Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Author Margaret Coel: What I’m Not Thinking


9780425264652_medium_Night_of_the_White_BuffaloI’m excited today to welcome author Margaret Coel to Thoughts in Progress to talk about her writing and her recent release, NIGHT OF THE WHITE BUFFALO, the latest installment in her Wind River Mystery series.

Margaret’s series is one of my favorites as she explores Native American life and culture. Her work draws me in much like that of the late great author Tony Hillerman. Here’s a brief description of NIGHT OF THE WHITE BUFFALO.

In the latest Wind River novel, Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden and Father John O’Malley confront a ruthless killer in the wake of a miraculous event.  
            A mysterious penitent confesses to murder, and then flees the confessional before Father John can identify him. Two months later, Vicky discovers rancher Dennis Carey shot dead in his truck along Blue Sky Highway. With the tragic news comes the exposure of an astonishing secret: the most sacred creature in Native American mythology, a white buffalo calf, was recently born on Carey’s ranch.
          Making national headlines, the miraculous animal draws a flood of pilgrims to the reservation, frustrating an already difficult investigation. As visitors throw the reservation into turmoil, Vicky and Father John try to unravel the strange events surrounding both Carey’s murder and the recent disappearances of three cowboys from his ranch.
          It could be coincidence, given the nomadic life of the cowboy trade, but when one of them fails to appear in court to testify on an assault charge, Vicky wonders if Arnie Walkfast and his Arapaho buddies are guilty of more than just assault. And at the back of Father John’s mind is the voice from the man in the confessional: I killed a man…
 


Now please join me in giving a warm welcome to Margaret and she talks about what she’s not thinking about. Welcome, Margaret.

I’m on my way to an author event where the hostess is known for asking authors what they think about as they write books. I can’t wait to hear what I’m going to say. 

What was I thinking when I wrote NIGHT OF THE WHITE BUFFALO? I know what I was not thinking and what I am never thinking as I write. 

I am not thinking about the words I type on the screen. Sometimes the words don’t make any sense. I don’t care. Sometimes I can’t find the exact word to fit the situation, so I type a series of X’s and write on. I am not thinking about grammar, which was why, years ago, I had to learn how to turn off that horrible function that corrects grammar before I killed it. (I do write mystery novels.) I am not thinking about whether whatever I’m writing should be in another chapter. In short I am not cutting, editing and polishing my first venture into a story. Which means I will have a one word answer to the question. 

What was I thinking about? The story.
 
From the moment I turn on the screen and type Chapter One, I am lost in the story. The house could burn down. I’m not sure when I might notice. A blizzard could rage outside, but if my story is set in the hot summer, I am mopping the sweat from my brow. Out my window may be a view of the rooftops of Boulder, but what I see are the wide open plains of the Wind River reservation. For NIGHT OF THE WHITE BUFFALO, I saw the buffalo herd out in the sage-studded pasture. I saw the dam sheltering her baby, and I saw the baby—a white buffalo calf that resembled a lamb. I saw the crowds and crowds of visitors flooding the reservation to see the most sacred of all the creatures.
 
I saw the cowboys working on the ranch, and I saw what happened to them before the reader did. I saw Vicky Holden in court defending a client who might be a killer. I saw Father John O’Malley in the confessional listening to a penitent say: I killed a man.  

A novel is always about story, and authors enter into the story in different ways. For me, writing is like watching a play. Actors enter stage right, say and do something and make their exits, while I type away, recording every move and word. I live the lives of all the characters simultaneously, laughing and crying when they do (I’ve shed a lot of tears over my keyboard), plotting revenge or forcing myself to do the right thing, making a general mess of my characters’ lives, then trying to extricate them (and myself) from the mess. 

Non-writers may think writing is lonely work. Writers sit all day in front of a computer, no fellow office workers around, no one to shoot the bull with over the water cooler. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are never alone. We are surrounded all day by fascinating people who talk and act up and do all sorts of wonderfully interesting and surprising things.
 
