FIVE REASONS I LOVE WRITING HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Is there a woman out there who isn’t a romantic? I cannot imagine her.
Do you know that song Maria sings in WESTSIDE STORY? “I enjoy being a girl!” I wasn’t always frill and lace, skirts (no britches), and long hair! As a girl, I rode horses with the neighborhood kids, wore my hair bobbed, and got into plenty of corncob fights!
But now, in my elder years, I hope to exude femininity as a worthy example to younger women everywhere I go. A helpless romantic, I confess to being hopelessly in love with my husband and my co-writer, Ron. What a man! I love him more today than yesterday, but less than tomorrow!
We met at sixteen, engaged at seventeen, and married at eighteen—all in June. The following June we had our firstborn son, and life was on! I remember a card Ron sent me—he sent them frequently, but randomly, a couple of times a week—but its message was “I want be 80 with you.”
Wow did that seem forever away back then when we were in our early twenties! Now the big-EIGHT-0 is only eight years away. Wow and praise the Lord! We have we come a long way, my love and I . . . with joys and sorrows, hurts and healings, adventures and quiet times.
Of course, as in everything I do or accomplish—including my relationships—all the glory for the excellent relationship Ron and I enjoy goes directly to God! I’m very blessed to have a husband who certainly loves God as much as I do!
Why wouldn’t romance come natural for a Christian?
The Holy One I worship and adore IS love. GOD IS LOVE, and that’s my first really terrific reason to love writing romance stories, creating characters in different situations looking for love. Ron and I help them find it!
The second reason I love to write Historical Romance is being able to weave the Godly principles and lessons I’ve learned along my walk with Him—sixty-three years now—so readers benefit and become closer to Him. Through my relationship with our Father, I’ve come to trust Him completely.
Trusting God ends all worry and fear right off the bat, and I guarantee you, He is altogether trustworthy! So, two of my biggest messages in my books are no fear and no worry, very important lessons for they bring that precious peace of His that passes all understanding! 😊
I like to bring out the importance of what we say through my characters—the words we speak. I love it that Almighty God says He creates the fruit of our lips!
I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the Lord; and I will heal him. Isaiah 57:19
The things we say will come to pass! I’ve proven this in saying “I’m blessed and highly favored” every time someone asks how I am. Many times, it’d be a lie to say, “Oh, I’m good” (Plus Jesus said, ‘Don’t call me good. Only My Father is good.’) or “I’m just fine.” Holy Spirit helped me figure out what is ALWAYS Truth!
As I have spoken—only He knows how many times over the past thirty or forty years—I’m blessed and highly favored! God has truly created that fruit in my life. He gives us brand new houses and cars or a little 1940s farmhouse to rent instead of a having to live in a tent—what a blessing that was!
Whatever my lot, I have learned to say, I’m blessed and highly favored! To put it another way, it is well with my soul!
Chickens, goats, roosters (I know! They’re just boy chickens 😊 ), a husband who kisses me every morning and every night and hugs me and tells me he loves me many times a day! —This could be the longest paragraph in the history of paragraphs if I start sharing all my blessings!—
I love being an older lady teaching those younger how God wants us to live through the characters I create and their stories. I’m able to pass along little pearls of how to live a Christian life to its fullest.
Third Reason: Have you ever thought about the fact that historical stories never get outdated! When an author writes a contemporary story and includes anything of ‘the time’—what people are doing, using, saying (phones, television, computers, internet games), their words may be outdated by the time they are published! My stories are always pertinent in the face of history.
My history teacher, Mister Aubrey Morris, at MacArthur High in Irving Texas, would be so proud of me if her were still on the earth. He’d be so surprised to hear me say how very much I love history and how I research almost daily digging for tidbits of wonderful, interesting history that truly make the stories so much more fun to read!
And I’ve learned so much! Researching and Learning join together to make my FOURTH reason I love to write historical fiction!
Being that I love old fashioned morals that please God, historicals give me an opportunity to live for a while in those sweet times when women were treasured and courted. A time when good men loved and cared for his wife and children. Back when people actually got married before having babies.
To be sure, bad choices were made in the moment back then, too, but sin was sin and not okay.
In the 1800s, women dressed modestly in loose clothing that covered cleavage and disguised private places with long, full skirts—even their ankles. No young lady of honor would be caught alone with a male before marriage, and many first kisses waited for a promise if not actual vows.
It was a awesome era when neighbors gathered to visit and helped one another build barns and plant crops. When I write of these days, I get to live there a while! And this is my fifth reason for loving to write historical fiction!
My latest historical fiction is a covered wagon story in the Prairie Roses Collection JO who learns about forgiveness and curses, and my next one launching September 5th is TEXAS WILDFLOWERS in the Thanksgiving Books & Blessings Collection and also book eight in my Cross Timbers Romance Family Saga! I hope you’ll check them out! I’m certain you’ll enjoy both!
