A Time to Heal by Janet Stafford

Camp Letterman tents

Camp Letterman tents 1863

After the battle of Gettysburg, over 30,000 Confederate and Union soldiers are estimated to have been wounded and were scattered over the battlefield, in field hospitals, and in public buildings and private homes throughout the area. Dr. Jonathan Letterman, Medical Director of the Army of the Potomac (also known as “the Father of Modern Battlefield Medicine), ordered a that a central hospital be established to care for those left behind. Camp Letterman was located east of Gettysburg near the York Pike on Wolf Farm. In A TIME TO HEAL, Capt. Philip Frost is assigned to the hospital, and he and Maggie’s oldest daughter, Lydia, strike up a friendship. Janet Stafford will be writing a blog about Camp Letterman at the end of the week at her website.

Janet Stafford’s Facebook Page

Website

About the book, A TIME TO HEAL:

A Time To Heal

In 1863, Maggie Blaine Smith sat down and wrote in her journal: “It seems to me that this time after the storm of battle has been a waiting time, a time of recovery. We did not know where we would be led next. We did not know when or if change would happen.” A TIME TO HEAL, set in the months immediately after the Battle of Gettysburg, continues the story of Maggie and Eli Smith and their unconventional family. Maggie’s daughters and friends remain in the town as they struggle to care for a houseful of wounded soldiers. Meanwhile, Maggie and Emily, having suffered terrible trauma, move with their husbands to a more peaceful location about seven miles away. Everyone hopes and prays for healing and a return to normal life. And then an act of compassion puts them in jeopardy.

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Giveaways to enter!

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Giveaway at Novel Expressions

Novel Expressions Blog Tours Facebook Page is holding a giveaway!  A $25.00 Amazon Gift Card AND a Kindle Copy of Two Journeys Home: A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe (The Derrynane Saga Book 2) by Kevin O’Connell to one lucky winner!

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Book Highlight: Lady in Red by Sheila Tate

Lady in RedLady in Red

An Intimate Portrait of Nancy Reagan

by Sheila Tate

Crown Publishing

Biographies & Memoirs

Pub Date 10 Apr 2018

Description

Lady in Red is the long-awaited collection of behind-the-scenes stories and iconic images of one of the most influential First Lady in modern history — Nancy Reagan. Lovingly compiled by long-time close confidante and aide, Sheila Tate, the book provides a rare and much-anticipated look into the personal life of the president’s wife, from her daily routines and travels as First Lady to her friendships and deep influence in the Reagan White House.

Lady in Red depicts a nuanced portrait of this graceful yet strong woman who felt it was her mission to restore a sense of grandeur, mystique, and excitement to the presidency, showcasing the various roles that Mrs. Reagan played during her years in the White House, that of Wife, Mother, Protector, Host, Diplomat, and Advisor, among others.

The book also features twenty-four pages of gorgeous color photographs, including “Nancy’s Album,” a collection of Mrs. Reagan’s favorite photographs, which she entrusted to Sheila to share with the world after she and her beloved Ronnie had passed.

To complete the portrait, Lady in Red includes interviews with the friends and politicians who knew Mrs. Reagan best: President George H. W. Bush, Chris Wallace, James Baker, Ed Meese, Maureen Dowd, and Marlin Fitzwater share their most cherished memories of the First Lady.

My thoughts:

Nancy Reagan and her role as first lady has always been an interest to me so I was thrilled when I saw this book available on NetGalley. I’ll enjoy reading this book and posting my review in April!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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A $100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway & A Book Giveaway!

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Happy day! I’m just going to dive right in about these fabulous giveaways. Novel Expressions is giving away a $100 Amazon Gift Card! Amazing! To enter click HERE on Novel Expressions Facebook Page. You have until December 15th to enter and be sure to read the rules to qualify. So, what are you waiting for? Go on now….

Over at the Layered Pages Facebook there is a book giveaway for The Value of You: The Guide to Living Boldly and Joyfully Through the Power of Core Values by Christopher D Connors HERE. You have until December 15th to enter and like I said above please be sure to read the rules to qualify.

