Guest Appearance: Ann Mock

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone! Today on the blog we have the author Ann Mock promoting her novel The Union of the North and South. 

union2

Romance and suspense come alive in this uplifting Christian novel set in the
South in the 1870s.
The reader will fall in love with the intriguing story of Laura who overcomes
personal tragedy, and is forced to hide a secret that, if revealed, will cause
her great heartache. Amidst the revitalized social scene of a South
recovering from the War Between the States, Laura has to sacrifice one of
her most precious desires in order to protect someone she loves above all
else. Yet as the world around the Malcolm family improves they are also
forced to overcome numerous challenges. Sitting on the banks of the
Mississippi, Oak Grove, the ancestral home of the family, and the oaks that
shaded it symbolize the Malcolms courage, resilience, and strength. Can
Laura make her enemies become allies as she confronts her secret and finds
the strength to forgive as well as to love again?

Mock agreed to a quick interview, in order to let ya’ll learn more about her and her work:

1) In the excerpt I read, there seems to be a connection between forgiveness and positive action, in Laura deciding to forgive and taking on a new charitable task in the same time-space. What is the importance of this action, to you?
I feel that helping others is so important!  By looking beyond yourself I feel you can start to heal.  The process of doing something for others allows you to turn your focus from issues that can cause you grief.  As you help others, I feel true healing begins.
2) You mentioned that one of the big reasons why Laura is needing to learn to forgive is because of her fears that her father-in-law would take her child after annulling her marriage. What about her situation do you think is the most important for women today to relate to? 
Laura’s situation can be very similar to women today.  Most women today are faced with problems relating to family members and must learn to deal with them effectively.  I hope I give everyone hope to realize how important forgiveness is no matter what issues occur in their lives.
3) Why set the story in the 1870s?
When I was traveling in Vicksburg, Mississippi, I saw a cannonball that was embedded in the wall at Cedar Grove.  The history of that time period after the Civil War has always fascinated me.  I was inspired to begin the story in that time period.  I wondered how someone would react when she met someone who might have fired this cannon at her house.
4) What role has forgiveness played in your life, that you thought it important enough to write a novel on?
Like everyone, I have had to deal with issues that required great forgiveness on my part.  I am so glad that I was able to forgive because I feel free of the burdens of resentment which were slowly destroying my happiness.
5) What is your favorite part of Laura?
I love the great value she puts on being a mother and protecting her child at all costs.
To check out The Union of the North and South, as well as more information about Ann Mock, visit her Facebook page, or go check out a copy for yourself!
6) What is your favorite part of writing?
Creating the story and the characters was so much fun!  It was a joy to watch it all come together.
Advertisements

Looking for Blogs to Host a Book Tour!

Hey everyone! We’re coming up soon on my next book release and I’m looking to go on a virtual book blog tour the month after it’s release. If you would be interested in hosting a leg of the book tour in July, please contact me.  To look at some examples of my last book tour, for the release of ‘Till the Last Petal FallsI’ve compiled them all under one tag. In the past, I’ve done author interviews, character interviews, guest posts, and excerpts. I am also willing to do interviews in video-response form. The tour will be for my second novel, To Dwell in Dreams, which you can read about here. 

 

And remember, if you’re looking for a host for your own book tour, or looking for somewhere to submit your own guest posts, I’m always open to submissions. Check here for a list of previously posted guest posts, as well as my submission guidelines.

Guest Post: The Role Of Historical Fiction in Writing Women’s History

 

 

“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” 
― Rudyard KiplingThe Collected Works

“Whether I like it or not, most of my images of what various historical periods feel, smell, or sound like were acquired well before I set foot in any history class. They came from Margaret Mitchell, from Anya Seton, from M.M. Kaye, and a host of other authors, in their crackly plastic library bindings. Whether historians acknowledge it or not, scholarly history’s illegitimate cousin, the historical novel, plays a profound role in shaping widely held conceptions of historical realities.” 
― Lauren Willig

