A “spotlight” is defined as “intense scrutiny or public attention.” “A lamp projecting a narrow, intense beam of light directly onto a place or person.” Or in my case, possibly a great author. Come back regularly to check out my latest Spotlight!
Mercy is missing, Faith is floundering Only truth can lead them to freedom.
Made a safe-haven after the Civil War, Ironwood Plantation is a refuge of equality for former slaves. But twenty years and a new generation later, they have become an isolated community with little contact with the rest of the world.
Mercy Carpenter is everything the world thinks she shouldn’t be. Educated and adventurous, she longs to make a life for herself beyond the beautiful prison of Ironwood. When she secretly submits an article to the Boston Globe under a man’s name and receives an enthusiastic response and an offer for employment, she’s determined to take advantage of the opportunity. But she isn’t prepared for a startling world that won’t accept her color or her gender, and her ambitions soon land her in grave danger.
The privileged daughter of a plantation owner and an aspiring suffragette, Faith Harper is determined not to marry. Especially not her father’s opportunistic new business partner. She doesn’t want any man telling her what to do, least of all the annoyingly chivalrous Nolan Watson. But when Mercy goes missing, Faith will do anything to find her best friend, even if it means trusting a man she doesn’t understand. In a time where prejudices try to define them, Mercy and Faith must push the boundaries of their beliefs and trust in the God who holds the keys to freedom.
Link to purchase: http://www.stepheniamcgee.com/books/missing-mercy/
I was able to do an interview with Stephenia. I so enjoyed spending time with her!
Stephenia, what piques your interest about this genre?
I truly love history. I find the stories of real people fascinating. I like to think of how they changed the world around them and use those elements in the stories I write. And the fashion. I mean, how classy are those gowns?
How many hours of research do you do each week for the typical book? (average is good.)
I usually start with a week or two of solid research into the time period and major elements I know I’ll need. For Missing Mercy, I knew I would have to know a lot about train travel, steamships, schooners, and the Boston Harbor. After that, I made notes on the plot outline about more specific things I would have to research. Once I’ve done all of that, I still manage to drift off into 3-4 hours of research each week as I’m writing a first draft. I can get so side-tracked, however, that I’ve started making notes to myself to go back and look up details later.
So I’m curious. Is it difficult to balance writing and family? How do you manage it?
It’s much more difficult now than it used to be. Last year I started homeschooling my two boys. For a writer who was used to six hours of quite time each day to write, that was a major adjustment. Most of Missing Mercy was written between 5 and 7 am. This is the start of our second homeschool year, and I’m still trying to find a balance. Most days I feel like a juggler with too many balls in the air.
Often we see author’s asking for help naming authors. Do you ever find that your character won’t “accept” the name you gave them?
I keep a list of era-appropriate names on hand. Once I know a little about the type of person my character is going to be, I use that list to find one I think is a fit. If I can’t nail it down, I ask for my readers to help me choose.
What’s your favorite meal? Dessert?
My favorite meal is anything Italian. Oh, you mean more specifically? Let’s see. Bruschetta for an appetizer, followed by smoked chicken ravioli in parmesan cream sauce, and then finished with butter crunch cake. Then I’ll need to head straight to bed! My other favorite dessert is red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting.
Do you enjoy the change of seasons, or would you prefer to keep one season going year round? If so, which one and why?
I live in Mississippi. We basically get two weeks of fall, three months of winter, two weeks of spring, four months of summer and four months of unbearable heat. I’d like to keep fall a little longer, if I could. It means 70* days with low humidity, which is my favorite weather.
What’s your favorite holiday? Why?
Thanksgiving. I love the weather, the food, and the time with family giving thanks to God for all He’s given us.
If you could tell yourself one thing as a beginning author, what would that be?
It’s hard. Sometimes it’s really, really, hard. But God promises His word will not return to Him in vain. What He calls you to will force you to face your insecurities, test your determination, and often leave you flustered. But the adventure He takes you on through each book, and the lessons He uses each character to teach you will help you grow in ways you never expected. Sometimes He even uses those very words you labored over to speak His truth and light to others. And that makes it all worth it.
Any fun author stories?
I once packed a five-hoop skirt, petticoats, overskirt, bodice, and all my regular clothes and necessities into a carry-on suitcase for the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat. I was rather determined to get all of that on the plane with me. That particular feat caused a bit of a stir at the retreat as people kept asking me how I’d managed it. Then poor Susan Ann Mason had to share a book signing table with me. My dress filled the entire space under our table!
