An Interview with CeeCee from Karen White’s Dreams of Falling

Thanks to Elise Cooper for providing this interview. You can find more from Elise here.

For those who do not know CeeCee Purnell she is a reflection of her times, growing up during the 1950s and 1960s in the South.  Her life is a plateau, with many ups and downs. Growing up and living in Georgetown, South Carolina, she raises her late friend’s daughter, Ivy, and her daughter, Larkin. CeeCee is grateful that Larkin has returned home after nine self-exiled years to help locate her missing mother, Ivy. Larkin finds out that in 1951 three best friends, Ceecee, Margaret and Bitty have just graduated from high school with all their dreams ahead of them.  But they are shattered when Margaret finds she is an unwed mother who lost her fiancé while fighting in the Korean War. Years later her daughter Ivy has a similar experience when she loses her recently married husband who fought in Vietnam.  CeeCee has agreed to open up about her experiences and what happened during those turbulent years.

It must be bittersweet for you to have your granddaughter returning home, while your daughter, her mom, is trying to survive a horrific accident. It must have brought back memories from 1951 when your life changed forever. Thank you for consenting to this interview because you can be an inspiration as someone who had hard knocks but survived.

 

9780451488411 (5) 

NPT: Do you see yourself as a product of the 1950s?

CeeCee:Definitely.  Especially Southern small-town 1950s.  Being the only daughter of a pastor, I was definitely sheltered from the realities of the world outside of Georgetown, South Carolina.

 

NPT: Do you regret going on the road trip after graduating high school?

CeeCee: No.  I wish I could go back and change a few things, but if I hadn’t gone, I never would have met the love of my life, Boyd.

 

NPT: Do you think writing on ribbons and sticking them in a tree is rather nerdy?

CeeCee: I’m not sure what you mean about the word ‘nerdy’?

 

NPT:  A geek?

CeeCee:If you mean fanciful or even a little far-fetched, then yes.  It’s like blowing on a dandelion and making wishes on the seeds—we know it’s not real, but we can’t help but believing there’s a small part of truth in the legend.

 

NPT: Were you, Bitty, and Margaret considered The Three Musketeers?

CeeCee:We were never called that, but I felt that way many times throughout our childhoods together.  We were rarely apart, and believed we really were “all for one, and one for all.”

 

NPT: How would you define friendship?

CeeCee:A good friendship can be defined as loving someone unconditionally—even when things in your own life are sliding into the ocean and all has been stripped away, you can still be loving, giving and kind to your friends.

 

NPT: How did it feel to be a surrogate mother to Margaret’s daughter Ivy and a surrogate grandmother to her daughter Larkin?

CeeCee:I don’t feel as if you need to be related by blood to feel a kinship with someone.  I was raised with two younger brothers, but always felt as if Margaret and Bitty were my blood sisters.  My mother was a wonderful example of how to mother, and I suppose that’s why when I saw two children who needed mothering, it was easy for me to step in.

 

 

NPT: Do you agree with your granddaughter’s friend, Bennett’s attitude about Carrowmore and developers?

CeeCee:Absolutely.  Few people seem to realize anymore that our history lives on in old buildings, and that once they are gone, along with the stories and memories that are contained within their walls, they are gone forever.

 

NPT: Do you wish Bennett and Larkin hooked up?

CeeCee:When, while back in high school?

 

NPT:  Yes?

CeeCee: No. They were friends first.  It’s only when they became adults and Larkin could see Bennett with adult eyes did it make sense for their relationship to move into something deeper.  And neither Larkin nor Bennett are the ‘hooking up’ kind of people—their relationships are meaningful.

 

NPT: Do you think it is good or bad to keep a secret?

CeeCee: It depends on the motive.  If it’s to protect a loved one, then it can be excused and/or forgiven.  If it’s used for subterfuge, or to keep hiding something that might help another person, then no.

 

NPT: Does Bitty still play an important role in your life?

CeeCee:I think it’s natural for people who’ve known each other for so long to get on each other’s nerves sometimes, just as it’s natural for your love to grow to something deeper.  There is something special about someone who’s known you your whole life, knows all your secrets and flaws, yet loves you anyway.

 

NPT: After the accident and Ivy unconscious, was it hard to see her physically there, but unable to communicate with her?

CeeCee:Of course—she’s always been like a daughter to me.  The one thing that got me through those early days was believing she would wake up and be able to answer all the questions we had for her.

 

NPT: Do you think dreams really do come true?

CeeCee:Only when hard work and determination are added to the dreaming!

 

NPT: Who taught Larkin how to shag dance?

CeeCee:I’m thinking probably her mother, or Bennett.  They used to have impromptu dance/ barbecue parties when they lived near each other.

 

NPT: What do you do for fun?

CeeCee:I love to work in my garden and of course I love to bake.  I always make sure I have something in the freezer waiting to be defrosted in case of unexpected company.

 

NPT: What are your interests besides baking and gardening?

CeeCee:I love keeping in touch with my friends and being an active member of my church and community.

 

NPT: Are you content with your life?

CeeCee:Absolutely.  I’m surrounded by family and loved ones.  I’ve had losses, but I’ve also had a great deal of love and blessings in my long life.

 

NPT: If you could put another ribbon in the tree what would it say?

