Story Excerpts

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Candle In the Darkness: A Book Review

"Many people would say I was wrong to think about deceiving my father, taking advantage of his friendship with Confederate leaders in order to help his enemies. They would say I was wrong to mislead Charles and his father about what I did at Libby Prison. But those who’ve been through a war will understand how right and wrong, truth and lies, can sometimes get confused in the smoke and mayhem of conflict. They certainly were no longer clear to me. What was clear, though, was that in God’s eyes, my father was wrong to own people as his slaves."

This was my first Lynn Austin novel, and I've read few Civil War stories. The one that stands out in my mind is "Gone With the Wind", obviously a tough read to beat. "Candle in the Darkness" exceeded my expectations of a gently-paced wartime romance, proving to be a very thought-provoking story, one that kept me on the edge of my seat, genuinely worried over how it would end.

I paced myself at a chapter a day until the halfway mark. Then determination to see the end had me spending an entire Saturday with Caroline, Eli, and Charles.

The author’s style never drew attention to itself with flowery wording or odd metaphors. The first-person, letter-style of Part One is something I’m not used to, but it was done well, and brought me closer to the characters and story. If anything, the switch to third-person in Part Two was more distracting, but not enough to take me out of the story. I had no idea how the book would end, and I was almost convinced it couldn’t end well. Honestly, there were times I was afraid to read on!

The romantic conflict was masterful--Caroline falls in love with a wealthy, southern gent who supports the Confederate way of life, and goes to war with the Confederate army. And yet because of her own personal convictions regarding slavery, she finds herself neck-deep in activities her Confederate soldier would never forgive.

The spiritual themes were done well. Eli was passionate about the Lord, and it spilled out into his conversations with Caroline in a believable way. Some people might think it preachy, but I rather enjoyed the reminders to trust God in hard circumstances, and please Him above others.

My only real complaint is that the final scene was too short. I found myself inching three pages, two pages away from the very last, and thinking, no, there’s got to be more! I understand that once the conflict ends, the story is over, but still. Some stories have earned their right to indulge a chapter or two of resolution.

This book would appeal to fans of Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, and “Gone with the Wind”. Yes, I’m putting it up there with Margaret Mitchell.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Saving a Fish...er, Blog

Happy August, my friends! Is August really here? Time, pigs and airplanes. They all fly.

My apologies, for falling off the wagon with my Tuesday posts. This week has been especially distracting, as I've had family in town, and celebrated my son's fourth birthday. Last night I fought to keep a beta fish alive. I found him floating upside down, and thought he was already dead. Yes, if anyone is hopeless...lol.

But seriously, I couldn't help but see similarities between my efforts with Bob the Fish, and the battle I face every week when I sit down to write a new blog.


 1. There's toxins in the water. I need to treat it with a theme. Consistency. A solid focus, even if it means giving my book reviews a new blog home.

2. My tank is too deep for a shallow-water fish. I'm spending way to much time perfecting book reviews and devotionals before I post them. It's not only eating into precious manuscript time, it's draining my motivation and energy to keep going. Time to bring out the egg timer.

3. The fish may already be dead. My blog audience isn't growing. Sure, I get new visitors every now and then, but it hasn't seen any progressive growth for years. The year I moved to Kentucky rocked my world, both on and off line.

Bob did live, by the way, and he's happily swimming and dancing in his new home. He hasn't eaten yet, but I've heard that's normal. Does his survival carry a good omen for my blog?

I'm praying about what to do, but as it is, life is getting in the way. I need to make decisions regarding my son's education. Will I home school him this fall? Lord willing, I'm also looking for ways to earn an income and ease my husband's work hours. And as the Lord's return draws near and this world goes from crazy to unimaginably insane, I'm driven to spend more time in prayer. Blocks of writing time become smaller and smaller. To tell you the truth, I'd like to partner with a like-minded writer/blogger. Someone interested in networking and building platform, but like me, can't count on the time to blog every week.

So here's my question. If I picked a theme... Would you be more excited over a book review blog, a blog about life in the 18th century, a writer's tips blog (yeah, like I'm an expert), or a devotional blog, centered around choosing to please God above ourselves? (May not be an expert on that either, but it is the theme tying my manuscripts together.)