The MacGregor Legacy - From Scotland to the Carolinas

(Book 1 - For Love or Loyalty) (Book 2 - For Love or Country) (Book 3 - For Love or Liberty)

Path of Freedom, Quilts of Love series

1858 North Carolina - When Quakers Flora Saferight and Bruce Millikan embark on the Underground Railroad, they agree to put their differences aside to save the lives of a pregnant slave couple..

Highland Sanctuary, (Highland series - Book 2)

1477 Scotland - A chieftain heir is hired to restore Briagh Castle and discovers a hidden village of outcasts who have created their own private sanctuary from the world.

Highland Blessings, (Book 1 - Highland series)

1473 Scotland - The story of a highland warrior who kidnaps the daughter of his greatest enemy and clan chief to honor a promise to his dying father.

Awakened Redemption (Inspirational Regency)

1815 England - A story that pierces the heart and captures the Regency era.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Gaining Experience Through My First Book Launch

Now that I've officially survived the first month's book launch of my debut novel, Highland Blessings, I've gained some insight that I'll be sharing with you over the next few months. There are a few things I plan to change during the release of my next novel, Highland Sanctuary in October 2011.

While I had been planning for this moment my whole adult life (it seems), nothing could have prepared me for the stress. I don't know why I was so stressed out. It's in my nature to worry about things--and believe me--God has worked with me on it. I HAVE improved, but after May 2010, I think I have some more room to improve in this area. 


In the coming weeks I'll discuss some specific details in relation to setting up book tours, doing blog interviews, creating an influencer list, and setting up events and booksignings in bookstores, but today I want to concentrate on the spiritual aspect. It's easy to have a gracious and kind spirit when things are going well, it's another matter when things go wrong. And believe me, things will go wrong.

Some spiritual and ethical things to consider during a book launch:
1) Not worry so much. By the time a novel is released, all the preparation is done and the foundation is laid. Worrying won't change a 3-star review into a 5-star, or a 1-star into a 3-star. It is what it is. Don't post counter reviews, blog about it or post comments all over Facebook and Twitter. It will make you look unprofessional and petty.

2) Be gractious no matter what. Even if a person forgets to post a review or an interview that they have committed to do or looses the answers to an interview, be understanding and gracious no matter what. Things happen and when people mess up intentionally or unintentionally, we need to be merciful because there will come a time when we will mess up and we will want mercy.

3) Resist confronting people. If someone asked to be an influencer and requested a copy of a book, but never bothered to post a review or promote it in any manner, resist the urge to send them an email to confront them. It could be that the reviewer didn't like your book and would rather not say anything at all if they can't say anything good. Be grateful for this kindness. It could be that they had every good intention, but their schedule never permitted them time to read your book or things might have gone crazy in their life, such as an illness. Make note of it and put them on your alternate list for your next book, but not on your first-choice list. 


4) Be persistent. If a bookstore is giving you the run-around in setting up a book signing. Don't give up. Be persistent. Sometimes people don't like their schedules altered or they think an unknown, new author isn't going to bring them tons of new sales. That may be true, but even if you can't bring in tons of people like John Grisham or Nora Roberts, you CAN gain a couple of readers from their foot-traffic, and as an unknown author, that's your goal anyway. Plus, it forces them to buy copies of your book that they otherwise wouldn't buy. Even if you don't sell all of them, you can sign a few of them and then they can't send them back. You are guaranteed a couple of copies on their shelves, thereby, giving your books time to sell--a chance. It's much better than having them sit in a warehouse somewhere with no chance to sell.

5) Be a gracious visitor. Some bookstores don't do a lot of events and they aren't familiar at being a great host. Some people are better at hospitality than others. Even if you're treated like royalty at one bookstore and a janitor at another, be a gracious visitor as if you were being treated like royalty. The impression you leave with them and their customers is much better than the alternative--especially since you are trying to build your name, reputation and awareness.


6) Resist checking your sales ranking every hour. This was the hardest for me. The sales rankings on Amazon are confusing and questionable. It will fluctuate no matter what. It helps to know if you are selling at all, but beyond that, it doesn't give you a clear indication of how many books you've sold anywhere else. 


7) Don't beg people to buy your book. It is unprofessional and turns people off. Simply post updates on new things that are happening such as a new blog interview, review or an article that might highlight you or your book, but leave it at that. Once your book is out there, do your part to build awareness and promote your book, but leave the rest in God's hands. Your job is to plant the seeds, let God do the watering and the increase in a time frame that He sees fit. 


8) Don't whine in your comments, posts and email loops. If your book doesn't seem to be selling, don't complain to others. Pray about it. Take your petitions to God. He's the only one who can help you and open doors that you haven't thought of before. Let God be God in your life.


9) Don't compare yourself to others. There will always be someone out there selling more than you or less than you. Comparisons only plant seeds of envy, greed, pride, and jealousy. A humble and grateful spirit will keep you happy, thankful, and your sights where they should be--on self-improvement.


10) Learn from your mistakes and heed good advice. There are a few published authors who gave me some great advice. Without their guidance I would have been floundering. I heeded their wisdom and thanked them for being such wonderful friends. Surround yourself with people like this.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The History of Seizures and Epilepsy

Seizures and Epilepsy have been around since the beginning of time, only people didn't have a name for it and they certainly didn't understand it. In ancient times, it was referred to as the "Falling Disease" or "Falling Sickness". Other people referred to seizures as fits or spells. The bottom line is, people didn't begin to understand it as a medical neurological issue until the 19th century and it has only been within the second half of the 20th century that the "bad" stigma of Epilepsy and seizures began to change and be more accepted. For instance, prior to the 1950's, a person with Epilepsy would not be given a job. Even today, some employers are still reluctant to hire an individual with Epilepsy. Without medication and a doctor's note, some individuals may not be able to drive.

Seizures are difficult to watch. For parents they are VERY painful to witness. I know from first-hand experience, and I have shed my share of tears. I have pleaded in prayer to God to heal my child. I have lain awake at night afraid to fall asleep, worried that she would stop breathing during a seizure and die. (The photo above is of my daughter when she was 10 months old on one of her many visits to the hospital.)

The fear my character Evelina Boyd experiences in my second novel, Highland Sanctuary, is very real. It was my reality for the first five years of my motherhood--even with modern medications, science, technology, specialists and hospitals. I can only imagine what it would have been like for a parent in the late middle ages. Evelina would have not only fought her own fears in preserving the life of her child, but those of the world--especially that of the church--a place that should have been as safe as a sanctuary.

Throughout the Middle ages and into the Renaissance period, seizures were thought to be demonic. Clergy tried to cast out the demons through exorcisms, prayer and fasting. Families would offer sacrifices and/or make holy pilgrimages in hopes that their loved one would be cured and healed by God's mercy. Sometimes if an individual couldn't be healed or they lived in an area that would not tolerate their existence, epileptics were burned at the stake as witches, sorcerers, or demon possessed.

Highland Sanctuary is set in 1477.  According to William Brohaugh's English Through the Ages, the word "seizure" was not in existence until around 1470. Since there is only a seven year difference from the setting of my novel, a seizure might have been known among some prominent physicians, but not among general doctors in rural districts, and definitely not among the general population. Similarly, the word "epilepsy" wasn't in use until around 1545.

