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 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.

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

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…

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

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

Susan

Blessing of Christian Historical Fiction

Potter and the clay

Whether Biblical Fiction or Christian Historical fiction is an ‘Ugly Truth’ or a ‘Blessing’ is up to each reader to decide. It is a personal choice.

The title of this weeks post in the series is ‘The Blessing…’

I have been greatly encouraged by the response of the named authors in last week’s post on Christian, Historical fiction. As I mentioned in the first post in this series, some of the writers on my list are more in the category of Biblical fiction, than Christian Historical Fiction. Still, I wonder how many of us – without deep study are aware of how much ‘New Testament’ principles are in what we refer to as the ‘Old Testament.’

Biblical Fiction or Christian Fiction?

Bible. One book, many stories

I am inclined to believe that the Bible is one book with two testaments as some of my studies revealed. This seems to be confirmed by Jesus Himself.

“You pore over the Scriptures because you presume that by them you possess eternal life. These are the very words that testify about Me,” 
John 5:39 Berean Study Bible.

 

For myself, I learn a lot from Biblical fiction writers such as Lynn Austin, Mesu Andrews and Jill Eileen Smith… mainly because the encourage me to see people or events in the Old Testament through different eyes… fresh eyes. I will never forget living through the construction of what is known as ‘Hezekiah’s tunnel’ – something that is easily read over in Scripture.
But I cannot just focus on the books of the aforementioned authors – all the writers who are skilled, and work hard with their research really do open the Bible to being more than stories… but being about people, the culture and the times.

Biblical fiction bears fruit

Present and past -

Last Friday I had the pleasure of speaking to a very welcoming church group. It was an enjoyable experience… and also illuminating. Another speaker, a member of their congregation shared his experience of living in Holland under Nazi rule. What he said was not fiction… but given that he was talking of events 73 years ago, it was historical. As I listened to his tale of living without electricity, gas, transport other than walking – my mind wandered to the number of times writing my book series where I had wished Naomi had a ‘proper’ cooker, or some of the key characters had even a landline telephone. The ‘perils’ of writing historical fiction, be it Christian or non-Christian remain the same… the lives of the characters, and their language was different to ours today.

The male speaker I referred to earlier certainly had the setting correct… well, he should, he lived through it. He talked about the culture of evening soirees where people visited each other and had musical evenings. I have seen this type of culture in good quality films of the period. This man was a walking historical experience.

An 'ugly' bit...

I recently gave up on a ‘Christian, Historical Fiction’ book because the main character seemed to have been plucked from modern times, stuck in a Biblical setting… and was so out-of-character with the mores of the time and culture… I could read no further.

Ugly bit over!

The gifted ones.

The authors I mentioned… and the others I read… clearly did not live through the events they write about. However, they have the gifting and determination to use the gifts to help the rest of us to ‘see’ the events – and people they write about.

These are the ones who open a window – or a door to Biblical fiction and help us discover the people.

Thank YOU!

Many thanks to those of you who completed the survey. Interestingly, there seems to be a fairly even split between readers who like Old Testament fiction and Christian Historical Fiction. The survey closes on the 5th July, so there is still time to have your say. Remember, it is anonymous, has six short questions, most of them multi-choice so if you like more than one item you can tick (check) more than one… or them all.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CFGD7KV

I will share the results with you, naturally.

Next week's guest...

Next week we have the privilege of hearing from Carol Ashby… who is a Christian, Historical Fiction writer. Not to be confused with the English actress Carol Ashby… this Carol Ashby is a retired scientist, with a passion for getting the details right.

Her novel, Forgiven, explores… well, I will leave it to you to find out next week. (I am often upbraided for giving ‘spoilers’ – so I am turning over a new leaf.)

Not a spoiler but – it is a fascinating story

Cover of Forgiven

As for this week’s featured image…
‘I am the potter, you are the clay’ seems appropriate to Christian/Biblical Historical Fiction writers. (Based on Isaiah 64:8)

Tread softly…

Susan

PS
Another link to the survey
                               https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CFGD7KV

The Ugly Truth About Christian Historical Fiction

Christian Historical Fiction books

Readers either love or hate Christian Historical fiction. There are very few who ‘sort-of like it’. If you, as a reader, say you do… my guess would be that it depends on some of the things I will cover in this post.

Stay tuned!

