I admit it, I love reading Christmas themed romance as much as the next gal. It never gets old. So this year, I’ve been stockpiling my list of books to read during the Christmas season. Today, I’m sharing my list with you.
Light a candle in the window and sit down to a slice of fruitcake as you delight in six 19th Century romances that welcome love at Christmastide. Many traditions held dear today have their roots in the British Isles and have been practiced for over a hundred years. In these six delightful historical stories, romance is nurtured amidst baking Scottish shortbread and English mince pies, burning the yule log, and hanging kissing boughs. But each couple is also plagued by worries of the day. As Christmastide draws to a close, will faith and love endure for future celebrations?
The Westward Christmas Brides Collection – 9 Novellas
by Wanda E. Brunstetter, Susan Page Davis, Melanie Dobson, Cathy Liggett, Vickie McDonough, Olivia Newport, Janet Spaeth, Jennifer Rogers Spinola, MaryLu Tyndall
Take the journey into the American west alongside nine women who are chasing their dreams—Cynthia, for security; Beryl, for a new family; Adeline, for freedom; Molly, for marriage; Beth, for a new start; Belinda, for a place to heal; Suzette, for adventure; Juliet, for peace; and Caroline, for a future for her children. Celebrate Christmas alongside these pioneers as love finds them in nine distinctly different romances penned by leading Christian fiction authors, including New York Times bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter.
by Susan Page Davis, Mildred Colvin, Lena Nelson Dooley, Darlene Franklin, Debby Lee, Tamela Hancock Murray, Carrie Turansky, Gina Welborn, Mary Davis
A trusting heart / by Carrie Turansky
Home for the holidays / by Mildred Colvin
One evergreen night / by Debby Lee
All ye faithful / by Gina Welborn
A carpenter Christmas / by Mary Davis
Fires of love / by Tamela Hancock Murray
The best medicine / by Lena Nelson Dooley
Almost home / by Susan Page Davis
Dressed in scarlet / by Darlene Franklin
From a Wyoming ranch in 1880, to a logging camp in Washington Territory in the late 1800s, to Denver, Colorado, in 1913, meet nine couples who find that Christmas is the perfect time for climbing to the heights of romance. Watch as their faith and courage propel them through challenges that come with mountain winters to cozy fireside celebrations that lead to lasting proclamations of love. Penned by an exclusive selection of Christian fiction authors—including Susan Page Davis, Vickie McDonough, and Carrie Turansky—this collection of nine romances is one to treasure.
When CLARA CHAPMAN receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of one thousand pounds. That’s enough money to bring her brother back from America and reinstate their stolen family fortune. But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, BENJAMIN LANE.
Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar.
Brought together under mysterious circumstances for the Twelve Days of Christmas, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters. What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.
by Mary Connealy, Ruth Logan Herne, Julie Lessman, & Anna Schmidt
They’ve weathered a lot worse than winter. For widow June Harper, another cold front is about to hit. Most call him Hugh. She’d call him Scrooge, except as the man ensures her needs are met, June can’t help but wonder how to meet the needs of his heart.
Netty Lewis can take care of herself, has for a while now. Some hired help over the holidays doesn’t change that. And even if Roy does take care of her, that doesn’t mean he cares for her or that he’ll stay past Christmas.
Pastor Colton McCabe is having the opposite problem. He’s not sure he’ll make it through the holidays with his new housekeeper. Grace can’t seem to do anything right but love. Perhaps being a homekeeper will earn her a permanent residence in his heart.
And no one longs for a home more than Connie Lancaster. She’s determined to return to St. Louis, and no cowboy can change her mind. But if Isaac can change her heart, maybe Connie will see the homecoming she’s been waiting for isn’t to a place but a person.
Pastor Cole McCabe isn’t sure he’ll survive the holidays with his new housekeeper and nanny. She’s caught fire to the kitchen, dyed his long johns pink, and scorched nearly everything she cooks. But he’s desperate, and she’s as destitute as they come.
Even though she’s no good with her hands, Grace sure has a way with her heart. She’s brought a warmth into Cole’s home, added color to his daughters’ lives, and broken down the wall he’s built up since his beloved wife died.
But when Grace’s past threatens Cole’s family, she’s given one last chance to be home for Christmas . . . if she hasn’t burned it down yet.
