Category: Fiction Update (page 1 of 5)

Author Pam Hillman Shares WHY The Natchez Trace: The Devil’s Backbone, Highwaymen, and Wayfaring Strangers

We are excited to welcome Pam Hillman to the blog to share some of her process for imaging her new historical romance, The Promise of Breeze Hill. Often times, authors stumble upon a fact or moment in history that sticks with them and will not let go. The rich history of the Natchez Trace would become the inspiration for Pam’s latest novels. Keep reading to discover why the Natchez Trace is the perfect location for a historical hero and heroine.

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The Promise of Breeze Hill is the first of my Natchez Trace novels. Setting my books in the 1790s is a bit of a departure for me, as most of my research has been in the late 1800s. However, this story was one I wanted to write, and for it to be historically accurate, it needed to be set before 1812 when the first steamboats started plying the Mississippi River.

Why, you ask?

The backdrop for this series is the old Natchez Trace, also known as the Devil’s Backbone. The old Natchez Trace is a centuries-old footpath that runs from Nashville to Natchez, over four hundred miles long.

Back in the 1700s and even before that, the Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Natchez tribes hunted along trails all over these hills and hollows. Eventually, the easiest routes became the most common, and what we know as the old Natchez Trace was wrestled from the wilderness.

By 1733, the French mapped the trail from Natchez heading northeast. In the late 1700s, Ohio River Valley farmers began floating their crops down the rivers to Natchez and New Orleans. It was easy, and quite pleasant, to float down the river on flatboats, but going back up the river was nearly impossible given the current and ferocity of the river. Instead, travelers abandoned or sold their flatboats for lumber, returning home by way of the Natchez Trace, on foot or on horseback.

It did not take long for the trail to become a clearly marked road. By 1810, many years of travel had made the trace the most heavily traveled road in the South. Inns, also called “stands,” sprang into existence due to the needs of the weary travelers. By 1820, over twenty stands were in operation. Some provided basic food and shelter, with owners who might not be the most honest, and upstanding citizens. Other inns, like Mount Locust, were well known and owned by respectable, God-fearing folks who welcomed and treated visitors with hospitality, providing a safe place to stay overnight.

Pictured above: Mount Locust

Travel along the trace was not without its hazards, the least of which were swamps, floods, disease-carrying insects, and mosquitos. But worse than that were the bands of highwaymen who haunted the trace, attacking travelers who might be flush with cash from their recent transactions downriver.

The trail, surrounded by swamps and dark forests, attracted a seedy element leading the old Natchez Trace to gain its nickname: the Devil’s Backbone.

The Natchez District was a lawless frontier in the 1700s, and many a man lost his life traveling along the dark trail. It was not until the invention of the steamboat that wealthy planters, merchants, and their families could make the return trip up the river instead of along the trail. In January 1812, the steamer New Orleans arrived in Natchez. Soon steamboats from New Orleans and Natchez were calling regularly at St. Louis, Nashville, Louisville, and all points in between.

Travelers who could afford passage on the steamboats preferred the relative safety, comfort, and speed to the slow pace of trekking overland. Before long, the busy trace became a peaceful forest lane. The travelers with lots of money in their pockets were now on the riverboats, and the highwaymen soon sought greener pastures to line their pockets.

 

I chose this very stretch of road for my characters to travel upon, a road that struck fear into the hearts of many, because as I walked these banks the rustling in the forest inspired me to imagine what all had transpired on this long, lonely road more than two centuries ago. My curiosity and research breathed to life the idea for my new novel, The Promise of Breeze Hill.

 

The Promise of Breeze Hill
Natchez, MS; 1791

Anxious for his brothers to join him on the rugged frontier along the Mississippi River, Connor O’Shea has no choice but to indenture himself as a carpenter in exchange for their passage from Ireland. But when he’s sold to Isabella Bartholomew of Breeze Hill Plantation, Connor fears he’ll repeat past mistakes and vows not to be tempted by the lovely lady.
The responsibilities of running Breeze Hill have fallen on Isabella’s shoulders after her brother was found dead in the swamps along the Natchez Trace and a suspicious fire devastated their crops, almost destroyed their home, and left her father seriously injured. Even with Connor’s help, Isabella fears she’ll lose her family’s plantation. Despite her growing feelings for the handsome Irish carpenter, she seriously considers accepting her wealthy and influential neighbor’s proposal of marriage.
Soon, though, Connor realizes someone is out to eliminate the Bartholomew family. Can he set aside his own feelings to keep Isabella safe?

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Thanks, Pam, for sharing a little behind the scenes on your writing process. It is always fascinating to know what germ of an idea lead to the novels we see on the shelves.

Visit Pam online for updates on her latest novels and to hear more about her research and writing.

Does The Promise of Breeze Hill sound like a #MustRead to you? Be sure to follow Crazy4Fiction on Facebook for opportunities to win this and many other great christian novels.

Thanks and happy reading!

#Crazy4Fiction March New Releases + #BookGiveaway

Afternoon, readers!

As we do at the beginning of each month, we are pleased to present you the Crazy4Fiction titles hitting shelves (plus an opportunity to WIN these must-reads!).

Without Warning by Joel C. Rosenberg

Without-Warning

WHAT IF ISIS PULLS OFF THE UNTHINKABLE AND UNLEASHES CATASTROPHIC TERROR ATTACKS INSIDE THE AMERICAN HOMELAND?

