Posted in About the Book

Walk the Streets of Maple Grove

For those that don’t know, Maple Grove, the fictional town from my Ancient Words Series, is based on a real town — my hometown: Wartrace, Tennessee.

Wartrace, like so many other quaint towns, have a history all its own that is unique and special to those that call it home.

Borrowed from the Chamber of Commerce page:
Wartrace has been described as the “little town where time stands still”. That’s probably because our small village, nestled in the gently rolling hills of south central Tennessee, hasn’t changed much since our Grandparents were kids. It’s hidden away from the hustle and bustle of the city and suburbs, amid scenic Walking Horse farms, and yet is only an hour’s drive from Nashville, Chattanooga and Huntsville.
Yes, we may be off the beaten path but Wartrace is the home of internationally renowned hand-crafted guitars, a world-class live music venue and destination hotel, a 32-year-old ultra- marathon that attracts runners from around the world, the oldest one-night horse show in Tennessee and the popular Wartrace MusicFest, held the first weekend in June. We’re proud of our collection of stately historic homes and commercial buildings, some built before the civil war. Our entire downtown and most of the residential district is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Since it’s founding in 1853 Wartrace has been host to the oldest  railroad line in the state, lived through the skirmishes and encampments of the Tullahoma Campaign, and is still proud to be the birthplace of the world famous Tennessee Walking Horse.

But I want to share some areas of the town that inspired the story that you’re reading. A friend of mine, after reading Where Can I Flee, asked me where Maple Grove was. She wanted to walk down Vine Street. She wanted to experience this special place. For those that have walked through Wartrace and for those that never will, allow me to take you there today. These are the places that I saw in my mind as I wrote key scenes in the town of Maple Grove.

2015_0725Endures0739I’ve learned that it’s much easier to pretend to be knowledgeable about a subject if you are, in fact, knowledgeable in it. Early in my writing, I deemed it best to map out the fictional town. Because my feeble brain couldn’t think of how to create a map outside of a grid method, I decided to pull up the real map of Wartrace and sketch out a likeness of it. I cut a few curves or left off a road where I saw fit, but it gave me the groundwork that I needed to envision the fictional town that would carry an entire series. And then I changed the names of all the roads. All except one: Vine Street. I left Vine Street’s name intact to give myself an anchor or a home base, if you will. All the other names are fictional. For those that are curious, I placed the Harper home on Yell Drive East (fictionally named, Woodland Hills). I gave a nod to our town’s history by renaming the road in front of the Walking Horse Hotel to Horseshoe Lane.

2015_0725Endures0743The Walking Horse Hotel is the large brick building in the background. But look, the railroad is still in use here.

2015_0725Endures0745 I’m not sure who owns this building now, or whether those charming gas pumps actually work, but I have a host of childhood memories here and it’s a vital location in the series. This is the location of the Chandler’s General Store. I altered much of the building to suit mine, or rather the Chandlers’ needs, but I also kept some key characteristics the same. The Chandler’s store is a three-story white-washed building while this one is only one story. But I kept the L-shaped  feature in the story. I imagined this portion of the building that is jutting out toward the road to be the storage room. There’s a lower level storage room in this area as well as a winding staircase leading to the apartment.
When I was a child, this was Bob’s Hardware and it was owned by Bob and Anna Keele whose entire family were close friends with mine. My mom worked with Bob and Anna’s three children up the road a bit. After school, my brother and I often road the bus here with Anna’s grandchildren. She ran the store and watched us until our parents got off from work. We often played behind the building in the grass yard and creek. I kept the creek in the novel and named it Lower Creek.

2015_0725Endures0746This is where I imagined the hotel in Maple Grove. The hotel isn’t mentioned often, but it’s most recognized in the “Carrot” scene. Claire crosses the street from the blacksmith’s shop to the general store when a group of cavalrymen circle around the hotel on their way back from washing in the creek. I imagine the blacksmith’s shop to be directly across from the general store, where, in fact, a yellow brick building sits with no real blacksmith charms to it at all. 😉 But at least now you know where I positioned it.

