Friday, December 18, 2015

Come Meet A.M. Heath, Author of the Ancient Words Series!

As a follow-up to my review of A.M. Heath's In the Shadow of Thy Wings (HERE), I thought that you might like to meet the lovely lady who pens the arresting Ancient Words series. :-)

Pour yourself a cup of coffee... or perhaps chicory might be more appropriate, given the Civil War background of A.M. Heath's novels! :-) I know that you'll find her as warm and engaging as I have... and will soon be thinking of her as a friend.

How did you become interested in Civil War history and fiction?
I've always had a love for history. My dad also loves history. He's always told us little stories growing up, and I craved that sort of thing. But Civil War history, in particular, I've grown so fond of because I love the clothes. Lol What can I say?! I'm a woman. While I genuinely love to study any historic period, I've grown to appreciate Civil War history for a couple different reasons. Growing up in the south, this history is still so alive. There are battlefields everywhere down here. One of the major battles in TN, Stones River, is right across the street from our doctor's office. The park where I played as a child, the cavalry once skirmished there. I was visiting a friend the other day and he was telling me that there's still a Civil War fort on the back part of his property. Living where I do, it's an easy subject to immerse yourself in.
This war is really interesting because the two sides weren't so easily marked. It was called a War Between Brothers for a reason. This makes for VERY interesting circumstances. Which make for some very interesting fiction. ;)

That is interesting! I'd love to know what your research and writing process looks like?
I'm what writers call a pantser. Lol What that means, is that, not only do I like flying by the seat of my pants, but I also thrive in it. I do my best work with less planning. I plan some. And I've learned to take the time to do my character sketches. But I can't work with a detailed outline. I need the freedom to feel out the story as it's being written. My research follows this rule. I typically research as I write by keeping civil war journals open at all times and reading a little as often as I can. As I'm writing and specific needs arise, I'll research as needed. But for the most part, when I'm excited about a new project, I can't slow down long enough to outline or spend three months on research. I like to jump in with both feet and get started. It's a happy sort of chaos that I work well in, I'm afraid. Lol

It's a wonderful thing to leap with both feet into something God has called you to. :-) Do you have a “missions statement” for your writing? Care to share?I simply want to glorify Christ and share Him wherever I go. Whether I'm penning a story, typing an email, talking to a friend, or tending my family at home, I try to keep that goal always before me.

Who do you see as being the most interested in reading the Ancient Words series?As a history lover, I first and foremost imagine people that love history, particularly Civil War history, will really enjoy it. But I'm a romantic to the very core, so while the first book of the series was a bit lighter in the romance department, I imagine that Christian romance fans will be satisfied. Or those that love a great Christian fiction novel.

After Book Three – which I am highly anticipating! – I understand that the Ancient Words series will be going from the 1860s to the current day. Yet, despite a 150-year-gap, the books are connected. That’s an intriguing twist. Could you tell us how it came about?

I'd love to! This is probably the most unusual way to write a series. You'll see what I mean in a minute. Lol

First of all, I'll explain how they connect: All throughout this series, you should have noticed the letters that were passed between characters. ;) Of course, you noticed. The books are built around these letters. Book 4, His Love Endures Forever, is a story about a teenage girl, Allie Redman, who moves into the Harper home. She finds the letters written between the characters and it's that salvation message that Claire sends Frank in Book 1, Where Can I Flee, that impacts Allie 150 years later.

In the beginning, I was only writing Allie's story. I loved the idea of telling a multi-generational story and also of telling a story through letters. But as I wrote the Harper letters, I fell in love with these characters. They were so much larger than their letters allowed them to be. I started off writing short stories that featured these characters and told their story through their eyes. Parts of the short stories overlapped the letters, but it told richer details that the letters couldn't have. My plan was simply to tack it on at the end of the novel as some bonus reading material. But again, God changed my plans, and the Harpers outgrew even that space, demanding a series of novels of their own. So I set aside Allie's story and focused on telling the Harpers' story first. Allie has been a patient gal, but I'm looking forward to bringing this new generation to my readers and letting them see the Harpers' impact on people they've never seen.

I find that so interesting -- that you started with Allie and went back in time to the Harpers. And as I'm sure your readers can testify, you're not the only one who "fell in love" with the Harpers! ;-)

Last of all, do you have a favorite verse of Scripture?Proverbs 4: 14, 15 “Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way.”
I can't tell you the amount of trouble this verse has rescued me from simply by doing exactly as it says and aiming to stay far from sin rather than draw near it.

Places readers can connect with you online?
You can connect with me on Goodreads, Pinterest, and Twitter. However, I'm most active on Facebook and through my weekly blog. You can also catch a lot of behind the scenes stuff on my series on my website.


Thanks for visiting me today, A.M.! :-) It's my prayer that your writing goes forth more and more to the glory of God -- for the furtherance of the gospel -- and for the edification of believers. 