The “package” is addressed to him, but rancher Sterling Blackwell certainly didn’t order a baby! More scandalous still, he and the town’s pretty teacher are named as parents. With gossip running wild, only a marriage of convenience can protect little Gracie and their reputations until her real family is found.
Heather O’Connor is content to be the spinster schoolmarm of Valentine, Montana…until Gracie’s arrival stirs her heart. She can’t keep the adorable child without Sterling’s help, though she promises not to interfere with his life. But staying aloof from her handsome husband isn’t easy with a tiny matchmaker in tow. A mistake brought them together, but love might just make them a family by Christmas…
The books above are on my Must Read List for this Christmas Season, but there are always more books that I want to read than there is time for me to actually read them, so I put the extra books on what I call my “Spillover List” which I turn to on those rare occasions I find an extra bit of time.
The books below didn’t make my Must Read List for no other reason than my particular mood at the time. In case one of them better suits your personal tastes or mood, below are my Christmas Spillover books. To keep this post from becoming five miles long, I’ve linked to the descriptions rather than posting them here (click the titles).
By the way, if you were counting – Yes, I’ve listed a total of twelve books . . . for Christmas. I may or may not be doing another post having to do with this number in the near future. To make sure you don’t miss it, make sure you sign up to follow my blog.
What do you think of my list? Have you read any of these? Do you have any you think I should add? Please share your suggestions! There is always room for more books!
Sometimes you read in a chair, sometimes in bed, but what about all those other places you could be reading? Allow me to suggest some reading locations you may not have tried (or at least haven’t tried in a very long time):
Okay, sure, plenty of people have read in hammocks, but have you ever read in a hammock swinging above pure inspiration? I read in such a hammock once upon a time. When I was very young my parents had a hammock strung up between two porch-cover posts. Beneath the hammock was a small garden bed populated by the cutest little frog and gnome statues you have ever seen. I know, it sounds tacky, but trust me, it was adorable. And you should have read the stories it inspired in my young mind. Who knows? Perhaps it was that set of kissing frogs that first kindled my love for romance.
#4 Blanket fort
I know. Most of us grown ups are simply too busy to build our own blanket fort. (Although if you can, you should. I’m of the firm opinion that most adults don’t get nearly enough play time.) However, if you are blessed enough to have little halflings running about your home you may have noticed their tendency to spend hours building these temporary structures only to abandon them after minimal use. (It may even be acceptable to offer digital bait to entice them from their layer – that’s your call.) This is your moment. When the halflings have wandered off to destroy – er play somewhere else, you sneak in with your book and flashlight (or e-reader), close the blanket-door behind you and delve into another world.
#3 On a swing at the beach
This one is really a two-fer.
You could just read on a swing. Can you imagine reading about a space battle or jet fight while swinging through the sky?
You could also just read at the beach. What better way to immerse yourself in that tropical island romance than while sinking your toes in the warm sand?
But one of the best places I have found to read is on a swing at the beach. Specifically near dusk when everyone else has mostly gone home for the day. It’s quiet. The waves are crashing. And you’re soaring. Back and forth through the deepening blue sky. As you read how a new love makes the heroine feel as though she were floating.
#2 On top of a mountain
This is another throwback to when I was young. My dad was working graveyard at the electrical company and my mom was juggling swing shifts at the local hospital on her way to an RN degree. Family time was tough to come by, but my parents did their best. This time, they knocked it out of the park. We lived in a very urban setting, but there was a hill behind our neighborhood, as yet untouched by development and covered in hiking trails. One day my parents took us hiking up that mountain. We were young, so I don’t know how far we actually traveled, but it felt like we walked all day. It was several hours at least. The highlight of our hike? Our glowing reward for all that stomping up dirt? Our own little Bible study and worship session right there at the top of the mountain. Three-hundred sixty degree views of the city below us, blue skies above, nature all around, my family, and God’s Word. It’s something I’ll never forget.
#1 Historical Site/Treasure
Hello. I write historical romance. You probably saw this one coming, but can you argue my point? Picture yourself reading a Civil War era novel on the fields of Gettysburg, a railroad heist novel on a restored steam engine (moving or stationary – it’s up to you), or better yet, reading my WWM novel on a bench in the middle of Old Town San Diego. What better way to make a story come to life?
Well, those are 5 of my favorite places to read. What about you?
