Biblical Novelists

Biblical novelists tell the stories of the Bible

With permission I have re-blogged this post by Christy-Award winner Angela Hunt. Having stumbled across her post I loved her comments about Biblical novelists. This is just a section of it. The link to the original is at the end. (Confession: I have re-formatted it slightly and added some images but the text is as the original.)

Angela Hunt, one of the Biblical novelists

She asks…

Why do novelists write the stories of the Bible and call them “fiction?” I can give you several reasons

First, the Bible is a big collection of books, and the biblical authors were not novelists. They wrote facts, events, and dates from their perspective as they were moved by the Spirit of God. When they recounted events, however, they tended to write sparely, rather like an artist who does a pencil sketch. They relied on nouns and verbs, using few adjective and sometimes using few names.  Very rarely do they mention supporting characters, and even more rarely do they mention supporting women. We shouldn’t be surprised–they came from patriarchal societies.

Bible. One book, many stories

Biblical Novelists

What a trustworthy biblical novelist does is take the scripture and bring it to realistic life with layers of color and texture and sensory details. We research the historical time period and read dozens of works written in that time period whenever possible, so we can get a feel for how people actually wrote, lived, and spoke. When we encounter conflicting expert opinions, we choose the most logical. We consider human nature, which does not change. People still get angry, frustrated, and depressed. Even biblical characters make awful mistakes, and if the Bible doesn’t avoid recording them, why should a novelist?   Most of all, we keep the scriptural account as our touchstone, taking care not to violate it.  But the parts that spring from our imagination, we freely admit are fiction.

Based on real life

Part of being true to Scripture involves not always crafting the perfect ending. Not every biblical story has an “HEA” (happily ever after) conclusion. I know readers love them, but biblical stories are based on real life, and real life often leaves us sadder, but wiser . . . yet always filled with hope. Because our hope is found in God, who never changes or fails.

Biblical novelists bring the stories to life

Why not forget fiction and read only the Bible? Because the human spirit resonates to STORY.  When I was a little girl, before they had invented children’s church, I had to go into the adult service with my parents. As a four-, five-, and six-year-old, I tended to fidget and often put my head in my mother’s lap to sleep. But whenever the preacher said, “Reminds me of the time when . . .” I sat up, all ears and wide awake.  Why? Because those words signaled the beginning of a STORY, and I loved story. Nearly everyone does.

Jesus used stories to teach His followers–that’s what the parables were.  Through the work of the Spirit, some people caught the true meaning of Jesus’ stories, and others didn’t.

Most of my stories–even the contemporary, non-biblically based novels–are parables. Like onions, there’s an outer layer and several inner layers, and readers will take from it what they were ready to receive.  Some grasp the deeper meaning, others do not. But that’s okay. Their understanding depends on the Spirit.

So why read fiction based on biblical events?

  1. Because a trustworthy author will not violate Scripture.
  2. Because the fictional elements should be logical and based on historical facts.
  3. Because human nature is consistent over time. We often think our problems are unique, and we’re relieved to discover that we aren’t alone. Others have been in similar situations.
  4. Because historical fiction helps us better understand the culture and history of familiar story events.
  5. Because we learn from the lives of other people.
  6. Because God Himself recorded stories, and Jesus taught with them since humans are hard-wired to appreciate story. Who would know that better than the God who created us?

God gave us Scripture, and the doctrine of biblical sufficiency states that the Bible gives us all we need to know about God. But it does not give us all we want to know, and our quest for knowledge is a God-given gift. We yearn to know more, and well-written biblical, historical, and contemporary fiction can meet that need.

So don’t hesitate to open your heart and mind to a well-written biblical novel. You may be surprised to learn a truth you had never before considered.
(Angela Hunt)

I am grateful to Angela Hunt for permission to repost (part of) her post. She has given such great, clear reason for reading Biblical fiction. 

Original post

https://www.angelahuntbooks.com/2018/02/why-biblical-fiction/?fbclid=IwAR0IAVsMdv8rLyoVf5TETruSwjqcDIgXu65KwNX6BGgQtM54v7lXBJc4jYw

 

When I finish the book I am currently reading, I look forward to reading Angela Hunt’s novel, ‘Judah’s Wife’ – you see, not only do I write in this genre, I love reading it too.

