Meet Becky Hollister of Under This Same Sky

Book cover - finalNOVEL PASTIMES: Today we meet Becky Hollister from Book One in the Prairie Sky historical romance series: Under This Same Sky. Welcome Becky! It’s so good to have you here.

BECKY HOLLISTER: Thank you. I’m excited to be here.

NOVEL PASTIMES: First of all, could you tell us when your story takes place and where?

BECKY HOLLISTER: I’ll be happy to. My family and I made our home in a log cabin five miles outside of Miller Creek, IL. My story begins in the spring of 1854 when I was seventeen and takes readers through the next year of my life.

NOVEL PASTIMES: I love reading about that time period. There is so much rich history in it. As the heroine of Under This Same Sky, you must have quite an adventure to share. Can you tell us what spurred author Cynthia Roemer to write about you?

BECKY HOLLISTER: I do indeed. It’s an adventure that began with tragedy, but ends with renewed faith and hope. My family and I endured a terrible tornado that killed my younger sister and mother. Pa lost his sight as the result of a head injury. His desire to learn to be self-functioning took us away from our beloved prairie home to the Missouri Institute for the Blind in St. Louis.

NOVEL PASTIMES: Wow! How did you feel about all of that?

BECKY HOLLISTER: I was hurt and bitter toward God. I didn’t understand how the Lord could allow such tragedy. It wasn’t until later, I came to realize He doesn’t cause hardships, but He is able to bring about good through them.

NOVEL PASTIMES: Such as?

BECKY HOLLISTER: My faith was shallow at best before the storm hit. I never wanted to leave the prairie, but I wanted what was best for Pa. When I started taking my eyes off of my own troubles and began investing my energies in helping others, I realized the Lord was using me in ways I never could have been used had I not endured the loss.

NOVEL PASTIMES: That’s wonderful. It’s such a blessing when God is able to use our grief to minister to others. What helped you come to that point?

BECKY HOLLISTER: Several things really. First and foremost, would be Pastor Matthew Brody. He was such a blessing to us after the storm. He rallied the entire community to clean up our ravaged home and rebuild our cabin. He also accompanied us on our trip to St. Louis. He was wonderful throughout the entire hardship. We couldn’t have made it without him.

NOVEL PASTIMES: Aah! Do I detect a bit of attachment in your words?

BECKY HOLLISTER: (Smile) Possibly. Matthew and I grew quite fond of each other as we traveled to St. Louis. One of the hardest parts of relocating away from home was being separated from him. But we kept in touch through correspondence.

NOVEL PASTIMES: You mentioned several things helped you work through your challenges, who besides Pastor Brody encouraged you to change?

BECKY HOLLISTER: A special young man named Jimmy Bodine. Though a blind orphan, he had the best outlook on life. His faith was so strong. When I wavered, he always had just the right words to encourage me. He was the best friend ever.

NOVEL PASTIMES: He sounds very special indeed. Anyone else?

BECKY HOLLISTER: Oh, the blind students. Each one had such an impact on me, their courage and will to learn. And Nettie. She was such a sweet soul. I loved her dearly. I could go on and on, but to get the full story, you’ll have to read for yourself.

NOVEL PASTIMES: I’ll be sure to do that. It sounds fascinating!

BECKY HOLLISTER: You won’t be disappointed! It truly is a story to inspire.

NOVEL PASTIMES: Thank you so much for joining us today, Becky. It’s been a pleasure.

BECKY HOLLISTER: Thanks so much for having me.

 

BOOK BLURB ~ AUTHOR BIO AND CONTACT INFORMATION

Book Blurb: Under This Same Sky

~ She thought she’d lost everything ~ Instead she found what she needed most. ~

Illinois ~ 1854

Becky Hollister wants nothing more than to live out her days on the prairie, building a life for herself alongside her future husband. But when a tornado rips through her parents’ farm, killing her mother and sister, she must leave the only home she’s ever known and the man she’s begun to love to accompany her injured father to St. Louis.

