Christmas 1772

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I have a funny confession to make. When I wrote the draft for Hold Me Close, I knew Elizabeth, my heroine, would love Christmas. I had her 1772 home in Charles Town, South Carolina decorated with a tall, full tree, greenery, and candles everywhere. As the story traveled through a critique group, a very wise critic brought to my attention a grave error. (Of course, she told me tactfully and nicely.) Christmas trees were not introduced and used in the United States until the 1800’s. Oops!

dc252520076_thumb25255B225255DOh, how I hated taking away Elizabeth’s Christmas tree. How could I replace that? With a few gorgeous, bountiful wreaths. Garland, greenery, candles, and a nativity remained intact. After the initial shock, I smiled and rewrote Elizabeth’s Christmas tree scene:

On this crisp Monday morning, Elizabeth put the finishing touches on the pine and fir wreath placed on the front door of her house. The pheasant feathers, nestled between oranges, pine cones, and magnolia leaves, graced the wreath…

“There. Spectacular,” she voiced out loud as she stepped back to view the rather large evergreen wreath, her handiwork hanging by a read sash attached to the door…

The candles in the windows, the smaller wreaths suspended from each window and the swags and garland throughout the house caused Elizabeth to twirl around the foyer. The sights and smells of Christmas brought back so many memories of her childhood in Boston. As a little girl, the decorations always triggered her anticipation of all the Christmas season events–parties, dresses, food, family, gifts, but mostly the singing, smiles, and happiness all around.

Promo 4 Hold Me CloseMy decorations are now complete. Now I can concentrate on the singing, family, anticipation of all the Advent season brings, especially the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

What are some special items you use for decorations?

 

 

Order your copy of Hold Me Close today from Amazon :Hold Me Close

 

My Review of Shelter of the Most High

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Tour page on Celebrate Lit

My Review and Opinion

I love Biblical fiction when the author is able to bring to life the characters I have read about for years. Connilyn does that! As I read Sofea and Eitan’s tale of life in Kedesh, a city of refuge, I enter the Promised Land with new eyes, open to the adventures of God’s struggling people, a time when Joshua is still alive, and the tribes are continuing to conquer the land. Sofea, a foreigner from a distant island not only faces a new land with a strange language but a people with a different set of beliefs and a one true God. While the tribes of Israel fight for their new territories, many of the men within the walls of Kedesh live there under the protection of the law because of a crime committed.

The novel brings the pages of the Old Testament and the struggles of the Israelites to life in a way I had not imagined. These people melt my heart with their very real fears and harsh conditions. The land that God gives them has extreme beauty and extreme wildness, extreme potential and extreme hardness.

I look forward to reading the first Cities of Refuge book and any of those following in the series.

I give Shelter of the Most High five stars.

About the Book

Book: Shelter of the Most HighShelter-of-the-Most-High-194x300

Author: Connilyn Cossette

Genre: Christian Biblical Fiction

Release Date: October, 2018

The daughter of a pagan high priest, Sofea finds solace from her troubles in the freedom of the ocean. But when marauders attack her village on the island of Sicily, she and her cousin are taken across the sea to the shores of Canaan.

Eitan has lived in Kedesh, a city of refuge, for the last eleven years, haunted by a tragedy in his childhood, yet chafing at the boundaries placed on him. He is immediately captivated by Sofea, but revealing his most guarded secret could mean drawing her into the danger of his past.

As threats from outside the walls loom and traitors are uncovered within, Sofea and Eitan are plunged into the midst of a murder plot. Can they uncover the betrayal in time to save their lives and the lives of those they love?

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Connilyn Cossette is the CBA bestselling author of the Out From Egypt series. Her debut Cossette_Connilyn-240x300novel, Counted with the Stars, was a finalist for the Christy Award, the INSPY Award, and the Christian Retailing’s Best Award. She lives in North Carolina with her husband of twenty years and a son and a daughter who fill her days with joy, inspiration, and laughter.

Connect with her at www.ConnilynCossette.com.

 

 

Guest Post from Connilyn

Shelter of the Most High, the second book in my Cities of Refuge Series, will be the first I’ve written to have been influenced by my trip to Israel last year. When I started writing Biblical fiction almost nine years ago, I was limited to exploring the Land of Promise via Google Earth, books, and through a plethora of photos on the good ol’ world wide web, but of course nothing can compare to actually experiencing the atmosphere and scenery for yourself.

