Posted in About the Book

RELEASE DAY: Yesterday’s Christmas by A.M. Heath

Every release sparks a measure of excitement. But this one sparks something a little more. This is my first full-sized Christmas story. It contains all the warm, cozy Christmas moments someone could hope for. There’s a sweet romance set in 1954 that will thrill the heart of any Hallmark Christmas movie fan. But there’s more … Yesterday’s Christmas is also a love story about a couple on the brink of divorce after thirty years of marriage. 
Ouch. 
Divorce and Christmas are two things we don’t want to see together. But they’re two things that often are together in our fallen world. And that’s what makes this story so beautiful. Along with the warm, fuzzy, entertainment is a story for the heart and a lesson for the soul. 
The characters, Betty and Glenn, do not represent my life and marriage, however, I did draw inspiration from the personalities and differences found in my own marriage. And the Lord has blessed it greatly. Readers are messaging me with these comments (actual quotes): “It was like she wrote it for me.” “It has spoken to me especially the part about God changing Betty not Glenn. It was like God was saying that to me. Thank you for this story.” “I could relate to her feelings and emotions.” “I’m a Betty married to a Glenn.” 
I don’t glory in so many struggling marriages but I do glory in the ability to pen a story with a message that was clearly needed. 
I think this is a story that readers can enjoy whether they’re married or not. And for those who are, I pray it blesses your heart in a special way. With every release, there is a slew of exciting activities happening, so let’s take a look: 

Betty Party

There’s a party taking place today! You can join me on Facebook. If you’re unable to make it at 10 a.m. (central) you can join me later that day or the next. I prefer to keep my parties extended for those who aren’t able to make the specific hour. Did I mention that I’ll be giving away two paperback copies at the party? 

There’s also a blog tour. You can visit other bloggers to hear their thoughts on the novel, as well as earn bonus entries for the grand prize giveaway. 

Betty Tour

Tour Schedule: 
Nov. 5: 
Alicia G. Ruggieri @ A Brighter Destiny
Spotlight

Nov. 6:
A. Kaylee Harrison @ Kaylee’s Kind of Writes
Plus Interview!

Nov. 7:
Becky Dempsey @ Blossoms and Blessings

Nov. 8: 
Raechel Lenore @ God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae

Nov. 9:
Debbie Curto @ Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations
Plus Interview!

Nov. 12: 
Deana Dick @ Texas Book-aholic

Nov. 13:
Robbie Pink @ Captive Dreams Window

Nov. 15:
Alicia G. Ruggieri @ A Brighter Destiny
Plus Interview!

Nov. 16:
Faith Blum @ Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections
Spotlight and Interview

Betty Grand Prize copy

You can enter the grand prize giveaway here. It closes Nov. 16, 2018.
I’ll announce the winner here on the blog.
I’m sorry, the giveaway is only open to Continental U.S. residents. 

Final 1600x2400During a snowstorm, Betty Tanner finds herself stuck with her estranged husband. Spending Christmas with Glenn wasn’t what she had in mind, and her thoughts reluctantly travel back three decades to their first Christmas together, when another snowstorm caused her to wreck her car outside the Tanner home … 

1954: Stranded with the Tanners over Christmas, Betty is forced into the company of Glenn, who has spurned her for years. But as the snow falls outside, the walls between Betty and Glenn begin to melt, revealing a side of him she never knew existed. A side she longs to know better.

Pride and bitterness can make a beast out of anyone. And the hardships they face in their relationship are of their own making. But can following Christ’s ways lead Betty and Glenn to the reconciliation they long for?

A.M. Heath invites you to spend Christmas with the Tanners in a dual-timeline novel loosely inspired by Beauty and the Beast. You’re sure to fall in love again and again.

Christmas Ebook Sale

You can add Yesterday’s Christmas to your TBR list on Goodreads or pick up your copy today at Amazon. You’ll find both novels in A Season Passed on sale for a limited time.

Hold on with date

 

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Posted in About the Book

Preview: Yesterday’s Christmas by A.M. Heath

We’re just a week away from the release of my latest novel, Yesterday’s Christmas! My team and I have worked so hard this past year to bring you books 1 and 2 of A Season Passed so close together. I hope you’re as excited about this as I am!
Originally, If Only It Were Yesterday was meant to be a standalone novel. But I was aching to write another Christmas short story and had been on the search for the perfect idea. I was collecting virtual teapots for Betty’s character in If Only It Were Yesterday when I came across a picture of Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast. The very second I saw that image, inspiration struck. BETTY could be Belle in a Christmas version of Beauty and the Beast! It was perfect! I simultaneously crafted 2 plots: a young woman being stranded with a man and his family during Christmas AND a married couple being stranded together during Christmas. BOTH plots pulled at me, and I struggled to pick just one. … Until I realized that I could choose both. And thus, Yesterday’s Christmas was born.
It is both a story of falling in love for the first time and recommitment. Yesterday’s Christmas isn’t quite a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but I think you’ll find the moments of inspiration easily enough as you read the novel. It’ll be a fun little treasure hunt. Until you can get your hands on the full novel, please enjoy the first full chapter of Yesterday’s Christmas

One

The wise woman builds her house, but with her

own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

~ Proverbs 14:1

Christmas Eve, 1985

I shouldn’t have been on any twisted backroad in the middle of a snowstorm, but I most certainly shouldn’t be on this road. I turned on my lights and whispered another prayer.