2015_0725Endures0747Another often mentioned location in the series: Hilltop Lane. Hilltop Ln is described as a steep hill, and while this picture doesn’t do it justice, my imagination did purposely give this real location an even steeper incline. The sign on your left is the same Vine St. sign that I shared with you earlier. The yellow brick to our left is the  location of the blacksmith, and the Chandler’s General store sits to the right, although it’s not pictured here. But at the top of this hill, right before you get to that sharp curve is where I positioned the church that their families attend, rightly named Hilltop Baptist Church. The top of this hill is also the location where Claire was almost trampled by a band of cavalrymen riding around the corner there. Most readers will remember this very well. Several scenes mention the families walking or riding from the church to the Chandler’s store for a meal on Sundays.

I hope you enjoyed taking a look at the real town that inspired Maple Grove. You can learn more about the history behind my series in the following blog posts:  Humble Beginnings,  When God Intervenes, Happy Birthday, Ancient Words Series, and Local Inspiration. 

Posted in About the Book

Cover Reveal: His Love Endures Forever

His Love Endures Forever has a long and interesting history. It was originally titled Ancient Words until the Lord made a series out of the idea. It’s been exciting to venture out with the Lord and write the series. The changes to the series lineup have been amazing to watch as they unfolded. The Lord has changed me quite a bit too. You can read more about the novel’s history and my own struggles as I chose to follow God’s plans in previous posts.

I’m so proud to present this lovely cover. The pictures were taken at the Valley Home Farm in Wartrace, Tennessee. Tiffany Hutchings graces the cover as my lovable, but shy, Allie Redman.


Now that the gang’s all here, let’s take a look at them side by side and then we’ll look at some details and projected release dates separately.


Here’s a quick look at the individual novels:


Where Can I Flee sales in ebook or paperback on Amazon. Paperback also sales locally at New Covenant Book Store and Vera’s Pearls Antique and Gift shop.

Novel’s theme: Salvation

Blurb: War is on the horizon during the spring of 1861. It will be an event that will change the lives of everyone in its path. The Harper family included. Frank Harper is a young man full of dreams and ambitions. Even when the country is split and war breaks out, Frank will do whatever is necessary to see his dreams come true, even when that means putting on a uniform and leaving home. For the first time, Claire Harper is forced to consider the reasons behind such a conflict. Should slavery be abolished? Which side should she be on, and what does God have to say about this? Claire is torn between her own opinions and those of her family. The struggle within her only increases when she repeatedly runs into a kind and handsome Union soldier. She longs to see her brother turn to Christ before it is too late. Desperate to reach her brother with the gospel, Claire pens a series of inspiring letters. Will she be able to handle all the obstacles of war and continue to be a witness to those around her? How long can Claire last when her heart is torn in half and she is burdened for her brother’s soul? How long can Frank resist his sister’s urgent pleas or the gentle tugging from within? Can a man really outrun a holy God?


In the Shadow of Thy Wings is expected to release this fall. Follow the blog or the Facebook page to keep up with the latest news.

Novel’s theme: Fear

Blurb: Devastation sweeps across the land, and the families of Maple Grove cannot escape when war arrives at their front doors. After her father entrusts her with a new and dangerous task, Sally Chandler must find the courage to obey despite her fear. Meanwhile, her best friend, Claire Harper, is determined to serve others, even if it means putting herself in danger. But with a certain handsome Union soldier stationed nearby, Claire finds her heart in danger of falling for the enemy. Their differing loyalties create complications that neither could expect; her twin brother fighting for the Confederacy is only one of them. Frank Harper left home with one goal in mind – to become a prosperous plantation owner. Two years later, not only is he further from his goal, but he’s beginning to question his own desires–something that becomes more complicated when his heart becomes involved. The families of Maple Grove must learn how to survive the uncertainty of war and a country split in two. While the war in the nation rages on, the battle within grows stronger. Will they learn that the only safe place to hide is in the shadow of Thy Wings?


Out of the Ashes is projected to release in the Fall of 2016

Novel’s theme: Finding healing in Christ

Blurb: (Unofficial) Out of the Ashes follows three war-weary soldiers as they find their place in a ruined South.


