History

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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HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY

Posted by on Mar 16, 2015 in Blog, Commentary, History, Uncategorized | Comments Off on HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day takes me back to 2013 when I finally had an opportunity to go to Ireland. I found a tour that would allow me to visit parts

stone wall hedges

stone wall hedges

Leprchaun Crossingof England, Scotland, and Wales, as well as Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. With ancestors from four of those five countries, I wanted to explore the lands of my roots. 

Ireland was as beautiful as all the pictures, travelogues, and stories promised.

Pieris Flaming Silver 'Lily-of-the-valley'

Pieris Flaming Silver ‘Lily-of-the-valley’

The people were friendly, the food delicious, and the scenery spectacular. There are many delightful places I sojourned but here I’ll share just a few.

One stop was The Giants Causeway World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland. Here you can walk

Giant's Causeway

Giant’s Causeway

on over 40,000 hexagonal basaltic columns that resulted

Giant's Causeway

Giant’s Causeway

from volcanic eruptions. As one might expect, there is a legend that tells of the giant who built the causeway to walk to Scotland to fight a Scottish giant. It is no surprise that one can also find similar basalt formations across the water in Fingals Cave on the Scottish Island of Staffa.

In Dublin I visited Trinity College Library to see the famed Book of Kells.

Trinity College Library

Trinity College Library

These colorful illuminated medieval Gospels were produced in a monastery in the early 8th century on the Isle of Iona, Scotland, in honor of Saint Columba and later taken to Ireland. While there are 680 illuminated pages of the medieval Gospels, the library only displays two of the current four volumes at a time, one showing an illustration and the other displaying typical text pages. The library itself is a sight to behold with its mammoth book filled cases stretching to the ceiling. Dozens of busts of well known authors are mounted at the edge of each aisle.

Four Evangelist Symbols In the Public Domain

Four Evangelist Symbols
In the Public Domain

Book of Kells In the Public Domain

Book of Kells
In the Public Domain

 

 

         

 

 

 

Traveling around Dublin you will spot the famous colorful Dublin Doors, of eighteenth

Dublin Doors

Dublin Doors

century Georgian homes. Strict building guidelines governed the homes making them closely resemble each other, so residents began painting their front doors vibrant colors and installing ornate door-knockers to show their individuality.

Driving through Belfast, you will see many vivid murals of scenes and people painted on the sides of buildings

Murals of The Troubles

Murals of The Troubles

. These paintings remind us of the three decades in Northern Ireland called The Troubles, a period of continual strife between factions wanting

independence from, or remaining loyal to, Britain. Many efforts at finding an agreeable political solution failed until the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998. The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland have enjoyed greater peace and prosperity in recent years.

Shamrock 2To learn more about ST. PATRICK ~ British Patron Saint of Ireland, visit my blogpost from last year.

http://janetgrunst.com/st-patrick-british-patron-saint-of-ireland

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Laurel By Susan F. Craft

Posted by on Jan 20, 2015 in Blog, Books, History | 2 comments

Laurel is Susan F. Craft’s latest release. Susan calls herself a History nerd and does extensive research, spending hours in libraries. She travels to the

Susan F. Craft

Susan F. Craft

locations of her novels to absorb, to breathe in, everything she can: sights, sounds, smells. Her most fun trip was one she took to the North Carolina Outer Banks to do the research for Laurel, which takes place in 1783. Its sequel due out in September, Cassia, takes place in 1799.

From Laurel

Laurel Cover 5 JPGDesperate to rescue their kidnapped daughter, Lilyan and Nicholas Xanthakos trek two hundred miles through South Carolina mountains and backcountry wilderness, fighting outlaws, hunger, sleeplessness, and despair. When the trail grows cold, the couple battles guilt and personal shame; Lilyan for letting Laurel out of her sight, and Nicholas for failing to keep his family safe.

They track Laurel to the port of Charleston as post-Revolutionary War passions reach fever pitch.  There, Lilyan, a former patriot spy, is charged for the murder of a British officer. She is thrown into the Exchange Building dungeon and chained alongside prostitutes, thieves, and murderers. Separated from her husband, she digs deep inside to re-ignite the courage and faith that helped her survive the war.  Determined to free his wife at any cost, Nicholas finds himself forced back into a life of violence he thought he’d left behind.

Following a rumor that Laurel may be aboard a freighter bound for Baltimore, Lilyan and Nicholas secure passage on a departing schooner, but two days into the voyage, a storm blows their ship aground on Diamond Shoals. As the ship founders, both are swept overboard.

Will their love for each other and their faith sustain them as they await word of their missing child? Or is Laurel lost to them forever?

Susan Craft is a friend and fellow contributor on Colonial Quills. We are also both represented by Linda Glaz of Hartline Literary Agency.

She writes inspirational historical romantic suspense. She recently retired after a 45-year career as a communications director, editor, and proofreader. Forty-five years ago, she married her high school sweetheart, and they have two adult children, one granddaughter, and a granddog. An admitted history nerd, she enjoys researching for her novels, painting, singing, listening to music, and sitting on her porch watching the rabbits and geese eat her daylilies.  She has two post-Revolutionary War novels being released in 2015 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas—Laurel, was released January 15, and its sequel Cassia will be released in September. Susan’s Revolutionary War novel, The Chamomile, won the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Okra Pick. 

Laurel – Book Giveaway

To enter the giveaway for a free copy, leave a comment along with your email. The winner will be notified. Giveaway ends January 30, 2015.