Have a wonderful week ahead,

Susan

Where do the books, and novellas come from?

Books

Books and novellas come from the writers’ minds.  I can only tell you about my books and the process of writing them.

If you arrived here via the ‘welcome’ page you would have seen the cover and part of the blurb for the latest novella – ‘No Evil Shall Befall You.’ I change the page for each of the new books and novellas I publish. There is a third novella coming. (Stay tuned.)

My books and writing

Apostle John series, all 5 cover images

I have been asked before about how I write, but that was a long time ago, and now there are more. The Apostle John Series is complete, five books in all. Originally, they were inspired by a detailed series of Bible studies that set me wondering… and researching. Then, as I have seen other authors mention, the characters take over, so, I have to ask if I will ‘allow’ that, or if it takes the book in a different direction. Writers are often asked if they are ‘plotters’ or ‘pantsers.’ In other words, is each book plotted out chapter by chapter, or written by the ‘seat of the author’s pants?’

Mine are a mixture. I know what will happen, and key points on the way to the end, but the bits in between are the result of inspiration, research and sometimes a bit of correction. (The characters have to remain consistent over the book series, and in the case of the first novella, to the way they were in the books in the series.)

Please allow me to explain

After the Thirty Days, by Susan M B Preston

After the Thirty Days is the completing of Esther’s story. This novella picks up some threads from the middle of Hell Shall Not Prevail (before we join John on Patmos.) Her cousin, Judah, heir to their grandfather, ‘Old Simon,’ and the workers in ‘Old Simon’s’ shop are also carry-overs from the series to this novella. All of them needed to be consistent with where they appeared in the books in the series.

No Evil Shall Befall You follows After the Thirty Days – loosely. Simon, son of ‘Old Simon’ returns to Egypt where he has lived for many years to an unpleasant situation he must deal with before he can act on his plans.

No Evil Shall Befall you

In the third, and final, novella, Simon returns to Ephesus.

(Any more at this point would be a ‘spoiler’ and although it is written in my head, it is just over halfway in the manuscript.)

I check everything from the start each time I write.

Making the books authentic

book research

It takes a great deal of research to make the books true to the times. Someone once commented that it would have been better if there had been a kiss in one of the books in the Apostle John Series between a couple whose betrothal was being planned. This would have been totally inaccurate to the time and culture… unless the young woman had been a different ‘type’ of person.

 

I knew this type of information because of extensive research, but my readers do not necessarily have these facts.

This is why I have added ‘Marriage in the 1st Century, AD’ to the ‘Starter pack’ of background information for VIP Readers.

For current VIP Readers a link to download this new PDF will be in the next newsletter, together with ‘Death and Mourning in the 1st Century, AD.’ There is another planned – background to the Egyptian aspects in the second novella. ‘No Evil Shall Befall You.’

Biblical Fiction Books

All the books in the Apostle John Series, as well as the novellas are Biblical fiction. (Spoiler alert – the characters in the novellas are not Christian, but the fiction is Biblical.)

My aim with all of them was, and is, to tell the story of the times. I have been told that through the characters I succeeded and I am grateful to my readers for their feedback.

Remember, you can always ‘pay it forward’ and leave a short review where you bought the book and help other readers make up their minds if it is for them.

Hope you enjoyed the ‘peep behind the scenes’

Till next time,

Susan

Trials are par for the course

Trials come in relationships

Par for the course… why? If we are trying to live by faith why do we have trials?  

On this subject, I came across a video clip on the site of someone who followed my older blog. It was an interesting song. ‘Before the morning’ (I will link to the clip at the end.)

It begins with questions about why ‘you’ are suffering if there is a loving God Who cares. Questions like this are quite common.

rose garden

Remember the old song “I never promised you a rose garden’? Well God does not promise us a life without pain and trials if we accept the sacrifice His Son made for us.

Trials never end – while we are alive.

As it was in the beginning of our faith…

  • In Hold the Faith, book one of the Apostle John series, Benjamin faced a faith-testing trial. Ours trials are different to those of the fictional characters, but some of ours are ‘faith-testing’ too.
  • In The Light of Truth, book three, I wrote about the trials of a background character who has moved to the foreground. Then someone who left in book two, Grow in Grace, made a re-entry in this third book.
    Here things are moving toward another arrest of the Apostle John.
  • In book four, Keep the Flame, one of my favorite characters dies.
  • Book 5, Hell Shall Not Prevail, completes the series, and it was not the end of trials.