His Love Endures Forever is projected to release in the Fall of 2017

Novel’s theme: Salvation and learning to follow Christ in the early steps as a Christian

Blurb: (Unofficial) Allie Redman moves into the Harper home and finds the letters written during the Civil War. As she reads the letters, Claire’s message of salvation impacts a young woman 150 years after they were written.


Katherine’s Good News is projected to release in the Fall of 2018

Novel’s theme: Christ is bigger than your mistakes

Blurb: (Unofficial) Pregnant and alone, a young woman finds healing, friendship, and forgiveness in the places she least expected to. But forgiving herself is another matter.

Posted in About the Book

Narrowing Down the Search: His Love Endures Forever

I pulled together the best of the best and added the cover art. Which one makes the best cover? Which one fits in with the rest of the series? Please only vote for your top pick this time. Let me know why it’s your favorite. Feel free to post here on the blog or the Facebook link. 🙂

*Please continue to ignore the ADS sign in the background. I’ll only remove it if the picture is chosen.

Here’s a look at the series as it stands today:


Here’s a look at the updated photos. *All photos are a rough cut. If you love it but have a suggestion for an improvement, I’m all ears!

Looking Up #3


Standing #2


Looking Up #1


Tree #5


Looking Up #2


Posted in About the Book

Cover Search: His Love Endures Forever

It’s finally time to select the cover for His Love Endures Forever!! This is a special cover search for me since it was the original novel, and the one that I’ve envisioned for 3 whole years now. The photo shoot was a bigger success than I had imagined. I spent the morning on Valley Home Farm in Wartrace, Tennessee with this lovely red-head, Tiffany Hutchings. We had a few laughs, enjoyed the hospitality of a warm family, and snapped over 200 photos.

As before, I have a selection of amazing photos to choose from, but I’m asking for your help. Here’s how this works:
Simply, comment either here on the blog or on the Facebook link with your top 3 picks. Please let me know WHY you are choosing them. It helps me to see things differently when I know why you were drawn to a specific photo. But the fun doesn’t end there!
Once I’m comfortable narrowing down the options, I’ll pull together the photos with the most potential and add the cover art. I’ll then share the new set of photos for your votes. Cover searches tend to move quickly so you’ll want to stay tuned. I don’t have a set time frame that I work in. I’ll share the official cover here on the blog on August 3rd.
Please remember, that at the end of the day, I will have to make the final decision. While your votes weigh heavily on my decision, I DO NOT choose a cover based on popular vote alone.

*Note, you’ll find an ADS sign in several of these pictures. Don’t let that little sign throw you off. We’ll crop it out if the picture is chosen. 😉

**All images are under copyright. No stealing!!

Standing 1, 2, and 3


Reading 1, 2, and 3


Looking Up 1, 2, and 3


Allie 1, 2, and 3


Tree 1, 2, and 3


Tree 4 and 5


Posted in About the Author, About the Book

Happy 3rd Birthday, Ancient Words Series!!

166I’m celebrating the birthday of a beloved series this week with a giveaway! I hope you’ll join me! 

First, I want to clue you in on something you may have never known before. Bringing a book to publication and childbirth have a lot in common. After giving birth to 4 children and 1 1/2 novels, I can speak with experience. Let me explain:

In the beginning, there’s the excitement of the story to come. The thrill of making plans and dreaming of what it’ll look like in the end. The baby name books come back out, and you’re on the search for the perfect name. Only this time, you don’t have to get your husband to agree with it! 😉 Then you move on to the long wait. Carrying a child for 9 months is no easy task, and neither is walking around with an entire novel in your brain…and your heart! And just when you think the baby will never come, your labor pains begin! Labor pains…as in editing!! But eventually these too must come to an end, and you’re left to hold your sweet baby in your arms. Is there any prouder moment? I remember the first time I printed WCIF off and was able to touch it for the first time. It’s a sweet moment, but as with any birth, the private moment will come to an end, and you’re ready to show your baby with the whole world. The excitement, anticipation, sweat, tears, and joy. Bringing a novel through to publication is a lot like giving birth.