We are officially past the halfway point for 2017 so I thought it was time for a hero roundup. It hasn’t been easy picking just five from the many swoon-worthy heroes I’ve read about thus far this year, but here they are just for you (not numbered or ordered in any particular way because, really, that is just impossible):
Why? Because he’s different. He isn’t tall, dark and handsome, 6’2″ with muscles for days. He’s your average, skinny, office-worker type who geeks out over the latest inventions – in this case, the bicycle. Yet he still puts himself out there emotionally and risks his own life to protect the woman he loves. What’s sexier than that?
Why? Because his patience and understanding should earn him a medal! Beyond understanding, his compassion in the face of racism and prejudice is a thing of beauty. This man has a heart of gold.
Andrew Wyndham – The Scarlet Coat by Angela K. Couch
Why? Because this man literally lays down his life for the people he loves. Four times.
Daniel Reid – The Patriot & The Loyalist by Angela K. Couch
Why? Because he is a character redeemed but not unrealistically perfect. The breadth of his growth from his first introduction in The Scarlet Coat to the end of The Patriot & The Loyalist is a true testament to God’s ability to change a person for the better. Yet his transformation isn’t implausibly miraculous. He doesn’t wake up one morning a better man. He works at it. He fails. He tries again.
Joel Puckett – For the Record by Regina Jennings
Why? Because despite incredible pressure from everyone around him, he refuses to budge from what he knows is right. Yet he is neither arrogant nor afraid to admit when he’s wrong, and he’s open to learning from others.
What do you think of my selections? Who are your top 5 heroes of the year thus far?
Hey everybody! Guess what today is? My birthday! So I thought I’d celebrate by sharing the list of books I’ll be reading this summer and giving away a book to one of you awesome readers! (Read through to the bottom for giveaway details.)
Since I will be traveling to China for an adoption next month, I won’t have as much free time to read this summer as I normally would. Therefore, this year’s list is somewhat limited, but here are the books I am hoping to get to:
Why: I requested a free copy of this book from NetGalley to review because the premise intrigued me. Then I opened it to read the first line for an FLF post and couldn’t put it down! I made myself stop after 3 chapters because I have other books to finish first, but I can’t wait to get back to this one.
About the Book:
After the War Between the States, a Confederate officer longs to heal the heart of a beautiful woman—but first he’ll have to right the wrongs that were done to her.
Major Ethan Kelly has never been able to absolve himself of the guilt he feels for raiding a woman’s home shortly before he was taken prisoner during the Civil War. He is struggling to get through each day until he once again crosses paths with Lizbeth Barclay—the very woman he is trying to forget.
Life after the war is not much different for former Captain Devin Monroe until he meets Julianne VanFleet. He knows she is the woman he’s been waiting for, but he struggles to come to terms with the sacrifices she made to survive the war.
When Ethan and Devin discover that their former colonel, Adam Bushnell, is responsible for both Lizbeth’s and Julianne’s pain, they call on their former fellow soldiers to hunt him down. As the men band together to earn the trust of the women they love, Lizbeth and Julianne seek the justice they deserve in a country longing to heal.
Why: This one has made several rounds to rave reviews on the book blogger circuit, which got it on my TBR pile. Then I discovered the author is a fellow member of the San Diego Christian Writer’s Guild and met some of her friends at the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference last month. That made me curious enough to open it and read the first few pages. What I read moved it toward the top of my TBR pile. 🙂 I’m really looking forward to this one!
About the Book:
Raised amid the fame and mystique of the Big Top, Charlie Lionheart holds the audience in the palm of his hand. But while his act captivates thousands, it’s away from the spotlight where his true heart lies. Here he humbly cares for his pride of lions as if they were his brothers, a skill of bravery and strength that has prepared him for his most challenging feat yet—freeing an orphaned infant from the dark bondage of a sideshow. A trade so costly, it requires his life in exchange for hers, leaving him tarnished by the price of that choice.
As the circus tents are raised on the outskirts of Roanoke, nurse Ella Beckley arrives to tend to this Gypsy girl. All under the watchful eye of a guardian who not only bears a striking resemblance to the child, but who protects the baby with a love that wraps around Ella’s own tragic past, awakening a hope that goodness may yet reign. When their forbidden friendship deepens, Charlie dares to ask for her heart, bringing her behind the curtain of his secret world to reveal the sacrifice that gave hope to one little girl—boldly showing Ella that while her tattered faith is deeply scarred, the only marks that need be permanent are his own.
