Meet T. Elizabeth Renich

Meet T. Elizabeth Renich

There is nothing like the Christian writing community. I have met so many wonderful men and women through this process, and T. Elizabeth Renich is one of those people. She is a wonderful historical author who, after a break for life, has returned to the writing world and is working on some fun projects to get out to readers. Until those release, we decided she needed a reintroduction to readers, and it is my joy to provide that introduction to you. (And if you’re a fan of Literary Tours, you’ll need to check out what she’s offering at the end of this post.)

T. Elizabeth Renich has written four Civil War novels, worked for two NFL teams, and visited all 50 United States of America. International travel has taken her to Germany, Japan, Ireland, Israel, Scotland, and England. She hunts historical markers and shares hope as an ovarian cancer survivor. Her love of photography is evident as she documents research trips and life, giving glory to God for the great things He has done.

You can connect with her through:  Website Facebook  |  Instagram  |  BookBub  |  GoodReads

Now for the fun stuff! I have to admit I am partial to my Fast Five. 🙂 So settle in as I hit T. Elizabeth with rapid-fire.

 

CC: Sweet or Salty?

TER: Salty, then sweet

CC: Print, E-book, or Audiobook?

TER: Audiobooks for driving, eBooks for road trips, print books for research

CC: Coffee, Tea, or Other?

TER: Coffee (and protein shakes)

Morning Person or Night Owl?

TER: Night Owl

CC: Favorite Holiday?

TER: Thanksgiving (family, food, and 3 football games!)

I am definitely looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. I love the food, friends, and family, and then on the next day, we’ll have a Dungeons and Dragons day. Or rather, my husband, kids, and a friend will. I’ll be playing with the three-year-old and hopefully getting some writing in as well.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

TER: I don’t remember a time that I didn’t write. It was always an escape for me… But in 12th grade, my Senior Composition teacher insisted that I should use my writing talent and just knew that one day I was going to write a book. She believed in me more than I believed in myself, but she was right.

CC: Those teachers who speak into our lives and really believe in us have an impact beyond words. My 2nd/3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Cooper, was that teacher for me. I am so grateful for the teacher in your life who encouraged you. 

What is your writing Kryptonite?

TER: Internet rabbit trails… I can go chasing details for hours and then realize I didn’t write actual story-related words. (But I love details!)

CC: Oh man. I am soooooooo guilty of that. I love having a fellow detail nerd visiting with me today.

How have you seen God work through your writing journey?

TER: I thought I was done being an author in 2005, but in 2010 things started gearing up for the 150th Anniversary commemorations of all the Civil War events and battles. I did more book signings, appearances, and talks between 2010 and 2015 than I had in the previous five years. Once the anniversaries came to their chronological end, I decided I was done. But I kept getting invited back to the Museum Shop at Gettysburg National Battlefield, and in 2016, I found my books in the Library of Congress. By the time 2018 came, all four print editions were declared out of print. I was done. Except my Kindle books kept selling, and used copies on Amazon’s marketplace… I told God I was done. The stories had run their course. But in 2019, an author friend of mine told me I should write something else, a new set of characters, a different time period. It became a challenge, and I accepted. I’m now working on what I’m praying will be a 3-book series set in the 1770s — because apparently God’s not done with me yet. (My agent has my first manuscript, and I’m working on the second.)

CC: I love how God takes our plans and thoughts and says, “I’ve got a better plan. Come follow me.” Then, He proceeds to lead us on a journey that we never imagined taking, and yet the rewards are so wonderful as we grow closer to Him. And even though He calls many to write, each of our journeys are as unique as He created us to be. Speaking of which . . .

Do you have any advice for those who want to write their own stories?

TER: Start writing. The first step is getting words onto paper (or into your Word document). Words can be polished, rearranged, added, deleted, and re-written, but none of that can be accomplished until you have something written to work with. Then, read what you’ve written out loud. Hear how the words sound. In the meantime, get into community with other writers. ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) is a national group, but there are regional chapters. There are also online groups and Facebook groups where friendly, helpful, and encouraging people can be found. Two of my favorite reader events are the Fiction Readers Summit and the Mississippi River Readers Retreat. I’ve not yet been to Storyfest… Keep writing and keep reading. 

