight?

Absolutely. The novel’s title is taken from Scripture, 2 Corinthians 5:7 (NIV) “We live by faith and not by sight” The story speaks to the folly of judging others based on appearances and world views, consequently being blinded to the truth. How we must first look with the heart, the eyes of Love, as that is where real truth resides.

 

Can you tell us anything about a current work in process?  

Right now, I’m doing research for my next book with Bethany House, another WWI historical romance set in Europe. And while each of my novels is standalone, readers may recognize a character or two from Not By Sight in the next story! 

 

Thank you so much, Kate, for being my guest. I know folks will enjoy your stories.

Janet, thank you for hosting me today! And readers, I hope you’ll visit my website, www.katebreslin.com and click on the social media buttons to find me on Facebook or Twitter. I’d love to hear from you!

Where can readers find your books?

Both of my novels are available at most retail bookstores and online. Readers can also find book buy links at www.katebreslin.com, for both paperback and e-book versions.

Former bookseller-turned-author Kate Breslin enjoys life in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and family. A writer of travel articles and award-winning poetry, Kate received Christian Retailing’s 2015 Best Award for First Time Author and her debut novel, For Such A Time, is a Christy award, RITA award, and Carol award finalist. Kate’s second novel, Not By Sight released in August, 2015. When she’s not writing inspirational fiction, Kate enjoys reading or taking long walks in Washington’s beautiful woodlands. She also likes traveling to new places, both within the U.S. and abroad, having toured Greece, Rome, and much of Western Europe. New destinations make for fresh story ideas.

Contact info:

Website: www.katebreslin.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KateBreslinAuthor?ref=hl

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Kate_Breslin

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

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Meet J. M. Hochstetler, Author of VALLEY OF THE SHADOW ~ The American Patriot Series Book 5

Posted by on Aug 31, 2015 in Blog, Book Reviews, Books, History | 37 comments

Please tell us something about yourself, Joan.

I’m the daughter of Mennonite farmers. I grew up in an Amish and Mennonite community outside Kokomo, Indiana, and graduated from Indiana University

more years ago than I’m going to admit to. I’m married to a truck-driving retired pastor and have 3 grown daughters and several Joan_1841croppedgrandchildren I’m not able to spend nearly enough time with. I also enjoy gardening, scrapbooking and other crafts, antiquing, traveling, and reading.

After serving as an editor with Abingdon Press for many years, in 2006 I founded Sheaf House Publishers, a small specialty press that publishes mainly fiction. I’ve authored 7 books, including book 5 of my American Patriot Series, Valley of the Shadow, which releases September 1. This series is the only comprehensive and accurate fiction series on the American Revolution. My other historical fiction series is the Northkill Amish Series, coauthored with Bob Hostetler. Book 1, Northkill, released in March 2014, and Book 2, The Return, is scheduled to release in October 2016. My standalone contemporary novel, One Holy Night, is set during the Vietnam War.

Northkill was awarded ForeWord Review’s 2014 INDIEFAB bronze award for historical fiction. One Holy Night, which released in a new edition in 2013, won the Christian Small Publishers 2009 Book of the Year Award and was a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Carol Award.

 

 

What sparked your interest in writing?

A dream, strangely enough. It was so vivid and compelling that when I woke up I knew I had to write the story to find out who these people were and why they were doing what they were doing. It turned into an epic medieval tragedy, which one of these days I will finish and publish!

 

What can you share about your journey to getting published?

It was a looong journey! I began writing in the late 1970s—after the dream. After years of working hard to learn the craft, a whole lot of research, and a number of close misses, I got my first contract for Daughter of Liberty and Native Son, the first two books of my American Patriot Series, which were published by Zondervan in 2004 and 2005. I ended up parting ways with Zondervan, and after I founded my own small press, I brought out the first edition of Book 3, Wind of the Spirit in 2009. Beginning in 2012 I published revised editions of all 3 volumes in the Heritage Edition and added Book 4, Crucible of War. Valley of the Shadow is the latest installment, and I’m planning 2 more volumes, which will carry my characters through to the end of the war: Refiner’s Fire and Forge of Freedom.