Why had I been so persistent in leaving the safety of my daughter’s house when I could have very well stayed put?

Because I’m miserable, that’s why.

Because as much as I tried to pretend nothing was wrong, all I wanted was to be home alone to wallow in my self-pity in any way that I deemed appropriate. This was to be my first Christmas without Glenn.

Pretending there was nothing wrong between us had slowly taken its toll on me until I couldn’t bear it another moment. Living apart these last three months hadn’t been easy, but, at least with our separation, I finally knew where I stood. A woman likes to be told that she is still beautiful in her man’s eyes. That she is still an important part of his happiness. Especially once she is past her prime. But whatever Glenn felt, he kept to himself … or kept for another. I had stood under a cloud of doubt for so long concerning his affections for me that I could barely stand up under it. He always claimed he’d never cheated on me, and I never found proof otherwise, but if the man wasn’t passionate about me anymore, whom was he passionate about? After spending countless years feeling like he had one foot out the door, I had finally snapped and pushed him the rest of the way out.

Self-preservation required distance, and it seemed to have been working. And, yet, there I was on the verge of tears with a darkening sky and snow so thick I could hardly see in front of my car.

I shouldn’t have been there. In fact, none of this should have been happening. If only Glenn had deemed our family more important. Deemed me more important. Those endless hours at work and distant hours at home had only succeeded in killing our marriage.

It didn’t do any good to blame Glenn, even if he was at fault. I had learned over the months that hating him for it didn’t change anything. It just made it harder for me to cope. Ignoring him, ignoring the memories, was my best option right now.

I popped the tape out of the cassette player on the dashboard, putting an end to Kenny Rogers’ and Dolly Parton’s Christmas tunes.

I gripped the steering wheel a little tighter, my knuckles as white as the powder gathering outside of my window. Leaning closer, I paid more attention to the upcoming curves in the road. I knew them by heart, but the snow distorted things until I was no longer confident of anything.

Lord, please see me home safely. I was such a fool, but, Lord, have mercy on this fool.

I rounded one bend, but there were more just up ahead. My stomach flipped. I hated this curve. I hated that house just around the curve. I hated this road.

This road was a shortcut, and, at the time, it had seemed important. In the heavy snowfall, it certainly was important; however, this was no place to be in the middle of a snowstorm.

But it was more than just slick roads. It was the Tanner house just around the corner. Just up ahead sat Glenn’s family home. Just up ahead, my estranged husband was probably sitting inside the house.

My nerves twisted and jumped like that of a school girl out on her first date. Glenn certainly wouldn’t see me as I drove by. He wouldn’t be looking out the window, and, yet, I couldn’t help but feel as if thousands of pairs of eyes were watching me as I inched around one curve and got closer and closer to the next.

A flash of brown shot out in front of my car. I sucked in a screech and slammed on my brakes. The brown, which I now recognized as a deer, jolted from his momentary stupor and finished his leap across the road. My tires spun, first locking up and then turning to one side. I gripped the wheel and yanked it in one direction, but it only turned my car in the other. I yanked it back, and again, it spun harder–too hard–in the other direction until my car suddenly stopped, its nose dipping down into the ditch.

I sat there in the ditch on the side of the road, first stunned and then angry.

No. No. No! This cannot be happening. How could You let this happen, Lord? Why now? Why here? Somehow my prayers of protection had turned into me being delivered into the ditch in front of Glenn’s house. With more frustration than pain, I opened the door, the blistering wind and a mixture of snow and ice drilling my face. I sucked in an involuntary gasp and tightened the scarf around my neck.

I bent over and grabbed my purse out of the passenger seat–no, make that the floorboard, where it now sat.

I checked my car again. There was no one around, and my car was safely tucked far enough into the ditch that no one should hit it if they were to venture down this treacherous road. Not that anyone else was foolish enough to bother. Folks in Tennessee knew to stay indoors when it snowed, so I had no excuse for being out in the weather.

I slammed the car door closed with more force than necessary, but it didn’t release any of my pent-up steam. I knew what to do. There’d be no choice in it. Looking left and then right only confirmed what I knew was true. There wasn’t another house on this road for quite a ways. Why did the Tanners have to build their house on the other side of this curve?

I hiked up the long gravel driveway. The hollow sound of crunching snow under my leather-fringed boots filled my ears, but I didn’t delight in any of it. Nearly three inches of snow had already fallen. The snowfall was a rare beauty, but I wasn’t taking the time to admire it.

I bypassed the front door and walked straight to the back. It had been the entrance most commonly used when his mother was alive. I knocked on the door and waited, but I didn’t hear any movement inside. I knocked a little harder, and then the door was snatched out from underneath my hand.

Betty?” Glenn said in a question, blinking back his surprise. “Wh-what are you doing here?”

I gave a shrug and an ill-humored grin. “Just thought I’d pop in,” I answered sarcastically.

His brow, a dark brown dusted with gray, lowered over his right eye–a look I had long ago memorized. He stood before me in sweats and knee-high socks. I knew they were knee-high with the red stripes around the top because I remembered buying them. They looked in need of a wash, but what did I expect since I wasn’t here to do his laundry? I fought back the urge to roll my eyes. I’d hate to see his hamper. It was probably empty while his clothes lay all on the floor around it, because he never could put his clothes inside the hamper. The man could shoot basketball like a pro, but socks in a hamper? Humph, forget about it.