The birth date of the Ancient Words Series is July 3rd, 2012. So this year, I celebrate 3 years since my world turned upside down. I’ve shared several behind the scenes moments with you in a few blog posts in the past. A quick recap: Ancient Words started out as a stand alone novel. You can read about the difficulties I faced when God changed my best-laid plans in the previous posts: Humble Beginnings and When God Intervenes.

Random Facts About the Series:

* The earliest ideas for the series was birthed from the hypothetical question: What story would I write if I wrote something for the series, Love Finds You In..?

* The story line was in development for about a year before the pieces fell into place.

* I was driving from Unionville to Normandy for a July 4th celebration when the idea was conceived.

*I spent the evening eating dinner and watching fireworks with my family on the Arrowhead Ranch while the story burned and festered inside of me.

* The picture for Where Can I Flee was taken on Arrowhead Ranch.

* Ancient Words Series was named after the song, Ancient Words. The meaning of the song was a perfect fit for the series.

* The original novel, Ancient Words, now titled His Love Endures Forever, is about a teenage girl that finds a stack of letters written during the Civil War. But these letters contain more than history, they contain the gospel. In His Love Endures Forever, we’ll see how God uses the message penned by Claire Harper in Allie’s life 150 years later.

* His Love Endures Forever was almost a complete draft when sweet Allie took a step back so the Harpers could first tell their story in not one, but THREE novels: Where Can I Flee, In the Shadow of Thy Wings, and Out of the Ashes.

* “Ancient Words Series” is printed in red to symbolize the red printed words of Jesus in the gospels.

* Cover models for Where Can I Flee and Katherine’s Good News are husband and wife.

* Never Once became my theme song while I worked on the series. When I started this venture, I understood that I wasn’t capable of the task before me. God has amazed me over the last 3 years as He showed off His amazing power while using someone so feeble. I plan to share personal details about this area sometime in the future.

Here’s a look at the lineup as it stands today. *The covers are still missing for books 3 and 4, Out of the Ashes and His Love Endures Forever. You can read more about my summer plans concerning those covers here. :


Giveaway Details:

It’s exciting to see this small idea spring to life and grow into a five book series. Three years later and I still remember the series that sparked the idea. Ancient Words not only was inspired by one of my favorite Christian Fiction Series, but it’s also inspired by local history.  You can read more about the inspiration behind my series here.
To celebrate the moment, I want to share one of my favorite books from the Love Finds You In Series!

I recommend that you add all of these books to your reading list, but I’ll give away 1 book to 1 lucky winner this week!

And it’s Winner’s Choice! 1 lucky winner will choose between the 6 books listed below in their favorite format: Kindle Ebook or Paperback (Paperback is gently used).

Here’s How to Enter: 

1 Entry for Following my Facebook Page
2 Entries for Following my Weekly Blog
1 Entry Every Time you Share the Giveaway Link

To gain entries: simply like, follow, and/or share THEN let me know about it. You can reply to this blog post OR my Facebook link.
*Please make sure you follow through and confirm the blog follow when they email you. Your entry will NOT count if your email isn’t on my follower’s list.
**Once I reply or like your comment, you can rest assured that your entries are in my bowl.
***You can share the giveaway link on as many social media sites as you desire. You can also share it daily. Every share counts as a separate entry.


Prize Options:

*The links below will take you to the Amazon page where you can read a full book description.


Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland by Roseanna White

Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana by Melanie Dobson

Love Finds You in Bethleham, New Hampshire by Lauralee Bliss


Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon by Miralee Ferrell

Love Finds You in Wildrose, North Dakota by Tracey Bateman

Love Finds  You in Tombstone, Arizona by Miralee Ferrell

And last but not least, some randomly useless facts…or memories that I have with this series:

Bridal Veil, Oregon was one of the first, if not the first, book that I read from this series, and it remains one of my favorites to this day.

Through this series, I met and became fans of Miralee Ferrell and Melanie Dobson, among others. However, these authors stand out because they both have multiple books in this series alone, and I’ve yet to read one that I didn’t LOVE. Seriously, this list is a very small sample of the great books this series has to offer.