I wrote my novel, ‘The Black Hours’, because I have an interest in the lives of ordinary people in history. I have always wanted to get behind the facts taught in my history lessons and discover how the politics, religion and social expectations of different times and places affected normal people trying to live their everyday lives, particularly women. Standing in the Museum of Witchcraft in Cornwall one blowy November day, I read with my daughter the list of those victimized by the witch-hunts in England. What struck us both was, firstly, how behind each of these names was a person, with a life, a family, with hopes, dreams and fears, and secondly, that the list was predominantly comprised of women. Now that ‘The Black Hours’ is finished and published, I hope that, in some small way, it tells the stories, the history of these poor women. A history that is reduced to a list of names, for, although we can research the laws, the religions, the culture and the beliefs that caused witch hunts to happen, what the books don’t tell us is how it felt to be a victim of those witch hunts, and, how it felt in particular to be a woman, on the outskirts of society, terrified that you would be blamed for all the tragedies and calamities that befell your neighbors.

The Black Hours book cover

So is there a role then for stories in histories? Can we learn from fiction how life was for women in the past? Read any of Jane Austen’s novels and you will come away with a sense of how it was for certain women in society – take the first line of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ for example:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

Now, although this line is ostensibly about life in the 19th century for a wealthy man, it also gives us an insight into life for women of a similar class. The problem for Lizzie and her sisters is that there are just too many of them – they must be married or face an uncertain future, and a man with a good fortune is exactly the kind of husband that they need. This gives a real insight into the precarious lives that faced even those women with a good background. And sometimes, just a good background wasn’t enough – you needed the wealth to go with it. In Austen’s ‘Northanger Abbey’ Catherine is viewed as a possible match for Henry Tilney and is invited to his impressive home. However, when General Tilney discovers that she is not rich as he had believed, Catherine is basically banished from the house and has to take a frightening seventy  mile journey home alone.

Perhaps the book that shows the emotions behind the choices women faced in the past most brilliantly and evocatively is Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. Poor Catherine Earnshaw is pulled between doing what her heart wants, to be with Heathcliff, and doing what society wants – to marry Linton. What Bronte does so well is to show Catherine’s conflicting state – she loves Heathcliff with all her heart, but she still wants the status and ease of life with Linton:  “And he will be rich, and I shall like to be the greatest woman of the neighbourhood”. Emily’s sister Charlotte also explored this theme in ‘Jane Eyre’ -Jane will not risk scandal by staying with Mr Rochester once she finds he is married; not only because of her own strong morals, but also because if she were to follow her heart she would risk everything. She would be beholden to Rochester forever – he would be the only thing protecting her from scandal, gossip and ostracism.

blackwater-cover-1600-2455

So these novels do give an insight into the lives of women – at least a certain type of woman. And they do so in such a compelling, believable way because they were written by women who understood the social constraints that faced them and who surely felt those same frustrations in their own lives. They are contemporary to their time. Historical fiction writers are looking back to the past and imagining the lives of those who can no longer speak for themselves. A lot of historical fiction is concerned with well-known women – Elizabeth the first, Anne Boleyn, Mary Queen of Scots, for example,  all have a plethora of fiction in which they star, and these novels, no doubt, tell us a lot about the lives of women and the challenges they faced. And other historical novels also do this, though their focus may be on men. For example, in Hilary Mantels’ ‘Wolf Hall’ and ‘Bring up the Bodies’, focussing on the life of Thomas Cromwell,  Mantel also tells us a lot about the women of court – Anne Boleyn (again!), the usurped Queen Katherine, the seemingly innocent Jane Seymour  and the breathless, desperate Mary Boleyn in particular. Cromwell’s wife is also strongly portrayed, as is his sister in the beginning of ‘Wolf Hall’.

It is worth remembering, as we peruse history books, that history was, in the main, recorded by men. For women’s history then, perhaps we should look to the(relatively few) books penned by women of the time, and those more recent works of fiction that have delved into the past; look to those novelists who have  put themselves into the shoes of women and portrayed those struggles and triumphs, those tragedies and joys that women have experienced for centuries past. And perhaps we can learn from historical fiction of the very real losses that women suffered, in an effort to ensure those losses are never suffered again. For historical fiction can have a part in teaching us those lessons, helping us to see the women of the past as real people, living through events we can only imagine, and dealing with constraints that we hope we will never have again.

