Posted in About the Book

Celebrating New Release: Out of the Ashes

3Sometimes peace is won through battle. 

Haunted by the memories he can’t escape, Ralph Williams wants to be left alone to lick his wounds. He doesn’t understand why he’s forced into the company of the one woman he least desires. Can God bring him healing through such uncomfortable circumstances?

Frank Harper thought he had left the war and its turmoil behind, but the home to which he has returned is anything but peaceful. When racial tensions arise in Maple Grove, Frank finds himself on a battlefield once more. He’s desperate for peace, but at what cost?

When George Chandler heads off to wed his beloved bride, things don’t go as expected. Just as George starts to get comfortable with what he believes is God’s new plan for his life, history threatens to repeat itself. Will he fight for the woman he’s come to love, or will he let her go?

The War Between the States has destroyed more than just a nation. In four years, it has damaged bodies and wounded souls until the people think that nothing is left. Will they find the healing they so desperately need from the God that loves them?

Eeeek!! It’s here!! It’s finally here!!! I’ll be celebrating my new release over the next three weeks with a Facebook party, Giveaway, Ebook Sale, and Blog Tour. Keep scrolling to catch all the details and links!

You can grab your copy of Out of the Ashes from Amazon in ebook or paperback.

Ashes reader praise

Find out what others are saying by visiting the blog tour.

July 31: Karen Hadley @ Karen Sue Hadley : Book Review

Aug. 1: Krista Noorman @ by Krista : Book Review

Aug. 2: Becky Dempsey @ Blossoms and Blessings : Book Review

Aug. 4: Alicia Ruggieri @ A Brighter Destiny : Book Review and Interview

Aug. 7: Dana Kamstra @ D.L. Kamstra  : Book Review

Aug. 9: Laura Wilson @ Blue Eye Books : Book Review

Aug. 11: Amanda Tero @ With a Joyful Noise : Book Review

Aug. 14: Deana Dick @ Texas Book-aholic  : Book Review

Aug. 15: Virginia Winfield @  Bigreadersite : Book Review

Aug. 16: Raechel Lenore @ God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae : Spotlight

Aug. 18: Debbie Curto @ Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations  : Book Review and Interview

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If you were waiting for a sale to pick up the series, here’s your chance!!

Freebie and Sale!! Pick up your copies this week!
Where Can I Flee 
In the Shadow of Thy Wings
Out of the Ashes

 

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I’m hosting a release party on Facebook!! The party is open for 3 days so you’ll have more opportunities to stop by. Hope to see you there!!

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Giveaway in progress!! Enter to win all three books in paperback. 
*U.S. residents only

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Posted in About the Book

Announcing the Release Date for Out of the Ashes+Book Trailer+Pre-order Link

If you’ve been following me on Facebook, you might have caught the big news that I had FINALLY moved on from line-edits and was able to set the release date. Here’s a glimpse at the big moment:
But praise God, I’m done with this round!!! The final words in my acknowledgments (also the final words in the entire novel) sum up my feelings nicely. Take a look:
But most importantly, I want to thank my Lord. From the beginning to the end, You were there. In the midst of the planning stages, when all of my best-laid plans were shoved aside and Yours were ushered in. When writing came easy and when writing was painful. On the mountaintops of reader’s praise and down in the valleys of criticism. I couldn’t have walked this path alone, and I’m forever grateful that I don’t have to. I pray that my work and my attitude along the way has brought You glory, for this is why I’m here.

So what’s next for the novel in progress? Formatting! You can catch all my current woes and a Superman/Batman conversation on Facebook. While I wrestle with the paperback format, I have one final team of proofreaders combing the novel for lingering typos.
While we finish up, you can pre-order your ebook copy from Amazon and enjoy the book trailer. You’ll find the release date at the end of the video! 
And a great big thank-you to Amanda Tero for her work on the video. She took my vague idea and found the perfect song, performed it, and then threw the video together. It’s a joy to work with you!!

 

And in case you’ve missed them, enjoy the trailers for books 1 and 2:

Posted in About the Book

Out of the Ashes’ Blurb

3The release date for Out of the Ashes is inching closer and closer these days. In fact, the release date is soon to be announced. I have some other goodies for you today. I have the official book description and the Goodreads link!!

