Thursday, September 24, 2020

Using Emotional Depth in Creating your Protagonist.

 Susan Reichert

Do you create your protagonist with an emotional depth?

In other words, do they have the capacity to interpret feelings and sensitivity and respond to the feelings that arise both in themselves and others?

Perhaps the question is do you create in your character (protagonist) empathy? The ability to understand and share the feelings of another?

If their emotional dept is low, it most likely will prevent your character to give support to others in the stories; perhaps they will not be able to develop a strong intimacy with others or resolve conflicts. The characters we create need to be able to steer major crises.  By having low emotional depth your character (protagonist) has a good chance turning out to be shallow and your reader will lose interest and not be a fan of the character.

It is important we create a protagonist our readers will love, and sometimes in that relationship between the reader and the protagonist, you will find there is also hate. Yes, sometimes the reader may hate the protagonist for something he does or does not do. That is okay, they are vested in the character.

What drives our protagonist? Internal motivation. It always must come from within the character to make the character push through to achieve what is important to them. It can be a want, hope or fear, but it must be defined clearly to the character. This is what spurs the character on when he/she is at a low point.

A protagonist is not passive he/she is active. This is one of the reasons we love the James Bond books by Ian Fleming.

Be sure you stack some odds against your protagonist and throw in some mistreatment…think of Cinderella, written by Charles Perrault how she was mistreated by her step-mother and step-sisters and the odds against her to even get near the prince to try the shoe on.


Happy Writing.

Susan Reichert is  the director of Southern Author Services and and Suite T. She is also the retired Editor-in-Chief of Southern Writers Magazine.

She is the author of God's Prayer Power and Storms In Life.

She and her husband Greg live in Tennessee.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The Price of Valor

Susan May Warren

What would you do for your country? Or for an ideal that you believe in? Five years ago, when my son came to me and said, “I’d like to join the Navy,” I had to take a hard look at what I believed in. Yes, it was his decision, but I wondered if I loved my country enough to willingly give my son to it.


Yes. Yes, I do. And I say that after living overseas for ten years, seeing how other countries live and knowing our ideals of freedom of thought, speech and the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness have come at a great cost, both past and current.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Sharing the Limelight in Box Sets

Marcia King-Gamble

Growing up, I never wanted to be a writer. Writing is something that grew on me. I was an educator’s daughter and so read at an early age. Reading fed an active imagination. Like Calgon (now I’m showing my age,) reading, transported me to another time and place.  Reading carried me away.

Then I became a freelance reader. By reader, I mean, I read for a publisher. Often, unsolicited manuscripts are sent in, more than an editor can keep up with. Laypeople are hired to read through these submissions and make recommendations to the editors.  It took me seven years and hundreds of manuscripts before the light bulb went on. I submitted my own story. While my first submission was not accepted, I was encouraged to submit something else, and of course, I did.  That second effort yielded a two-book contract.

Twenty plus years later, here I am, the author of forty-plus books, blogging steadily on two blogs, and stepping in as a guest blogger whenever I’m asked.

That’s actually how my latest release, One Last Shot came about. One of my blogging groups, The Romance Gems has 23 authors.  Each member blogs on a specific day of the month. There is usually a monthly theme to follow, although at times we veer off topic.

The Gems planned to release several box sets. For those of you who don’t know what a box set is, it’s a compilation of stories, individually written, and packaged together. Our group is spearheaded by some experienced, and incredibly talented authors, and NY Times/USA Bestseller Joan Reeves came up with the idea for Last Chance Beach: Summer’s End and the legend.


The legend goes something like this:

 Poor boy begs passage on wealthy tycoon’s ship and falls in love with owner’s daughter. Dad frowns on the romance and banishes the poor man to the ship’s hold. The man escapes and swims to shore where he is rescued by a minister and his wife. The daughter goes in search of him, runs out of money, and is taken in by the same minister and his wife. The couple reunites. Unfortunately, he is lame.

The idea of One Last Shot came about from a what if?  Those who know me know I’m a firm believer of what ifs.

So, I thought, what if an up and coming sitcom star’s alleged sex tape goes viral, and she hides out on Last Chance Beach.  Turns out, the guy next door just happens to be a disgraced celebrity photographer in need of One Last Shot. Will he accept tabloid money for pictures of her? Or will he choose love over jumpstarting his career?

