Mystery, Adventure, Romance–American Historicals!


Traitor's Legacy resized pgI have eight American historicals published and just completed my ninth, Traitor’s Curse, book 3 in the Traitor’s Legacy Series. Book 1, Enemy of the King, set during the drama of the American Revolution, opens in an elegant plantation home outside of Charleston, SC, in 1780, and swiftly moves into Carolina Backcountry. The antagonist in Enemy of the King, British Dragoon Captain Jacob Vaughan, captured my imagination and is the hero of Book 2, Traitor’s Legacy. Filled with intrigue, spies, and romance, Traitor’s Legacy, is largely set in Halifax, NC in 1781, toward the end of the revolution. The story concludes at Williamsburg and Yorktown.

Traitor’s Curse, Book 3 in the Traitor’s Legacy series, has a mysterious ghostly flavor. This historical is set in and around the town of Halifax, North Carolina at the conclusion of the American Revolution. And I’m slowly inching forward in time. Book four in the Traitor’s Legacy series will take place in the latter 1780’s. I’m laying the groundwork for that novel, Traitor’s Revenge

Award-winning historical romance novel

Award-winning historical romance novel

My colonial American Christmas romance novella, A Warrior for Christmas, is set in affluent colonial society, but the hero, a former Shawnee captive, recently returned from the frontier. This story is also available in audio.

Red Birds Song, Through the Fire, Kira, Daughter of the Moon, and The Bear Walker’s Daughter are part of my Native American Warrior series and set in the colonial American frontier. The French and Indian War and Pontiac’s War are the backdrop for several stories. Some follow on the heels of war, including the American Revolution. My short story, The Lady and the Warrior, takes place in the frontier after the revolution.

Whether it’s Scots-Irish settlers clashing with Native Americans in the colonial frontier, Rebels and Redcoats battling in the revolution, or a more genteel colonial world, apart from the ghosts and furtive assassins,  my work encompasses a wide range of settings. All my stories are carefully researched, but they’re called fiction for a reason. They take place in Virginia, (also what is now West Virginia), North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

***Amazon has all my titles, some in paperback. Many are also available from other online booksellers.

Hearken Ye Back to the Days of Olde–Herbal Lore Workshop


If you missed my other workshops, or want to catch the updated version, I’m giving my Herbal Lore and the Historic Medicinal Uses of Herbs Workshop in November for Hearts Through History Romance Writers. Nonmembers are welcome to join in. To register follow this link to their lovely site:

http://www.heartsthroughhistory.com/herbal-lore-and-the-historic-medicinal-uses-of-herbs/

dill with white aster and other herbs and flowers in our garden

(Dill and heirloom poppies from Monticello in our garden)

This workshop spans centuries of herbs and their lore from the ancients, through the British Isles, Colonial America, Native Americans, the Granny Women and the Mountain People of the Blue Ridge and Alleghenies (general Appalachia). Mountains are all around us here in the Shenandoah Valley. Participants will receive the eBook of my herbal, Plants for A Medieval Herb Garden in the British (also available in print if anyone’s interested).

medieval herb garden smaller size

There’s so much fascinating stuff to cover, I encourage participants to download and save files for later. I also welcome discussion and questions. My aim is for my workshop to be both informative and fun.

Book Launch for Historical Romance Traitor’s Legacy in Historic Halifax, NC


At the gala beside signs that resemble a colonial tavern.

At the gala beside signs that resemble a colonial tavern.

Discover Historic Halifax, at the forefront of the battle for independence, and the site of mystery and adventure. Where love wars with duty and allegiances, and false friends betray all.

A gala in a lovely home with special touches to make it resemble a tavern kicked off the three-day event. On Saturday, period reenactors, dancers, and musicians brought Historic Halifax to life for the book signing of Traitor’s Legacy. Like a mini Williamsburg, the town is a gem and well worth a visit. On Sunday afternoon, the charming 18th century tavern/inn, Person’s Ordinary, hosted me for a second book signing. Proceeds go toward preservation of Historic Halifax and the Ordinary. I can’t thank these good folk enough for all they did to make this a fantastic event.

Tavern style menu with dishes named after characters in the book.

Tavern style menu with dishes named after characters in the book.

Beth with the town crier

Beth with the town crier

Journey back to the drama and romance of the American Revolution where spies can be anyone and trust may prove deadly…historical romance novel, Traitor’s Legacy.

Story Blurb: 1781. On opposite sides of the War of Independence, British Captain Jacob Vaughan and Claire Monroe find themselves thrust together by chance and expediency.

