Diane Kalas, Inspirational Historical Romance Author

“But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works." Psalm 73:28 (KJV)






Tuesday, May 28, 2013

WIDOW OF GETTYSBURG BOOK REVIEW

Jocelyn Green's new release
Book 2 Heroines Behind the Lines - Civil War

 
WIDOW OF GETTYSBURG BOOK REVIEW
After reading WEDDED TO WAR, Book 1 of Heroines Behind the Lines, I couldn’t wait until Book 2, WIDOW OF GETTYSBURG was published.  Even though I knew what happened in Gettysburg July 1-3, 1863, I devoured the story as if I was learning about the tragic event for the first time. I particularly liked that Jocelyn wrote WIDOW OF GETTYSBURG in five acts: The Gathering Storm, The Heavens Collide, In the Fog, The Smoke Clears, and Beauty from Ashes.
 
The townspeople in WIDOW OF GETTYSBURG are headed for a catastrophe in June 1863, although unaware of the imminent danger. The build up and introduction of characters in WIDOW OF GETTYSBURG increased the stressful anticipation as I read the rumors and misinformation that circulated about General Lee’s army and its exact location. I also felt their hope as ordinary citizens put their trust in Federal troops to protect them. The horrendous drama of a battle, involving thousands of Northern and Southern soldiers, soon erupts within the characters’ hometown, within their front yards, and even within their very homes.
 
In Act One I met the heroine, Liberty Holloway, a young woman who had a sad childhood but is determined to face the future alone. The handsome hero calls himself Johnny and intends to keep his real identity to himself. Is he a true Rebel or not? The restrictive rules and prejudices, regarding women whether white or freed black are threaded throughout the story realistically. Jocelyn has also written about female slaves and slave owners with straightforward honesty.
 
WIDOW OF GETTYSBURG is a splendid work of long historical fiction with a touch of romance. Jocelyn’s attention to the complex facts of the battle, combined with the neglect and medical mistreatment of wounded, shortages of medical supplies, food, and clean water is based on historical facts Jocelyn researched thoroughly.
 
I highly recommend WIDOW OF GETTYSBURG where well-defined characters, dangerous and even quirky, carry you into their turbulent world to a conclusion sure to satisfy anyone who enjoys a story set against the background of an historic calamity that is still discussed today.
 
Be sure to check out Jocelyn’s “History behind the Story,” in the back of the book. Jocelyn identifies non-fiction characters in WIDOW OF GETTYSBURG who were there in Gettysburg at the time of the battle or afterward to add authenticity to her story. Well done, Jocelyn.

JOCELYN GREEN AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Jocelyn Green, author of WIDOW OF GETTYSBURG

Welcome, Jocelyn. I'm so pleased to have you on my blog to answer a few questions about WIDOW OF GETTYSBURG, book 2 your marvelous series Heroines Behind the Lines. This must be a busy and an exciting time for you.
 
 
How has receiving a contract for your Heroines Behind the Lines books changed your life?

It keeps me busy, that’s for sure! J With two small children, I wasn’t really in danger of being bored anyway. But right before I signed the contract for the Heroines series, I seriously wondered if I was at the end of my book-writing career. I started writing for military wives when I was one myself, and since then I’ve published four nonfiction books for military families. My well of original material to share was running dry. I thought I had nothing else to share with the world in book format.

 So when this opportunity to write fiction materialized, it opened up an entirely new world of possibilities for me, right at the time I was ready to put down my pen. I’m not sure how many novels God has in store for me to write, but I’m enjoying the ride while it lasts.

 How did you organize the massive amount of research for WIDOW OF GETTYSBURG?

 I used a three-ring binder to organize all the photocopies I had made of the manuscripts I found in Gettysburg archives. Then I used 3x5 color-coded note cards for the rest of my research. Of course, sometimes it was just easier to buy the book and underline and tag information in it to my heart’s content, so I did splurge on several books in order to do that. Otherwise I would fill a notebook taking notes from just one book! For more visual information, I pinned photographs of Gettysburg home interiors, maps, sketches of troops movements over the battlefield, etc., on a huge bulletin board that I prop up right next to my desk.

Was the research for WIDOW OF GETTYSBURG difficult to deal with, personally, in regards to the treatment of female slaves, and the overwhelming suffering of the wounded during and after the battle?