There’s even a free companion cocktail recipe book that comes with the story and can be downloaded.

Given the summer we’re having, we all deserve a cocktail on Last Chance Beach. So, pull up a chair and join me, albeit from a distance. Let 14 authors carry you away with stories of hopes, dreams, and true romance.

Link to down load companion cocktail recipe book.

Romance writer, Marcia King-Gamble originally hails from a sunny Caribbean island where the sky and ocean are the same mesmerizing shade of blue. 

This former travel industry executive and current world traveler has spent most of life in the United States. 

A National Bestselling author, Marcia has penned over 34 books and 8 novellas. 

Her free time is spent at the gym, traveling to exotic locales, caring for her animal family, and 

trying to keep sane.

Her newest release is By Heart.

Instagram * Amazon * Website * Facebook * Twitter


Monday, September 21, 2020

Write Your Book

 Kim M. Clark

The pixels on my computer screen taunted me. Looking over my manuscript that needed to be rewritten, again, I cried out to God. “This is too hard. You’ve called the wrong person to write this book. I don’t even know what a passive verb is!” Tears streamed down my cheeks. The task of writing, re-writing, and editing my soon-to-be-published book brought me to an ugly place. I had no idea how time-consuming, emotionally taxing, and exhausting it would be to write a book when I had first agreed to be God’s scribe.


 My shoulders slumped. I whimpered, “God, what if these words of comfort you’ve given me are only for me and my family and they’re not meant to be published? Maybe they were meant to console and help us lift our gaze to you as we walked through our trial? What if I heard you wrong, and I’m not meant to record your words in a book?”

The response from God: deeper stillness.

 I exhaled a loud, weary-laden sigh.

 Since first grade, I struggled with the task of putting together a string of words that made sense, let alone enticing the reader into my world with some sort of grammatical accuracy. The entire act of authoring a book was beyond my level of gifting and God seemed to be taking his time developing this skill in me.

 My spiritual tantrum continued. I dropped to my knees. “Okay, God, if you want me to finish this book, I NEED A SIGN, LIKE RIGHT NOW!” The thud of my fist pounding on the floor echoed my desperation.

 I heard the ding of an incoming email from my desk as an answer to my meltdown. Groaning, I lifted myself out of my emotional puddle and I looked at my screen in irritation. An email preview popped up.

 Tilting my head to one side, I read the blinking message.

 Wait, what did it say? That can’t be right… Disbelief flooded me.

 The subject line mocked me: “WRITE YOUR BOOK!”

 I burst out laughing. Somehow, for some reason beyond me, God was calling me to finish writing my book, despite how arduous the task.

 That day, I committed to become a published author, no matter the difficulty, strain, or work involved.  That day, I decided to truly be God’s scribe, no matter the physical, emotional, or spiritual drain or cost. That day, I fully submitted my writing to God.

 Since receiving that email, I finished and published my first book, Deep Waters: Lift Your Gaze, which is now a multiple-award-winning Amazon bestseller. My second book, Deep Waters: Lift Your Gaze 30-Day Devotional, came out in the spring of 2020, right along with COVID-19.

 In between the release of those two books, in obedience to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, I created a non-profit, Lift Your Gaze, where I share my message of hope with the incarcerated. Now thousands of both of my books (neither of which I thought I could write) are in prisons and jails across the U.S., proclaiming the Gospel and Hope of Jesus Christ.

 You might be wondering who sent that email that God used to convict and motivate me to finish my book. A life insurance company sent that email to encourage former brokers (like my husband and me) to “write their book of business.” It’s funny how God can use anything or anyone to accomplish his will even through his most unwilling and tearful servants.

 Permit me to implore you with the same message I received on that day: “WRITE YOUR BOOK.” You never know what God is going to do through it and through you.

Kim M. Clark is a multiple-award-winning author, publisher, and public speaker. She is also the founder of Lift Your Gaze ( where she openly and unabashedly shares her message of hope with the incarcerated. She and her family live in the sunshine from the perpetual summer climate of Florida. Kim has run two marathons (with respectable times) despite the angry protest from her middle-aged knees. You can reach her directly at


Friday, September 18, 2020

Facing the Challenges of the Writer’s Life

DiAnn Mills @diannmills

A writer’s life doesn’t fit the 9-5 workday mold for most of the world. Challenges smack us in the face, and we must be ready to evaluate what we are doing right and what we are doing not-so-right. Sometimes we need to evaluate our habits and if necessary, make changes that will help us be successful in our writing career.