Wildrose, North Dakota was the first book I read on my Kindle.

I read Bethlehem, New Hampshire three years ago while I was recovering from a tonsillectomy.

There was a very small, yet specific, detail in Liberty, Indiana that actually inspired part of the story line for my second novel, In the Shadow of Thy Wings.

Posted in About the Book

Summer Photo Shoots

2047_1014ITSOFWshoot0288-1One of the most amazing moments for an author is, FINALLY, getting to see the book cover.

For months, sometimes years, a story lives in the mind only. Then one fine day, it begins its life on the computer screen. Most of my time is spent with imaginary people and a blank screen, so there’s nothing like staring at the cover that will bring your story to life.

At last, an image to go with all those thoughts in your mind. A face to go with the voice you’ve heard all these months.

For an author, the book cover is a major step closer to reality. The story will soon live off your computer screen. It’s a day to celebrate.

As an Indie author, I have full creative reign when it comes to designing my book cover. In fact, I have more than full creative reign. I full responsibility! Gulp!! I could pay someone to make my dreams come to life, but I actually enjoy getting my hands dirty. It’s one of the things God had given me to enable me to do the job set before me.

I actually enjoy designing my covers and taking the pictures myself. I have a lot of fun scanning the faces of my friends and family and looking for the perfect model to bring my beloved character to life. But there are more tedious things involved. Such as: finding the perfect location, costuming, and props.

Location: There’s no green screen involved here! So location is key, especially when working with historical novels. I have to consider the background very carefully when I choose the location for the photo shoots.

Costuming: Without a “sky’s the limit” budget, I count on the Lord to provide for these needs by opening doors that only He can. In a miraculous way, He provided for both Frank and Sally’s costume on the first two covers. I’m counting on Him to come through again as I prepare another historical cover this summer.

Props: The Ancient Words Series revolves around a set of letters. Finding someone to to put pen to the paper becomes, yet, one more item on my list of things to do.

The time has come to bring two more covers to life!! Lord willing, I plan to take the pictures for the next two novels THIS summer. I’m really excited and most of the details are in place. I’ll be working out of order this summer and taking the 4th book first. Here’s a peek at what’s on the table:

22Book 3: Out of the Ashes

Out of the Ashes is a historical novel and the conclusion to the Harper Saga. I’m excited to bring this story to you and plan to take the pictures later this summer. I’m NOT ready to release the character’s name that graces the cover, but I will let you see the model that I’ve selected to do the job.
Zach Cartwright stands ready to bring a most beloved character to life, and I just know he’s going to do a wonderful job!

264Book 4: His Love Endures Forever
The Ancient Words Series takes a drastic turn by bringing the readers to the present generation. This is the original novel that I’ve talked about in previous blog posts. I’ve selected a beautiful lady to bring my sweet and shy, Allie Redman to life.
I’ve held this special story in my heart for so long. I can’t wait to see the cover this summer! Tiffany Hutchings is ready to lend her pretty face for my cover.

Stay tuned! Being an Indie author has its benefits. As in the past, I plan to share my top picks for the cover and allow you to weigh in and help me select the perfect one. That’s always a lot of fun! The photo shoot for His Love Endures Forever is scheduled for later this month. Follow the blog to make sure you don’t miss out!

Posted in About the Author, About the Book, Christian

When God Intervenes

64Last week I shared the story behind my novel, Where Can I Flee. If you missed it, you can catch the full story here. For the sake of a quick recap, I’ll tell you simply that I hadn’t planned to write the story at all. And when I did decide to write it, WCIF was meant to be a short story.

But God clearly had other plans for me. I don’t want to go into the details behind the story line, but I do want to show you more of what went on internally as I struggled to determine and follow God’s plan. Before you can understand the struggle, you have to understand “The Plan.”

When I first developed the novel, Ancient Words, I was so on fire about the project that I seriously thought I could finish writing the entire novel in 2 months. It seems laughable now as I look back now.

There’s something amazing that happens in the mind of an author. I could see the ending as clearly as I could see the beginning. I could hear the characters’ voices as they played out the last chapters just as well as I could hear them in their opening lines and several scenes in between. At that point, the ending seemed so close.