Why: I loved her debut novel, The Isaac Project, so when I was offered the opportunity to be part of an upcoming tour for All of You, I jumped on it! Of course, I much prefer reading series books in order (even if they can be read as stand alones), so I am going to try to read Finders Keepers first. The fact that Finders Keepers won the 2017 SELAH award for contemporary romance, is just added assurance that this will be time well spent.
Three lives. Three hundred years. One ship that ties them together.
Florida, Present Day
Summer Arnet will go anywhere to capture the perfect shot that will get her marine photography noticed by the prestigious nature magazine, Our World–even diving in waters haunted by great white sharks. When a treasure hunter with a ladies’-man reputation approaches her about a sunken ship at one of her dive locations, it may be the chance she’s been looking for to launch her career…if his charming smile doesn’t derail her first.
A past tragedy has left a hole in Trent Carrington’s life–a hole he’s tried to fill with women, money, and adventure. Could the feisty marine photographer be the missing piece, or will Trent finally accept that the treasure he seeks can’t be found where rust and moths destroy?
The same evil that stole her mother’s life stalks Isabella Castellano. Afraid for her safety, Isabella disguises herself as a cabin boy and hires on to one of His Majesty’s treasure fleet vessels. But has her flight from a known threat only led her to be ensnared in a sea of dangers?
Jacquelyn Rogers can rebuild anything…except the shambles of her past. A restorer of vintage planes, she’s worked hard to earn the reputation of being one of the guys. The last thing she needs is a former Navy pilot fighting his own inner demons stepping in to defend her from dangers she thought she’d outrun long ago. Some battles must be fought alone.
After a freak accident severs Lieutenant Michael “Finch” Carrington’s dreams, as well as two limbs, he’s left with nothing but a fragile faith and a duty-bound promise to watch out for his friend’s baby sister. A promise she insists is as unnecessary as it is unappreciated. But when she turns the tables and begins to weld together the broken parts of his life, it may be his heart that is in need of protection.
With the world at war yet again, Alice Galloway rejects her father’s traditional expectations and offers her piloting expertise to the Air Transport Auxiliary. She may be a woman in a man’s world, but when she overhears key intelligence, she must find the strength to transcend boundaries and her own fears. Or countless people may die.
Sometimes the past reaches forward to bring hope to the future.
Why: I recently won a free copy of this book from the God Is Love blog. It’s a debut novel (I love reading new authors), the premise sounds interesting, the reviews so far have been positive, and the first few pages read well.
About the Book:
Sarah Crawford wants more from life than to attend the wedding of her ex-fiancée. An unexpected inheritance in South Carolina comes at the perfect time, just as Sarah is willing to use any excuse to get out of town.
When she meets potential business partner Jared Benton and discovers that a house is part of the inheritance, she is sure that God has been preparing her for this time through a recurring dream. But will a dream about an antebellum mansion, many rooms to be explored, and a man with dark brown eyes give her the confidence to take a leap of faith, leaving friends, family, and her job behind?
The Captive Brides Collection by Jennifer AlLee, Angela Breidenbach, Susan Page Davis, Darlene Franklin, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hicky, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Lucy Thompson, and Gina Welborn
Why: I was perusing NetGalley for books to request for review and found the premise for this novella collection to be intriguing. I am also fairly sure I haven’t read anything by any of these authors before, so it will be a good way to know whether I should be looking for more of their work in the future. Plus, a novella collection might be just the thing to fit between appointments near the end of summer.
About the Book:
Love Brings Freedom in 9 Historical Romances
Journey along as nine historical women are about to make their escape from some of life’s greatest challenges. Can their captive hearts be freed to dream, to dare, to love?
Love’s Labour’s Found by Jennifer AlLee – Montserrat, West Indies, 1655
Temperance Simms only wanted a better life. Instead, she finds herself labeled a criminal and sold as an indentured servant. After a kind man saves her life, can Temperance trust that God will turn her sorrow into something beautiful?
His Indentured Bride by Angela Breidenbach – Pennsylvania, 1770-1775
Leaving Scotland for a short indenture with her betrothed, Maire Gree’s contract is sold when disaster strikes her kindly owner, and then extended through cruel circumstances. Can Kirk Lachlan’s service in the American Revolution save her or will she lose love and freedom forever?
