A Chat with Ruby Weaver from The Roll of the Drums by Jan Drexler

Gideon Fischer’s only desire is to get his family far away from the disastrous effects of the Civil War, find a peaceful place to live, and mourn the death of his wife. However, he has grown to enjoy Ruby’s company and appreciates her help with the housework and the children. But is she the right person to spend the rest of his life with? 

Ruby Weaver is content being single in her 1863 conservative Amish community. However, Ruby’s ailing friend Lovinia has other ideas. Lovinia makes her husband, Gideon, promise to marry Ruby and has Ruby make a similar promise. With both Ruby and Gideon reluctant to keep their promises, a compromise must be reached. Ruby agrees to be a housekeeper and nanny to the children. Unfortunately, this arrangement raises eyebrows in the community. It soon becomes clear that Ruby must make a decision—marry Gideon or break her promise to her friend. Will Ruby accept Gideon’s proposal or turn her back on the family she has grown to love?

Welcome to Novel PASTimes! We are pleased you stopped by today.

Help us get to know you – What do people notice about you when they first meet you?

It has to be my red hair. Not just red, but wiry and curly. It never lies flat and never does what I want it to. Especially on humid days! Most Amish women have straight brown hair that lies smoothly under their kapps. My hair is always in my way.

What would someone notice about you after they learn to know you?

That I’m not the typical Amish woman. I don’t like to do quiet things like quilting or sewing. I’d rather be working outside. I like the open sky, and the wind blowing, and the smells of the earth. I enjoy spending a day in the woods hunting for a bee tree or an evening watching the stars come out.

Tell us about your family and where you live.

I don’t think my family is anything special. After all, we’re much like the other families in our community. My grandparents settled along Weaver’s Creek here in Holmes County, Ohio in the early 1800’s. They were the first Amish settlers here. I remember Grossmutti’s stories of bears and other wild animals in the forest, but now, sixty years later, this is a peaceful and settled area.

In my family I have two brothers, one older and one younger, and three sisters. Two of my sisters are married and live away in Berlin Township. My younger sister is my best friend. We’re having fun keeping house together while her husband is away fighting in the War Between the States.

You said your sister is your best friend. Who are your other friends?

I didn’t have any other close friends until recently. The girls I grew up with have all married and are busy with their husbands and children. Since I don’t plan to marry, we have even less in common than we did when we were growing up.

But when Gideon and Lovinia Fischer came to Weaver’s Creek, I found a kindred spirit in Lovinia. I long for the day when she finally recovers from her illness and we can do more than sit in her sickroom and visit. She is a true friend and I love her dearly.

You made an interesting comment earlier, that you don’t plan to marry. I thought all Amish girls wanted to get married.

That’s probably true. Every girl I know wants to marry and have a family. But in my experience, most men – except for my Datt and my brothers, and maybe Lovinia’s husband Gideon – are selfish pigs who only think about themselves. I had a bad experience with a boy when I was younger, and then I see my sister Elizabeth’s unhappy marriage. I’m not going to take a chance on any man when things can turn out so badly. 

There I go, being too outspoken. It’s a good thing I don’t plan to marry because I can’t think of any man who would put up with my temper and my opinions. Mamm says that both of those things go with my red hair!

If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?

I would be careful to think before I speak. Mamm is so wise and good. Everyone comes to her for advice and help. I’ve never heard her say anything unkind and she is always patient, even when Salome Beiler is visiting.

There I go again! I should never have said that about Salome, and yet I can’t seem to stop myself. Forget I said anything, please.

But back to your question, if I could change anything about myself, I would want to be more like my mother. She is as strong-willed and opinionated as I am, but she tempers it with a gentle spirit. I can’t seem to learn to do that.

What is your heart’s deepest desire?

Even though I say I will never marry, I would marry the right man if I could find him. All I want is to meet a man who will love me for who I am and not try to change me. Is that too much to ask? 

What are you most afraid of?