That’s because writers are telling the story to ourselves. I have no patience for the so-called post-modern, minimalist, theme-driven novels—or whatever tag may be current in literary circles--because they have abandoned story. And story is what we live by, what connects us to other human beings and helps us to make sense of our own lives. All great novels tell great stories.

Only after I have safety tucked the first draft away in my computer do I allow myself to step away from the story and take a more objective look. I move out of the creative—and fun—side of my brain into the practical, critical side and I become an editor. I edit the plot to make sure it makes sense, I check and recheck the facts. I change the words, always looking for the exact, the most precise word to convey my meaning. I move things around. Sometimes I move whole chapters. And I delete any thing that is superfluous, that isn’t absolutely crucial to—you got it! The story.

I spend weeks doing all of this so that, when the novel is finished, it is not the pretty words or a complicated style or a new novel-writing technique that might stop the reader in mid page. It is the story, just the story carrying the reader through to the end.
 
Margaret, thanks so much for stopping by today and sharing this look at what’s going on while you’re writing. As readers we do tend to think of writing as a lonely art, but I can see where that’s not the case. Now let me share a bit of background on Margaret.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Margaret Coel is the New York Times best-selling author of the acclaimed Wind River mystery series set among the Arapahos on Wyoming's Wind River Reservation and featuring Jesuit priest Father John O'Malley and Arapaho attorney Vicky Holden. 

She is a native Coloradan who hails from a pioneer Colorado family. The West — the mountains, plains, and vast spaces — are in her bones, she says. She moved out of Colorado on two occasions — to attend Marquette University and to spend a couple of years in Alaska. Both times she couldn't wait to get back.


Along with the Wind River mystery series, Margaret is the author of five non-fiction books, including the award-winning Chief Left Hand, published by the University of Oklahoma Press. This biography of an Arapaho chief and history of the Arapahos in Colorado has never gone out of print. The Colorado Historical Society has included both Chief Left Hand and Margaret's memoir-history of railroading in Colorado, Goin' Railroading (which she wrote with her father, Samuel F. Speas) among the best 100 books on Colorado history. 

Margaret writes in a small study in her home on a hillside in Boulder. The window frames a view of the Rocky Mountains and the almost-always blue sky. A herd of deer are usually grazing just outside, and one summer a couple of years ago, a mountain lion made its home closeby.

For more on Margaret and her writing, please visit her website and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks so much for stopping by today during Margaret’s visit. What is it that holds you attention to a story? Is it the writer’s style, the theme of the story or just the essence of where the writer is taking you on that particular journey?

*This post contains affiliate links.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Secrets of Honor


SecretsofHonor FOR ONLINE_front_500x750_May2I’m delighted today to help spread the word about a friend, fellow blogger and author’s new book. You may have seen the cover around blogdom lately as SECRETS OF HONOR by Carol Kilgore was just released.

This fascinating story picks up where the mesmerizing cover leaves off, taking you on an amazing journey you won’t be able to put down. Here are my thoughts:

SECRETS OF HONOR by Carol Kilgore

I’m not sure which keeps you more on the edge holding your breath – the suspense of the situation or the sexual tension. Either way author Carol Kilgore nails it in her latest release, SECRETS OF HONOR.

From the opening lines to the breathtaking finish, Kilgore holds readers captivate with heart pounding action, steamy romance and spine-tingling suspense. She weaves an enthralling tale as she draws you into the setting with her eye for detail and her rich descriptions.

What starts out as a simple op working as a special set of eyes for the presidential security detail takes some terrible turns for Kat Marengo. The not-really-stolen rings she has hidden create a problem, plus the stimulating fantasies she’s having about her boss’s boss, Dave Krizak, concern her. But the secretive life or death note slipped to her by the First Lady really has her on edge.

