I enjoy the study of history, especially when combined with fiction. An avid traveler and reader, I also teach Spanish and French and have degrees in French, Spanish, and Journalism from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. I received my MA in English from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. Presently, I live in north Louisiana with my husband and rescue kittens.
What age is maturity? 20, 35, 70? Many days I do not act or feel like I am any more mature than a thirteen-year-old. On others, I carry the weight of the world, evident in my wrinkles, drooping shoulders, and overall fatigue. I believe maturity is a constant growth device triggered by life experiences. Some people gain those early and some struggle to accept them and bathe in immaturity a while longer.
This week I thought about Elizabeth Elliott Lestarjette in her role as heroine in all five of the Revolutionary Faith novels. I tried to put myself in her shoes and circumstances. I really do not think I would have fared as well as Elizabeth. But perhaps when faced with the circumstances, my personality flaws would have matured more rapidly to cover my insecurities.
Elizabeth enters the scene as an eighteen-year-old young lady in 1772, Charles Town. Marriageable age. Studious. Garden and cat lover. Musician (teacher). Loving, obedient daughter. Sister and friend. Upper-middle class family. On any normal day, I would guess her to behave as an average teen. What made her maturity level elevate?
The Pre-Revolution decision—
Loyalist or Patriot
The series spans ten years, until Elizabeth is twenty-eight. I look back to my twenties, and I do not shine with any outstanding level of maturity. Why does Elizabeth’s level rank higher than her years?
The American Revolution
in her hometown
I watch the news of war. She lived it.
I might have pinched pennies for groceries. She managed with hoarded food.
I teach school. Her school closed.
I have two children. She did, too, but she had to protect them with her life.
My husband works. Hers impoverished them by supplying the war effort.
I lock my doors. She lived with blackout drapes and curfews with a pistol by her side.
It intrigues me to wonder about the effects of war and famine, of disease and poverty, of death and prison on a young family. Did Elizabeth age physically? Did her face show the signs of distress? Did her mind collapse into a mode of survival with no intellectual outlet? Did her emotions plummet into depression and woes?
My theory after living for many more than 28 years is that the human experience of living takes on a day-to-day existence when faced with calamity. We have a pandemic with all its shortcomings, of which many are emotional. Elizabeth had a war, including a siege and occupation. The big picture with no answers is too much, too daunting, too unbelievable. It’s doable if in little pieces.
I look at the covers of my books to Elizabeth as a young, dreamy, carefree girl to a young, mature woman. Ten years with the experience of a much older woman. I’ve been challenged by Elizabeth—by all women facing the unknown, all pioneers in history. I strive to be a mature being who somehow maintains a portion of the fun-loving, spontaneous, joyful moments.
Please follow Elizabeth on her journey in the Revolutionary Faith series.
Wait forMe (#5) will be released February 9!
Can you think of other characters that have “matured” in the book(s)?
“I don’t know how this magazine’s name originated, but I love it. I am an avid reader of fiction, and I have been since a child in grade school, devouring as many books as I can. There will never be enough time to read all I want, especially since I stop to write novels myself…” continued with link above…
This is my giveaway at Because Fiction. There are many more authors and books in all genres.
American socialite Lily Durham is known for enjoying one moment to the next, with little regard for the consequences of her actions. But just as she is banished overseas to England as a “cure” for her frivolous ways, the Great War breaks out and wreaks havoc. She joins her cousin in nursing the wounded at a convalescent home deep in the wilds of Scotland at a crumbling castle where its laird is less than welcoming.
Alec MacGregor has given his entire life to preserving his home of Kinclavoch Castle, but mounting debts force him to sell off his family history bit by bit. Labeled a coward for not joining his countrymen in the trenches due to an old injury, he opens his home to the Tommies to make recompense while he keeps to the shadows. But his preference for the shadows is shattered when a new American nurse comes streaming into the castle on a burst of light.
Lily and Alec are thrown together when a series of mysterious events threatens to ruin the future of Kinclavoch. Can they put aside their differences to find the culprit before it’s too late, or will their greatest distraction be falling in love?
How romantic and mystical to live in an old Scottish castle, unless it is during WWI, used as a convalescent home for soldiers, with the walls and ceiling crumbling down. Add in an unwanted American girl serving as a nurse and a grumbling laird. The air of privilege and prosperity meet, leaving a vague potential for romance.