Now it’s time to reintroduce your Shadowcreek Chronicles series–which are getting new covers soon, from what I remember. (Aka, sign up for her newsletter so that you can see them when they’re ready.)

With distinctive historical accuracy, skilled storyteller T. Elizabeth Renich brings the Civil War to life by blending documented facts and memorable characters in a moving account detailing a Confederate family and their determined struggle for survival amid crucial battles and daring cavalry raids…

Book 1: Word of Honor

In the summer of 1862, the War Between the States raged through Northern Virginia. The powers of loyalty and survival draw Salina Hastings into the service of a network of civilian spies organized by her father, a Confederate captain and spy.

Book 2: Matter of Trust

In this exciting second book of the Shadowcreek Chronicles, Salina Hastings faces the darkness of Alcatraz and a treacherous journey back east as she attempts to return to her home, her loved ones, and a life that can never be the same.

Book 3: Not Without Courage

This intense third chronicle of Shadowcreek brings to life a Confederate family’s personal struggle for survival in the midst of one of the fiercest battles in history–the Battle of Gettysburg. Stranded in enemy territory, Salina determinedly finds the measure of daring necessary to continue helping her fellow Rebels, but this time she must face a challenge that will require all the courage she can muster. She must count the personal cost of battle. 

Book 4: Strength and Glory

The fall of 1864 finds Colonel John S. Mosby and his famed Partisan Rangers in a violent clash against Union Cavalry. Everyone Salina Hastings loves is threatened by the brutal crossfire when President Lincoln finally finds a commander in Ulysses S. Grant who will fight Robert E. Lee without mercy.

Purchase there series on Amazon 

CC: Where did you get the idea for The Shadowcreek Chronicles?

TER: When I someone asked me to write a historical novel, I was told I could pick my time period. I had studied most about the Civil War, so that was where I decided the scratch the surface. I am not Margaret Mitchell, and I had no intention of re-writing “Gone with the Wind.” Being a native of Southern California, I extended the Mason-Dixon Line west and, by geography, would have been born and lived in the South. In looking at some old Virginia maps, I found the name Chantilly — so pretty, like the French lace — and then discovered there was a battle there on September 1, 1862. I decided I wanted to write about that battle. So, between the events leading up to the Battle of Chantilly and its aftermath, along with the California connection, I had the base of my story, which turned into a series…
CC: Actually, that is a really fascinating process. I would never have guessed that is how the stories came to be.
What about this story drew you to it?

TER: I wanted to learn what was going on in California during the Civil War. I found out that Abraham Lincoln signed legislation giving the missions back to the Catholic Church between 1860-1865, I found out that there were prisoners locked up on Alcatraz Island (there was an army fort there before there was a penitentiary, and since Lincoln had suspended the writ of habeas corpus, nothing had to be proven, so a few hundred political and southern-sympathizing citizens were incarcerated there until the end of the war. They wanted no trouble in San Francisco, as that’s where the bulk of the gold and silver to finance the Union war effort was coming from. There are thousands of books written about the Civil War and I wanted to find something unusual to include. My stories go from Virginia to California, back to Virginia, up to Pennsylvania, and back to Virginia. When I left California, I ended up living in North Carolina for a time, but then moved to Virginia (and for a while lived within 12 miles of where “Word of Honor” was set) because God has a sense of humor — and now my historical research is mostly within driving distance.