I did something very stupid when I was younger, and because of me, Elizabeth married the wrong man. I didn’t realize how much influence my actions and my words would have on her. My greatest fear is that another younger girl would follow my stupid, sinful life. I don’t fit in with the others at church, and that’s all right. I’m used to it. But I fear that someday one of my nieces or another girl will think that kicking the goads is a good thing to do. I fear that I will unknowingly influence one of those girls to be like me.

What do you think your future holds?

I hope I will spend the rest of my life surrounded by my family and friends. I would like to watch Lovinia’s children grow, and to reach the end of my days being useful to them and to my nieces and nephews.

Thanks for allowing us to get know you a little better!

Jan Drexler brings a unique understanding of Amish traditions and beliefs to her writing. Her ancestors were among the first Amish, Mennonite, and Brethren immigrants to Pennsylvania in the 1700s, and their experiences are the inspiration for her stories. Jan lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband, where she enjoys hiking and spending time with her expanding family. She is the author The Sound of Distant ThunderHannah’s ChoiceMattie’s Pledge (a 2017 Holt Medallion finalist), and Naomi’s Hope, as well as several Love Inspiredhistorical novels.

Character Interview with Cassie Kendrick from Where Dandelions Bloom by Tara Johnson

I appreciate you taking the time to chat with us today. I’m not sure what to call you. Your situation is so unique . . . a woman dressed as a man to serve in the Union Army. Would you like me to call you Cassie?

Cassie is fine. I enlisted as Thomas Turner, but we’re alone at the moment. You’re the only one who knows my secret. If another soldier walks in on us, just refer to me as Thomas.

All right, Cassie, who is your role model, and why?

My granny Ardie. She always believed in me when no one else did. It was like she saw me, the realme, for exactly who I was and loved me all the more for it.

Tell me about your family. Do you have siblings?

I have four sisters. All of them are married except me.

It must have been hard on your parents when you chose to enlist, especially since it entailed playing the part of a young man.

They didn’t know. I left in the middle of the night. I’m sure they assumed I ran away.

Why didn’t you tell them?

My father was attempting to arrange my marriage to a horrible man. He was well-known in the community for his philandering, as well as his foul temper and abusive ways. Much like my own father. When I couldn’t convince him to change his mind, I fled.

What is your earliest memory?

I don’t know if it is my earliest memory, but one of the first was the Christmas Granny Ardie gave me a doll. I named her Elizabeth. She had a beautiful pink dress with lace trim and a porcelain face. She went with me everywhere. One day I was playing in the kitchen and my father arrived home in a drunken rage. He picked up Elizabeth and threw her into the wall. Her face was shattered. I was inconsolable.

What a horrible memory!

There were many others similar to that one but something about that moment replays over and over in my mind. And I was so upset because my mother watched it happen and said nothing. Did nothing.

Let’s talk about your work in the Michigan Second. It must be so taxing. Have you found any friends that make the strain easier to bear?

I try to keep to myself. You know, the less investment in relationships, the less likely my identity will be discovered. But there are two fellows I consider my chums. One is a young errand boy named Jonah. Talk about precocious! I’ve never seen a child who can talk so much. Half of the soldiers shoo him away like a pesky fly and the rest find him an endless source of amusement. 

And the other soldier you’ve befriended?

He’s not a soldier. He’s a photographer, sent by Mathew Brady to capture war images. His name is Gabriel. At first, I found his chatter vexing, but he’s proven himself to be a loyal friend. Easy to converse with, intelligent and kind.

Does Gabriel know your true identity?

No! I’m afraid if he knew, it would ruin everything.

What is it you fear the most?

Captivity. And perhaps a life wasted. I only have one life to live. I need to make each day count. I can’t think of anything more terrifying than a life of insignificance.

What is your dream?

To be free, truly free. Able to go where I want, do what I want without looking over my shoulder. Prisons are everywhere. I left one when I ran away from home, but I’m finding emotional prisons follow wherever I go.

That’s what I’m doing. Fighting for freedom . . . for the nation’s as well as my own.

What a thrilling adventure. Thank you for chatting today, Cassie!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tara Johnsonis an author, speaker, and 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-pleasing preacher’s kid.

From the time she was young and watched Gone with the Wind with her mother for the first time, the Civil War has intrigued her. That fascination grew into all aspects of American history and the brave people and stories who make up its vibrant past. 