As Kate and Dave are pulled into the First Lady’s plea for help, they learn a young girl (the daughter of the First Lady’s best friend) has been kidnapped and the First Lady is the key to her release. The more they learn, they more they suspect there are higher stakes and more elaborate plans in the works.

The crisis escalates as more is uncovered and time is running out. As an operative for a covert agency buried in the depths of the Department of Homeland Security, Kat is faced with struggles she never imaged. Will friendship and loyalty be stronger than greed and betrayal?

The characters are well-developed and likable, many sharing traits readers can relate to. The twists and turns keep you wondering what could happened next so don’t be surprised if you’re saying ‘no, no’ at some point. With SECRETS OF HONOR Kilgore puts a whole new spin on what we’re told, when we’re told, how we’re told and why we’re told all in the name of safety and security.

This is a cleaver tale of loyalty, betrayal, and pursuing justice at all cost.

Author Carol Kilgore’s website is http://www.carolkilgore.net/

Secrets of Honor by Carol Kilgore, CreateSpace Independent Publishing, @2014, ISBN: 978-1500522032, Paperback, 294 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the author as part of her virtual book tour. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I hope I’ve enticed you to check out Carol’s new book. Keep an eye open as she is will be on tour with this captivating new book. I couldn’t help but show the entire book cover.

Have you ever wondered if the news we are given about certain major events is all true?

*This post contains affiliate links.
SecretsofHonor_full_edited-2

Sunday, September 21, 2014

On Tour with Katreina Eden’s Bible Bands


Rubber Band Jewelry coverFinding projects adults and children can do together can sometimes be a bit tricky. One project currently among the growing trends is rubber band jewelry.

I’m delighted today to be participating in the Cedar Fort Virtual Blog Tour for author Katreina Eden’s recent release, BIBLE BANDS: Create Your Own Faith-Based Rubber Band Jewelry.

Not having tried my hand at rubber band jewelry, I was curious about the craft. I purchased a loom and started reading. Here are my thoughts on this charming craft book featuring faith-based jewelry that even a novice as myself can make.


Author Katreina Eden has created a fun way to teach youngsters an entertaining craft while also sharing inspirational faith-based messages in her new book.

Youngsters of all ages will have fun making bracelets, necklaces, and rings using BIBLE BANDS: Create Your Own Faith-Based Rubber Band Jewelry. The book is a handy guide to be used with looms and rubber bands that are not included. The book is designed for beginners, as well as those more advanced in the craft of rubber band jewelry making.

The book begins with the basic pattern and the basic extension pattern. From there it features patterns with more advance techniques. Each pattern has step-by-step instructions, along with helpful color photographs several of which highlight youngsters with the projects. Many of the patterns also feature extra hints and tips for enhancing the jewelry and/or making the construction easier. In addition, the patterns are accompanied by Biblical scripture to strength and share faith. The author also incorporates colors and designs to relate faith-based messages.

The entire family can have fun creating these fashionable projects to wear or give as gifts. BIBLE BANDS: Create Your Own Faith-Based Rubber Band Jewelry is user-friendly and a fun project guide.

Bible Bands: Create Your Own Faith-Based Rubber Band Jewelry by Katreina Eden, Plain Sight Publishing (imprint of Cedar Fort, Inc.), @2014, ISBN: 978-1462115051, Paperback, 64 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me by the author as part of her virtual book tour. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Katreina Eden grew up in the Midwest, eventually landing in California, where she went to law school and then ran her own law firm for a number of years. She currently works as the Executive Vice President of Cedar Fort, Inc., in Springville, Utah. 

Katreina also owns and operates Organiwic, LLC, an all-natural candle company, with her sister. She enjoys being out in nature and spending time with family. Aside from being published in various legal journals, this is Katreina’s first trade publication.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Hope you’re enjoying a fun and relaxing Sunday with family and friends or alone if you wish. Have you tried your hand at making rubber band jewelry? 