Linda Shenton Matchett
“There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills”
Long before modern Americans played the lottery, men and women have searched for a way to get rich. In the early days of the country, a variety of methods were tried from inventions to peddling “miracle cures. Fortunately, for a lucky few in the U.S. gold was discovered, first in 1799, then 1829, followed by 1848 and 1859.
The 1859 Pike’s Peak Gold rush took place in the western Kansas Territory and southwestern Nebraska Territory. Starting in July 1858, it lasted until around the time Colorado Territory was created in February 1861. More than 100,000 prospectors showed up to take their chances at striking it rich. The peak year of the rush was 1859, and newspapers coined the phrase “Fifty-Niners” when describing the gold seekers.
Despite being referred to as the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush and the rampant use of the motto “Pike’s Peak or Bust,” the location of the rush was actually centered eighty-five miles north of the great mountain. But again, newspapers came into play. Pike’s Peak was very well known, even on the East Coast, so reporters took to naming the area in their articles.
Gold seekers came from around the globe to try their hand at prospecting. A large number of the seekers made their way back from California, where the gold was starting to play out. A significant portion of the miners came from Europe where they suffered from political unrest, famines, illness, and religious persecution. Crossing an ocean and trying to carve a life from the mountains may have seemed like the answer. For many, perhaps it was.
Women were also part of the rush, although the men outnumber them by twenty to one. The ladies came with husband, brothers, fathers, and uncles. Some lost their men to accidents or illnesses and headed home, but others remained to work the claim. To the dismay of the men, single women also arrived to seek their fortune. Further consternation was caused when women like Charlotte Card and Elsa Jane Forest wore men’s clothing (surely making the task easier than panning in a dress and petticoats!).
My story Gold Rush Bride Caroline was inspired by these stalwart gals.
There is just something about love in a story, isn’t there? Whether it be a straight-up romance novel complete with the hunky hero and the beautiful heroine in distress, a romantic suspense with the hero and heroine falling in love in the midst of great danger, or a women’s fiction with a thread of romance, almost every book you pick from the shelf is going to have the lead male and the lead female falling in love or developing feelings for each other by the end.
And why not? When we pick up books, we want to get lost in a fantasy where the men are all handsome and come riding in on a white steed to sweep us away to a castle somewhere. We escape the reality of our men coming in from the yard covered in sweat and tracking mud across our freshly washed floors.
But isn’t there more to love than that? It’s all fine and wonderful to escape our everyday lives with our normal husbands and marriages or to dream of having a love like that when we marry someday, but it’s not reality. Reality is dinner burning, the bills needing to get paid, kids to be picked up at school and taken to soccer practice. Reality is couples arguing, cold silence between spouses, sometimes even marriages ending.
The happy answer is that there is more to love than what we read in our novels. More to it than what we escape to when life gets to be a little too raw and too real. And it’s also found in a book. It’s found in the book, the Bible. From the first chapters of Genesis to the last chapters of Revelation, the Bible is first and foremost about love. God’s love for His people.
The love we find in this book is the tender love of God our Father, protecting us and caring for us. It is the just love of God the judge who doesn’t tolerate sin and demands a price be paid for it. Ultimately, it is the abounding, unfathomable love of Jesus Christ who goes to the cross for us and, even though we are still sinners, dies for us and redeems us. I’ll use the biblical term Selah here, which means to pause and think about that for a moment.
Every word in the Bible emphasizes God’s love for us in all its forms.
Neil Tolsma has written a tremendous book, This Is Love, which traces the love of God throughout the entire Bible. It was in this book that I first learned the word hesed, which means lovingkindness or a faithful, unshakable love. That’s the love God has for us. The book, though rich in its theological study, is also written in conversational English, making it easy to understand. The concepts, though deep, are simple to grasp and eye-opening.
Neil is a pastor emeritus, and so used to speaking in a way that brings God’s message across in a way that everyone can understand. For over fifty years, he’s been immersed in God’s word and has been studying the concept of biblical love.
And in September, his follow up book, Love Matters, will release. This follow up is fabulous. Though the love of God for His people remains first and foremost in the book, Neil now turns his attention on how we, as those bought by the blood of the Lamb, should relate to God and each other in love. It delves into how we are to treat each other in light of God’s loving treatment of us. Even if you haven’t read This Is Love, Love Matters is a valuable book to add to your library. It’s perfect for individual study, devotions, or even Sunday school or small group studies.
Disclaimer: Neil Tolsma is my father. When I was growing up, though, he never let me win at Monopoly, teaching me to work hard and always do my best, so I apply the same standard to him. I wouldn’t say this book is valuable and worth reading if I didn’t truly believe it.
Marguerite Martin Gray
Things in Common
When you read, do you find a character who shares some of your characters, your likes and dislikes, your dreams and goals, your struggles and defeats, your accomplishments and challenges? It happens all the time to me. But also, I enjoy experiencing life through characters that are opposite of me. I’m an introvert, but I can learn from a character who is an extrovert.