Another aspect of war is the healing and housing of the wounded, safely away from the mayhem of the war zone. Some of the heroes yearn to return to war, others dread the prospect, and still others want to die. I’m always impressed with the women in any war who exit their homes and leave family to tend to the tasks out in the world in the years of war.
In Beauty Among Ruins, a wealthy American heiress in Scotland in 1916 before America enters the war is not accepted with open arms. Proof is needed to secure that respect. The heroine faces the mysterious threats to the castle, herself, and the laird with bravery. But is it enough?
I wonder what my role would have been close to a country at war. This novel reveals many difficult sides of war. The author takes the reader on a journey through the trials of owning and managing a dilapidated castle during wartime as a home for the wounded of body and heart. I was not disappointed in participating in this aspect of war.
About the Author
With a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Winner of the INSPY and the Maggie Award, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle. Learn more at www.jnellciesielski.com.
More from J’Nell
Inspiration for Beauty Among Ruins
Once again, blame it on Downton Abbey. This time on Lady Rose. She was impulsive, spoiled, a free spirit, yet with a good heart. I knew I wanted to take on the challenge of writing a heroine like her. A character who starts off one way and by the end of the book has completely charmed you over. So I started writing and everything was going great until … it wasn’t. The plot just stopped on me. No matter how hard I tried the story refused to reveal itself to me which is incredibly frustrating for someone who doesn’t like to give up once they’ve started something. But I had to. In the end, I had to put the story, affectionately titled Love on the Limp, away for several months while I wrote The Socialite. Then one day the story clicked. It was meant to be a WWI telling on the classic Beauty and the Beast story. Everything fell into place and the story and characters burst onto the page in glorious technicolor.
Lily and Alec took me by surprised with how much I fell in love with them. Bubbly Lily and brooding Alec. Never had two more opposites been so perfect for one another (at least in my writing experience). They had so many obstacles to overcome, many of them self-imposed, that I often found myself in tears over their heartaches, but golly gumdrops when they came together, boy o boy were there fireworks!
You may have also noticed that the story is set in Scotland because I happen to believe that every good story is set there. I had the privilege of staring at pictures of this breathtaking landscape for months so I could imagine the characters strolling among the heather and watching the river twist through the green moors. To me, nothing rivals the awe inspiring beauty of a certain place, and hopefully readers will feel that through these pages.
I’m so excited about the release of Wait for Me, Book Five in the Revolutionary Faith Series!
February 9, 2021
The rhythm of Wait for Me beats across the miles, into the prisons, through the shackled town from the heart of God to His war-weighted people.
Charles Town, South Carolina, 1780—With the inevitable occupation of Charles Town by the British pounding at the gates, Louis Lestarjette braces for possible imprisonment or worse. How can he provide for his growing family with the evil chains of the enemy binding his source of existence? The scenarios of imprisonment and starvation warp his grasp of control. He realizes he has no control over the outcome of the stronghold of the British, only a sense of survival at almost any cost.
The reality of her impending confinement within the walls of an occupied town ground Elizabeth with an innate drive to protect her children. She bends her definition of Patriot and mother as she invades the enemy’s territory and violates the strict rules, possibly exposing her family to harm. When her brother finally turns his allegiance to the Patriot cause, she allows him to bring the battle into her home as they consider the rescue of endangered soldiers. Her belief in justice amidst chaos wavers as Elizabeth faces the delivery of her baby and of her beloved hometown.
Discover the destiny of the Lestarjette family in the final book of the Revolutionary Faith Series as they hope and wait upon deliverance from a world under siege.
Nate Long has always watched over his identical twin brother, Aaron, even when it put him on the wrong side of the law. When Aaron is wounded in a shootout, the brothers are taken to Settler’s Fort to recover. As Nate works to make reparations for their past, he marvels at the nursing Aaron receives under the care of a woman with all the reason in the world to resent him.
Laura Hannon knows what it is to start over, and she knows Nate’s newfound faith is real. What she can’t look past is how far he allowed himself to be led astray by his brother’s weaknesses.
As a fledgling trust grows between Nate and Laura, they stumble upon a mysterious cave in the mountains that may not be as uninhabited as it seems.
As they work together for a common cause, will the new lives they seek for themselves include love, or is there too much that stands between them?