 

 

Do you have a writing schedule and special place where do you write?

I generally write in the mornings when my brain is fresher and I have fewer distractions. Then in the afternoons I try to focus on Sheaf House business and also promote my books. It doesn’t always work out perfectly, though, and I’m sure you relate to that! Life happens and things get messy. I’ve learned to stay very flexible.

I am blessed to have a dedicated home office. I know not all writers have a separate space available for their work. Although my office is small, I’m very grateful to have it. Without it I’d go crazy, especially when I’m researching and have resources spread over every surface, including the floor!

 

 

What words of advice would you give to beginning writers?

Read deeply the kind of books you love to read. Read the way you eat—to live. Then write what you love to read. Write about subjects and themes you’re passionate about. Don’t make getting published your main goal. Instead, learn to write with excellence, and then write the very best stories you can write. The rest will take care of itself.

 

Your latest book, VALLEY OF THE SHADOW, Book 5 in The American Patriot Series, takes place during the American Revolution. Please tell us a little more about the story.

Valley of The Shadow -cover

 



In Valley of the Shadow, Elizabeth Howard is a prisoner aboard a British prison ship in New York Harbor, surrounded by the warships of the Royal Navy. British General William Howe has summoned Brigadier General Jonathan Carleton to surrender to him or she will be executed. Carleton knows, however, that Howe will never release her, but plans to execute them both as soon as Carleton surrenders. His dilemma is how to find and rescue her within an excruciatingly narrow timeframe when all the odds are stacked against him. From heart-pounding battles on the high seas, to the rigors of Valley Forge and the Shawnee’s savagely fought wars to preserve their ancestral lands, Valley of the Shadow continues the thrilling saga of America’s founding in an inspiring story of despair, courage, and triumph.

 

 

God often teaches us something through our writing. Is there a spiritual theme VALLEY OF THE SHADOW?

Each of the volumes in the series has its own theme, and the series itself also has an overarching theme. The theme addressed in Valley of the Shadow is learning to trust God in all circumstances and that literally nothing is impossible for the Creator of the universe. The theme of the series is the life journey to find one’s true home in God’s kingdom. While enduring the anguish of war and separation, Elizabeth and Jonathan discover that, even more than the grand ideal of liberty and the deep intimacy of earthly love, their hearts seek the eternal city of God, where they will no longer be aliens and strangers, and that true peace and lasting freedom are found in God alone.

 

Can you tell us anything about the next book in the series or a current work in process?

Currently I’m working on The Return, book 2 of the Northkill Amish Series, which I’m writing with my fifth cousin, multi-published author Bob Hostetler. This series is a fictional treatment of the well-known story of our Hochstetler ancestors who emigrated to this country in 1738 seeking religious freedom. They were drawn into the French and Indian War when Indians attacked their homestead in 1757. Three members of the family were killed and 3 were carried away into captivity, returning years later. Readers can find more information at www.northkill.com. The Return publishes in fall 2016, and as soon as it’s off my desk, I’ll get back to the last two books of the American Patriot Series.

 

Thank you so much, Joan, for being my guest. I know folks will enjoy your stories.

Thank you so much for having me, Janet! It’s been a pleasure to visit with you and your audience.

Book Giveaway

To enter the giveaway for a free copy of VALLEY OF THE SHADOW, please leave a comment along with your email address. The winner will be notified. Giveaway ends September 4th, 2015.

 

Where can readers find your books?

They’re available from Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=J.+M.+Hochstetler; Barnes and Noble at http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/j.-m.-hochstetler; and Christianbook.com at http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/easy_find?Ntt=J.+M.+Hochstetler&N=1120877&Ntk=keywords&action=Search&Ne=0&event=ESRCG&nav_search=1&cms=1&search

 

Author: www.jmhochstetler.com

American Patriot Series: www.theamericanpatriotseries.com

Northkill Amish Series: www.northkill.com

One Holy Night: www.oneholynight.com

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