The books are fiction but the trials and challenges are similar to those we face.

Apostle John series, all 5 cover images

So why am I talking about these books? Why mention the song? Because, although my book series is fiction, my primary resource book has been the Bible, and in writing this series I have learnt a great deal about why things happen.

Take for example Jesus’ words...

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Many people are told that because Jesus said “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world’, that He has done it all for us. Not so.

Trials did not stop with Jesus’ resurrection

Look at the lives of those first disciples… only John survived into old age. The others, according to legend, were all martyred. Also, according to legend, John was put in boiling oil. That does not sound like ‘Jesus did it all’ to me.

And what about these scriptures...

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
James 1:2

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials
1Peter 1:6

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Romans 12:12

These writers, who were Apostles, make it clear that we will have trials, and as we plod through them, our faith and trust in our Saviour grows.

Have you read this one?

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
James 1: 3, 4

The trust in His Father that Jesus had to exercise must have been enormous, and another scripture says that He learned obedience through the things He suffered. (Heb 5: 8)

Jesus was schemed against all throughout His ministry. He must have been one of the loneliest, most lied about, most misunderstood person who ever lived. Not to mention the most cruelly punished. He was scourged, mocked and crucified.

plotting against Jesus

Our trials

never leave you quote

Although what Jesus and the early Christians went through makes what we go through seem ‘mild’ by comparison, our trials are horrendous to us.

Sometimes all we can do is ask God for help…

and try to recognise the help when it is given.

You might enjoy this song if you are going through a painful trial…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=New8i_eX3x8

Just thinking again,

Susan

Christian persecution

Coliseum, Rome

In most Western countries we are fairly free of Christian persecution and this is the theme I am writing to, here.

Where did this thought start?

I have been asked many times, “What are your books about?”

Basically, they are about life in the late first century AD – in many ways not so different from today, except for all our modern inventions. So, I decided to look for the dominant theme in each book. I did not plan ‘themes’ when writing– the characters found themselves in situations, much as we experience today.

Hold the Faith, cover

In Hold the Faith (book 1 in the series) Benjamin, brought up in the faith, discovers he cannot rely on his parents’ faith and decides to seek baptism. Adult baptism was the practice at the time.
(Remember, the Apostle John Series is ‘story-telling’ not evangelizing.)

Persecution in Hold the Faith

Excerpt from Hold the Faith, when Benjamin and some other young men attended a ‘class’ on baptism, they were warned.

“Looking at each young man, all about the same age, he [Joshua] repeated, “Mature decisions. You need to be able to understand the seriousness of the commitment you are asking to make. Could you die for your faith? It is something you must consider. If you are taken by the Romans on suspicion of being a Christian as they call us, and order you to make the offering of incense to the emperor and proclaim him as god what will you do?”

“But we know that is wrong now…” interjected Stephen.

“Yes, I know all of you have been taught well by your families, or you would not be here. The consequences are about to be different for you than they have been for brethren for some years. If you refuse, it is no longer only prison you will face… or if the governor is kind, exile. No, if you refuse when this new governor arrives, you will go from prison to the arena to face lions.” He paused to allow his words to sink in.

Although they did not speak, their thoughts were similar. It was one thing to be chased by a mob and murdered as their relatives had been, or to be run through by the sword of an impatient Roman soldier, but to be imprisoned with weeks or months to think about walking into the arena to face lions…”

Joshua watched them carefully. Satisfied that they were facing possibilities, he suggested that they meditate on that during the coming week and if they wanted to continue, come back for another preparation lesson.”

One reviewer of Hold the Faith wrote,
“I found myself thinking about my own faith in Jesus Christ. What sacrifices would I make? Would I be strong enough in my faith to stand before persecution?”

Along a similar line, another person said,
“It really makes you think deeply about the level of Christian commitment in the tense and troubling times of the first century church and wonder if it would be matched should we ever face similar circumstances.”

Have we Christians ‘gone soft?’ Would we compromise the faith we profess?

 People who ask similar questions to those mentioned in the quotations above are aware of the potential cost of professing the name of Jesus Christ as Savior.