Catapulted into a world of unknowns, Becky finds solace in corresponding with Matthew Brody, the handsome pastor back home. But when word comes that he is all but engaged to someone else, she must call upon her faith to decipher her future.

 bio1

AUTHOR BIO: 

Cynthia Roemer is an award-winning inspirational writer with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the lives of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the 1800s prairie. She writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband and their two college-aged sons. Under This Same Sky is her debut novel.

 

Character Interview with Sheriff Claibourne Rainwater from Lightning on a Quiet Night

 

Lightning on a Quiet Night, a 2015 Selah Award finalist by Donn Taylor, is an historical novel set in Northeast Mississippi in 1948. Rainwater is a minor character from the novel — but he knows major things!

Interviewer: Hello. I’m Robert Rogers from the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The sign on your desk says Sheriff Claibourne Rainwater. Are you he?

Sheriff: I’m him, if that’s what you want to know. Come in here and set where it’s warm. This February of 1948 is super cold, and that wind would freeze the ears off a cornstalk.

Int: Thanks. I was driving through and saw your town sign: Beneficent, Mississippi, A TOWN AS GOOD AS ITS NAME. I’m curious. Is it really that good?

Sheriff: ‘Course it is, or we wouldn’t have put up the sign. We’re doing what ‘most everybody else is doing now, trying to settle down after the war. A lot of building going on, everybody glad it’s peacetime and hoping those stinkin’ Russians don’t stir up another war.

Int.: That worries people everywhere. Say, does everyone here speak the local dialect like you do?

Sheriff: We don’t speak no dialect. We all speak plain good English like me.

Int: Sorry. I didn’t mean to offend. What makes your town so good?

Sheriff: It’s a town of good church people, but the main thing is that we don’t have no real crime. Can’t nobody in town remember if we ever had a felony committed. ‘Least that was true till last month, and then a high school cheerleader got murdered. None of the good people in town would have done it, so it must have been an outsider.

Int: You had a murder?

Sheriff: I’m sorry to say we did.  See that big fellow sittin’ in the next office? He’s a detective from Jackson they sent up here to make sure I was doing things right. Truth is, he ain’t doing no better than I am. We’ve talked to ever’body we could and looked at all the evi-dence we could find, and we haven’t got nowhere. Right now we’re just hoping for some kind of break. But you was asking about that town motto . . .

Int:  Yes. What makes the town that good?

Sheriff: Like I said, good people. I admit we’re kind of proud of our record of no crime. Good people—like the high school basketball team of 1942—only time we ever put a team in the state tournament. They’re good boys. You’d think they was brothers—always stuck together closer’n two layers of glue.

Int: What made them close?

Sheriff: That was the war year. Pearl Harbor in December of forty-one. Their coach volunteered for the Marines next day, but he made the boys wait till they graduated in spring. Coach was a fine man, got killed on Tarawa. Clyde Rakestraw and Jimmy Fletcher joined the Marines. Clyde got killed on Okinawa, and Jimmy served somewhere out west. Otis Hahn tried to join but he had flat feet. So he stayed here and raised crops and kids. Hollis Wilson and Jack Davis joined the Army. Jack went to Europe. But that Hollis—he’s a real go-getter. Got assigned to a headquarters in Atlanta, went to school nights and come back with a law degree. Now he’s the youngest state senator the state ever had.

Int.: That’s impressive.

Sheriff: They say he’ll be governor before he’s through. All he needs to complete the picture is a good-looking wife, and some say he’s got one lined up. That’d be Lisa Kemper. She and her father moved here from Indiana. He’s building a chemical plant to give us more industry. Lisa is sure good-looking enough for Hollis, but she may not like it down here well enough to stay.

Int: And the other man you mentioned?