First, what is the ‘ugly truth’ about Christian Historical fiction?

  1. Well, for one – like all historical fiction, the books are usually long.
  2. Sometimes the term ‘Biblical’ fiction would be a better description.
  3. Another downside is it is a bit difficult to check the details.
  4. Then comes the fear – what if the author is trying to convert me?

Another ugly truth is – sometimes the author IS trying to convert you.

On the other hand, some authors enjoy writing about this time period and like to share what they have discovered. These authors open a door to the past to help you to understand what the time and culture was like for the characters in the novel.

For some, readers and authors, it is digging into the pages of the Bible and finding the people, the way they lived, seeing the challenges they faced.

There is yet another ugly truth…

Discovering the people behind the stories might change the way you view the Bible.

Image representing Christian Historical Fiction
Image processed by CodeCarvings Piczard ### FREE Community Edition ### on 2015-11-20 22:51:31Z | http://piczard.com | http://codecarvings.com

To make it more understandable, and to improve the reader’s experience I have researched this topic.

Why?

Because of the comment made by a minister that my writing reminded him of a book series by Lynn Austin. (Which I take as a great compliment because I enjoy Lynn Austin’s historical fiction books. Yes, I read Christian Historical Fiction as well as write books in that genre.)

I made a list of authors of Christian Historical Fiction.

As well as Lynn Austin there is Francine Rivers, Jill Eileen Smith, Mesu Andrews, Carol Ashby,  Diana Wallis Taylor, and Nina Gould. A new author I have just discovered is Linda Lee Chaikin, who writes in more recent historical times. These are just a few of the famous Christian historical fiction authors currently writing – and my apologies to the ones I have missed. (I read more than those listed.)

I usually read reviews… so please, readers – review the books you read – it helps the rest of us choose what to read next.

Here is the first key to understanding reader’s feelings about Christian Historical Fiction.

(This I figured out from studying reviews for a wide variety of authors in this genre.)

The subject ‘Christian Historical Fiction’ is too broad and can be quite confusing for the reader.

Why?

Because there are many time periods in Christian Historical Fiction books…

  • Beginning of time – as with the Adam, Eve and family novel.
  • Various Old Testament biblical times

These first two categories are Biblical history but are usually grouped together with the following…

  • Time of Christ
  • Time of the Apostles
  • Toward the end of the apostolic age (where the Apostle John Series is set)

Then there is the 2nd century – where Diana Wallis Taylor writes, and later, the Medici/Huguenot era where Linda Lee Chaikin’s Silk House Trilogy is set.

Then there are various ‘modern’ ages also classified as Christian Historical Fiction.

  • There are also ‘categories’ within these ages.
  • Biblical – based on scripture (Old or New Testaments)
  • Biblical background purely fictitious characters.
  • More modern still in the time of the US… Western pioneering.

Christian Historical Fiction Readers –

Clock faceWhen you buy a book you are investing more than just the price of the book – you are making an investment of your time. In this day an age more and more people are time-poor.

 

I created a survey to try to help both readers and writers by narrowing this expanse of time classified as Christian Historical Fiction down.

My motive… well, if we know what period and type of Christian Historical fiction we are interested in it can save time and money because, as readers, we can make an informed choice.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CFGD7KV

What do I mean save time and money?

By choosing the wrong era… or the wrong category.

More than once I have been reading a book – and given up on it because it was not what I expected it to be.

So, this survey should help authors and more especially readers. Yes, writers want sales – and reviews, but more importantly, authors want to serve/entertain/even educate readers… depending on what the reader wants.

Hey! Did you readers know how much power you have? LOL

There will be guest posts, reviews and background information on books/authors who write in the different eras and categories.

This post was born out of the minister’s comment about my writing… and my frustration with some of the books which said they were Christian Historical Fiction – but were not.

Come, join me for the next few weeks. You might find it interesting. Stay with the series throughout July and you might just find that the title ‘Ugly Truth about Christian Historical Fiction’ should read – ‘The Blessing of Historical Fiction.’

Susan

Here is another link to the survey at the end. It should not take long, a couple of minutes at most. It asks for no identifying details or household income, just your reading preferences in this genre.

It is for readers, bloggers, authors – anyone who is interested and any age group.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CFGD7KV

Click the link to the short survey and respond to the questions – thanks… future readers will thank you.