A study of historical Christian art from the 13th century to the present was conducted by experts through the Clinc for Neuropaediatrics and Neurological Rehabilitation, Paediatric and Adolescent Epilepsy Centre in Germany. Three hundred forty-one art samples were collected from various countries. A total of 143 people who possibly had epilepsy were depicted in 127 illustrations. Of those, 17 were infants, 35 children, 7 adolescents, and 84 adults. More men than women were shown with epilepsy. For there to be so much art showing this condition throughout centuries when it was least understood, seizures must have had a significant impact on these artists. 

The Bible does have one biblical story that indicates epilepsy is caused by demonic influence. This is where many Christians believed the exorcism of a demon was necessary, as well as prayer and fasting. This story is found in Matthew 17:14-21.

A man came to Him (Jesus), kneeling down to Him and saying, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. So I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not cure him.” 

Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.” And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; and the child was cured from that very hour.

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?”

So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
 

According to this biblical passage, if a healing does not occur, it is because of unbelief. Jesus never once blamed the person with epilepsy, nor did he try to destroy the individual through burning at the stake. He loved and healed them. Christians in the Middle Ages missed the entire purpose of this story. They let their fear and unbelief control their behavior and backward thinking. I am amazed at how human beings can take a piece of the Scripture and twist it into something evil due to fear and pride at not being willing to admit to a lack of understanding or a lack of faith.

We prayed for our daughter, had the church lay hands on her in prayer, and while we waited for her healing we took her to pediatric neurologists and gave her seizure medications to control them. We were willing to let God heal her in His time and in His way, whether it be by a supernatural miracle or through medical science. I praise God that she is now seizure free and medication free!

Stay tuned as I write Highland Sanctuary. This is a story that God has laid upon my heart. I feel humbled, blessed, and thankful that He gave me this story to share.

Other Online Resources:


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

First Wild Card Tour: "An Unwilling Warrior" by Andrea Boeshaar

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Realms; 1 edition (May 4, 2010)
***Special thanks to Anna Coelho Silva | Publicity Coordinator, Book Group | Strang Communications for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Andrea Kuhn Boeshaar has been writing stories and poems since she was a little girl and has published articles and devotionals as well as 31 novels and novellas. In addition to her writing, Andrea is a certified Christian life coach and speaks at writers’ conferences and for women’s groups. She has taught workshops at such conferences as: Write-To-Publish; American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW); Oregon Christian Writers Conference; Mount Hermon Writers Conference and many local writers conferences. Another of Andrea’s accomplishments is co-founder of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) organization. For many years she served on both its Advisory Board and as its CEO.

Visit the author's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $10.99
Paperback: 291 pages
Publisher: Realms; 1 edition (May 4, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1599799855
ISBN-13: 978-1599799858

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

New Orleans, December 1861


Raindrops splattered against the garden’s cobblestone

walkway, forming puddles in low-lying areas.

Above, the heavens seemed to mourn in tearful shades of gray.

Staring out the floor-to-ceiling window, Valerie Fontaine realized

she’d forgotten the dreariness of the season. She’d been back

in New Orleans only a week, arriving Christmas Eve, but now

she questioned her decision to leave Miss C. J. Hollingsworth’s

Finishing School for Young Ladies, a year-round boarding school

in Virginia where she’d studied for the last sixteen months. She

let out a long, slow sigh. Life here at home was—well, worse than

the weather.


Closing the shutters, she stepped away and hugged her knitted

shawl more tightly around her shoulders. She strolled from the

solarium to the parlor, steeling herself against her father’s continuing

tirade. But at least they were talking now. He hadn’t said more

than six words to her since she’d been home. “You should have

stayed at school.” She had thought Father would be glad to see

her, given that it was their first Christmas without Mama.

But such wasn’t the case. Instead of spending the holiday with

her, he’d been at his gentlemen’s club almost continuously. His

actions hurt Valerie deeply. Nevertheless, he was the only family

she had left now.


“You should have stayed at school,” Edward Fontaine muttered

as he poured himself another scotch. His third.


“Yes, so you’ve stated. But isn’t it obvious why I came home?

I’m grieving, and I need the love and support of my father.” She

gave him a once-over, from the tip of his polished shoes to his

shiny, straight black hair. “And it might not seem like it, but I

think you need me too.”


“Need you? I should say not!” He teetered slightly but caught

her reaction. “And don’t roll those pretty blue eyes at me either.”

Valerie turned toward the roaring hearth so he wouldn’t see

her exasperated expression.


Holding out her hands, she warmed them by the fire. Although

temperatures registered well above the freezing mark, the cold and

dampness had a way of seeping into her bones. She shivered.


“I told you, ma fille, your efforts, as you call them, aren’t

needed.”


She flicked him a glance. “I think perhaps they are.” She

sensed her father mourned Mama’s death too. However, drowning

himself in scotch would hardly help, and he’d lose his good

standing in society if anyone found out about his . . . weakness.

Did neighbors and friends already know?


“Bah!”


Valerie turned to watch as he seated himself in a floralpatterned,

Louis XV wingback chair.


“You were to stay in Virginia and complete your education.”

Father gave a derisive snort. “I doubt Miss Hollingsworth will

give me a refund on your tuition.”


Valerie placed her hands on her hips. “How can you value

money over my well-being?”


“This is not a question of one or the other. These are

ous times . . . there are plans that you know nothing of . . . ”


“What plans?” Curious, Valerie tipped her head.

Silence.


“Father?”


He lifted his gaze to hers, and she saw a flicker of something

in his eyes—regret perhaps? Then his face hardened. “My plans

were for you to stay in school and marry a young man from an

established family.”


Valerie groaned. Running her hands down the wide skirt of

her black dress, she gathered the muslin in clenched fists of frustration.

How could she make him understand? She simply had

to follow her heart and come home. Otherwise, she surely would

have stayed at Miss Hollingsworth’s, as many students did. On

most holidays, like this one, time constraints restricted travel.

School let out the Friday before Christmas and began next week,

on the sixth of January. However, Valerie didn’t plan on returning,

and her reasons to leave boarding school ran deep.

She lifted her fingertips to her temples as a headache formed.


“Father, school proved too much for me after Mama’s untimely

death. I tried to make it, stayed all last summer, but after the war

broke out I had to come home.”


“Silly girl. You risked your life traveling through that part of

the country. Did you think I wanted to bury a daughter too?”


“No, of course not. But I thought you would have wanted to

see me at Christmastime.”


He didn’t comment on her remark. “So, what am I going to do

with you? I can’t very well send you back. It’s too dangerous.”


“It’s not as if I need a nanny.” Indignation pulsed through

Valerie’s veins. “I’m almost nineteen, and I can take care of

myself—and manage the household for you too.”


“I manage my own household.”


Hardly! she quipped inwardly. Thankfully for him, Adalia,

their precious and loyal maid, had seen to almost everything

since Mama died.


But Valerie wouldn’t tell her father that. She’d learned neither

retorts nor reasoning did much good when he’d been imbibing—

which was frequently of late.


She watched as he swallowed the dark golden liquid, emptying

the crystal tumbler in his hand. He made a sorrowful sight, to

be sure. And yet Valerie knew her father was an honorable man,

a capable man who owned and operated a large business. Her

grandfather had started Fontaine Shipping when he had come

from France. Father grew up near the docks and learned everything

about ships and cargo, importing and exporting, and then

he took over the business after he had finished his education at

Harvard. Grandpapa had been so proud. And now Father secured

his importance among the international shipping community as

well as in New Orleans’s society.


Or at least that’s the way she had remembered him.


“I see I’ll have to marry you off myself.”


“Oh, Father, I’ll marry when I’m good and ready. Right now I

can’t think of a single man I’m even remotely interested in.”