I tamped down all of these ill feelings. I wasn’t here to complain about his housekeeping. I had done enough of that over the last thirty years of marriage. Nope, as much as I hated to admit it, he would be my savior this hour, and there was nothing I could do except thank him.

He still hadn’t caught on to the reason for my visit, but, again, I wasn’t shocked. He seemed to notice so little concerning me unless I spelled it out for him. A new dress, a new hairstyle. Nope. Didn’t matter.

He scratched his shoulder, revealing a slight tear in the sleeve of his t-shirt. “Umm,” he started, looking over my shoulder at the covered carport behind me. “Where’s your car?”

I gave him another one of my mirthless smirks. “I parked it out front.”

His eyebrows shot up, clear to his hairline. But now, at last, he seemed to understand the nature of my visit. Glenn stepped down the concrete steps and onto the carport, peeking around the side of the house.

I just watched and waited for it.

Silently, a hand slapped across his mouth as he viewed my crafty parking job. Glenn slid his hand down his face. He turned to me, his lips pinched and his brows still high. He didn’t say anything, his chest filling with air, deflating, and filling again. He gave a slow shake of his head. “Well, Betty, I didn’t think it was possible for lightning to strike twice, but you proved ’em wrong.” He looked down at his watch, as if it might tell him more than the time. “And on Christmas Eve, too?”

I snorted, a short bubble of laughter rising and dying on my lips. “Do you mind?” I asked, knowing that he wouldn’t. I was the mother of his children, after all. Laura and Peter wouldn’t be here without me, nor would the countless father-of-the-year coffee mugs that he had collected since the kids had been born.

He welcomed me into the house with a tilt of his head and a wave of his hand toward the door. Glenn was right about one thing: lightning had struck twice.

Two

There was once a very rich merchant …

~ Beauty and the Beast

Thirty-one years earlier: Christmas Eve, 1954 …

Final 1600x2400

During a snowstorm, Betty Tanner finds herself stuck with her estranged husband. Spending Christmas with Glenn wasn’t what she had in mind, and her thoughts reluctantly travel back three decades to their first Christmas together, when another snowstorm caused her to wreck her car outside the Tanner home … 

1954: Stranded with the Tanners over Christmas, Betty is forced into the company of Glenn, who has spurned her for years. But as the snow falls outside, the walls between Betty and Glenn begin to melt, revealing a side of him she never knew existed. A side she longs to know better.

Pride and bitterness can make a beast out of anyone. And the hardships they face in their relationship are of their own making. But can following Christ’s ways lead Betty and Glenn to the reconciliation they long for?

A.M. Heath invites you to spend Christmas with the Tanners in a dual-timeline novel loosely inspired by Beauty and the Beast. You’re sure to fall in love again and again.

You can pre-order Yesterday’s Christmas on Amazon for .99
or add it to your Goodreads’ list. 

Rich Merchant with date (1)

Posted in About the Book

A Peek Inside my Workshop and the Drafts in Progress

I’m giving you a tour inside my workshop today! I want to warn you upfront that each author approaches the writing life a tad differently, so you don’t be surprised. However, I’m sure there will be plenty of similarities as well.

For me: I’ve come to notice that I use two different sides of my brain while I’m working. I have a creative side, that typically feels very free. And then there’s the side that edits everything it touches. The editing portion tends to stress me, so I like to keep at least one draft in progress open that I can pick up and do some freestyle creative work in. But the moment that draft becomes a complete first draft, it shifts over to the editing section of my brain.

The graphic below is the one I’ve been using for months now to show my Street Team the progression of a variety of novels. And here’s a quick rundown of the various steps involved in a novel:

Progress Chart Layout

Plotting: Some authors take more time to plot their novel than I do, which is why the plotting portion is a sliver.

First Draft: This is that freestyle moment that I mentioned. Since I’m not using a strict outline, it really does require a great deal of freestyle work. I listen to my characters, write with my gut, and enjoy the ride. 😉 Or most of it at least. I can and do get stuck from time to time.

There are two major phases to the revision process. The first step is to revise the actual content. And this section is broken into two portions as well. My first goal is to read over my manuscript on my own and make as many revisions as I can spot on my own. Then I begin working with the critique team. I send the manuscript out to a group of readers who return it with some suggestions for ways to better the story as a whole. They’re looking for things like character and plot development. They’re also pointing out areas that may appear inconsistent, unclear, or where the story may lag. I work with their feedback and then often resend the manuscript to see how the story sits with readers. Once I have a draft that I’m confident in and that readers are enjoying, I’m ready for the next phase of revisions.

So it’s off to the editing staff. I work with a group of volunteers who bless me more than I can ever convey. I send it to the first pair of line editors who are poring over the document, looking for grammar errors. Once I make the corrections they’re pointing out, I send it to a second pair. After those corrections are made, I send it to yet one more team. I call them my Spotters. They read the almost ready manuscript and help me sniff out any lingering errors. I make those corrections then read the novel myself for the last time.

