As Characters Mature…

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 for Me (#5) will be released February 9!

Can you think of other characters that have “matured” in the book(s)?

Release Day–Less than two weeks!

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.

Preorder ebook here: https://www.amazon.com/Wait-Me-Revolutionary-Faith-Book-ebook/dp/B08HVWDQNL/

Paperback is available for purchase on February 9, 2021

I hope you will purchase and read Wait for Me!

Add a New Perspective

What a year 2020 has been, and it isn’t over yet! As I am living this year of unpredicted, unusual, unprecedented events, I reach back into history, wondering how unique this strange year is in the centuries. I’m no expert on politics or pandemics, but I do love studying historical events. The one I’m most familiar with is the American Revolution. Even with my research, I have only touched a fragment of available information.

Anyway, I can’t help but make a little comparison. I’m not going to touch the subject of the politics of today. Let’s go on a journey to the 1770s in the thirteen colonies. What a conglomeration of people from different nations, backgrounds, and languages. The things they had in common circled around wanting something different than they had in their former lands, whether for religious, financial, or political reasons. Some even involved criminal elements. But did they expect a major war that would turn their world upside down.?

It wasn’t total chaos. Years of preparation, discussions, decisions, study, and even voting flooded the colonies. The destiny of a nation was formed through debate, disagreements, amendments, creativity, prayer, and eventually battles. The birth of our nation was painful, but the Patriots thought it important enough to press on to claim freedom for all mankind. Perfect? Far from it. I think we are still pursuing that goal today.

Heads up, my friends. Looking into the past can bring you hope in these times. Faith in our God goes a long way to living a peaceful life even in a year as confusing as 2020.

Can you think of another example of when the world was thrown into chaos and survived?

Review and Giveaway The Shopkeeper’s Widow

The Shopkeepers widow

Tour Page on Celebrate Lit

About the Book

Book:  The Shopkeeper’s Widow

Author: Izzy James

Genre:  Christian Historical Romance

Release Date: August 21, 2020

TheShopkeepersWidow_w12605_750

Delany Fleet, a widowed former indentured servant living in the colonial port of Norfolk, Virginia, dreams of having an estate of her own where she will never have to compromise her freedom.

When the only man she ever loved shows up with a load of smuggled firearms, Delany is forced to leave her home and her livelihood to protect her family and property from Lord Dunmore’s raids and the conniving plots of a man who claims to be her friend.

Now, with her destiny forever altered, Delany must find a new way to happiness. Can reconnecting with her husband’s family and a former love be the path that God has for her?

Click here to get your copy!

My Review

First of all, I must comment on the era—the American Revolution. This is right up my alley in research, writing, and reading. I’m always looking for new authors and books about this time. 1774! What a time to be alive! A lot like right now, not knowing what will happen next. The unknown. The number of decisions that confront the characters daily keeps the reader engaged. Priorities shift in a time of crisis. Survival and protection move to the top.

These characters make commitments that determine their actions. We haven’t changed much in 200 years. The flight syndrome looms. Is there a way to escape? Will the problem follow me? A flight from society, hoarding secrets, resting in an inner cave with daily familiar surroundings. The last one is what I tend to do. Find that comfortable place and hibernate. Sometimes it is flight to a different place, a book, a room, a job, a country.

Izzy James is a new author for me. I look forward to reading more from her. If you enjoy the intrigue of the American Revolution with all of its problems with loyalties, slavery, freedom of all kinds, then this book is for you.

About the Author

izzy_james

Izzy James grew up surrounded by history and story in coastal Virginia. She still lives there with her fabulous husband in a house brimming with books.

More from Izzy

Hello! My name is Izzy James. My new book is The Shopkeeper’s Widow. It’s about freedom and second chances. I learned quite a bit of history while researching and writing this book. Did you know that the first showers began to appear in the early 1760’s? I gave Delany one of them in Shopkeeper’s just for fun. It is not likely she would have had a shower at that time, but it is fiction and as such I thought it would be a fun detail to add. We do know that some people did rig up for themselves a semblance of a daily shower by using a bucket full of water suspended above them.

Blog Stops

Ashley’s Bookshelf, September 6

Connect in Fiction, September 7

Batya’s Bits, September 8

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, September 9

The Book Chic Blog, September 9

Adventures of a Travelers Wife, September 10

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 10

HookMeInABook, September 11

Books I’ve Read, September 11

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Izzy is giving away the grand prize package of a a book, a can of tea and an Ingenuitea teapot!!

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/fff4/the-shopkeeper-s-widow-celebration-tour-giveaway

I hope you enjoyed the review. Please enter the giveaway above!

Revolutionary Faith

IMG_0336Oh, to have revolutionary faith! As I wrote my Revolutionary Faith series, I often asked myself if I have that kind of faith. The faith to see me through a major war. The faith to protect my family at all costs. The faith that does not waver in the face of the darkest hours. I must admit my answers to the question varied depending on my circumstances. But should it have?

