True Confessions of a Bookaholic

True Confessions of a Bookaholic

I don’t know about you, but I have an obsession with books. The movers we hired can attest to that as they moved over 60 boxes of books to our new house several years ago. If we had to move again, I’d say that number has increased by at least 20. Being a simple book-enthusiast was never an option for me. It is a God-given passion, and I am addicted to the thrill of danger, love, and struggles of the story. In other words, I’m a bookaholic.

For your entertainment, here are ten confessions I have about being a Bookaholic.

It’s confession time:

  1. I used to be a single book at a time gal. Now I’m up to three or four at a time. One audiobook, one e-book, and two print (usually one nonfiction and one fiction). I do still tend to finish one before the other, but not always.
  2. I own an unseemly number of bookish t-shirts.
  3. With rare exception, I read only Christian Fiction, and usually, it is a historical romance.
  4. I have over 1000 print books in my house. Their physical presence is calming and grounds me.
  5. All of my books are organized and cataloged in a literal library system. I even have a barcode scanner. The old-school kind, not my phone–although I’m considering an upgrade. 😉
  6. I own more Christian Historical Fiction than my public library and lend books out to friends to justify my growing collection.
  7. Library Used Book Sales are my kryptonite. Our county has several a year, and I always come home with treasures and a request for another bookshelf.
  8. I have duplicates of my favorite books, which I gladly shove at my friends and make them read…even if I know reading “isn’t their thing.” I mean, what’s wrong with them? They just haven’t found the right book, and I am glad to help remedy that problem.
  9. My family has created a game called “Hide Mom’s Book.” It used to be only when they discovered I was nearing the end of a book, but now it’s whenever they see a book come in the mail.
  10. My husband once hid North and South from me and forgot where he hid it. For over a year, I searched, but it took until we moved to find it.
  11. I hide from my family to read books. Sometimes in the car, but most often in the laundry room or my bathroom. Gross? Yes, but a girl has to finish her books.
  12. I carry books with me everywhere. In fact, every single purse I own has died because the weight has separated the handles from the actual bag. Yes, I know, e-books. But there is nothing like a print book in your hand.
  13. More than once, I have pre-ordered the same book multiple times by accident. Yeah, Amazon supposedly has a little thing at the top telling you when you purchased the book previously, but who has time to read that when you are giddily hitting the purchase button?
  14. More than once, I have become injured while reading a book. Grease splatters from cooking get me. Pans have dropped on my feet. Books smash me in the face as I read in bed. Worst is missing steps I didn’t see while reading and walking. You’d think I’d learn my lesson about multitasking, but I haven’t.
  15. I haven’t read every book I own, but I keep buying more. That’s the real sign of a bookaholic, right?

 

I know I can’t be the only one. Be honest. We can have our own Bookaholics Anonymous Meeting right now. Share your bookaholic confessions in the comments. I’d love to hear I’m not alone.

A Research Trip During COVID-19

A Research Trip During COVID-19

Our family vacation this summer was always planned to be a lakehouse retreat to the Land Between the Lakes Area on the border of Tennessee and Kentucky with a side research trip planned for a day at Fort Donelson.

 

Then COVID hit. Our vacations are pretty much socially distanced all the time anyway, so all that changed was the ability to visit historical museums. WHICH IS HUGE!!! After spending intense months researching books, I was ready to visit the actual location of one of my stories, speak with the park rangers, examine the artifacts in the museum, and buy some of the resources which can only be found on location. With the exception of touring the outside grounds, everything else was closed to me.

 

It was a disappointment, but I am very grateful that I still was able to spend several hours walking around, imagining my characters, taking pictures, recording details from the placards, and even recording some videos for research and future promotions. It was over 90 degrees with outrageous humidity, but this author was willing to endure hours of it to get all the details needed to create a realistic story.

