Meet Susan Mathis, author of Peyton’s Promise

Susan Mathis has another charming story,  Peyton’s Promise, set in the Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence River.

Please tell us about your writing journey, Susan.

I’ve been teaching writing, editing, or writing most of my life. I taught language arts for nine years, and before I jumped into the fiction world, I served as the Founding Editor of Thriving Family magazine and the former Editor/Editorial Director of twelve Focus on the Family publications. My first two published books were nonfiction. Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage with an Indonesian and Spanish version, and The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Life of Love and Happiness, both have helped thousands of couples prepare for marriage. I’m also the author of two picture books, Lexie’s Adventure in Kenya and Princess Madison’s Rainbow Adventure. Moreover, I’m published in various book compilations including five Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Ready to Wed, Supporting Families Through Meaningful Ministry, The Christian Leadership Experience, and Spiritual Mentoring of Teens. I’ve also several hundred magazine and newsletter articles. But then I started writing fiction…and I’m hooked!

What motivated you to set your stories in the Thousand Islands area?

I grew up just twenty minutes from the Thousand Islands, so I spent every summer and more exploring the beautiful region. I’ve stayed on several of the islands and camped and rented cottages there. So, after I wrote my debut novel about the largest island, Wolfe Island, I was hooked. There are so many fascinating stories to tell.

Please tell us a little more about the story.

It’s the summer of 1902, and Peyton Quinn is tasked with preparing the grand Calumet Castle ballroom for a spectacular two-hundred-guest summer gala. As she works in a male-dominated position as an upholsterer and fights for women’s equality, she’s persecuted for her unorthodox ways. But when her pyrotechnics-engineer father is seriously hurt, she takes over the plans for the fireworks display despite being socially ostracized.

Patrick Taylor, Calumet’s carpenter, and Peyton’s childhood chum hopes to win her heart, but her unconventional undertakings cause a rift. Peyton has to ignore the prejudices and persevere or she could lose her job, forfeit Patrick’s love and respect, and forever become the talk of local gossips.

It’s obvious you researched a great deal for this story. Please share about that.

I LOVE researching! There’s a lot of information in Peyton’s Promise about the women’s suffrage movement and upholstery work. But I really enjoyed researching fireworks—how they’re made, how they’re shot off, etc. I connected with the leading fireworks historical and gleaned lots of great information I sprinkled into the story. I’ll never view another fireworks show the same.

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

All of my stories have the central theme of hope and redemption. Peyton’s Promise also explores forgiveness.

God often teaches us something through our writing. What did you learn about life, faith, or yourself in the process of writing Peyton’s Promise?

Yes, every book I write is a journey of healing and hope, and this one was no different. Patrick’s journey of forgiving his father paralleled my journey of forgiving my stepdad.

Where can readers find your books?

You can find links to all my books and more on my website: https://www.susangmathis.com/fiction-books/

Lighthouse Publishing: https://shoplpc.com/peytons-promise/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Peytons-Promise-Thousand-Islands-Guilded/dp/1645263444

Barnes&Nobles: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/peytons-promise-susan-g-mathis/1139839195?ean=9781645263449

My Review of ~The Women of the Bible Speak

The Women of the Bible Speak by Shannon Bream was published in 2021 and became a best seller very quickly. After decades of Bible study, I was well acquainted with these sixteen women’s stories and I was intrigued and glad to see the book do so well. I hoped that readers who hadn’t studied the Bible might be motivated to explore the Scriptures. Perhaps I would get some new insights from her presentation of these familiar stories—but I waited.

Then I saw Shannon Bream and others promoting her follow-on book The Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak. I bit—and ordered the first book and I’m so glad I did.

Women of the Bible Speak pairs women’s stories together both from the Old the New Testaments. Their stories are all the more fascinating because they took place in cultures where women weren’t valued, yet God did and demonstrated their impact on history. These women had very different personalities and backgrounds. Some were wise and courageous, others flawed, humble, sinful, and some were even outsiders. All played a part in accomplishing God’s purposes through several millennia. Reading about these women’s journeys—their choices, circumstances, and their unique contributions is compelling. Shannon Bream provides fresh insights into these women’s lives, as well as encouragement and lessons we can all use.

I just bought The Mothers and Daughters of the Bible Speak and can’t wait to start reading it. (It is now also a best seller) I know I will continue to learn from this very gifted author and the inspiring women of the Bible.

 

Shannon Bream is the host of Fox News @ Night at midnight on weekdays and the network’s Chief Legal Correspondent. A native Floridian, she started her career as an attorney. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Liberty University, a Juris Doctorate with honors from Florida State University College of Law, and a former Miss America finalist.