 

You can find Susan at:

www.susanfcraft.com (my website)

http://historicalfictionalightintime.blogspot.com (Historical Fiction a Light in Time; my personal blog)

http://colonialquills.blogspot.com (post fourth Monday of each month)

http://stitchesthrutime.blogspot.com (monthly post)

http://www.hhhistory.com (Heroes, Heroines and History; post on the 31st of each month that has a 31st)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/susan.craft.108

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/susanfc/

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

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SALUTING AN UNCOMMON HERO

Posted by on Nov 11, 2014 in Blog, History, Uncategorized | 6 comments

FlagOn this Veteran’s Day, I want to give homage to Alex, a World War II hero, a United States Navy fighter ace and Medal of Honor nominee. Alex and I worked in the same Wells Fargo Bank office for six years back in the early 70’s. He worked upstairs in the Trust Department and I worked downstairs in the bank. I would see this man’s smiling face every day as he walked through the lobby and up the stairs. We would exchange pleasantries and at times chat in the lunch room. When my parents wanted to open a trust account, I set up the appointment and introduced my father, a retired Navy Captain, to Alex Vraciu, the Trust Officer.

By the mid 70’s I had relocated to the east coast and never saw Alex or most of my former coworkers again. One evening in the 80’s, I happened to be watching a program about World War II on Navy Seal 2television about the “Great Marianas Turkey Shoot”. Since I had visited the Marianas chain of islands, I was particularly intrigued. They were telling the story of the famous Navy fighter pilot, Alex Vraciu, already designated an ace because of his previous kills. But on June 19, 1943 he destroyed six Japanese dive bombers in a period of eight minutes. My eyes were glued to the screen watching the film footage as they detailed Alex’s many victories and illustrious career. I was stunned. Alex knew I came from a Navy family, yet he never mentioned he had served in the Navy.

Alex was nominated for the Medal of Honor for his actions at the First Battle of the Philippine Sea, but it was later downgraded to a Navy Cross. By the time the war ended, Alex was the US Navy’s fourth highest ranking ace. After the war he became a test pilot and played a part in forming the post-war Naval Air Reserve program. He was promoted to Commander and led squadron VF-51 from 1956 to 1958. In 1964 he retired and went into banking.

Commander Alexander Vraciu in front of an FJ-3 "Fury" like the one in which he won top honors at the 1957 Naval Air Weapons Meet in El Centra, California. - U.S. Navy Photo

Commander Alexander Vraciu in front of an FJ-3 “Fury” like the one in which he won top honors at the 1957 Naval Air Weapons Meet in El Centra, California. – U.S. Navy Photo 

Alex Vraciu was a hero, not only for his naval exploits, but also because of his remarkable humility. I suspect he and my father probably shared some Navy stories, but my father was also a man who did not believe in calling attention to one’s success, so he never shared what he knew of Alex with me.

Alex Vraciu is now 96 years old.  

“Fair Winds and Following Seas” Alex.

 

A note on a webpage set up to honor Alex states “ALEX VRACIU HAS NO DIRECT CONNECTION WITH THIS WEBSITE. THIS IS AN EFFORT BY HIS FRIENDS AND ADMIRERS, NOT BY ALEX HIMSELF. HE IS TOO MODEST A MAN TO PETITION FOR REDRESS.”

http://www.alexvraciu.net/Alex-Vraciu-Bio.html

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The United States Navy 239th Birthday

Posted by on Oct 13, 2014 in Blog, History | Comments Off on The United States Navy 239th Birthday

The American War for Independence gave birth to what is now the United States Navy.

In late May of 1775, the Second Continental Congress began meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to push back against the British King’s coercive acts. April battles in Massachusetts brought the colonies into open warfare with British troops, so in part the function of this Congress was to establish and manage the war effort.

Until that time each of the thirteen colonies had their own militias made up of part-time citizen soldiers. Now, a unifying army was needed. In June The Continental Army was established to coordinate the military efforts between the thirteen colonies.

Britain not only had the world’s most powerful army, but their navy dominated the seas. The British navy was providing material support to the British forces in the colonies and hindering colonial trade. John Adams, among others, was advocating for an American fleet needed to defend coastal towns from British raiders, and protect the import and export of goods. Many of the Delegates to the Congress were initially reluctant and hoped for reconciliation with the Crown. They viewed the establishment of a navy a step towards independence, and a foolhardy attempt to take on the strongest navy in the world. 

On October 3, 1775, resolutions and arguments were made regarding the establishment of a fleet. By October 5, word had come of more English supply ships en route to Quebec. Delegates from New England were far more vocal advocates for a navy than their mid-Atlantic and Southern counterparts, and fortunately they made up the committee that came up with a plan.

On October 13, the Second Continental Congress voted on legislation authorizing two sailing vessels to be armed and manned by crews of eighty. These ships were to be sent out for a period of three months to block British transports from carrying munitions and re-supplying the British forces in the colonies. Fortuitously, that same day, a letter from George Washington was read in Congress indicating that he had acquired three schooners to cruise off Massachusetts to intercept enemy supply ships. This seemed to provide all the motivation needed to develop the Continental Navy. Congress soon established a Naval Committee charged to establish and equip a fleet.

Maritime ships were recruited and refitted with armaments to serve as war vessels.  During the war, ultimately more than fifty armed ships made up the Continental Navy. They seized enemy supplies, and transported munitions and provisions from Europe. The new Navy captured nearly 200 British ships, some near the British coast, which diverted part of the British navy from protecting their own ships and

The Navy Seal

The Navy Seal

trade routes.

After the Revolutionary War, the Navy ships were sold and the seamen and officers let go. The Constitution of the United States, which was ratified in 1789, empowered Congress “to provide and maintain a Navy” which it has done ever since.

“The mission of the Navy is to maintain, train and equip combat-ready Naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas.”

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