*This post contains affiliate links.
Katreina-Eden-blog-tour-Bible-Bands

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Second Chances Can Make A Difference {+ Giveaway}



Enjoying a wide variety of movies, like books, can be entertaining especially if the movies are inspiring. I especially like finding movies that the whole family, including youngsters, can watch together.

Today I want to tell you about three DVDs I recently watched that are appropriate for all ages and reminds us that sometimes we all need a second chance. After each review, I’m going to include a bit about the directors, producers, writers and such to give you some more background.

Thanks to the wonderful Elliott at Edify Media, Inc., one lucky visitor to Thoughts in Progress can win one of these DVDs (their choice of title). Please see the end of the post for more details on the giveaway. In addition, I’ll include a trailer for each movie to give you an even better look to help you decide which one you’d like to win.

First up is the latest movie in a series of movies I’ve shared with you, followed by a sports-theme movie that’s a little behind the season but can still be applied no matter the game, and ending with a movie that deals with believing in one’s family despite hard times and hardships.


WCTH_Second ChancesOnce again a charming movie has been produced from the television series, When Calls the Heart, inspired by the writings of Janette Oke. This time around several townspeople in Coal Valley are hoping for second chances.

Local Mounty Jack Thornton (Daniel Lissing) is trying to figure out how to get back in the good graces of local school teacher Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow). He previously upset her concerning her almost involvement with a con man. They struggle to restore their friendship (and growing attraction) as Elizabeth helps a student with a learning disability and Jack assists the local townspeople with various issues.

Meanwhile, Abigail Stanton (Lori Loughlin) deals with getting on with her life without her husband and son, both killed in the mine accident. Abigail battles with whether to tackle a new challenge in her life and move from her home or remain stuck in the past.

Also dealing with second chances is Adam Miller, returning home after recovering from the mining accident. Adam has to learn to overcome his new disabilities to have a second chance at happiness with his family.

WHEN CALLS THE HEART: SECOND CHANCES is heartwarming and inspiring. It’s a blend of people learning to deal with their problems and overcoming their hardships with a good dose of humor mixed in.

The actors do a wonderful job in their portrayals’. The setting is lovely and takes you back to a different way of life. This is a fun movie for the entire family to enjoy. 

When Calls the Heart: Second Chances by Frontier Productions LLC (Word Entertainment, a Warner/Curb Company), Written by Kim Beyer-Johnson and Jon Nappa, ASIN: BOOMEA938Y, Run Time: 85 Minutes

FTC Full Disclosure - I received this DVD from Edify Media, Inc. in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

Director:
Michael Landon Jr., son of the late television legend Michael Landon, has been in the film business for over 25 years. With two of the highest rated films in the history of the Hallmark channel, and several top ten releases targeted to the Christian market, Michael has become known for creating heartfelt, inspiring films that connect to the family. He has developed and/or produced, directed, and written screenplays for Fox, CBS, NBC, Disney, Sony, Lifetime, and others.

Producer:
Brian Bird is co-founder with partner Michael Landon Jr., of Believe Pictures, a film and television production company. He was co-executive producer and writer on the successful television series, Touched by an Angel. Adding to Brian’s success, he had also written and produced episodes of Evening Shade, Step by Step and The Family Man. Most recently, Bird wrote and produced Gametime, a two-hour television pilot for NBC, The Shunning, inspired by the novel by best-selling author Beverly Lewis, for the Hallmark Channel, and Not Easily Broken, adapted from the novel by T.D. Jakes and released theatrically by Sony/TriStar.

About Word Entertainment:
A leader in the music industry for over 60 years, Word Entertainment, a Warner/Curb company, is a unique, comprehensive entertainment company comprised of multi-faceted artist service departments including publishing, merchandising, booking, and online initiatives. Word Entertainment represents some of the top names and brands in music, including Meredith Andrews, Chris August, BarlowGirl, Francesca Battistelli, Big Daddy Weave, Jason Castro, Patrick Ryan Clark, Everfound, for KING & COUNTRY, Group 1 Crew, Love & The Outcome, Dara Maclean, Point Of Grace and Sidewalk Prophets and is home to 25 Entertainment, Word Distribution (representing Curb Records and Big Idea/VeggieTales among others), Word Print, Word Films, Word Music Publishing and Word Label Group’s Word Records, Word Worship and Fervent Records.