Sheriff: Jack Davis. Ordinary man with a ordinary name. Nothing spectacular about him, but he always seems to get things done. He works himself to death trying to pay off the mortgage on his farm. His father borrowed to buy new land, but both parents died in a car wreck while Jack was overseas. The banker—Harry Pendleton, as good a man as ever walked this earth—had the farm sharecropped till Jack come home. Jack’s been working day and night ever since.

Int: That doesn’t sound like much of a life.

Sheriff: Well, he could marry. The school librarian, Vesta Childress, is kind of sweet on him. She was engaged to the coach, but like I say, he got killed. She’s maybe six years older than Jack , but it’d still work out if he wanted it to. But he don’t. He don’t see nothing but paying off that mortgage.

Int: You mentioned one other member of that basketball team . . .

Sheriff: Jimmy Fletcher. He don’t do much of anything. Lives out near Branch Bottom, just kind of hangs around. His old man was a bootlegger till we run him out of the county.

Int: You ran him out?

Sheriff: Yep. Shut him down tighter’n a mosquito hide stretched over a barrelhead. But Jimmy will come around. He’ll be good like everyone else. It’ll just take him a while to settle down after the war.

Int: Well, it sounds like this town has a good thing going. With all the church people here, I guess the Holy Spirit visits pretty often . . .

Sheriff: I don’t recall anything special. Seems like people do well enough on their own. They go to church twice on Sunday, prayer meeting on Wednesday, and just behave themselves good in between. Could be the Holy Spirit don’t think we need him to come down and goose us.

Int: Well, I hope it stays that way. Thanks for talking with me. And I hope you find that murderer.

Sheriff: And I hope it ain’t nobody local. That’d really bust up some people’s faith in this town, and I don’t know what they’d do. Then we might need that Holy Spirit to come down and do something. Y’all drive safe going back to Memphis. Some of them other sheriffs ain’t as tough on bootleggers as I am.

Donn Taylor led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterwards, he completed a PhD at The University of Texas and taught English literature at two liberal arts colleges. Now retired from college teaching, he writes suspense and mystery fiction as well as literary poetry designed for the ordinary reader. He has also written one historical novel, Lightning on a Quiet Night. His latest release is Murder in Disguise, third book in the Preston Barclay mysteries. He lives near Houston, TX, where he continues to write fiction, poetry, and essays on ethics and U.S. foreign policy.

Donn Taylor portraits 12/7/07
Donn Taylor portraits 12/7/07

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Meet Priscilla of Rome from A Conspiracy of Breath by Latayne C. Scott

Priska Front Cover Amazon

NOVEL PASTIMES: Greetings! We are so happy to have you answering questions for readers today. What an honor to meet and talk with one of the most-mentioned women of the early Church. But, to begin, I’m a little confused about your name. What can we call you?

PRISCILLA OF ROME:  My friends call me Priscilla. Pet name, like Betty for Elizabeth.

NOVEL PASTIMES:  What is your proper name, then?

PRISCILLA OF ROME: Priska. Old family name, and you can go to Rome even in your century and see the catacombs and tomb complex that my family built. Still there. Here’s a painting on one tomb. Some say it’s me.

priscilla catacomb

NOVEL PASTIMES:  Definitely an aristocrat with all the privileges thereof! I’ve read about you in the Bible. What an extraordinary thing!  You taught one of the most learned men of your time, Apollos. And the times your name is mentioned with your husband’s in Scripture, you’re listed first in the majority of cases. Wow. That’s very unusual for the ancient world.

PRISCILLA OF ROME:  Yes, those things are true.

NOVEL PASTIMES:  Could you expand on that?

PRISCILLA OF ROME:  No, pretty much the facts.

NOVEL PASTIMES:  You are a tent maker, and you’ve worked with Paul?

PRISCILLA OF ROME:  And with my husband, Aquila. All tent makers.

NOVEL PASTIMES: You, uh,  seem to be a woman of few words.

PRISCILLA OF ROME:  Actually, I’m a woman of many words. One good thing I’ve learned in my life is not to say them all.

NOVEL PASTIMES:  Well, this may be a short interview, then.

