Posts by Janet

GIVING THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES

Posted by on Nov 22, 2015 in Blog, Commentary, Devotions, Uncategorized | 4 comments

Friends and family will gather this Thursday, November 26, to celebrate Thanksgiving. Many will enjoy a lavish meal, engage in time-honored events, and possibly watch a football game.

Thanksgiving celebrations have been practiced in many nations for hundreds of years. Our celebrations are rooted in English traditions of celebrating after a harvest. But Thanksgiving Day also has religious origins.

Thanksgiving CharactersMost school aged children are taught about the 1621 celebration at Plymouth when the colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn meal and gave thanks to God for their blessings.

Virginia claims an earlier Thanksgiving celebration at what is now known as Berkeley Plantation. On December 4, 1619, where Captain John Woodlief and the company of men dropped to their knees and prayed:First Official Thanksgiving Commemoration Plaque

“We ordaine that this day of our ships arrival,

at the place assigned for plantacon (plantation)

in the land of Virginia,

shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy

as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God.”

First Official Thanksgiving Commemoration Plaque -2For more details, see:

AMERICA’S FIRST THANKSGIVING ~ BERKELEY PLANTATION

https://janetgrunst.com/americas-first-thanksgiving-berkeley-plantation/?preview=true&preview_id=582&preview_nonce=f909ed43c3

Some of us may be experiencing a bittersweet Thanksgiving.

Are you grieving because you have lost a loved one to death or hurting from a broken relationship? Are you anxious because you or someone close to you is fighting a disease or illness? Maybe you’re heartbroken because of a child or grandchild’s trial. Perhaps there are disappointments due to a job or opportunity loss, or fears resulting from financial woes. Some of us even worry about what might happen in the future ― events which may never materialize.  

God tells us “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV

Does that make sense? How do we give thanks when it feels like our world is falling apart? We are to give thanks in all circumstances, not for all circumstances. In the midst of whatever you are going through Scripture can be very encouraging.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

Praising God is a wonderful antidote to fight discouragement or depression. As you enumerate the many things you can thank God about, a subtle but miraculous event occurs.

While your circumstances may not be altered, your attitude as you take the journey will be transformed.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 NIV

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 NIV

Have a blessed Thanksgiving

in the knowledge that God loves you.

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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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Susan Craft’s newest work ~ CASSIA

Posted by on Aug 24, 2015 in Blog, Books, Uncategorized | 12 comments

In the first two of Susan’s books in this series THE CHAMOMILE and LAUREL, we get to know Lilyan and Nicholas Xanthakos and follow their suspense-filled experiences.  CASSIA is the third installment of their story. Susan’s books are filled with historical detail about the 18th century, particularly South Carolina.Cover of Cassia

Share with us a little about yourself.

I’ve lived in Columbia, SC, since I was five years old. Forty-five years ago, I married my high school sweetheart, and we have two adult children, one granddaughter, and a granddog. I’m a history nerd who enjoys researching for my novels. I get so excited when I come across a tidbit of history I’ve never heard of before. I can’t wait to share it and write it into my novel. That excitement is enough to keep me going.

I enjoy painting, singing, listening to music, and sitting on my porch watching the rabbits and geese eat my daylilies. I recently retired after a 45-year career as a communications director, editor, and proofreader. 

I write inspirational historical romantic suspense.  My Xanthakos Family Trilogy includes a Revolutionary War novel, The Chamomile, which won the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Okra Pick; its sequel, Laurel, which was released in January 2015; and the third in the trilogy, Cassia, which will be released in September 2015.

Susan F. Craft

Susan F. Craft

 My husband and family are very supportive of my writing efforts. It’s funny sometimes, though, when I’m writing and I’m off in another time, my husband will come into my office and whisper, “Are you writing? I don’t want to interrupt.” It’s as if whispering makes it less of an interruption. You just have to laugh. Besides, we’ve been married 45 years, and he’s my best friend.

My publisher is Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (LPC). I currently serve on the LPC Heritage Beacon Imprint publication board and work for them as a manuscript editor of historical fiction.  My literary agent is Linda Glaz of Hartline Literary Agency.

To assist authors to “get it right about horses in their works,” I worked with the International Long Riders’ Guild Academic Foundation to compile A Writer’s Guide to Horses that can be found at www.lrgaf.org.

 

Please tell us about your new inspirational book, CASSIA (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas).

The Xanthakos family’s sea voyage from South Carolina to the North Carolina Outer Banks turns ugly after they pressure their ship’s captain to rescue a pregnant woman thrown overboard from a slave ship.

When the slave contracts smallpox, the captain maroons her, Lilyan and Nicholas and their children, Laurel, Paul, and Marion, on an island.

After Nicholas and Marion leave to seek help, Lilyan and her children and the baby, whom they have named Cassia, are captured by pirates and taken to their island hideout under the command of the vile Captain Galeo (The Shark), but Paul escapes along the way.

Galeo is attracted to Lilyan and orders her and Laurel to dine with him where reveals his plan to make Lilyan his own and auction Laurel to the highest bidder and where he forces them to witness a mock trial and a hanging.

