Saturday, July 25, 2009

Encouraging Words

Quote of the Day

“But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments, of their duties and obligations. . . . This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution.”
—John Adams, letter to H. Niles, 13 February 1818

Recent Reader Feedback

We all need encouragement from time to time, and I’m convinced that those of us engaged in creative endeavors are more needy than most. Whenever I start questioning whether the effort I put into writing this series is worth it, I hear from some of my readers. Their kindness and interest in my books send me back to my computer and stack of resources. Below are several of the most recent e-mails and reviews I’ve received that got me fired up to dig in and write Crucible of War!

“I just received my long awaited 3rd book in the series, Wind of the Spirit, two days ago and finished it in 5 hours. How many more books are planned for this series? What are the titles and expected release dates? I have been thoroughly engrossed in this well-written series, and usually experience a real let-down when I’ve read the last page. So when will Beth/Oriole/Mr. Freeman//Healer Woman and Patriot/Jon/White Eagle be allowed to live as one? The suspense is torture! I [spoiler deleted] am awaiting the retelling of the Delaware Crossing and the Revolution’s fortunes in the next installment.”
—A real devotee (e-mail)

“I just finished reading Wind of the Spirit and it was just as terrific as Daughter of Liberty and Native Son were. After reading the end of Wind of the SpiritI have no doubt that you have plans to continue the saga. Do you have a timeline for the next and future chapters of this outstanding storyline ? As a selfish reader I hope Part 4 of the American Patriot Series is coming soon !!! Congtatulations on your success with this series and I look forward to the future volumes !!!”

“Good Afternoon Mrs. Hochstetler: I have just finished reading Wind of the Spirit. I enjoyed it as much as Daughter of Liberty and Native Son. However, it seemed that the story did not quite come to a conclusion. Are you planning a Volume 4??? I had put in my order for Volume 3 with CBD even before it was released. If there is to be a Volume 4, I don't want to miss it!!!”
—A faithful reader (e-mail)

I get e-mails like these from fans from time to time, and I always respond with my thanks for their kindness and all the details they asked for—and often possibly more than they really wanted to know. LOL! But I rarely receive a reply back. So I worry that my message either disappeared into cyberspace or ended up in their junk folder. So if you e-mailed me and you didn’t get a response back, that’s undoubtedly what happened. If any of my readers take the time to contact me, I’m certainly going to answer!

Here are a couple of online reviews of the series.

“Being a Civil War buff, I wasn’t sure I’d like anything from the Revolution. But as the characters in Daughter of Liberty came to life with visceral detail and emotional investment, I could not turn my back on them. The tension between determined and independent Elizabeth Howard and the complex and delicious Jonathan Carleton turned the pages like bacon curling in the sear of a frying pan. Even minor characters’ depictions take on three dimensions and add a realism very difficult to achieve. The complexity of intrigue and historical developments keeps the pace between lively and riveting. The last quarter of the book was a true climax and resolution—one of the best I’ve ever read.

“I have been to Boston three times in my life, briefly, and I have to say that Ms. Hochstetler’s period recreation of the town and outlying geography is remarkable. The current labyrinth of man-made landmarks all but obliterates the topography, but she depicts it in such a convincing and authoritative way that time rewinds and the reader experiences the innocence of the country’s birthing. The author’s command of history goes beyond impressive. Events, names, places, military accoutrement, and even clothing saturate this read with authenticity. I MUST find out more about Jonathan Carleton. He made a deep impression on me as a reader and now, a fan. On to Native Son, the second one in the series!”
—Kathleen L. Maher on Amazon

“J. M. Hochstetler takes us in her time machine and transforms poster-stamp names in history, such as George Washington, John Hancock or Samuel Adams, into real characters we can see, hear and at times even smell, like or dislike, depending on their moods or deeds. She helps readers reconnect to the pluck that built her nation’s love of freedom and independent enterprise. In these difficult economic times, Americans need to be reminded of the resourcefulness and courage of their forebears, of the united spirit that rescued them from poverty and tyranny, and to show them that once again they can rise to overcome oppressive conditions.