Once the manuscript is polished, I’m ready to format. Formatting is always a bit of a headache for me, but I’ll not get into that here. You only have to read my Facebook page to hear what all goes on during this phase. But here, I make a spare copy of the document, then make two more copies. One for paperback and one for ebook. Then I sweat and toil until the files are ready to go. Also during this time, the paperback cover is being designed and I’m test-printing it to see how the coloring works when in print. And once all the pieces are together, the book is ready for publication! The only thing that remains is to promote the novel.

So now that you know the general flow, here’s the breakdown of what’s actually on my desk:

Progress Chart For Blog

As you know, Yesterday’s Christmas releases 11/5/18. Also in the revision process is Dance With Me and The Accident. Dance With Me is currently hanging out with the first grammar pair. The Accident is in between critique teams. I had sent it out once and am not finished with those revisions. And I plan to send it to a new set of readers when it’s ready.

In the writing department, I happen to have a total of seven novels in progress!! I’m not even sure how that happened! I won’t be able to go into too much detail just yet, but I’ll share with you a bit about the drafts currently sitting on my desk.

#2 Art of Love Novel: I’m not sharing the title or the cover until I have the first draft. But suffice it to say that this story has stolen my heart in a special way and I often find myself reaching for tissues while I’m writing it. I really think you’re going to love it.

The Birth of Grace: This is a standalone novel that I had shared with you before. It was inspired by my grandmother and carries a pro-life theme. I’m really looking forward to finishing this one and bringing it to you.

The Hope of Yesterday: Book 3 of A Season Passed. Already readers are eagerly awaiting the completion of this series, and I long to give it to you! Unfortunately, the stories weren’t quite ready to be told so we’ll have a gap in the publication. But fear not, the Lord has given me some other great stories to share in the meantime. But I will tell you that this is Logan’s story.

Yesterday’s Trouble: And Book 4 of A Season Passed is Ruby’s story. In both of these novels, we’ll be in 1885 and we’ll find out what really happened to the Hillman siblings that we met in Liz’s dream in If Only It Were Yesterday.

Top Secret Project: I recently stumbled upon a bit of local history which inspired a fiction story. And as often as I told myself that I wasn’t ready to work on it, the characters came to life and I had little choice but to follow them around. I think I’m going to sit on the details of this one until I have the first draft. But it’s remarkable and a bit different than some of my other novels. I can tell you that it’s set in the 1930s, so this is a different era than I’ve been working in so far. But I’m loving it there! In fact, I love it so much that it’s not the only story I’m writing that’s set in the ‘30s.

Top Secret Novella: For the first time ever, I’m teaming up with 3 other authors to write a novella set! We’re all extremely excited about this venture, but we’re not quite ready to go public, so I have to be quiet here too. I can tell you that our stories will be connected. Sadly, we’re all busy with other projects so this is something that we’re kinda playing with on the side at the moment. Lord willing, it will move up in importance at the right time and become a story you can’t wait to read. 🙂

Ancient Words Spin-Off: I had created a set of stories that feature the next generation of Maple Grove, and I’m attempting to write them as novellas and publish them as a set. I’m currently uncertain whether or not these stories can be contained to a short plot that a novella requires so I thought I’d give it a try and see what shakes out. So I’m currently working on the story titled The Runaway Bride which features Frank Harper’s daughter, Louise. As much as this particular set will interest readers, I can tell you now that it’ll be a long wait before these are released. But I am working on them already with the hopes that they’ll be released shortly after books 4 and 5 of the Ancient Words series … which are just sitting off of my “currently writing” list. Lord willing, once some of these are completed, I’ll be back in Maple Grove!

I hope you enjoyed this peek into my workshop. It’s almost wrong of me to tease you with the stories that are still in the early stages of taking shape, but this will give you an idea of what you’re praying for. You’ll have to let me know which of the stories I mentioned that you’re most eager to see come into completion.

Fall Writing Campaign: Now that Yesterday’s Christmas is wrapping up and Dance With Me is spending time off of my desk, I find myself with more writing time and plenty to write! It’s a personal goal of mine to finish one or two of these drafts by the end of the year, but if I don’t make it, hopefully, I’ll finish them by the end of winter. So I’ll be sharing more updates on my writing progress in the weeks to come. And now you know a bit about the drafts I’m working on!

Follow me on Facebook where I’ll give weekly and sometimes daily writing updates during the Fall Writing Campaign. You’ll also find more info on the older drafts here.

Posted in About the Book

Cover Reveal: The Accident by A.M. Heath

Accident teaser

I may have mentioned a novella that I have been working on in my spare time. It’s something different from me, but it’s just as precious with memorable characters and a heartfelt message as anything else I’ve written. This one is an epistolary novella. Allow me to explain:
Epistolary is composed of documents (usually letters).
A novella is a shorter novel.
So, an epistolary novella is a short novel written ONLY with documents. In this particular story, I wrote it using text messages and journal entries.

I’m a sucker for letters and journals, so I’ve always enjoyed epistolaries. I decided to challenge myself to write one. This was such a blast to write, and I hope you enjoy it! But today, I share with you the cover:

Accident 1600x2400

The Accident: Is it possible to find true love by texting the wrong number? Or will there only be heartache and frustration? 

Since The Accident is something I’m working on in my spare time, I don’t have a release date set for this one. So stay tuned!