She says, “History is crammed full of larger-than-life characters. Doc Holliday, Annie Oakley, Helen Keller, Daniel Boone, George Washington, Amelia Earhart, and Frederick Douglass are just a few examples of flawed, wounded humans who battled their demons with determination and left an indelible mark on the pages of history. I suppose that’s why people are so fascinating. No matter the era, we all battle the same wounds. Abandonment, abusive fathers, overprotective mothers, loss, grief, rejection, addiction, crippling anxiety, loneliness, or the yearning for unconditional love, to name a few. We all battle the same junk and have to decide whether to fight or cave. Run or stand. Cry or smile. That’s what great characters do. They are a reflection of our struggles, our own wounds. Our own need. And, when written well, they remind us whom we need to turn to for healing.”

Tara has written articles for Plain Truth magazine and has been a featured guest on Voice of Truth Radio and Enduring Word Radio. Tara is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She and her husband, Todd, live in Arkansas, and the Lord has blessed them with five children: Bethany, Callie, and Nate, as well as Taylor Lynn and Morgan Lane, who are with Jesus. 

Visit her website at www.TaraJohnsonStories.com and connect with her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/TaraLynnJohnsonAuthor) and Twitter (@TaraMinistry).

All about Joelle from Beth White’s A Reluctant Belle

Name:           Joelle Daughtry

Parents:       Jonathan and Penelope Daughtry. Both my parents are deceased. Mama died as a result of injuries inflicted by renegade Union soldiers during the War Between the States. Papa was killed in a fall from the cupola of the Big House. He was not in his right mind.

Siblings:       My elder sister Selah (my best friend) married the Yankee Pinkerton agent Levi Riggins, who turned out to be a nice man after all. My younger sister Aurora, raised by my grandparents in Memphis, has come home to help run the hotel and try to turn me into a belle.

Places lived:           I spent most of my life at Ithaca Plantation, Tupelo Mississippi. Briefly, after my mother’s death near the end of the War, I lived with my grandparents in Memphis.

Jobs:             Anonymous op-ed columnist for The Tupelo Journal; publicist and co-manager of Daughtry House Resort Hotel.

Friends:       Besides my sister Selah, who has always been my closest companion, I’ve come to love and appreciate my former slave, Charmion Vincent.

Enemies:     Schuyler Beaumont. Just—I have no words for the emotions Schuyler brings out in me.

Dating, marriage: Gil Reese has been pestering me to marry him for over a year, though I’ve known him longer than that. I do not want to be a minister’s wife. Besides, he has fallen in love with my face, but he has no idea who I really am.

Children:     I think I might want children someday. I enjoy teaching. But having children would involve getting married, and I’d have to give up my independence (see the above question). No, on second thought….

What person do you most admire?    I truly admire my sister Selah. She doesn’t let circumstances control her, but she prays and seeks wise counsel before she takes action. That is a tricky balance that I’m still trying to negotiate.

Overall outlook on life:  I believe God put each of us on earth for a purpose. Sometimes I think I know what that purpose is; sometimes I feel like I’m looking at the world through a confused fog. Ultimately, though, I trust God to give me direction and courage at the time it’s needed.

Do you like yourself?      What an odd and fascinating question! Why does it matter whether I like myself? I’m stuck with this façade that others consider beautiful, when I know I’m just as weak and sinful as anyone else on the inside. And every time I open up to communicate, I wind up feeling like a giant freak! On the other hand, I appreciate that I was given a good mind and sisters who love me. They may laugh at my “giant vocabulary,” but they accept my tendency to daydream and make sure I get enough to eat.

What, if anything, would you like to change about your life?  I suppose I’d like to look “normal” for one day. People stare at me because I’m extremely tall, and I hatethat! And I would love to have the ability to talk to other people at a party without getting tongue-tied.

How are you viewed by others?          You know, I think people are entirely too aware of what others think. That’s one of the things I’m most impatient with myself about. Why should I assume that people are looking at me with anything but indifference? It’s just that I hate being laughed at. Schuyler laughs at me, which is the main reason he gets under my skin. And I’ve heard people talk behind my back, saying that I’m “stuck up” about my looks. What if they knew how terrified I am of talking in crowds—of producing those “what language is she speaking” looks???

