Thursday, November 22, 2012

Colonial Quills Offering Holiday Gift!

Over on the Colonial Quills blog, we’re offering a holiday gift to our readers. Through mid January we have 9 authors contributing to a serial anthology of Christian historical fiction that’s free for our readers! Three of the chapters have already gone live: Carrie Fancett Pagels’s, Susan F. Craft’s and Carla Olson Gade’s contributions.

Click here for the schedule, then follow the links in the schedule to read each part of the serials that have already been posted. There is a giveaway associated with each serial post. Leave a comment on each one to be entered for a book by Laura Frantz, Susan Craft, and/or Carla Olson Gade.

Tomorrow, on Black Friday, we are having a Tea Party on Colonial Quills to celebrate publications by Kelly Long, Dina Sleiman, and Gina Welborn. We will be announcing the giveaways from the first three serials and also giving away 3 books: copies of a book by Kelly Long, Dina’s ebook, and a novella by Gina. We will also have a colonial gift basket for one winner who comes in character! So come on by Friday and join the fun!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New Wind of the Spirit Cover!

We have the new Wind of the Spirit cover! And isn’t it gorgeous? I’m constantly amazed at what a great job Marisa does. She’s one of the people I’m truly thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Since we didn’t have a painting by Don Troiani that worked for this part of the story, I decided to go with a painting titled “The Passage of the Delaware,” by Thomas Sully (1819), that portrays Washington and his army crossing the Delaware River on Christmas night, 1776, on their way to attack the Hessian outpost at Trenton, New Jersey. I hated to give up our Indian for the cover since so much of the story takes place among the Shawnee, but I couldn’t find a painting that was a good substitute for the photo we used on the original edition. However, if you’ve read the story, you know that Wind of the Spirit ends with the army gathering to make the crossing, and Carleton’s vision of God leading them in a pillar of fire and cloud. This image captures the feeling of those final scenes, and, of course, Crucible of War opens with the army reaching the New Jersey shore and preparing for battle, so it ties the two volumes together. And on the back cover of Wind of the Spirit, we’re going to have Don Troiani’s painting of a Shawnee warrior as a stand-in for the Native American thread.

The new, updated Heritage Edition will release in April 2013, and I’m hurrying to make the final updates to the text and the formatting in Quark so it’ll be entirely consistent with the new look of the series. And of course I’ll also update the ebook files in the spring. Lots to do so I can get this off my plate and get back to writing Valley of the Shadow. As always, there’s lots of action and romance coming up for Jonathan and Elizabeth!

Speaking of Thanksgiving, what are you the most thankful for this year? For me, it’s my family and friends. Since I moved back up here to Indiana, I’m really loving having my extended family so close. Last week I went with my aunt and two cousins to the viewing for a cousin who died quite suddenly and unexpectedly. In spite of the circumstances, his family shared a testimony of God’s love and faithfulness through his life. It’s times like this that we’re reminded of how short and fragile life can be, and how everything can turn around on a dime.

I was impressed again by how precious our loved ones are and how we need to hold them close while we’re blessed to have them. I hope and pray that you’re able to gather together with your family next week to share love and joy and laughter and reflect on God’s great goodness to us!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Revisiting Washington's Crossing

Washington Rallying Troops at Princeton, William T. Ranny
In the years following iconic turning points in history, legends often develop that are meant to make a great story “better,” but sometimes obscure the significance of what those involved really accomplished. Today I want to revisit the singular events that breathed new life into the faltering Revolution during the winter of 1776-1777 and subsequently suffered that kind of historical revision.

Two excellent resources I relied on heavily for my portrayal of the battles of Trenton and Princeton are David Hackett Fischer’s Washington’s Crossing and Richard M. Ketchum’s The Winter Soldiers: The Battles for Trenton and Princeton. The picture they present differs from the traditional account, which maintains that the Americans caught the Hessians completely off guard, that because of the storm or simple laxity they had no patrols in place, and that they were still suffering from the effects of drunken Christmas parties when the Americans attacked the morning after Christmas. I’ve heard that often over the years and likely wouldn’t have questioned it if I hadn’t read Fischer and Ketchum, who justly laid it to rest.

Fischer particularly draws a vivid, extensively documented account of the rising of the Jersey militias against the Hessians, who had plundered and abused the inhabitants beyond endurance. By the end of December 1776 the militias’ harassment of the occupying force had become unrelenting. Colonel Rall, who commanded the Hessian garrison at Trenton, repeatedly demanded reinforcements, to the point that Major General James Grant, the British commander in New Jersey, considered him a crybaby. Not only that, but British spies posted at Washington’s headquarters relayed the news that a move was afoot almost as quickly as Washington made the decision to act. The Trenton garrison had every reason to be on high alert, and they were.

These were disciplined, highly professional soldiers, and on the night in question, Fischer states, “Colonel Rall had been thorough in his precautions. German outguards covered every major approach by land into Trenton, and other men were in place along the Delaware River. Behind the outposts were duty companies that could offer support. In the center of town, one Hessian regiment was always on alert in ‘alarm houses,’ and the others were ready to muster quickly” (Washington’s Crossing, p. 235). In fact, many of the soldiers had taken to retiring in their uniforms at night with weapons in hand because they were awakened so often by alarms.

Another oft-cited myth is that the Hessian soldiers were drunk after an excess of Christmas partying. Washington and his officers hoped that would be the case, but the reality was far different. Fischer states that “The German responses to the American attack were not those of intoxicated revelers.” He cites Boston fifer John Greenwood, who later wrote in his memoir: “I am willing to go upon oath, that I did not see even a solitary drunken soldier belonging to the enemy” (pp. 239-240).