PRISCILLA OF ROME:  Suit yourself.

NOVEL PASTIMES:  But I’ve read some of the things you’ve written about in the Epistle to the Hebrews!  Such imagery! Such regal language! You have debated with some of the greatest minds of your time. The philosopher Philo. And apostles like Peter and Paul. And your classical education and training and vocabulary—it all shows up in your writing. Surely you can dispense some of that wisdom for us!

PRISCILLA OF ROME:  Wisdom?  I only know what the Holy Breath taught me.

NOVEL PASTIMES: Now, we’re getting somewhere!  You’ve had conversations with the Holy Spirit?

PRISCILLA OF ROME:  Well, the ones at first I wouldn’t call conversations. More like ambushes.

NOVEL PASTIMES:   But it produced Scripture, right?

PRISCILLA OF ROME:  You read Greek?

NOVEL PASTIMES:  Not really.

PRISCILLA OF ROME:  When Peter says that prophecy and revelation happen when people are “moved along” by the Holy Breath, it’s like a typhoon driving a sailboat. That’s how you get Scripture, as you call it.

NOVEL PASTIMES: But I think of the Holy Spirit as gentle, comforting.

PRISCILLA OF ROME:  You do, do you?  How about how He literally picked up poor Ezekiel, and later my friend Philip, and dumped them miles away?  And what He did to Jesus – Mark says He drove Jesus out in to the wilderness, like a bouncer throwing somebody out of a bar.

NOVEL PASTIMES:  Are you sure about that?

PRISCILLA OF ROME:  Look it up. Get somebody to help you with the Greek.

NOVEL PASTIMES: Okay. Why do you call Him Holy “Breath” instead of Holy “Spirit”?

PRISCILLA OF ROME:  Same word in Greek.

NOVEL PASTIMES:  We’re back to few words.

PRISCILLA OF ROME:  I guess Paul and I have that in common. We can write, but conversationalists — not so much.

NOVEL PASTIMES:  Look, there are so many scholars that believe you, Priscilla, wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews.  And that the explanation of why it’s seemed anonymous for so many years is that it was because a woman wrote it.

PRISCILLA OF ROME:  I myself tried to get rid of the scrolls I wrote on. But people memorized it because they believed it was Scripture, so then they wrote it out again.

NOVEL PASTIMES:  Really? Why would you do get rid of them?

PRISCILLA OF ROME:  You think it is easy living in a world where people are healed all around you, but not the people most important to me? Where a Holy Spirit takes over your life and you write what He says? There’s a reason, I found out, why the Old Testament prophets called communication from God, the prophecies, “burdens.”

NOVEL PASTIMES:  Are you saying you wouldn’t do it all over again?

PRISCILLA OF ROME:  One thing is worth it.  And that is Jesus Christ.  He is everything.  And He’s better than anyone, ever.

NOVEL PASTIMES:  Can you expand on that?

PRISCILLA OF ROME: Yes.  Here’s how the Breath and I conspired to put it:

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.  So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. For to which of the angels did God ever say,“ You are my Son;  today I have become your Father”? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”?

NOVEL PASTIMES:  Yes. Yes. Amen.

PRISCILLA OF ROME: Any other questions?

NOVEL PASTIMES:  I think that pretty well covers it!

Buy the book here.

Book description:  In a richly-textured, controversial and provocative literary work, award-winning author Latayne C. Scott examines: What would it have been like to be a woman, a Gentile, and someone onto whom the Holy Breath moved – to produce what became the mysterious Epistle to the Hebrews in the Bible?

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Latayne C. Scott is the author of about two dozen books, most of them controversial. Her first book, The Mormon Mirage (Zondervan), is a nonfiction that has stayed in print through various revisions for almost 40 years. Her first novel, Latter-day Cipher (Moody) is a murder mystery, and her latest book, A Conspiracy of Breath (TSU Press) is stirring up discussion too. She blogs at Latayne.com, and you can find her on Facebook as Latayne C. Scott.