Physical appearance:      Oh, dear. Here we go. A couple of inches shy of six feet tall. Curly red-blonde hair, fair skin that flushes easily under embarrassment, tendency to dress in whatever is most comfortable and closest to hand. Big feet and large hands.

Eyes:             Bright blue.

Hair:             Strawberry. Generally worn in a messy knot on top of my head.

Voice:            Soprano, but a bit throaty. I like to sing.

How would you describe yourself?    Quiet, introverted, creative. I like to read, write, sing, paint and play the piano. I don’t much like people in general.

Fears:            Crowds.

What people like best about you:       I have a strong sense of justice, and I try not to judge people on first meeting. I’m a loyal friend.

Interests and favorites:

Food, drink:           I’m very fond of cat-head biscuits with fig preserves.

Books:          Oh, mercy. Mrs. Alcott’s work is so much fun! I also love Jane Austen’s comedies. But honestly, I’ve hardly met a book I didn’t like in some respect.

Best way to spend a weekend: In the cupola. With a book and a cup of tea. Alone.

What would a  great gift for you be? A book!

What makes you angry?            There is much injustice in the world, especially here in the South, where freedpeople are struggling to negotiate their new lives. There is growing bitterness and violence. It makes me both angry and scared.

When are you happy?     I’m happy when I’m reading, and when I’m teaching someone to read. And when I’m hearing a fine pianist like my brother-in-law.

What makes you sad?     I’m sad when people who call themselves Christians fail to see past skin color, when they hold themselves aloof and fail to show love in tangible ways. What iswrongwith people???

What makes you laugh?             Oddly enough, Schuyler Beaumont—as maddening as he is—is one person who never fails to make me laugh. For a shallow person, he is wickedly brilliant, and his sense of humor so absurdly droll. I can make obscure references to classical literature and ancient history and mythology, and he gets it every time.

Hopes and dreams:         I dream of moving my Negro school to a bigger, more central location and drawing students from all over the state of Mississippi. I want to train teachers who can bring education into all corners of the South. Don’t tell anyone, but I’d also like to write and publish a novel one day.

What’s the worst thing you have ever done to someone and why?    I got my favorite teacher dismissed from the boarding school Selah and I attended. I blurted out to a classmate that this teacher had been teaching us scientific facts about the human brain—facts that contradicted accepted social beliefs about the races.

Greatest success:  I’m proud of the fact that I’ve published several scholarly articles in our local newspaper, even if no one knows it was me.

Biggest trauma:    The day my mother died. During the War, Selah and I were forced to hide under the porch for hours, listening to the ransacking of our house and the violation of our mother and two house slaves. Mama didn’t survive the attack.

What do you care about most in the world?           I love my two sisters and my cousin ThomasAnne with an indescribable depth of devotion. I would do anything to protect them and provide for them.

Do you have a secret?     My identity as T. M. Hanson is a closely-guarded secret—although, I suppose it’s bound to come out at some point…

Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you:    It involves Schuyler and a bullfrog and the Ithaca bath house, and I’d just as soon not talk about it.

Beth 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 BrideThe Creole PrincessThe Magnolia Duchess, and A Rebel Heart. 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.

Meet Elizabeth from We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels

Today we welcome Elizabeth Balsam who answered a few questions for curious readers!

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Parents: Bruce and Marjorie

Siblings: Grace

Places lived: Detroit, Michigan

Jobs: Journalist at the Detroit Free Press

Friends: Desiree? She’s the closest thing I have to a friend at the moment, busy as I am with work.

Enemies: Anyone who gets in the way of me getting the story. Often, that takes the form of one Roger Bristol, my own personal nemesis at the Free Presswho is always trying to undermine me and steal my stories.

Dating, marriage: I’m far too busy for such things.

Children: none

What person do you most admire? Nellie Bly, the great investigative journalist of the late 19thcentury, who went undercover as an inmate at an insane asylum for an exposé for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World. She also circumnavigated the globe in 72 days to be the first person, man or woman, to turn the fiction of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Daysinto fact.