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things to come.”

“Faith the size of a mustard seed”

IMG_3354Revolutionary faith sounds huge. But the participants in the American Revolution were humans with human weaknesses and flaws and faith that had to face the British Army–the greatest army on earth. How did they do it? One day at a time. One obstacle at a time.

My characters lived during a war with battles outside the walls of the city and later in their harbor with a siege and occupation. What would that faith look like? I think the citizens had lots of questions about where God was during the chaos of their lives. Had He deserted them? What did He expect them to do?

I always ask God questions.  Maybe my faith is no less revolutionary than ones who go through a major war. These people wondered from where their food, clothing, and shelter would come. Add to this actual physical fighting, death, disease, and maimed bodies. There really was no one to trust except God. He knew all the answers, and He still does.

IMG_3349I’d like to think I could have existed through this war and kept my faith. Even in this modern world, I face those circumstances that I cannot conquer or solve. When my children are hurting. When someone I love faces illness. When financial woes break a family’s spirit. When someone loses a job. When death invades a family.

Do you have revolutionary faith? I think we all do if we put our trust and belief in God. Our circumstances are different, but faith is equal to the task.

Road to Independence

IMG_0190Happy 4th of July! I have grown to appreciate this celebration. It is more than independence from the rule of another nation. Wrapped up in the meaning is pride in my country and my fellow countrymen. I do remember when I understood or began to understand the love I have for America. While living in England with my family in the 1970s, there were two holidays that suddenly didn’t have an significance to my new “home”–4th of July and Thanksgiving. Well, of course, why would the British claim either of those for national recognition.

I laugh now, but as a child I questioned why everyone didn’t think the 4th of July deserved fireworks, hamburgers, and watermelon. Try asking your British friends where they celebrate. So, my parents explained the history to me, again, and quickly found an American group of patriots living in our area. We cooked out, played games, talked about the United States while respecting the country where we were temporarily living.

I’ve traveled to many countries since that time. Each time I am thankful to set foot on American soil, no offense to any nation or nationality. Yet, I am American and ever so thankful. To me, it is not about politics or benefits, but about freedom, respect, and pride. The nation is not perfect because we as individuals are not perfect, but as long as we continue to make strides toward making our world better then there is hope for all of us.

IMG_0188After lots of research on the American Revolution era (about 45 resources), I’ve tried to determine what it would have been like to live in those troubling years of 1760-1785, more or less. The authoress of Charleston, Mrs. St. Julien Ravenel, worded the struggle about fighting this way: “To understand the hesitation we must remember that many of these men had once fought as Englishmen; and not without a pang of heart, even under deepest provocation, do men fire upon the flag which once was theirs.” War is difficult enough against strangers, but against one’s own relatives and citizens it had to be devastating and soul-wrenching.

 

The Revolution era gave flags like “Join or Die”–Benjamin Franklin and “Don’t Tread on Me”–Christopher Gadsden. For decades the colonists wanted representation and reconciliation. It wasn’t until there seemed to be no other way that separation was an option. The price for unity and forming a new nation was costly in lives, in standard of living, in ties to the rest of the world, in relationships, finances, and historical precedent.

american flagI’m thankful and respectful of the tough, forever changed, challenging decisions the nation’s designers had to make. Today, I will remember the beginning in order to face the future.

How are you celebrating the 4th? Do you have memories that formulated your understanding of this celebration?

First Things First

IMG_9580How I love summer! I use the time to do something different from teaching. Since I have completed the preliminary draft of a novel and submitted it to the publisher, I’ve been thinking and planning for my next novel. I spent a week in Charleston, S.C. with my sisters for four days then myself for three days. Beautiful, inspiring, lots of ideas!

I write historical fiction where the characters roam and live in a factual historical world. I always use a venue that I have traveled by walking the streets, visiting the sites, and researching. I’ve discussed my library before when I was writing the first four books in Revolutionary Faith Series–35 sources. On my latest venture to Charleston, I added more sources. I will have to scour the pages, formulating a plot, developing characters, outlining a historical backdrop. I’m so excited about this process.

IMG_9749So in the month of July, I’ll read and highlight my new books from Charleston. But the first book I am reading is an old 1906 book that will not receive any highlighting because of its value. Charleston The Place and the People by Mrs. St. Julien Ravenel is a treasure, one found in my parents’ library. I’m sure there are quite a few interesting observations discussed by Mrs. Ravenel.

I bought my books from two wonderful shops in Charleston–Historic Shops of Charleston on Meeting Street and The Preservation Society Shop on King Street. Time spent in both shops is a thrill. One book I bought is South Carolina and the American Revolution: A Battlefield History by John. W. Gordon. I’ve read another of his books for research and thoroughly enjoyed it.