 

Below are a few of my favorite historical tidbits and pictures taken from my phone. When going to write this post, I realized my new computer does not have an SD Card slot so my real camera pictures will have to wait until I find an adapter. 🙂 

A Soldier’s Winter Home

While we often think of soldiers as living in tents, more permanent establishments like Forts or long-term camps built little cabins for soldiers to huddle close in and combat against the winter. The cabin below is an example of one such cabin. The door was locked but pulling away from the hinges, so I stuck my hand in with my phone to get an inside look. You can see the hay strewn on the floor and a small fireplace used to heat the space. The chink in the walls really displayed how much wind could pass through a building. Any light you see in the walls is coming from the outside. It had to be better than a tent, but that wind still must have been biting.

An Important, Often Overlooked Battle

Forts Henry and Donelson were important locations for the Union and Confederate armies. Whoever controlled those, controlled the rivers and the railroads west of the Appalachian Mountains. The above is a panoramic view of Confederate States of America’s River Batteries. The Battle of Fort Donelson was both a land and river battle. From this position, the United States of America sent a gunboat flotilla led by Flag Officer Andrew H. Foote. The vessels which floated down this now peaceful river consisted of both timberclad and ironclad vessels. The timberclads were commercial river steamers converted to gunboats. My picture shows a hot, humid summer day, but the Battle of Fort Donelson was fought during frigid and wet conditions February 11 – 16, 1862.

Video Tour of a Scene I Plan

 I can’t stand my own voice, but you can tell how really excited I was to be here. This was at the end of my tour, so my brain was a little wonky, but the ACTUAL date of the scene would be 1862 NOT 1863. 🙂 For those who don’t want to watch the video, this was a former Confederate camp taken over by Union soldiers. By February 15, the Confederate soldiers were wanting to retreat to Nashville but this encampment of Union soldiers stood in the way. So in the wee hours of the morning they attacked the Union camp. Union soldiers were hopping out of their tents pulling up their pants in order to fight. No one was ready, and it is a scene of chaos I look forward to writing.

 

Well that is all I’m going to share for now. With all the pictures and videos I have, I could write many more posts, but I think I’d rather focus on writing the actual story. 😉 Have a great week, y’all, and I hope you enjoyed what you read.

 

I Need Your Feedback

I Need Your Feedback


Hi faithful readers!

I’m considering doing an every-other-month book club via my website and Facebook author page. Is this something you would be interested in?

I’ve always wanted to be part of a book club, but I’ve never had the joy of having local readers with similar tastes. I thought it would be great to get together with others who like reading Christian Historical Romance (like you!) and have our own online book club. I’m still trying to sort the idea out, but before I put too much effort into it, I wanted to have your feedback.

 

My current thought is to vote on a Christian Historical Romance novel, pick a day where we come together via Zoom (or just posts online) to discuss the book, play a game or two, and participate in a giveaway. I’d send discussion questions ahead of time because if you are like me, you need time to think and process. It would be an event you sign up for ahead of time and wouldn’t necessarily have to participate every time.

If I did it, I think the schedule would be January, March, May, July, September, and early November (to avoid holiday hassles).

 

The first one would be pretty short notice for this July, but the book options I’m thinking are:

 

  1. The Lost Lieutenant by Erica Vetsch – Regency
  2. A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White – WWI
  3. Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green – The Great Chicago Fire

 

If this is something you are interested in, please comment below. Let me know what book would be your top choice and any suggestions you might have.

Ready to sign up? Fill out the Google form at this link: https://forms.gle/a2MyEyzt4aTa1DqQ7

 

A Research Trip During COVID-19

Researching Grief – Childhood Grief Resources

So my blog posts are going to be out of order this month, but I wanted this post to be available to my newsletter subscribers…and I sent it out a few hours ago. 😉

I’ve returned to researching for my Civil War story, and this time I am researching Childhood Grieving.