I love this series where minor characters become major ones. Isn’t that true in life? Everyone is a major character depending on the point of view. Misty Beller shares her gift of storytelling, linking souls together. Unlikely friends join in the healing process which begs for forgiveness and patience.
The challenges the characters face—emotional, physical, and spiritual—might appear more than anyone can bear. But the application is not missed with today’s problems and dilemmas. Illness and death surround us. Financial possibilities loom just out of reach—some hopeful, others disasters. Questions and pleas soar to God daily. The mountain and harsh winter may not be a physical reality, but the ensuing difficulties sure are.
Join the journey with Laura and Nate as they collide with the elements and hope for a brighter future.
About the Author
Misty M. Beller is a USA Today bestselling author of romantic mountain stories, set on the 1800s frontier and woven with the truth of God’s love.
She was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and children now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.
God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.
More from Misty
Who doesn’t love a good cave?
Well, maybe not everyone, but I have to confess, I love exploring!
While there aren’t many caves near my South Carolina home, I’ve always loved the idea of finding an opening hidden in the rocks. Then venturing in and finding a huge cavern filled with stalactites and stalagmites and a host of other beauties I can’t pronounce!
And dark tunnels? As long as I have a light and a string to unravel as I go so I can get back out, I’m game!
Unfortunately, I’ve never found a large cave in real life that had never been explored, but in Faith’s Mountain Home, Nate and Laura found exactly that! Although…turns out, it had been discovered by someone already. I won’t give you (too many) spoilers, but let me just tell you there’s a precocious Native American girl involved, and a few other things not so delightful.
The good news is, you can enjoy the story without actually entering the pitch black cavern!
Last summer, I had the opportunity to tour a cave with many features like Nate and Laura discovered in their hidden cave. The Caverns of Sonora in Sonora, Texas was a fantastic experience! As you can imagine, it’s hard to get good pictures in solid darkness, but here are a few of the amazing formations still growing in those two miles of underground tunnels.
There’s Often a Fine Line Between a Criminal and a Saint
Constable Jackson Forge intends to make the world safer, or at least the streets of Victorian London. But that’s Kit Turner’s domain, a swindler who runs a crew that acquires money the old-fashioned way—conning the rich to give to the poor. When a local cab driver goes missing, Jackson is tasked with finding the man, and the only way to do that is by enlisting Kit’s help. If Jackson doesn’t find the cabby, he’ll be fired. If Kit doesn’t help Jackson, he’ll arrest her for thievery. Yet neither of them realize those are the least of their problems.
A game of cat and mouse around Victorian London pulls the reader into the workings of evil schemers. A constable and a street swindler find a tenuous partnership to defeat nefarious crime.
Do you ever test the line between doing good and breaking a mandate or a law, whether written or perceived? When it comes to care of loved ones, we can tread close to putting our personal needs aside to make sure others are cared for and safe. How many sacrifices do parents make? How many dreams are put on hold for our children? Breaking the law rarely the right option, but creativity, sacrifice, and love go a long way to aiding loved ones or even strangers.
Michelle Griep gives the reader a fantastic run through the dangerous streets, hoping to settle a few entanglements and mysteries.
About the Author
Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the Christy Award-winning author of historical romances: A Tale of Two Hearts, The Captured Bride, The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, and Gallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at http://www.michellegriep.com or stalk her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest
More from Michelle
Zootopia in Victorian London
I admit it. I like kid’s movies. You know, the animated sort that entertain both young and old alike. One of my favorites is Zootopia, a rollicking adventure about a bunny whose dream it is to be a police officer and make the streets of the big city safe for all animals. In fact, I loved it so much that I thought why not set it in Victorian London?
So I did.
And that’s what The Thief of Blackfriars Lane is all about, but that meant I had to do a little digging into the history of police force of the late 1800’s. Here’s what I learned…
The Metropolitan Police (founded in 1829 by Robert Peel) was composed mostly of young men, many of whom were recruited from rural areas. Few were from London, the philosophy being that they would thus be free from local patronage and influence.
It is a bit of an anomaly that hero Jackson Forge and his friend, Officer Baggett, carry a sidearm. Some did, but most relied on truncheons. It was up to the officer. Revolvers were usually only supplied after the death of a police officer by an armed criminal, at the discretion of the Divisional Officer, or if a constable requested to use one during night duty. In 1884, after the deaths of several police officers, the Home Office ordered nearly a thousand revolvers from Webley & Scott to be issued to branches of the London police. . .which is where I got the idea of a shipment of guns for the villain to attempt to steal.