CeeCee:I wish Larkin would stay in Georgetown forever!

 

NPT: Is there anything you want to add, if so please do?

CeeCee:Be kind to one another.  And honest. Those two things alone will guide you through life.

 

NPT:Thank you for your time and insight!

Karen White is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty previous books, including The Night the Lights Went OutFlight PatternsThe Sound of GlassA Long Time Gone, and The Time Between, and a coauthor, with Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig, of The Forgotten Room.

Karen White credit Marchet Butler
Karen White credit Marchet Butler

Penelope Howard from Jennifer A. Davids’ A Perfect Weakness

Today we welcome Penelope Howard from Jennifer A. Davids’ A Perfect Weakness

A Perfect Weakness_Front CoverHello Miss Howard. Won’t you tell us a little about yourself?

Of course. I live in the village of Woodley with my brother, Thomas, our housekeeper Hannah Trull and Fanny our maid-of-all-work.

Woodley? Where exactly is that?

In Hampshire, England.

Ah I’ve been to England several times but never Hampshire. I have been to London and enjoyed myself very much. Have you or your bother ever been to London?

Well, yes…but I’m afraid we did not enjoy ourselves as much as you must have. Although perhaps my brother would not agree.

Oh, I’m sorry. Did you go there together?

No. No we did not. They were quite separate occasions.

What do you do in Woodley?

I help manage the Home Farm for Ashford Hall as well as visit it’s tenants on behalf of the lord of the Hall. I also help our reverend, Mr. Gregory with a number of church related activities. And then there is my work as a volunteer nurse at our cottage hospital.

You do keep yourself busy.

Yes, it helps…well it helps pass the time.

I see. What is the lord of Ashford Hall like?

Lord Turner has very recently inherited. My brother has been bringing him up to date with everything. Thomas is Ashford Hall’s estate agent. He manages all the Hall’s properties. From what we can tell, Lord Turner is a very good man. An American, actually. He was cousin to my uncle, the late Lord Renshaw.

So you’re related to Lord Turner?

Not exactly. The late Lord Renshaw was our uncle by marriage; my aunt being my mother’s sister. Lord Turner is a cousin to my uncle by blood. Otherwise he could not have inherited the barony.

I’m surprised an American could have inherited at all.

As were we. But the solicitor, Mr. Smith assures us it is legal. Though he cannot sit in the House of Lords unless he renounces his American citizenship. He has surprised me though.

Oh? How?

He is a doctor. Or was. I’m not sure which. He gets so very odd when someone mentions medicine. Tense. We were under the impression that he would be very involved with the cottage hospital but we have lately heard he will not. He says Hall business will keep him busy. But I cannot see how since Thomas is so very good at managing things. It’s as if a great pain keeps him from practicing medicine. But then he served in the recent conflict in America. Perhaps that is why.

The recent conflict? Do you mean the Civil War?

Yes. I believe he was a doctor in the field or something like that. I wish he would tell me what is wrong. I could help, perhaps.

Well thank you for sharing with us Miss Howard. 

 

Jennifer A. Davids is a self-professed book nerd. The shelves of her office are overflowing with books and there are stacks of them by her bedside.Jennifer A Davids When she’s not reading, she’s dreaming up a new story to tell her readers. She lives in Central Ohio with her husband, two children, and two cats.

 

Website: www.jenniferadavids.com

Blog: jenniferadavids.wordpress.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/jenniferadavids

Instagram: www.instagram.com/jennifera.davids

Twitter: www.twitter.com/JenniferADavids

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/jenadavids

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/5385735.Jennifer_A_Davids

You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9q-ufqnR08MHejl8WspXLQ?view_as=subscriber

 

A Perfect Weakness Pre-Order Link: https://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Weakness-Jennifer-Davids/dp/194601656X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528805917&sr=8-1&keywords=a+perfect+weakness

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Keziah Montgomery from Engraved on the Heart by Tara Johnson

Today we’re meeting Keziah Montgomery from Engraved on the Heart by Tara Johnson.

engraved on the heart cover photoNovel PASTimes: Thank you for visiting with us today. I love your name! It’s quite unusual.

 

Keziah: It is definitely that. Keziah is a family name, but not many people know it’s also from the Bible.

 

Novel PASTimes: Really? I had no idea!

 

Keziah: Yes. Keziah is one of the three daughters born to Job after he’d endured his time of suffering. It’s a derivative of Cassia and means “a sweet-scented spice”.

 

Novel PASTimes: Interesting. So would you consider yourself sweet? Tell me about yourself.

 

Keziah: Some would call me sweet. Others shy.  I think most people, especially my family, would consider me compliant. My brother Nathaniel and my father have the big personalities in the family. I’ve always been bashful, especially considering my medical condition.

 

Novel PASTimes: If it’s not too intrusive, may I ask what condition you struggle with?

 

Keziah: Epilepsy. Please don’t tell anyone else though. It shames my father and mother terribly. I’m so thankful they’ve not cast me into an asylum like so many others with the same malady. They’ve sternly instructed me not to tell a soul within Savannah’s social elite. Mother fears it will compromise my chances for a good match, though I have little desire for such a thing.

 

Novel PASTimes: Why not?