As I advance in my plot for the next book, I decided to add A Gallant Defense: The Siege of Charleston, 1780 by Carl P. Borick. I want to know what it was like living in a city under siege by the British.

Two historical figures have fascinated me as I’ve researched and written them into my novels. One is William Moultrie, an American General in Charleston. I added  Crescent Moon over Carolina: William Moultrie and American Liberty by C.L. Bragg.

One of my favorite characters that I have already used in my novels is Francis Marion (the Swamp Fox).  I found The Life of General Francis Marion by Brig. Gen. P. Horry and Parson M. L. Weems. I’m hoping for some interesting insight into this extraordinary man.

IMG_9744Research–I LOVE the process. I’m rubbing my hands together in excitement wondering which book I’ll read first.

Do you have a project that you really anticipate with joy? 

Thank You

IMG_7178I need to stop and thank everyone for a successful release of Bring Me Near. The flowers are for you! I could not have done it without so many people working to make this publication special and memorable. The process of publication is long and arduous but so very worth it to finally hold the book in my hands.

Thank you to my publisher and editors at Celebrate Lit. You kept me on track and worked diligently to create a beautiful book. Roseanna White once again created a gorgeous cover. I’m so pleased with all three of the covers for the series.

IMG_7114 (1)My advanced readers, or my street team, are awesome. I hope I didn’t scare you off from joining me again for the next novel. Thank you for your time, your critiques, your reviews, and overall support. I received many comments that I will use over and over to inspire me to continue writing. My team of readers for Bring Me Near was Katie G., Boots M., Sarah H., Charlotte P., Sally M., Terri W., Melissa W., Mary C., Donna G., Nancy W., Diane F., Gloria B., Judy K., Katherine H., Linda M., Dot G., Sandy D., and Becky S. You are the best!

My blog tour with Celebrate Lit ran from February 28- March 13. Thank you to all of the bloggers for your time and reviews. It is always a joy to work with such a dedicated group of readers, writers, and bloggers.

img_e7187-2.jpgNext is a new release book signing on March 23 at the Avenue Christian Bookstore in Ruston, Louisiana. I hope to see many family and friends at this event.

I will continue to promote the Revolutionary Faith Series at book clubs, book events, festivals, and social clubs. I am over half way in the writing of Book Four Draw Me to Your Side. Keep your comments coming as we continue this journey together.

Let me know what you think about the series and what you expect for Book Four!

IMG_7068

“Don’t Tread on Me”

american flagI love flags. I am a bit like Sheldon on “Big Bang Theory.” I want to know the meaning, the significance of the colors, the symbolism of the designs. Take the flag of the United States for an example. Every stripe, star, or color has a meaning. The symbolism makes it ours; something we can be proud of even today.

In my classroom with my students, I have them research a Spanish speaking country. One component is to include the flag and its meaning. You’d be surprised at what we learn.

So, it isn’t surprising that I latched on to a new flag in Bring Me Near, Revolutionary Faith Book Three. The words on the banner will not be anything new to you. “Don’t Tread on Me.” Yes, this flag was designed by one of my favorite Revolution characters, Christopher Gadsden, from Charles Town, South Carolina, in 1775.

join or dieAt the Continental Congress in 1775, a suggestion was passes around that the newly created Navy needed a flag. The creation of the flag is still attributed to Gadsden. A bit of history–preceding his rendition of the flag time includes the political symbol that Benjamin Franklin drew in 1754 of a disconnected serpent with the caption “Join or Die.”

The 1775 flag was on a bright yellow background with a coiled gray rattlesnake in the center. The bold words became a motto for the Revolution.

IMG_7131Just looking at it scares me. I am from the south. The rattlesnake is not a sign of friendship or a welcome addition to any garden. I hate them passionately. And, I have a respect for the danger and harm one can do. As a child, I learned to watch my path through the woods, retreat when I see one, and give them the distance and respect they need.

Gadsden and the people of South Carolina felt the same. The rattlesnake was seen as a noble and useful creature. It warned the enemy (man, beast) before it struck. It did not attack unless disturbed or frightened. It only struck in self-defense, and then it was deadly.

Think about the American Revolution. The people in the colonies had an enemy, Britain, rattlesnakethat continued to pursue the colonists with unwanted laws and petitions. The colonists (or the rattlesnake) could only take so much abuse. If Britain continued to tread on their rights, the colonists would attack. A warning. A deadly reminder.

I have this flag hanging on my bookcase as I write my novels. It is a reminder of a people (my ancestors and yours) who in the beginning never wanted war or separation. Yet, Britain became an enemy and her people had to strike back or be trampled.

Do you think Gadsden’s flag was a good choice?

FYI: The official flag of the Continental Navy  was the Grand Union Flag. The most popular symbol of the American Revolution was the Don’t Tread on Me flag.