Yes, it was. I have been writing about America’s wars for seven years, interviewing soldiers, veterans, Blue Star and Gold Star family members, and of course researching primary sources from earlier wars. I have read and heard more than my fair share about suffering. One might think that I’d be desensitized to it by now, but I’m not. I can handle a lot, but every once in a while, I just have to shut the book and take a deep breath. Sometimes I end up crying over what I read. If I research right before bed I do get nightmares from it. (So I don’t do that anymore.)

The treatment of female slaves was a new topic for me to delve into. It was hard to read about, and it was hard to write about. But these ugly pieces of our history should not be swept under the rug. I’m not saying we need to dwell on it, but we do have to acknowledge that it’s all part of our country’s story. The great news is that God can redeem the darkest moments of our past.

 Is the Civil War your favorite era for writing fiction or do you have others as well?

It is right now, simply because it’s what I’m currently writing. J But if I get a chance to write more novels set in a different time period after this, that will probably become a “favorite era,” too. I’d like to try a contemporary novel, but I’m also very interested in the Depression era, in addition to the various wars.

What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing fiction?

There is more than one thing I wish I would have known, but one is how much better the story will be if all the main characters have secrets. Big ones. In Widow of Gettysburg, everyone’s hiding something, at least in the beginning. It’s much more interesting that way.

If you could travel back in time when and where would you go?

I’d go back to the day America learned that World War 2 was over, and we were victorious. Can you imagine what that must have been like? All over the country, but especially where the wives and children waited for their loved ones, it must have been electric.

When not writing, what fills your time?

Right now, digging up dandelions, playing board games with my kids, reading, and wondering what on earth to make for dinner. In the fall I’ll start homeschooling our seven-year-old, so that will take some time too. I’m looking forward to it.

What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?

The theme of Widow of Gettysburg is taken from Psalm 30:5. Weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning. The lesson for me is to be patient in the night. One person’s “night” could last a week or a decade. We don’t know when the light is coming, but we do know that it will. The lesson is to trust God’s plan, even when we feel we’re in the dark.

Thank you, Jocelyn, for answering my questions. I enjoyed learning a little more about you and your work. Can't wait for book 3 to be published in Heroines Behind the Lines

JUNE 3: WE HAVE A WINNER! THANK YOU FOR YOUR COMMENTS.

WE'RE HAVING A RANDOM DRAWING IN 7 DAYS! Please leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of Jocelyn’s Widow of Gettysburg plus Fanny Kemble’s Journals. One of Fanny Kemble’s journals was published in July 1863 and played a key role in Widow of Gettysburg.

  

Thursday, May 2, 2013

BACHELOR BUTTONS BOOK REVIEW

Kathleen Maher's new release

BACHELOR BUTTONS 

Recently, I had the privilege to read an advanced copy of BACHELOR BUTTONS, a novella by Kathleen Maher. Because I share the same passion for Civil War history as Kathleen, I knew the story would hold my interest.

What I didn’t know . . . Kathleen’s character development and setting are phenomenal. The Irish brogue identified the characters, although not in an intrusive way. The tenement setting in New York City drew me into their turbulent world and showed a national crisis exploding into their lives. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. I couldn’t read fast enough!

On the playful side, the heroine of BACHELOR BUTTONS loves having two eligible young men pursuing her affections, and mischievously pits them against each other in a spontaneous foot race. The hero is not the preferred bachelor according to Da, Rose's father. The Christian faith integrated in the story is believable and appropriate. Kathleen wrote fully recognizable characters with occupations, present day goals, and dreams for the future. All within a novella. Remarkable accomplishment for a writer of historical fiction. My hat’s off to Kathleen.

 As a lover of American history, I learned more details about the draft riots in New York City in July 1863, and from the point of view of the characters in BACHELOR BUTTONS. Kathleen handled the controversial subject through the characters who had something to gain or something to lose by the political decisions made in Washington, D.C.
 
Not until I finished reading BACHELOR BUTTONS did I realize Kathleen’s heroine, Rose, is based on her maternal great, great grandmother Katherine Meehan who lived in Manhattan’s lower East side during the Civil War. Even the foot race for Rose’s hand happened between the real-life suitors of Katherine, an Irish doctor and a violin teacher depicted in the novella.