 

Keziah: There are far greater concerns than finding an eligible suitor. Men—friends, cousins, even my own brother—are fighting on bloody fields to decide the future of the Union. And there are others…men, women and children who are trapped in slavery. Some of them are abused and whipped to ribbons for no reason.

 

Novel PASTimes: Pardon my forwardness, but you sound like an abolitionist.

 

Keziah: (whispers) That’s because I am. I beg you, don’t tell my family. It was my friend Micah who helped me understand the horrors of slavery.

 

Novel PASTimes: I take it your family doesn’t share your beliefs.

 

Keziah: Not in the slightest. They are a staunch Confederate family. If they knew of my involvement, they would disown me.

 

Novel PASTimes: Your involvement with abolitionists, or something more?

 

Keziah: I’ve already said too much. I cannot speak on it further.

 

Novel PASTimes: I’m intrigued.

 

Keziah: You and most of Savannah. My cousin Jennie is rabid to sniff out as many abolitionists as possible and turn them over to the authorities. So you see why discretion is vital.

 

Novel PASTimes: Clearly, you disagree with your family on the issue of slavery. What people have had the most influence on you?

 

Keziah: I’ve always been close to our family’s house servant Hiriam. He’s like a grandfather to me. I so admire his kindness and wisdom. My childhood friend Micah has played a critical role in my life. He’s a physician now and has taught me much about fighting for others’ freedom. He’s the bravest man I know.

 

Novel PASTimes: You sound very fond of him. What is the best advice he’s given you?

 

Keziah: Upon seeing the scarred back of a former slave, I was horrified. I’ll never forget Micah’s words to me. He said, “Let his suffering teach you. Remembering will give you a greater compassion. A deeper love for those trapped in darkness.”

 

Novel PASTtimes: What is one thing you would change about yourself if you could?

 

Keziah: I used to be ashamed of my illness. I thought being ill, broken, if you will,  meant I had no worth. I suppose in many people’s eyes, I don’t. But God has shown me how valuable I am to Him. He gives me my worth. His strength moves in when my failures loom large. That’s a good place to be, because whether I’m muddling through daily thrum of life or fighting for fugitives’ freedom, I cannot boast in my own strength. Any praise goes to God alone.

 

Novel PASTimes: It sounds as if you’ve learned much from your struggles. On a different note, who do you think will win the war? The Yankees or Confederates?

 

Keziah: I have no idea. Both the Union and the Confederacy feel God is on their side. Strange, isn’t it? And I have loved ones fighting for both. For the sake of those trapped in darkness, I pray the Union will prevail. Either way, as long as the Almighty gives me breath, I’ll fight to make my life mean something. I’ll not sit idly by. If you’d seen the fear etched into the thin faces of the runaways, you’d know why I can never go back to the way things used to be. How could I when so many are desperate for one taste of freedom?

Thanks for speaking with us today, Keziah. You seem like a very brave young lady.

tara 2017Tara Johnson is an author, speaker and singer from Alexander, AR. A passionate lover of stories, she loves to travel to churches, ladies retreats and prisons to share how God led her into freedom after spending years living shackled as a people pleaser.

Her first historical romance with Tyndale House Publishers will be released in the summer of 2018 and is the first of a three part series set during the Civil War. Follow her at www.TaraJohnsonStories.com.

Twitter: @TaraMinistry

https://www.facebook.com/TaraLynnJohnsonAuthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tarajohnsonministry/

 

 

 

 

Meet Ruth Ann Sutton from Kelly Goshorn’s A Love Restored

ALoveRestored_prc5391_750

Thank you for inviting me to Novel Pastimes to share with you a little of my story. I am pleased to make your acquaintance. I’m Ruth Ann Sutton from Catoctin Creek, Virginia. I’m twenty years old and the youngest of two daughters born to my parents, Charles and Hannah Sutton. My father died suddenly when I was thirteen and I miss him terribly. I can usually be found wearing the locket he gave me. My older sister, Sarah, was married by my age. She is beautiful and petite—just like mama. I’m quite the opposite. With broad shoulders, round hips and a head full of unruly curls, I haven’t had many suitors.

Sometimes that is for the best, too much heartache. But I understand you are engaged. Would you like to tell us about your fiancé?

 

Oh, my heavens! Where did you hear that? From Tilly Hirst I imagine. That woman is always gossiping. The truth of the matter is I am not engaged—yet. James has not proposed, nor have I indicated that I will agree to such an arrangement. There is an understanding between our families, however, and mama is hoping we will be married within the year.

 

What are your reservations about marrying James? Is he unkind to you?

 

My, you are direct, aren’t you? I think we would get along splendidly if I lived in your century. When I marry, I will be expected “to take my place in society,” which is a fancy way of saying I have to join stodgy organizations like the Women’s Benevolent Aid Society and terminate my teaching position at the Freedman’s School. Married women are not allowed to hold such positions.

 

If you don’t mind me being frank, which I am prone to be, the real reason I’m hesitant is that I believe he’s more interested in my familial connections than me, as a woman. James is the son of a prominent Virginia politician. Although we get along just fine, I find him a bit dull. Mama says I should be grateful for his attention. I’m not sure how long I can postpone our nuptials, but what I want more than anything is for a man to love and accept me as I am—fuller figure and strong opinions included. But I’m not sure such a man exists. Look at me prattling on and I barely know you. If mama were here, she’d remind me that “young ladies should be seen and not heard.”