“And what of James Ladden?” Father asked


“James is . . . a friend. That’s all.” Valerie moved to the

burgundy-colored settee. Gathering her black hoop skirts, she sat

down. Her fingers played across the rose-patterned, embroidered

armrest. Her father’s gaze seemed troubled. She shifted. “Perhaps

I should ask Chastean to bring you some coffee.”


He gave her a blank look, as though she’d spoken in a foreign

tongue.


“Our cook . . . will bring you some coffee.”


He held up his empty scotch glass and said, “I’m fine with this.”

Valerie sighed when he rose to pour another drink. His fourth.

How she wished she could hide that scotch bottle!


“We’re having a houseguest tonight,” he said.


“What?” Her jaw slacked at the surprising news.


“You heard me.” He eyed the amber potion glistening in his

glass. “A houseguest.”


“Who is it?”


He lifted his slim shoulders and wagged his dark head. “Last

name’s McCabe. Don’t know his first. He’s the son of an acquaintance.”

He looked her way. “I extended the invitation before I

knew you would burst in from school unannounced.”


Valerie chose to ignore the slight. “Where did you meet him,

or rather, his father?”


Father’s gaze met hers. His brown bloodshot eyes watered

slightly, and his Adam’s apple bobbed several times as if he were

struggling to contain his emotions. “I met him,” he continued in

a pinched voice, “just after your mother passed away.”


Valerie swallowed an anguished lump of her own. He’d so

rarely spoken of Mama since her death.


Her mind drifted back to that terrible day she’d received the

news. She’d been at school, getting ready to paint with the other

girls when a telegram had been delivered. The weighty sorrow

that descended then returned now as she recalled the words:

Your mother took ill with a fever on 23 June 1861 and

has died. You have our sympathies and our prayers. The

telegram was signed Mrs. Vincent Dupont, the doctor’s wife.

Upon returning home, Valerie learned that a tropical storm

had detained the family physician when her mother had taken

ill. He hadn’t been able to reach Mama in time to help her.

Valerie had never gotten a chance to say good-bye or even

attend Mama’s funeral.


“I miss her too.” Valerie whispered the admission, hoping this

time it wouldn’t fall on deaf ears.


But Father drained his glass and poured another. Number five.


“Our guest will be arriving sometime tonight. I’ll be out. I’ve

left instructions with Adalia.”


“You won’t be here to greet him?” Valerie swiped away an

errant tear and squared her shoulders.


“Not tonight.” He suddenly hollered for his coat, hat, and

walking stick.


“Where are you going?” Stunned, Valerie strode toward him.


“The club. For supper.”


“Again? But I had so hoped you’d come to the Donahues’

tonight and celebrate the coming of the New Year with me.”


“You should know right now, ma fille, that hope is a useless word

in the English vocabulary. All of mine died with your mother.”

Valerie’s breath caught at the admission, tears obscuring her

vision as the portly British maid, who’d been part of the family

ever since Valerie could recall, entered the room carrying Father’s

belongings. He donned his winter coat.


“I hadn’t planned to stay home to entertain a houseguest.”


“I don’t expect you to.” He moved into the foyer and adjusted

his black top hat. “Adalia will show him to his room, and you

can go to your party.”


“But—” He swung open the front door and disappeared, closing it

behind him before Valerie could speak again. All she could do

was stand there, stunned.


At last she exhaled, her lower lip extended so the puff of air

soared upward and wafted over the strands on her forehead. “Oh,

this is a fine mess.” She folded her arms.


“You needn’t worry. I’ll be sure to tidy the gentleman’s room.”


“I know you will.” Valerie smiled at the good-natured woman.


“Thank you.”


“You’re welcome, dearie. But here now—” Adalia bustled

across the room and slipped one arm around Valerie’s shoulders.


“Don’t look so glum.”


“I can’t help it.” Valerie’s bottom lip quivered as she peered

into the maid’s bright green eyes. “My father has no room in his

life for me, Adalia. I’m a burden to him.” She paused. “Maybe I

always have been, but I never noticed because of Mama.”

Adalia patted her shoulder.

When the moment passed, Valerie straightened. “Well, Father

said I can go to the party. I’ve been looking forward to it.”


“Go. I’ll take care of Mr. McCabe. Now you’d best be getting

yourself ready.”


Valerie gazed down at her dark skirts. “And another thing. I’m

tired of this dreary mourning garb. It’s been six months.”


“That it has, and you’ve fulfilled your societal obligations and

behaved as any good daughter would.” Holding her by the shoulders,

she turned Valerie so they stood face-to-face. “I don’t think

I’m out of place to say that y’ mother’d want each of us to go on

with our living. So go and have fun tonight. As for y’ father’s guest,

he can occupy himself in the library. Plenty o’ books in there.”

Valerie sighed, remembering some of Father’s former houseguests.


“He’s probably some eccentric old geezer who’ll just want

to read and go to sleep anyway.”

Adalia snorted. Her eyes twinkled with amusement. “We’ve

seen our share of those over the years, now haven’t we?”


“Yes.” A smile crept across Valerie’s face. “We certainly have

at that.”


****

Beneath the bright glow from her bedroom’s wall sconces, Valerie

studied her reflection. She selected a sapphire-blue silk gown

with satin trim around its off-the-shoulder neckline. The flouncy

creation matched the color of her eyes and complemented her

pale complexion. Adalia had expertly swept up Valerie’s dark

brown hair into a becoming chignon, although several tendrils

rebelliously escaped and curled around her face.


“Pretty as a princess, y’ are. Just like y’ mother.” Adalia stood

back to admire her. “You look just like her.”


“Thank you.” Valerie took the compliment as high praise. “But

do you think I seem a bit pale?” She pinched her cheeks until

they turned a rosy pink.


“Not anymore.” Adalia placed her hands on her hips. Valerie

smiled, then chuckled. Adalia turned and folded an article of

clothing on Valerie’s four-poster bed. “Now, you be sure to catch

the latest gossip, dearie. Chastean and I are dependin’ on you.”

Valerie whirled from the full-length mirror in a swish of silk.


“Why, Adalia, I don’t listen to gossip.”


“’Tis such a pity. We’ll be needin’ something to talk about

while we stir our soap.”


“Mama’s soap.” Valerie’s grin faded as wistfulness set in. She’d

almost forgotten how she and Mama used to create the specially

scented soaps from garden herbs and the essential oils that Father

had shipped in from around the world. The practice had started

with a church bazaar for which Mama had to bring something

she’d made, something unique.

She called her little square bars “Psalm 55 Soap” after her

favorite passage of Scripture. Mama gave them to friends or

left them near the basin in the guest room with a handwritten

portion of that psalm. Feeling a sudden deep determination to

hang on to the memory, Valerie decided to somehow keep her

mother’s custom alive.


“We’ll make a new batch soon,” she said.


“Good, ’cause we’re down to the last few bars of the lavender

rose.”One of Valerie’s favorites. “They’re from the last batch Mama

made?”


Adalia replied with a remorseful bob of her gray-blonde head.

That weighty sorrow descended again. Valerie’s shoulders

sagged.


Several long, reverent seconds ticked by, and finally Adalia

picked up where she’d left off. “I’m particularly interested in

hearing if Mrs. Field’s wayward daughter married that sailor she

ran away with.” She fidgeted with Valerie’s dress. “So listen up.”


“I’ll do no such thing. Besides, James told me yesterday that

Nora Mae married the man in a private ceremony.”


“Y’ don’t say!”


Valerie turned to her. “I shouldn’t have even repeated that,

except there’s nothing wrong with saying a wedding took place,

right?”


