Monday, June 8, 2015

8 Things You Probably Didn't Know About The Wayfaring Sisters Series

With the recent release of Going over Jordan, I figured I'd write up a few things about my books for the inquiring mind. If you want to know a little more about the first book, Going over Home, you can go here:

1.       The title of each book in the series is from a line in the old folk song Wayfaring Stranger. The unknown history of the song is part of its magic. Some say it’s an old slave spiritual, others say it’s an Appalachian folk song. Either way, it probably dates to the early 1800s. The song is ultimately above traveling through the world on our way to our heavenly home, but it can also be interpreted to mean more than that. If it was in fact a slave spiritual, then “Jordan” could have meant the Ohio River, the border between slave and free states, as it does in the second book in the series, Going over Jordan.

2.       There will be seven books in the series—maybe more. One book for each Fox sister: Maddie, Ellie, Carrie, Jackie, and Lottie, and then one book for Mama (Evelyn) and one for Grandma (Eleanor).  There is a lot of potential for other women in the family’s stories to be told, but I’m waiting on the inspiration for theirs. These seven women are the ones whose stories are begging to be told.

3.       Each book will tell the story of the main character’s romances, but ultimately each book will be about the character’s coming of age story, and their growth from girlhood to womanhood.

4.       The heroes in the books I’ve written so far (Maddie-Henry, Ellie-Will, Carrie-Asa) are all inspired by my husband, Ben. They’re all different, but each of their characters reflects his in their own special ways, and their romances are drawn from our own.

5.       Back to Wayfaring Stranger—I have listened to this song thousands of times nearly every day for the past six years since beginning work on these books. I have discovered countless versions of the song, but my favorite remains Jack White’s version from the soundtrack from Cold Mountain. This song has shaped the story and character arcs of the books in so many ways, it can only be considered divine inspiration.

6.       Music in general has been such a driving force in writing my books. Alison Krauss and her song If I Didn’t Know Any Better inspired Going over Home. I See Fire by Ed Sheeran inspired Going over Jordan. (Don’t ask why. I have absolutely no idea.) And so far, I Wonder as I Wander by Andy Griffith and Would You Go with Me by Josh Turner have shaped Wayfaring. Thank you, Spotify.

7.       These books are naturally derived from my longtime love of genealogy and Indiana history. I am a ninth generation Hoosier, and so is my husband, so we have a lot of stories to draw from.

8.       I have bipolar disorder, and have had many struggles with my creativity because of this. But I’ve found if I let go and stop worrying about what I’m going to write and give it up to God, he helps me through my brain fog and writes through me. Ultimately I want to use these gifts and passions he’s instilled in me for His glory, and I want to touch lives with them, too.

 These characters are family to me. If they’ve touched you in any way, please let me know. I’d love to hear from readers who’ve enjoyed my work!  

Monday, June 1, 2015

Motivation Monday: The Wayfaring Sisters

Today is release day for my second book - Going over Jordan!

Many of you have read the first book in The Wayfaring Sisters series, Going over Home, released in 2012. The books originated out of my love for genealogy and Indiana history, and are set in present and pioneer Indiana. I am so excited to release Going over Jordan out into the world. You can find it on Amazon in paperback for $7.99 and on Kindle for $2.99. If you've never read Going over Home, it's only $0.99 on Kindle. If you read them, please don't forget to leave a review!

For you Indiana folks, I will also be signing both books at Conner Prairie's Curiosity Fair on Saturday, June 13 11am-4pm. Come out to see me!

Happy reading!

Cover by Kristin Stout
                                                           Cover by Lorie Lee Andrews & Kristin Stout 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Cover reveal: Going over Jordan

It's finally complete! Here is the cover for my upcoming book, Going over Jordan, sequel to Going over Home. The design is by Lorie Lee Andrews, an Indianapolis artist, and friend and former neighbor of mine. It is a copper plate etching hand colored with watercolor. Title graphics were done by my sister, Kristin Stout, of Stout Studio Designs in Carmel, Indiana. I must say, I am head over heels with the final product. It's more beautiful than I dreamed. The book will be for sale in a matter of days!