Boy, was I in for a surprise! When I started writing the novel word by word, line by line, chapter by chapter, I learned that the ending was anything but close. The more I wrote,  the more I realized I didn’t know what I was writing about, so I researched more. Pulling double duty for months, I wrote and researched side by side. Along the way, I picked up three short stories and was working all four story lines at the same time. Then the most unexpected thing happened.

When I was nine months into the story, my novel was about  2/3  completed, the short story Where Can I Flee was a complete draft, the short story Katherine’s Good News was a complete draft, and the short story In the Shadow of  Thy Wings was only a couple scenes away from completion. The ending was finally in sight…that is, until God intervened.

I’ll never forget the moment I was sitting at the kitchen table of one of my closest friends discussing my book. I was growing concerned because In the Shadow of Thy Wings was quickly outgrowing itself and it may not fit so nicely after a full sized novel. She suggested separating them, but that hadn’t been my plan. I wasn’t too fond of changing things now when I was so close to having a finished draft. After all, I was already seven months behind my own expectations. As I mulled over these ideas, she worked on loading the dishwasher. Then she paused to asked, “I wonder if there isn’t enough story there to make a novel out of it instead of a short story?”

I’ll be honest, I didn’t jump out of my seat, clapping my hands. I didn’t reach for paper and frantically start plotting out my new idea. And I, CERTAINLY, didn’t hug her neck and tell her she was a genius. Lol Although, I would do it now. But I couldn’t that day. I couldn’t even breath that day. I stared at her with wide eyes and if I moved at all, it was only to shake my head. Didn’t she understand what my plans were? Ancient Words was a stand-alone novel….aside from the growing short stories that now trailed it. I had other books that I longed to write. I couldn’t do what she was suggesting. It wasn’t part of the plan. I liked my plan. I could possibly publish by the end of the year with my plan. I didn’t want a new plan. I suddenly didn’t feel very good.

Once the idea was planted, I couldn’t toss it aside. Oh, I wanted to. But I couldn’t. When God stands behind a plan, you can’t set it aside so easily. The unrest that followed was extreme as I wrestled with the idea of starting over. There’s something amazing about giving into God’s plans for you. Even with the large amounts of uncertainties, insecurities, and anxieties there’s a strange peace that begins to take over. It’s hard to explain. At that moment, I literally signed on to face my fears, my doubts, my discomfort, the crashing of my well laid plans, and countless months…better yet, YEARS, of work, and yet there was a peace that trumped it all. Even when my world was tilting, I knew I was safe. Even with the odds stacked against me, I knew I had chosen right.

In April of 2013, I committed to following God’s plan for my life and I set aside an almost complete draft to start over. I signed on to over two more years of work before I would pick up the original draft. But God had even more surprises in store for me.

While I was setting aside the original Ancient Words and focusing on Where Can I Flee as a novel, I decided to release Katherine’s Good News as a novella first. This short story was already written and would be the perfect way to begin gathering a fan base while I worked on the new novel. I had my heart set on publishing that year and with the novella, I would be able to. This sounded like a great plan to everyone I share it with, but God had something greater in mind.

Over the next eight or nine months, Katherine’s Good News would bounce back and forth from editor to editor, from reviewer to reviewer. I would receive their feedback, improve the story and send it back out. But every time it came back with the comment, “Give me more.” I kept pouring more and more into the story until finally someone kindly suggested, “If you wanted to make this story a novel instead, I think you have the groundwork for it, and I think you would be able to develop the story the way it really needs to be.”

Again? Doesn’t anyone understand the plan? I didn’t want another novel. After another internal struggle, I recognized God’s hand in this plan and gave in a little quicker. Katherine’s Good News is now in line as a novel. So now my Ancient Words Series has four novels, two during the civil war and two in a modern generation.

Now that In the Shadow of Thy Wings is bouncing back and forth between myself and a group of reviewers, I have a little time on my hands to begin working on book three. FINALLY, I can pick up the original story and finish it off. Or so I thought.