“Right.”


Valerie narrowed her gaze. Maybe she had succumbed to

gossiping after all.


“Now you’d best get downstairs.” Adalia wisely changed the

subject. “Mr. Ladden’ll be here soon, and you know how impatient

that one gets if he has to wait even a minute.”


“You go on down. I’ll be there in a bit.” Valerie wanted to

check her reflection one last time.


“Don’t tarry.”


“I won’t.”


The maid left, and Valerie checked her reflection once more. It

felt good to shed those black mourning clothes. She thought of all

her friends she hadn’t seen in the almost year and a half since she’d

been away at Miss C. J. Hollingsworth’s. They’d always been such

fun-loving girls. Valerie smiled, thinking about how they used to

laugh together with chatter of balls and beaus and fashion.

Would it be the same when they saw each other again tonight?


Sadness spilled over her when she thought things might have

changed. She felt so removed from those subjects now. They

seemed trite, considering her present circumstances. She’d

never imagined her life without Mama. But here her future lay,

stretched out before her in grim uncertainty.


Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee . . .

Valerie smiled as part of Mama’s favorite psalm waltzed across

her mind. Drawing in a deep breath, she plucked her satin shawl

from where it lay on her canopy bed. She pulled it around her

bare shoulders, admiring its ivory softness, and fixed her mind

on the gala. She’d laugh and dance, and maybe some semblance

of joy would return to her life.


Leaving her bedroom, Valerie made her way down the stairs to

the parlor. As it happened, she turned out to be the one who did

the waiting. It seemed forever before she heard James’s carriage

pull up in front of the house.


At long last he entered the foyer, looking dapper in his overcoat

with its fur-trimmed collar. He shed it and handed the garment,

along with his hat, to Adalia. Valerie noted his foggy-gray dress

coat, waistcoat, and matching trousers. The flame-red curls on

his head, usually unruly, were combed neatly back.


“Why, James Ladden, don’t you look handsome!” She held out

her hand in greeting, and he took it at once.


“Thank you, honey. I’ll have you know this suit is cut from the

best cloth money can buy.”


“It’s quite . . . nice.” Valerie felt a bit wounded that he didn’t

remark on her gown or the style of her hair.


Instead James puffed out his chest and smiled. “We have some

time before we have to go.” He ambled across the parlor’s large

Persian carpet. “Perhaps a drink to warm the blood would be

appropriate.”


“Yes, of course. I’ll call for Adalia.” She flicked a glance at him,

hoping he didn’t imbibe like Father. This was, after all, their first

public outing together. A moment later she decided to serve hot

cider in spite of the fact he hinted at something stronger.

She looked at him again. James had been a childhood friend,

an auburn-headed prankster who annoyed her by putting twigs in

her braided hair and calling her names. He threw slimy, creepycrawly

creatures at her and laughed when she screamed in terror.

But then James matured into a dashing young man, and when

he discovered that she’d come home from school, he offered to

escort her to every social event in New Orleans beginning this

New Year’s Eve. She’d accepted because . . . well, it was a kind offer,

and James seemed to have transformed into a gentleman.


“Is your father home?”


“No, he chose to ring in the New Year at the club.”


“He won’t be at the Donahues’, then?”


Valerie shook her head.


“I had hoped to speak with him tonight about an important

subject.” His frown turned to a smile. “You.”


“Me?”


“I have courtship on my mind.”


His news surprised her. “I thought we were just friends, James.”


“We are. But the way you look tonight makes me wish we were

more.”


So he’d noticed. That was something anyway. However, his

backhanded flattering didn’t change her feelings for him. But

unwilling to hurt him, she chose her words with care. “I am fond

of you. It’s just—”


“Y’ father’s houseguest just arrived.” Adalia poked her head into

the room. “What would you like me to do with him, dearie?”


Valerie grimaced. “Oh, yes . . . ” She’d almost forgotten about

the man. “Show him in.” Looking back at James, she said, “Excuse

me for a few minutes.”


“What’s this?” He stepped forward, frowning his displeasure.


“What houseguest?”


“Forgive me. My father only told me at the last minute.” She

moved toward the door. “I must see to him. It won’t take too

long.”


Putting on her best hostess’s smile, Valerie strolled into the

foyer in time to see a tall but shadowy figure of a man coming

down the hallway. He must have entered through the back way.

Over his shoulder he carried a large satchel and, in the opposite

hand, a valise. As he neared, she saw that he was soaked to the

skin. Rain dripped from the wide brim hat.


“Good evening.” He set his burdens down with a thunk onto

the tiled floor. “Name’s Benjamin McCabe.”


“Valerie Fontaine.” She held out her hand to him. He took

it politely, and Valerie felt how cold he was. He also appeared

young, in his midtwenties. Hardly the old codger she and Adalia

had envisioned.


“Miss Fontaine, I must say you look . . . lovely this evening.” He

spoke in a velvet baritone, and yet Valerie heard a hint of a twang

in his voice.


“Why, thank you.” It had been more of a compliment than

what she’d received from James.


He shifted his stance. “The liveryman is seeing to my wagon.”


He gave a backward nod. “I trust it will be safe in the stables.


Most of my equipment—”


“Your wagon will be just fine,” Valerie assured him. “Willie is

a very capable attendant.”


An awkward moment passed as Valerie tried to get a better

view of the man standing there in the dim, candlelit entryway.


“I apologize for dripping rain on your floor.” Mr. McCabe

glanced down at the puddle forming beneath him. “That last

downpour caught me.”

Monday, May 24, 2010

Death of Traditional Publishing?

On one of my writing loops someone posted a link to a 5-part series blog post on Death of Traditional Publishers? by Author Kris Tuella. After reading it, I thought it was very informative and brought out some perspectives I haven't before considered, so I've posted links at the bottom of this post.

I've always been a staunch advocate of traditional publishers and will continue to be. I love my editor and publisher, Abingdon Press. They've been supportive, helpful, and wonderful to work with. I can't say enough wonderful things about my editor, Barbara Scott. However, I'm also one who believes in computers, online platforms, and author marketing. That said, as an author, I'd be like an ostrich with my head buried in the sand, if I didn't take every advantage of what a traditional publisher can offer me and what I can do in promoting myself, my work, and building my online platform. With the ever-present changing world of publishing, I've got to try and survive--to do my part. It isn't my publisher's job to build my platform. If those days ever existed, they're over. It is my responsibility to build my platform.

One thing these articles drive home is the fact that author brands sell books not publisher brands. To borrow from a key point posted by Tualla, no one goes around saying, "I just bought a Random House book." Instead, you'll hear people saying, "I just bought a Karen Kingsbury book."

I've had several individuals on Facebook ask me if Highland Blessings will be available on Kindle or the Nook. I'm taking this shift in the publishing market and the growing interest in e-books seriously. I'm already one of "those authors" who sells my books on both my website and blog.

After all, I can provide something that no other bookstore can, my own signature and additional goodies and promotional items that some find to be a nice touch. Since I haven't asked for permission to quote this individual, I haven't included a name, but here is a comment I received from a reader who recently bought my book:

"If the readers of this blog don’t win a copy of Highland Blessings, I suggest they order it from Jennifer’s website. I did and the book came with nice personal comments, autographed of course, book marks, a nice personal note on really beautiful Highland Blessings stationery, and a post card. My wife read the note and said, 'Do you know this woman?'"

People notice when you go the extra mile or take a few additional steps to do more than you HAVE to do. They not only, notice, but they remember and appreciate it. They may even promote it to others. 