I hope you all enjoyed getting to know Stephenia a bit more. She is such a sweet, warm person. If you haven’t read Missing Mercy yet you are really missing out. Make sure you get a copy, make a cup of tea, and sit back and enjoy!
I love this book. In fact, I think it’s the author’s best so far. I’d love to have you meet some of the characters in Missing Mercy. Check out the interview I did with them!
So Faith & Mercy, you both have lived on Ironwood Plantation where the goal is to keep everyone safe. But you feel it’s more of a prison. Can you explain why?
Faith: After the War Between the States, Mercy’s and my parents wanted to create a safe community for all the people of Ironwood. For many years after that, my father had to set watchmen to keep terrible people from trying to burn our lands and cause destruction. It took some time, but they eventually made a haven here.
Mercy: That’s easy for you to say. Your parents let you leave. Mine have never allowed me off of Ironwood lands. I know they want to protect me, but keeping me here when I long to see the world is turning my home into a prison.
Mercy, what drives you to write? So much so that you use a man’s name.
Writing is a way to connect with people – people I may never see. It gives me the opportunity to grow and expand my mind and share my thoughts with the world. I chose to use a pseudonym because even though there are famous female writers, newspapers still believe writing to be a man’s pursuit. I knew that if I used my own name, they would have discarded my article without even reading it.
Faith, you think that being a suffragette and a wife can’t go hand in hand. Why is that?
The men of my generation make it difficult to believe otherwise. Did you know doctors released a study that stated reading would cause a woman’s smaller brain to turn to mush? They said if she reads sensationalized novels, she will be destined for the asylum.
Do you feel as if men, who really want to take care of their wives, are domineering?
No, I don’t believe they are domineering. My current society simply gives all the rights to men and hardly any to women, and I don’t think that’s right. I don’t see why a woman cannot own her own property, for instance, without the permission of a husband or father. I know there are many great husbands. Mine and Mercy’s parents are proof enough. My mother and father have a wonderful marriage. I just don’t expect that kind of relationship for myself. I have been told I am too opinionated and abrupt for gentlemen’s tastes.
Let’s talk to Nolan a minute. You aren’t that fond of Faith. Yet when she goes looking for Mercy you help her. Maybe you really are fond of her? Is it true concern for Mercy, or just doing what Faith’s father expects of you?
On the contrary, I am quite fond of Faith. I keep trying to tell her so, but somehow I always manage to say the wrong thing. She stays exasperated with me, despite my best intentions. I fear I’m rather befuddled when it comes to ladies moods. I also hold her father in high regard, so when Mr. Harper asked me to accompany them to find Mercy, I agreed.
This is for all three of you. Were you really trusting in God during this story, or were you doing what you thought you needed to do, without asking God?
Mercy: I think I speak for all of us when I say we initially followed our own plans, ambitions, and goals. Throughout this adventure, however, God had something to teach us. As you read our story, you’ll see how He had a distinct message for each one of us.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today. I’m excited to share your story with everyone!
About Stephenia H. McGee
Winner of the 2012 RONE Best Inspirational Book of the year (2012) and author of six
Historical novels, Stephenia H. McGee has a fascination with hoop skirts and ball gowns, Greek revival homes and horse-drawn carriages, quirky Southern sayings, and home-grown recipes. She currently lives in Mississippi with her husband and two boys, (accompanied by their two spoiled dogs and mischievous cat) where she writes stories of faith, redemption, and stories steeped in the South.
Visit her website at www.StepheniaMcGee.com and be sure to sign up for the newsletter to get sneak peeks, behind the scenes fun, the occasional recipe, and special offers.
FaceBook: Join Stephenia H. McGee’s Faithful Reader Team to find out the latest on what is going on in her writing and chat about book related topics.
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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!
It’s coming into the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year!” and I want to share this interview with author Amy Clipston. On October 1, her novella in the Amish Christmas Bakery will be released. I thought it would be fun to learn more about Amy’s Christmas traditions and her new book.
I want to introduce you to my friend, author Cynthia Roemer. Cynthia writes best selling novels about prairie life. They’re fabulous! I asked her some questions so you can get to know her, and then read about her newest book, Under Moonlit Skies. Grab a copy. I guarantee you’ll love it!
Hi Cynthia! Can you tell us why you chose this era and what you like best about it?