One of the first reviewers to respond to In the Shadow of Thy Wings left me this comment, “I think you should really pray about writing one more civil war novel before moving on. I just don’t think you’re done here.” Lol I can laugh now, but I promise I wasn’t laughing then. Hyperventilating was more like it. I can’t add another book to this already large series. I have plans! Good plans! I don’t want to change my plans!

I left my seat as if it was on fire and put the tea kettle on the stove. While I stood over the stove waiting for that infamous whistle, I recognized something. I was beginning to understand what it felt like when God stood behind the idea. This time, I didn’t hesitate, but snatched a piece of paper and started frantically plotting the next novel. The same dear friend that God used to throw the wrench in my plans was ready to talk it over with me on the phone. In a matter of hours, a new novel was added to the Ancient Words Series. And what I once thought was the destruction of my plans turned out to be the greatest plan of all.

To this day, Where Can I Flee endears itself to those that read it. This story is my heart in so many ways, I couldn’t imagine debuting with any other novel. So it is with great excitement that I bring to my readers a third book, one that will wrap things up for our friends in Maple Grove in a really special way.

Where Can I Flee covers the first two years of the Civil War with its sister novel, In the Shadow of Thy Wings, covering the last two years of war. This summer I begin writing the novel that will immediately follow the war and will show our friends picking up the pieces after a four-year-long war. I’ve titled it, OUT OF THE ASHES.

I had already begun sharing details about His Love Endures Forever before God changed my course. I plan, Lord willing, to release the original novel in a couple years as book four of the series. Since I was already working on the photo shoot for the novel, I intend to take pictures for both the 2016 and 2017 release this summer.

Stay tuned for more details on 2016’s release, Out of the Ashes.

Posted in About the Book

Humble Beginnings

3Would it shock you to know that Where Can I Flee was an afterthought? More than an afterthought, it was meant to play second fiddle.

On July 3, 2012 a story was born. It always amazes me at how random those moments are. I wasn’t expecting anything special to happen that day. I’ve tinkered with this particular story line for nearly a year, and I certainly didn’t expect to suddenly have all the pieces fall into place. But that’s what happened…or so I thought.

On July 5th, I laid aside a series I had been tinkering with and began something completely different. The transition was a difficult one for me, but that’s a story for another day. Jumping in with both feet, I began researching and writing a novel that I titled, Ancient Words.

Ancient Words is about seventeen-year-old Allie Redman who moves into an old home and finds a stack of letters written during the Civil War. As she reads the letters, her own story unfolds.

I began to fall in love with the Harper family as I told their story through letters. But that was the problem, their story was only told through the letters. Small snatches and snippets of their lives were revealed, but the greater part was held back. It had to be. There’s only so much you can say in a letter, after all.

In my personal reading time, I was reading through a collection of short stories written by Lucy Maud Montgomery when an author’s favorite question, “What if?” began to pull at me. What if I tried my hand at short stories? What could I write about?

I kept pushing the thought away. I was knee deep in my new novel and didn’t have time for distractions. Besides, I honestly couldn’t think outside the novel at the time.

I’ll never forget the morning I was cooking oatmeal at the stove when the “What if’s” began pulling at me again. What if I didn’t need a new story but told the same story in a new way? Immediately, my mind zoomed in on one of the lines I wrote for Claire’s letter. The original line is no longer in the novel, but it spoke of Olen’s bitterness toward God and his recent surrender to this same God. Such a simple line told a story all its own. And a powerful one too. What if I zoomed in and wrote a short story centered on Olen’s conversion?

Immediately following that idea, came another. Inspired by a second glance, came a love story of redemption featuring Allie’s best friend, Katherine.

And just like that, Where Can I Flee and Katherine’s Good News was born. As I sat down with my oatmeal, story possibilities and plot lines began to roll around in my mind. In time, it would become apparent that Sally Chandler would need a feature story all her own, and In the Shadow of Thy Wings would grow from that idea.

I now had 1 novel and 3 short stories. The plan, at that time, was to publish the novel but tack on the short stories for bonus reading material. It would be a way to give the readers what they always want at the end of a good book: a way to keep the story going.