Back of the book reads:

Ellie Fox is a product of the 1990s and 2000s: headstrong, outspoken, and independent. She grew up in the Indianapolis suburbs, started her college life at Indiana University. So when she suddenly has to start life over in the 1840s, her mind is left reeling. She feels, naturally, a bit out of place. Her sister Maddie came with her, but Maddie is now married and seems to be adjusting to her new surroundings quite easily. Not so much for Ellie. She lives with her grandmother in the backwoods and helps her run a station on the Underground Railroad, but what she has been told will become her “new normal” just…doesn’t. And because she is from the future, she knows who she is going to marry— a man named William Cookston. Ellie, ever the hopeless romantic, just knows he will be perfect and will sweep her right off her feet. But when he arrives he seems to be as opposite the man of her dreams as he could be—and he has his secrets, too. Once they’re married, they find themselves living lives of secrecy as they aid runaways. It seems only a matter of time before Ellie’s mouth gets the best of her. And when it does, everything is at stake –even lives. Now it’s up to her to restore their part of the Liberty Line, and grow from a young girl to the woman she is called to be.

Available on Amazon soon!
Release signing: Conner Prairie Curiosity Fair, Saturday, June 13, 2015-11am-4pm- Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, Fishers, Indiana

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

For the love of God

I want to brag on God for a bit here. He is so good. He knows our innermost beings and the desires of our hearts and he seeks to use us through our passions and talents, which he instilled in us. God knows my heart. He knows that the most important thing on this earth to me is my family. When my job in education, being unstable in nature and far away from where we live, which I really did love, began to take a toll on my mental health and my family last year, God helped us make the big decision to transition me to full-time stay-at-home mama at the end of the school semester. It was a huge leap of faith for us. My husband is a good provider, but we really weren’t sure what it was going to look like without my income. But God has sustained us, and has opened up opportunities for me in the world of stay-at-home mamaness. Not only has it restored my mental health and done wonders for my family, especially my children, it has also allowed me to focus my writing career in ways I never have been able to before. I have finally finished my second young adult historical fantasy novel after three years and will be publishing it in June. I am working on editing my great-great-great grandmother’s memoir to turn into a children’s picture book. And the thing I am most excited about: writing Indiana history and genealogy curriculum for homeschooling families.

But since my last blog, God has opened a door that I am about 98% certain I will get to walk through that will expand my writing career in a way I have only dreamt about. I have been accepted into a Master’s program in American History, am all set to start classes in July. I am just waiting on my financial aid to come through. When I first started college in 2004, my majors were History and Writing –two of my greatest passions. After a semester I decided that this was not the direction I was to go – yet—and I changed my major to Elementary Education. In 2010, I graduated with that degree, and I now hold my teaching license in K-6 and have worked in Special Education and ABA Therapy. But now, as God has brought me home and made it clear that he wants me to WRITE in the field of education, he is now opening doors for me to study History again, and these studies will in turn open doors for me to open the doors of history to children around the country, in both fiction and nonfiction. I firmly believe this is the direction God is leading me. He has instilled a love of writing in me since the day I could pick up a pencil and form a word on the page, and the love of story, history, since as young an age.

I am so excited to see where God is leading. It truly is amazing when you come to accept the unique person God has created you to be and understand how he can work through you. It is not yourself who does the work, that we should get the glory, but God. He doesn’t always show you the path clearly laid out, so we have to trust him, but he is so trustworthy. Our lives are in his hands, and I can think of no better place for them to be. Praise his Name.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

#52Ancestors: So Far Away: From Grimm to Holsclaw

Okay, this week is about more than one ancestor, but for the sake of the hashtag, I'll make it about my paternal grandmother's stories of her last name: Mary Ruth Holsclaw Andrews. More to come on her in another post.

Mary Ruth Holsclaw Andrews

Before beginning my genealogy when I was 16, I never knew my grandmother's maiden name. She had never mentioned her parents, though she had often told me about her childhood. So when I heard the name was Holslcaw, I immediately knew it had to be German. Sure enough, she told me that she had heard it came from the name of a town in Germany. She also told me that the name used to be Grimm before it was changed. I was a newbie to online genealogy research at the time, but I stumbled upon Familysearch and typed in the names she gave me. I was excited to right away find names dating all the way back to the 1400s. But what amazed me the most was that my grandmother was exactly right. The name had gone through several changes, but in the 1400s it was Grimm. That oral tradition had been passed down over 600 years to my grandma. I even discovered a book on the genealogy of the Holtzclaw family, and not once did it mention the name Grimm, so I knew she didn't get it from there. That oral tradition  had traveled from so far away. It resided in Nassau-Seigen area of Germany for 300 years, crossed the Atlantic in 1714 with our ancestor Jacob Holtzklau, settled in Virginia, then made it's way to Kentucky and finally to Indiana in the 1840s, where my grandma was born in 1919, and in 2002 it was passed on to me. Genealogy is pretty stinkin cool, folks.