The Suspect Bride by Susan Page Davis – Oregon, 1890s
Verity Ames cooks at the restaurant where shy lawyer Jack Whitwell eats lunch daily. As Jack works up courage to ask her for a date, the sheriff walks into the restaurant and arrests her for murder.
His Golden Treasure by Darlene Franklin – Barbary Coast, San Francisco, CA, 1873
Goldie Hatfield grows up on in the Barbary Coast until her guardian demands she pay the cost of her upbringing—or work at her brothel. How far will Pastor Joshua Kerr go to set Goldie free?
Through Stormy Waters by Patty Smith Hall – Atlantic Ocean, 1755
Deported to the British colonies for her father’s crimes, Charlotte Singleton helps Captain Andrew Randell when an epidemic breaks out on the ship. Can two battered hearts find love in the midst of a storm?
Moira’s Quest by Cynthia Hickey – New York, 1869
A quest for revenge ends in a marriage of convenience and a feisty Irish lass discovers that not everything is as it seems as family secrets are revealed. An Irish cop, bent on saving the fallen women of Five Points, New York, finds himself thrust into the role of husband with a woman determined to break down a notorious crime boss. Can these two pull together and find a love bigger than they are?
Love’s Escape by Carrie Fancett Pagels – Virginia, 1850
With her life in peril, Lettie seeks escape from slavery. When Nathan offers to “conduct” her North via an unusual segment on the Underground Railroad, will his efforts help or do them both harm?
Waltzing Matilda by Lucy Thompson – Sydney, Australia, 1821
Henry didn’t plan on a runaway convict masquerading as a shepherd. Or on the woman’s baby. Keeping them safe will cost him his freedom—or will it?
A Score to Settle by Gina Welborn – On the Missouri River, 1870
For JoJo the kiss was a means to an end—she wanted his wallet. For Cyrus her kiss changed everything. He vows to help her escape the snake oil salesman she works for, but exposing the man’s lies may mean settling a score at a cost neither JoJo nor Cyrus can pay.
Why: When I was researching the small publishing company, Mountain Brook Ink, in preparation for attending the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference where the owner would be available for appointments, I discovered this collection with a novella by Christina Coryell. I recognized Coryell’s name as the author of one of my favorite stories (Mowed Over) from the Love at First Laugh novella collection. So I bought this one because I liked one of the authors (I don’t recognize the others).
About the Book:
When a wedding is cancelled, three bridesmaids and a runaway bride contemplate the true meaning of love in four related romance novellas.
By Heather Woodhaven–Finding Love in Lincoln City: Liz feels stuck at her little beach magazine until a handsome rival sparks more than just friendly competition.
By Lisa Phillips–Finding Love in Oceanside: Anabeth is looking to get out of her rut when a fender bender and a bizarre date with a former marine leads her to a life of love she could never have imagined.
By Christina Coryell–Finding Love in Cannon Beach: Kadence feels the pressure to write a perfect love song, but an unexpected meeting with a musician will have her living one instead.
By Angela Ruth Strong–Finding Love in Seaside: Christina plans to spend her honeymoon alone, but when the bed and breakfast owner offers her a position as cook, she starts to feel at home in his kitchen…and in his arms.
Why: I stumbled across this one purely by chance on Amazon and found the premise positively fascinating.
About the Book:
One Thousand White Women is the story of May Dodd and a colorful assembly of pioneer women who, under the auspices of the U.S. government, travel to the western prairies in 1875 to intermarry among the Cheyenne Indians. The covert and controversial “Brides for Indians” program, launched by the administration of Ulysses S. Grant, is intended to help assimilate the Indians into the white man’s world. Toward that end May and her friends embark upon the adventure of their lifetime. Jim Fergus has so vividly depicted the American West that it is as if these diaries are a capsule in time.
Important UPDATE Note: While I was aware that One Thousand White Women was written for the general market, as opposed to a Christian audience, at the time this post was originally written, I was unaware of its occasional use of profanity and reference to subjects which some Christians may find distasteful or offensive. Consider yourself warned. This book made my DNF (Did Not Finish) list.
Why: This one was highly recommended on a fellow FLF blog and sounds like a fun read with a sense of humor.
About the Book:
Sometimes a detour takes you exactly where you need to be.