General George Washington at Trenton, John Trumbull
It’s true that Rall had to be roused from his bed when the attack began because he had been up late at a party the night before, but that made little difference in the course of the battle. The Hessian commander knew that his seasoned troops would respond instantly to any attack, and they justified his confidence. The confusion that led to their ultimate defeat arose from the fact that they didn’t expect an attack by Washington’s full army through a storm that was by all accounts stupendous (who would?). At first the outposts assumed that the enemy force they dimly made out through waves of sleet, snow, rain, and hail was a small militia force like those that had been making their lives miserable for days. The delay in realizing what they were really up against and the violence of the storm caused their disarray. However, it was the brilliance of Washington’s battle strategy and tactics and the astounding fortitude of his men in the face of incredible obstacles and hardship that carried the day.

In spite of their initial confusion, the Hessians rallied to put up stout resistance, and Fischer gives a very affecting account of the true number of American casualties that resulted directly from the battle. The regiments Rall personally commanded fought their way to an apple orchard on the outskirts of town, only to be driven back into the town, where Rall was mortally wounded. Deprived of their commander and with the Americans rapidly gaining the upper hand, the remnants of Rall’s shattered regiments muscled their way back to the apple orchard in another effort to break through to the British garrison at Princeton, before they were finally surrounded and forced to surrender. On the other end of town, a Hessian detachment held the stone bridge over Assunpink Creek for most of the battle. It was via that route that between 400 and 500 Hessian soldiers and a few civilians escaped before the Americans finally captured the bridge.

What Washington’s ragged, poorly equipped, and ill-trained army accomplished in defeating an alert and formidable enemy by attacking through a raging nor’easter is a testimony to their tenacity and commitment to the Glorious Cause of liberty. The accurate account of what really happened makes it all that much more heroic. That they followed it up by returning over the frozen Delaware only to recross it a few days later to fight a second battle at Trenton against a formidable British force before attacking Princeton is truly astounding.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Writing's Winter

Have you ever experienced a sudden letdown on completion of a project and found it hard to work through it? For a writer that often happens after the work in progress (WIP) has been turned in to the publisher. All the stress of racing to meet the deadline is over, and you can finally relax . . . except that you’re overtaken by the uneasy feeling that you ought to immediately jump into the next project. After spending so many hours, days, weeks, and months in front of the computer focused on your characters and plot, it’s like a void rushes in and you suddenly feel at loose ends.

If you don’t know what the next project is going to be, there’s an uncomfortable feeling of restlessness and uncertainty about what you should work on next, but the certainty that you need to work on something! If the next project is set, your conscience constantly nags at you to get to work on it. In both cases, nothing is happening except a lot of angst.

That’s what I’m experiencing after having finished Crucible of War. I’m working hard to promote Crucible and the previous books in the series so we’ll get the sales we need to keep the series going, but I still feel as if I need to be producing words. Lots of them. After all, if I intend to have Valley of the Shadow ready for production in time for a fall 2014 release, production deadlines are already approaching at warp speed. I NEED to get busy!

I do have a basic outline and have written some scenes. I can clearly see the scope of the book and feel my characters champing at the bit to forge forward. It’s just that my brain is resisting efforts to write down the details. Thankfully I’ve been writing long enough to know that that’s not unusual. Many of my author friends experience the same thing at the end of a project. It seems that the fallow seasons of fall and winter almost always follow the lush summer of creativity.

That’s where I am right now, and I’m wrestling with the urge to get to it! But I keep reminding myself that even though I may not be sitting in front of the computer actively putting words on the page, I am reading and meditating and getting in deeper touch with my characters and their stories. I’m allowing the fallow season to do its work. It’s still uncomfortable!

In winter everything appears to be dead, but in reality the work is just lying dormant. Roots still stretch out beneath the ground as nature prepares in invisible but sure ways for the sudden explosion of springtime. I feel the story swelling inside me, and one day soon the sap of creativity will rise and the buds wrapped in their protective scales will burst open. Then the words will begin to pour out on the page . . .

Have you ever experienced a season of creative winter, whatever your endeavor? I’d love to hear about the struggles you’ve encountered at the end of a project and how you worked through them!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Special Offer

Next spring we’re going to release the Heritage Edition of Wind of the Spirit so it’ll be consistent with the rest of the series. We’re starting work on the cover right now, and as soon as I have confirmation on licensing the image I want to use, I’ll post that here. But we still have some stock of the original edition that we need to sell out, so we’re offering a special deal.

For the next few months, anyone who orders any or all other volumes of the American Patriot Series from Sheaf House Direct will receive Wind of the Spirit free! And of course, all copies will be autographed. So if you don’t have all the books of the series or want to gift someone, this is a great time to order. Just remember, you have to order from Sheaf House Direct to receive the free copy. I'd appreciate it greatly if you'd let other fans of historical fiction know about this offer too!

By the way, I’ll have a new interview up on Lena Nelson Dooley’s blog on Sunday. It was a really fun interview, and I hope you’ll stop by and leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for a free copy of Crucible of War!

Monday, September 10, 2012

I have a new interview up on ForeWord This Week! Click on the link, then scroll down to the bottom to read it. It was a fun interview to do, and I hope you enjoy it!

Below is an excerpt of the review of Daughter of Liberty that ForeWord did back in the spring.

“The fiery inhabitants of colonial Boston are shown in all their gritty, conflicted glory—grasping for independence as neighboring Loyalists pledge their allegiance to Mother England—in J. M. Hochstetler’s meticulously detailed Daughter of Liberty, the first book in her American Patriot Series. The year is 1775, just before the first battles of the American Revolution take place. At the heart of the story is Elizabeth Howard, who works as a young spy for the American militia, and Jonathan Carleton, a high-ranking officer in the British army. Hochstetler does an excellent job of breathing life into Elizabeth, who, as the spy ‘Oriole,’ defies gender roles as she undertakes daring midnight forays for the rebels and works alongside her father as a doctor’s assistant.