 

Alison Williams is an independent historical novelist and freelance writer from Hampshire in the south of England. Her first novel ‘The Black Hours’, set in 1647, is available now and tells the story of Matthew Hopkins, self-styled Witchfinder General, as he scours the countryside, seeking out those he believes to be in league with the Devil, and Alice, who finds herself at the centre of gossip and speculation. Alison’s novella ‘Blackwater’, the prequel to ‘The Black Hours’ will be available from Monday 3rd March.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alisonwilliamswriting

Twitter: @Alison_WiIliams

Blog: http://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/

Guest Blog: Teach a Girl to Read

In my Honors Seminar, our theme is Magis and the Search for meaning. This week in class, a fellow student’s ‘This I Value’ statement, which she shared with the class, hit my heart especially hard both as a writer and as a girl who loves to read. Peyton Lunzer, a senior at Regis University, is an up-and-coming writer herself (which you can probably tell from the way this piece flows!) gave me permission to repost this piece here, to share with all of you. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

 

Teach a Girl to Read

by Peyton Lunzer

I can honestly say I’ve only been proud once in my life, and it’s the time I took my eight-year-old neighbor to the movies. I’d been Chloe’s nanny for over five years. I’d started watching her after school and during the summer two months after I’d moved to her street. I was there her first day of kindergarten; I took her to the docks to learn to swim; and when she was four, I taught her to read.

I had learned to read when I was Chloe’s age. My own mother was a ferocious reader. One of my earliest memories must be Cathy Lunzer, curled in the forest green armchair in the den’s golden lamplight, with a book. It is in observation I learned the value of words.

In observation I learned, and in demonstration I taught Chloe. Chloe has eyes browner than mine and curly, dirty blond hair with ringlets to put Goldilocks to shame. She loves her younger brother Luke like I love my own: passionately, and with compassion, sometimes violent, sometimes soft. But her most endearing quality, at least in my opinion, is her insatiable curiosity. There is no rabbit hole too small to escape Chloe’s notice, nor any scary enough or simple enough to frighten her away. It shouldn’t have been surprising, then, when I told her one day that I loved books, and she said Why? and I said You have to read them to find out, and she said Okay, and started to read.

Chloe fell in love with reading as I had fallen in love with her. She read everything I put in front of her and more: Isabel Allende, Nancy Drew, T.A. Barron, Lord of the Rings, and my childhood favorite, Harry Potter.

This is the day that made me proud: I took Chloe to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II, in July 2011, two days after the movie’s release. I remember it was raining, which made her curly hair curlier so she looked even more like Hermione Granger, the bookish and brave heroine whom Chloe idolized and that rainy afternoon, copied in dress and manner and hair. Chloe had finished reading the series the third time just two days before, and was squirming and excited beyond words to see the final film installment of the series. We bought popcorn, found our seats, and started to watch.

It was near the end of the film. One of the central characters—mine and Chloe’s favorite, played by Alan Rickman—was dying. We knew it was coming. His film fate had been written in the pages of the book. But it was a touching scene nonetheless. He drew a rattled breath. Chloe’s hand grabbed mine, and I heard her whisper:

“No.”

I looked over. Tears were streaming down her face. She squeezed my hand, harder, harder, and like she stared intently at the screen I could not take my eyes of her, off this girl who was crying for someone she’d read in a book once, off this girl I loved like my own who I’d taught to swim, taught to read, and I realized in that dark theater, taught to love. For if she felt empathy for a character on a screen, a character in a book, how could she not love people in real life?

In that moment, I realized: this is what we are about. Reading and crying in theaters and holding hands. Learning what to value, and what to believe. For twenty years I have poured my hours and days and nights into stories, into reading and writing, and after all this time and after so many stories and after one handhold with Chloe one rainy, summer day, I think I can say what it all means.