 

Is there perhaps another man who has caught your eye? If so, was it love at first sight or did he have to grow on you?

 

I did have this chance encounter with Benjamin Coulter at the creek the other day. Although I thought his eyes were a delightful shade of amber, like honey drizzling on a warm biscuit, there was hardly an immediate attraction. His dirty, disheveled appearance startled me (I can’t abide a man with whiskers). He was one of those railroad men mama had warned me about. Concerned he had nefarious intentions, I grabbed a rather large stick and threatened to pummel him if he didn’t keep his distance. One thing led to another and I fell into the creek. It truly was a disastrous first impression.

 

I think I sense a growing interest in this gentleman as opposed to James?

 

You are very perceptive. But mama disapproves because he does not come from a family of means and has “nothing to offer me.” I disagree. He likes to read Jules Verne and he supports my teaching the Negro children. Although he thinks I’m stubborn, he seems to like my feisty personality. Something just comes alive inside when I’m around him.

 

You mentioned you teach at a Freedman’s School. Do your family and friends support you?

 

Although my family has always taken a more liberal view toward Negroes, my pending nuptials are placing a great burden on me to sever myself from the position early. My hesitancy to do so is straining the arrangement mama has made with James and his family.

 

That sounds like a dangerous occupation for a woman in post-Civil War Virginia. Have you had much opposition?

 

At first the community was very supportive of the school and its mission. When the Freedman’s Bureau was unable to find a qualified male teacher I was asked to take the position temporarily.That’s really when the trouble began.I’ve received threatening messages and the school has been vandalized on several occasions. Once I was even accosted outside the mercantile in broad daylight. When Benjamin learned that Silas Hench put his hands on me I thought he would insist I resign. Instead, he organized security patrols to guard the school whenever classes were in session.

 

You sound like a strong woman! Are you happy with yourself?

 

At times, yes. Although mama says my opinionated nature is my biggest fault, I like that I express my thoughts and stand up for what I believe. My fuller-figure, however, has been the source of significant self-doubt and heartache, especially when it comes to suitors. Many unkind things have been spoken to me regarding my appearance. I repeated things to myself over and over again until I no longer saw much of anything to esteem. A Love Restored chronicles my journey to self-acceptance and how I learned to see myself as our heavenly Father does—fuller figure and all.

 

What can the reader learn from your struggle to overcome self-doubt?

 

A Love Restored is not only a story of love, romance, heartache and restoration, but also a story about the power of words over our lives. It is a story about the struggle each of us faces to take our thoughts captive to the truth of Scripture so we may experience the fullness of God’s unequivocal love for us. As Benjamin and I discover, it is only then that we are truly able to give and receive love, unconditionally. Our prayer for you and your lovely readers is that you will not allow the enemy to steal the joy that is rightfully yours as a child of God. Speak the truth of the gospel over yourself every day and ask God to give you His eyes to see yourself as He does. (1 Samuel 16:7b)

Author Bio Pic1_smallKelly Goshorn weaves her affinity for history and her passion for God into uplifting stories of love, faith and family set in nineteenth century America. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. Kelly has been enjoying her own happily-ever-after with her husband and best friend, Mike, for 28 years. Together they have raised three children, four cats, two dogs, a turtle, a guinea pig, a gecko, and countless hamsters. Thankfully, not all at the same time. When she is not writing, Kelly enjoys spending time with her young adult children, scrapbooking with friends, board gaming with her husband, and spoiling her Welsh corgi, Levi. Her debut novel, A Love Restored, releases June 29thfrom Pelican Book Group.

Purchase on Amazon

Barnes and Noble Barnes & Noble

Interview with Mary Coffin Starbuck from Suzanne Woods Fisher’s Minding the Light

Minding the Light-Book Cover

 

Novel Pastimes:

Today we have a very special guest. In her day, this woman was likened to Nantucket’s Deborah, the Judge of the Old Testament. Today’s guest is Mary Coffin Starbuck of Nantucket Island. Mary, like Deborah the Judge, lived during a time when women were not given much respect, yet she managed to rise above and stand apart. Welcome, Mary.

 

Mary: ‘Tis a pleasure to be here.

 

NP: Your last name is quite famous. Are you related to the Starbuck coffee company?

 

Mary: Nay. Tea is my preference, strong tea, like most of my countrymen.

 

NP: Ah, but of course! We’re jumping back in American history quite a few centuries. Mary, would you remind readers what year this is?

 

Mary: The year is 1663, and I live on Nantucket Island. My father draggedmoved us to the island a few years ago, with several other families from the mainland. It was rather a barren place, filled only with Wampanoag Indians who ignored us and generally kept to their side of the island.

 

NP: Why did your father choose to move to Nantucket?

 

Mary: ‘Tis a long and involved story. Suffice to say that my father, Tristram Coffin, left England to seek a better life the colonies. That worked for a while, until the Puritans’ invasive grasp drove him to seek a place where no one could tell him how to live. Hence, we now live on a cold and foggy island thirty miles off the coast, far, far away from the reach of the Puritans. Father seeks Utopia. Oddly enough, in his search, I have found my own version of Utopia.