Posted in About the Book

Novel Inspirations: If Only It Were Yesterday

AmazonLiz

I want to show you some of the images that inspired characters, buildings, and the overall setting for my latest novel If Only It Were Yesterday. Whether you’ve read the novel or are about to, you might like to see some of the visuals I had in my head.
* I own none of these pictures, except the cover. All others were Pinterest treasures and used only as visual aids and shared only for your enjoyment.

We’ll start with the characters. Obviously, you can see the main character, Liz, on the cover. But here’s a look at who you don’t see.

Liz Characters

Below is something I had in mind for the Eden’s home.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And this grand home was what I had in mind when I wrote about Grandmother Hillman’s mansion.

31

Take a look at Mrs. Eden’s outdoor and indoor garden.

And the following pictures were images of the era that helped inspire me as I was getting emersed in my setting.

3032343738

And last but not least: Betty Tanner’s teapot for every day of the week:

Sunday:

Sunday

Monday:

Monday

Tuesday:

Tuesday

Wednesday:

Wednesday

Thursday:

Thursday

Friday:

Friday

Saturday:

Saturday

And a bonus pot for the evenings:

Evening

 

 

Posted in About the Book

Shopping List for Alice in Wonderland Fans

Are you a fan of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland? Or do you know someone who is? I put together a shopping list sure to please any Wonderland fan. Obviously, my list will not be extensive, so feel free to share your favorite Wonderland products in the comments.

200Adult Coloring Book: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Coloring Book
They used the classic illustrations and novel quotes when they put this one together.

210

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
You’ll find the ebook for free on Amazon and copies in paperback and hardback. *And don’t forget to look for In the Looking Glass!

CUPS!:

201

Disney Parks Exclusive Alice in Wonderland Triple Stack

202

Disney Parks Exclusive Alice in Wonderland Mad as a Hatter 

203

Disney Store Alice in Wonderland Classic Mug

204

Disappearing Chesire Cat Mug

205

Alice in Wonderland Fine China Teacup and Saucer *Be sure to rabbit trail with this one. There’s a whole matching set!

206

Anise in Wonderland: Novel Tea Tins
*FYI: They have a whole collection of novel-inspired teas.

208

Queen of Hearts itty bitty
*You’ll also find Alice and Mad Hatter

209

KEYS! It’s such a simple thing, but it’s not Wonderland with keys!
I actually have one on a ribbon that I wear as a necklace. But you could add them to anything for a subtle Wonderland feel.

211

Alice in Wonderland Tote by Litographs
SERIOUSLY, you MUST check out this website!! They create shirts, totes, scarfs, and posters with the actual words from your favorite classic novels! I’m only showing you one picture. There are 3 for Alice and soooooooo many more great novels to consider. GO CHECK OUT THIS LINK ASAP! And you’re welcome. 😉

Christian Fiction Books: 

207

Girls of Wonder series by Christina Coryell

AmazonLiz

If Only It Were Yesterday by A.M. Heath
🙂 I couldn’t leave my own novel off of the list, now could I?

Did you find anything to add to your wishlist? Or do you have a product link that you’d like to share with me? 

Posted in About the Book, History

Researching the South during the Gilded Age

In this post, I want to do two things: I want to share with you some of the research that went into my novel, If Only It Were Yesterday, and I also want to review and recommend one of my key research books.

Whether you’re a historical fiction fan or history buff, you’re likely to notice that our focus shifts from region to region based on what’s going on during that time. It’s not hard to find books (fiction or non-fiction) based on life in the South during the Civil War or even the years leading up to or shortly after the war. However, the last three decades of the nineteenth century shifts our focus either to the west during the western expansion or to the north during the Industrial Revolution. But what was life like in the South during those years?

I’m not saying you won’t find ANY information, but it is a lot harder to come by. Because the focus in our nation shifts, there’s a gaping hole in our common knowledge of the period where the South is concerned. As a historical fiction fan, when I think of books during the Gilded Era, I think of stories in the North featuring either wealthy families or poor immigrant families. Because of what we commonly see, when  I sat down to write If Only It Were Yesterday, I had some questions: The last time we looked at the South, wealthy families had slaves or paid black freedmen. But the average snapshot of America during the Gilded Age shows me that most servants are immigrants. The last time we looked at the South, they were destitute. For the first time, both the rich and the poor, the black and the white, had a great deal in common: they had a great deal of nothing. But the average snapshot of America during the Gilded Age shows that electricity was becoming common, among other advances. So it begged the question: How many of these common understandings of the North were true of the South?

I don’t doubt one of you will take up the challenge and do a quick Google search and find all that it took me months to find. But for me, it was like pulling teeth to find documented proof of what the South looked like during a time that was so focused on the North or the West. Which makes From Morning to Night by Elizabeth L. O’Leary an answer to prayer.

Right there on the cover, it says “Domestic Service in Maymont House and the Gilded Age South.” FINALLY! This was the sort of book that promised to answer my questions. And, boy, did it! It’s one of those books that I highlighted but found myself wanting to highlight nearly the entire page. There was so much information packed in here.