Persecution today

Almost unreported are the many cases of persecution for holding the Christian faith.

Like many other Christians, I was vaguely aware that in some countries Christians are persecuted. When deciding to check it out – I was staggered by the scale of persecution.

Christianity Today reports that there are fifty countries in the world where it is hardest to be Christian. 

http://bit.ly/2wcakwP

Compelling Truth, on the subject of missionaries, reports

“Missionaries face danger, as well, since most places in the world are not welcoming to Christianity. Missionaries can get ignored in Denmark and killed in India. As Jesus told His disciples, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles” (Matthew 10:16-18). Paul testified to the truth of the hardships in Romans 8:36 when he quoted, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
https://www.compellingtruth.org/Christian-missionary.html

So, I guess, for these people – compromising what they believe is not an option. Not only missionaries but ordinary believers are kidnapped, raped, and/or murdered. Space does not permit me to list all the instances but you will find pages and pages of instances of the cost of Christian beliefs.
https://goo.gl/nNwrGf

As it was at the start of the Christian faith, so it continues. King Solomon was correct when he wrote
‘What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1: 9

Persecution of Christians is increasing

(But to report on the reasons given would be to target a group, not all of whom agree with what is being done.)

As I discovered writing Hold the Faith, and the other books in the series, Christianity was not called the ‘Way’ for nothing. It truly was a way of life for the believers, persecutions and all.

Is it for us?

Susan

The eBook version of Hold the Faith is free on both Amazon and Smashwords.

If you have a Kindle click HERE  to download from Amazon

For other eBook formats, or if you prefer Smashwords, click HERE

 

The Bridegroom Comes

sky for bridegroom comes blog

Following a recent post where the ten virgins were mentioned, the Bridegroom came and they were not ready.

The Bridegroom comes and the virgins are not all ready
10 virgins when the bridegroom came

This is an analogy the people of the time would have understood far more easily than we do. It is based on a custom of the time.

After a betrothal was arranged the man and woman were considered married but the marriage was not consummated.

The only way to end a betrothal was by a divorce.

By the way, this knowledge answered a puzzlement of my young years when reading of Mary and Joseph.
I had not understood that betrothal was as binding as marriage itself.

After the betrothal the groom went to prepare a home for his bride. In some cases, it was a room he built on – added to – the family home. While the groom was preparing a home for his bride, she was making herself ready.

There were no sewing machines then, no dress shops where she could buy a gown to wear when her husband came to claim her and take her to the home he had prepared. There were no department stores where she could buy bedlinen or any of the furnishings needed. She sewed everything herself. This was her part of being ready for the bridegroom.

A date for the final part of the marriage, the time when she would be claimed from her family, was not arranged. Generally, it was approximately a year after, sometimes sooner depending upon what had been arranged in the marriage contract agreed before the formal betrothal took place.

According to my research into the period, the friend of the groom was the one who checked up to see how arrangements were progressing, and to ensure the bride was making herself ready. He was the one who gave warning to the family that the bridegroom would come in the next few days.

In those days it was usually something that happened at night, possibly because of the work hours.

Here is a possible reason why the ten virgins… or however many attendants the bride had, were to be ready to light the last part of the way to where the bride would wait.

“Behold the bridegroom comes!”

This was the signal that it was time for the virgins to take their lamps and run to light the way.

Image is of the Negev in Israel.

Imagine, only starlight… only moonlight – depending on the phase of the moon. If it was cloudy… neither.

There were no street lamp Is, no electricity in fact. Only oil lamps.

Of course, there is an analogy. Christ is the Bridegroom, His church, the Bride and He has gone to prepare a place.

I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
John 14: 2 b

In researching for Hold the Faith… which became the Apostle John series, all these customs of the time revealed the spiritual meaning that was then applied to them in the parables. In fact, understanding the customs of the times made the gospels a lot more meaningful.

I must admit that when writing the series I often wished for even a landline telephone, so that Naomi had warning of ‘surprise’ guests.

A modern cooking stove would have made life easier, too.

Guess, thinking about what they needed to do, as well as the threats they faced, makes us appreciate what we have… or it should do.

Till next time,

Susan

P.S.

The cover is not updated yet, but The Light of Truth (book 3 in the series)  has won a Finalist Award in the Independent Authors’ Network Book of the Year Awards.