Have a wonderful weekend, friends! :-)

Grace and peace,

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Book Review: In the Shadow of Thy Wings by A.M. Heath

Literarily-speaking (if that's a word!), I live in dread and anticipation of sequels to books I love. Do you? :-)

For me, my dread stems from my fear that the second book will - just - not live up to the first. And my anticipation finds its root in my hope that maybe - just *maybe* - the sequel will live up to the high standard set by its predecessor.

So, last spring, when my friend and fellow indie-author A.M. Heath mentioned that she was nearly done with writing the sequel to Where Can I Flee? - which was such a lovely, redemption-saturated Civil War novel - my heart both quaked and leaped. Could the sequel, entitled In the Shadow of Thy Wings, measure up to the heart-expanding Where Can I Flee? I hoped so.

Then, when A.M. asked me to join her beta-reading team, I was able to read In the Shadow of Thy Wings early. And, friends, I admit it: I was wrong to hope.

To merely hope, I mean. ;-)

In the Shadow of Thy Wings exceeds Where Can I Flee? If that's possible. :-) Now when I recommend the Ancient Words series (which will have a total of 5 books altogether, eventually) - I'm starting to say, "Where Can I Flee is excellent - but wait until you get to In the Shadow of Thy Wings!"

This eloquent sequel continues the story of the Harper and Chandler families, two southern households with young men fighting in the Civil War and young women who have stayed behind, yet are intricately involved in the war effort. A.M. Heath brings us readers along with her well-rounded characters as they struggle not only with their flesh-and-blood enemies, but also with their consciences, with the Scriptures, and with family relationships and friendships as the Civil War commences on it blood-soaked final leg.

As a Christian reader, I particularly appreciate the way this author puts the relationship of her characters with the Lord Jesus at the center - and does it in a natural, easy-as-breathing manner. This is not a "preachy" book - and yet the Gospel pulses from its every page. And this is no weak-kneed, warm-and-fuzzy Gospel; it is the strong, muscular kind that lives and fights and sees clearly that our battle is not against the things that are seen. You may not always agree with the choices her characters make, but A.M. will make you think hard - will force you to search your heart - about why you disagree. This sort of fiction encourages and exhorts and urges us to live a more holy life, while at the same time drawing us irresistibly into the story-world of 1860s Maple Grove, with all its intrigue, danger, and sweetly sacrificial love.

Today is the release day for In the Shadow of Thy Wings! It's available on Amazon HERE (clickable), and I encourage you to get a copy for yourself or for a historical-fiction lover you know. 

You'll want to learn more about the Ancient Words series and its truthful and gracious author. From 12/8 to 12/10, A.M. Heath is hosting a Facebook release party for In the Shadow of Thy Wings, and she'd love to have you join her. There will be prizes (Did someone say "giveaway"?;-)), lots of bookish chit-chat, and fun. Here's the link to join in - Feel free to participate as much or as little as you like! CLICK HERE to check out the FB party.

You can find out more about A.M. Heath and connect with her - 
On her website: CLICK HERE
On her author Facebook page: CLICK HERE
On Pinterest: CLICK HERE

*I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review. I received no other compensation and was under no obligation whatsoever to provide a positive review. All opinions and thoughts are my own.*

Friday, December 4, 2015

First Friday: December 2015

Well, December has certainly arrived here in New England!!! :-) We don't turn the heat on upstairs in our house until *we absolutely have to* -- so I am sitting here writing to you all well-wrapped against the cold, a bit like Jo March:
{click for source info}
The advantage that I have over Miss March, warmth-wise, is that I have a pug, whose purpose is To Keep Others Warm. ;-)

Now, in this wonderful month of the Child-Child's birth, let me share a bit of what I'm up to with you, friends. It is, after all, the First Friday of December. :-)

In December, I'm looking forward to...

  • The fresh, cold scent of new-cut pine
  • The taste of warm sugar cookies, pulled just-now from the oven
  • The feeling of frozen feet gradually gaining warmth from an old pair of Irish stepdancing socks
  • The sight of the first *real* snow -- We can hope for a white Christmas, no?
  • The sound of my family's exaggerated "ooh"s and "ahh"s at the Christmas tree's first lighting

And right now, I'm currently...
  • Reading (fiction) - Francine Rivers' A Voice in the Wind - So far, I am loving it!
  • Reading (nonfiction) - John Piper's When the Darkness Will Not Lift - Good thus far. Will be beginning Eric Ludy's Wrestling Prayer soon, which comes highly recommended from both my mama and my husband.
  • Reading (in Scripture) - 1st Peter - I'm trying a new kind of Bible journaling/study pattern and perhaps will share how I like it in the weeks ahead. :-)
  • Writing - Book Three in A Time of Grace! Please pray for perseverance for me. :-) (You can check to see my progress in the little word-count meter on the side-bar here.)
  • Thankful to the Lord for - the wonderful way in which "the pug book" has been received; the joy of having kindred spirits in my sisters and Mama; and the way in which the Lord from on high descended to earth, bringing - *being* the Great Gift to each of us. 
  • And pinning this: 
    {click to repin or for source info}
What are you anticipating, reading, or doing this month of Advent, friends? :-)

Grace and peace,