Police detectives were recruited from within the ranks of existing uniformed officers. There were actually women on the force at the time, employed as police matrons. But these were behind-the-scenes workers, tasked with guarding women and children. If my heroine, Kit, were to be out in public, serving as Jackson’s assistant, she’d have to keep her job secret. The first female police officer wasn’t seen on the streets until 1919.
And so, armed with that information, I wrote the adventures of not a police bunny and a con artist fox, but of Jackson Forge, a fresh-faced constable, and his thorn in the side, swindler Kit Turner. Snatch up your own copy and enjoy a visit to Victorian London!
A broken engagement drives Susanna Kelly back to her hometown of Sweetheart, Texas and the arms of its quirky, lovable citizens. But her peaceful return to her roots is shattered when heart-shaped notes with sinister messages start appearing. The support of Daniel Sheppard, Asian American bestselling author and her childhood friend, gives her a much-needed ally amidst the turmoil. He offers to play the role of her boyfriend to discourage the stalker, but Susanna resists. Pretending to be a couple? And with Daniel of all people? Who would buy it?
The note writer’s mind games force her to reconsider. Susanna accepts Daniel’s crazy plan, but the make-
believe romance has the opposite effect intended. Harmless notes turn into life-threatening accidents, and Daniel and Susanna must find out who’s behind the chaos before they can decide if their temporary relationship is a heaven-sent gift meant to last forever.
Shannon Kent is a new-to-me author. This contemporary novel contains all the elements of an entertaining read: small town, good food, quirky townspeople, and mystery/suspense. Just when it appears life should be easy and uneventful, hints of chaos to come trickle into Susanna’s normal routine. Not that her routine needs anything added to it with the big Valentine event in the making and the running of her café. But doesn’t life have a way of colliding with the possibility of something new? A new job or opportunity, a new boyfriend or romance, a new hobby or project. Hopefully, without the intense mystery and suspense waiting for Susanna.
This was the perfect book to balance my reading habits which lean heavily toward historical fiction. The characters’ depth engages every sense on their journey navigating a mysterious path. If you need a good book, Decoy Valentine gives an intriguing tale with loveable characters.
About the Author
Shannon Kent loves God, her family, and classic movie musicals. She gains inspiration for her novels from her many travels around the world. Her other two romances are Flower Boy Tour Guide and Reality Show Romance. She holds a special place in her heart for South Korean culture and loves to infuse her stories with a Kimchi-flavored spice. You can follow her at Facebook.com/shannonkentauthor.
One reason I love to sink my mind into history is my inquisitive desire to know what was new to the people of the era. If you asked me what’s new in my town, as in additional buildings or businesses or infrastructure, I can honestly say a new library. Believe me, that is a big deal, for my town has never had a library, although it will be a small branch of the larger parish one. It is new and boasts the image of growth and change.
As I complete the Revolutionary Faith Series, my mind wanders to a time before railroads, paved interstates, and power lines to the 1770s bustling city of Charles Town, South Carolina. Asking my question then (What’s new?) would produce more than a new library. The city was already almost a century old. In 1670, two hundred settlers founded Charles Town, honoring King Charles II, on the west bank of the Ashley River. Around 1680, the town moved to its present location on the peninsula between the Ashely and Cooper Rivers. Everything was new.
By 1770 my characters, Elizabeth and Louis, would witness the birth of new structures such as houses, churches, government buildings, museums, and schools. During the pre-revolution or colonial era, people struggled with maintaining the old and establishing the new as the birth of a nation battled in their brains. Their city was already ninety years old. But something urged them to slacken their hold to the past and let the new penetrate the very foundation of their lives.
Reading, researching, and writing about history helps me find that balance between the new and the old. Our ancestors had the same struggles with what to grasp tightly and what to hold loosely. This past year has taught us some of the same lessons. Our way of life tilted and altered to adjust to what reigns important and valuable. Perhaps this new birth will produce a better place to weld the old with the new.
February 9 is the release of Wait for Me. Join Elizabeth and Louis in the fight for a new nation while clinging to the foundations of their lives.