A writer determines if his/her work process is a hindrance.

Do any of these apply?

1. My desk is covered with to-do notes that need to be completed then tossed.

2. My stack of papers is duplicated electronically. Where is the shredder?

3. My to-be-read stack is taller than I am. Time to prioritize and give away.

4. My pile of magazines is ten years old. Do I honestly need them? Can I subscribe to them online?

5. My laptop needs replaced. Time to explore and research a replacement.

Other times, the process is difficult when a bad decision has the potential to create havoc.

1. Is my reader’s blog unique, interesting, or do I need more content that is reader focused?

2. How do I determine the number of writer conferences to attend in 2020-2021?

3. How many writer conferences or speaking engagements should I accept in 2020-2021?

4. Am I spending enough quality time with my spouse and family?

5. Am I spending enough quality time with my friends?

6. Am I keeping God first place in my spiritual, mental, and physical life?

7. Is my quiet time taking me spiritually deeper?

8. My latest book is completed. Do I send it to my editor or read it through one more time?

9. How many fiction and nonfiction books should I be reading per month?

10. Is too much of my time unproductive?

11. Are the blog posts I’m reading adding value to my professional career?

12. Is there anything I can change to better honor my God-given calling?

How does a writer gauge if a challenge is productive or destructive?

Will the challenge help me be a better writer?

Our skills need to grow as though we are in a perpetual state of learning. Nothing of value is free, either time or a financial investment. Some of the items that strengthen our skills are reading the how-to books, reading bestsellers, attending physical and online conferences, editing our work, mentoring a serious writer, and taking advantage of online blogs, podcasts, and webinars.

Will the challenge help me grow spiritually?

Many writers believe their work is a form of worship. Is a Christian writer strong enough to stand up for his/her beliefs?

Will the challenge help my readers?

Successful writers don’t create for themselves but for readers. Reaching readers is an effort. Sometimes it’s frustrating and mistakes are made. But when writers explore what readers need and where they hang out on social media, we can join the conversation and provide what they are looking for.

Perhaps our obstacles are in reality ladder steps to professionalism. How do you approach the challenges in your writing life?

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She weaves memorable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn believes every breath of life is someone’s story, so why not capture those moments and create a thrilling adventure? Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is the director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, Mountainside Marketing Conference, and the Mountainside Novelist Retreat with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. 
Visit DiAnn Mills at

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Story Spark ~ Part 2

Tari Faris

Part 2

. . .What was the reason Libby came to town?

I live in the Phoenix area now, but I grew up in a small town in Michigan, and I make it a priority to visit my hometown every summer. Part of it is because I love to escape the summer heat, and part of it is because I love the pace and rhythm of small-town life.


When I was considering what Heritage needed in town, my mind traveled back to some of my favorite memories as a child when I would go to reading hour at the local library. Back then, the local library of our small town was actually in the town hall, just like in Heritage—although it wasn’t in the basement. However, years ago, it was moved from the town hall to the old firehouse that had been updated to a larger location.


I hadn’t mentioned a library in Heritage in You Belong with Me but adding a library with part of the grant money made sense so that gave me a reason for Libby to come to town to be the Librarian.


As I was beginning to write Until I Met You, I attended a community picnic in my town park where  they have situated an old one room schoolhouse in one corner. It is picturesque and as I stood there, taking in the park and schoolhouse, I knew it was exactly what Heritage needed. A library in the one-room schoolhouse. And if I dropped the one-room schoolhouse in the middle of the square that Austin was supposed to design, we would have instant conflict.


There is the long and the short of how I got the story spark for Until I Met You. So, dive in and see how all these pieces come together in a little town named Heritage.

Tari Faris is the author of You Belong with Me. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers and My Book Therapy, she is the projects manager for My Book Therapy, writes for, and is a 2017 Genesis Award winner. She has an MDiv from Asbury Theological Seminary and lives in the Phoenix, Arizona, area with her husband and their three children. Although she lives in the Southwest now, she lived in a small town in Michigan for twenty-five years..



Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The Story Spark

Tari Faris

After meeting Nate in my first novel, You Belong with Me, I knew there was a story to tell there, and I couldn’t wait to tell it. But as I interviewed Nate, I began to ask not just what his wild past had cost him, but also what had it cost those around him. It was then that I realized that the real story lay with the older brother, Austin. Just like in the biblical narrative of The Prodigal Son, Nate had moved on from his past, but the older brother had not.


In fact, just like the “older brother” in the Bible, I needed Austin’s livelihood to have been affected. And since the town was in the market to landscape the new square with the newly acquired grant money, his vocation was born. He could come to town to landscape the new square.


As I took the time to get to know Austin, I couldn’t help but love him and hurt with him. But that became a huge challenge in writing it. How do I write two characters I love who are in such conflict? And that is when I remembered that it was the love of their father that united them.


I hadn’t originally planned for the father to be suffering with early onset Alzheimer’s, but when I started writing this, both my parents and my in-laws were dealing with ageing parents, one of whom had Alzheimer’s and it just seemed to come out of my experience.


So, after I had the hero figured out, I had to decide who would be the perfect fit with him and why. I fell in love with Libby in the first book as well, so she was the logical choice, but I just needed a reason to move her to town.

. . . see what Tari does in Part 2 tomorrow, the 17th.


Tari Faris is the author of You Belong with Me. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers and My Book Therapy, she is the projects manager for My Book Therapy, writes for, and is a 2017 Genesis Award winner. She has an MDiv from Asbury Theological Seminary and lives in the Phoenix, Arizona, area with her husband and their three children. Although she lives in the Southwest now, she lived in a small town in Michigan for twenty-five years.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Storing Up Trouble - Part 2

Jen Turano

Part 2

In order to keep everything straight with a series, I use character sheets and jot down information like physical appearance, what drives a character, and even what quirks they may possess. Unfortunately, in Beatrix’s case, I had no idea who she was other than the fact she was a young lady who balked at the restrictions placed on heiresses at that time, and that she always seemed to find herself in unexpected and unusual situations.

It was not much to work with, especially since Isadora had told me (and yes, characters do speak to me. I’m not crazy, though, it’s just how this writing thing works for me) that Beatrix was her best friend and was going to help her flee from New York City and the dastardly duke. That meant Beatrix was going to show up far sooner than I expected because Isadora leaves New York within the first few chapters. With that in mind, I just began writing Beatrix into a scene with Isadora, and thankfully, her personality took off from there. She wanted to be a no-nonsense lady, prone to taking charge of situations, even if doing so occasionally meant she landed herself in all sorts of trouble. Trouble and Beatrix seemed to work well, and from there, I began to get an inkling of just where her story was going to go.

 By the time I reached book three, “Storing Up Trouble,” I knew exactly who Beatrix was, what drove her, and why she was going to have to leave New York City and travel to Chicago – being arrested, not once, but twice, was the perfect reason to have her depart on an adventure, and once I got into her book, everything fell into place and she didn’t give me a hint of trouble. The same cannot be said about Norman Nesbit, the hero in “Storing Up Trouble,” who couldn’t decide who he wanted to be and insisted I rewrite him at least a dozen times. He finally settled down, which then, in turn, allowed me to finish the book and meet my deadline, something that does seem to keep me on track most days.

 One thing that has made writing series easier for me over the years, though, is that I have begun writing my books so that they can stand alone. Isadora, from “Flights of Fancy,” does not make an appearance in the second book, “Diamond in the Rough,” and only shows up at the end of “Storing Up Trouble.” It’s the same with Poppy, who, after her story is told, only shows up at the end of Beatrix’s story. That allows readers a glimpse of these characters if they’ve enjoyed them in the previous books but does not make it difficult for a reader to follow the last book in the series if they’ve not read the previous two books. That strategy seems to be working for me at the moment, but one never knows, I could very well return to a series where all the characters are woven in with every book. Time will tell with that.

Thanks so much for visiting with me today. I hope you learned a little bit about my process, and here’s hoping you’ll enjoy Beatrix’s story if you get a chance to read it.