Sometimes peace is won through battle.

Haunted by the memories he can’t escape, Ralph Williams wants to be left alone to lick his wounds. He doesn’t understand why he’s forced into the company of the one woman he least desires. Can God bring him healing through such uncomfortable circumstances?

Frank Harper thought he had left the war and its turmoil behind, but the home to which he has returned is anything but peaceful. When racial tensions arise in Maple Grove, Frank finds himself on a battlefield once more. He’s desperate for peace, but at what cost?

When George Chandler heads off to wed his beloved bride, things don’t go as expected. Just as George starts to get comfortable with what he believes is God’s new plan for his life, history threatens to repeat itself. Will he fight for the woman he’s come to love, or will he let her go?

The War Between the States has destroyed more than just a nation. In four years, it has damaged bodies and wounded souls until the people think that nothing is left. Will they find the healing they so desperately need from the God that loves them?

YAY!!! Don’t you just love it?! Lol And if you caught my post about writing blurbs then you already know that this beauty didn’t come easily. 😉 I had some great help from members of my critique team. Then my editors dusted it off for me. They’re such wonderful helpers. Without them, I might have gone with something like, “Just read the book.” Lol 

Now for you Goodreads fans, here is the link for Out of the Ashes. Go ahead and let folks know that you’re planning to read it! And if you haven’t read the first two novels yet, you’ll want to add them to your TBR list as well. And be sure to read in order.

Book 1: Where Can I Flee

Book 2: In the Shadow of Thy Wings

Book 3: Out of the Ashes

Posted in Fiction Diner

Fiction Diner: The Official Williams Cranberry Cake

Happy (belated) Birthday to a beloved character, Ralph Williams!
Today, Fiction Diner meets the pages of my own work as we celebrate one of my characters with food. Throughout my novels, I’ve made mention of a special cranberry cake. This recipe belonged to the Williams family and was only baked twice a year: Christmas and Ralph’s birthday.
When readers started asking me for this fictionalized recipe, I began searching for one. With the help of my readers, I present to you today the official Williams Family Cranberry Cake. I hope you enjoy!!

 

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I’m about to share with you a recipe that was adapted from two different jam cake recipes. I followed the ingredients of one recipe, with the slight alteration, and the directions from a local community cookbook, and I created for you a brand new recipe.
The cranberry flavor isn’t very strong. In fact, none of my kids knew what they were eating. The spices used in this cake stands out more and is perfect for the winter months when this cake was fictionally known for being served. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
There is some interesting history behind one of the recipes I had used. The ingredients were, ironically enough, found in The Confederate Cookbook. It’s a Sons of Confederate Veterans publication, and each recipe submitted shares the brief history of a real Confederate Vet. But let’s continue down this reality-is-stranger-than-fiction path. The recipe I used shared the page with a Cpl. George Washington Small who was named after George Washington. Oddly enough, Cpl. Small died on Feb. 22 of 1925 which also happens to be George Washington’s birthday…and Ralph’s birthday! How neat is that?! When I assigned Ralph his birthday, I didn’t realize I had chosen Washington’s birthday until I was preparing for this post. But enough coincidences, let’s get on to the dessert, shall we!

Williams Cranberry Cake: 

Ingredients: 
1 cup of soft butter
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup cranberry sauce
1 cup walnuts

Directions: 
Set your oven to 350. Grease and flour a bundt pan.
I used canned cranberry sauce. You know, the kind you can actually slice up because it’s so thick. Because it’s so thick, the consistency isn’t as loose as jam. In order for the sauce to mix into the batter better, I first put my can-shaped sauce in a bowl and took the potato masher to it. I used the plain jelly kind, not the one with the berries, but I don’t see why this recipe wouldn’t work with either variety. When I made the recipe the first time, I attempted to toss in spoonfuls of cranberry sauce the same as I would have with jam, but I ended up with clumps of sauce in my cake. So the only thing you’re doing in this step is simply breaking it down because your mixer isn’t going to later.
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add  vanilla and eggs, one egg at a time, beating well after each addition.
Sift all dry ingredients together and add alternately with buttermilk, beating vigorously after each addition.
Mix in cranberry sauce.
Fold in nuts.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until cake is leaving the sides of the pan and the toothpick is clean when you insert it.