Captain Vaughan comes to a stately North Carolina manor to catch a spy. Instead, he finds himself in bedlam: the head of the household is an old man ravaged by madness, the one sane male of the family is the very man he is hunting, and the household is overseen by his beguiling sister Claire.

Torn between duty, love, and allegiances, yearning desperately for peace, will Captain Vaughan and Claire Monroe forge a peace of their own against the vagaries of war and the betrayal of false friends?

At the Masonic Royal White Hart Lodge, No. 2

At the Masonic Royal White Hart Lodge, No. 2

In May, 1781, the British Legion, soon joined by General Lord Cornwallis with the rest of the army, occupied Halifax, NC. This episode in history drew me and I read all the accounts I could find. The bulk of Traitor’s Legacy takes place in the Halifax area during the British occupation, and culminates in colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown. While also being adventurous, Traitor’s Legacy is more of a mystery than Enemy of the King, with spies, turncoats, a coded letter, intrigue, and above all, romance.  I am at work on the sequel to Traitor’s Legacy, entitled Traitor’s Curse. These novels comprise the Traitor’s Legacy Series.

Three ladies who made the gala happen

Three ladies who made the gala happen

Quilt at the quilt show

They also had a beautiful quilt show.

Signing at the lodge with friends from the valley.

Signing at the lodge with friends from the valley.

The Challenge in Writing Straight Historical Romance


Civil War, American Civil War, War, Ghost, Armed Forces,

I can’t seem to stay away from ghosts. They keep popping up in my stories, difficult to justify to my historical editor who considers them paranormal. Fortunately, I also have a paranormal editor who’s all about visitations from the departed. But you see, ghosts are not that unusual in Virginia. We have more ghost stories than any other state in the union. I could share half a dozen paranormal accounts without venturing beyond my neighborhood and family. Those of you who don’t believe in this sort of thing, move to the Shenandoah Valley and get back with me. Yes, it’s gorgeous here. Maybe that’s why some ghosts don’t want to leave. Just last week, my son and I saw unexplained greenish-yellow lights up on the hill behind our farm, in the dark, moving around the Old Order Mennonite Church/schoolhouse, then–nothing. Some kind of flashlight, we wondered? Where did it go? If someone needed the light to find their way in, why not back out? It’s rural countryside and pitch dark.

old barn at dusk

Did I go investigate? No. I only like to write about ghosts. And I suspect the lower end of the farm behind us is haunted. There’s just a creepy old barn and a burned out, nothing left of it, home, and falling into ruins outbuildings. I once found a scrap of newspaper while poking around that site and all it said was ‘The devil.’

(Image of old barn at dusk by Elise)

I’m not comfortable with the idea of something skulking about, springing at me, shouting, ‘Boo!’ If I get the notion anything might, I’ll be loudly singing hymns and reciting the Anglican Exorcism prayer sent to mom and me by a lovely English lady named Dorothy Evans. We requested it after she shared an account of their parish manse being haunted by a violent poltergeist and the new priest calling the faithful together to recite the prayer and banish it. She told of paintings flung down from the upstairs hallway and furniture shoved against doors. But the detail I remember best is the saucepan lid she says flew across the kitchen and landed at her feet–thrown by an unseen hand. Fortunately, the faithful were successful in dispelling the offender. Years ago, my son and I held hands and recited this same prayer in the old farm house he and his soon to be wife were renovating, to out the poltergeist banging about, opening doors, and alarming the cat, people, etc. It worked, btw.

ghostly woods

There are several camps of ghosts. The most common are those who have unfinished business. In my stories, once they complete their mission, they move on. They may need help to accomplish their task from the hero or heroine. Some ghosts are seemingly lost–didn’t get the memo the war is over, (the Civil War)–or some such confusion, and need encouragement to move on. Some phenomenal occurrences are an echo from the past–a chink in time opening to reveal a brief glimpse of the people and era in which they lived. They’re not ghosts. Poltergeists, unseen except for their volatile effects, are more common than visible ghosts. The real bad asses are the ones I worry about encountering–ever. Steer clear of them, unless you bring a group of faithful with you to pray them out.

Fog, Farm, Mist, Cemetery, Tree, Wet, Tombstone, Field, Morning, Grave

In my recent release, historical romance novel, Traitor’s Legacy, set during the American Revolution, I made it through the novel with mystery, intrigue, and adventure, no ghosts. However, in writing the sequel, Traitor’s Curse, I’m already onto my second ghost, and the story has a delicious Gothic flavor. This one will likely wind up with my paranormal editor. I tried to keep the series straight historical, and the period details are, but there’s no keeping the ghosts out. So the series will be, in the words of a local country woman describing her two-year-old, ‘right mixy.’ Say that with a Southern accent for the full affect.