So although I’d already written Shelter of the Most High by the time I hopped on a plane to join fellow author Cliff Graham’s GoodBattle Tour, once I returned my editing was filtered through the sights and sounds I’d witnessed for myself. It had been a life-long dream to go to Israel and it did not disappoint, in fact it just went way too fast!

One of my greatest fears was that I would see the places I’d written about in my books and realize I totally messed up my descriptions, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that for the most part I’d been fairly accurate (although I did tweak a few things here and there).

Standing on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee I was able to envision Eitan, our hero in Shelter of the Most High, sitting on one of the black boulders there, defeated and weary as he searched for his love. I was able to look toward the snowy peaks of Mount Hermon in the north and over the fertile Hula Valley just below the ancient ruins of Kedesh, the city of refuge, and consider how Sofea must have felt as she experienced the landscape of her new home for the first time, both the fear and the awe.

One of my favorite sites was Tel Dan and although it does not feature in Shelter of the Most High it’s lush greenness and dense forest gave me a better sense of what Israel must have been in the past before deforestation, war, and shifts in climate have done to the fertile land God himself called a land of milk and honey. Since I was so affected by Tel Dan (or Laish in ancient times) that city will be one of the settings in my upcoming third installment of the Cities of Refuge Series, Until the Mountains Fall.

Being a super visual person who is highly sensitive to sensory input, I took great pleasure in absorbing with all my senses as we walked paths, climbed mountains (yes, mountains), slogged through a long, cold, and wet tunnel deep beneath Jerusalem, hiked up to the secret oasis of Ein Gedi where David hid from Saul, and rocked along on a boat over the glassy surface of the Galilee. I felt like a sponge just soaking up every little detail and every grand vista.

Smelling the salty breeze off the Mediterranean and hearing the waves crash against the sandy beach in Tel Aviv and Caesarea Phillipi made me imagine our heroine Sofea looking over that enormous, blue expanse and wondering what sort of god had control of such a powerful thing.

Feeling the timeworn cobblestones beneath my feet gave me a sense of what it must have been like for Eitan and Sofea to walk through the streets of Kedesh, their own sandals scuffing against the rough-hewn stone as they went about their daily activities.

Running my fingers along the pitted surfaces of ancient buildings and tracing the chisel marks from craftsmen of the Bronze Age wrapped me in a whirl of imagination about who the people were that hefted those same rocks into place and the ingenuity it took to create structures that have lasted so long.

Tasting the unique spices and flavors of the Middle East gave me a sense of the passion Moryiah (our hero’s mother) has for creating delicious new dishes to feed her growing family and the guests at her inn.

Although I write fiction, my stories are woven into Biblical accounts so going to Israel was a perfect reminder for me that the people that lived between the pages of Genesis to Revelations were real. They breathed, they cried, they loved, they mourned, they suffered, and they celebrated with their families. I am so grateful to have gleaned some great new insight into the Land and its resilient, vibrant people and hope that through Shelter of the Most High readers get a small sense of the beauty and wonder I experienced there. I cannot wait to go back!

Blog Stops

A Baker’s Perspective, November 20

The Power of Words, November 20

Among the Reads, November 21

Gensis 5020, November 21

God’s Little Bookworm, November 22

Book by Book, November 22

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 22

Remembrancy, November 23

Real World Bible Study, November 23

Inklings and notionsNovember 23

The Becca Files, November 24

Baker Kella, November 24

Bibliophile Reviews, November 25

The Meanderings of a BookwormNovember 25

By The Book, November 26

Reading Is My SuperPower, November 26

Aryn The LibraryanNovember 27

All-of-a-kind Mom, November 27

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 27

Abbas Prayer Warrior Princess, November 28

Christian Author, J.E. Grace, November 28

Simple Harvest Reads, November 29 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

For the Love of Literature, November 29

Janices book reviews, November 29

The Lit Addict, November 30

Texas Book-aholic, November 30

Just the Write Escape, December 1

A Good Book and Cup of Tea, December 1

Connect in Fiction, December 2

The Christian Fiction Girl, December 2

Bigreadersite, December 2

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, December 3

Purposeful Learning, December 3

Carpe Diem, December 3

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Connilyn is giving away Grand Prize: All five of Conni’s novels, including Shelter of the Most High, plus AHAVA Dead Sea Bath Salts

Three other winners will receive a copy of Shelter of the Most High!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d66d/shelter-of-the-most-high-celebration-tour-giveaway

I highly recommend  Shelter of the Most High. Please comment for your chance to win a copy.