“The spirited wordplay and attraction between Elizabeth and Jonathan keep the book moving at a quick pace. But the real strength lies in the well-crafted research and historical details that illuminate the brick mansions of Beacon Hill, the bustling alleyways of downtown Boston, and the carnage of Bunker Hill: ‘Staring along her musket barrel, with a shock she recognized Howe standing a hundred yards from her, all alone, dead and wounded men tangled at his feet. His white gaiters and breeches were so splattered with gore they appeared red, and his face was fixed in an expression of horror that burned deep into her memory’. . . .

Daughter of Liberty will appeal to fans of historical fiction, strong female characters, smart romance novels, and series. At the end of the story, the reader undeniably will want to tuck into the next American Patriot book to learn more about how Elizabeth and Jonathan are helping to craft the future of a young and fledgling America.”
—Dana Rae Laverty, ForeWord Magazine

Tea Party on Colonial Quills!

Please do join us on the Colonial Quills blog today for a tea party at the Golden Plough Tavern in York, Pennsylvania, in honor of Laura Frantz and moi for our newest releases! Not only do we have tea, a profusion of delectable sweets, and agreeable conversation for your pleasure, but were also holding a drawing for a copy of Loves Reckoning, Crucible of War, and a lovely print by Pat Iacuzzi! So please do stop by, have a cup of tea, and leave a comment to be entered in the drawing!

Thursday, September 6, 2012


I apologize for the delay, everyone! After we celebrated my hubby's birthday Monday, I totally forgot to post the winner of our last drawing for the series set, which includes Crucible of War! And since then I've been covered up with production. My brain is full!

But now ... drum roll, please ...

The winner is ...

18th Century Dreamer, aka Amber Hammrich! Persistence pays off. :-) Congratulations, and I'll be in contact asap to get your snail mail addy!

Stay tuned, everyone! I'll be having more drawings for Crucible of War soon, so check back regularly.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Crucible of War Releases Today!

Today is the official release date for Crucible of War. New authors tend to have the feeling that something spectacular is going to happen on the day their book finally releases, so it can feel like an anticlimax when nothing much really does. Those of us who are in the industry or have had previous books published know it’s simply the date that the book is supposed to be available for purchase in the stores and online. It’s sort of a birth date, and it’s something for the author to celebrate!

In this case, of course, the ebook edition of Crucible has been available from Kindle, Nook, and for several weeks. And now the print version should already be in stock and ship right away when ordered, though the major retailers’ websites are often slow to change over from preorder to regular order.

If you’re enjoying the American Patriot Series, I very much appreciate positive reviews on retailer sites such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and as well as on the social media such as Facebook. And if you’re not familiar with the series yet, I hope you’ll get a copy of Daughter of Liberty and see if you like it! If you do, then please tell others about it.

Sales are what keep any series going, and word of mouth is the most effective recommendation for any book. Please help me through these stories to continue to entertain, inspire, inform, and educate readers about the heroic generation that courageously opposed the most powerful nation in the world in their day . . . and won liberty for us and for those who follow us!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Love's Reckoning by Laura Frantz

I’m sure everyone is familiar with Laura Frantz and her wonderful historical novels—and if you aren’t, you ought to be!. Today I’m celebrating the release of Laura’s new historical, Love’s Reckoning, Book 1 of the Ballantyne Legacy Series by featuring her and all of her books.

A former schoolteacher and social worker, Laura credits her 100-year-old grandmother as being the catalyst for her fascination with Kentucky history. Her ancestors followed Daniel Boone into Kentucky in 1792 and settled in Madison County, where her family still resides. Laura currently lives in the misty woods of Port Angeles, Washington, with her husband and two sons.

Love’s Reckoning, which releases September 1, is already receiving enthusiastic reviews—and I’m totally bummed because my Kindle edition hasn’t released yet, and I can’t wait to read it!! But enough whining. I’ve loved every one of Laura’s previous books, and I know I’m going to love this one and look forward to each volume in the series.

A summary of each of her books follows. I encourage you to become acquainted with this outstanding author if you aren’t already!

Love’s Reckoning, Book 1 of the Ballantyne Legacy Series

On a bitter December day in 1784, Silas Ballantyne arrives at the door of blacksmith Liege Lee in York County, Pennsylvania. Silas is determined to finish his apprenticeship quickly and move west. But because he is a fast worker and a superb craftsman, Liege endeavors to keep him in York by appealing to an old tradition: the apprentice shall marry one of his master’s beautiful daughters.

Eden is as gentle and fresh as Elspeth is high-spirited and cunning. But are they truly who they appear to be? In a house laced with secrets, each sister seeks to secure her future. Which one will claim Silas’s heart--and will he agree to Liege’s arrangement?

In this sweeping family saga, one man’s choices in love and work, in friends and enemies, set the stage for generations to come. This is the Ballantyne Legacy.

The Colonel’s Lady

Can love survive the secrets kept buried within a tormented heart?

Roxanna Rowan may be a genteel Virginia woman, but she is determined to brave the wilds of the untamed frontier to reach a remote Kentucky fort. Eager to reunite with her father, who serves under Colonel Cassius McLinn, Roxanna is devastated to find that her father has been killed on a campaign. Penniless and out of options, she is forced to remain at the fort. As she spends more and more time with the fiery Colonel McLinn, the fort begins to buzz with intrigue and innuendo. Can Roxanna truly know who the colonel is—and what he’s done?

This powerful story of love, faith, and forgiveness immerses readers in the tumultuous world of the frontier in 1779.

The Frontiersman’s Daughter

One woman searches for love—and herself—in a wild land.

Lovely and high-spirited, Lael Click is the daughter of a celebrated frontiersman. Haunted by her father’s ties to the Shawnee Indians and her family’s past, Lael comes of age in the fragile Kentucky settlement her father founded. As she faces the many trials of life on the frontier, she draws strength from the rugged land. But the arrival of a handsome doctor threatens her view of her world, her God, and herself. Can the power of grace and redemption break through in this tumultuous place?

This epic novel offers a glimpse into the simple yet daring lives of the pioneers who first crossed the Appalachians, all through the courageous eyes of a determined young woman who will not be defeated.