Hell Shall Not Prevail is finished… but

Photo by Tim Foster on Unsplash

As often happens a minor waking in the night, becomes the end of sleeping.

Why?

Because my brain wakes up and clicks into gear.

Hell Shall Not Prevail is finished - but...

at four am it occurred to me there were more stories waiting to be told.

Although Hell Shall Not Prevail is finished, not edited yet, but finished… I could think of three ‘novella’ type stories rising out of this last book in the Apostle John Series.

Therefore, rather than start the new series (on a different subject) just yet, I am thinking of picking up the stories of three of the characters and giving them a life beyond the final book in the Apostle John series.

Although I did not like ALL of the characters… 

  • Each served a purpose
  • Each was necessary
  • I ‘lived in the skin’ of each of them for a while.

 

Hell Shall Not Prevail cover option 1

I know the possibilities of their lives after Hell Shall Not Prevail. 

However, their lives went in different directions and it was not possible to continue this in Hell Shall Not Prevail.

 

Look out for more in the Apostle John series

So, look out for news on these novellas…

  1. Esther’s story – which involves some of the other characters but focuses on her future.
  2. Giannis’ story. Is there hope for him? Will there be a new love?
  3. Naomi. (Cannot say where this goes without it being a ‘spoiler’ for events in Hell Shall Not Prevail.)

All these characters have had a role in the series since book 1 Hold the Faith… but deserve a life after

Must not say anymore for the present.

 

Btw – Did you know the eBook version of Hold the Faith is free on Amazon? 

Use the link on the book page. Scroll down and click the ‘Buy on Amazon link
http://www.susanprestonauthor.com/series-overview/hold-the-faith/

Just sharing ….

Susan

P.S

If you want to be first to know about these new novellas, sign up for the VIP Reader’s group

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Hell Shall Not Prevail – the end

Apostle John Series book covers with Hell Shall Not Prevail
Hell Shall Not Prevail cover option 1

As members of my VIP Readers group know… one evening last week I wrote, ‘THE END.’ Hell Shall Not Prevail, book 5 in the Apostle John Series is finished.  

Yes, there have been many hiccoughs and delays with this final book in the series. It was supposed to be released sooner than this. However, I needed to do the other books justice. It is a ‘capstone’ on the series.

Now, I have finished going through it, line by line, so that it is the least amount of work for an editor.

Typing ‘THE END’ was a strange, but satisfying feeling.
(I never did find the missing Epilogue, but I believe the one it has now is probably better.)

Each of the other books in the series has finished with… ‘To be continued in…” (Whatever the next book was called.)

This one finished the series!

Sometimes it was ‘odd’ living between two time periods – but it was incredible what I discovered as I researched all I could about their time and culture… so that I could walk in their shoes!

I would not be telling the truth if I said I LIKED every character, but I did come to know them. I had to in order to ‘live in their skins.’

It has hard to describe the feeling when I looked at those words ‘THE END’ on the page.  After five books!

There was a tinge of sadness that my late husband is not here to share the pleasure. I know he would have been delighted – he lived with the first few books.

Other feelings? Mainly there was excitement, joy, satisfaction, all competing for supremacy.… and I found myself wondering if God feels the same way when ‘one of His saints’ reaches the end of life.

Perhaps.

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. Psalm 116: 15

It gave me an inkling of what He might feel.

But why?

Why is it ‘precious in His sight’ when his saints die?

And why does he take no pleasure in the death of the wicked?

“Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’
Ezek 33:11

Perhaps it is because the race is run, and for the ‘saints’ THE END can be ‘stamped’ on a life lived well.

The death of a sinner is a different story.

Just thinking, and delighted that the Apostle John Series has ‘lived well.’

Teddy bear and red roses image

Thank you to all who have supported me through this journey through the lives of the people of the late 1st century AD.

P.S. To those who have asked, yes, another series is coming… a different one. But first, a rest, friends, family – oh, and a book award for Keep the Flame.

Thank you, readers, for your support. Stay tuned.

Tread softly

Susan

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Choices have a far-reaching effect

Image of desert sands

We all make choices. Some we ponder over, weigh up the pros and cons, others require less time. Some choices are good, others – well, we wish we had made different ones.