Interesting to note is Kathleen’s son, Daniel Talvi, designed the cover art for BACHELOR BUTTONS. Daniel did a professional job incorporating a Civil War flag with a violin, another contribution to Kathleen’s family record. 

BACHELOR BUTTONS, a Civil War Romance, Volume 3, is being distributed as an ebook first. Later, each of the novellas in the American Civil War series: CRY FREEDOM, presented by Murray Pura, will go to print as part of a collection. Release date for print is unknown at this time.

In summary, BACHELOR BUTTONS is a wonderful read. The characters will stay with you a long time. Thank you, Kathleen, for sharing a fascinating segment in Civil War history and your family’s personal story.

Here's the Amazon link to order BACHELOR BUTTONS:
 



 

KATHLEEN MAHER, AUTHOR INTERVIEW


Kathleen Maher, author of BACHELOR BUTTONS

Welcome, Kathleen, and congratulations on your debut novella, BACHELOR BUTTONS. Thank you for allowing me to interview you.
 
 
Tell me a little about yourself.

Well, I am a dog lover. I am owned by a rescued Newfoundland, a Newfoundland Golden Retriever mix, and my most recent addition, a Boxer mystery mix puppy. I have written stories since I was in kindergarten. I have three kids, one of whom has autism, and is very gifted at writing himself. And I am still on my honeymoon after 15 years of marriage to my best friend John. I’ve been a born again Christian since I was seven years old, and have had many faith adventured over the years. J

 How long have your been writing and when did you first realize you were called to write inspirational fiction?

Even though I have dabbled at story as long as I could write, I would say it really became important to me in high school. I completed a novel by the time I was a senior, and then started another one my senior year. And as far as inspirational, that happened after I entered my first writing contest in 2007. It was a secular contest with a very big name, and the experience left me with a longing to tell stories that uplifted and encouraged, that glorified the Lord.

 When did you decide to write BACHELOR BUTTONS and why?

Bachelor Buttons came out of a family story about my great, great grandmother who had two suitors—a doctor and a violin instructor. She made them run a foot race to decide which one to marry. I had always wanted to use that in my writing, and then when Murray Pura contacted me about participating in his Civil War short story collection in February, I felt it was the perfect venue. My great, great grandmother lived in Manhattan, and actually was alive when the Draft Riots took place, only she was a little girl. With a bit of tweaking, I made her character of courting age, and juxtaposed their story into the time frame of 1863.

 Any surprises in the research for BACHELOR BUTTONS?

Yes, actually. I had always known that most of the violence of the riots was committed sadly by Irish against freed black men. What I didn’t know was that heroes emerged from among the Irish also, such as the many firemen and police who countered the mobs’ destruction, and also, a neighborhood of Irish who protected their black neighbor from lynching and attack on his business.

 What project are you working on now?

Two. One is a Colonial short story set in New York state. And another is a fairy tale, which I am VERY excited about.

 Is the Civil War your favorite era for writing an historical novel or are there others?

Civil War was my first love, and that is why I was delighted to participate in this collection. I know I won’t always get to write Civil War, so thank goodness I have other interests, such as WWII, medieval, and 19th century.

 Are you a seat-of-the-pants writer or do you outline before starting the first draft?

Both. LOL  I outline in my head, and sometimes on paper, and then let the characters take me where they will.

 Name a person from history whom you would enjoy meeting and tell why.   

I love this question, and yet I never know how to answer it. Probably because there are several. I can’t wait to meet my relatives in heaven, such as the inspiration for my hero and heroine, Katherine Meehan and William Lee. But I also want to meet Elijah. I love reading about him in the book of Kings. I want to meet Robert E. Lee and just listen to his stories. Thank God heaven goes on forever, because it would take me forever to sit at the feet of all of my heroes.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Diane. You are a blessing to help me share about my debut novella. Can’t wait until your Civil War series sells and I can return the favor! Lord bless you, my friend. Kathy

I appreciate the time taken to answer my nosy questions, Kathleen!

Please leave a comment for Kathleen, and a chance to win a free copy of BACHELOR BUTTONS, an ebook, or a lovely gift basket. In one week, we will have a random drawing. Don't forget to include your email address. Thank you.

Congratulations to Cynthia Lovely for winning Kathy's novella and Irish gift basket. Her name was drawn through random.org. We want to thank each of you for visiting this week.