Courting Morrow Little

Caught between the wilderness and civilization, Morrow Little must find her way to true love.

Morrow Little is haunted by the memory of the day her family was torn apart by raiding Shawnee warriors. Now that she is nearly a grown woman and her father is ailing, she must make difficult choices about the future. Several men—ranging from the undesired to the unthinkable—vie for her attentions, but she finds herself inexplicably drawn to a forbidden love that both terrifies and intrigues her. Can she betray the memory of her lost loved ones—and garner suspicion from her friends—by pursuing a life with him? Or should she seal her own misery by marrying a man she doesn’t love?

 This sweeping tale of romance and forgiveness takes readers from a Kentucky fort through the vast wilderness of the West.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Last Drawing for the Series Set

Okay, everybody! It’s the very end of August, and this is the last drawing we’re going to get in this month. If you don’t have the entire series yet, or you only have some of the volumes and know somebody you can gift with the extras—a friend or relative who enjoys historical fiction, a public, school, or church library—jump in with a comment and you’ll be entered for autographed copies of the entire set . . . and this time, I’ll include Crucible of War too—books 1-4! In your comment be sure to include your email addy and whether you want the print or ebook version in either Kindle, Nook, or epub via

Crucible of War is set to release September 3, and during September I’ll be doing additional drawings for it. Be sure to watch for announcements here and on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and tell everyone you know about this series. I also very much appreciate reviews posted on sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and I need readers in order to afford to write and produce the rest of the volumes, and I need your help to spread the word!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

And the Winner Is ...

Ladette!! Your Kindle editions are on their way to you, and I hope you enjoy the series!

Nancee and Rick, be sure to check back again. I’m going to do one more drawing for this set, and then in September I’ll do some drawings for Book 4, Crucible of War. Actually, today through Friday I’m doing a drawing for Crucible on the Colonial Quills blog at, so you might want to drop by there and leave a comment. :-)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Drawing # 2!

I meant to announce the second drawing on Monday, but this has been another busy week, so let’s get things going before I get covered up again!

Leave a comment on this post by noon on Wednesday, August 22, and you’ll be entered to win a set of Daughter of Liberty, Native Son, and Wind of the Spirit so you or a friend can get caught up with the series before Crucible of War releases! Leave your email address and specify whether you’d like to receive the print or ebook versions. All of the books are available in Kindle, Nook, or in epub format.

I’m heading down to Tennessee tomorrow and will be gone for a few days, but I’ll pop in from time to time to respond to comments. Let all your contacts know about the drawing! I’ll try to squeeze in a couple more of books 1-3, and as soon as it’s available we’ll do some drawing for Crucible of War!

Friday, August 10, 2012

And the Winner Is...

...Amy Campbell!! Congratulations, Amy! You've won a full set of books 1-3 of the American Patriot Series. I'll email you shortly to get your snail mail addy. 

I have company coming tomorrow for the weekend, so I won't have time to announce the next drawing until Monday. Be sure to check back here or on my facebook page to see when the next drawing is open for entries. 

As soon as I receive the proof for Crucible of War and that's approved, I'm going to have some drawings for it too. The first should be by the end of the month. Watch for announcements for that one too!

Friday, August 3, 2012


The final file for Crucible of War is just about set to go to the printer and to be formatted for ebook, and I finally have my head above water. So it’s time for some drawings!!

Leave a comment on this post by noon on Friday, August 10 and you’ll be entered to win a set of Daughter of Liberty, Native Son, and Wind of the Spirit so you or a friend can get caught up with the series before book 4 releases! Leave your email address and specify whether you’d like to receive the print or ebook versions. All of the books are available in Kindle, Nook, or in epub format.

We’ll have 3 more drawings this month, and then in September be sure to watch for announcements about drawings for Crucible of War!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Interview on Novel Pastimes Today!

I have an interview up on the Novel Pastimes blog today! Stop by and leave a comment, and if you include the answer to my challenge question, you’ll be entered in a drawing to win Daughter of Liberty and Native Son, books 1 and 2 of my American Patriot Series, in the new Heritage Edition. And you'll also get book 3, Wind of the Spirit, in the original edition. The offer is only on this week, so be sure to check it out head over and leave your comment.

Special bonus for you adventurous souls who would like to win the books but don’t know the answer to my challenge question: Since you were persistent enough to do some checking around and ended up here, I’m offering a hint to the answer: Who was the commander of the British forces in Boston in 1775, and what was the name of his wife?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Fallen Heroes

The fall of heroes who turn out to be flawed gods is always especially painful. So it is in the case of Benedict Arnold. Probably everyone who reads this blog knows who Arnold was. But because the depth of his eventual betrayal was so great, many of you may not realize how major a role he played on the American side and how greatly he contributed to the Revolution’s success.

Arnold was a natural leader, though, as too often happens, he became a victim of his own hubris. Utterly fearless in battle, he was also completely insensitive to others’ feelings. An easily wounded pride coupled with self-doubt and a hunger for the fame, social acceptance, money, and rank that kept eluding him made it impossible for him to accept opposition or criticism. Yet despite these faults, the privotal battle of Saratoga would not have been won had it not been for his heroism and that of the soldiers who responded to his leadership on that crucial day.

In his brilliant work, Saratoga, Richard Ketchum says it very well.

“Benedict Arnold had many faults, as the future was to make even more clear, yet it is not too much to say that this climactic battle was won in part because of his extraordinary bravery, magnetism, and energy. Somehow he managed to be everywhere when needed, flourishing his sword, leading men by example, and while the odds were against Burgoyne’s force from the outset because he was so badly outnumbered, the victory clearly belonged to Arnold, to Morgan and Dearborn, and the New Hampshire Continentals, to those hardy survivors of Ticonderoga, Hubbardton, and the long, humiliating retreat, and to the thousands of militiamen who turned out in the hour of greatest need.”
—Richard M. Ketchum, Saratoga: Turning Point of America’s Revolutionary War, p. 404.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Just got this in—finally! Ta dah! The cover for Crucible of War!

