Marguerite Martin Gray
A Reader First
I’m a reader first. Before a writer, an editor, a researcher, or a reviewer. Give me a clean good book or even a mediocre one and I will read it. I prefer some genres over others, but I read them all (except horror.) Just a side note—I don’t know of any Christian horror books. Do you? Anyway, I gravitate toward historical and historical romance. Yet, women’s fiction, contemporary, or suspense all brighten my path. I just love to read. I’m an addict, and I admit it.
How many books do you read at a time? Growing up I never understood how one of my sisters read multiple books at the same time. Wouldn’t that be confusing? Years later, I find I have four novels going at any one time. Some I finish quickly, while others simmer and become close friends. What about you? One at a time or multiple companions?
How do you read your novels? Or should I ask, on what devices? I used to be a physical print reader or nothing at all. Now, with a change in lifestyle and need, I always have an eBook open on my Kindle, and an audio book for travel. Yes, I count audible as reading! eBooks are mostly for review, although special offers come along or catch my fancy and the books land in my eBook library. What do you prefer? Print, eBook, or audio?
To give an example of what and how I read, I’ll share my present situation.
Print: Dogwood Plantation by Carrie Fancett Pagels
Allerednic by Chautona Havig
eBook: Sword of Trust by Debbie Lynne Costello
Audio: Her Secret Song by Mary Connealy
This go around, they are all historical. Imagine that!
I’d love to know your reading preference. Hopefully, you will enter the giveaway on Because Fiction in the various categories.
5 Things You Need to Know about Authors
- We write at weird times of the day. The struggle to get words on a page is real, so we have to find the perfect time that works for us. None of us have nine to five jobs. Some writers (me included) like to get up very early to write. Ridiculously early. Some stay up until people like me crawl out of bed. And all of us have awakened in the middle of the night with a fabulous idea we had to write before we forgot it.
- We’ve been known to take our computers with us. Everywhere. If we think we might get five minutes to write, we’ll drag our laptops with us. I always take mine to doctor’s appointments, dentist appointments, when my daughter has physical therapy. It comes with me on girls’ weekends, getaways with my hubby, and on vacation. Yes, I took mine to Belize. And used it. If you think that’s bad, I know an author who took her computer with her to Disney World. When we don’t have them with us, it’s like a limb is missing. Seriously, we have panic attacks without them.
- We have people living in our heads. They talk to us. We talk to them. Every now and again, they share secrets with us. They surprise us with what they do and with what they don’t do. For me, my books play out like movies in my head. I can see the characters, hear sounds, smell odors (good and bad!), all in technicolor. And I can’t possibly be the only author who has called my children by my characters’ names. Don’t worry – my kids have turned out to be productive members of society, even growing with a half-crazy lady for a mother. Though none of them is pursuing writing as a career. I wonder why.
- Our spouses are saints. Heaven will have extra crowns waiting for them when they arrive. They put up with our crazy hours, our obsession with our computers even while laying on a tropical beach, and our forgetfulness because we’re living in 1836 or 1944 or a fantasy world we’ve created. They cook us dinner and remind us to eat it. They run the laundry so we don’t wear the same fleece pants for five days straight. And when we’re on deadline, they ever so politely remind us to shower at least every other day. See what I mean? Saints. Each and every one of them.
- We couldn’t do what we do without our readers. You all don’t know how much you mean to us. We love the encouraging notes you send, the mentions on social media, and the reviews you write. Some of you have become friends more than fans. You pray for us when we are feeling the crunch and when life happens. Without you readers, we’d just be a bunch of wacky people punching computer keys all day. So thank you, gracias, and merci beaucoup.
Linda Shenton Matchett
U.S. women have served in wars since the American Revolution, but World War II was the first time women were part of the military in an official capacity. Beginning in December 1941, more than 350,000 women served in the Army, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard. (The Air Force did not become a separate branch until 1947.) But it was not until mid-1943, that women were allowed to enlist in the Army and Navy Medical Corps.
President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Sparkman-Johnson bill into law on April 16, 1943, and six weeks later, Dr. Margaret Craighill became Major Margaret Craighill, the first female commissioned officer in the Army Medical Corps. Her credentials are impressive from graduating Phi Beta Kappa to earning her medical degree from Johns Hopkins to teaching at Yale. She was assigned the Office of the Surgeon General where she was responsible for setting medical standards for women’s enlistment, providing suitable care after enlistment, and recommending preventive measures for women’s health.
In current times, we take female doctors and the separate discipline of women’s health for granted, but it wasn’t until 1944 that Dr. Craighill was able to convince her superiors about the “problems of health peculiar to women.” Up until that time, women enlistees were subjected to the same exam the men received. As a result, women who should have been rejected were inducted.
By creating standards that were specific to women and educating the medical examiners at the induction stations, the rejection rate rose, and the disability discharge rate plummeted. Dr. Craighill personally conducted an inspection tour that lasted over eight months and spanned the globe. Ultimately promoted to Lt. Colonel, she was awarded the Legion of Merit.