There are many examples of people making good, and not so good choices in the Bible.

Remember, the people we read of in those Bible stories… and sometimes read over barely paying attention to, were people. We have the benefit of hindsight. We know what came as a result of their choices.

They did not. They had decisions to make. Unless the person was a king… or a queen, none of them would think their choices were recorded for the rest of us to learn from.

What a scary thought that is, that all are choices could be written in a book and read all over the world, all through the centuries.

In the Bible there are many examples – however,  because of a short message I listened to recently, I choose to focus on the choice of a wife for Abraham’s son, Isaac. (Genesis chapter twenty four.)

Abraham's choice of a wife for Isaac

Abraham wanted a wife for his son, Isaac – the ‘son of promise.’ For this son no Canaanite woman would pass Abraham’s standard. No, Abraham wanted a wife from his own kindred (family) for this God-given son.

Since Abraham was a hundred years old when Isaac was born, he was not planning to go back himself to choose a wife for his son. Instead, he entrusted this task to the senior servant of his house. A man who had no doubt proved his loyalty over the years.

(Side note:  The servant was a man whom at one time Abram thought would be his heir since he had no sons ‘of my own body.’)

Gen 15: 3 and lo, one born in my house is mine heir; meaning either Eliezer or his son, whom he had made his heir, or intended to make him, since he had no child;
John Gill Commentary.

Cartoon of worried

Well, the servant did not refuse, but he did worry about the task.

How would he know the woman?

Abraham said God would send His angel before the servant.

The servant’s next concern… What if she refused?

Then he would be released from his vow.

Well, the servant made a choice to do what his master asked him and he took ten camels (and as we discover later in the chapter, some expensive gold jewelry.)

Did he worry about his task all the way? He might have done. When he arrived in Mesopotamia he made his ten camels kneel down – and he prayed.

 Part of his prayer, addressed to the God of his master, Abraham was…

“Now may it be that the girl to whom I say, ‘Please let down your jar so that I may drink,’ and who answers, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels also ‘– may she be the one whom You have appointed for Your servant Isaac; and by this I will know that You have shown lovingkindness to my master.”
Gen 24: 14 NASB

Whether he knew it or not, the servant entrusted with this responsibility was asking for someone who was kind, and who willingly served. Not only was the woman to fill her own water jar… but this man, a stranger was going to ask for a drink from her jar. More, he had asked that the woman would offer to draw water for his camels also.

Observation. Ten thirsty camels would have needed a lot of water

(When researching for Hold the Faith there was a point when camels were the chosen method of transport. They traveled without drink from when they set out, until they arrived.) I therefore conclude the servant’s camels would have been thirsty.

Rebecca came to the well.
Did the servant wonder if she was the correct one, the one the angel had led him to?

Checking if she is the choice of a bride for his master's son

Abraham’s servant asked her who she was, then if he could lodge with her family. (This was not as ‘cheeky’ as it might sound, in those days people would give accommodation to a traveler.)

Since she had fulfilled all the requests the servant had made in his prayer, first – he remained silent. ‘so as to know whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not.’ Gen 24: 21

Matters moved fairly quickly after this. She ran to those of her mother’s house. (Was her father dead? Probably, because the negotiations were done with her brother Laban.)

More choices - family discussion

Although it takes thirty more verses to reach the point, Rebecca had less than twenty-four hours to make up her mind. Abraham’s servant wanted to settle the matter and leave the next day.

She accepted. Good choice. She became the grandmother of the twelve tribes of Israel. From one of these, Judah, came Jesus Christ.

Interesting how choices have effects down through the years. Yes, choices have a far-reaching effect.

Perhaps we should be like the servant and stay silent after it seems something we have prayed for seems to have happened. Just to wait and know whether it is the Lord who has done this. Thus increasing our chances of making a successful choice.

Just thinking,

Susan

Christian Regency romance fiction

Christian Regency romance fiction is the next stop on the journey through Christian Historical Fiction.

Please join me in welcoming the  talented author Carolyn Miller to this week’s blog.

Carolyn has agreed to give us an overview of this genre.