Below are the promised links to Kris Tuella's blog articles. 

Death of Traditional Publishers?



Friday, May 21, 2010

Scotland's Burning of Heretics & Condemned Witches (1470's)

For the novel I'm currently writing, I'm researching the persecution of innocent souls who were condemned to be witches, heretics, or demonically possessed in 15th century Scotland. Even though Scotland is known to be a nation that was once deeply rooted in Celtic Paganism, they participated in these persecutions due to the influence of the Christian movement throughout Europe at that time.

When looking at the religious state of a country during a particular period in history, one must first consider the rulers in charge. King James III came to the throne of Scotland as a nine year old lad in 1460. His mother ruled as Regent until her death and Bishop Kennedy was guardian of Scotland. James III was a weak king and criticisized by much of the nobles of Scotland. They rallied his son against him, a lad of 15, who promised to help them only if his father wasn't harmed. In 1488, James III was killed and James IV harbored much guilt from it.

Christianity was introduced to Scotland in the sixth century when an Irish monk, St. Columba came to the Isle of Iona for his mission work. A generation later, Aidan, a missionary from Iona preached among the Angles between the present-day border of Edinburgh and England. St. Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarne, worked to spread Christianity among the lowlands of Scotland (d. 687). As you can imagine, some of the pagan rituals still existed in the highlands for much longer, but were eventually converted to Christianity--especially as a result of the persecution they suffered. If a person is given a choice between conversion and being tortured to death or burned at the stake--conversion was quite convincing.

As a Christian, I grieve for this part of our history. Jesus didn't go around beating non-Christians or torturing them or persecuting them to death. He gave them love and taught those who wanted to be taught, but he never forced His teachings upon anyone. God doesn't want puppets. That's why He gave us free will. He told His disciples that if they were not received in a city or house, to wipe the dust from their feet and when they depart, take their blessings with them. (Matthew 10:14)

By the 1470's, Scotland was deep into Catholicism and still clinging to the old feudal system and their long-standing alliance with France, a Roman Catholic country. The Church was very powerful and busy acquiring lands and material gains from the people. Tension and division rose between the clergy and the people. Since the Church always sided with the crown, people and even nobles, had no one to turn to for assistance in politics or to influence the country forward in new movements with new ideas.

In 1407, a follower of the John Wycliffe movement (or the Lollard Movement) pleaded for an open Bible and a more Christian daily life. He was condemned as a heretic and burned at the stake. Bibles were only available to clergy, and people were at the mercy of hearing what the clergy chose to read to them and teach them. Also, most Bibles were printed in Latin.

Here is a list of Witch Trials in Scotland from the 1400's to the 1700's.

Why was the most preferred method of torture and persecution burning at the stake? It's because of the old belief in baptism by fire. In actuality, when the Bible refers to baptism by fire, it is referring to a spiritual baptism, but people in their lack of knowledge and education back then took this meaning in a literal sense. 

Sources:
I've listed links in the above texts, but I've also used James G. Leyburn's book, The Scotch-Irish: A Social History.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Author Interview - Stephen Bly

For those of you who like historical westerns and cowboys, please welcome fellow author, Stephen Bly.


Describe your writing journey. How did you first get published?

I never wanted to be a writer. My wife, Janet, attended some writers’ conferences and asked to submit some excerpts from my sermons that she edited into stories and articles. One day in December 1976, I received two checks in the mail from two different magazine editors. That encouragement caused me to think I might be able to write. In 1981 Janet helped me submit a book proposal for a nonfiction project…developed from a class I taught to college kids from the Book of Mark. Moody Press published it as Radical Discipleship. In the late ‘80s I began writing westerns, as Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness became a bestseller and Christian fiction took off. 
  
What advice or tips do you have for writers who are just getting started?  

We mentor students for Jerry Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. In addition, we receive numerous requests from folks wanting to get published. We tell them to go to writers’ conferences—to take the classes, meet with editors and other writers. This is crucial, we believe. It’s how we got started. It’s the main way to get up close and personal and understand today’s market. Also, we encourage them to sign up for correspondence courses, such as CWG. This isn’t a guarantee of getting published, but will help with the writing craft. Many are going the self-published route. This can work if you’ve got a ready market of buyers of your book. But we caution them to go with reputable self-publishers and stay away from scams. Going to a writers’ conference provides guides for self-publishing too.

Tell us about your latest book.  

On June 1st, Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon will be released in hardback, by Center Point Publishers. It’s about a 10-year-old boy. Six old cowboys. A ’49 Plymouth with open back. And a damsel in distress. All the fixings for an adventure on a rainy, summer’s day in 1954 Albuquerque. You might discover that you weren’t born 100 years too late. You can order this book through www.Amazon.com or www.BlyBooks.com/store.htm or through your local library.

Where do you get ideas for stories?  

From reading western history. From travel all over the west, especially down unpaved, dirt roads. From stories folks tell me. From personal experiences. Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon is the closest novel I’ve written to a memoir. Memories from times spent with my own grandpa filter through. In fact, in 1954 I was 10-years-old, so I recall many of the scenes in the 1950s. Janet and I love New Mexico. Much of the research comes from our trips there.  

Favorite scripture and/or quote:
 
Ever since I began to follow Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, I’ve relied on this verse: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). I consider the articles and stories and books as part of the ‘added things.’ I always try to remember that God’s kingdom comes first. One of my favorite quotes: I must do those things in life that I would regret not doing. Don’t know where I got that, but it’s helped me keep my priorities straight.  
What are your favorite writing conferences and why?  

Our favorite has always been the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference near Santa Cruz, CA. That’s because it’s where we grew as writers. But there’s many other Christian writers’ conferences where we’ve taught or gotten great feedback that provide excellent helps for beginning and published writers, such as: Billy Wilson’s Florida Conference; Marita Littauer’s Glorieta (NM) Conference; Blue Ridge Mountains Conference; Sandy Cove Conference; Maranatha (MI) Conference; Jerry Jenkins’ Writing For The Soul Conference; Marlene Bagnull’s Write His Answer Colorado Conference; Northwest Christian Writers Renewal; and Oregon Christian Writers Conferences.  

In your opinion, what is a writer’s greatest struggle?
 
Self-discipline. Realizing the whole process is hard work. No one’s forcing you to do this, so life slips by and the slush pile of words don’t get written. Or the writer’s done the creative work, but doesn’t want to do the plodding effort to find someone to publish his or her gems. And after the work’s published, doing the whole marketing scene. None of it’s easy, though beginners or non-writers often think this is one of the ‘plush jobs."

Thank you, Steve, for joining us! 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Platform Trends in Publishing

Sometimes even a blog needs a face lift to build a better image, increase platform, and achieve its targeted goals. That is exactly what Christy LaShea Smith has done for our F.A.I.T.H. Blog. We have a whole new background, new photos for each individual author, and these changes make a huge difference for the better in my opinion. Thank you, Christy!

Have you undergone any blog changes lately? Were you concerned that the new changes would effect your image? How did you tie in your blog design with the platform and branding you're trying to build? 

These days I'm consistently hearing from editors and agents how critical an author's platform is in getting published, staying published, and maintaining a successful career in publishing. This weekend my agent, Terry Burns, attended a writer's conference in Colorado. In his update, he mentioned how one tradition in the publishing industry is beginning to change--the longtime pool of midlist authors is shrinking. 