Hero BoxartViewers of HERO learn obsessing to better one’s life can sometimes backfire causing you to lose the most important things.

Legendary small town baseball coach Joe Finn (Burgess Jenkins) left his family for a chance in the major leagues in hopes of making a better future for them. Returning home several years later just prior to his wife’s death, Joe learns he’s lost more than he ever gained.

Joe becomes determined to rebuild a relationship with his son David (Justin Miles), who is coaching an underdog little league team. Forming a new league, Joe and David try to work on their own issues while helping the team. Joe sees the importance of the parents’ involvement with their children and he works to bring them all together.

HERO is a movie that tugs on your heartstrings. It deals with loss, understanding and learning the importance of family. It shows how sports can be used to help a build bond between parent and child. 

The all-star cast blends humor and inspiration to present an entertaining and uplifting movie. The film also includes a musical score by Grammy winner, Michael Omartian.

You don’t have to be a baseball or sports fan to enjoy this delightful movie that is engaging for viewers of all ages.

Hero by Brightline Pictures and Advent Film Group and distributed by Capitol Christian Distribution, Directed by Manny Edwards, Run Time: 94 Minutes

FTC Full Disclosure - I received this DVD from Edify Media, Inc. in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

About Capitol Christian Distribution:
Capitol Christian Distribution is the market leader in Christian and Gospel music distribution and represents a diverse range of chart-topping Christian films and books reaching the U.S. Christian and general retail marketplace, and the international Christian marketplace. Since this distribution division was launched, Capitol Christian has had more charting titles annually on Billboard’s Top Christian charts than any other Christian distributor and has been named Billboard Magazine’s Top Christian Music Distributor 15 times since 1995. For additional information, visit http://www.capitolchristiandistribution.com.


ALongWayOff_DVDA retelling of the classic Bible story of the Prodigal Son, A LONG WAY OFF gives a modern spin to the age-old father-son relationship.

Jake Abraham (Jason Burkey) and his brother Seth (Dave Blamy) work for their father (John Diehl), a successful produce farmer in North Carolina. Jake doesn’t care for the farm and wants more excitement in his life. Seth is content on the farm and works hard.

Having his fill of farm life, Jake asks for and is given his inheritance. He heads for the city to start a new life and make his fortune in the stock market. Jake soon learns that people aren’t always as they seem when he encounters an opportunistic temptress (Joanna Jowett) and her mysterious boyfriend (Robert Davi). He soon loses everything and fears for his life.

Down on his luck and living in a homeless shelter, Jake is given advice from a new friend. With nothing else to lose, Jake returns home to his father and family searching for unconditional love.

A LONG WAY OFF is a story of family, forgiveness, learning and acceptance. It deals with values and temptation. An inspiring movie the whole family can watch together.

A Long Way Off: Modern Day Story of Prodigal Son by ProdigalFilm LLC (Word Entertainment, a Warner/Curb Company), Co-Directed by Michael Davis and John Errington, Written by Jon Macy, ASIN: BOOJPO97MO, Run Time: 100 Minutes

FTC Full Disclosure - I received this DVD from Edify Media, Inc. in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

About Word Entertainment: A leader in the music industry for over 60 years, Word Entertainment, a Warner/Curb company, is a unique, comprehensive entertainment company comprised of multi-faceted artist service departments including publishing, merchandising, booking, and online initiatives. Word Entertainment represents some of the top names and brands in music, including Meredith Andrews, Chris August, BarlowGirl, Francesca Battistelli, Big Daddy Weave, Jason Castro, Patrick Ryan Clark, Everfound, for KING & COUNTRY, Group 1 Crew, Love & The Outcome, Dara Maclean, Point Of Grace and Sidewalk Prophets and is home to 25 Entertainment, Word Distribution (representing Curb Records and Big Idea/VeggieTales among others), Word Print, Word Films, Word Music Publishing and Word Label Group’s Word Records, Word Worship and Fervent Records.