Tips: 
This cake goes great with a pot of tea!
You can dust it with powder sugar for decoration or an extra kick of sugar. The cake is fairly sweet on its own, though.
If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own. I do this all the time and haven’t bought buttermilk in nearly 10 years. Here’s how you do it: Pour 1 Tb vinegar or lemon juice into the measuring cup BEFORE you add the milk. Pour the milk in next, measuring up to the desired amount. I’ve always done 1 Tb per cup of milk. If you need more buttermilk, adjust accordingly. Stir and let sit for about 15 minutes, then you have buttermilk.
Because this recipe was taken from a jam cake recipe, you could alter it by using 1 cup of seedless blackberry jam instead of the cranberry sauce.

cover22Novel Quote: 
“I might be a Yankee in serious need of a shower, but I ain’t never been a dirty Reb.” ~ Ralph Williams, In the Shadow of Thy Wings by A.M. Heath

 

Posted in About the Book

Contest and Giveaway: Williams Cranberry Cake Recipe Search

untitledAs a fiction author, I have the tendency to make stuff up. People are normally grateful when I do. In fact, I even get paid for it. 😉

But sometimes making stuff up can come back to bite you in the rear. And this is one of those times.

In my novel, my Union hero, Ralph Williams, mentions a beloved family recipe. Not any recipe but a cranberry cake recipe that is passed down only through marriage and only served on Christmas and his birthday. The truth is, I needed SOMETHING to fill this role and reached for the first thing that came to mind. Apparently, I made it so memorable that readers asked for a copy of the recipe.

Oops! I sorta don’t have one.

This now infamous cranberry cake recipe made its way into the pages of Out of the Ashes and will become even more memorable since I had developed an entire scene around this delicious cake…this fictional cake that never even existed.

But I hear my readers loud and clear. They want the Williams family recipe and I want to give it to them. But first I want you to help me find it. I’ve searched the web for cranberry cake recipes and the options are limitless. So to narrow down my choices, I’m asking that YOU send in a recipe that YOU have baked. Keep reading to learn more about my Williams Cranberry Cake Recipe Contest!

PRIZE: I’ll be giving away a cake recipe book to TWO different winners. The winning recipe will receive a prize and I’ll also select one more winner at random so everyone has a chance to win even if I don’t like your cake. 😉

Contest Rules: Submit only ONE recipe per person. Multiple bakers can submit recipes from a single household as long as the baker is tall enough to actually turn the dials on the stove. 😉

In order to cut down on the abundance of Google recipes thrown at me, I’m asking that you first try the recipe before submitting it to me. Please send along a picture of the finished product in your home not the one from the Google search. Consider adding a copy of one of my books in the background(ebook or paperback, whatever is handy!), or your little helpers if you’re baking with kids, take a selfie with the cake, etc. Go crazy, have fun! *If for some reason, you’re unable to share an original picture please just let me know. I’d love to still have you play along.

Where to Enter: I’ll have 2 places where you can submit your entry.
Email  with the heading Williams Cranberry Cake Recipe Entry.
Or post in the comments section on the Contest post pinned to the top of my Facebook page. Don’t forget to leave your email address if you post your entry on Facebook.

Other Details: I’ll collect all entries and share them on the Contest Page right here on my blog.

Contest is open January 16, 2017 – February 6, 2017
Winner announced on Ralph’s Birthday: February 22
*Please submit entries by February 6th so I will have ample time to bake them.

Tips: Here are some tips to help you find what I’m looking for.

Dried cranberries are encouraged but not mandatory.

I didn’t picture the Williams Cranberry cake as a cake with icing. I pictured it either with nothing on top or possibly with powder sugar or a light glaze. Nothing was my most common idea but I’m not opposed to considering a sugar or glaze topping.

You do NOT have to submit an original recipe. Feel free to Google or Pinterest search!

Feel free to ask any questions if something isn’t clear!!

Fine Print: Contest and Giveaway are the responsibility of me and not Facebook or WordPress. Open to continental US residents only. There will be two different winners. One will be chosen by me but not in any way influenced by my relationship to the contestant. The other winner will be selected at random.