 

NP: Don’t stop now. Tell us about your Utopia.

 

Mary (blushing): A young man named Nathaniel Starbuck also came to the island with his family. We married not many months ago. Currently, we are living with his family, but I have a hope that we might soon construct a home of our own, closer to my trading store. I do believe his mother has a hope for that, as well.

 

NP: How do you enjoy living with your in-laws?

 

Mary: My father-in-law, Edward Starbuck, is a dear man, though not often at home. He spends much time Christianizing the Wampanoags on the other side of the island. Nathaniel is frequently with the Wampanoags as well, but for different reasons. They are teaching him to capture whales. That leaves much time together with Catherine, my mother-in-law, and Esther, Nathaniel’s youngest sister. Esther is a thorn in my side.

 

We have very different views, Catherine and I. She would prefer that I not continue working at my trading store. Happily, Nathaniel disagrees. ‘Tis not often that he contradicts his mother, but in this case, he has supported my desire.

 

NP: It’s known that your husband was illiterate, yet you are a learned woman.

 

Mary (visibly stiffening her spine): There are many kinds of intelligence. ‘Tis in my husband’s blood to be a seaman. The ocean is his book. He reads it as well I can read any book.

 

NP: Tell us about your trading store.

 

Mary: ‘Tis my greatest joy. Apart from my husband, of course. With the store, I am able to interact with nearly everyone on the island. Everyone is in need of something. My brothers sail back and forth to Cape Cod quite often, so I send along with them items to trade and a long list of things to procure. It is has been quite a successful venture. I have no intention of giving it up, even after this babe is born.

 

NP: We’ve seen pictures of your accounting book. You certainly have a head for math.

 

Mary: Aye, I do!‘Tis nothing. Though I will say that keeping track of trade accounts takes a careful attention to detail. More importantly, the trading store has become the heart and hub of our community. As people come in and warm themselves by the fire, there is time for important conversation. Many tell me their troubles, and I do my best to help them.

 

NP: So what’s this about your journal? And tell us about the secret buried under the oak tree.

 

Mary (smile quickly fades until she is stone-faced): How did you happen upon that knowledge? Did Eleazer Foulger speak to you of this? I feared this very thing!

 

NP: No, no. We read about it in Phoebe’s Light, and more of it in Minding the Light. Can you tell us the end of the story? How do things wrap up in The Light Before Day?

 

Mary (indignant): Nay. Not a word will you get from me. A secret ‘tis a secret. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I must be off and tend to my customers.

 

Suzanne Woods FisherSuzanne Woods Fisheris an award-winning, bestselling author of more than two dozen novels, including Phoebe’s Light,the Amish Beginnings series, The Bishop’s Family series, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peaceand The Heart of the Amish. She lives in California. Learn more at http://www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and follow Suzanne on Facebook @SuzanneWoodsFisherAuthor and Twitter @suzannewfisher.

Bonus pictures:

Mary Coffin Starbuck’s Accounting book…credited to Nantucket Historical Association.

All other pix…take by Suzanne

 

IMG_1305.jpegIMG_1311.jpegIMG_1444.jpegIMG_5668.jpegIMG_5669.jpeg

MaryCoffinStarbuckAccountingBook4.jpeg.MaryCoffinStarbuckAccountingBook.jpeg

Interview with Adria Starr of River to Redemption by Ann H. Gabhart 

River to Redemption-Book CoverHello, Adria. What a pretty name! Do you know why your parents named you that?

No, I’m sorry I don’t. My parents both died in the 1833 cholera epidemic. Since I was only seven at the time, I didn’t realize my name was a bit unusual. I never asked my mother about it. Her name was Ava and my father Edward. No clues there. My mother wrote some names of her family and my father’s family down in her Bible, but no Adrias. It’s not a Bible name either. Perhaps my mother found it in a book and liked it because it has a melodic sound. I do remember that my mother liked to sing.

That must have been really hard to lose your parents when you were so young. I don’t mean to ask hard questions, but can you tell me what it was like living through a cholera epidemic?

Just the word cholera strikes terror in my heart and it did for the people in our town in 1833. Cholera was an epidemic that year all over the country. Thousands died, but of course, you always hope the disease won’t come to your town. We weren’t that fortunate in Springfield, Kentucky. I was young so I really didn’t know that much about cholera, but I saw the fear on my parents’ faces when they found out someone in town had cholera. They say it’s caused by bad air because of rotting vegetables in the summertime. So everybody tries to get away from the bad air. My mother was packing to escape to the country but then my father was too sick to leave. Before the day was over my little brother became ill and then so did Mama. They all died. I don’t know why I didn’t die too, but Louis said it must be because the Lord had more for me to do here on earth. He found me in my house and took me to the hotel where he and Aunt Tildy took care of me. They were both slaves, but they were so kind to me. I don’t know what would have become of me if not for them. They helped me find a new home with my Aunt Ruth.

You lived with your adopted aunt for many years. What was Ruth like? She must have been strong to take you in without a husband to help her. Women didn’t have many opportunities or rights in 1833.