I’m back working with the Wild Rose Press. I like my editors, and what the company can do with the books that I can’t, including more with audio and now they’re getting stories translated into other languages. Fortunately, they tell me to write the story that wants to be told and they’ll find the spot for it within the company in one of their lines. This isn’t to say I won’t do any more indie titles, but I like working with the Wild Rose.

For those of you chomping at the bit for the Anglican Exorcism prayer, here it is: Do not try this alone if the presence you sense is evil, only with a strong group of Christians, the more, the better. And join hands. Even if you think I’m nuts.

“In the name of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, may this distressed soul be relieved of his obsession with this world and sent to where he belongs.”

I added, ‘go to the light,’ although a truly evil presence won’t, but a troubled, restless one may. Seems only right to offer that as an option.

Stories I’ve written with ghosts thus far include Somewhere My Love and Somewhere the Bells Ring (Christmas). These two are the most overtly ghostly. However, Enemy of the King is historical, but the H&H are haunted by his late wife (Traitor’s Legacy is the sequel to Enemy of the King). Through the Fire is historical, but the heroine sees her late uncle. Kira, Daughter of the Moon, sequel to Through the Fire, has a poltergeist, but overall, it’s historical. Red Bird’s Song is strongly historical, but the heroine glimpses her departed brother. The Bearwalker’s Daughter is carefully researched historical, but has a strong paranormal element, including the departed returning. And a Shawnee warrior who can ‘bear walk’. But that’s another phenomena entirely.

 Chapel Hill black and white image

A final sharing from June of this year. As my dear Aunt Moggie lay dying in the old family homeplace in the valley where she’d lived her whole life, including her married life, the hospice nurse roused from where she’d nodded off in a chair, to see a man seated on the bedside. He was holding Moggie’s hand and she was speaking quietly with him. The nurse assumed he was my aunt’s younger son, Henry. When the man she took to be Henry stood up, nodded at her politely, and left the room, she followed to see for certain who he was. She discovered Henry asleep in a chair. It wasn’t him. My aunt spoke matter-of-factly about her late husband, RW, being with her. And Henry looks a lot like his father did as a younger man. When I heard the man sitting with my aunt had nodded politely to the nurse before leaving the room, I knew it had to be my uncle. That was exactly like him. I believe he returned to be with his beloved wife as she was passing from this world to the next. The veil may be thinner than we think.


Somewhere the Bells Ring larger cover sizeChapel Hill, pictured above, is the old family homeplace in the Shenandoah Valley and the setting for my ghostly Christmas romance, Somewhere the Bells Ring.

My stories are available from various booksellers, but Amazon has them all.

Visit my Amazon Author Page.

Autumn Drive into the Alleghenies


view from long run road.jpg2Yesterday afternoon, my DH, daughter Elise, and I went on an autumnal picture-taking excursion up Long Run Road. While we bounced along the pothole pocked mountain road and they snapped photos, I kept a watch out for Big Foot–yes, supposedly the Allegheny Mountains have their own kind of the furry ape-man–and space aliens. Ever since I watched Alien Abduction on Amazon instant movies, and thought it was dang near a documentary, until I said ‘WTH?’, I’ve kept a sharp eye out while in the mountains–or my yard. Apparently, those creepy aliens are everywhere.  I don’t, however, recommend running screaming through the woods to escape them. Unless they have heat seeking detection ability, hiding until morning, when their widespread presence lessens, seems a better option. As to Big Foot, I keep up with the latest documentaries. The last one I watched had terrific eye-witness accounts. Now, if they could just produce the big guy.

I know. Outings with me are fraught with adventure, whether there actually is any, or not. And I’m plotting a fantasy series set in the mountains–have been for several years.

autumn colorEnjoy the stunning scenery included in this post, and the random quotes.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.” ― Lauren DeStefano, Wither

“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Fal aster“Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.”
William Cullen Bryant

“Love the trees until their leaves fall off, then encourage them to try again next year.” ― Chad Sugg

“Her pleasure in the walk must arise from the exercise and the day, from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn–that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence on the mind of taste and tenderness–that season which has drawn from every poet worthy of being read some attempt at description, or some lines of feeling.”
Jane Austen, Persuasion

fall color 20141“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.”
Jim Bishop

“She looked like autumn, when leaves turned and fruit ripened.”
Sarah Addison Allen, Garden Spells

“There is something incredibly nostalgic and significant about the annual cascade of autumn leaves.”
Joe L. Wheeler

Bittersweet October. The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter. ~Carol Bishop Hipps, “October,” In a Southern Garden, 1995