The Value of You

Where are you going? Where have you been? What are you doing about it NOW? As you think through these questions, I encourage you to make your move and reclaim the life you’ve always dreamed about. It’s yours if you really want it. But you’ll need more than just a burning desire. You need a game plan that is built on a rock-solid foundation of core values. Our generation has lost its way. In the fast-paced, instant-gratification world we live in, we’ve lost our direction. It is values that provide us direction and purpose on the journey to living the life of our dreams.

Values like confidence, faith, courage and hard work are key to living life on your terms. Know this my friend—it’s not only about the end goal. It’s the journey you take to get there. Because it is the journey that defines us in the end. The Value of You is a journey into the core values that give light to our human experience. Values lead us to interior freedom, peace of mind, happiness and success. Each chapter is filled with creative stories of famous people like J.K. Rowling, Simone Biles, Captain Charles “Sully” Sullenberger and Amy Schumer, as well as lesser known, yet remarkable heroes such as Dr. Liviu Librescu, Chris Singleton and Welles Crowther. Each chapter is a core value that describes the core features, explains obstacles to living the value, results of living the value and a personal game plan with practical guidance to help you make the value your own. We live in an ever-changing world with adversity and challenges. Values are the constant that position us for happiness and success. Values are a way of life. Start your journey today!

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Stephanie M. Hopkins

Characters in Motion with Cryssa Bazos

When I first started writing, I took a historical fiction course and I still remember the advice that the instructor gave us, which can apply to any fiction: Consider how the character moves around the page. This breathes life into the character as he/she goes about the business of achieving their personal story quest. I quickly found out that it was not enough for them do random actions; instead, the action should do double duty to reflect back on character.

Traitor's KnotTraitor’s Knot, is the story of two fictional characters, James Hart, a former Royalist officer, and Elizabeth Seaton, a herbalist, who fall in love against the backdrop of the English Civil War.

James hasn’t been able to put the war behind him. After the execution of King Charles I, the regicide Parliamentarians are now in control of the country. James refuses to swear allegiance to the new regime, nor will he return home to Coventry to repair his severed relationship with his father. Everyone in Warwick knows him as the ostler of the Chequer and Crowne, but few realize that he’s the highwayman who has been preying on Roundheads.

The first scene that I wrote with that advice in mind is still in my novel today. The scene has been modified through subsequent drafts, but this particular piece survived as it initially written:

“The war’s over, lad. Put it behind you, and look to the future before it’s too late.”

 James studied his chipped tankard. “You have tables to clean.”

 Henry merely snorted and left.

Put it behind him? He’d have to accept defeat first. James traced his thumb along the    hairline cracks in his cup, then rotated it until he found a smooth, unblemished curve. If only he saw this section, would he fool himself into believing the tankard was undamaged? Frowning, he took another swig of ale. The brew failed to wash the bitterness away.’

Here is a man who spent long, bitter years fighting for the king, but now he’s forced to accept that the usurpers have taken over the country. James has had to pretend to pick up the pieces, but he can’t let go of the past. He’s had to swallow his pride while biding his time for the return of the new king, Charles II, to regain his crown. James’s apparent compliance to the new regime is as precarious as that tankard, and any moment he will shatter.

James’s frustration is manifested in many ways. After being rejected by Elizabeth and having to deal with annoying enquiries from the new constable, Lieutenant Hammond, James’s agitation escalates through the scene. At first, as he’s grooming his horse, his brush strokes are harsher than normal:

‘James reached for a brush and started running it through Sovereign’s coat with brisk strokes. He made several passes before the horse tossed his head and took a step back. “Easy,” James said, and grasped him by the halter. When the horse continued to agitated, James grimaced and eased the pressure.’

Later on the scene, when Henry tries to drill into his head, ‘The war is over, and nothing you do will change the fact that these Roundheads control our lives, from that horse brush you’re holding to the ale that flows through my kegs.” James’s temper boils over:

“I will not accept that,” James snapped and whipped the brush into the bucket. The tin rattled and nearly tipped. “If I could, I’d have gone back to Coventry, belly exposed, to take my kicks there. I am not a beaten dog…’”

He then kicks the bucket and sends it clattering across the straw.