Women still don’t have many rights here in 1845. We can’t vote. We can’t even stand up in public and express our opinions about how things need to be changed in our country. If we try, we get shouted down. And not only by men but by other women too who think a woman should keep to her place. I say what place is that. I certainly don’t believe allowing a woman to be educated the same as men will make a woman go insane the way some people say. More likely the other way around.

I’m sorry. You have to forgive me. I didn’t intend to get on my soapbox. Aunt Ruth says I have a problem with that. She is every bit a lady. Her husband, who died in the cholera epidemic, was the school teacher. Aunt Ruth took over that job and has taught many Springfield children. She also learned to bake to supplement our income since teaching doesn’t pay that well. When I came of age I took a job at a general store much to my friend, Carlton’s distress. But having a job and drawing a wage does give a woman some freedom of choice. I can only hope that someday women will have the same freedoms to express their opinions and work at various jobs as men do today.

I may get you back on that soapbox, but we want to know how and why you became an abolitionist in a Southern town where slavery is legal and accepted by most people as how things are meant to be.        

Surely you don’t think it is right for a person to own another person. To be able to sell that person like he or she is no more than property. Anybody who examines with an open mind the institution of slavery has to see that everything about it is wrong. Everything. And it is not the way things are meant to be. Aunt Tildy helped me understand that when I was just a child. She deserved freedom. Louis deserves freedom. We all deserve freedom.

Tell us about Louis. I hear he became something of a hero in your town of Spriugfield during the cholera epidemic.

Louis is a wonderful man. Gentle and strong. Committed to the Lord. He found me after my parents died and he and Aunt Tildy took care of me. From the very beginning, I knew he meant nothing but good for me. During the cholera epidemic, he did what no one else could or would do. Even though he was a slave who might have taken advantage of the cholera epidemic to escape to the north and find freedom, instead he stayed to help those who were sick and to bury all those who died. Over fifty people died in 1833 in our little town of Springfield. He dug graves to give each of them a proper burial. He is just a genuinely good man. The safest I have ever felt was when I was a little girl with my hand in his.

He must be quite a man to have been able to do all that. How do you think he did it?

Louis has ever depended on the Lord to help him handle whatever comes his way. He has a deep faith. He taught me the value of praying with the belief the Lord will answer. The Bible does tell us that is true. Ask, and it shall be given to you, seek, and ye shall find. That’s in Matthew 7. Louis says we should listen to the Lord and put our faith in his plan for our lives.

What are your goals in life?

I have such conflicted thoughts at times. I would love to be married to a good man and have a houseful of children. At the same time, I would like to have the freedom to write and speak my opinions the same as men can do. I suppose my goal is to somehow combine those two desires and be a wife and mother while also being an independent woman. Do you think that is even possible?

I do hope so, Adria. For you. On a lighter note, have you ever had any pets?

Yes, I once wanted my own horse. Doesn’t every girl want her own horse? But we had no place or money for a horse. Aunt Ruth was right when she said we could walk everywhere we needed to go. So Aunt Tildy brought me a kitten. He was so sweet. All black except for a spot of white on his neck and a little touch of white on the tip of his tail. I named him Gulliver because Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World was one of the first books Aunt Ruth read to me. I loved those stories. Actually Gulliver turned out to be aptly named because once the cat got older, he took off for travels just like Gulliver in the stories. He did come home on occasion to let me pet him and to catch a few mice out in the shed.

So books helped you and your Aunt Ruth connect. I can almost see the two of you sitting on the couch reading by the light of the oil lamp. Why do you think reading together was so important to the two of you?

We did enjoy our reading times. Aunt Ruth loves books and the poetry of words. She opened up the world beyond our little town to me by sharing her love of reading. Those stories helped get me through the sad times early on when I missed my family so much. I do believe our many hours of reading together cemented the loving relationship Aunt Ruth and I eventually had.

After I learned to read, Aunt Ruth and I would take turns reading to one another. We still do sometimes. It’s wonderful how you can string words together to make a picture in someone’s head. Reading is good any way you do it, but when you read aloud, you can put feeling and music to the words of the writer and make those imagined pictures even better. I can’t imagine my life without books. Or without Aunt Ruth.

Thank you for answering our questions, Adria. We wish you the best as you seek love and independence. 

Ann H. GabhartAnn H. Gabhart is the bestselling and award-winning author of several Shaker novels—The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, The Gifted, and The Innocent—as well as These Healing Hills, Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, Love Comes Home, Words Spoken True, and The Heart of Hollyhill series. She is also the author of the popular Hidden Springs Mysteries series, as A. H. Gabhart. She has been a finalist for the ECPA Book of the Year and the Carol Awards, and has won two Selah Awards for Love Comes Home. Ann and her husband enjoy country life on a farm a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. Learn more at www.annhgabhart.com.

Book Review: To Claim Her Heart by Jodie Wolfe

 

Back Cover Copy:

In 1893, on the eve of the great race for land, Benjamin David prays for God to guide him to his ‘Promised Land. Finding property and preaching to the lost are his only ways of honoring his deceased fiancée. He hasn’t counted on Elmer (Elsie) Smith claiming the same plot and refusing to leave. Not only is she a burr in his side, but she is full of the homesteading know-how he is sadly lacking.