We debated on whether we ought to stick with patriotic red and blue for the background, but I decided I really want a little more variation for the series covers. Green was a popular color during the Revolution for uniforms on both sides, and I thought it would go well with this image, so we gave it a try. I think it turned out well—kudos  to our designer, Marisa! What do you think? Isn’t it pretty?

I got an email Friday from my contact at Christian Book Distributors, and they want to feature Crucible in their Fall Fiction catalog. Wooo hooo!! But this time they want not only a long and short synopsis, but also a galley or the entire manuscript. ACK!!!! I still have several chapters and 2 major battles to write, so I’m sequestered in my writer’s cave writing madly. But I’m telling myself this is a good thing because I NEED to get this puppy done if we’re going to release it in September, which is bearing down on us at warp speed.

I just love the intriguing tidbits I run across while doing research, and I found a particularly hilarious one for the Battle of Bandywine, which took place September 11, 1777. The following is from Rebels and Redcoats by George F. Scheer and Hugh F. Rankin, an invaluable resource I snagged at a library used book sale back when I was first writing Daughter of Liberty, so it may well be out of print. It includes eyewitness accounts of the major battles, and I turn to it often.

“At length, around four-thirty, the ominous growling of cannon, followed by the sharp volleying of muskets and the crack of rifles from the extreme right announced to Washington that indeed he had been outflanked and that Sullivan was in heavy action. Meanwhile, a thunderous cannonade commenced at Chad’s. Soon he began to guess that more than two brigades of the enemy were engaged with Sullivan and that he ought personally to join him. . . . To guide him on the shortest course to the point of action, he snatched up a neighboring farmer, Joseph Brown. Brown’s brief adventure at the battle was recorded by a friend:

Brown was an elderly man and extremely loath to undertake that duty. He made many excuses but the occasion was too urgent for ceremony. One of Washington’s suite dismounted from a fine charger and told Brown if he did not instantly get on his horse and conduct the General by the nearest and best route . . . he would run him through on the spot. Brown thereupon mounted and steered his course direct towards Birmingham Meeting House with all speed, the General and his attendants being close at his heels.

He said the horse leapt all the fences without difficulty and was followed in like manner by the others. The head of General Washington’s horse, he said, was constantly at the flank of the one on which he was mounted, and the General was continually repeating to him, “Push along, old man. Push along, old man.”

Can’t you just see this scene? I LOVE it!! It beautifully personalizes Washington and communicates the urgency and emotions of the moment so vividly you feel as if you’re right there. You can bet this account is going to show up in Crucible. LOL!

Friday, April 20, 2012


I don’t know why, but I’ve loved maps ever since we started studying geography when I was in elementary school. I loved to copy maps I found interesting. Cartography, in fact, is another potential career I considered pursuing in addition to archaeology, art, interior design, and anything involving gardening or craft work.

It would be impossible to set the stage for the action in this series without accurate maps, and of course I use them extensively in my research. Below are a number of links to excellent online resources for historical maps that I’ve chanced upon. In addition to the Americans, both the English and French commissioned maps of the known areas of the North American continent and the action during the Revolution, and there are excellent collections of accurate maps online. I can spend hours studying them if I let myself. If you haven’t already run across these resources, I hope you find some of them useful in researching your own projects!

David Rumsey Map Collection:

World of Historic Maps (maps for purchase):

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Sometimes you get lucky.

I was doing a web search this morning for an image I could use for a book video, and by divine coincidence a resource popped up that contained a wealth of information I can use for this series. Serendipity happens!!

If you’re interested in the history of Ohio Territory up to the author’s time, with primary accounts about the Native Americans and woodsmen who inhabited the area, including Simon Kenton and Tecumseh, you’re going to love Stories of Ohio by William Dean Howells, originally published in 1897 and provided as a free ebook by The Project Gutenberg.

You can download it in various ebook formats and also as a PDF here:

Another excellent resource on details of Native Americans and their captives I found some time ago that I may not have mentioned here before is French and Indian Cruelty Exemplified in the Life and Various Vicissitudes of Peter Williamson. I just discovered it’s available for $2 for Kindle. I have it as a text document, but it has formatting issues, so I bought the Kindle version of the original book—cheap at twice the cost!—which includes period engravings. LOVE my Kindle Fire! I can load all sorts of resources on it and carry them with me.

Point is, when you’re searching for one thing, be sure to check through your results for resources on other subjects that might be useful. You never know what might turn up!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Yeoman Patriots

“As late as June 1776 two-thirds of Continental regiments under Washington’s command were New Englanders. Yankee farmers and mechanics turned out in large numbers. . . . In 1776, these Yankee regiments may have been the most literate army in the world. Nearly all New England privates could read and write. Even young recruits such as [Joseph Plumb] Martin, who was just sixteen, were caught up in the great public questions that were debated in kitchens, taverns, and town meetings. ‘During the winter of 1775-76, by hearing the conversation and disputes of the good old farmer politicians of the times, I collected pretty correct ideas of the contest between this country and the mother country (as it was then called)’ he wrote. ‘I thought I was as warm as patriot as the best of them.’ These new England men were raised to a unique idea of liberty as independence, freedom as the right of belonging to a community, and reights as entailing a sense of mutual obligation.” David Hackett Fischer, Washington’s Crossing, pp. 20-21.

When I reread this passage this evening, I began to wonder how many of our young people today would claim to be “warm patriots.” How many have the education in government and politics and the serious attitude about life the yeomen of the Revolution did? How many of the young people you know are regularly caught up in the great public questions we face in this country today and can speak with intelligence about the issues?