Piper Cope was so sure the Lord called her to be a pastor’s wife. So when her pastor/fiancé breaks it off, she’s every kind of puzzled. Does God even have a purpose for her anymore? On the road halfway between the bridges she’s burned and some kind of new start, she encounters the most unexpected detour. She swerves on a rainy road to miss a turtle and ends up in a ditch with an airbag to the face. Now stuck in this little town, she wonders how in the world she could’ve gotten her God-signals so very crossed. And how in the world is she supposed to know what He wants her to do now? In the meantime, at least the community center guy, Jay Marler, has her working a temporary job there. Problem is, somehow she’s coaching a children’s basketball team. She does not…basketball. And she certainly does not children.
Why: The connection to an lesser known part of California’s nineteenth century history will get me every time.
About the Book:
As elegant as the Sacramento residence she operates, Isabelle Labrie keeps her past concealed, like the treasure she hides under the Golden Hotel. It’s 1853, the heyday of the California Gold Rush. Isabelle is full of hope, staking her claim on the city’s refined clientele and her future on a sweetheart’s promise to marry her when he returns from the gold fields. Then, unexpected guests—fugitive slaves seeking safe passage to the North—force her to confront her past and reconsider her path.
While Isabelle learns to trust God’s provisions, a law student in Virginia must confront his father’s cruelty and rescue a young slave from his family’s tobacco plantation. As the two escape to freedom, and Isabelle risks everything to harbor runaway slaves, the past and present are set on an inevitable collision course—one that reveals hidden treasures of the heart.
Why: I recently finished reading Against the Tide and want to read more of Elizabeth Camden’s work, plus I was able to snag this one on Audible which means I can listen to it while I do laundry or whatever brainless chore is taking me away from my precious books.
About the Book:
Romulus White has tried for years to hire illustrator Stella West for his renowned scientific magazine. She is the missing piece he needs to propel his magazine to the forefront of the industry.
But Stella abruptly quit the art world and moved to Boston with a single purpose: to solve the mysterious death of her beloved sister. Romulus, a man with connections to high society and every important power circle in the city, could be her most valuable ally.
Sparks fly the instant Stella and Romulus join forces, and Romulus soon realizes the strong-willed and charismatic Stella could disrupt his hard-won independence. Can they continue to help each other when their efforts draw the wrong kind of attention from the powers-that-be and put all they’ve worked for at risk?
Why: I loved the first two books in Sondra’s Love That Counts series!
About the Book: Although a little birdy told me to expect this release near the end of summer, it isn’t even out for pre-order yet so I don’t know much about this one. I only know what Sondra shared in her interview with me:
In Three Words and a Kiss (this year’s release), my hero Cam experiences an identity crisis. His safe, routine life is turned upside down when the owner of his blacksmith shop, Samantha Klein, comes to town. Samantha’s nickname is Sam. I wanted their names to rhyme so that Cam feels like even something as fundamental as his name is being stripped from him (she doesn’t like how their names sound alike and asks him to change his. What?! He’s not going for that).
Looking for more reading suggestions? Check out these post by fellow Christian Fiction lovers:
Which book would you like to win a copy of? (You may pick any book from this post OR any book which I have previously reviewed on this blog!)
(Your tweet/FB post could read: I’m hoping to win BOOK TITLE HERE from @KathleenDenly!)
STEP 2 – Leave a comment on this post with the answer to this question –
Which of the books in my Summer Reading Roundup 2017 post sound the most appealing to you? (I will add the most popular book to my list of books to review here on the blog!)
MUST complete both steps to enter.Shares and comments must be complete by midnight July 17th! Winner will be announced in a special post on this blog July 19th. Winner must contact me at writeKathleenDenly@gmail.com within 24 hours of the announcement and provide an email address for prize delivery.
WINNER WILL RECEIVE: 1 digital copy of their chosen book delivered to their email via Amazon.
As a historical author, I spend a large amount of my time considering what life was like in nineteenth century America. Consequently, I have a very healthy appreciation for the fact that I was not born during the time about which I write. Today I will explore 5 very real reasons I would not have survived my favorite era:
I’d die socially. I’m just not talented in the game of politics. While I try never to be rude or force my opinion on someone else, I have always had trouble keeping my mouth shut when I witness injustice. Particularly social injustice – a seriously hot topic of the times. There is very little doubt my outspokenness would have landed me on the outs of polite society in no time unless I were lucky enough to be born so high up the social tier as to be permitted to say and do anything I please without serious consequence. (Was there such a height? I think this may be a debatable point.)