All the best,



Named One of the Funniest Voices in Inspirational Romance by Booklist, Jen Turano is a USA Today Best-Selling Author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned Publisher Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from Romantic Times, and praise from Library Journal. She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist.  

When she’s not writing, she spends her time outside of Denver, CO. Readers may find her at - , or on Twitter at JenTurano@JenTurano.


Monday, September 14, 2020

Storing Up Trouble

 Jen Turano

One of the questions I get asked most frequently is where I find inspiration for my stories. In most cases, I find them through the many research avenues I have available to me, whether it be books about the Gilded Age, data bases I access through my local library, or old newspapers I peruse when I’m looking for unusual names. In the case of my latest series, the American Heiress series, I was inspired years ago after reading the true-life story of Consuelo Vanderbilt.

Poor Consuelo was a member of one of the richest families in the world, daughter to William K and Alva Vanderbilt. Unfortunately, Alva was a bit of a social climber, and had decided to use her daughter as a tool to climb that social ladder through an advantageous marriage to a duke. Unfortunately, Consuelo didn’t care for this duke as she was in love with another gentleman, but she married the duke, and suffered through quite a few years of an unhappy marriage before she finally sought a divorce.

Like most of my series, this one started off with the question “What if?” “What if Consuelo had balked at marrying this duke?” That’s all it took for the American Heiress series to take shape. I knew from the start that I was going to need three distinct heiresses in order to keep the stories fresh. Isadora Delafield was the heiress inspired by Consuelo, so she was first with “Flights of Fancy.” Then I was intending on writing Beatrix Waterbury’s story next, who was going to be my unconventional heiress, ending with Miss Poppy Garrison’s story, who was going to be an unexpected heiress, and clueless about how to navigate her way around the New York Four Hundred.

Interesting fact here is that before I begin writing a series, I turn a synopsis over to my editing team, outlining each book and storyline. They then take that synopsis/proposal to the pub board, and that board deliberates over whether it’s a good idea. Thankfully, they gave the American Heiress the green light, so I was off and running – except that my editors and I decided that I had the books in the wrong order. Clearly, “Flights of Fancy” was to go first, but we thought it would break up the series better if we stuck Poppy Garrison into the middle since she was not familiar with New York City and all the rules, whereas Beatrix Waterbury was. Now, that might not seem too problematic, but I didn’t really know who Beatrix was at that point, but by switching the stories around, she was going to turn into the character who would make an appearance in all three books.

In order to keep everything straight with a series, I use . . . ( see part 2 tomorrow–September 15 . . . don't miss it to see what Jen Turano uses to keep everything straight!)

Named One of the Funniest Voices in Inspirational Romance by Booklist, Jen Turano is a USA Today Best-Selling Author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age.

Her books have earned Publisher Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from Romantic Times, and praise from Library Journal. 

She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist.  

When she’s not writing, she spends her time outside of Denver, CO. 

Readers may find her at - , or on Twitter at JenTurano@JenTurano.


Thursday, September 10, 2020

When Research Becomes a Novel: Under the Tulip Tree – Part 2

Michelle Shocklee

After I wrote my Texas novels, I continued to keep that little research book close by. It sat on my desk or my nightstand, and it even went on vacation with me. About five years after I’d purchased it, I was tossing around ideas for my next writing project. I didn’t want to write another plantation novel, yet I felt so strongly about the importance of the slave narratives that I didn’t want to venture too far away from the topic. What to do, what to do? My eyes drifted to that little orange book on my nightstand. Sam Jones Washington’s familiar smiling face met my gaze . . . and suddenly I knew. I would write that story! The story of an FWP writer going to interview a former slave and the unlikely friendship that develops between them.

Writing Under the Tulip Tree was a labor of love. In many ways, this is the book I’ve waited my entire life to write. The characters became real people in my heart and mind, especially Frankie. I can never know what it was truly like to live in bondage or to be a black person in the world today, but writing Frankie’s story opened my eyes to the struggles, the prejudices, and the oppression people of color have been forced to deal with for generations. Like the slave narratives, Frankie’s story doesn’t wallow in the difficulties, but simply tells the tale of her life as a slave and as a free woman.