Overall outlook on life: My time as a journalist has me believing that we’re all just trying to survive as best we can in a corrupt and chaotic world.

Do you like yourself? I guess I like myself as well as anyone. But because I am always pushing toward the next goal, I can’t help but feel like I’m always falling a little short of my expectations of myself.

What, if anything, would you like to change about your life? Honestly, I wouldn’t mind being able to step back and take a breather once in a while, but if I did, who would pick up the slack?

How are you viewed by others? Driven, focused, go-getter.

Physical appearance: I’m a professional and I’m serious about being taken seriously. And that means slacks, blouses, and sensible shoes.

Eyes: Blue

Hair: Brown

Voice: Gets the job done.

Right- or left-handed? Right-handed.

How would you describe yourself? I’m a public servant. I’m passionate about my work and I feel that every article I turn in has the potential to improve the lives of my fellow Detroiters because I am exposing corruption, neglect, and injustice.

Strongest/weakest character traits: My greatest strength is my dogged determination to get the story. My greatest weakness is that I actively avoid creating personal connections with people, leaving me too often alone and lonely.

How much self-control do you have? My family prides itself on having mastery over our emotions, so the few times I haven’t succeeded in that are a source of embarrassment to me.

Fears: My greatest fear is being inconsequential.

Collections, talents: The only thing I collect is bylines. My talent is writing about the truth I’ve dug up.

What people like best about you: I think my readers appreciate the fact that I don’t hold back and that no one is off-limits when it comes to exposing injustice or corruption.

Interests and favorites: I’m always in the mood to watch All the President’s Men, The Post, or Spotlight.

Food, drink: Detroit style coney dogs, please and thank you

Books: I read a lot of nonfiction, looking for historical facts and connections to what’s going on in today’s world. Anything to build my knowledge base.

Best way to spend a weekend: In the library, digging up evidence.

What would a great gift for you be? A new laptop because I beat mine up so badly schlepping it around town.

When are you happy? Every time I see my name on the front page.

What makes you angry? When I interview people that have been taken advantage of or failed by the system.

What makes you sad? The fact that I can’t do more to help the people in my city.

What makes you laugh? Seeing the bad guys get what’s coming to them, which unfortunately seems to happen more in movies than in real life.

Hopes and dreams: Someday, I want to win a Pulitzer for my investigative journalism.

What’s the worst thing you have ever done to someone and why?

Greatest success: Raising enough awareness and outrage through my writing that Detroiters were able to pressure city officials to take action on 11,000 untested rape kits, leading to the identification and arrests of hundreds of serial rapists in Detroit.

Biggest trauma: My parents leaving Detroit to go back to the mission field in Brazil. Oh, and getting fired from my job…

What does you care about most in the world? Justice being done.

Do you have a secret? Outwardly I put on a good show of being self-sufficient, but inside I am starved for family and love.

If you could do one thing and succeed at it, what would it be: Right now, all of my energy is focused on getting the goods on Judge Ryan Sharpe’s time in the National Guard during the Detroit Riots of 1967. If I can prove his involvement in a particular shootout, I’ll be able to complete my investigative series on the riot and establish myself as the top investigative journalist at the Free Press. Oh, and being able to rub it in Roger Bristol’s face wouldn’t be half bad either.

Thank you, Elizabeth! It was great to meet you!

***

Erin Bartels has been a publishing professional for more than fifteen years. Her short story “This Elegant Ruin” was a finalist in the Saturday Evening Post 2014 Great American Fiction Contest. A freelance writer and editor, she is a member of Capital City Writers and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and is former features editor of WFWA’s Write On! magazine. She lives in Lansing, Michigan, with her husband, Zachary, and their son, Calvin, and can be found online at www.erinbartels.com. We Hope for Better Things is her first novel.Bartels_Erin

Katie Stuckey Stopped By from Jan Drexler’s The Sound of Distant Thunder

The Sound of Distant Thunder-Book CoverName: My name is Katie Stuckey.