Although there are surely many exceptions, I don’t see much evidence of Fischer’s description in the teenagers I have contact with—or in their parents, for that matter. Instead, a preoccupation with sports, the newest electronic devices, texting and hanging out with their friends, the opposite sex, popular music, TV, movies, web-surfing, and other trivial pursuits occupy every minute when they aren’t in school. And I can’t blame them. They’re simply imitating the example set by the adults in their lives.

A while back I read an article that talked about how parents and grandparents are no longer handing down to the current generation the wisdom they gained from their elders and from their own experience. That’s something I’ve observed too, and it troubles me when I think of what that neglect holds for the future. To be fair, in too many families both parents work. Often they’re burdened with demanding jobs and long commutes that suck away the precious hours of their children’s lives. They’re exhausted and frustrated by the time they come home, and they see their children as just another burden. Those who are unemployed or underemployed face other challenges that rob them of quality family time just as surely. And at many schools teachers spend so much time enforcing discipline that there’s limited time to teach.

The bottom line is that today a troubling number of our young people neither know nor care about the history of the country they live in, and they’re equally ignorant of and indifferent to what’s currently going on in the world around them. Their major concern is entertainment, not fulfilling place in a local, state, and national community.

Unless we take seriously the task of nurturing in all our young people the attitudes of our yeoman forefathers, we’ll soon be on the way to losing our precious heritage of liberty—if we haven’t already. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Plotting with Calendars

I’m sure that many authors, whether writing historical fiction or another genre, create calendars to help them keep events straight in their stories. When you’re dealing with characters in a historical period who interact with real people of the time, you find out very quickly that you’re going to have to chart out the historical action or you’re going to shipwreck your plot on the shoals of fact.

I wouldn’t be able to write this series without keeping track of exactly when and where real historical events occurred. I create very detailed calendars on which I enter every event that could possibly affect my characters or that might arise in their conversation with others. Often these details don't show up in the story, but I don’t want to set a scene that involves my characters’ personal affairs at a time when some important event happened that they would be aware of or that would impact them in some way. Obviously I also need to make sure they’re at the right place at the right time to participate in historical events I include them in.

Another benefit of using calendars to plot the action of a novel is that they can lead to the development of a scene or even an entire chapter. Calendars allow you to quickly see the connections between events that happen in different places at the same time or within a short period of time. Fascinating little-known events or a sequence of events that I suddenly realize relate to each other in a way not immediately apparent sometimes lead me onto a detour that adds insight and authenticity to the storyline. The unexpected is always lots fun even when it wreaks a bit of havoc with how I expected my story to develop.

When a battle looms, I refer to the relevant calendar a lot. But for complex battles, I’ve found it necessary to build even more detailed timelines, breaking the action down hour by hour, with different columns for different corps or detachments that participated, and noting where my characters were at critical points.

There are software programs available for creating calendars, but I’ve found it easy to create my calendars using the Word table feature. The rows of a table expand or contract to accommodate the amount of text I need to include, and I don’t have to buy special software.

Creating detailed calendars for each month covered in each volume is time consuming, to be sure, but it’s paid off by saving me the time spent fixing scenes that don’t work or are wrongly placed. What I’ve discovered is that a detailed calendar actually helps me build my plot.

If you’re a writer, do you create calendars for the storyline, whether real or fictional? If so, do you have a special program for creating them? How detailed do you make them, and how do you use them as you build your story?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

I Am Blessed!

"Stand Your Ground" by Don Troiani.
Used by permission.
This week I was humbled and honored to receive the endorsement below from a good friend who is one of my biggest supporters. He has blessed me so much by embracing this series enthusiastically and recommending it to his circle of family and friends wholeheartedly. Bless you, John, you encourage me more than you know! Thank you!

“We have given this series to all of our family so that they will understand the foundation of this country and the freedoms they enjoy. If you haven’t read it yet, you should. You will relive the sacrifices, romances, and pain experienced by past patriots. You will understand what you have benefited from when you experience this trip through history as written by Joan. It is historically accurate fiction, and a very engaging and interesting read. I can’t wait for the next book to come out!” –John E. Anderson, SGM Ret, U.S. Army Intelligence & Communications Command. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Register to Receive Free Chapters!

Concerned about the continental drift taking place in this country today? Worried about the upcoming election? Ready to revolt? Then return to the days of the Continental Congress, when our Founders arrested the downward slide and set America on a new course. Join the rebel spy Oriole’s elusive band and start your own Revolution! 

Just click on the link and register to receive free chapters of the new Heritage Edition of Daughter of Liberty weeks before the release date. You’ll receive an email with a PDF of Chapter 1, and then for every additional 25 registrations, we’ll release a new chapter, which you’ll receive automatically. Spread the word and share The American Patriot Series Facebook page to release chapters even faster! The person with the most referrals will win a free copy of Daughter of Liberty!

And be sure to watch for announcements about drawings for a free book and signing up to receive free chapters of Book 2, Native Son!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Full Cover and New Endorsements

We just finished the full cover for Daughter of Liberty, and it’s attached so you can see what the back and spine will look like. Isn’t it gorgeous? Our 17th Light Dragoon is now on the back to stand in for Jonathan Carleton, courtesy of Don Troiani. Marisa also adjusted the color for print, and I love the way it just seems to glow. So what do you think? Share your feedback!

A couple of days ago I got some wonderful new endorsements in from a couple of my reenactor buddies, Kris and Laura Supinger. This mother-daughter duo invited me to participate in Prairie Days last September at Shawnee Prairie near Greenville, Ohio. And what a time I had!

Below are their endorsements for the series, and I send many thanks and hugs to them for their kindness! I’m looking forward to joining you ladies again in full 18th century regalia this coming September for Prairie Days. Can’t wait!

“The story jumps to life from the first sentence to the last, leaving you begging for the next book to be published. You become involved with the characters and their personal struggles. The American Patriot Series gives an interesting perspective on the history of the time when our country was young, and not only from the usual aspects of the battlefield, but more of what it was like for those left behind waiting to know what was happening to their loved ones. For people who are re-enactors, the series is a great jumping off point to build their own characters. I’ve used the main character, Elizabeth, to help create my own re-enacting character.