I’ve always been intrigued by nineteenth century America. I grew up watching Little House on the Prairie and loved the innocent, simple nature of that time period. I think what intrigues me most is how supportive and God-honoring everyone was—neighbors helping neighbors, finding joy in the simplest of things, and keeping faith central to their lives. It was a harsh time, but also a blessed one.
How do you bring your characters to life?
Creating true-to-life characters is one of my favorite aspects of writing. I think the best way to make them jump off the page is to live the story right along with them. I put myself in their shoes, at times laughing or crying just as they would.
As an author, are you able to successfully write and spend time with family?
That is definitely a challenge I’m still tackling. I’m so thankful, though, that the Lord had me wait to get steeped in novel writing until my boys were pretty well grown. Writing is quite time consuming, and I wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on any of the time I spent with my sons in their growing up years. On the flip side, I think the Lord knew I would need something to occupy me during the empty nest years. His timing is perfect!
What is your favorite time of year and why?
Fall is my absolute favorite. I love harvest time on the farm, the changing leaves and the cooler temperatures. The only down side, is I know what follows. LOL! Spring is a close second with all its vibrant colors and everything coming to life.
Tell us about your favorite cookie.
Now you’re making me hungry! LOL! It’s hard to beat a soft, homemade, chocolate-chip peanut butter cookie. Yum! Mint Oreo if it’s from a store. =)
Do you have a funny writer moment?
It wasn’t funny at the time, but I was all nerves as I approached the front of the room to give a reading at a multi-author book signing. By lot, I was slated to go first. The room was filled with other authors and visitors. As I began reading, the microphone holder gave way and slid down, so with red cheeks, I pulled it up and locked it in place. (BTW, I’m a behind-the-scenes writer, not a speaker!)
I realized it wasn’t on and tapped it, but they assured me it was turned on, so I pressed my mouth closer and continued. Nothing. So I went against my quiet nature and raised my voice to the point I felt I was shouting. Finally, halfway through the scene, someone interrupted and asked if the audience could hear. I saw a lot of shaking heads. The person made an adjustment, and Voila! I had a voice! Then I was told to start at the beginning. Sigh! Nothing like being out of your comfort zone not once, but twice!! LOL!
What’s next for Cynthia Roemer, author?
I’ve begun research for a fourth novel, this one a standalone set in the latter part of the Civil War and immediately following. It’s still in the beginning stages, but involves an injured Union soldier, a sympathetic Southern belle, and a moment in history that spirals them both on a journey toward forgiveness.
Cynthia Roemer is an award-winning inspirational author with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the lives of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the 1800s prairie. Her Prairie Sky Series consists of Amazon Best-Seller Under This Same Sky, Under Prairie Skies, and Under Moonlit Skies, releasing September 10, 2019. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband of twenty-five years and two college-aged sons. Visit Cynthia online at: www.cynthiaroemer.com
Contact Info:Cynthia Roemer can be contacted at:
Author Newsletter Sign-up: http://cynthiaroemer.com/
Under Moonlit Skies (Prairie Sky Series ~ Book 3)
Her life was planned out ~ until he rode in ~
Illinois prairie ~ 1859
After four long years away, Esther Stanton returns to the prairie to care for her sister Charlotte’s family following the birth of her second child. The month-long stay seems much too short as Esther becomes acquainted with her brother-in-law’s new ranch hand, Stewart Brant. When obligations compel her to return to Cincinnati and to the man her overbearing mother intends her to wed, she loses hope of ever knowing true happiness.
Still reeling from a hurtful relationship, Stew is reluctant to open his heart to Esther. But when he faces a life-threatening injury with Esther tending him, their bond deepens. Heartbroken when she leaves, he sets out after her and inadvertently stumbles across an illegal slave-trade operation, the knowledge of which puts him, as well as Esther and her family, in jeopardy.
My review of Under Moonlit Skies
Author Cynthia Roemer has a way of letting her characters out of her books and into the heart of the reader. They are so well developed, and so real, that you will be sure that you have met them somewhere, especially if you have traveled in the Old West. Full of twists and turns, the surprises in this story kept me turning pages quickly.
There were so many wonderful lessons in this story. We are reminded that God is not a respecter of persons, and all have worth no matter their gender, ethnicity, or social standing. And when we follow His plan for our lives things tend to go much smoother.
If you enjoy Christian historical fiction with a sweet prairie romance then you’ll enjoy this book.
I received a complimentary copy of this book but was not required to leave a review.