 

 

 

Hold Me Close 2nd Edition!

Hold me Close front (1)I’m so excited about the 2nd edition release of my book Hold Me Close with a new publisher, Celebrate Lit Publishing. This has been a long process to take this novel on a new journey. The cover is so beautiful–a creation by Roseanna White.  I’ve rewritten and edited this edition in order to smooth out any wrinkles from the first edition.

img_6217.jpgJust in time for Christmas! If you have read Hold Me Close, you might consider giving this novel as a Christmas gift. In December you can find it on Amazon, Celebrate Lit Publishing, or order an autographed copy from me. Please contact me on my website or message me on Facebook for any additional information. I’m waiting for exact dates of the release for the print edition. I’ll send a link later when available. The eBook is available at Amazon on December 4–preorders now. Amazon eBook Hold Me Close . 

img_6218.jpgSurround Me, Book Two of the Revolutionary Faith Series, will release in January 2019. And finally, for those of you who have patiently been waiting, Book Three, Bring Me Near releases in February 2019.

Please share this information with your friends and family.

Merry Christmas (early)!

 

Thanksgiving Nostalgia

IMG_5920“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6

Thanksgiving–just the word conjures up many images and memories full of color, smells, and tastes. This one will be no different as my family gathers around my parents’ table. Games, movies, ballgames, food, songs, and talking. Lots of talking and laughing. IMG_5921

As I gather recipes and begin cooking, I think about what my characters would be eating in 1775 South Carolina during the Revolution. There was no official day of celebrating Thanksgiving yet. I don’t even know if they talked about the Mayflower, the native Americans, Jamestown, the past. But they did eat some yummy concoctions like:

  • Chicken Pudding
  • Veal Balls
  • Beefsteak Pie
  • Baked Pumpkin Pudding
  • Sweet Potatoes and Apples
  • Green Beans
  • Fried Ham
  • Almond Tarts
  • Spice Nuts
  • Liberty Tea (raspberry leaves)

This is a list I could work with and enjoy. But in truth, family is still the most important element whether in history or today.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Playoffs and Memories

I’m not a huge sports fan, but I have my moments or seasons. A good example is when our children were playing different sports through the years. Then I couldn’t help but LOVE soccer, track, and cross country. As you know it is playoff season for high school football. Since I teach in a high school, playoff is a buzz word. And it just turned cold in northern Louisiana so the time is right.

IMG_2992Soccer became popular when our children were little–ages three and four. I remember my husband volunteering to coach the teams when he knew nothing about the sport. The local YMCA helped him along, until one day, my husband said “I have this. It is just like basketball but with the feet.” Presto! We have been hooked for life. My daughter still plays as an adult in city leagues.

During this time the World Cup for the first time interested me. While in Ecuador in the early 2000s, the Ecuadorian team played for the first time ever(?) in the World Cup. I ducked into a small café and joined the locals in celebration, not of a win, but of the chance to play.  There’s something special about being in the country or close to the country when their teams play.

Another example was in McAllen, Texas in a restaurant when Mexico played. The excitement and noise level so high that the only thing we could do was watch and listen to the game and forget normal conversation. Once again, it was about the opportunity to play versus actually winning the game of the World Cup (Mexico lost).

I think the prime example took place this summer in France. My daughter and I started off watching a game in Charlotte, NC before boarding a plane for Paris. Once in Bordeaux instead of seeking out a quiet, quaint restaurant we sought the one with a huge TV screen (multiple TVs), lots of people, and noise as France played Uruguay. The rise and fall of the French shouts pulled us further into the celebration. I had the privilege of sitting next to a man with his son, teaching him about the game and possibly a tradition. Knowing French, I felt a part of this group of citizens. And France won.

We mapped out when the other games would be. In Carcassonne, in the old walled city, we found a small café with a big TV and the next match France versus Belgium. We settled in for two hours in the middle of French and Belgian fans. We could hear the roar from other pubs and cafes when the tension rose. France won–even the military and policemen joined in the revelry. And all of this in the ancient Medieval walls of a French town drooling with history. Outside the walls close to our lodging, the celebration continued until midnight as cars circled a huge plaza, honking as if welcoming in the new year.