“The characters make the time real to the point that you can almost feel yourself with each of the characters, either in Ohio with Carleton or with Elizabeth waiting for him to come back, while watching the war go on outside their windows. I couldn’t put my copies down when I got them and can’t wait for the next book in the series. This is definitely a must-have for anyone who loves history.”
—Laura Supinger, 18th century re-enactor

“These books are a great addition to any library. They give a unique perspective on what life would have been like for our Founding Fathers. The American Patriot Series is great for anyone starting out with only a little knowledge of history and wanting to get their feet wet. The story will keep readers’ imagination and make them want to learn more on their own while waiting for the next installment. The characters grab the reader’s imagination, bringing to life an era most people know very little about. The relationships between all the characters make readers feel as if they are within that circle as well, making them long for the next book, hoping their favorite character comes out on top.”
—Kris Supinger, 18th century reenactor

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A New American Revolution

Patrick Henry Protesting Stamp Act
You know . . . I now fully understand how our Founders felt when they were dealing with the unfair taxation, restriction of trade, and violation of personal rights, privacy, and property George III imposed on them. As a small business owner who’s simply trying to stay afloat when the money coming in isn’t equal to the expenses going out and I find myself negatively impacted every single day by the failed policies of a government I’m increasingly coming to view as the enemy, I’m on the verge of agitating for a new American Revolution.


I’m not smiling.

I had planned to do this post on how I use calendars to plot out the action of my stories, and I’ll get to it eventually, but there’s something more important weighing on my mind right now. Excuse me if I sound just a bit radical.

It seems like every other month I get a notice from my friendly state revenue office or county assessor demanding yet another report, with corresponding tax assessment and bill. Another arrived today, one that somehow I’ve never received before and am apparently delinquent in. Don’t know how I passed under their radar scope—it wasn’t intentional; I didn’t know this one existed—but they’ve found me now. Every time I turn around there’s more tax paperwork and another bill. But as they point out, your tax preparer or accountant will have the info. Yeah, and I have to pay him to figure it up.

What makes it worse and lit the tinder to this tirade is that at this time of year I’m slogging through the process of putting together everything needed to file my taxes. I just finished figuring up and sending out the 1099s, which have to be mailed by January 31. I have to pay for the forms and envelopes and do all this work to help the government tax anyone and everyone I ever employed in any capacity whatsoever. And then I have to pay my accountant to filter through all the paperwork, crunch all the numbers, and determine what I owe the government or, if I’m lucky—or unlucky, since it means I had a loss—what the government owes me. The amount of time and money we Americans spend working for “our” federal, state, and local governments, only to then pay for the privilege, is enraging.

I could be investing all that time and money in growing my business. And putting a few people to work. Multiply that by all the other businesses in this country, most of which have whole departments dedicated to handling the taxes necessary to maintain this bloated superstructure we call the U.S. Government.

That’s just wrong.

The form I received today is the “Tangible Personal Property Schedule for Reporting Commercial and Industrial Personal Property (with “Due March 1” in big, bold red letters at the top). I’m advised that:

“In accordance with state guidelines [their emphasis] and in an effort to comply with a recent federal court ruling [my emphasis], we must request the following information regarding your business personal property. [Business personal property??? Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?] Please submit a depreciations schedule/current fixed asset listing or small business item listing. See brief definition below.”

There follows a whole page. Plus another legal-sized page printed front and back with instructions. What I’m thinking isn’t fit to print.

For my business license—which the previous county clerk told me I didn’t need, but the current county clerk decided I did and fined me for being in arrears—just figuring out what category a publishing house belongs to was mind boggling. You wouldn’t believe it if I told you.

Here are the instructions on this form.

“Report all personal property owned by you and used or held for use in your business or profession as of January 1, including items fully depreciated on your accounting records. Do not report inventories of merchandise held for sale or exchange or finished goods in the hands of the manufacturer. Personal property leased or rented and used in your business must be reported on Part III of this schedule and not in this section. A separate schedule should be filed for each business location. List the total original cost to you for each group below by year acquired in the REVISED COST column. If COST ON FILE is printed on the schedule, you need only report new cost totals resulting from acquisition or disposition of property in the REVISED COST column. Alternative Reporting for Small Accounts—If you believe the depreciated value of your property is $1,000 or less you may use the small accounts certification (reverse side) as an alternative to reporting detail costs below. With this certification, subject to audit [my emphasis], your assessment per this schedule will be set at $300.”

Did you understand that? You have to supply an itemized list of everything you own that you ever use for business, down to the paperclips and staples, so they can tax you on it. And I already paid almost 10% sales tax on all of it!!

This includes: “Group 1. furniture, fixtures, general equipment, and all other property not listed in another group. Group 2: computers, copiers, peripherals, fax machines, and tools. Group 3: molds, dies, and jigs. Group 4: aircraft, towers, and boats. Group 5: manufacturing machinery. Group 6: billboards, tanks, and pipelines. Group 7: scrap property. [Oh, they don’t actually tax you on that, but you have to report it anyway!] Group 8: raw materials and supplies. Group 9: vehicles. Group 10: construction in process.” Nicely: “If your personal vehicle is being used for business less than 50%, please note that on the schedule and do not report it.” Huh??? Ah . . . how do you report something without actually reporting it? Sorry. I’m an editor . . .

Now, you can get around doing an itemized list if you file the small accounts certification. But what do you bet the odds are that they’ll audit you? Plus you have to check the box that verifies: “By checking the box at left, I certify that the total depreciated value of my property (all groups) is $1,000 or less. I understand this certification is subject to penalties for perjury and I may be subject to statutory penalty and cost if this certification is proven false.” Proven false. Nothing said about making an honest mistake. Irrelevant anyway since you’d be ahead of the game to ignore this option and invest the time and effort up front to inventory everything you own in order to make sure you didn’t miss something they might penalize you for.