Christian Regency author, Carolyn Miller

The Classic Definition

The classic definition of ‘historical romance’ is not one about fiction set in the past that deals with love, but rather, in Walter Scott’s words, “a fictitious narrative in prose or verse; the interest of which turns upon marvellous and uncommon incidents.” Novels (or films) like Rob Roy, Ivanhoe, even Wolf Hall, may be considered historical romances, even though they may not have a strong emphasis on the romantic relationship between the characters.

Nowadays, most of us associate historical romance with a story set in the past (pre-WWII) that focuses on the developing attraction between two main characters, with an emotionally satisfying, optimistic ending. Historical romance genres span time periods from the Ancient World, Medieval and Elizabethan age, through to Colonial US and Western time periods.

Regency romance is a subgenre of historical romance, being defined as novels set between the years 1811-1820, when the Prince Regent, (later George IV) ruled England in place of his ill father. Although Jane Austen’s novels were published in this time period they were set a few years prior, so there are questions as to whether they truly can be considered Regency fiction.

'Vintage blank' image papyrus

Georgette Heyer, a prolific English writer of the 1920s-1960s, modelled her fiction on Jane Austen’s works, and used a great deal of period details to give a sense of authenticity to her works. This included basing plots around real events, such as the Napoleonic Wars, the precise descriptions of clothing and furniture, the use of Regency-era ‘cant’ (slang, such as “all the crack” to describe something very fashionable, or “bluestocking” to describe an academic female) all to aid her readers’ understanding an unfamiliar time period. Her commitment to research was such that she had whole rooms devoted to research materials – this was pre-internet days – and even saw her purchase a letter written by the Duke of Wellington, just so she could emulate his style of address. Not for nothing is she considered to have invented the Regency romance genre, and spawned so many imitators, Barbara Cartland being one.

Other elements often found in Regency fiction

In addition to period details and the romance genre’s expectations of a HEA (happily ever after), there are a number of other elements often found in Regency fiction:

  • References to the ton (British high society, consisting of the aristocracy and fashionably wealthy)  
  • Portrayals of social activities as carriage rides, morning visits (often paid in the afternoon), dinners, plays, operas, assemblies, balls, considered usual for the social season, which occurred between January and June, when Parliament was in session.
  • Mention of sporting activities engaged in by young gentlemen of the period, such as riding, driving, boxing, fencing, hunting, shooting, etc.
  • Social class differences
  • Marriages of convenience: marriage based on love was unlikely for most women, their main concern to acquire a steady and sufficient income for the woman and her family
  • False engagements, and mistaken identity, deliberate or otherwise
  • Mystery or farce elements in the storyline
Woman with magnifying glass

Traditional Regency romance, with an emphasis on the primary romance plot, usually have very detailed historical details and try to emulate the language of the period – for their notoriously picky readers. J  Regency historical romance is considered slightly different, and may have more modern characterisations, and a degree of sensuality (ie bodice rippers) not in keeping with Regency values.

Christian Regency Romance Fiction

This really took off in the early 2000s with Lori Wick’s ‘English Garden’ series. More contemporary Christian Regency authors (they’re mostly US) include Julie Klassen, Sarah Ladd, Kristi Ann Hunter – and yours truly, waving the flag for Australasia! J In addition to the usual Regency elements we also see the depiction of the hero and heroine’s faith, with common themes including forgiveness, commitment and social injustice, and the ‘heat’ of secular novels restricted to a chaste touch of the hand or (gasp!) a kiss.

Regency romance has many avid admirers – some of whom may have been persuaded to read by Jane Austen films and a certain Colin Firth. Reading such novels can be a great way to gain a little more understanding about a time in English history that witnessed such things as the Napoleonic Wars, the advent of industrialisation and subsequent social upheaval, adventure and exploration and excess. Couple that with observing the relationship trials – and the fantasy element of grand houses and handsome, titled heroes – and there can be a lot to enjoy and appreciate about Regency romances.

Carolyn’s books…

Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. Together with her husband she has co-pastored a church for ten years, written songs and headed music ministry, and worked as a high school English and Learning and Support teacher.

A long-time lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives.

Carolyn is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Australasian Christian Writers and Omega Christian Writers and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. Her debut Regency novel ‘The Elusive Miss Ellison’ released in February 2017, and her second ‘The Captivating Lady Charlotte’ released in June from Kregel Publications.

Connect with her at www.carolynmillerauthor.com and subscribe to her newsletter.