The book features an extremely wealthy family in Richmond. The Dooleys were the exception here in the South, but O’Leary graciously explained what was commonplace for the Dooley’s and how it compared with others around them. It offered insight into the progression of technology within the home during those inventive years. It also weaves in terminology and common practices between servants and the families they served. It offers insight into the lifestyles of the servants and their employers, helping others like myself who wish to know more about the day to day life of those in the South. Since the Dooley’s were among the wealthiest in the South, you are given a look at the best that money could buy as well as how it compared to those who wouldn’t have afforded quite so much.
And in case you were wondering the answers to my questions: servants in the South during that time were primarily black people and very few were immigrants or poorer white Americans. And while electricity was becoming commonplace in the North, it was behind in the South. Wealthy families in larger cities had a better chance of having access to it, but smaller cities or rural areas couldn’t afford to supply it.

I highly recommend From Morning to Night to anyone who wishes to look deeper into the relationship between servant and employer, even if your primary concern isn’t focused on the South. But the book does bring the unique situation of the Gilded Age in the South to light. O’Leary balances what the historical documents reveal about the Dooleys with common experiences throughout the South as well as using quotes from various sources to further prove or explain the information.
I gladly give it 5 stars and a permanent place on my research shelf.

 

337Step off the lush carpet and push through the swinging door of the butler’s pantry to enter the bustling realm of domestic workers at Maymont House from 1893 to 1925. In From Morning to Night, Elizabeth O’Leary takes the reader behind the scenes in the opulent mansion of the Richmond multimillionaire James H. Dooley and his wife, Sallie. Drawing upon personal letters, business and government documents, and numerous oral histories of older Richmonders―both black and white―O’Leary examines the parallel and divergent viewpoints of server and served in this Virginia version of “Upstairs/Downstairs.”

Raised in slave-owning households before the Civil War, the Dooleys experienced the transformation of the master/mistress-slave relationship to that of employer-employee. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, they relied on a full complement of domestic servants to maintain their lavish residences and lifestyle. In turn, numerous men and women―predominantly African American―labored to meet the day-to-day challenges of running an elaborate household. At the same time, they negotiated the era’s increasing Jim Crow restrictions and, during precious hours off-duty, helped support families, churches, and the larger black community.

By examining the formalities and practices of the Dooleys at home and by giving a presence and voice to their “help,” From Morning to Night offers insights into domestic and social systems at work within and beyond the upper-class household in the Gilded Age South.

Buying Options: At the time that I was writing this post, I checked Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Half.com and found both used and new options cheaper at Amazon.

 

Posted in About the Book, Book Reviews

RELEASE DAY: If Only It Were Yesterday by A.M. Heath

There’s nothing like the gushing heart of a proud parent and that’s what I feel like today: A proud book parent. My dear Liz is all grown up and venturing out into the world. That’s a thrilling and scary feeling. I can’t control who reads it or how they feel about it or even what they say about it. I hope it’s well-loved wherever it goes. But as I sit back and remind myself, yet again, that done means done and I’ll never have to work on this beloved story again, I want to share some of the events surrounding the book launch. 

Liz Party

There’s a party taking place today! A tea party, in fact! You can join me on Facebook. If you’re unable to make it at 10 a.m. (central) you can join me over the next couple of days. I prefer to keep my parties extended for those who aren’t able to make the specific hour. Did I mention that I’ll be giving away some paperback copies at the party? 

There’s also a blog tour. You can visit other bloggers to hear their thoughts on the novel, as well as earn bonus entries for the grand prize giveaway. The full schedule is below the picture. 

Blog tour

Release Day Spotlights: 
Sept 4: 
Amanda Tero @ With a Joyful Noise
Becky Dempsey @ Blossoms and Blessings 
Alicia G. Ruggieri @ A Brighter Destiny

Reviews:

Sept. 5:
Laura Wilson @ Blue Eye Books

Sept. 6:
Alicia G. Ruggieri @ A Brighter Destiny

Sept. 10: 
Karen Hadley @ Karen Sue Hadley

Sept. 11:
Becky Dempsey @ Blossoms and Blessings

Sept. 12: 
Virginia Winfield @ Bigreadersite

Sept. 13:
Heather G. @ Blue Jeans and Teacups

Sept. 17:
Raechel Lenore @ God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae

Grand Prize

You can enter the grand prize giveaway here. It closes Sept 17, 2018. I’ll announce the winner here on the blog. I’m sorry, the giveaway is only open to Continental U.S. residents. 

AmazonLizBOOK DESCRIPTION:

Liz Cooke has two problems in life: Her social media is filled with brewing political conflict and her idea of a perfect man seems to have gone extinct a century ago. Inspired by the contents of an antique trunk, Liz dreams she time-travels to 1885. As she sets out to enjoy the Victorian era in all its glory, armed with knowledge gleaned through historical novels and period dramas, will she find the past to be all that she thought? And does the right man for her exist only in her dreams or has he been in her life all along?
Loosely inspired by Alice in Wonderland, A.M. Heath brings you a fun read chock-full of humor and whimsy with a special message for the avid reader in all of us.

You can add If Only It Were Yesterday to your TBR list on Goodreads or pick up your copy today at Amazon

If Only It Were Yesterday Quote 2

 

Posted in About the Book

Preview: If Only It Were Yesterday by A.M. Heath

We’re only 1 week away from the release of my latest novel, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I can’t wait to put this one into your hands. 