Either authors are falling into the small author category with small publishers or they are hitting the bestsellers lists. The midlist authors in between who used to be published with large publishing houses, but didn't necessarily have top sales, are now being rejected. Large publishers only want to take on and support authors with HUGE sales records, leaving the midlist authors scrounging for contracts with smaller publishers or no contracts at all. 

What does this mean for authors? It goes back to the platform. With a large platform, an author can sell more books. Without a large platform, an author is destined for the midlist category or below. What have you done to increase your platform?

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Few Things You Don't Want to Miss!

Today I'm a guest on The Write Pursuit where Sandra Hesha King has conducted a one word/one sentence interview with me. Can you guess who Fitzerina is?

Also, today I'm a guest on Susan Dietze's Tea and a Good Book Blog where she has interviewed me, reviewed Highland Blessings and is giving away on free copy to one blessed blog reader!

Lastly, I don't want you to miss this cute little story I wrote on Inkwell Inspirations about my my daughter, Princess Celina. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Congratulations to the 2010 ACFW Genesis Finalists!

CONTEMPORARY FICTION:
(total entries: 47)

Cindy  Hays
Lynnette P. Horner
Chris Kraft
Mark Lundgren
Christina S. Nelson

CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE:
(total entries: 63)

Jeannie Campbell
Sarah Forgrave
Janice LaQuiere
Rebecca Syme
Linda Yezak

HISTORICAL FICTION:

(total entries: 35)

Laurie Benton
Brenda Jackson
Robert Kaku
Lisa Karon Richardson
Katie-Marie Stout

HISTORICAL ROMANCE:
(total entries: 65)

Susanne Dietze
Anne Greene
Pam Hillman
Lisa Karon Richardson
Ruth Trippy

MYSTERY/SUSPENSE/THRILLER:
(total entries: 45)

Rich Bullock
Barbara Early (double finalist with two entries)
Lynda Schab
Chawna Schroeder

ROMANTIC SUSPENSE:

(total entries: 50)

Valerie Goree
Mindy Obenhaus
Leslie Pfeil
Dianna Shuford
Teri Dawn Smith
Terri Weldon

SPECULATIVE FICTION:

(total entries: 49)

Ben Erlichman
Suzanne Krein
Shelley Ledfors
Andra Marquardt
Holly Smit

WOMEN'S FICTION:
(total entries: 76)

Lisa Buffaloe
Jennifer  Fromke
Terri  Haynes
Fay Lamb
Christina S. Nelson
Melissa Tagg
Michelle Ule

YOUNG ADULT:
(total entries: 56)

Angela Bell
Lin Harris
Kasey Heinly
LoraLee Kodzo
Stefanie Morris

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

First Wild Card Tour - "The Country House Courtship"

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Harvest House Publishers
***Special thanks to Linore Rose Burkard and Dave Bartlett (Harvest House Publishers) for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Linore Rose Burkard is the creator of "Inspirational Romance for the Jane Austen Soul." Her characters take you back in time to experience life and love during the era of Regency England (circa 1811 - 1820). Fans of classic romances such as Pride & Prejudice, Emma, and Sense & Sensibility, will enjoy Linore's feisty heroines, heart-throb heroes and happy endings.

Enjoy the free resources on Linore's website: http://www.LinoreBurkard.com/resources.html

Visit the author's website.


Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 300 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (January 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736927999
ISBN-13: 978-0736927994

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

London, England, 1818


      Mr. Peter O’Brien felt surely he had a devil plaguing him, and the devil’s name was Mr. Phillip Mornay. The paper in his hand should have made him happy. Indeed, it ought to have elicited nothing but joy after two years of holding a curacy that didn’t pay enough to feed a church-mouse.  Yet, instead he was staring ahead after reading a letter of recommendation for him as though he’d seen a ghost.

      His previous naval commander, Colonel Sotheby, had recommended Mr. O’Brien to a wealthy landowner whose vicarage had gone vacant.  It was the sort of letter that a poor Curate should rejoice over. The man who obtained the vicarage in the parish of Glendover, the Colonel said, in addition to having a decent curate’s salary, would have claim to a large glebe, a generous and well built house, and, in short, would see himself by way of having enough to begin a family. (If he found a wife to marry, first, of course. O’Brien could just hear the Colonel’s good-natured laugh ring out at that remark.)

      But still his own mouth was set in an unpromising hard line: The landowner’s name was Mr. Phillip Mornay, none other than the Paragon, himself.   And Mornay, Mr. O’Brien knew, would never grant him the living. To do so would go against everything he knew to be true of him. After all, no man who had once overstepped his bounds with Mr. Mornay’s betrothed, as Mr. O’Brien unfortunately had, would now be presented to the vicarage on the man’s lands.  Of all the rotten, devilish luck! To have such a letter of commendation was like gold in the fiercely competitive world of the church, where there were more poor curates looking for a rise in their situations than there were church parishes who could supply them. 

      Therefore, instead of the boon from heaven this letter ought to have been, Mr. O’Brien was struck with a gloomy assurance that Mornay would sooner accept a popinjay in cleric’s clothing than himself.  Even worse, his mother agreed with his appraisal.

      He had taken the letter into the morning room of their house on Blandford Street, joining his mother while she sat at her breakfast. 

      “You do not wish to renew old grievances,” she said. “Mr. Mornay is not, to my knowledge, a forgiving man; shall you be put to the expense and trouble of travelling all the way to Middlesex, only to be turned down in the end? What can you possibly gain in it?”

      Mr. O’Brien nodded; he saw her point. But he said, “I may have to do just that. The Colonel will never recommend me for another parish if he learns that I failed to apply myself to this opportunity.”

      “Write to him,” replied his mama. “See if you can politely decline this honour, with the understanding that any other offer should be most welcome and appreciated!”

      He doubted that any letter , no matter how ‘politely’ written, would be able to manage his desire to avoid this meeting with Mornay, as well as secure the hope of a future recommendation. But he thought about it, put quill to paper and sent the Colonel a reply. He asked (in the humblest terms he could manage) if the man might commend him for a living to be presented by some other landowner, indeed, any other landowner, any other gentleman in England than Phillip Mornay.

      He could not explain the full extent of his past doings with Mr. Mornay without making himself sound like an utter fool; how he had hoped to marry the present Mrs. Mornay himself, some years ago. How presumptuous his hopes seemed to him now! Miss Ariana Forsythe was magnificent as the wife of the Paragon. He’d seen them in town after the marriage, but without ever presenting himself before her. It appalled even him that he had once thought himself worthy or equal to that beautiful lady.

      When the Colonel’s reply came, there was little surprise in it. He assured Mr. O’Brien that his apprehensions were ill-placed; that Mr. Mornay’s past reputation of being a harsh, irascible man was no longer to the purpose.  Colonel Sotheby himself held Mornay in the greatest respect, and insisted that the Paragon had as good a heart as any Christian. In short, (and he made this terribly clear) Mr. O’Brien had best get himself off to Middlesex or he would put the Colonel in a deuced uncomfortable spot. He had already written to Aspindon House, which meant that Mr. O’Brien was expected. If he failed to appear for an interview, he could not expect that another recommendation of such merit and generosity would ever come his way again.

      Mr. O’Brien realized it was inevitable: he would have to go to Middlesex and present himself to Mornay. He knew it was a vain cause, that nothing but humiliation could come of it, but he bowed to what he must consider the will of God. He knelt in prayer, begging to be excused from this doomed interview, but his heart and conscience told him he must to it. If he was to face humiliation, had he not brought it upon himself? Had he not earned Mornay’s disregard, with his former obsession with Miss Forsythe, who was now Mrs. Mornay?