Elise with fall foilageNo spring nor summer’s beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one Autumnal face….
~John Donne, “Elegy IX: The Autumnal”

Pale amber sunlight falls across
The reddening October trees….
Are we not better and at home
In dreamful Autumn, we who deem
No harvest joy is worth a dream?
A little while and night shall come,
A little while, then, let us dream…
~Ernest Dowson, “Autumnal”

***Dennis took a pic of Elise taking pics

Book Signing at the Royal White Hart Lodge No. 2 in Historic Halifax, NC


traitor's_legacy_press_release_June27_2014_fb

Chartered in 1767, but in operation much earlier, the Royal White Hart Lodge No. 2 is the second oldest Masonic lodge in North Carolina, after St. John’s Masonic Lodge No. 1, in Wilmington (chartered in 1756). Before the hall was erected in Halifax, lodge founders met in homes and rented rooms in inns. One of the earliest taverns mentioned as a meeting place was The Sign of the Thistle. Because of prominent Halifax resident Joseph Montfort, the Royal White Hart Lodge has special significance in the history of Freemasonry, and the history of North Carolina. On January 14, 1771, Joseph Montfort was appointed “Provincial Grand Master of and for America” by the Duke of Beaufort, Grand Master of England. He then established early masonic lodges across the state. Montfort held many titles, among them: Treasurer of the Province of North Carolina, Colonel of Colonial troops, patriot and Freemason. He is the only Grand Master in America. Born in England in 1724, he died in NC on March 25, 1776 and is buried east of the Royal White Hart Lodge. 1776 seems a rather propitious time to die with the dramatic events unfolding in America.

Wite Hart Lodge Number 2

Rarely open to the public, the Royal White Hart Lodge is hosting the book signing for my new release, Traitor’s Legacy, in Historic Halifax, on Oct. 11th. Not only that, but the lodge is being repainted inside and out in colonial colors and appropriately decorated for the event. Sumptuous refreshments will be served inside the lodge, while the old town comes to life with 18th century music, reenactors, and other period displays, I am honored by the privilege of having my signing here. For more information on the event visit: http://www.nchistoricsites.org/halifax/halifax.htm

Colonial American historical romance novel

Colonial American historical romance novel

Story blurb: 1781. On opposite sides of the War of Independence, British Captain Jacob Vaughan and Claire Monroe find themselves thrust together by chance and expediency.

Captain Vaughan comes to a stately North Carolina manor to catch a spy. Instead, he finds himself in bedlam: the head of the household is an old man ravaged by madness, the one sane male of the family is the very man he is hunting, and the household is overseen by his beguiling sister Claire.

Torn between duty, love, and allegiances, yearning desperately for peace, will Captain Vaughan and Claire Monroe forge a peace of their own against the vagaries of war and the betrayal of false friends?

***Traitor’s Legacy is available in eBook and print from Amazon and The Wild Rose Press, Nook Book and from other online booksellers.

 