MOVIE TRAILERS:

Now for the movie trailers. I’d like to share trailers from each of these DVDs for your entertaining pleasure.




GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

This giveaway is for one of these three DVDS. The winner select which movie they would like to receive. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only and no post office box addresses can be accepted. The giveaway ends at 12 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 28.

To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, so please be patient.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I hope I’ve enticed you to check out at least one or all of these charming movies. Do you have a favorite genre of movies you enjoy watching? What’s your favorite snack to enjoy while watching movies?

*This post contains affiliate links. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Strength of Ballerinas {+ Giveaway}


Strength of Ballerinas coverI’m delighted today to be participating in the Cedar Fort Publishing virtual book tour for THE STRENGTH OF BALLERINAS by Nancy Lorenz.

In celebration of the release of her YA novel, Nancy is hosting a tour-wide giveaway for a couple of amazing prizes. Please see the end of the post for more details on that. Now for my thoughts on this delightful book.


Shattered dreams and personal hardships are mere obstacles for the young protagonist to overcome in Nancy Lorenz’s THE STRENGTH OF BALLERINAS.

Kendra wants only to dance for the Manhattan Dance Company. Her dreams are crushed when her family has to relocate to Napa Valley from New York. Faced with fitting into a new school and still pursuing her dream of dancing, Kendra has many challenges to overcome.

Helping care for her autistic brother in her single parent household, Kendra begins to adjust and find her place in the new setting. But when she receives news of her own health issues, her life changes forever. The choices she makes and the decisions she pursues turn her life upside down while giving her more determination than ever.

THE STRENGTH OF BALLERINAS deals with the hard work, discipline and dedication it takes to be a ballerina. But the author also gives readers a deeper story dealing with the issues this teenager must face and conquer not just with her dream to dance, but with family and friends. The turmoil and uncertainty of starting over in a new school, making new friends and being accepted from a teenager’s viewpoint are well developed throughout the story.

Lorenz has created well-developed characters that evolve as the story unfolds. She highlights the many highs and lows teenagers deal with daily. She blends desire, family, friends and understanding into a fascinating read. The story flows smoothly and the setting draws you in.

A love or enjoyment of the ballet is not necessary to appreciate this story. THE STRENGTH OF BALLERINAS deals with striving for your dreams, even as they change due to circumstances beyond your control. This is an enchanting and inspiring story you won’t be able to put down.

The Strength of Ballerinas by Nancy Lorenz, Sweetwater Books, @2014, ISBN: 978-1462114528, Paperback, 256 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure – A copy of this book was sent to me as part of the author’s virtual book tour in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review. The thoughts are completely my own and given honestly and freely.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

Nancy Lorenz currently teaches as an English adjunct at several colleges. She worked in publishing, public relations and in network television. She studied ballet in New York City at numerous studios, including open level classes at American Ballet Theater in the 1980’s, and continues to study ballet for the sheer love of it. 

Nancy recommends that you love what you do, but also to branch out to the many subjects out there yet to discover. The more you learn, the more you can bring back into your art.

For more on Nancy and her writing, please visit her website and blog. You can also connect with her on Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter.

Strength_of_Ballerinas_blog_tour
GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

This giveaway is tour-wide and hosted by the author. The prize for one lucky winner will be a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of THE STRENGTH OF BALLERINAS.

To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, please be patient.