The State of the Union address is minutes away. The president of the United States is set to tell a joint session of Congress and the American people that the U.S. is finally winning the war against the Islamic State. But after tracking ISIS from Istanbul to Baghdad to Amman, New York Times national security correspondent J. B. Collins fears the worst is yet to come. ISIS jihadists have infiltrated the U.S. They are planning to launch catastrophic attacks inside American cities that could make the horrors of 9/11 pale by comparison. But Collins has uncovered only part of the story. The full truth may be worse than the American people’s darkest fears. And the consequences may be harder than Collins is prepared to imagine.

Available in stores and online 03/14/17.

 

With Love, Wherever You Are by Dandi Daley Mackall

With Love

Everyone knows that war romances never last . . .

Nurse Helen Eberhart approaches everything in life with pure determination. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Helen decides to enlist as an Army nurse. There, her grit is put to the test when she’s assigned to care for the broken bodies of some of the most severely wounded soldiers, many no older than her own beloved brothers.
Frank Daley wasn’t trying to be a hero. He’d only enlisted to finish medical school, confident that the war would be over before his deferment ran out. Instead Lt. Frank R. Daley, MD, is sent straight from his graduation to boot camp, the last stop before a battlefield hospital in Europe. And none of his training prepares him for the chance encounter with a spirited nurse who steals his heart.
After a whirlwind romance and wedding, Helen and Frank are sent to the front lines of Europe with only letters to connect them for months at a time. Surrounded by danger and desperately wounded patients, they soon find that only the war seems real—and their marriage more and more like a distant dream.

Based on the incredible true love story, With Love, Wherever You Are takes readers from the home front to the European theater on a sweeping journey of the battle for love to survive against all odds.

Available in stores and online.

 

Do any of these novels seem like a must-read to you? Enter through the Gleam app below for a chance to win a softcover copy of With Love, Wherever You Are or a hardcover copy of Without Warning!
5 winners will be chosen at the end of March.

Like us on Facebook for more chances to win books and fun reader must-haves.

Good luck!

Win #Crazy4Fiction March Must-reads!

Join Us in Book Release Prayers *A NEW Monthly Blog Feature

Afternoon, #Crazy4Fiction readers! With February on the horizon, we wanted to take this Sunday to remember the novels, and their authors, that will grace shelves February 1.  Please join us and take a moment to give thanks and praise for the novels, and their authors, as we pray for those He will reach through these works of fiction.

Prayer from Candace Calvert, Maybe It’s You

I pray my newest novel entertains, inspires, and touches the hearts of those who, like my troubled heroine, fear God’s grace isn’t for “someone like me.” People who feel damaged, defined—confined—by past mistakes and so need the beautiful freedom promised in accepting a God who knows all our secrets . . . and loves us anyway. Above all, I pray my very first redemption story stirs and spreads forgiveness and compassion, like a pebble into still waters, for all those who need just one more chance. What a blessing that would be.

Maybe Its You

Available in bookstores and online.

Prayer from Cathy Liggett, The Sisters of Sugarcreek

Precious heavenly Father,

You are so good to us! So giving and gracious and all-knowing. When I first started writing about the female characters in Sisters, little did I know how much they’d come to mean to me. How they’d help get me through the scare and challenges that I didn’t even know lay ahead. But You knew! In my days and months with these fictional friends, at moments I enjoyed smiles and chuckles that laid aside my fears. Other times, I was blessed with their comforting reminders that You are always close, always near—sending us friends, (characters!), hope, Your strength—just when we need it most!

Lord, I thank You for the opportunity to share this story, and if it’s Your will, I pray You will use these imaginary sisters in more real ways that I can’t begin to imagine. Ways that only You, as our caring, awesome Creator, can. All the glory be to You, dear Lord!

The Sisters of Sugarcreek

Available in bookstores and online.

Prayer from the #Crazy4Fiction team

I pray these novels, Maybe It’s You and Sisters of Sugarcreek, reach out to those with a hurting, lonely heart. Love and forgiveness, while so commonplace, are recurring themes in both literature and in life for a reason. May these books entertain as well as provide insightful thought to the reader. I am also grateful for these two authors: for their way with words and for their heart for their readers. May they have an opportunity to connect in fellowship over these novels and see the impact of their words in work.

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Thank you, readers, for joining us in prayer. Be sure to check back on the blog and our Crazy4Fiction Facebook page throughout the month of February for book giveaways, contests, quizzes, and much more! In the meantime, happy reading!

Tyndale House Instagram Takeover Featuring Rachelle Dekker

Morning, readers! Everyone always says a picture is worth a thousand words, and that’s why we love featuring our books on Instagram. It’s a fun way for you to get to know our authors and the great products that are hitting the shelf.

This past week, novelist Rachelle Dekker took over the Tyndale House Instagram to allow our readers to take a peek inside her writing process, her inspiration, and her newest book, The Returning!

A few highlights . . .

Take a peek into her writing space.

Tyndale House Instagram 1

Rachelle shares her favorite writing quote.

Tyndale House Instagram 2

Learn more about Rachelle Dekker and her novels on the Tyndale House Instagram!

The Returning is the conclusion to Rachelle’s striking debut trilogy, the Seer series.

In The Choosing . . .

The Choosing

They told her being chosen was all that mattered.

That it would secure her future. Her worth.

That not being chosen would yield a cruel fate.

And only she would be to blame.

But what if they lied?

In The Calling . . .

The Calling

A new evil is dawning, but Remko will not be broken.

He will show no fear.

He will lead the rebellion.

Even if it costs him everything.

In The Returning . . .

The-Returning

They say the Awakening is coming.

That she’s the key.

But can she find her identity in the light

before she perishes in the dark?

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If you’re interested in learning more about Rachelle and the conclusion to the Seer series, visit the Tyndale House Instagram and follow Rachelle @Rachelle_Dekker.

Be sure to enter to win the Seer series now!

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