But it’s not all teeth grinding frustration for James. Even in a quieter moment of reflection, I use his actions to demonstrate that:

‘Through there were a number of chores he needed to finish in the barn before he turned in, he couldn’t muster the will to leave. Instead, he picked up a long twig and started drawing shapes in the ground with its tip. It was only when the door opened and Elizabeth stepped outside that he realized he had been waiting for her.’

My heroine, Elizabeth Seton, is a young woman who has had her family ripped apart during the war. She and her mother have been shunned in her community after her father was killed during a failed Royalist uprising. After her mother passes away, she is determined to carve out a new life out for herself and moves to Warwick to live with her aunt.

Elizabeth is subtler in how she walks around the page, but her actions reflect her character. Being a healer, she’s keenly attuned to the sense of touch. When she first sees her aunt’s stillroom, she connects to the wonders through touch.

‘Elizabeth’s fingertips brushed over the labels: monkshood, foxglove, and sweet woodruff. I could lose myself in this place. A thrill rippled through her.’

Even her aunt’s coveted collection of herbal recipes is handled with reverence, and as she examines the volume, she’s careful not to crease the pages.

The first time that Elizabeth finds herself alone with James, she’s on a riverbank working out her frustration by throwing rocks in the river. Later, when he’s managed to take her hand, she responds to the awakening of new emotions:

‘His touch was warm and stirring, the contact intimate. His fingers explored her palm, following the gentle curves to its hollow, then lingering on the tips of her fingers. The way his fingers brushed over her skin felt as she imagined a kiss to be.’

Elizabeth is a woman who has to maneuver between living within the rigid constricts of society and expressing her individuality. I often show this in a number of ways, from the way she dresses (she opts for a blue woolen skirt, over more serviceable greys or browns) to even how she deals with her hair.

Women at that time would have worn a coif with hair sedately bound. Elizabeth is no different, however, there is always one dark lock that will not be pinned back or confined, and she is often trying to tuck it behind her ear. I intended this to represent Elizabeth’s streak of independence. While she attempts to subdue it, its nature is otherwise.

Even a first meet market scene provides an opportunity to show her individuality. When James sees Elizabeth wending her way through the market, he notices what draws her attention amongst the stalls:

‘While fancy ribbons and laces had not attracted her interest, a stack of pamphlets and chapbooks made the difference.’

Literacy was growing amongst women during this century, but her interests would have still marked her as unique, and James was struck by this.

I believe it’s important to reveal characters through a variety of different ways, not just through dialogue. How they walk around the page and their reflective actions often reveal more than any declarations they make.

About Author: 

Cryssa

Cryssa Bazos is an award winning historical fiction writer and 17th century enthusiast with a particular interest in the English Civil War. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Romantic Novelist Association and is a co-editor and contributor of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog. Her debut novel, Traitor’s Knot, is published by Endeavour Press. For more stories, visit her blog.

Social media links:

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Twitter: @CryssaBazos

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Traitor’s Knot is available:

 

 

 

Book Spotlight: The Hostage Heart by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

The Hostage HeartThe Hostage Heart by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

Publisher:  Severn House Publishers

Pub Date: November 1, 2017

Pages: 193

Available on Amazon

Emotionally hurt in the past, a job in a large country house seems to be Emma’s best option for staying single and safe… 

When Emma Ruskin becomes governess to 10-year-old Poppy Ackroyd, the haughty Ackroyd family all treat her with contempt – particularly Gavin, the effortlessly superior eldest son.

Yet Emma realises that Gavin alone genuinely cares for Poppy and their unexpected rapport flatters and alarms her – surely he is out of her league?

But then disaster strikes when Emma and Poppy are snatched by kidnappers. Imprisoned and terrified, Emma knows they will be killed if the ransom isn’t paid – unless Gavin can get to them first…

First published as Dangerous Love, and originally under a pseudonym, this is a new edition with a new introduction from the author.