Susan Mathis and The Thousand Islands Gilded Age

The books Susan Mathis writes take place in the Thousand Islands area of upper New York. Her fascinating settings are almost a character in themselves Her newest release is Colleen’s Confession.

Susan, why do you write Thousand Islands Gilded Age stories?

Susan:   The American Gilded Age was a time of rapid technical advances, industrialization, and thousands of new inventions from about 1870-1910. Mark Twain coined the term in his 1873 novel The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today that satirized the era of social problems that were masked by a layer of thin, gold gilding. It’s a fascinating time in history, especially in the Thousand Islands.

All of my books are set during the Thousand Islands Gilded Age when the wealthy came and scooped up the islands and built lavish summer homes, mansions, and castles. It was an era of economic growth. Since wages were higher than in Europe, massive immigration drew about twenty million to the U.S. shores. Unions fought to stop child labor and establish an eight-hour workday. Social reforms included women’s suffrage, prohibition, and other civil changes. In the cities, labor unions became important in regulating industry, while trusts grew stronger in several industries. Education, prohibition, and racial inequalities dominated politics as did economic affairs of money supply and tariffs.

Unfortunately, it was also a time of unequal distribution of wealth where the rich got richer and the poor working-class suffered. Many young women worked as servants until they married, and that’s what my stories are about—those nameless, faithful women who cooked and cleaned and served tables for the rich and famous. These “downstairs” women had fascinating stories to tell, and I plan to tell many of them.

The Gilded Age titans of industry changed our world—people like John D Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, Cornelius Vanderbilt, George Pullman, and others who were sometimes called “robber barons.” But there were others who quietly made a difference—people like Frederick Bourne who took the Singer sewing machine around the globe as highlighted in my novel, Devyn’s Dilemma.

During the Gilded Age, America led the world in innovation. A half-million patents were issued for new inventions including hundreds by Thomas Edison, Westinghouse, and others. Thanks to inventions such as the delivery of electric power, the world became lighter, safer, more convenient and comfortable, and all-around better.

So this is why I write Thousand Islands Gilded Age stories. To share the rich heritage this era gave us and better understand what it was like. What fascinates you about this time? I’d love to know.

About Colleen’s Confession:

Summer 1914

Colleen Sullivan conceals secrets when she joins her aunt on Comfort Island to work in the laundry and await her betrothed’s arrival. She loves to draw and dreams of growing in the craft. But tragedy strikes when her fiancé perishes in the sinking of the ocean liner RMS Empress of Ireland on his way to meet her. With her orphan dreams of finally belonging and becoming a wife and an artist gone, what will her future hold?

Austrian immigrant, Jack Weiss, enjoys being the island’s groundskeeper and is smitten by the lovely Irish lass. But Colleen dismisses him at every turn, no matter how much he admires her art, tries to keep her safe, and waters the blossoms of love. Perhaps introducing her to the famous impressionist, Alson Skinner Clark, will brighten her opinion of him. But rumors of war in Europe mean Jack must choose between joining his homeland’s army or staying safe in the Thousand Islands as he makes a life with Colleen. If she will have him.

About Susan:

Susan G Mathis is an international award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Susan has been published more than twenty times in full-length novels, novellas, and non-fiction books.

Her first two books of The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, Devyn’s Dilemma, and Katelyn’s Choice have each won multiple awards, and book three, Peyton’s Promise, comes out May 2022. Rachel’s Reunion is coming soon. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise, and Reagan’s Reward, are award winners, too. Susan is also a published author of two premarital books, two children’s picture books, stories in a dozen compilations, and hundreds of published articles. Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs and enjoys traveling around the world. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com for more.

Here are the links to connect with Susan:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Blog | Goodreads | Google+ | CAN | 

Setting Two Hearts Free ~ A Year later

 

I wrote Setting Two Hearts Free hoping to reach those who suffer from the invisible wounds of war and other trauma. And for their loved ones and families also struggling to best know how to help and cope.

A year after the release of Setting Two Hearts Free, I’m so grateful for those who endorsed and posted reviews for this story. Endorsements and reviews are essential to help books to gain visibility.

“A touching, timeless story of love and loyalty, hardship and hope. Setting Two Hearts Free honors our faith-filled forefathers, many of them Scottish like Mary Stewart and Donald Duncan, whose legacy is the lifeblood of our American heritage and must not be forgotten. Well done!”