Posted in About the Book, History

When Fiction Meets Reality: The Battle of Chickamauga

 

When I sat down to begin writing/researching for the Ancient Words Series, one of the first questions I had asked was, “If a man joined the Confederacy from Bedford Co. TN, which regiment would he join?” There were two infantry regiments. I chose the 17th and drowned myself in its history. I read everything I could get my hands on. I took notes. I followed their trail like a dedicated fan…because, let’s face it, that’s what I was at this point.

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While my characters were fictional, their experiences were based on reality. One of my favorite moments to research was the Battle of Chickamauga. The anniversary of this extremely bloody battle is today and tomorrow. While there are so many factors to cover, I only want to focus on the experience of the 17th. You can read about Frank Harper’s version of events in my 2nd book, In the Shadow of Thy Wings. I had the pleasure of weaving in several real details into the story.

I also had the pleasure of touring the battlefield for the first time this summer. Here are some of my favorite photos…most of them featuring the 17th! The flag pictured above is a replica of the regimental flag. This is the first time I’ve ever seen it in person. What a TREAT!!
Perryville and Murfreesboro were two significant battles for the 17th. And both are featured in Where Can I Flee.

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After touring the museum inside, we set out in search of monuments featuring the 17th. This was one of my favorite family moments of the entire weekend. We had turned it into a contest to see who could find the monuments first and all of a sudden children and adults that might not have cared in the beginning was invested and enjoying themselves. It does my heart good to see people enjoying history.
*Family Fun Tip: When visiting historical sites with children or history-hating adults, create a scavenger hunt. It worked on my family and maybe it’ll work on yours. 😉

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At long last, we were rewarded with two monuments. There was something so special about standing before a monument honoring the regiment that I’ve spent so much time with.

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We found smaller monuments dedicated to individual regiments around this larger one. But sadly, we couldn’t find one for the 17th. We hiked all over the area, searching for it but came up empty. I’m not sure if there ever was one for the 17th or not. I’d love to check into the situation and see what can be done, but for today, Where Can I Flee and In the Shadow of Thy Wings act as monuments to a now beloved regiment.

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Words can hardly explain and these pictures will hardly do it justice when describing the hilly terrain. I’m convinced any semi-flat area that we stood on was man-made. I stepped off to the side and snapped a few pictures of the area. You can only imagine the additional hardships the armies faced on account of the landscape.

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And here are some cannon shots.

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A trip to Chickamauga isn’t complete without visiting the impressive Wilder Brigade Monument.

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Visitors can climb to the top of the tower. I’d advise you to bring a water bottle and inhaler with you, both of which, I had left outside with my parents. Lol

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But thankfully, I had brought my camera. 😉

 

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Posted in About the Book

Writing Update and Ebook Sale

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For those that follow me on Facebook, you may have already heard of how I’ve been spending my summer. For those that haven’t heard, here’s a quick rundown:
After much prayer, I had decided to take the summer off. I was told back in February that I had mono and I discovered in June that I STILL have mono and also a Vitamin D deficiency. What all this means is that I’m a little too tired a little too often. Sitting at the computer doesn’t sound like much work…unless you’re so tired you don’t even want to lift your hands out of your lap. :/ Sad story, I know.
I also have four happy, hyper children at home so concentration wasn’t working very well to start with. You’ll also notice that I haven’t blogged much this summer. I’m planning to get back to my usual schedule but first things first. REST!
My children are heading back to school this week so I’m getting back in the chair. I’m excited and ready to go!! At least I think I am. 😉

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I’m still in the middle of revisions for Out of the Ashes. I would appreciate your prayers as I work. There’s so much to do before we can move to line editing and I still tire easily.

The upside to mono is the bonus reading time it has afforded me. And to spread the wealth – the reading, not the mono – I’m hosting a summer sale! Prices will go back up in September so take advantage while you can and pass the word along to your friends.
Where Can I Flee
In the Shadow of Thy Wings

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Posted in About the Author, About the Book

Sneak Peak at my Future Projects

12I had asked this question to my readers recently and felt that you deserved some feedback from me. So here it is. 🙂

As previously mentioned, the current series I’m writing covers both the Civil War era and the present day. The series is projected to complete in fall of 2018.