      He no longer had feelings for the lady, but it was sure to be blesséd awkward to face her!  No less so than her husband. Nevertheless, when he rose from his knees, Peter O’Brien felt equal to doing what both duty and honour required. He only hoped that Mr. Mornay had not already written his own letter of objections to the Colonel; telling him why he would never present the living to Peter O’Brien. The Colonel was his best hope for a way out of St. Pancras .  It was a gritty, desperate parish with poverty, crime, and hopelessness aplenty—not the sort of place he hoped to spend his life in, for he wanted a family. A wife.  

       Prepared to face the interview come what may, Mr. O’Brien determined  not to allow Mornay to make quick work of him. He was no longer the youthful swain, besotted over a Miss Forsythe. A stint in the Army, if nothing else, had hardened him, brought him face to face with deep issues of life, and left him, or so he thought, a better man.

                                 ******  


      Aspindon House, Glendover, Middlesex

      Ariana Mornay looked for the hundredth time at her younger sister Beatrice, sitting across from her in the elegantly cozy morning room of her country estate, Aspindon. Here in the daylight, Beatrice’s transformation from child to warm and attractive young woman was fully evident . When Mrs. Forsythe and Beatrice had arrived the prior evening, Ariana had seen the change in her sister, of course, but the daylight revealed it in a clarity that neither last night’s flambeaux (lit in honour of their arrival) or the interior candlelight and fire of the drawing room had been able to offer.

      Beatrice’s previously brown hair was now a lovely luminous russet. Ringlets peeked out from a morning cap with ruffled lace, hanging over her brow and hovering about the sides of her face.  The reddish brown of her locks emphasized hazel-green eyes, smallish mischievous lips and a healthy glow in her cheeks. Beatrice noticed her elder sister was studying her, and smiled. 

      “You still look at me as if you know me not,” she said, not hiding how much it pleased her to find herself an object of admiration.  

      “I cannot comprehend how greatly you are altered, in just one year!”

      “I regret that we did not come for so long,” put in Mrs. Forsythe, the girls’ mother. She was still feasting her eyes upon Ariana and the children (though the nurse, Mrs. Perler, had taken four year old Nigel, the Mornay’s firstborn, from the room, after he had spilled a glass of milk all over himself minutes ago).  “We wished to come sooner, as you know, but Lucy took ill, and I dared not carry the sickness here to you with your new little baby.” At this, she stopped and cooed to the infant, who was upon her lap at the moment.”No, no, no,” she said, in the exaggerated tone that people use when addressing babies, “we can’t have little Miranda getting sick, now can we?”

      Ariana smiled. “It matters not, mama. You are here, now. I only wish Papa and Lucy could have joined you.”  Lucy, the youngest Forsythe sister, and Papa, had been obliged to stay home until the spring planting had been seen to. Mr. Forsythe did not wish to be wholly bereft of his family, so Lucy, who was a great comfort to him, had been enjoined to remain in Chesterton for his sake. 

      “I could not bear to wait upon your father a day longer,” she answered with a little smile. “They will come by post chaise after papa has done his service through Easter. And then we will all be together--except for the Norledges. Perhaps when Papa comes, he may bring your older sister and her husband?”

      “I would want Aunt Pellham too, in that case,” murmured the blond-haired young woman.

      “Oh, my! With your Aunt and Uncle Pellham, and the Norledges, even this large house would be filled with guests, I daresay!” said her mother.

      Beatrice was still happily ingesting the thought that Ariana had evidently noticed her womanhood. At seventeen, hers was not a striking sort of beauty—one did not stop in instant admiration upon spying Beatrice in a room, for instance, as had often been the case for Ariana; but the younger girl had no lack of wits, a lively eye and countenance, and, not to be understated, an easy friendliness. Among a group of reserved and proper English young ladies, Beatrice would be the beacon of refuge for the timid; she was welcoming where others were aloof; inquisitive and protective where others looked away.

      Nor was she the sort of young woman to glide across a floor, dignified and elegant. Instead, Beatrice was ever having to keep her energy in check; When rising from a chair (her mama had made her practice doing so countless times) she could appear as elegant as the next young woman. She ate nicely, even daintily. But left unchecked, her natural enthusiasm might propel her through a room with alarming speed. Her shawls were ever hanging from her arms, never staying in place over her shoulder; and her mother forbade her from wearing hair jewellery, as it tended to lose its place upon her head. Bandeaux were her lot; besides bonnets, of course.

      “It is fortunate that I am only seventeen,” she had said to her mama only last week, while the woman was draping a wide bandeau artfully around Beatrice’s head.  “Or I believe you would exile every manner of female head attire from this house, saving turbans! Although my hair holds a curl twice as long as Lucy’s!”

      Mrs. Forsythe had paused from her ministrations and met her daughter’s eyes in the looking glass before them.  “I daresay you are suited for turbans; perhaps we should shop for some. I believe they are very popular just now.” Since the last thing in the world Beatrice wished to wear upon her head was a turban—no matter how many ladies in the pages of La Belle Assemblée wore them—she simply gave voice to an exasperated huff, evoking a knowing smile upon her mama’s face. 

      “I should adore a full house of guests,” she said, now. “Please do invite the Norledges’ Ariana! Only think of the diversions we could have; play-acting with enough people to fill all the roles, for a change! Or charades; or even a dance!”

      Ariana looked at her sister fondly. “Which dances do you like best?”

      “The waltz!” she quickly responded, with a smile to show that she knew it was mischievous to prefer the waltz—the single dance which entailed more contact with the opposite sex than any other ballroom fare. Mrs. Forsythe clucked her tongue, but Beatrice blithely ignored this, taking a peek at her brother-in-law to gauge his reaction, instead. The host of the gathering was reading his morning paper, however, and not listening to the small talk between his wife and her relations.

       And relations were virtually all around him. In addition to Beatrice and Mrs. Forsythe, there was his aunt, Mrs. Royleforst, staying with them at the present, and her companion, skinny, nervous Miss Bluford. These two ladies had not appeared yet for breakfast, which was probably on account of Mrs. Royleforst. She found mornings difficult and either slept in, or took a tray in her room.

      “What do you think, sir?” asked Mrs. Forsythe, of her host. “Shall my daughter invite the Norledges to join Mr. Forsythe and Lucy when they set out for your house? Or is your home already filled enough for your liking?”

      Mr. Mornay looked over his paper enough to acknowledge that he had heard her question. “As it is your and my wife’s family, I think the two of you must decide upon it. As long as there are bed-chambers enough,” he added, looking at Ariana, “you may fill them with guests as you please.”

      “Thank you, darling,” she said, making Beatrice stifle a titter. Her sister and her husband were still inordinately romantic, to her mind. Good thing no one else was present save her mother! She would have been embarrassed for them in company.

      “Shall I take the baby, mama?” said Ariana, for Miranda was beginning to fuss.

      “I suppose she wants to be fed,” agreed her mother. Ariana nodded to a maid who was seated against the wall, who went and received the child from her grandmother and brought her gingerly to her mama. Ariana’s eyes sparkled with happiness as she took her little girl. She murmured to the baby, by turns picking her up and kissing her face, and then just holding her in her arms and gazing at her in loving adoration. “I shan’t feed her yet,” she said. “She isn’t insisting upon it.”

      Beatrice’s thoughts were still upon the diversions that would be possible with a large group staying at the house. “If they all come, can you and Mr. Mornay hold a ball, Ariana? Or, will you take me to London this year for the Season? Then I may go to as many balls as I like, and you will not have the expense of holding them!”