Old Time Sayings and Superstitions From the Shenandoah Valley


Spectacular Autumn Day!
These sayings are from Shenandoah Voices:  Folklore, Legends, and Traditions of the Valley by late historian and author John Heatwole. I also threw in some cures. Images of the Shenandoah Valley and Mountains were taken by my talented family. The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia by my mom, Pat Churchman, above.
I knew and greatly respected John Heatwole.  He even helped me with some of the initial research for my first historical novels. The wealth of knowledge he amassed is just one of the rich legacies John left behind.
Shenandoah Voices is my favorite book by him.  I recommend it to anyone interested in the old ways and days of rural Virginia, especially the valley and surrounding mountains. I was also privileged to hear John speak on this fascinating subject. He’s best known for his vast knowledge and books about the Civil War. He was also an amazing wood-carver/artist, a man of many talents.  Much missed. (Log hog/chicken barn by my husband Dennis.)
****
Many early valley settlers were Scots-Irish, my ancestors among them.  People from the British Isles tended to be superstitious. Also prevalent in the valley were Germans bringing the influence of the Pennsylvania-Dutch, another superstitious group. To quote Michael Scott, from The Office, “I’m not superstitious, just a little stitious.”
autumn in the Alleghenies
It’s bad luck to lay a hat on the bed.~
An itching nose means a visitor is coming. ~
A cardinal bumping against the window pane is an indication of an early death~
(The Alleghenies by my mom above)
old barn with Virgina creeper*To this I have to add ‘or an insanely jealous bird regarding his reflection as another male which tends to happen with cardinals.’
Peel an apple all in one piece and throw the peel over your shoulder.  When you turn around and look at it lying on the ground, whatever letter it reminds you of will be the first letter of your future husband’s last name.~ (This is an ancient Celtic Custom)
It’s bad luck to point at a rainbow. ~ *I suspect we are all guilty of this one.  Who knew?
It’s bad luck to bring a shovel into the house ‘because it is a grave tool.’ Some also think a hoe in the house bodes no good.~
HEARTHIf you enter a house and leave it without sitting down it is bad luck. Particularly if you leave by a different door than the one you entered.~
If a bird flies into your house there will soon be a death in the family~Within six months if a whippoorwill comes to your treetop and sings at night. ~ *How many of you have even heard a whippoorwill?  I have. Though not lately.
(Hearth in the old smokehouse on the Christmas tree farm in Singers Glen, VA)
If a baby smiles in its sleep, the child is talking to the angels. ~ *My personal favorite.
Rain isn’t far behind when a tree shows the underside of its leaves.~
Count the number of foggy mornings in August and that is how many winter snows there will be.~ I heard this one not long ago and suspect it may be true.  I’m also a believer in wooley bears predicting winter…
old barn at dusk(Creepy old barn up behind our house by Daughter Elise.. Also pictured above.)
A new moon with the points up means dry weather, and a moon with the points down means rain will soon fall. ~
If a full moon has a ring around it there will be snow by morning. ~ If the ring is large, the number of stars you count in it will be the number of inches that fall.~
*We say a ring around the moon means rain, or snow, within a few days.
Sheep shearing takes place around the first of May.  A cold rain will follow within a few days of shearing called a sheep rain. ~
On Ash Wednesday people made pancakes or the chickens wouldn’t lay.~ *We still have pancake suppers in the valley on that day.
Horse chestnuts carried in the pocket are thought to ward off rheumatism. ~
Sassafras tea is good to thin the blood. ~
Broth made from the hind legs of mice is good for kidney ailments.~ *Not tried this one.
‘Swamp root’ tea is also recommended for kidney disorders.~ Swamp root tea is considered by many to be a kind of ‘snake oil’ that was peddled years ago. A patent medicine. Here’s a link to learn more. (The Alleghenies by my mother)
For someone who is weak and recovering from long illness, make them sparrow broth tea. ~ *This supposedly saved my grandmother’s life when she was sick as a child.
Before taking a new baby out for its first ride (this probably applied to a wagon or buggy) the ‘herb lady’ rubbed warm bear grease on one of the infant’s palms and the bottom of the opposite foot thus insuring that the baby was protected from the rigors of the journey. (The herb lady was the granny woman).
A hog’s tooth carried in your right pocket will ward off toothache.~ *Maybe I should take up this one.
Catnip tea was made for children with colic.~ Tea from peppermint leaves will stop a stomachache.~ *These are still practiced.
Sage tea will keep a woman’s hair from turning gray prematurely.~
(old bridge in the valley, bordering the Alleghenies by my husband)
Treat measles with sheep manure that has been boiled, strained, and diluted with moonshine.~ *I assume with enough moonshine the patient didn’t notice the manure so much.
For a bad cold put lard on your chest sprinkled with salt. Another remedy is a mustard plaster made with mustard, lard, and egg whites and laid on the chest~
Freckles on the face can be washed away on the first of May. If they are washed in morning dew, they will be transferred to the hands which can be dried on another less visible part of the body like the arms or legs and left there permanently.  It’s recommended that this practice be repeated for three years in a row to work. ~
Quite an investment in time.
(Image of river in the mist by my mother)
When mumps invade your house put hog manure on the throat as a relief or cure.
 
*Considering the stench of hog manure, I doubt the sufferer would find much relief.
To get rid of warts, tie a knot in a string for each wart you have and bury it under rock.  When the string rots the wart will be gone. ~ (Tried this one, took years to work, but the wart is gone).
Old Home in the Blue Ridge Mountains
 (Old house in the Blue Ridge Mountains by my husband)
If you are sitting up with an ill person and a spark flies from the fireplace in the room, it is a sign of impending death. (From Hardy County, West Virginia).
It would be a terrible mistake for you to kill a lightning bug because lightning might kill you during the next electrical storm. (From Wise County, Virginia)
In the Blue Ridge Mountains it was believed that if a glass fell from a table after midnight and rolled across the floor, a coffin would have to be made the next day.
And I could go on, but this is enough for now.  Well, maybe one more.
When springtime rolls around again, and if you are fortunate enough to make a wish on the first toad you see hopping by, you will have abundant good luck. (From Wise County, VA)
This piece is a repost from the past, but seems appropriate for this time of year.