Parents: Papa’s name is Gustav, and Mama is Margaretta, but I only call them Mama and Papa.

Siblings: I have three brothers and two sisters. They are all married, and I have nineteen nieces and nephews. My siblings are much older than I am, and they were all born in Alsace-Lorraine, in Europe, before my family came here to Ohio twenty years ago.

Places lived: I have only lived here on our farm in Weaver’s Creek.

Jobs: I have never worked away from home, although I think it would be fun to be a mother’s helper for some family.

Friends: My friends are Millie Beiler and Rosie Keck. I’m also becoming friends with Jonas’ sisters, Ruby and Elizabeth, even though they are older than I am.

Enemies: I’ve never liked Ned Hamlin, but I rarely see him. And Elizabeth’s husband, Reuben Kaufman is just like him.

Dating, marriage: I’m going to marry Jonas Weaver. Isn’t that exciting? But Papa says we can’t marry until after my eighteenth birthday.

Children: I hope to have many children. I want to have two girls first, and then boys. Jonas wants to have boys first. Isn’t that just what a man would say?

What person do you most admire? Lydia Weaver, Jonas’ mother. My Mama is so demanding and in a bad mood much of the time, but Lydia always welcomes me into their home for a cup of tea or to share a receipt for cookies or one of Jonas’ favorite meals.

Overall outlook on life: I can’t wait for my life to start! When Jonas and I get married, it will be wonderful.

Do you like yourself? Most of the time. I try to have a fun time and help others have fun, too.

What, if anything, would you like to change about your life? I would like to be older. It is so difficult to wait until Jonas and I can marry.

How are you viewed by others? My friends like me, and Lena, my brother Hans’ wife says she likes for me to visit. Sometimes though, I think Mama considers me to be a little girl still. I wish she would let me grow up.

Physical appearance: I have brown hair and eyes, just like the rest of my family. I’m a little plumper than my friends, though. Millie says I take after Papa, but I’d rather be slim like Ruby and Elizabeth.

Strongest/weakest character traits: I don’t like to be alone with men, other than Jonas and my family. That’s my weakest trait. My strongest trait is that I will always be faithful to Jonas. He is my one true love.

How much self-control do you have? None. If there are fresh cookies on the table, I’ll eat them.

Fears: Strange men.

What people like best about you: I’m friendly to all the girls. Millie and Becky are my closest friends, but I get along with everyone.

Interests and favorites: I’ve recently begun making a quilt. It’s the first one I’ve made all on my own, and I have enjoyed choosing the colors and the pattern. I’m afraid Mama will say it’s too fancy, but it’s for me and Jonas.

Food, drink: I love pies of all kinds, and cookies. Hot tea is my favorite drink in the winter. I had lemonade one time in the summer, and I’d like to try it again. I think it could easily become my favorite.

Books: I liked to read when I was in school, and I remember enjoying Uncle Tom’s Cabin very much. I wasn’t able to finish it, though. Our teacher passed away suddenly and the school was closed.

Best way to spend a weekend: Sundays are my favorite day. We have church every other week, and the off-church Sundays are spent with our family.

What would a great gift for you be? Something for our new home. Jonas gave me a lamp for Christmas and it is very pretty.

When are you happy? I’m happy when I’m with Jonas.

What makes you angry? When Mama and Papa treat me like a little girl.

What makes you sad? Being the last one at home. I wish I had a brother or sister that was close to my age.

What makes you laugh? Being with Jonas. He likes to tease me.

Hopes and dreams: I like to go to the house Jonas is building for us and dream about what it will be like when we are married. I like to pretend I can see our children playing in the yard.

What’s the worst thing you have ever done to someone and why? I killed a man – or at least he died because of me. But please, don’t tell anyone. I’d rather forget about it.

Wow!

Biggest trauma: My last day of school. It was terrible and embarrassing, and then Teacher Harrison… well, I don’t think I’ll say any more.

What do you care about most in the world? Besides Jonas, I care about my nieces and nephews. They are all so sweet and fun to be around, but each one is different from the other. I spend all year making Christmas presents for them.

Thanks for introducing yourself to us, Katie!

