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

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.

Writing Reviews Really Does Help Authors


 

 

 

 

  I loved writing this Revolutionary War series and grew quite attached to the characters. I hope if you read any of these stories and enjoyed them that you would consider writing a review.

A Heart Set Free

In 1770, Heather Douglas is desperate to escape a brewing scandal in her native Scotland. Penniless and hoping for a fresh start far away, she signs a seven-year indenture and boards a British merchant vessel headed to Virginia.

Widowed planter Matthew Stewart needs someone to help raise his two young children. The tall blonde standing on the Alexandria quay doesn’t look like much after her harrowing sea voyage, but there’s a refinement about her that her filthy clothing cannot hide. Could God be leading him to take this unknown servant as his wife?

When Matthew purchases Heather’s indenture, marries her and takes her to his farm, she is faced with new and constant challenges. And Matthew wonders if they can ever bridge their differences and make a life together.

But in the Virginia countryside, Heather begins her greatest journey, one of self-discovery and of maturing faith. Here, she discovers that her emotional and spiritual scars bind her far more than her indenture . . . and love will finally set her heart free.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33224574-a-heart-set-free

https://www.bookbub.com/books/a-heart-set-free-by-janet-s-grunst

https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Set-Free…/dp/B01MQK0SXR/ref

A Heart For Freedom

By 1775, the conflict has escalated between Loyalists and Patriots throughout the colonies. The Stewarts’ ordinary and the surrounding Virginia countryside are not immune from the strife, pitting friends, neighbors, and families against each other.

Matthew Stewart has avoided taking sides and wants only to farm, manage Stewarts’ Green, and raise his family. But political tensions are heating up and circumstances and connections convince him that he should answer a call to aid the Patriot cause … with conditions.

Heather Stewart, born and raised in Scotland, has witnessed the devastation and political consequences of opposing England. Threatened by the prospect of war, she wants only to avoid it, and protect the family and peace she sought and finally found in Virginia.

The journey the Stewarts take is not an easy one and will involve sacrifice, and questioned loyalties. Lives and relationships will be changed forever. Ultimately the knowledge that God is faithful will equip them with the courage to face the future … with a heart for freedom.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40967736-a-heart-for-freedom

https://www.bookbub.com/books/a-heart-for-freedom-a-novel-by-janet-s-grunst

https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Freedom…/dp/B07FB5J172/ref

Setting Two Hearts Free

Donald Duncan joined the Patriot cause for noble reasons, battling the British while enduring deprivation and hardship on every side. The war has changed him, and now the battle is internal. Returning home to Virginia is in sight where a new life and his Mary wait for him.

Mary Stewart spends the war years with her family at Stewarts’ Green, helping them operate their ordinary. Daily, she prays for Donald’s safe return, eagerly waiting for him … until that day the evil side of war touches her.

Two hearts changed by a war that dragged on for six years. Two hearts left hurting and struggling to find the love and trust they once knew. Is there a path for them to rekindle what was lost, Setting Two Hearts Free?

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54458496-setting-two-hearts-free#

https://www.bookbub.com/books/setting-two-hearts-free-by-janet-s-grunst

https://www.amazon.com/Setting-Hearts…/dp/B085DRXFZY/ref

 

SETTING TWO HEARTS FREE ~ Releases October 6th

History has always fascinated me, particularly people and events that change the course of a nation or the world. When interpreting history through a Biblical worldview (Providentially) one sees God’s presence, provision, protection, power, and at times permission to accomplish His will. Our world has been polluted by sin since mankind’s fall, ushering in all manner of evil over time. And while God does not endorse these horrible events, we know that He often works through them or despite them to accomplish His greater purposes.

Discovering God’s direction and intervention in the years leading up to, during, and after the American Revolution inspired me to write a series of stories about the American Revolution. I’m delighted that the final book in the series Setting Two Hearts Free releases October sixth.

Setting Two Hearts Free is dedicated to all who suffer the invisible wounds of war and other trauma. And to their families and loved ones, sometimes struggling to best know how to help and cope.

A HEART SET FREE ~ A story of Forgiveness

1770 ~ Heather Douglas, a woman, disillusioned and desperate to escape her native Scotland, signs a seven-year indenture and flees aboard a British merchant vessel to the Virginia colony.

Matthew Stewart, a widowed farmer with two young children needs someone to help raise them. Is God leading him to take this unknown indentured servant as his wife? How would these two individuals, from opposite sides of the Atlantic, each having experienced tragedies, bridge their differences to make a life together?

A HEART FOR FREEDOM ~ A story of Faithfulness

1775-1776 ~ When hostilities break out between the British and colonials, the antagonism between colonists and the British escalate to confrontation. Throughout Virginia, strife between factions loyal to the crown and those demanding independence pit friends, neighbors, and families against each other.

Like so many others, Heather and Matthew’s world is turning upside down. Loyalties are questioned and odd and unexplainable events create doubt and suspicion. Their journey is filled with challenges but God’s faithfulness will encourage His people.

SETTING TWO HEARTS FREE ~ A story of Forbearance

1781-1783 ~ Donald Duncan joined the Patriot cause for noble reasons, battling the British while enduring deprivation and hardship on every side. The war has changed him, and now the battle is internal. Returning home to Virginia is in sight where a new life and his Mary wait for him.

Mary Stewart spends the war years with her family at Stewarts’ Green, helping them operate their ordinary. Daily, she prays for Donald’s safe return, eagerly waiting for him … until that day the evil side of war touches her.

Two hearts are challenged by a war that dragged on for six years. Two hearts left hurting and struggling to find the love and trust they once knew. Is there a path for them to rekindle what was lost, Setting Two Hearts Free?