      “If she takes you to London for the Season,” put in her mama, “she will have a great deal more expense than just that of a ball! Besides which, you are too young for such.”

      Beatrice looked at her mama, her enthusiasm temporarily dampened. “But my sister sees I am older, now,” she said, looking at Ariana with a silent plea in her gaze. “And I am not too young for a Season, according to the magazines. Many girls my age do have their coming out, mama!”   

      “Many gels,” she returned, instantly, “have little sense, and their parents, no better; your papa and I did not allow either of your sisters to go about in society at your age. You have been already too pampered, if you ask me. London society is out of the question!”

      Beatrice was now thoroughly dampened in her spirits, but she looked about and settled her eyes upon her brother-in-law. “I daresay Mr. Mornay has seen many a girl of my age--and younger—make their debut during the Season. And to no ill effect! Why, I am sure some of them have made the most brilliant matches! Many a man of good standing prefers a younger lady for his wife. You had ought to let me go while I am young enough to enjoy this advantage.”

      Mr. Mornay was frowning behind his newspaper. He knew that his young relation wanted his support in the matter, but Mr. Mornay was assuredly not in the habit of coming to the aid of young women, particularly regarding a London Season. So he said nothing, though an ensuing silence in the room told him the ladies waited for his opinion.  

      Ariana, who knew better, offered, “Let us discuss it another time. There are months, yet, before the Season. And with Miranda so young, I cannot decide at this point, in any case.” 

      Beatrice, who had no idea she was treading on dangerous ground, said, “Only let Mr. Mornay tell us his thoughts! I know my mother will listen if you tell her, sir,” she said, directly to him.

       He put his paper down reluctantly, and then looked at Beatrice. “I think Ariana was young to face society at nineteen.  At your age, you need to be sheltered, not put forth among the wolves.”

      Her face fell so entirely, that he almost chuckled at it. “Why are you so eager for a Season?”

      She smiled a little. This was better; he was inviting her to explain so that her mother could see the good advantage in it. “I have long lived with the memory of my sister’s tales of her experiences in London;” she said. “She met you there! Her coming out is what brought her to marriage, to Aspindon, to a better life! I have had my fill of Chesterton, I assure you! The prospects for marrying well in that region are as dismal as ever, if not worse;” she said. (Ariana closed her eyes at this; she could hardly bear to hear her sister telling all the reasons Phillip would most despise.) “Why does it seem that all the eligible young men in the county are either in a regiment somewhere, or at sea, or in need of a fortune? I must go to London or Bath, where there are more men one can meet!”

      She paused, looking at him earnestly. “I have no fortune, sir, as you are well aware. And with your connexions, I am certain to make very advantageous acquaintances! What could be more certain? I shall end up, no doubt, just as my sister has, with a man like you, sir!” Beatrice evidently thought she was giving him a great compliment. She waited, expecting a gracious answer. 

      “Oh, Beatrice!” moaned Mrs. Forsythe. “You foolish gel!”

      Mr. Mornay stood up, after folding his paper to a neat size. He said, “It takes more than wearing a corset to say a young lady is grown up, would you not agree?” He directed his remark to the whole room, and then settled his eyes upon Beatrice for one second too long, before giving a small bow to the women in general, and turning to leave the room. Beatrice considered his words for a moment. He had rested his eyes on her long enough so that she knew exactly what he meant. 

      Mr. Frederick met his master at the door, holding out a salver with a letter for Mr. Mornay, who took it but then looked curiously at the butler.

      “It arrived in that condition, sir! I daresay it was lost in the mail or some such thing.”

      “Hmm, very good, Freddie.” He held up a battered and ink-soiled missive for his wife to see, while eyeing it dubiously.

      She looked amused. “Who is it from?”

      He unfolded the paper, as the sealing wax was almost entirely worn off already, and scanned the signature at the bottom.  “Colonel Sotheby. I’ll read it in my office.” She nodded, and Mr. Mornay left the room.

      Beatrice  was still smarting from his earlier remark, and said, as soon as he’d gone, “How ‘grown up’ can I be, when I am forced to exist in a small country village, with no prospects, and genteel company only upon a Sunday?”

      “You overstate your case!  That is not true,” answered her mama, disapprovingly.

      “And as for wearing a corset,” Beatrice continued, after taking a sip of tea, “I do not pretend that wearing one is what makes me of age for a Season. I have formed my principles upon sound reason. I have sat beneath the tutelage of my father and of Mr. Timmons, and of his curate, and I should say my principles are well-founded.”

      “We are glad to hear it,” Ariana said, with great forbearance, “but really, you should not be setting your mind upon seeking a man like my husband; you should be intent upon finding the man that God has chosen for you.” 

      “And so I am!” she protested, her eyes wide and laughing. “But look at the advantage He gives me in having you for my sister! Am I to ignore that? When it could be the very means of bringing me and my future husband together?” 

      Ariana played absently with little Miranda’s blanket, tucking it in about her chin more snugly. She met her sister’s eyes. “London is not the only place a young woman may meet a husband. And if you want my husband’s approval of your plan, the last thing in the world you should tell him is that you want to meet a man like him! Or that you wish to marry above you in any way!”
“But is it above me? To marry well? When my sister is Mrs. Mornay of Aspindon House?” 

      “It is above you,” said her mother, “because you are Miss Forsythe of Chesterton.”

      “I am a gentleman’s daughter,” she replied. 

      “With no dowry to speak of,” said her mama.

      Beatrice’s cheeks began to burn. “With a rich and famous brother-in-law!” she said, petulantly.

      “That does not signify!” said her mother.

      “It does, to me!”

      “It should not!” Mrs. Forsythe was quickly growing ashamed of her daughter, and she was relieved that Mr. Mornay had left the room, and was not hearing Beatrice right now. Ariana’s eyebrows were raised and she was doing her best to act as though she had no part in the dialogue. 

      “But it does, mama!”

      “Beatrice! You have already said far too much on this topic, which proves to me your great ignorance of the world.” She held up her hand for silence as Beatrice was about to protest; “Not another word! I shan’t have it, not another word.” Mrs. Forsythe turned her attention to her elder daughter.

        “I think I will visit the Nursery to see how Nigel is faring. Do you mind?”

      “Of course not! He will enjoy showing you his toys.” She smiled, while her mother rose to leave the room. “I’ll be up myself, shortly, to feed the baby.”

      “Very good.” She nodded to her daughter, and then her eye fell upon Beatrice. “I think it would be wise if you said nothing more regarding a Season. In fact, I forbid you to mention it to Mr. Mornay again! Do you understand me?”

      “I do, mama.” Beatrice was not happy but she recognized the tone of voice her mother was using.  She considered, moreover, that it would be a simple matter to keep from mentioning her hopes to the man, for he evidently would not encourage her in them. But as for herself, she would continue to think of the Season in London. She would continue to hope; and some other day, when Ariana was in a good disposition, she would prevail upon her to sponsor her in London.  

      Beatrice did not want to seem disrespectful, but she knew that Mr. Mornay was quite in error regarding her. He did not know, for instance, that she was determined to make a good match, and recognized it as her lot in life. Every inch she saw of Aspindon just confirmed her sense that a rich life awaited her. She was born for it. And now all that was necessary was to meet her future husband—the man who could make it all happen. She had long prayed for just such a meeting, and knew that it was bound to occur. All she had to do was be properly outfitted, and in the proper company, for it to do so.

      All she had to do was change her sister and brother-in-law’s mind on the matter. How difficult could that be?