I’d die of disease &/or food poisoning. This would actually be a secondary effect of reason number one. Being on the outs of society I probably wouldn’t have access to proper (well, as proper as it got in that time) medical care; nor would I find it easy to get or keep a job, which of course would mean I’d be living in the disease-carrying-bug-infested tenements (probably sharing with other outcasts like myself) and I’d probably be buying the cheapest food I could find (if I didn’t have to dig it out of a rubbish bin), and back then the cheap butchers would sell rotten meat disguised with borax and clothing dye. Yum.
I’d die of starvation. I’m a squeamish eater. I admit it. I’m that person. The spoiled, citified American who just doesn’t want to think too much about where her food comes from. If it still has eyes when I first see it, there is no way I’m eating it. I don’t even like handling the raw meat that comes from my supermarket. *shudder* I know. I know. I am ridiculously odd this way, but hey, at least I’m honest about it. I mean, if it really came down to starvation or killing and prepping my own meat… I’d like to think I could do it…without vomiting…but I really, REALLY like that I don’t have to find out. The other part of being a squeamish eater? I’ve read so many stories about bugs invading food stores and how the people would just separate the bugs as best they could and then eat whatever was left… um no. Just no. If a bug is living in it… the bug wins. Let the bug eat it, because I almost certainly won’t. I’d have to be starving. Like, no-food-for-days, not-a-leaf-in-sight, I’m-gonna-die-in-24hrs-if-I-don’t-eat starving before I would even think about eating that.
I’d die of heatstroke. Let me begin by explaining that I went to the high school in the high desert and successfully competed in Track and Field in both high and low desert locations. My first “real” job was a summer job working for the Youth Conservation Corps at Joshua Tree National Monument where we spent most of our time hiking, collecting trash, shoveling, pick-axing, and otherwise working ourselves into a very healthy sweat in the high desert summer sun. Back then I could take the heat and keep on ticking. Not anymore. Since having children, something in my body has changed and I do NOT tolerate heat well at all. Especially if there is any amount of humidity involved. These days I can get heat-sick at the drop of a hat. Digging a garden in New England, harvesting wheat on the great plains, or just scrubbing the laundry over a steaming hot tub of water… any of these could kill me these days.
I’d die in childbirth. I tried for natural childbirth. I really did. I was in active labor for 27 hours with my first child and 63 hours with my second. (Nope. That’s not a typo – ask my doula.) I had no pain meds up until the point when they told me I needed – NEEDED – a cesarean. For BOTH of my first two deliveries. By my third, we had learned that my body just wouldn’t cooperate and we scheduled the cesarean in advance. Had I been delivering in the nineteenth century I (and my eldest son) would most likely not have survived my first delivery. There were, of course, very few doctors, if any, in many parts of the country, even fewer who were capable of performing a life-saving surgery, and don’t even get me started on “childbed fever.”
Thank you, God, for placing me in this place and time.
What about you? Do you think you would have survived nineteenth century America?
If you are planning to attend a writers’ conference, chances are you’re facing a schedule which does not allow you to attend every single class offered. Of course, you’ve spent a lot of money to attend and you want to make the most of this opportunity. So how do you decide which classes to sit in on and which to skip?
Know where you are.
Are you just beginning your writing journey? Do you have an idea, some notes, and maybe a few pages typed up, but that’s it? If the answer is yes, recognize that you’re a newbie and own it. There is nothing wrong with being a newbie. We all were at some point. As a newbie, you’ll want to look for classes designed for beginners.
If you’re a bit further along in your journey and have a couple complete drafts under your belt, but haven’t yet delved into the world of editors, agents, query letter, book proposals, and the like, I’d say you’re somewhere in the middle experience wise. Avoid classes that repeat basics you’ve already covered and look for classes to round out what you don’t know.
If you’ve already published one or more books or at least completed multiple drafts, gone through your manuscript with an editor’s fine tooth comb and written your book proposal, a few query letters, and have a one sheet ready to go, you’re looking for the advanced classes. You’ll want to look for classes which will update you on the market’s latest changes and classes that will review subjects you know but can always learn more about.