Research trips are a must when writing historical fiction. Thankfully, my husband of thirty-three years is a willing field trip buddy, so we set out to visit many of the places around Nashville where Frankie and Rena would have gone. The neighborhood of Hell’s Half Acre was demolished in the 1950s, but as I stood on Capitol Hill, I could envision what it might have looked like in 1936. When we visited the ruins of Fort Negley, I stood in reverent silence, looking down to the area where the contraband camp was once located. To the north is downtown Nashville, with the Cumberland River barely visible these days because of high-rise buildings. When I closed my eyes, I could almost hear the roar of Union gunships. How frightening that must have been for former slaves like Frankie as they awaited the outcome of the Battle of Nashville. Our last stop was City Cemetery where many former slaves are buried. There, I sat under a tulip tree, its yellow blossoms bright in the afternoon sunshine, and I wondered if any of the people buried there had once told their story to a Federal Writers’ Project employee.

Frankie and Rena are products of my imagination, but my hope is that they bring honor to the real people whose lives they represent.

Michelle Shocklee is the author of several historical novels. Her work has been included in numerous Chicken Soup for the Soul books, magazines, and blogs.

 Married to her college sweetheart and the mother of two grown sons, she makes her home in Tennessee, not far from the historical sites she writes about.

 Visit her online at

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

When Research Becomes a Novel: Under the Tulip Tree –Part 1

Michelle Shocklee

As an author of historical fiction, I know that solid research breathes life into my books. What I didn’t know was how it could change the trajectory of my life. In May 2013, I purchased a research book on slavery that would do just that. I Was Born in Slavery: Personal Accounts of Slavery in Texas is a small, unremarkable-looking book, with a black-and-white photograph of a smiling, older black gentleman gracing the cover. Yet the pages of this little, unassuming book are filled with the captivating, often heart-wrenching word-for-word narratives of life in bondage, told by twenty-nine brave individuals to interviewers employed by the government.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

The Edge of Belonging

Amanda Cox

I’m the type of person who craves quiet—stretches of time where my thoughts have room to roam, whether in creative ventures or just to process the events and emotions of the day. Being a homeschool mom of three elementary-aged kids, finding time where I can follow a stream of thought wherever it leads are…umm… in short supply.

When it came to the idea for my debut novel, The Edge of Belonging I had recently finished writing my first novel. I didn’t have any exciting new ideas begging to be written, so I wondered if I’d reached the end of my “Can I Write A Book” adventure— one little story for my eyes only. I hoped this wasn’t the case. I’d fallen head over heels in love with writing.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Ellen Butler's Story Behind Pharaoh's Forgery

Ellen Butler                                          @EButlerBooks

Serves Up Romance & Suspense
With Style

I would say I come by my fascination with art and artifacts quite naturally. Growing up in the Washington, D.C. metro area means I am very lucky to have easy access to one of the largest museum complexes in the nation, the Smithsonian. One of the greatest pleasures I afford myself is the time to visit these magnificent buildings that are filled with irreplaceable pieces of artwork and artifacts. Surprisingly, what led me down the road to writing Pharaoh’s Forgery, was only a short fifteen second segment on the evening news. What would have been hours of news coverage in South America, received only a small acknowledgement outside the museum circles here in North America.

On September 2, 2018, around seven-thirty in the evening, fire broke out at the Brazilian National Museum, in Rio de Janeiro. The museum, which opened in 1818, housed over two hundred million artifacts. The beautiful neoclassical São Cristóvão Palace, which sits upon a vast parkland in the northern part of the city, was built in 1803 for the Portuguese royal family. The building held as much important cultural significance to the city as the artifacts lost in the fire. It was a treasure-trove of human history.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Author Answers Questions

 David Ssembajjo

    The reasons I chose the theme I wanted to highlight and expose the discrepancy in the lives and occupation of slaves. It was to give voice to all people concerned about the well being of slaves. I knew that it was vital to bring understanding and opinion over those who are captive beyond comprehension and purpose. The theme was to give a slave his destiny without being in bondage. I chose the theme to give a slave freedom to work with all their ability and power. A master who frees his slaves will be honoured and the slave would not be a liability but an asset to a master. I wanted to show that a slave has a future and life which can be productive and fulfilling. A slave can be industrious and a freed slave has a destiny in his life. 