Jan Drexler brings a unique understanding of Amish traditions and beliefs to her writing. Her ancestors were among the first Amish, Mennonite, and Brethren immigrants to Pennsylvania in the 1700s, and their experiences are the inspiration for her stories. Jan lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband, where she enjoys hiking and spending time with her expanding family. She is the author of several Love Inspiredhistorical novels, as well as Hannah’s Choice, Mattie’s Pledge (a 2017 Holt Medallion finalist), and Naomi’s Hope.

Drexler_Jan

 

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 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.

William Seward, Secretary of State

Known for his purchase of Alaska, an unpopular event in its time, William Seward was also a major player behind the scenes during the Civil War.

Thought to be the leading contender for the presidency in 1860, his anti-slavery speeches caused many in his party to view him as a radical, and so they backed his competition, Abraham Lincoln.

It seems surprising in this day and age of political infighting that President Lincoln would appoint his rival to be Secretary of State, but he did on January 10, 1861.

Like so many of Lincoln’s unconventional moves, this one proved beneficial to the Union. The relationship between Lincoln and Seward was never warm, but they worked well together. The move Lincoln does an excellent job of portraying their relationship and is worth watching for that alone.

The big-picture complexity of the Civil War and the balance of powers internationally is something that doesn’t get a lot of attention in the history books, but Seward was a bulwark in the administration who helped keep foreign powers out of our internal struggles. The outcome of the war could have been much different without him at Secretary of State.

If you enjoy reading Civil War historical fiction, Smitten Historical Romance has A Rebel in My House by Sandra Merville Hart and The Planter’s Daughter by Michelle Shocklee. And look for Michelle’s post Civil War-era novel, The Widow of Rose Hill, releasing in February!

Pegg Thomas – Writing History with a Touch of Humor

Managing Editor for Smitten Historical Romance, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Find Pegg on Facebook and Amazon

  

Book Review: Swept Into Destiny

Swept Into Destiny by Catherine Ulrich Brakefield

Released May 24, 2017 from CrossRiver Media Group

Book Description from Amazon:

One brave decision leads to serious consequences. Maggie is secretly educating the slaves at Spirit Wind Manor. But the manor’s serenity is soon threatened by abolitionist John Brown. A new republic looms on the horizon and with Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, her countrymen’s anger escalates as secession spreads across the southern states. With the fires of civil war glowing on the horizon, Maggie is swept into its embers realizing she is in love with the manor’s hardworking, handsome Irishman Ben McConnell. Ben joins the Union Army and Maggie is forced to call him her enemy. An unexpected chain of events leads her into choosing where her loyalties lie. Conscience and consequence—did she care more for Ben or for her beloved South? As the battle between North and South rages, Maggie is torn. Was Ben right? Had this Irish immigrant perceived the truth of what God had predestined for America?

My Review:

Catherine Ulrich Brakefield’s flowing descriptions pull you into Swept Into Destiny and keep you immersed in the world of the Antebellum south and beyond. This isn’t just a world of beaus, belles, and balls, but of moral ambiguity and searches for truth. As much as the readers are shown the beauty of Spirit Wind Manor, deep struggles are also revealed.

Maggie Gatlin secretly teaches the slave children to read and cares for them in real ways. The kindness she and her mother show to the slaves wins them more enemies than friends amidst the southern economy.

Enter Irish immigrant, Ben McConnell, who values freedom and principle above wealth and ease. Treated like dirt by those who hire him, his father, and friends for menial labor, such as clearing the swamp, he readily identifies with the plight of those enslaved.

As Maggie and Ben become attracted to one another, the war separates them as Ben fights for the Union Army. Maggie struggles with the questions of unity versus secession; all the while clinging to the Savior they share. Will the war separate Ben and Maggie forever?

Brakefield has researched the era well and adds details to evoke the reality of suffering at the time of the Civil War, bringing actual historical events and people into play through much of the novel. With a romance as tumultuous as the war that divides Maggie and Ben, Brakefield doesn’t leave any loose ends. Fans of historical fiction with a strong faith message will greatly enjoy Swept Into Destiny.