Heartsick to see her child exposed to such evil, Lilyan rekindles her long-dormant courage and forges an escape plan.  Meanwhile, Nicholas faces his self-perceived failure to protect his family. He must abandon the life of a vintner and once again call upon the skills he honed as a captain in Francis Marion’s militia. 

Together they face the hardest challenge to a parent, watching as life tests the mettle of their highly sheltered and beloved children.  Bolstered by their faith, they realize their personal strength isn’t enough to see them through and that God is in control.

Will the Xanthakos children withstand their trials and learn to be as tough as their parents? Will the family be united and return to their peaceful Blue Ridge Mountain home?

 

You said you had a great story about how you came up with the character of Cal the mastiff who is a hero in Cassia.

Our granddog, Steeler, is a cuddly ball of fluff who brings us much joy. Last year, I was in our backyard inside a temporary fence we erected for when we babysit Steeler when two pit bulls and a boxer who were roaming the neighborhood tried to attack Steeler and me by pushing on the fence.  Now, Steeler is a doxipoo who weighs in at 14+ pounds, but he didn’t let his size stop him from placing himself between me and those dogs, who probably weighed 300 pounds or more.  With the heart of a lion, he faced them down until I could get us both Cal, he's yours nowback into the house.

I was in the middle of writing Cassia, and that incident inspired me to include a dog in the story. Like Steeler, the dog that I named Cal does some heroic deeds. Only Cal is a mastiff who weighs over 300 pounds.

When searching the Internet for pictures of a mastiff to help me with my descriptions, I came across the Cedarhollow Mastiffs site where I found a fantastic picture of a mastiff named Othello. I contacted Jamie Morris, the owner of the kennel, and asked permission to use the picture of Othello in a meme to advertise my novel. Jamie was excited and graciously said yes. Turns out she’s an avid reader who wants to read the Xanthakos Family Trilogy, and we’ve become Facebook friends.

Sometimes people will ask me who inspired a particular character or who do I envision portraying one of my characters in a movie. Steeler can puff up his chest with pride knowing that he is portrayed by Cal in his grandma’s novel.

 

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

I do have similar themes throughout my writing–faith under pressure and letting go of willfulness and reliance upon self-sufficiently.

I visualize my body of work as a tapestry through which I’ve spun a golden thread of faith made from finely hetcheled flax silk. Although it may disappear from sight, it’s always there, a constant foundation, binding the piece together.

 

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

I’ve almost completed my research on The Great Wagon Road that stretched from Philadelphia to Savanna, GA. From 1720-1780, it served as a passage for immigrants, mostly from Ireland, to travel from the North and settle in the South. I’m thinking it will be a series of romances and adventure stories, similar to the old Wagon Train TV series I watched growing up as a child.

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

Where can readers find your books?

My books are on Amazon, Barnes and Noble online and can be ordered in their stores, and the bookstore of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

What are your social media sights?

Here are some places readers can find me:

www.susanfcraft.com (my website)

http://historicalfictionalightintime.blogspot.com  (my personal blog)

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

http://stitchesthrutime.blogspot.com (post once a month)

http://www.hhhistory.com (post on the 31st of months that have a 31st)

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

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

Twitter: @susanfcraft

Google: https://plus.google.com/u/0/116297461023468677321/about

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

 

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PRAYER NEEDED FOR OUR NATION

Posted by on May 23, 2015 in Blog, Commentary, Devotions | 2 comments

Anne Graham Lotz, and other Christian leaders asked for Americans to participate in

May Day! May Day! A Distress Call For Prayer.

This commitment involved setting aside the nine days between the Day of the Ascension of Jesus and the Day of Pentecost, (May 15th to May 23rd, 2015) for repentance, prayer, and fasting.

Fasting and praying are Bible-based disciplines that Jews and Christians have practiced throughout history, a spiritual discipline not relegated only to the early church.

When the British Parliament ordered an embargo of Boston in May, 1774, to begin June 1st, the Burgesses of Virginia passed a resolution protesting this act and set aside that very day to seek God with fasting and prayer.

"Stars and Stripes" official flag - June 14, 1777.

On March 16th, 1776, the Continental Congress recommended:

“that Friday, the Seventeenth day of May next, be observed by the said colonies as a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that we may, with united hearts, confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and, by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his righteous displeasure, and, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness; humbly imploring his assistance to frustrate the cruel purposes of our unnatural enemies;”

Our national leaders also called for days of prayer at other times throughout our history, including in 1812 and during the Civil War.

Today was the final day of May Day! May Day! A Distress Call For Prayer. For thoseFlag people who made the commitment to join Anne Graham Lots and thousands of others in this call for prayer, each day they received suggestions for guided prayer and video talks ranging from 4-16 minutes.

My husband and I chose to answer this call, and found it to be an incredible blessing. The prayers furnished each day were Spirit led. It was time well spent and we would do it again.

It is never too late to set aside a time to pray for our nation, because the need is great.

On this Memorial Day weekend, when our minds and hearts remember the men and women who gave everything to defend and preserve this nation, we can do our part by committing to pray for God’s blessing.

For more information:

http://www.annegrahamlotz.org/category/messages-from-gods-word/latest-from-anne/

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