Church at Oberholzklau
from The Genealogy of the Holtzclaw Family 1540-1935
by B.C. Holtzclaw

William Theodore Holsclaw

Jacob Doddridge Holsclaw
Vawter Cemetery, Jennings Co., Indiana

Friday, February 6, 2015

Funeral Card Friday: Grandma "Maxine" Lutz

A little over seven years ago, my great-grandma, Virginia "Maxine" Bunce Lutz passed away. I remember all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren crowding into her hospital room toward the end, but she only passed away after she saw her sister for the last time. She had lived most of her life as a police man's wife and mother to three in Indianapolis, but lived later in Edinburgh, as did her son, my uncle David, so the funeral was held at a church in that town. She was buried next to her husband, my great-grandfather, Harold Lutz, at Friendship Park Cemetery in Paragon, over a half hour away from the church. It was the neatest funeral procession as police men escorted our party all that long way. Below is the beautiful eulogy given at her funeral.

Grandma's high school graduation picture

Virginia Maxine Bunce Lutz was born on December 30 in the year 1923, and she entered into God’s eternal kingdom on Tuesday, January 15, 2008.  She was preceded in death by her parents Esther Giroud and William Bunce, her husband Harold Lutz, her step-brother Frank and her sister Norma.

 Maxine was born in the city of Indianapolis and lived in the city for much of her life.  She graduated from Arsenal Tech High School as one of the top ten students in her class.  Not liking her given name Virginia she preferred to go by her middle name Maxine.  At age 13 she met her future husband, Harold, thanks to her father.  Her father William was a milkman and he often employed young men to be helpers on his milk route.  This was beneficial not only to Maxine but also one of her sisters as they both married milk route helpers.  Harold and Maxine became high school sweethearts and married on January 31, 1942.  Harold gave her the nickname “Mac” and that caught on with family and friends.  They were married for 50 years, until Harold passed away from cancer in 1992.

Early on Maxine or “Mac” was employed by the Indianapolis Police Department and Commercial Motor Freight.  In both positions she worked in the office.  But after her children Bob, Darlene and David were born, Mac focused her energy on being a housewife and mother.  She also did some in home child care.   Mac never drove.  Her first time behind the wheel convinced her otherwise.  She nearly went over a bridge and decided to leave the driving to others.  But this was not a problem for her, as she was a homebody and preferred to spend her time at home caring for the needs of her family and friends.  She was a member of Morris Street Methodist Church, and her three children were all baptized on the same Sunday.

 Maxine had a flair for organization that touched every aspect of her life.  Having grown up during the Depression Era, she understood the importance of stretching every dollar.  She had a knack for household finances and would keep a monthly budget in a rubber-banded Sucrets tin.  She had a pay as you go attitude about spending, and sought various ways to save money, including taking advantage of sales to stock up on necessary items.  Mac was particular about her shopping.  If she sent one of the children to pick up something for her, they better be sure to pick up the correct brand and the right size.  If not, they could anticipate having to go back to make an exchange.  Dented cans weren’t an issue for her.  If it was the brand she wanted, she’d buy it anyway, and save a few cents on the dented can.

 Mac also had a passion for cutting and saving coupons, not only for herself but also for others.  She was a pro at saving Stokely Van-Camp labels and green stamps.  In time she collected enough for a Radio Flyer Wagon and a child-sized wooden rocking chair for each of her grandchildren.

 Her great talent for organization carried over into her daily routine.  Mondays and Thursdays were wash days.  Tuesdays and Fridays were spent ironing.  Her children told me that Mac was passionate about ironing.  Everything got ironed – clothes, sheets, you name it.  Though she did draw a line at undergarments and socks.  Her home was organized.  Furniture never moved once Mac had found a spot for it.  Even after 35 years in one house, the furniture stayed put.

 Mac enjoyed staying current on local events, reading the Indianapolis Star then later in life the Franklin Journal.  She would read the paper cover to cover, and that included the classified section.  She enjoyed collecting information, and would write notes to herself so she could remember everything she wanted to tell someone.  Though she was not an outgoing person, she cared greatly for others.  Household chores were always done by noon and her afternoons were usually spent relaxing in the rocker on the front porch.  She always had a listening ear for her neighbors, and if it was summertime, she would offer homemade iced tea.  She became the repository for all the goings-on in the neighborhood.  Nothing seemed to get past her.