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Christian Historical Fiction – Lonna Seibert

This week, we move out of the era of early Christianity and cover another time period identified as popular by readers of Christian Historical fiction. (I will include a link to the Readers’ Survey results at the end.)

In the meantime, please welcome Lonna Seibert.

Lonna is the author of the, as yet unpublished novel, ‘A Servant’s Heart’.

Over to you, Lonna, please tell us a little about yourself and your novel.

     Thank you, Susan.

Lonna Seibert, author

During the summer of 2015, I wrote my first book. I am a wife and the mother of two young children, and at that time, I was a stay at home mom. My educational and professional background is in history and archaeology.
One day, while visiting a local historic site near my home in northern Virginia, the idea for my story began to form. I was at a point in my life where I doubted my usefulness and questioned whether I had anything more to contribute to the world.

I know that God is the reason I was able to create something out of nothing. Writing this story increased my confidence and self-esteem and reminded me that I can do hard things at a time when I was full of doubts about my purpose.

Written from a Christian worldview...

          A Servant’s Heart is an inspirational romance.

 In writing this story I hoped to show the redeeming nature of love, despite the trials of life. By writing a love story, I have shown that God’s love for us determines everything else. My story proclaims the paramount importance of a place to call our own—home; and people to love—family. And it shows us that through God’s grace we can find these gifts anywhere if we only look with open minds and hearts.

A Servant's Heart

Christian story, A Servants Heart

Catherine Abbott, reeling and alone after her parents’ deaths and a betrayal by a manipulative suitor, leaves her past behind and sails from England to colonial Virginia. Full of hope and bolstered by her faith in God, she is determined to build a new life.
As an indentured servant for hire she attracts the attention of a man with a frightening reputation. But local physician James Craig notices her predicament and purchases her indenture, preventing the other man from hiring—and possibly hurting—her.

James takes Catherine to live and work at River Farm, his home on the Potomac. His initial intention as a Christian man is to protect her, but the two grow to care for each other. James’s past, like Catherine’s, is complicated and they both struggle to trust, acknowledge, and act on their feelings.

As the colonies teeter on the brink of war, the couple faces an uncertain future, as well as a more immediate danger. Catherine’s obsessive admirer returns, threatening her safety and James’s life.

When the American Revolution begins, James joins the Continental Army as a surgeon.

After the war, he is full of dark moods from the suffering and death he witnessed on the battlefield. He loses sight of the perfect promise of God’s love and becomes convinced that love leads only to pain. Instead of embracing the wonderful gift God has given to His people, James sees the emotion as a burden.

Christian story, A servants hear, American civil war

Catherine possesses a fierce and steadfast belief in God’s goodness. When the life she knew is suddenly gone, her fear of a future she cannot see, control, nor even imagine leads her to rely more completely on God. Catherine’s idealism and optimism propel her to begin the painful process of starting over, and her faith is rewarded when she finds the life God always intended for her. As Catherine draws closer to God, James experiences a crisis of faith and worries that Catherine won’t love him if he no longer shares her beliefs. Unless they can let go of the broken trust of past relationships, overcome his combat trauma, and trust in God, happiness and love will elude them.

Lonna says….

A Servant’s Heart affirms that God is present and working for our good even when we can’t understand the process or know the outcome. It is a story of woman searching for a home, a man standing in the way of his own happiness, love thwarted by the course of history, and a message of hope about the power of God.

I do not know exactly how or why these elements came together in my mind and resulted in characters I love and a story I am proud of. It is my dream to see this story in print and I am relying on God to guide me in my endeavors. I am hoping to find a literary agent who will champion my book but the road to publication is rocky and uncertain. I do not know what the future holds, but God knows, and He will reveal His plans to me, just as He does to those who live and love at River Farm.

Susan Preston, image

Thank you Lonna for sharing about yourself and your manuscript… hopefully to be published soon.

You are welcome, Susan, thank you for inviting me to be your guest.

Thank you, readers, for making Lonna welcome.

God-willing we will hear more of Lonna Seibert and A Servant’s Heart in the future.

Now… if you want to see the results of the Readers’ Survey which many of you completed, you will find them here…

http://www.susanprestonauthor.com/reader-survey-results/

With many thanks and good wishes to all who participated in the survey!

Susan