Set your goals.
This is really something you should do before registering when you are deciding which conference to attend, but if you haven’t already, set your goals for the conference you have registered for. Complete this sentence: “When I leave this conference I . . . ”
Much of your answer will reflect how well you know where you are. (See Tip #1.) Some example answers may be:
When I leave this conference I will know more about structuring my plot and creating my characters.
When I leave this conference I will know more about building my author’s platform and maximizing my writing time.
When I leave this conference I will have at least three new contacts I can grow in the future.
Do your homework.
Aside from reading the class descriptions (which can often be a bit vague), be sure you read up about the instructors themselves. Who they are and what their area of expertise is will often influence the angle or approach they take to addressing the stated topic.
For example, a class covering book proposals which is being taught by someone who works exclusively in the non-fiction realm may or may not be helpful to someone wanting to know how to write a book proposal for a work of fiction. Sometimes instructors branch out from their area of expertise in order to help a wider audience, but not always. If you knew this about this instructor, you may be able to find someone to ask in advance of the class whether or not fiction book proposals would be covered. If you hadn’t done your homework on the instructor, though, and the description said only, “Learn to write a strong book proposal” or something similarly generic, you wouldn’t know what to ask.
Do your research.
Yes, this is different. This is taking your homework one step further and googling the instructors. Why? Consider this scenario:
You have to choose between the following two classes:
5 Things You Should NEVER Say to an Editor
10 Fatal Flaws of Fiction
Wow. Those both sound like important things to know, right? I mean, no one wants to be the person whose fiction contains a fatal flaw and then says something accidentally offensive to an editor. So how do you choose?
Here’s the thing. Most of your instructors are working writers themselves. They are busy. They don’t always have time to come up with completely new material and will sometimes rehash something they’ve blogged about, written an article about, or spoken about before. This means that often, though not always, it is possible to find at least some of the content for the class you are considering by doing a thorough Google search.
Take the title of your class combined with the instructor’s name and get searching. If nothing comes up with your first try, see if you can remove some details from the name of the class. So “10 Fatal Flaws of Fiction” could be searched as “Fatal Flaws of Fiction.” You can also think of different ways to title the same idea: “Common Fiction Mistakes.”Play around with it and see if you can find something the instructor has shared which might give you an idea of the direction they will probably take the class.
The following is far from an exhaustive list, but it is a beginning and features some of my favorites in the category of Great Historical Fiction Movies & TV Shows:
1 Pride & Prejudice – Pick your version! They are all pretty great, but my favorite for accuracy has to be the A&E version. However, I cut my teeth on the 1940s version and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the way Laurence Olivier portrayed Darcy. Sorry ladies. I know most of you will opt for one the more modern men, but for me, Laurence plays the best Darcy. It’s all in the eyes!!! And I know that bow and arrow scene isn’t in the book, but ooh la la!
2Far and Away – I know it’s been around for many, many years now, but it’s still one of my favorites because of its historical accuracy and its smoking-hot, self-sacrificing, tragically-raw, romantically-hopeful romance! Really, if you haven’t seen this one, do yourself a favor and find a way to watch it!
3True Women – I’m not sure this movie is as widely known despite its all-star (& well-chosen) cast, but it is definitely a personal favorite of mine! It’s actually based on the novel by Janice Woods Windle who based it on the true lives of her ancestors. Following the lives of two women of the south at a time of great turmoil and cultural change, this film will grip your heart.
4 Hell on Wheels – What can I say? I’m a sucker for the history of the American West (yes, both its good and its tragic). This television series is a decidedly darker show, with an incredibly complicated main character, that unflinchingly places into question the definition of right vs wrong. Inspired by true events, this is a great conversation starter.
5 Bleak House miniseries – Based on the novel of the same name by Charles Dickens, this miniseries does a good job of conveying the complications and injustices of the 19th Century English legal system, the drudgery of daily life at that time, and the emotional responses of those forced to endure it all. I know this all sounds very depressing, but it really was not. I will not say everything ends with sunshine and roses. It certainly does not and there are tears shed along the way, but some things did turn out well in the end and the viewer is left with a feeling of hope.
If you have watched any of these I’d love to read what you think of them. Also, if you have suggestions to add to this list, PLEASE SHARE! I am always eager to discover new movies and shows inspired by history!