Late in life, when she moved into the Masonic Home, the staff called her the psychologist.  They felt comfortable going to her for advice or simply to vent their frustrations.  They knew she would listen to them and share all their joys and their heartaches.  Even without a front porch, she offered a friendly smile and a welcome to all who knew her.
Though her life was very full with taking care of her family, Mac did have some special interests.  She loved to feed birds.  She enjoying learning about the different types from her bird book and liked to watch them when the came to the house.  She also liked to collect dishes.  If a family member put on a yard sale, Mac would use some of her savings to purchase the dishes.  Though she never seemed to use the dishes she bought, she enjoyed collecting them.

 Mac also loved to bake, and when her children came home from school there was always some type of homemade snack waiting for them.  When her son Bob worked for Standard grocery, she would take the day old fruit and make fresh cobblers for her family.  In the wintertime, homemade hot chocolate was a daily treat.  At Christmastime, snicker doodles and sugar cookies were always part of the festivities.

 Though she was raised a city girl, Mac had no problem adapting when her mother married a farmer later in life.  On Sunday mornings Mac and her husband Harold would drive to her mother’s home to help with the farm work.  She picked vegetables and collected eggs.  She even learned to kill chickens and pluck their feathers.  Mac would take the produce and sell them to her friends in the neighborhood or to Harold’s coworkers.  She did this as a service to her mom and step-dad and refused to accept any money for her help.

 Though Mac had lots of energy, she was plagued by arthritis much of her adult life, and that limited what she could and could not do.  In 1989 she had a double hip replacement surgery.  Afterward she feared being stuck in a wheelchair, never being able to walk again.  Physical therapy was rough for awhile, until daughter Darlene suggested to the therapists a trick of using smelling salts to keep her going.  That worked wonders and soon she was back on her feet again.

 Not long after her husband Harold died in 1992, Mac agreed to move to the White Oak Apartments in Edinburgh.  She got involved with a ladies group there.  This was the first time she had been involved in a group like this, but quickly enjoyed being part of their company.  They played cards and bingo and enjoyed regular pot luck dinners.  About 10 years later Mac moved into the Masonic home.  Her friendliness and love of others quickly drew people to her.  And as I said before, she was a friend to both staff and residents while she lived there.

 So many things can be said about this wonderful woman.  It is easy to see why she was so well-loved by all who knew her.  Mac will be remembered for her laughter, her astounding organizational skills, her practicality, her kindness and generosity, and her great love of family.  Mac is survived by her children Robert, Darlene and David, her grandchildren Craig, Michelle, Sharon, Laurie, Robin, James, Isaac, Ashley, Brian and Chris, eleven great-grandchildren, her sister Betty Puckett, and her step-brother Bill Giroud.  Mac will be greatly missed by her family, her friends, and by all who were blessed by her presence in their lives.  But all who have been touched by this special woman can rejoice that she is now at home in God’s heavenly kingdom.
You are missed, Grandma!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

#52Ancestors: Fredericka Peterson Goldquist

Fredericka Peterson Goldquist

I chose this week to write about my 3rd great-grandmother, Fredericka Peterson Goldquist, on the theme of "plowing through."  Fredericka was an immigrant from Sweden, having been born there in the town of Hagersda in 1824. She came to the U.S. when she was 23 with her parents and siblings. Their destination was Knox County, Illinois, where she lived for the rest of her life. While they were traveling through the Erie Canal many of them contracted cholera. Fredericka's mother and brother both passed from the disease, but Fredericka, even though she constantly tended to the sick, never became ill with it. Even a doctor who later took care of others in her group fell ill and died. This seems to be a theme in Fredericka's life. The History of Knox County, Illinois has a short piece on her, and says many times how she devoted her life to the care of others. She married to Claus Olofson Goldquist and with him had five children, who were left to her sole care when he passed away when still quite young. Even through this she gave so much of her time to others. The piece on her says, "When one attempts to analyze the secret of Mrs. Goldquist's usefulness, he finds it in her sincere faith in Christ and in her desire to serve Him by ministering through every possible, accessible channel, to mankind." She was an active member of the Soldiers' Aid Society during the Civil War and was a ward visitor for many years through The Dorcas Society. In addition to this, she taught a Sunday School class for 35 years, which was so popular it was often crowded. When Fredericka passed away in March 1889, it was said at her funeral that "her career can be said to be worked like golden threads into the better natures of hundreds of men and women here."