Take this little survey that includes some of the qualities of my heroines.
- Yes/No I like to bake.
- Y/N I enjoy gardening.
- Y/N I’m a good seamstress.
- Y/N I love cats.
- Y/N I like dogs.
- Y/N I dislike horses.
- Y/N I prefer bright, bold tones.
- Y/N I chose earthy hues.
- Y/N I enjoy crowds.
- Y/N I yearn to be alone.
- Y/N I face challenges with energy.
- Y/N I avoid any conflict.
- Y/N I’m curious about history.
- Y/N I prefer contemporary issues.
- Y/N I am an only child.
- Y/N I’m the oldest of my siblings.
- Y/N I’m a good listener.
- Y/N I talk a lot.
Whatever your likes or dislikes, you can find authors who can give you strong characters with unique personalities and situations.
Accept the challenge. Dive into a good book.
Mountain Brrok Ink
BFFs & a Cheeky Nephew By Mary Davis
Everyone needs a BFF. Such was the case with the hero, Lamar, in the fifth book in my Quilting Circle series, The Lady’s Mission. I started out with a hero and nothing else. Lamar had shown up in the previous books in the series, but never got the girl. It was time for him to have his own love story.
Lamar came from a wealthy family and managed his grandmother’s estate. Grandmama had taken it upon herself to find him a suitable bride. Who would be the right woman to pair with him? Someone smart and independent. In walked a giggly socialite with shopping on her mind. “What are you going to do about that, Lamar?”
Next, Lamar needed something to do, so I asked my critique partners. One of them suggested a hot-air balloon. My knowledge of these balloons could fit in a thimble with room to spare. I did not want to do all the research needed to have one in my story. However, it was too late. Lamar loved the idea, and there was no wrestling it away from him. So, I jumped into the research and learned to “fly” a hot-air balloon from the safety of my writing chair.
Once I had the right woman, his hobby, and began writing, I had in the back of my mind that I needed to find a best friend for Lamar and wondered who in Kamola might fit the bill. No one jumped out, but I kept looking around town.
Then I went over the mountains to help my mom move. Other family members helped too. Once we had all Mom’s stuff in her new place, we went out to dinner before the two-hour drive home back over the mountains. As I sat across from my nephew (in his mid-thirties) who sported a six-inch beard, he said, “So, Aunt Mary, when are you going to put me in one of your books?” I don’t put my relatives in my books lightly. But through the conversation, I agreed he could be a character in the next book I was working on.
Thomas’s number one requirement was for his character have dialogue so that in the “movie version” he would have a speaking part. He also wanted to be a world-famous buffalo-wing eater. “Sorry, Thomas, buffalo wings weren’t a thing in 1894.” He has plenty of dialogue and does get to eat chicken wings. But since this is a quilting series, he also gets to quilt. My nephew liked this idea. The character inspired by my nephew made a great best friend for my hero. From the moment the character stepped onto the page, he stole scenes.
I’m so glad Thomas asked to be in my novel—otherwise, Lamar’s best friend wouldn’t have been half as interesting. The Lady’s Mission releases in October 2022, and is available for preorder now.
Many times the prophets in the old testament called out the leaders for leading the nation astray. Countless kings and priests—people who were meant to be leading the people towards God—are chastised again and again for setting a path for the nation away from God.
There were leaders who honored God and slowed the inevitable demise, but soon enough the next king would bring in a reign of backsliding once more. Certainly, each man and woman made the choice whether to follow God or go away from Him, but having a godly person in leadership does help shape the path.
In Ezekiel 34, God calls out the leaders for directing His people astray. The shepherds are brought to light for taking care of themselves and living in luxury at the expense of those they were called to protect, while ignoring the physical and spiritual needs of the people.
The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost…Thus says the LORD God: “Indeed, I myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.” ~Ezekiel 34:4,11 NKJV
I can’t help but think of another Shepherd who came five-hundred years later.
One who strengthened the weak.
Healed the sick.
Bound up the broken.
Brought back what was driven away.
Sought the lost.
This Shepherd wept over the people because they were scattered and in chaos, like sheep without a shepherd. People who had been mistreated by those who were supposed to be responsible for them.
This Leader put the needs of the people above His own needs.
This God came down from His throne, debasing Himself to live in the flesh of a mortal for the sake of restoring me.
For the chance to make things right for you.
Let’s take it a step farther.
If we as Christ’s followers are meant to imitate Him, doesn’t that serve to reason that we should be acting like trustworthy shepherds? He commanded His disciples to tend to His flock. He gave His followers the ability to heal and to bring back the lost. We are charged with bringing Peace to those around us.
The challenge is not easy. In many ways it is dangerous, but with the Good Shepherd leading the way, I am confident of this very thing: that He who began a good work in us is faithful and will bring it to completion.
Who do feel the Lord has placed in your life that you can shepherd?