Obtaining a claim in the Cherokee Strip Land Run is Elsie Smith’s only hope for survival, and not just any plot, she has a specific one in mind. The land’s not only a way to honor her pa and his life, but also to provide a livelihood for herself. She’s willing to put in whatever it takes to get that piece of property, and Elsie’s determined to keep it.

Her bitterness is what protects her, and she has no intentions of allowing that preacher to lay claim to her land . . . or her heart.

My Review of To Claim Her Heart

Jodie Wolfe has created a lovely chemistry of opposites between Elsie Smith and Benjamin David as they each bring their dreams to the Cherokee Strip and fight for their right to the same piece of land. To Claim Her Heart is a beautiful story of perseverance, hope deferred, and reconciliation with God and fellow man. Wolfe draws the reader into the world of frontier settlers with impressive historical detail, revealing their daily struggles and battles against nature with realism. Her spirited characters, Elsie and Benjamin, have stayed with me long beyond closing the last page of the book. I highly recommend To Claim Her Heart to fans of inspirational historical romance!

A delightful read! Five stars!

As a side note, Ms. Wolfe precedes each chapter of To Claim Her Heart with a quote on etiquette for young ladies from Mrs. Wigglesworth. The author has compiled one hundred of Mrs. Wiggleworth’s 19th-century admonitions on how to behave in the presence of young men and suggestions for deportment to publish Mrs. Wigglesworth’s Essential Guide to Proper Etiquette and Manners of Refined Society. While I haven’t read this book yet, I’m sure it would make an enjoyable companion to this novel judging from the quotes in Ms. Wolfe’s novel.

 

Kathleen Rouser is the award-winning author of Rumors and Promises, her first novel about the people of fictional Stone Creek, Michigan, and its sequel, Secrets and Wishes. Kathleen wanted to be a writer before she could even read. She lives in Michigan with her hero and husband, Jack, and the sassy tailless cat who found a home in their empty nest. Connect with Kathleen on her website at kathleenrouser.com, on Twitter @KathleenRouser. and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kathleenerouser/.

 

 

Book Review: Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford

41gFoKVfgBL._SX319_BO1,204,203,200_In this book we meet William Eng, a young Chinese boy living in a Catholic orphanage in Seattle. He remembers his mother and is sure the singer who is performing in town by the name of Willow Frost is his mother Liu Song. He escapes along with his blind friend Charlotte and they search for her. The reunion is not as joyful as he was expecting, however, and we are taken back to the 1920s and learn Liu Song’s sorrowful story of abuse and a love lost. William experiences his own loss and eventually returns to the orphanage.

 

I’m pleased that this book, so full of heartbreak, has a happy ending. I learned a lot about the time period and American-Chinese culture. I have been a Jamie Ford fan ever since reading The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, and I recommend all his books. So touching, and so well written. Worthy to have been New York Times Bestsellers.

Cindy Thomson, owner of Novel PASTimes, is the author of eight books, including her newest novel, Enya’s Son, based on 6th-century legends. Researching her Scots-Irish roots launched a writing journey that has lasted nearly two decades. Being a genealogy enthusiast, she has also published articles in Internet Genealogyand Your Genealogy Todaymagazines. Most everything she writes reflects her belief that history has stories to teach. Cindy and her husband Tom live in central Ohio near their three grown sons and their families. Visit her at www.cindyswriting.comauthorphoto4cindy-thomson-LR-3

Meet Selah Daughtry from A Rebel Heart by Beth White

A Rebel Heart-Book CoverToday we welcome Selah Daughtry from Beth White’s A Rebel Heart

NPT: Selah, tell us a little about your family.

SELAH: I’m the eldest of three sisters. My middle sister, Joelle, lives with me and our second cousin ThomasAnne in the manager’s house of our family plantation home in Tupelo, Mississippi. Our youngest sister, Aurora, has lived with our grandparents in Memphis since the onset of the War Between the States.

NPT: The manager’s house? Why not the main house?

SELAH: Unfortunately, the big house isn’t fit to live in. During the war, Yankees came through and all but destroyed it. With my mother dead and my father gone, there’s nobody to see to repairs, and we can’t afford them anyway. It makes me so sad and angry. I’ve tried and tried to figure out a way to bring Ithaca back to life. We’re almost to the point of giving in to our grandparents and moving to Memphis.

NPT: Perhaps if you married money—

SELAH: I’ve got more pride than to sell myself, even for Ithaca! Besides, no man is going to be interested in an old maid of twenty-seven like me. Joelle might…but even she…see, we’ve developed a reputation as liberal eccentrics. It’s a little hard to explain to people who don’t live in the South—besides, it’s not good manners to talk about one’s finances with a stranger.

NPT: Ahem. All right then. Perhaps you wouldn’t mind talking about your family a little more. Condolences on your mother’s passing. I imagine you miss her very much.

SELAH: I do, but it’s been a long time, nearly seven years now. I’m beginning to get used to the ache. Mama taught me to manage a home, she taught me to be a lady, and she taught me how to trust God, no matter what. Joelle and Aurora and I—we’re going to survive somehow.

NPT: You said your father is “gone.” He’s passed away as well?

SELAH: Well. Early in the war he was involved in the controversial execution of a bunch of pro-Union civilians who’d raided a Confederate general’s home. The Yankees caught Papa and put him in a horrible prison, but he was shot in an attempted escape.