The theme of book was to find out the struggle; of the slave, to work and to find out how he can endure. A slave can contribute towards society and he may have strength and give back to society. A slave can learn from his master and adapt the skills of his master. A slave is not a scrounger, weak or lazy. A slave can be innovative and he is willing to help all those who are weak. He invests in his freedom and helps those who are in need. It is important that a slave becomes free and offers his knowledge and wisdom to the world. The slave can become a master of his destiny. He leads and chooses his destiny without brutality and violence. He never fights for his resources but the master frees him because of his hard work. There are other slaves who are weak compared to him. He invests in his interests.

I chose the characters who I think are true to life. I wanted stronger characters familiar to life. I wanted to give the characters challenge and hope. I wanted to give them tasks to follow and whether they would endure the life of being a slave. I wanted to empower them and provide them with the tools to work. I never wanted them to be lazy but to have the right to secure justice. The characters exhibit love and are compassionate. The main character Mr Batwala is merciful and kind, he offers his love to all mankind and he is a humanitarian activist. He offers his wealth to the world and loves to help the disadvantaged. He offers his help to the dispossessed. However Nalukuli his wife has other ideas as far as the extravagance exposed by Mr Batwala. I wanted to show how strong she was in looking after his interests. She is a pillar and strength to him. She gives and provides him with solace and peace. She is his confidant and great parent that has responsibilities looking after their children. She rescues him from turbulent waters. She is progressive and offers him a helping hand. She offers him moral support and guides or teaches him virtues of living in this world. She is protective and when he is brought to trial she offers him a helping hand. She is pragmatic never fails in her quest to save their marriage. She gives every ounce of her life to love her man. She doesn’t abandon her lover but offers her love in the best way she can. Her love is dedicated to loving him. The characters assist one another and help one another despite the many challenges they face. The characters have a purpose and they exist to give a rough idea what it is to be a slave.

The plot was not difficult to work out once I had a story in mind. The plot follows time and pace. The physical location of the novel has different time zones and there are different characters in those zones. The plot begins in Africa and takes place out of Africa at a mysterious location. There are workers on the farm in the beginning and the farm forms a central part to the setting and has a fundamental impact on the story. The story moves from the village to a city setting. There is music as a dramatic theme to the story. The village is different from the city which means there are strange activities taking place. The main character develops and changes mood and pace as the story unfolds and it is a gateway of life. The story begins on the coffee farm and ends on the coffee farm. The coffee farm is part of the story and offers oil to a fire. The plot fires up with people having different problems and concerns. Mr Batwala is central to the plot and it was easy to workout life in the village and in the city. The coffee farm has workers and have different interests and the slaves departing on the sea is too a central part to the plot. The sea has its toil and sweat. The sea never resists its cargo sailing through coast to coasts. The sea plays a crucial part in the weaving of the story and plot. The sea ruins lives and leaves a lot to be desired. The sea becomes an enemy of the slaves and it is man rather than the sea to be blamed for the fate of the slaves. The plot was easy to workout.

The reader would take away the message that a freed slave is capable of mastering his life. The reader would find out that being freed as a slave doesn’t mean the slave has come out of the wood. There are many challenges he has to face and endure. He has a life to lead and he has to overcome all the problems in his life. Coffee farming too is still controlled by the master and there is no way he can determine coffee prices. The message in the novel is to try and help workers to determine their lives and the coffee prices. Coffee is dear to all our lives and nations rely on its impact in the world. Coffee offers us work and there should be a fair trade in producing coffee. A nation cannot rely on one single crop for its resources and exchequer. There needs to be a diversification in the economy and to have a great integrated source of revenue. The reader would be aware that coffee is crucial in the lives of all farmers in the world. Farmers need to be rewarded handsomely without bias or favouritism. Readers would understand the need to transform the world and customers have great power to change the world and can vote with their feet. Readers would be aware how coffee is produced and the toil it takes. Coffee is a product of a colonial crop that was there to serve the colonialists and it still serves the master as was intended. There is a need to end the tradition of depending on one single crop. There needs to end the reliance of one crop. The readers may advocate for change in the economic order and world system. The readers would understand the need to bring about empowerment by offering workers a chance to determine the coffee prices. The message in the book is to free workers and to get rid the colonial legacy and there to be a new chapter in the lives of the workers. The readers would be concerned that there is covert slavery still taking place even though it is not on the surface on the earth and it is subtle slavery that exists to this present day. The novel has a message of hope that a slave can have peace and can choose to live without interrupting anyone. A freed slave is a blessed slave. 