A Doctor in the House explores the challenges women faced serving in traditionally-male positions, specifically physicians in the medical corps who blazed the trail for those who came after them.
Linda Brooks Davis
I’m in my 75th year of life, so believe me when I say there’s been a lot. A lot of joy. Sorrow. Pain. Fear. Success and failure. Faith and doubt. You name it; I’ve probably experienced it. It hasn’t been hard to remember the gems—those events so laced with emotion that I can feel them now. But 75 years of living have involved many uneventful, ordinary days too.
Or were they?
If I could, I’d go back and take note of seemingly ordinary occurrences that could be diamonds in the rough. Like the subjects of my kids’ and grandkids’ arguments. What in the world did they argue about? Knowing that could inform my writing today.
What were the subjects of the notes we girls passed in class in the 1950s and ‘60s? What did I do with the seldom-used clothing that hung in my closets over the years? Why didn’t I even wonder what Mother thought and felt when I told her the umpteenth sewing project I needed—right away? Why did I turn away that perfectly wonderful young man? What were the last words I spoke to Daddy that seemingly ordinary day?
February 19, 1975 began as just another long, tedious day in bed. Four months of premature labor had kept me flat on my back and bored out of my mind. As it turned out, that day will remain in my memory always.
“You’re in real labor now, and your baby is frank breech,” the physician said at an ordinary appointment later that ordinary day.
“So,” I said, not entirely sure what that meant but suspecting I’d stumbled upon something extraordinary. “You’ll do a C-section?”
He looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. “Why? I know how to deliver a breech baby.”
“Oh? I don’t.” But what did that matter? So, off to the Army hospital delivery room we sped.
Word got around the hospital that a frank breech delivery was happening. Scrubs-clad employees encircled the room. Literally.
I shut my eyes, praying they’d get bored and go away.
“Here are your bed sheets,” the nurse said as she wheeled me into a room shared by five other mothers. “Your personal care items are over there.” She pointed to a blue plastic wash pan. “At mealtime, you can pick up your tray at the nurse’s station.” As she left the room, I had no idea I wouldn’t see her again for hours.
Shell shocked, I did as I was told and asked when I could go home. “It’ll be a few days,” the doctor said as I hacked, hacked, hacked with bronchitis.
The next day the nurse entered with my little one bundled in a blanket. “Time to feed your baby.”
“Aww,” I would have said if I could. Laryngitis, bronchitis, and I had become fast friends. Did I mention wearing a mask 24/7?
Then my child’s projectile vomiting began.
“I’m afraid your baby can’t go home with you,” the doctor said as I packed my bags three days later. My little boy had turned yellow and couldn’t survive without “the light.”
Disheartened and worried beyond reason, I entered my home with empty arms—again. (My first son had been born and died on a seemingly ordinary day six years earlier, and here I was, praying for the life of my second little boy.)
Over the following four not-so-ordinary days, I returned to the hospital to rock and feed the little rascal on HIS schedule, even through the night. On one occasion, a doctor performed another baby’s circumcision beside me in the nursery. The physician didn’t act like anyone else was in the room. Eeegads!
That was forty-six years ago, and Lane is no longer a babe in arms, although in my arms is exactly where I want him. As he developed over the course of many ordinary days, I must admit he was a challenge like no other, transforming them into not so ordinary after all. By seventeen months, he was way too curious for his own good—and mine. He woke me at night, roaming the house, examining the kitchen, climbing onto cabinets, pulling food from the refrigerator, and even crawling out his bedroom window at nap time, only to be returned by strangers driving by. I had no idea he wasn’t in his bed!
Eventually, I took him to a specialist who said, “What seems to be the problem?”
“That’s what I want to know. From what I can tell, the message isn’t getting from this boy’s bottom to his brain.”
He chuckled. “Leave him with me. Come back in four hours.”
When I returned, Lane crawled onto my lap, and I looked to the physician. “Go ahead. Tell me what’s wrong.”
“Ma’am, the only thing wrong with this child is whether or not YOU are smart enough to rear him.”
And so, it began and never stopped, one not-so-ordinary day after another. (Wow. I can tell some stories about that boy! Like the time he drank Brasso.) Lane earned double-major bachelor’s degrees and was accepted to two schools of veterinary medicine. He graduated in 2001 and has been practicing with his sister ever since.
What a bunch of happy dogs and cats in San Antonio!
After forty-six years of seemingly ordinary days, I’ve collected a chest load of gems. But I wonder how many jewels I overlooked on all the ho-hum days. If I could go back, I’d keep a journal of my days as an ordinary mother doing ordinary motherly things. Today, those would be gems.
In my eyes, Lane is the same curious, smart-as-a-whip, handsome little boy of long ago. I love nothing better than his hugs—unless it’s a kiss on my cheek. I gave up on understanding the workings of his mind decades ago and just revel in the wonder of him.