Thanks so much for stopping by today during Nancy’s tour. Have you or someone in your family ever dreamed of being a ballerina? Have you ever thought about the hard work and discipline that goes into being a ballerina? Do you hear music and feel like twirling when you look at the book cover?

*This post contains affiliate links. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Thrill of the Chase and Prudence Pursued


Prudence Pursed coverIt’s a pleasure to welcome ‘new-to-me’ author Shirley Raye Redmond here today to talk about her writing and her latest release, PRUDENCE PURSUED.

Doesn’t that book cover just draw you in? Here’s a brief description to entice you even more.

        At the advanced age of twenty-seven, Prudence Pentyre is on the shelf. Content to occupy her time by attending meetings of Mr. Wilberforce’s Abolition Society, Prudence is resolved to see that her younger cousin Margaret, shy and plain, does not share her own unmarried fate.
        Despite her best efforts, all of Prudence’s matchmaking attempts fail. Margaret proves reluctant to accept Sir James Brownell’s marriage proposal, and fears being “bovinised” if she undergoes the controversial cowpox vaccination he recommends. And the seafaring baronet—with his sunburned skin, eye patch, and unfashionable attire—seems more concerned about the plight of headhunters in Borneo than Margaret’s stubborn refusal of his offer.
        Prudence, however, finds herself unexpectedly smitten with the man. Can she trust that God’s plan for her life is richer and more rewarding than the one she had planned for herself?

PRUDENCE PURSUED, published by Astraea Press, is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Please join me now in giving a warm welcome to Shirley as she talks about the ‘Thrill of the Chase.’ Welcome, Shirley. 

I love the thrill of the chase! Because I write primarily nonfiction and historical fiction, I rely heavily on research to enhance my plotting and character development. But when I get my teeth into a juicy historical tidbit, I can’t let go. Generally, I have far more notes and resources going into a new project than I ever use in the final product—whether it’s an historical novel like PRUDENCE PURSUED (Astraea Press) or a nonfiction book for teens like CITIES OF GOLD (Cengage Gale).

When it comes to keeping track of my discoveries, I’ve learned to “spare no ink” and that includes printer ink and copy machine ink too. I always photocopy the page with ISBN, copyright date, and publisher’s info. I make a copy of any page I glean information from and make sure the page number is indicated. I use only credible Internet sources (most editors have told me not to use Wikipedia as a quotable source), such as university, government or official historical society sites. I cut and paste the website address on to a resource sheet for my files along with the date I did so, in case the site is down by the time an editor wants to verify my facts.

You may wonder, as I am writing fiction, is all that necessary? Yes! You’d be surprised how often an editor has wanted me to verify facts mentioned in one of my novel manuscripts. One editor made me change the last names of a couple of characters because she didn’t think they were believable (if only I had copied the phone book page where I’d gleaned those names!) and another editor made me change the style and shape of a bookcase in my suspense novel STONE OF THE SUN. So, yes, research matters—even in fiction.

I don’t want to do a big information dump in the middle of my stories either. Author Jack Bickham once wrote this about descriptive details: “Description must be worked in carefully in bits and pieces to keep your reader hearing and seeing and feeling in your story world. But please note the language here: it must be worked in a bit at a time, not shoveled in by the page.” I believe the same is true about factual information. Sprinkle it around, don’t shovel it on.

My latest novel, PRUDENCE PURSUED, was in fact inspired by the research I did on a middle grade biography about Edward Jenner, the British physician responsible for the first smallpox vaccine and the father of immunology. I was a bit surprised to learn he lived and worked before and during the time frame generally known as the Regency period. For a man who launched a highly controversial and yet successful medical treatment, he gets little mention in novels set in that time period. Although the publisher eventually killed the series my Jenner biography was intended to be a part of, I was left with reams of notes and decided to include much of what I’d learned in a Regency romance.