NPT: And…?

SELAH: That’s all I have to say about it.

NPT: You’re a bit of a tough nut to crack, Selah.

SELAH: People tell me that. Which is probably why I haven’t married. But you know…Never mind.

NPT: What were you going to say?

SELAH: Oh, all right. There is one man who somehow gets me to talk about the most personal things. From the minute I met him—which was under pretty traumatic circumstances, you know—there was something about Levi Riggins that drew me in.

NPT: Now that’s interesting. How did you and Levi meet?

SELAH: He saved my life during a train wreck. And he rescued a lot of other people, too—most of us Southerners. Which is amazing, considering he was a Union cavalry officer during the War. I don’t know exactly what Levi is doing here in Mississippi—odd, now that I think about it, he never got around to telling me. He asked for my direction, but no doubt he was just being polite. He has very good manners for a Yankee boy. And like I said, he’s a very sympathetic person.

NPT: Selah, something tells me you just might be surprised by Levi’s motives.

SELAH: Oh, I assure you this cynical girl is a very good judge of character.

NPT: Something about the way you said that makes me laugh. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see. Thank you very much for allowing these prying questions. I believe you may have an interesting story ahead of you.

Beth Head Shot – CroppedBeth White’s day job is teaching music at an inner-city high school in historic Mobile, Alabama. A native Mississippian, she writes historical romance with a Southern drawl and is the author of The Pelican Bride, The Creole Princess, and The Magnolia Duchess. Her novels have won the American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, the RT Book Club Reviewers’ Choice Award, and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award. Learn more at www.bethwhite.net.

Interview with Aine from Cindy Thomson’s Pages of Ireland

Pages of Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Today we welcome Aine from Ireland in the 6thcentury.

Welcome, Aine. Since most of our readers are English speakers, please tell us how to pronounce your name.

My name is not unusual, but very well. ’Tis AWN-ya.

 

Thank you. In the beginning of the story you steal a book. Since books are so widely available in the 21stcentury, tell us why you did that, if you don’t mind.

 

I had to. Well, at the time I thought I had to. You see, the book was believed to have great power and it belonged to my betrothed’s clan. I believed my mother’s clan needed it more since the owners were wealthy and my mother’s people were very poor. There were many who believed the book could bring about a better harvest and make the cattle more fertile and healthy.

 

That sounds a little odd to us here in our time.

 

Is that so? But you do believe that prayers to our God are powerful, aye?

 

Of course.

 

Well, then you understand, I’d say. Although I did not at first. Thus my journey with the book to find Brigid.

 

Brigid? Tell us about her.

 

Well, in her book, BRIGID OF IRELAND, she saved me when I was a little girl. I lived with an abusive father. I had a skin disease, leprosy. Have you heard of it?

 

Oh my, yes. Although I’ve never seen it. You are looking at me funny. Remember we live in different times.

 

And leprosy isn’t common? That’s wonderful. Well, as you can see, my skin is perfectly flawless now. That’s because after my mother sent me off with Brigid to protect me from my father, Brigid prayed over me and I was healed! I knew she had abundant power, so because I was feeling trapped inside the clan I was to marry into, and I wished to do something for my mother and her clan to help them, I thought if I took that book to Brigid I would be safe and could do some good.

 

But you were wrong?

 

I was wrong and I was right. That book had power all right, but it was not what I had thought. The words in the book were what was powerful, and Brigid? She had some challenges to overcome as well and I seemed to set them in motion. Who would have thought the ruler of the clan who owned the book would go to such lengths to get it back?

 

Overall, were you glad you went to Brigid?

 

Indeed. What a wondrous place Cill Dara is. (That means Church of the Oak) There was a bit of trouble there—sure, a lot of trouble—but nothing God and Brigid could not eventually overcome. You see, her old nemeses came back for her, plotting revenge, but also a mysterious poet she had known long ago came to visit. And what happens to them is not what I expected. I’ll say no more about that so I don’t get into trouble with the author.

 

Was there anything else you were wrong about?

 

I wasn’t going to mention it but since you asked, aye there was. My betrothed. Again, I cannot say too much.

 

So, about that book. I’ve heard that it chose who needed to hear its words. Did you know that when you stole it?

 

I did not. I will tell you the truth: it scared me.

 

I understand. You can’t spoil the plot. Thanks so much for dropping in on Novel PASTimes, Aine.

 

My pleasure. If this is what books are like in the future, I’d say they are just as mysterious. One thing I do understand is if people don’t read PAGES OF IRELAND, my story won’t be told so I hope you all will go read it. The words in that book may very well be meant for you!

 

authorphoto4cindy-thomson-LR-3Cindy Thomson is the author of eight books, including her newest novel, Enya’s Son, based on 6th-century legends (releasing this summer.) Researching her Scots-Irish roots launched a writing journey that has lasted nearly two decades. Being a genealogy enthusiast, she has also published articles in Internet Genealogyand Your Genealogy Todaymagazines. Most everything she writes reflects her belief that history has stories to teach. Cindy and her husband Tom live in central Ohio near their three grown sons and their families.

Visit her online:

www.CindysWriting.com

www.facebook.com/cindyswriting

www.twitter.com/cindyswriting

 

SaveSave