David Ssembajjo is a self-Published writer and has written five books. He came to Britain in 1991 and was a student and began writing the following year. He tried soliciting traditional publishers by submitting his work but received several rejection slips. He was introduced to publishers and wrote his first book The Stolen Gift, which was a political book, and he authored secondly a Journey to Maleba which was about a man trying to find paradise, then he authored Chronicles of a Soldier, a love story with a war element, then Servants of the Underground, about a dictatorship rule and lastly Mr Batwala’s Farm.

Ssembajjo as a self-published writer self-promotes his books by liaising with publishers and he contacts reviewers, librarians, and bookshops. He has appeared in classified journals and has appeared on BBC Radio Birmingham where he discussed his books. He was a former member of reading and writing groups and he was part of a team that published an anthology of poems and short stories.  In the groups they discussed diverse works and were assigned to write poems. He was a former member of Society of Authors, a former member of Player/Playwrights and a former member of English PEN.

He is a member of Author Licensing and Collecting Society and a member of Public Lending Right. He was long listed for Papatango New Writing Prize and his book Servants of the Underground was selected among the 60 best books submitted for the North Street Book Prize. He has submitted his poems and story stories to various magazines but has received no commissioning. He has posted his poems to various poetic websites which include My Poetic Side and Poetry Free For All. For more information

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

A Good Few: Those Who Resisted Slavery Well Before the Civil War

Lori Benton

While writing my latest novel, Mountain Laurel, I had cause to research the grassroots beginnings of what would become the Underground Railroad, a secret network of routes established during the early 19th century, used by slaves in the southern United States to escape into free states, or Canada. Because Mountain Laurel, set in the 1790s, has much to do with slavery and freedom, I wanted to look farther back, to discover—if I could—the earliest documented account of someone helping a slave to freedom. Most readers with an interest in Civil War history and the decades leading up to the 1860s have likely heard of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglas, two of the most famous participants in the Underground Railroad. But who was the first? We will likely never know, secrecy being a key component to the success of such actions, but I can imagine how it might have transpired.

Once upon a time, somewhere in a southern state or colony, a man or woman whose name is lost to history found the courage and humanity to aid an escaped slave along his desperate road to freedom. Perhaps he hid the fugitive in his hay loft. She might have offered food, or told of a friend, miles to the north, willing to shelter the runaway for the night. Perhaps he simply turned a blind eye to the fugitive when the laws of his day dictated otherwise.  

Whoever was the first to aid a runaway slave, by the mid-1800s an organized network of such people extended from the central United States into Canada. Those who guided the fugitives were called conductors. Places where slaves sheltered were dubbed stations. Those who sheltered them were stationmasters. For the most part they were farmers, business owners, ministers. Ordinary folk.

Levi and Vestal Coffin, North Carolina Quakers, established the earliest known system for conveying fugitives north to the free states, beginning around 1813. Josiah Henson, once a slave in Maryland, became a conductor for other fleeing slaves. Giles Pettibone, justice of the peace and state assemblyman, helped hide a family of slaves for weeks. Isaac Hopper, a tailor’s apprentice in Philadelphia, assisted fugitives to freedom with letters of introduction and directions to a sympathetic Quaker’s house. Whether or not these individuals—and hundreds like them—imagined themselves part of a national movement, they acted out of uncompromising conviction, courage, or compassion, recognizing in the face of a fugitive their shared humanity.

If this brief mention of some of those who put action to their convictions has you curious to know more, I highly recommend beginning with Fergus M. Bordewich’s Bound for Canaan, The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America.

Lori Benton was raised in Maryland, with southern Virginia and Appalachian frontier roots generations deep. Her historical novels transport readers to the eighteenth century, where she brings to life the colonial and early federal periods of American history. Her books have received the Christy Award, the Inspy Award, and have been honored as finalists for the ECPA Book of the Year. Lori is most at home surrounded by mountains, currently those of the Pacific Northwest where, when she isn’t writing, she’s likely to be found in wild places behind a camera.