As the horrors of smallpox plays a major role in my story plot, I decided to set the tone right away on the first page. Here is the opening scene:

        “You should not wear that to the pox party,” Prudence Pentyre said, indicating her younger cousin’s dress of light green Italian silk. “I recommend something with short sleeves which allows you to expose your forearm to the lancet.”
        Margaret shuddered. Her plain face, pale and lightly freckled, appeared downcast. “Oh, Pru, I wish I didn’t have to go.” She stood, slender shoulders drooping, in front of her open wardrobe.
        “Truly, Meg, there’s nothing to worry about,” Prudence assured her, slipping a comforting arm around her cousin’s slim waist. “Papa had all of us vaccinated with the cow pox when we were still in the school room—and the servants too. I’m quite surprised my Uncle Giles didn’t do the same,” Prudence replied.

        A glint of disapproval flashed in her soft brown eyes. Silently, she fumed. Uncle Giles had held too many old-fashioned notions. Such an old stick! He was dead now, having suffered an apoplexy two years ago. Her mother, if she knew of Prudence’s unspoken condemnation, would have reminded her not to speak ill of the dead. This dictate had never made sense to Prudence. Why were some of life’s most unsavory characters deemed to be saints after their deaths? Not that Uncle Giles was unsavory, but he had been shamefully old-fashioned.
        “Look, Meg, there’s not even a scar.” Prudence held out a white arm for her cousin’s perusal. “Mr. Jenner’s procedure is almost painless and quite safe, much safer than buying the smallpox and enduring the dreaded disease.

But as serious as the disease was—killing 1 out of every 4 people that contracted it and disfiguring 2 out of 4—I still wanted to include a little “Jane Austenish” wit in the story too:

        Prudence considered her eyes her best physical feature. They were large and expressive. When she had been much younger, an infatuated suitor had once written a poem for her, referring to the subject of his adoration as the, “lovely, ox-eyed Prudent Athena.” Smiling, she recalled this bit of poetic nonsense, but decided not to mention the particular compliment to Margaret. At least not until after the girl had been vaccinated with cowpox and quite recovered from her current state of anxious misery.

So, here are a few amazing facts that will help readers of Regency romance appreciate Edward Jenner’s contributions to the era so popular with fiction readers:

(1)     In its day, smallpox was referred to as “the speckled monster.” 

(2)     It killed hundreds of millions of people—more than the Black Death and the wars of the 20th century put together! 


(3)     President Thomas Jefferson, who used the Jennerian method to vaccinate his own family, friends, and slaves, once wrote to Jenner: “Yours is the comfortable reflection that mankind can never forget that you have lived.” 


(4)     A woman who was considered a “great beauty” during this time period was usually one who had not been seriously disfigured by smallpox. It was understood by portrait artists of the day that they were not to paint in the disfigurements and pockmarks of their subjects. 


(5)     Jane Austen’s dearest friend, Martha Lloyd, was scarred by smallpox for the remainder of her life. Several members of the Lloyd household died from the disease. A character in Austen’s novel Northanger Abbey is disfigured and crippled by the dreaded disease. 


And what do pretty milkmaids have to do with Jenner’s discovery of the possible prevention of smallpox? Read PRUDENCE PURSUED and find out! And enjoy a lively love story while you’re at it.


Shirley, thanks for joining us and sharing this behind the scenes look at your story and fascinating facts about smallpox and its impact on this era. Your story sounds captivating.

Now, let me share a bit of background on Shirley.

SHIRLEY RAYE REDMOND is an award-winning author of nonfiction children’s books and several sweet romances. Her Lewis & Clark: A Prairie Dog for the President (Random House) was a Children’s Book of the Month Club selection. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, the Faith, Hope and Love Chapter of RWA, Southwest Writers and Women Writing the West. 

For more on Shirley and her writing, please visit her website and connect with her via her Facebook author page

Thanks so much for stopping by today during Shirley’s visit. I hope we’ve enticed you to check out PRUDENCE PURSUED and see what happens. Have you read other stories where smallpox played a role?

*This post contains affiliate links.