But what will I write once the series is finished? I DO have my mind made up and plans are already set into motion!! If the Lord allows, I will be writing a stand-alone novel set in the 1800s. When exactly? The date is still something I’m playing around with but I’m thinking about the end of the Civil War in TEXAS. The book is not intended to cover much of the war.
I’m sure you’re anxious for more details, but I’m sorry. I’m saving those reveals for another day. But you might be interested to know a little more about what else I have on file to write…

I have several solid story ideas patiently waiting for me. I don’t want to share titles or major plot details but I will offer up a little in the way of settings so you can dream and wonder about what I have planned for you. 😉

I have a 3-book contemporary series on file. This series is one of those intense kinds that leaves you hanging at the end of every book until you reach the end of the series. If I write this series one day, I’m thinking about holding off until I can publish them within months of each other so the wait isn’t so hard on you. See, dear reader, I’m thinking about you! 🙂

I have a stand alone Civil War series that I’m super excited about and which could possibly be the 2020 release. 2020?! That sounds extremely far away, doesn’t it? In this series, each and every novel will be completely and totally separate. The series is based on theme only so I may not write the full series back to back but space them out in between projects. We’ll see what the Lord has in store for us.

I have a Jane Austen retelling anxiously waiting for me. And also something for another favorite author, Lucy Maud Montgomery. The LMM novel is NOT associated with Anne of Green Gables but, rather, one of her lesser-known works that had stolen my heart.

I have a very interesting series based on three brothers which was actually inspired by one of the families from my church. The characters will be named after their sons. We’ll venture back to the Civil War for this one. I’m not sure when I’ll get to it, but if we’re lucky the boys will be old enough to sit for the cover. Wouldn’t that be grand?!

I also have a contemporary mystery novella set on file. This is a new development and I’m thrilled to see this one coming into focus. I’ve had a mystery story in mind for over 2 years now and it just never felt right. When I began to develop these mystery novellas, suddenly this other story had a home.

And I MAY have purposely saved the best for last. 🙂 I have a spin-off series in development which features the next generation from the Ancient Words Series. I’m projecting 4 books, one for each major household, but so far I only have 3 stories on file. But God is teaching me patience so I’ll continue waiting for it to fall into place. I know you’re going to love it. However, I’m NOT planning to write them right away. I’m actually looking forward to working on some of the other projects before coming back to our Maple Grove friends.

Now to address the wonderful suggestions you offered: One of the reoccurring suggestions was for a Revolutionary War novel. You’ll be happy to know that, although, I currently do NOT have one on file, it IS something I’ve been extremely interested in and hope to get to someday. You’ll also be pleased to know that I have a Colonial research book on my shelf just in case inspiration strikes. 🙂

Another suggestion was for Regency fiction. Again, it’s something that I’m very interested in. I’m a little more than intimidated by this genre. But…I just so happen to have not one, but two, research books on my shelf. However, I do NOT have a storyline on file for this one.

I’d also like to work with WWI and WWII at some point, but again, I currently don’t have anything in development.

There were several other suggestions and I wrote down every one of them. Inspiration is such a funny thing. It comes and goes at will. Who knows which comment might have sparked the next great novel! 🙂

If you haven’t offered up any future setting ideas, please feel free to do so! I’d love to hear back from you and I promise to add your thoughts to my list. 🙂

Posted in About the Book

Behind the Scenes: Character Development: The Hardheaded

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I have this character, George Chandler. He is the sweetest, kindest, most willing, and all around loveable person. And yet he is the most hardheaded and difficult character I’ve had the pleasure of working with to date!

For those that have read the Ancient Words Series, this may come as a shocker. George appears so laid back on the page. And he is. In chapter two of Where Can I Flee, Claire Harper describes George as a man who can keep a secret. I didn’t realize at the time that’d he could even keep them from me! I mean, I created him! You’d think I would know all of his secrets. But no.

My fellow authors are likely laughing and thinking of their own favorite hardheaded character while my readers are likely getting a side of writing that they didn’t know even existed. For those new to the idea, let me just fill you in. When you give life to a character, as the quote above suggests, you’re no longer the one in charge. A writer might feel powerful at the keyboard but we all know who really pulls the strings.