Can you believe this??? George III had NOTHING on the U.S. Government. Our Founders must be turning over in their graves. Believe me, I’ve studied the truly objectionable British policies that finally drove our Founders over the edge, and we would have been better off just goin’ with it. Whatever. They’re 3,000 miles away across the ocean. What can they really do? Give ’em their pound of flesh, make an appearance of compliance, do what you gotta do . . . and then go on about your business. What they don’t know won’t bite ya.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t object to paying for essential government services. In fact, I’m glad to. Our lives are a whole lot better for police and fire protection, good roads, schools, communications systems, and many other real benefits our tax dollars provide. But things have gotten waaaayyyy out of hand. I want value for my money. I don’t want it to go into somebody’s pocket under the table or to pay for a bloated government bureaucracy that stifles incentive and growth and drags people down instead of lifting them up.

What bothers me the most is that a whole lot of precious blood was shed during the Revolution, and we’re in a worse situation now than our ancestors even envisioned then. Our government makes British rule in the 18th century look like an amateur act. And they’re right here in our laps! You can run, but ya can’t hide.

Well, honey, we can sure vote ’em out and keep on doing it until the representatives we put in Congress and the Oval Office sit up and take notice and begin doing what we elected them to do instead of taking advantage of their positions to line their own nests and/or advance agendas the majority of us don’t agree with.

It’s past time for a new day to dawn. I don’t know about you, but TEA Party, here I come!

What’s your opinion? Leave a comment and let’s talk!

New Release for Rita Gerlach!

Releasing today from my good friend acclaimed novelist Rita Gerlach, is Before the Scarlet Dawn, Book 1 in The Daughters of the Potomac Series, a timeless tale of love and betrayal, loss and redemption set against the backdrop of the American Revolution.

“…a big, beautiful, well-told story of love, faith, and the struggles of war that changed lives...and  hearts.
                                    ~ Author Loree Lough ~

Eliza Morgan faces the hardships of colonial life when she leaves behind all she has in order to follow her heart and the man she loves into the Maryland wilderness. On a windswept night in April of 1775, Eliza sat at her father’s bedside hoping he would recover. Forced to leave the home she grew up in, Eliza grows desperate. She could marry her former suitor, but cannot bear the thought of a loveless marriage.

Instead she falls in love with Hayward Morgan, the condescending son of a landed gentleman. When Eliza learns of his plans to leave England and build a life in the Maryland frontier, she decides to present a proposal of her own.

On Sale: February 1, 2012. Read Chapter One for free!

Available from online booksellers and at fine bookstores everywhere in paperback and e-book formats.

Book 2 ~ Beside Two Rivers ~ Fall, 2013
(The story of Eliza's daughter, Darcy)

Book 3 ~ Beyond the Valley ~ Spring 2013
(Sarah, an indentured servant's story)

Rita Gerlach is the author of four inspirational historical novels, including Surrender the Wind, the American Christian Fiction Writers book of the month.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Petite Guerre

I recently finished working on a section in Crucible of War set during the terrible winter of 1777, when the Continental Army was camped at Morristown, NJ, and Washington settled on a strategy of petite guerre, or little war. Quickly seeing the potential of the New Jersey militias’ hit and run raids on British patrols and foraging parties after Trenton and Princeton, Washington seized on what turned out to be a brilliant strategy for demoralizing and wearing down the enemy.

The American Revolution was a war of attrition, and in the winter of 1777 it success depended most heavily on the highly effective efforts of these New Jersey militia units. During the late fall of 1776 the inhabitants of the state had endured incredible suffering under the heel of the British boot, and especially because of the depredations of the Hessians, who boldly plundered, raped, murdered, and otherwise abused the citizenry whether they had avowed allegiance to the king or not. The result was to win rabidly loyal adherents to the Glorious Cause as the offended populace rose up to exact vengeance on their tormentors.

The petite guerre accomplished a number of goals for the Americans: It ruined the Howe brothers’ strategy to end the Revolution by pacifying the people and gathering them back into the British fold. It denied the enemy much-needed supplies to continue the war, while providing captured goods and materiel for American use. British casualties rose, while the Americans suffered few wounded and dead. British morale plummeted, while American morale soared. The petite guerre sapped the will of the British people at home by driving up the cost of the war and the subsequent burden of taxation. At the same time it convinced many British officers and regular soldiers that England could not ultimately win the war.

Equally important, these limited and tightly focused military actions provided invaluable on-the-ground training for the American forces, increasing confidence in their ability to plan successful strategies and carry out tactics to win against a larger professional force, their boldness in action, their resolve to cast out the invaders, and their belief that they would win this war. The success of the petite guerre also strengthened the confidence of the American people in the army, and thus their adherence to the Glorious Cause.

I’m currently working on the section of Crucible of War that covers what was going on in Congress and the Philadelpia area in the summer of 1777 and the Battle of Saratoga in upstate New York, with their aftermath. After enjoying a close proximity for some months, Elizabeth and Carleton will temporarily be separated again. Carlton’s Raiders are reassigned to join General Gates at Saratoga as the Northern Department of the army clashes with General Burgoyne’s force moving south from Canada in the effort to divide New England from the rest of the states. Meanwhile Elizabeth is drawn into the series of unsuccessful battles to stop General Howe from taking the United States capital, Philadelphia, starting with Brandywine and ending with Germantown.

There’s so much going on during the period from July through October, not only militarily, but also in Congress, that I’m going to have to do a lot of switching back and forth between the Philadelphia area and the Saratoga area. Trying to plot all the action out is really confusing. So to keep the narrative firmly linear and give readers a clear and vivid portrayal, to make sure my fictional storyline dovetails with what was really going on, and to keep myself at least reasonably sane, I’m relying heavily on the monthly calendars I create for each one of the series’ volumes. I’ll talk more about how I create and use those in my next post.