The concept for the story grew out of my own life and the lesson I had to learn about idolizing history. If Only It Were Yesterday was written from the heart of a historical fiction fan TO the heart of a historical fiction fan. I hope you’ll find it entertaining as well as enlightening. Please, enjoy the first full chapter: 

ONE

All in the golden afternoon …

~ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Tell me that my love is welcomed. More than welcomed, tell me that it is desired. For you alone, I have overcome great odds. My longing to see your face was all that had sustained me when a great many others had perished–”

Oomph. Something solid bashed into my shoulder, knocking me off balance. The book containing my beloved Charlie Wesson and Eloise Carter crashed to the sidewalk at my feet.

Watch it!” a rather large and angry man yelled at me over his shoulder just as I gathered my bearings.

I stuttered a reply, but he didn’t hear it. It was just as well since what I had said didn’t make any sense. And worse yet, my book was dirty. I was at the best part, too. How could he be so rude?

I had stayed up way too late finishing A Shipwrecked Love, the novel in my hands, and my only desire was to reread the best scene before I returned it to the library. The scene where Eloise read Charlie’s love letter went down in history as one of my absolute favorite scenes in any book. I mentally added A Shipwrecked Love to my wish list for books I wanted to keep on my personal shelf at home. In order to do so, I would have to cross something else off the list since my apartment was too small for an extensive collection.

You should invest in an e-reader,” my friend, Shelby, had once said. “You could keep all the books you wanted, and it wouldn’t take up any space.”

An e-reader? Seriously? Me? It was like she didn’t know me at all. An e-reader was so cold and distant, while a book was warm and inviting. A book could very well hug you back if you were to fall asleep reading and it fell on your face, or if you rested it on your arm. Books were friendly.

And it was more than friendship.

Books were classic. Timeless.

E-readers were not.

In my mind, it really was that simple. E-readers were state-of-the-art, moving fast-forward. Don’t get me wrong. It’s 2016, and I use electricity. I own a laptop and a smartphone.

But I dream in candlelight.

I hugged the book to my chest with a sigh, looking out onto the busy square of Carroll, Tennessee, and wondered what it had looked like 100 years ago. Would my little shop have been standing? I looked behind me where Curiouser and Curiouser Antiques and Rare Gifts stood. My grandmother, and guardian, had passed away four years earlier, leaving me with an empty building and the encouragement to pursue my passion for history through antiques. I couldn’t live in the past as I had longed to do, but I found that I could still surround myself with the past. I lived above my store in the tiny apartment, so I was quite literally surrounded by antiques.

Turning forward again, I continued my walk to the library. In good weather, this walk was one of my favorite times of the day.

This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” I breathed in the scent of fall and recited the verse again to myself for good measure.

The Grayson Library was a repurposed historic home just behind the square. Childhood memories and the smell of endless pages flooded my senses the moment I opened the heavy door. Lucy stood behind the counter and gave me a smile and a wiggle of her fingers. I smiled in return but kept the book in my arms and bypassed her station. Without a word, I stepped behind her and slipped through the door labeled, “Staff Only.” I wasn’t staff. However, this would be my dream job if things in the antique business came crashing down, which I prayed never happened. But I had an open invitation to visit the staff only areas. It didn’t matter what day or what time of the day, I was always welcome, and I knew there would be a tea party awaiting me.

I walked down the short hall and gave a tentative knock on Betty Tanner’s door, causing her gray head to lift and her eyes to fall upon me.

Lizzie, I was hoping you’d come today.” I didn’t mind that Betty was the only one who called me Lizzie. We had a special friendship. I was Liz to my friends and Elizabeth Cooke to the rest of the world.

I moved across the room and around the desk to give my grandmother’s most-cherished friend a hug. “You know I can’t stand to miss Tuesdays. The cupcake teapot is my favorite.”

Betty laughed as she took the five steps to the countertop she had installed behind her desk. I watched as she made the preparations for afternoon tea. She felt the weight of the kettle. Satisfied with the water level, she turned on her hot plate and set the kettle down. Then Betty reached into her cabinet for an extra setting, matching the cup, pot, creamer, and sugar bowl that already sat on her special tea table underneath the window. The cabinet held the other five tea sets. Betty had one set for each day of the week. Sunday’s set stayed at home since she never worked on Sundays. I knew she also had a nighttime set that she used while at home after work and, of course, special sets for each of the major holidays. An assortment of tea cookies remained hidden in her desk drawer for the harder days in life. And at least twenty flavors of tea sat in the drawer above them.

What flavor today, Lizzie?”

Earl Grey. I just finished a book about a duke, and it has me thinking about Earl Grey tea.”

Betty laughed. “The duke reminded you of the earl?”

Well, you don’t have any duke tea, and he was sort of a nasty fellow. I think the earl will suit my mood.”

She shook her head in that good-natured sort of way that people often do when they know you’re just a bit crazy but they’re choosing not to call you out on it.

Speaking of nasty fellows, someone bumped into me on the way over. He knocked my book to the ground and didn’t even bother to say he was sorry. What happened to men and manners, anyway?”

Betty stopped, a tea bag dangling from her hand like a clock on a chain. “Book? Lizzie, were you reading again while you were walking down the sidewalk?”

She would point out the only part of the story I didn’t mention. “I might have been, but that’s not the point.”

She huffed. “Lizzie, you could have been hurt.”

But I wasn’t hurt.” Why was she not seeing the real issue here? “He bumped into me, and he had the nerve to yell at me for it when he should have apologized.”