Then the unexpected happened. The short stories outgrew themselves. Nine months after I began the Ancient Words novel, the story took a drastic change. After a very stressful 24 hours, I put a halt on the original novel and started over. This time with Where Can I Flee as the first novel of the Ancient Words Series. Overnight, both Where Can I Flee and In the Shadow of Thy Wings were upgraded to novels, and Katherine’s Good News would follow their example a year later.

The opening scene of Where Can I Flee is 100% original to the short story. Several of the early scenes featuring Olen’s conversion are also, in part, original to the short story. Several scenes from the upcoming release, In the Shadow of Thy Wings, are also original to the short story version.

Allie’s story is now titled His Love Endures Forever since I decided to use Ancient Words as the series title. The other novels kept their short story titles.

I pulled up the original files to compare.

Where Can I Flee short story: 7,647 words and 14 computer pages long

The novel sits at: 118,269 words and 215 computer pages long

In the Shadow of Thy Wings was never a very short story. Originally it had: 42,619 words and 65 computer pages

The novel is still growing in its editing process, but today is sitting at: 152,114 words and 272 computer pages.

Talk about humble beginnings!!

However, this would not be the last time that God changed my plans. Just recently, He intervened again, and the Ancient Words Series added a new novel to its lineup. Out of the Ashes now sits as book three and concludes the Civil War generation.

If you’re still looking for your copy of Where Can I Flee, you’ll find it on Amazon

Posted in History

Local Inspiration

27My debut novel, Where Can I Flee released last summer. I shared my testimony last week and in doing so, I shared with you some of the inspiration behind the novel. You can read my testimony here if you missed it last week. Today I want to share with you another form of inspiration. I think many of you will be surprised to find behind the pages of Where Can I Flee are real historic accounts based on a local town in southern Tennessee.

Most brilliant ideas start with one simple question, “What if?” The Ancient Words Series had such humble beginnings. As a Christian fiction fan, I enjoyed reading a series called, Love Finds You In… This series is not owned by one author, but rather several authors have put novels in. Each novel is based on a real town with a unique name. The story’s theme has to incorporate the town’s name as well as any specific details that makes the town stand out. After reading several books in the series, I asked myself the question, “What would I write about if I wrote something for this series?” Traveling around the country for research wasn’t an option for me, so I decided to think locally. What town within driving distance could I write about.

There were two towns that stuck out with unique names: Bell Buckle and Wartrace. Bell Buckle didn’t conjure up any story ideas, but Wartrace did! I knew right away that I wanted to tell a story about war – spiritual warfare and the Civil War. I tinkered with this story idea for a year before something solid came together. Since I hoped to write the story for the Love Finds You In series, I checked their website to find out how I might submit my book, but quickly found that my work was all wrong for their series. Not to be deterred, I changed the name of Wartrace to the fictional name, Maple Grove, and began telling a tale of love, history, and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Although I changed the name of Wartrace, I still clung to historic accuracy in most areas. The hard-hitting historian may take me to task over a few minor details since I tweaked small details to fit my needs. I trust I’ll be forgiven in the end since I did lay out a Fact and Fiction section at the end of the novel where I share the areas that I changed as well as how many details were based on fact.

What you can expect to find are many details concerning the life of the average soldier during the war as well as facts concerning a real Confederate regiment that sprung up from Bedford county and its surrounding counties. After I decided to focus my story on Wartrace, I asked the question, “What regiment would a man join in the Confederacy from Wartrace, Tennessee in June of 1861?” I found that this man would have joined the 17th Regiment of Tennessee Infantry. I then followed this regiment and learned about the battles they engaged in. All of the battles mentioned in the series as well as any of the stops and dates are as accurate as I could make them. Where Can I Flee focuses on the first 2 years of war and many local stops are mentioned such as Beech Grove, Tullahoma, Shelbyville, Nashville, and Murfreesboro. Being a representative of this real regiment, my fictional character, Frank Harper, engages in 3 battles in Kentucky, is present at Shiloh (although not engaged), and participates in the Battle of Stones River. I continue with this regiment and their travels in the 2nd book of the series titled, In the Shadow of Thy Wings.