Meanwhile, I’m setting up a scene for a 1924 novel and wish for such a journal written in my grandmother’s hand. It would be packed with gems. In particular, I’d love her written account of Christmas 1923. The family was traveling from Oklahoma to the southernmost tip of Texas in covered wagons when they stopped for Christmas in Winters, Texas.
You can read what gems I captured from her spoken memories—and a slew I made up—in my latest, A Sojourner’s Christmas, to be released July 2021.
Even in the Wild West, He’s All We Need!
Hey, everyone! I had a great day on the sixth of March! My youngest son turned thirty-nine, my first grandsugar-daughter got married, and TEXAS TRAILS, my fifty-seventh title, debuted! It was absolutely wonderful and I’m so excited about this coming-of-age story (Cross Timbers Romance Family Saga, book six) with a cattle drive!
I love being from Texas and just can’t help but twiggle (twist plus wiggle) over the Wild West history of the Lone Star State. Cowboys and their cows and horses! Yeehaw! I’ve had horses since age nine! Still have my AQHA mare, Bliss.
Anyway, in this story, the heroine isn’t so much like me. In most of my books, they are, but in this story, I’m so the mother. I’ve reared seven boys (my three then four grandsugar-son brothers) and experienced each one’s comings-of-age. It’s never easy.
A mother’s love for a son makes it so hard to let them grow up and be men before they have enough good sense to make it on their own! (age thirty-three-or-five?) Si I identified so much with Charity. What helped me so much involves one of the few times, God spoke to me so loud that it seemed like I heard it with my ears.
His question was simple and direct. DO YOU TRUST ME
I remember looking around to see who’d said that, knowing already no one was there. (I was driving. And crying, well, bawling because I thought my son’s decisions were going to ruin their lives!
But I thought about the question. Did I trust Him? Of course, I did. “Yes, Lord, I do.”
THEN GIVE YOUR BOYS TO ME
MEN’S EDUCATION IS NOT WHAT IS IMPORTANT
THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH ME IS WHAT’S IMPORTANT
That day, I gave my firstborn (and his brother) to God and chose to trust Him to draw them to Himself, because He is ALL they need, of course. He’s all any of us need. No matter what is going on in your life, let this sink in. It’s the Truth. God is all you need.
Holy Father in Heaven, how mighty and magnificent You are! I ask You in the name of Your Beloved Son Yeshua that You will open my reader’s hearts to receive the Truth . . . the Way and the Life. Please envelope them in Your love and peace right where they are, Father, and bless them!
What they found on the prairie changed their lives forever and sorely tested Enoch’s promise made to his mother in exchange for her blessing for him to go on the cattle drive. He was only seventeen! So, it’s also a story of making and keeping promises.
How many of us have made a promise that proved hard to keep?
I enjoyed writing TEXAS TRAILS (as I do all the great stories He gives me), and believe you’re going to enjoy reading it just as much! It’s a true Texas trail tale to warm your heart!
“Before you say anything, Mother, I’ve decided I don’t want to go to Harvard.”
“Is that so? Well, you are going. You promised me.”
“But there’s just no need now, Mama.”
“Listen to me! I—”
“Wait.” He hadn’t meant for his interruption to be quite as loud as it sounded. Noting her expression of surprise and hurt, he immediately regretted it, but she had to understand. “I’m sorry, but I know now what I want to do with my life. I love buying and selling, and that doesn’t take a Harvard degree.”
“Son, you promised me you’d go; a man’s word is his bond. Were you lying?”
“No.” Enoch studied his hands for a bit. “Not at the time.” He looked to his father who hiked his shoulder a smidgen. He wasn’t going to offer any succor, but at least appeared to sympathize.
Facing his mother again, he nodded. “I know. I did. But things have changed. Everything has changed. I beseech you, Mama, release me.”
“No. You’re young, dear, and don’t know—you . . . you can’t see—that you’re ruining your life!” She cleared her throat, giving the volume of her voice the chance to quit echoing.
“A deal is a deal.” She spoke softly, but firmly. “You, my son, are going to Harvard. The fall term starts in September. Your tuition and dorm has already been paid.”
Review : This series is so wonderful, and this story does not disappoint in the least. Enoch and Gus get to go on their first cattle drive to Kansas with no expectations but a good profit at the end of the adventure. They get that with so much more. The pacing is great, the story line solid, and the characters are so fun to read about. –Erralee Hendrian, an avid reader
Back to me! I hope that whets your appetite! While I’ve never been on a cattle drive, I have wrangled horses when Ron and I had a stable. A lot of Enoch’s experiences with the horses came from times with our horses.
A first grader once asked during a school visit, “Is that a real cowboy hat?”
I told him since I didn’t wrangle cows and wasn’t a boy, I liked to think of it more as a horselady’s hat! I’m a horselady for sure and for certain, and a Texan through and through (even if I was born in California)! Because I love all y’all, I’ve got a giveaway for you!