Apologized?”

Yes, apologized. There was once a day when a man would never dream of bumping into a woman on the street without apologizing for it.”

But Lizzie, those days have passed, and it really does sound like you ran into him.”

You would think that someone as old as Betty would be more outraged at the decline in society. “I couldn’t really say if I did or didn’t run into him, but, again, that’s hardly the point. He should have apologized.”

She frowned. “Even if it was your fault?”

That’s just the point!”

What’s the point?”

It doesn’t matter who was at fault. He should have apologized. A simple sorry isn’t so hard.”

So, you’d want him to give you a fake apology, is that it?”

YES! A fake apology! That’s exactly what I wanted.” Now she was getting it!

Her gray brows turned in, and her frown deepened. “Lizzie, you really do live in another world.”

That’s just my point!”

Her shoulders fell. “What was your point again?”

Maybe she wasn’t really getting it after all. Okay. Now, I love Betty. I really do. But why was it that she was not following this conversation? With an exasperated sigh, I tried again. “My point is that it’s a crying shame that society has fallen so far that a man would actually yell at a woman on the street.” Betty opened her mouth to say something, so I held up my hands and “threw myself under the bus,” so to speak. “I know, I know, it was likely my fault. But just hear me out. If he would have apologized to me, as any good gentleman should, I would have quickly and gladly apologized to him and taken the full blame. I would have done it gladly, but he ruined it by yelling at me. What could I have possibly said then?”

You could have apologized,” Betty said flatly, finally setting the tea bag into the cup.

The words were gone from my head the moment he yelled at me. I just wish I lived in a simpler time. A time when men were manly, and, yet, they treated women with tender respect. A time when problems were simpler.”

And what time period do you think that is?”

What time period wasn’t it? I tilted my head in thought. “Just when did our society suddenly decline?”

When? It’s always been decaying.”

That seemed like an odd thing to say considering she’d witnessed some of those simpler times I was talking about. During her 82 years, Betty had attended the sock hops and had worn the poodle skirts. She had seen Elvis Presley on TV. Granted it was in black-and-white at first, but still! She had memories of a time when it was safe to walk to town, or stand outside and wait for the bus, or go to a public restroom. She could remember a time when our nation wasn’t ashamed to be considered a Christian nation. When the Ten Commandments were proudly sitting on government property. A time when babies weren’t pulled from their mother’s womb. A simpler time. A glorious time.

I couldn’t help myself. My mind wandered back even further. What would it have been like even before her time? When ladies still wore beautiful gowns, and men bowed over their hands in introduction? When our country was stable? When confusion and heartache didn’t paint the pages of every newspaper? When the nation went to church on Sundays, and the Bible was taught in schools?

I know God doesn’t make mistakes but, oh, how I wish He had seen fit to bring me to Earth during that time in history. I craved the peaceable times in our nation’s history. I suppose it’s why I only read historical fiction. Why would I want to read fiction about today when it was yesterday that I longed for?

I’m not dense. I’ve read enough to know that there were problems in the past. I’ve studied the Civil War. I know about the racial conflict that engulfed our nation. But I also know how easy it is to fix. Women’s right to vote is good. Segregation is bad. Prohibition confused me since what seemed so right somehow sparked a greater evil. I didn’t know how to answer that one problem. But the rest seemed manageable enough. Unlike this presidential election going on today. My social media was overwhelmed with the conflict surrounding the upcoming election. What I wouldn’t give to see one of our prior presidents on the ballot today.

My mouth almost watered at the thought of standing before a ballot with Abraham Lincoln listed as an option. Granted, I wouldn’t have been allowed to vote in 1860, but the fact remains that there were moments in our history when the choice was simple. Today, it was everything but simple.

AmazonLiz

Liz Cooke has two problems in life: Her social media is filled with brewing political conflict and her idea of a perfect man seems to have gone extinct a century ago. Inspired by the contents of an antique trunk, Liz dreams she time-travels to 1885. As she sets out to enjoy the Victorian era in all its glory, armed with knowledge gleaned through historical novels and period dramas, will she find the past to be all that she thought? And does the right man for her exist only in her dreams or has he been in her life all along?
Loosely inspired by Alice in Wonderland, A.M. Heath brings you a fun read chock-full of humor and whimsy with a special message for the avid reader in all of us.

You can pre-order If Only It Were Yesterday. Or add it to your Goodreads list.

Posted in About the Book

Blog Tour Invitation for If Only It Were Yesterday

I’m hosting a blog tour for my upcoming release If Only It Were Yesterday. If you’re a blogger and you’re interested, fill out the form! If you know a blogger who might be interested, feel free to share. 

About the book: 

AmazonLiz

Liz Cooke has two problems in life: Her social media is filled with brewing political conflict and her idea of a perfect man seems to have gone extinct a century ago. Inspired by the contents of an antique trunk, Liz dreams she time-travels to 1885. As she sets out to enjoy the Victorian era in all its glory, armed with knowledge gleaned through historical novels and period dramas, will she find the past to be all that she thought? And does the right man for her exist only in her dreams or has he been in her life all along?
Loosely inspired by Alice in Wonderland, A.M. Heath brings you a fun read chock-full of humor and whimsy with a special message for the avid reader in all of us.

Sign up Form.   Sign-ups end Aug 9th.