CC: Wow! I seriously had no idea of California’s involvement with the Civil War. I mean I knew it was around and was probably impacted, but I’d never stopped to consider how other than it was just his nebulous Wild West where they seemed to live a separate life from the rest of the US. Now I’m even more intrigued about your books.
Which character was the most fun to create?
TER: Salina Hastings was an interesting character to create because she is so much stronger and braver than me. She does many things I could never see myself doing. Over the course of the four Shadowcreek books, she grows from a barely sixteen-year-old little sister to a seasoned spy, wife, and mother. She finds herself in many a predicament where she must rely on God’s strength, provision, and protection to get her through to fight another day.
CC: It seems like she must have had a lot of hard growing up to do with all those descriptors.
What was some of your favorite research you discovered while preparing for The Shadowcreek Chronicles?
TER: I was able to go to the underground portion of Alcatraz, where the old fort used to be, and see the carvings on the walls where they kept prisoners. I had a permission slip from J.E.B. Stuart IV to have research access to his family papers collection held at the Virginia Historical Society. I was walked across the East Cavalry Battlefield at Gettysburg by a licensed battlefield guide so I would be facing the proper direction of the charges I was writing about (and thereby make injuries to cavalrymen characters in accurate locations on their bodies depending upon which way they were riding into the fray against the enemy).
CC: The history nerd in me is SO STINKING JEALOUS. Those experiences had to be incredible! 
How did this story affect you as you wrote it?
TER: When I was working on the original manuscript of my Shadowcreek Chronicles (Book 1 is Word of Honor), our country was engaged in Desert Storm. I’d get up every morning and turn on the news to see if there were any updates of action that might have happened overnight. I had five friends who were in Iraq and the theater of war there in the Gulf. Lots of prayers were said for them. I was on hand to welcome an aircraft carrier back to San Diego, and the sailor for whom I had displayed a yellow ribbon somberly removed it from my car’s antenna, claiming it for himself. He said prayers are what kept him going. Those kinds of real-life anxieties, uncertainties, and triumphs made their way into my Salina character as she read newspapers, searched casualty lists, went to welcome home a transport ship for prisoner exchange, and exulted in victory of the Army of Northern Virginia’s cavalry regiments. War was real, and surreal during that time for me.
CC: My heart grieves for you, and for so many who have loved ones in the wars raging. I know know that the Ukraine War became very real to us as coworkers from Travis’ work were trying to escape the country with their children, but had to leave their husbands behind because of the mandate that all men must serve. I can only imagine their continued searching the papers and trying to find out anything they can as they continue to be separated from their loved ones in the midst of a war taking lives. And then we have the horrors of the Humas situation and Israel. I see how you were able to weave those emotions in so realistically.
What do you hope readers will take away from your story?
TER: I hope my readers will enjoy learning history they likely weren’t taught in school. That the places I write about, for the most part, still exist and can be visited. That historical markers along the side of the road are just the tip of the iceberg — but they can fuel ideas and make you want to dig deeper into the history. Homeschoolers have used my books as supplemental reading material. American history is not always pretty, but it is ours, and it is fascinating. There is something to be said for learning history so we don’t have to repeat the mistakes of the past — not whitewash or alter the truth. We owe a great debt to those who came before us — those who founded our country and those who have fought to preserve our freedom.
CC: I heartfully agree. And to be honest, I’m happy to see that southern perspective. As we deal with a current perspective that vilifies the South, I love that it brings us back to the fact they were human, that war is ugly, and that things are more complex than the black and white we like to view things.

Do you have any other fun facts you’d like to share as we wrap-up?

 

TER: I recently learned I am a “third generation” read. Initially, a friend of mine from church read my books and loved them. She gave them to her then-junior high aged daughters. Both daughters grew up and could recite passages of my books because they loved them. Both young ladies got married and had children — some of whom are named after my characters. An eleven-year old son (my friend’s grandson, if you follow) has read all four of my books and loved them. How cool is that?
CC: That is actually REALLY cool. How neat to know that your stories can pass through the ages and still be enjoyed.
Now would you take a moment to share with us the really cool literary and historical tour you’ll be hosting next year? 

 

 

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TER: I HAVE A BIG ANNOUNCEMENT! I am so excited to tell you all about plans for a new adventure taking place in Virginia, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania! Places to go see and be seen… The historical sites we’re going to visit are those I’ve already written about in my Shadowcreek Chronicles series and those that will be included in the 1770s series I’m currently writing. If you’ve read The Lacemaker, Tidewater Bride, and A Heart Adrift by Laura Frantz, or Jenny L. Cote’s Epic Order of the Seven series, you will recognize places from those books, too! You can get more information HERE

Readers, I hope you’ll check out The Shadowcreek Chronicles and then leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and/or BookBub. You wouldn’t believe how important that is to an author.  And take a look at the travel opportunity. I know my history nerd little heart is giving it some serious consideration.


Reader, if you could travel anywhere for a literary/history tour, where would you want to go?

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