Laura Frantz, Christy Award-winning author of An Uncommon Woman

“In Setting Two Hearts Free, Grunst shines at creating the engaging characters that populate the charming backcountry Virginia inn. Set in 1781, several years after the two previous books of the series, the story now centers on the Stewarts’ older daughter, Mary, and Donald Duncan, the son of their friends in Alexandria.

Grunst vividly depicts the trauma of war from the front lines to the home front, where those left behind must maintain farms and businesses in the absence of husbands, sons, and brothers. A soldier in the Continental Army, Donald endures exhaustion, disillusionment, and the mental and emotional toll of battle. A future with Mary feels increasingly out of reach. With Donald’s extended absences, Mary increasingly harbors doubts about their relationship as well, particularly when during a British invasion she suffers a shattering trauma.

Grunst realistically and compassionately portrays the harsh wounds of war that Donald and Mary individually endure. The healing process that gradually draws them into a deeper, more intimate relationship of mutual dependence and shared strength provides encouragement and spiritual insight for readers who may face struggles in their relationships.”

—J. M. Hochstetler, author of The American Patriot Series

“It is often in the aftermath of tragedy’s physical scars that we realize the deepest and most lasting wounds lie within. Author Janet Grunst brings us hope in this beautifully poignant tale of love torn apart by war’s terrible secrets; and truth, the invitation to God’s healing grace to make us whole.”

“A beautifully heartrending story of love’s triumph in truth amidst the atrocities of war.”

 —Kate Breslin, bestselling author of Far Side of the Sea

“Author Janet Grunst has again brought a crucial time in our nation’s history to life through the continuing Stewart family saga. Separated by Donald Duncan’s enlistment to fight for freedom during the Revolutionary War, he and Mary Stewart are no longer wide-eyed young teens filled with dreams, but they have become young adults facing difficult realities. Grunst weaves each of their stories with delicacy through the tragedies which befall them. Donald and Mary must decide whether they will allow these trials to determine their future. Readers of clean historical romance will be touched by this tender and positive story of what honesty, faith, and perseverance truly mean. Highly recommend!”

~Kathleen Rouser, award-winning author of Rumors and Promises. 

“In Setting Two Hearts Set Free, author Janet Grunst does a remarkable job tackling the subjects of PTSD and sexual abuse, without marginalizing the recovery processes. The author adds enough tension to keep readers turning the pages; she also adds enough doubt to keep them wondering how the story will end. Grunst tenderly relieves the characters’ pain with poultices of faith, family, hope, and love. Though set in the American Revolutionary War era, this story transcends generations. Wonderful read.”

~ Clarice G. James, award-winning author of The Girl He Knew, Manhattan Grace, Doubleheader, and Party of One

Thank you

Setting Two Hearts Free can be purchased at Amazon by selecting the link on the right and the following booksellers:

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/setting-two-hearts-free-janet-grunst/1137453926?ean=9781645262800

https://shoplpc.com/setting-two-hearts-free/

 

The Series is Finished—Now What?

Setting Two Hearts Free, the last story in my Revolutionary War series, was released in the fall of 2020, preceded by A Heart For Freedom in 2018 and A Heart Set Free in 2016. I began writing the series in the 1980s but put it aside for many years.

 

 

 

 

In the midst of that, I had the fun opportunity of writing a novella in

collaboration with three other Smitten authors. My story is The Year Without Summer in The Highlanders: A Smitten Historical Romance Collection which was released in 2019.

 

Authors can get very attached to their characters when they spend years writing a series. But then it’s time to move on to other stories and other characters, and in my case a different era. I am currently writing a story about the Irish potato famine which took place in the mid-1800s. It was during the potato famine that some of my ancestors emigrated from Ulster Ireland.

A time of starvation and emigration

There were successive potato crop failures but the famine of 1845-1852 was the worst. It is estimated that one million people died of starvation and disease and another million people emigrated. Many of those emigrating to Canada and other countries perished on the ships. Many, like one of my characters, emigrated to the United States.

This story has a twist that connects it to the novella and the series. I’m about three-quarters of the way through it so stay tuned.

Some interesting details about the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence

~  12 colonies/states were represented, no signers represented Rhode Island

~ 37  were only in their 30’s or 40’s, 2 were in their 20’s

~ 8 of them were born in England, Scotland, Ireland, or Wales

~ They were lawyers, landowners, farmers, merchants, 4 physicians, and 2 ministers

~ Some of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.

~ At least twelve of them had their homes ransacked and burned.

~ Nine of the 56 signers fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

~ Four of the signers lost their sons in the Continental Army or had sons who were captured.

The Declaration of Independence

July 4, 1776

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.