The next night we were back in Carcassonne in a different restaurant, La Terrasse, since our cafe from the night before didn’t have access to the game. England versus Croatia. The British crowd dominated this restaurant. This game determined who played France for the World Cup title. As we walked back to our apartment, we stopped at each cafe watching to see who would win. In the end, Croatia succeeded in moving forward.

Finally, the France-Croatia confrontation began. We were in Monterosso, Italy–a quaint mountain town on the Mediterranean Sea. We couldn’t fit in the packed bars and cafés, so we relied on the brief glances on the screens and asking questions. The mood here was a bit different than in France. Italy held a grudge against France since they had clashed before and lost. Yet, France was a neighbor and a plus for Europe. In the end France won. The young and old paraded through the narrow streets, shouting, cheering, an all-out celebration!

Something about sports brings the community, the country, the world a little closer. I loved every minute of celebrating in France and Italy, just as I do at home.

Do you follow any sports?

My late fall TBR list

IMG_5779I could call this my winter To Be Read List, but knowing me I’ll have it completed before winter begins. I love completing a goal and beginning a new one. I have some beloved authors here and some new ones. A couple of Christmas treats are included that I can’t wait to give my hours.

 

I’ll start with A Tale of Two Hearts (Once Upon a Dickens Christmas Book Two) by Michelle Griep. London 1855, an innkeeper’s daughter and a gentleman’s son.

Then, probably the total opposite: The Haunting of Thores-Cross by Karen Perkins. This one involves a young girl, thought to be a witch, in the Yorkshire Moors. Scary? I hope not too much.

 

An all-time favorite author, Terri Blackstock, has written a Christmas novel, Catching Christmas. I attended a workshop with Terri about twenty years ago, and I taught her daughter French.  Good memories.

To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander takes me back to Nashville and Belle Meade Plantation, 1869. An Irishman, thoroughbreds, and racing. I love everything Tamera writes.

IMG_5784Seven authors (Michelle Griep, Nancy Moser, Erica Vetsch, MaryLu Tyndall, Amanda Barratt, Angela Bell, and Susanne Dietze) have combined their talents in The Regency Brides Collection. I look forward to roaming Jane Austen’s England.

 

Back to a time period I enjoy, A Heart Set Free by Janet Grunst places the characters in 1770 Virginia where conflict is brewing. Janet is a new author to me.

Another favorite author has made the list with Dawn Crandall’s latest addition to the Everstone Chronicles, Enchanting Nicholette. I’ve read all of Dawn’s books and will continue to be a fan.

You might want to pick up a few of these for your November reading. Share what you are reading now.

 

Quiz 1770s

img_6155-1.jpgAs you know already, I am a teacher–French and Spanish. Yet, I LOVE history. It is in my genes, so I desire to share, to converse, to write, to read, to experience historical events and ideas. Since I write historical fiction, different groups ask me to speak about my books and my research. Although speaking in front of my peers is out of my comfort zone, I say yes–to book clubs, DAR, libraries, etc.

Being a teacher at heart, I like to throw in a quiz to allow the listeners to participate in the historical era. I’ve included a few true/false items here. See how well you know 1770s colonial history.

  1. The Rich Old Lady represented the colony of New York.
  2. The East India Company delivered tea in brick form.
  3. Members of the Petticoat Brigade distributed water to the poor.
  4. Everyone in the colonies knew how to ride a horse.
  5. Pineapples were a sign of wealth.
  6. Charles Town was known as a city of religious freedom.
  7. All men wore wigs.
  8. The Sons of Liberty was an old society of lawyers in England.
  9. The French language was taught to middle- and upper-class citizens.
  10. Christmas trees and wreaths were used as decorations.

 

These are useful tidbits to know when reading my Revolutionary Faith books. Welcome to my fictional/historical world.

IMG_5407(Answers: 1. F (England) 2. T 3. F (women carrying weapons, food, etc to rebels) 4. F (not in the cities) 5. T 6. T 7. F (always those who refused) 8. F (colonists rebelling against Britain) 9. T 10. F (not until 1800s).

How did you do on the quiz? Share your response!