We have nothing to give one another but ourselves, our stories, and our lives. We must exist passionately, violently, softly, and love this way too. Because the greatest story we will ever encounter is our own, our own first days of school and swimming, our own tears and sorrows, our own moments of empathy, and pride, and love. These stories are what we’re made of – who we are – and what we must share.

This is how I believe we must live. Read a book. Take a friend to a movie. Hold a hand. Live and love and share with others, share tears and share values and spend days with people.

Decide what you value. Chase a good story. Embrace your own.

Teach a girl to read.

Typhoid in Kenya is Subject of Gripping New Fiction by Young Denver Author

As a follow up to his generous review, Frank T. Kryza has written a full-length article about Wanakufa and its relationship to both his memories/first hand knowledge about Kakamega and my own dedication to making a difference with my fiction. Thank you so much for the signal boost, Mr. Kryza!

A Gripping Tale of Ancient Disease in Modern Africa

The first review of my first published short story, Wanakufa, is a five star! Here is what Frank Kryza, author of The Race for Timbuktu: In Search of Africa’s City of Gold, has to say about it:

 

Elizabeth Rose has written a riveting, if stomach tightening, account of a young American missionary’s encounter with third-world health problems in Kakamega, Kenya. Mirrored (I’m guessing) on Elizabeth Rose’s personal experiences in East Africa, the fictional heroine, Julia, is an outgoing, pretty, talented, and very giving high school senior who has journeyed to Kenya to improve the lives of her fellow Roman Catholics living there in near-squalor.

Though she expected (and finds!) all manner of inconvenience and hardship, she did not expect to encounter typhoid, an ancient killer so foreign to the developed world that few, if any, cases are reported in North America today. Whether Elizabeth Rose has taken a ride on this scary roller coaster herself, or whether she has merely done very excellent research, is immaterial. Her narrative grabs you in the first few paragraphs and won’t let you down until the very end.

Having spent five years in Kenya myself, I can attest to the authenticity of Elizabeth Rose’s evocation of that country. Her vision of East Africa, told in clear, tight sentences, rang true to me.
This is fabulous early work by a gifted and promising young writer. Highly recommended. Let’s hope we soon see more from her.

 

Thank you so much, Mr. Kryza! I can answer that the story does in fact mirror my own experiences in the summer of 2010. It means a lot to have the story read and enjoyed by someone else who has witnessed firsthand the beauty of Kenya for themselves.

Hey! Listen!

Aside from channeling my inner Navi, I’d like to put a little call out to some of my followers who might also be writers: two writing contests, from a publisher who has handled a bit of my own work (my latest short story and the poetry collection under my real name), so essentially a publisher I trust a ton.

The contests are being run through eLectio publishing , a relatively new publisher of Christian-values-friendly material. There’s more about what that means exactly on their website, but its safe to say that you do not need to be Christian, or a Christian writer, to be published through them.

 

And now for more info on what you need for the contests (the deadline for both is October 15th!) :

 

2014 C.W. Coats Novel Award Contest

-Previously unpublished work of full-length fiction (so more than 25,000 words)

-Must be submitted electronically

-Prize: Publication in both print and eBook formats, $100 award minimum, with publication slated for the end of the second quarter of 2014.

-Other novels that they like, but don’t necessarily win, might also be offered a standard publishing contractep

-Entry fee: $15 per submission, multiple submissions allowed

 

George and Betty Colton Short Fiction Award Contest

-Previously unpublished work of short fiction (anything under 25,000 words)

-Top three entries will be published electronically by eLectio publishing, first place will win $50, second place will win $30 and third will win $20 (though the award amount may increase due to number of submitters)

-Other short pieces they like, but don’t win, might also be published

-Entry fee: $10 per submission, multiple submissions allowed

 

 

 

Winners are announced January 15th, 2014 (That’s only a 3 month turnaround, so not much of a wait!)

 

I know I’m going to be entering, so wish me luck- and I hope to hear of all of your entries as well!