So, what did I do with my secret-keeping George Chandler? What didn’t I do is more the question. Lol I knew who George was and I understand parts of his story, but he was guarding a major moment of his life. I was going to expose his great shame and he wouldn’t let me.
I revisited his character profile. I found a song that mirrored his heart. I begged. I pleaded. But I was rewarded with silence.
At one point, I even threw my hands in the air and threatened to write him in the scene wearing a pink bonnet and leading a bunny around town on a leash. Lol I thought surely he’d cave now! What Civil War Vet in his right mind wouldn’t? George. That’s who.

When none of my tactics would work, I went to my friend, Dana, for advice. She suggested a couple techniques for finding your character’s voice. Or in this case, reconnecting with your character. Writing a journal and writing an obituary. Sounds weird, huh? Here’s how it works…

The obituary is probably the strangest idea I’ve heard but the purpose is to learn more about your character. Who is this person? What would others say about them? What are their quirky habits? Or dislikes that their family teased them over? Writing an obituary for your character is more than just rewriting the facts that we put together during the character profile. It’s a free-hand writing exercise to discover more about your character that you might not have considered before. For me, writing free handed tends to free up my creative thinking and new details come to life.

For George, this particular exercise didn’t work. He really is pretty tight lipped, even on the page, so I probably should have seen this coming.
The next idea was to write a journal for the character. I sat down to do this and George came to life. His journal turned into an interview, which works much the same. Journal writing is another free handed exercise that allows you to ONLY dig into your character’s voice and personality until hearing from them becomes pretty natural.  The obituary is written from someone else’s point of view while the journal is written by the character.
My interview with George is pretty eye-opening and I’ll share part of it with you further down.

From the author, I’d love to know if you’ve had any experiences with hardheaded characters? Have you tried either of these writing exercises or do you plan to in the future? Follow the link to read other character development exercises.

For the fan, I hope you enjoy this peek at George’s interview. He’s certainly a remarkable person. If you’re looking for more behind the scenes details about your favorite characters, follow the link.

People often think that I’m cold and unfeeling, but I’m not. You think so too. I’ve heard you trying to coax me out. Threatening me with bonnets and bunny rabbits. Haha You do have a mischievous imagination. I admire that, but I’m afraid that I won’t succumb to it.
I’m not easy to bully, you see. I grew up with Eddie if you’d remember. And I’ll not bend unless it is my desire to do so.

– What do you desire?

To do what is right. Honor and nobility is not a dead thing that passed away with the age of the knights.

-So when you decide a plan of course to be right and good, you pursue it without end?

Precisely!

-Is it ever difficult?

Of course. Doing what’s right usually is. It’s often fairly easy to decide on the right course, but staying on is where the real difficulties lie. Sometimes…standing firm in one’s predetermined conviction is the hardest test of all. But a conviction that is easily swayed, is no conviction at all, but simply a mirror of the thoughts surrounding you.

-You speak so nobly of conviction, and yet you speak with experience of its difficulties. Are you thinking of something in particular right now?

You ask because you already know that I am. You wish for me to bare my secrets. Those secret thoughts that I’ve kept from you all these months. You forget that you made me wise to the conduct of others. You’ve created me to be a silent observer. A person capable of reading another as naturally as I read my own thoughts. I see by the shade of your cheeks and the curious lift of your brow that you wish to know how I knew your question was more loaded than the words appeared. The increase of color and smile has proven me right.
Well, I knew what you wanted because I could see your eagerness building with each question. Plus you’ve asked me some rather pointed questions in the past and I have ignored them till now, so I knew what you were after.
Very well! I will tell you what you wish to know. Lead the way.

-I know you have misgivings about the war. Explain…

Because the rest of the interview contains some spoilers, I’m not able to post it in full. However, I offer it for free to any of my fans that wish to read it. You’ll want to have read both Where Can I Flee and In the Shadow of Thy Wings first.
For the full interview, simply comment below with your email address or email me privately.
If you’re a fan, you’ll enjoy digging into this quiet character. I was able to find out about his true feelings about the war as well as his real feelings for Claire. Until this interview, even I wasn’t sure how deep his feelings for Claire ran.