One of the backdrops to my story is the fresh loss of a parent to the two children my heroine cares for. This is not something I take lightly or just threw in to add more complications to the story. 1 in 20 kids experiences the death of a loved one or friend by the time they are 16. As a caregiver myself, my heart breaks for these situations, and I wanted to explore the messy complications of grief, faith, and real life. However, I didn’t want to be inaccurate in my portrayal of their grief, even if the story is never seen from the perspective of the children.

 

Therefore, I dove into some serious research and discovered many helpful resources. I want to share those resources with you in hopes that they may be a comfort or help to you as well. Whether you are a caregiver, a friend, or the one who has lost someone, there is a resource for you below.

 

 

My favorite resource is the NAGC Hero Toolkit. Regardless of who you are, we all have family or friends who have lost a loved one. This toolkit gives practical ways to reach into your own life or into the lives of others and be “a hero” through the grief process. I REALLY REALLY recommend checking it out.

NAGC Hero Toolkit – This Superhero Toolkit, developed for children, teens and their support network, provides activities and conversations designed to empower each of us to become everyday superheroes.

National Alliance for Grieving Children – The National Alliance for Grieving Children (NAGC) is a nonprofit organization that raises awareness about the needs of children and teens who are grieving a death and provides education and resources for anyone who supports them.

New York Life Bereavement Resources – Helping families in times of grief is at the heart of our company’s mission, and our research has shown that families who lose a loved one wish they had more resources and support available to them. In an effort to address this gap, we have developed this dedicated online grief resource which offers articles, expert tips, personal stories and local resources for families, educators and community members

Trauma and Grief Center Guidelines for Parents – This is an amazing resource with how different ages perceive death, common fears, positive parenting strategies, and red flags.

The Shared Grief Project – The Shared Grief Project envisions a world where no child grieves alone. To achieve this, we share the stories of individuals who have experienced a major loss at an early age and have gone on to live healthy, happy and successful lives.  (I really recommend you check this one out.)

The Dougy Center – The Dougy Center provides support in a safe place where children, teens, young adults, and their families grieving a death can share their experiences. We provide support and training locally, nationally, and internationally to individuals and organizations seeking to assist children in grief.

Centering – non-profit organization dedicated to providing education and resources for the bereaved. Centering was founded in 1977 by Joy and Dr. Marvin Johnson. Centering started with nine little coloring books for hospitalized children and two workshop offerings for nurses and families. In response to the need for support by families and caregivers while facing their grief experience we developed many new resources. Today we have over 500 grief resources for children and adults. Centering continues to provide educational resources and bookstore for caregivers and families.

 

If you have any additional resources, I’d love for you to share them below! And if I can pray for you, my inbox is always open.

Attend the KCWC Online Writers Conference

Attend the KCWC Online Writers Conference

2020 has been a year for the record books. Everyone across the globe has been challenged during this time, and yet there have been some good things come out of it. Although so many conferences have been canceled this year, many have shifted to an online venue, opening up access to many who would not be able to attend otherwise. This is true of the Kentucky Christian Writer’s Conference. I am so blessed to have led the Teen Seminar last year, and while this year’s seminar has been pushed off to 2021, I am pleased to say that the online KCWC conference will be open to teens for this year.

Not a teen? The KCWC is a great opportunity for writers of all levels and ages. The faculty line up and topics are fantastic, and if you register, you will have access to the recordings for 6 months. Below is the key information to know, and I encourage you to visit the website to get a look at the classes being offered.

 

What: Kentucky Christian Writer’s Conference

When: June 19 & 20, 2020

Cost: $20.20

Keynote Speaker: Bob Hostetler

Workshop Selections: https://kychristianwriters.com/workshops

How to register: https://kychristianwriters.com/register

 

I hope to see you there!

 

A Research Trip During COVID-19

Getting into Character

Have you ever wondered about how authors come up with characters? I’m sure every author has their own process, but I can guarantee you, it is similar to making new friends. In the beginning, you don’t really know much about them. Sometimes you’ll have a name, sometimes not. The same goes for descriptions, personalities, jobs, etc. They are just this person that is sort of an enigma, and it takes work to get to know them.