“This fictional trilogy set in the American Revolution is not only a thoroughly entertaining Five-Star read but also belongs in every library across the country, especially from middle schools to universities. As required reading, it would certainly make history the exciting study it truly is and give back to Americans pride in their heritage.”
—Bonnie Toews

My deepest thanks to everyone who has contacted me and/or posted an online review. I value your feedback more than I can say. Knowing that you care as much about this foundational period in our history and about the characters—real and fictional—that inhabit the pages of my books as I do keeps me writing!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Web Surfin'

In case you missed this bit of trivia, I based Daughter of Liberty on the 1982 TV movie The Scarlet Pimpernel starring Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour. Odd’s fish, m’dear, what a romp it was, and though it’s a bit dated now, I still think it’s one of the best historical movies that’s come down the pike. So when I was doing a bit of Web surfing Tuesday and ran across the Web site Blakeney Manor, I was thrilled. To think that someone else was so obsessed with the inimitable Sir Percy and lovely Marguerite that they devoted an entire Web site and obviously hours and hours of effort and research to creating this site is mind boggling! Why didn’t I think of it first????

Go to Blakeney Manor to check out the original series by Baroness Orczy and the various movies as well as research links galore. There’s even a gift shop, though it’s pretty rudimentary. I hope they add to it soon. The thought of owning an object that sports “Sink me” or “Odd’s fish” or even “Noblesse Oblige” is just too delicious! And at the bottom of the home page you’ll find a link to a test to determine which Scarlet Pimpernel character you are, which includes code to embed it on your site or blog. You’ll also find it here down below on the sidebar. Naturally, I turned out to be Sir Percy himself! Here are the descriptions given.

On the picture of Sir Percy: You are brave, heroic, and very clever. Your enemies hate you. Everyone else adores you. You're a snappy dresser, and like every true Englishman, you just hate mushy sentimentality.

Below: You are a brave, heroic, and very clever Englishman with a philanthropic streak. You are the leader of fashion in London, live in a very big house, have a very beautiful wife, and a lot of lolly. When you're not playing the social fop, you enjoy organizing and carrying out dash-cunning rescues of poor little Frenchies from the scummy hands of the evil Revolutionary Government. Go you!

I must say that’s me—well, almost! No idea what it means that I turned out to be a man—undoubtedly there’s some Freudian implication there somewhere—but as long as you’re rich and an adventurer, does it really matter what sex you are? Somebody please send me the cash. Large bills, thank you! I’ll get started freeing those oppressed Frenchies right way!

I really cracked up when my middle daughter turned out to be Marguerite. Believe me, if you knew her, you’d know that was a foregone conclusion!

As if that wasn’t bad enough, my buddy Lori Benton started another nasty addiction by introducing me to a site called Morph Thing. You can use the images they provide or upload your own and morph 2 or more to create a blend. Lori has quickly become an expert at this, while I’m a little more morphing challenged. We’ve both been trying to come up with the main characters from our books, but she’s doing a lot better job than I am.

Here’s her version of Elizabeth Howard, which turned out amazingly close to the image I have of her in my head. She’s less glam, of course—no modern make-up was available in the 1770s, after all—but this is pretty much what Elizabeth looks like to me.

Her “parents” are:

Saira Mohan
Maria Menounos
Evangeline Lilly
Anne Hathaway
Catherine Zeta Jones
Ashley Greene

I’m also obviously culturally challenged because Anne Hathaway and Catherine Zeta-Jones are the only names I recognize! Haven’t a clue who the others are.

Lori almost has her hero, Ian, down pat, but I when I tried to create Jonathan Carleton I didn’t have much success. I know he contains some features from Philip Winchester and Simon Baker—like those fabulous blue eyes—but a morph of them ends up too much like one or the other. Lori tried adding several others to the mix, but we haven’t gotten there yet. We just need the right parents. If we ever succeed in creating him, I’ll definitely post the pic here so you can see what I see when I think of Jonathan!