 

While I struggle to make friends with people existing outside of fiction–I can’t say real people because my fiction characters DO become real to me–I always get very excited when it comes time to meet my newest characters. I thought it might be fun to take you through a little bit of my process as I get to know a character I’m developing for a short story. At this point, I know VERY little about my character. I’ve already brainstormed a few ideas with my critique partner, but Harriet is still very flat on the paper.

 

What I do know:

Harriet Carmichael is a bit of an outsider to the upper-class society in which her family partakes. She goes beyond avid gardener to more of the botanist level, and she relates better to the plants than people. In fact, most people find her odd even though gardening was a perfectly acceptable hobby for upper-class women of the time.

 

She is forced to attend the Christmas party of a woman who is skilled at double-edged compliments and making Harriet feel even more insignificant than before. However, while at this party, she receives a note or a gift (not sure which yet) from a secret admirer. No matter how much she wishes it were true, she can’t believe its authenticity. However, something happens (again, don’t know what yet) will send her on a hunt to discover the true identity of the letter writer. Was it another cruel joke of the woman, or had someone really seen her and wanted to get to know her better?

 

That’s it, that’s all I really know right now, but I’m really excited about writing this brief story. Depending on how it turns out, it may be my Christmas gift to my newsletter subscribers. But I digress…

 

After attending the Online Character Summit this weekend, I am determined to take some of what I have learned and carve Harriet into a deeper more human character that we can all relate to on some level. So here we go:


Getting to Know Harriet

 

This portrait by George Clausen is how I physically envision Harriet at the moment. She’s nothing extraordinary, and her clothes are rather dull. She tends to wear browns in order to disguise her constant work in the soil. From here, it becomes sort of an interview process.

 

Me: So Harriet, who are you? Why do you feel you that you don’t fit in? It can’t just be your love of plants.

 

Harriet (rubbing hands together and then tucking them behind her when she finds dirt under her nails): I don’t really know much about people, and honestly, I don’t understand them. People are unpredictable. Plants follow certain rules, I know what they need to coax them into vibrancy, which ones to pair together, and which ones to plant in order to entice or repel certain insects or animals. I love being able to create and work within God’s creation. Plants are exactly what they are supposed to be. People? Not so much.

 

It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s that I don’t know what to make of them. Some are genuinely who they appear to be, others opposite from what they present to the world. I have a few friends, but mostly, I am uncomfortable around people. I don’t know what to say. I don’t enjoy the same things as my peers.

 

I like books about gardening, plant life, and even scientific articles about altering plants to be more sturdy against the elements. Miss Austen, Mr. Dickens, and the such leave me baffled. I can play cards, play piano, and embroider as required, but why would anyone want to do those when you can be outside? In fact, I hate winter. I spend most of it planning my next garden or tinkering in the greenhouse/conservatory. The best days are the days I can go to the university and work in the botany department (need to check that was a thing then).

Oh, thought! Have her compare different people/personalities to different types of plants!


 

And so it will go for a few days. Harriet and I will be having some deep conversations and some lighter-hearted ones. What are the things she likes? The things she fears? What does she want more than anything? What does she believe about herself? What does she need to learn? etc. These are hard questions to draw out, but I love the excitement of it.

 

Just so you don’t think Harriet is fully developed before I put words on paper, this initial examination is rarely what she ends up looking like as I actually write. Harriet will grow and define herself, shedding some of the things I thought we decided in the beginning. She will develop her own voice and become a real person. Even scarier, she will start making her own decisions and direct my story in ways I never envisioned.

 

I hope you enjoyed a little sneak peek of my process in developing characters, now I really am going to get off here and dive into uninterrupted conversation with Harriet. I’m starting to get caught up on reading, so look for more steady book reviews in the coming months. 🙂

 

Do you like gardening? What things do you think Harriet will need in order to rightly portray someone who loves plants, maybe even more than people?

 

 

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