Where Dreams Meet the Business of Writing

Archive for August, 2019

Author Spotlight: Sarah MacTavish

Pages of the Past

From the May 3, 2019 issue of Pages of the Past

I’ve known Sarah
MacTavish for several years and have been a spectator during the birth of her
first book, Firebrand. It was even
more exciting to see book two follow, Paladin.
Sarah is a conscientious author, both with her diligent research and her
passionate telling of the tale. I’m honored to introduce you to Sarah, to share
a little about her writing experience with her two Civil War era books.


Sarah, what drew you to write historical fiction?

My fascination with history
started as a kid wanting to know everything about the Victorian Era, probably
because of my American Girl doll, Samantha. And a lot of my favorite books to
read were historical–The True
Confessions of Charlotte Doyle
by Avi, The
Secret Garden
by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Sarah Bishop by Scott O’Dell, to name a…

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Carolyn E. Cook

Pages of the Past

Author interview from the 4/26/19 Pages of the Past issue

I was thrilled when I met Carolyn E. Cook via Facebook. Although she’s another north Texas author, our paths probably would not have crossed, even living as close as we do. When I read her newly released book, The Life and Times of Lilly Quinn, I was even happier. I enjoyed the tale and meeting Lilly, living in 1870s Kansas, for several evenings. Isn’t that just the best part about historical fiction, when a story sends you back in time? Here’s Carolyn, to tell you a little bit about herself and her writing process.


What drew you to write historical fiction?

My dad was a huge, history buff.
Everywhere we lived, he took us kids to see the historical sites. In the D.C
area, we toured everything downtown and the outlying places, the Robert E. Lee
house, and…

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Patience Required #IWSG


Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month the OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question is: Has your writing ever taken you by surprise?

The awesome co-hosts for the June 5 posting of the IWSG are Renee Scattergood, Sadira Stone, Jacqui Murray, Tamara Narayan, and LG Keltner!


Patience Required

calendar flying by

I thought I was prepared for a freelance writing career. Before I gave notice to my employer, I prepared. I’d read about a freelance writing life. I started submitting long before I gave my notice. I had some money in the bank. I was ready. I had a plan. I had patience. I had this!

And then – the realities proved that I didn’t.

Knowing that I wouldn’t work and get a paycheck two weeks later (immediate cash compared to how the writing money trickles in), I had enough cash to get through three months.

And then…the car broke.

I had a plan and I was submitting.

And then…the acceptances didn’t come in fast enough.

And then…

Much to my dismay – and what wasn’t planned – was me taking a part-time job. But, I discovered that I really do like to eat! And the car, now fixed, really likes to eat too. And so do the plethora of cats that fill the house.

Several things caught me by surprise. The first was that even thought I thought I had a well-thought out plan – it wasn’t adequate. The second was that even though I thought I was patient – I wasn’t patient enough.

But a fun surprise down the line was having small checks appear in the mailbox unexpectedly.

When I started out, I sent submitted some devotions to The Secret Place. They only accept three submissions a month, so January, February and March of 2015 I sent in three a month. By then the realities were starting to show themselves and I knew I needed something that paid larger amounts and paid faster. So I stopped.

In May 2015 I got two rejections from them. Crickets on the other seven submissions. By then I was looking at other markets and never submitted anything else.

In October of that year, nine months after I sent the first devotion, I had one acceptance. Four months later I had another acceptance. And then an even louder chorus of crickets.

Two and a half years after sending in the first batch of three submission, I was pulling some weeds in the back yard. By then, thoughts of the other submissions never even crossed my mind. I heard the mailman drive down the street, so wandered out to the mailbox, expecting only a bill or two, possibly a letter from a friend. When I pulled out an envelope from Judson Press, I was confused. The name seemed familiar, but it didn’t match anything that I knew I had out.

I couldn’t wait to get to the letter opener. I tore the envelope open walking back to the house. There was a check for $20! Checking my list of submissions, I found it was to a devotion I’d sent in February 2015 – and a check arrived in June 2017 – two years and five months later!

I didn’t complain. It was just the right amount to buy a new printer cartridge, so I sent up a silent thank you to the heavens. After that, three more checks trickled in, one a quarter.

Now I regret not continuing on with my submissions. In my impatience of not seeing immediate results, I stopped and went to other avenues. I should have kept writing and submitting and I might have had other checks coming in through the next few years. But I stopped. So that pipeline is now dried up.

These periodic checks, while small and not large enough to retire on, showed me that patience is truly a large part of being a writer. That is one of the many things that I’d underestimated when I first stepped onto this writer’s road.



Any other historical fiction authors here? In April I started a weekly newsletter – Pages of the Past – celebrating historical fiction. Each week I have an author spotlight on a historical fiction author, along with a Reading Roundup of 1-2 books from different eras. If you’re an author and are interested in being interviewed for an author spotlight, email me at texastrishafaye@yahoo.com. Right now I’m scheduling authors for October and November. Also, if you have any books you’d like featured, email me and let me know and I’ll get it scheduled into the next newsletter for that era.

If you’d like to take a look to see if you’re interested, here’s a link to the May 31st newsletter.


Get Pages of the Past delivered to your inbox every Friday!

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Lindsay Downs

Pages of the Past

From Pages of the Past newsletter, 4/19/19 issue

While I learned about Lindsay Downs from reading some of his Regency writings, I’ve since learned that he is a master craftsman with whatever project he undertakes. His Upson Family Mysteries, set in the 1960s, are just as enjoyable. I’m happy to introduce you to Lindsay Downs this week. Welcome, Lindsay!


Lindsay, what drew you to write historical fiction?

The challenge of having to dig into the past to uncover even
the tiniest fact which will bring the story to life. For example, in one of the
books in the Upson PI Mystery series, the time frame includes December 7, 1941,
the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. I wanted to find something which
was being broadcast on the radio that would have been interrupted so the
announcer could tell the listening audience what was happening. I did, a
professional football…

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Jillian Chantal

Pages of the Past

— From Pages of the Past 4/12/19 issue —

I first read Jillian Chantal’s writing when I joined an online writing group, Tuesday Tales, about five years ago. Each week the group writes to a word or picture prompt and I found that I was always impressed with Jillian’s writing. As the months and years passed, and Jillian moved from one work in progress to another, I saw that she writes in a wide range of genres. Here to tell you more about her foray into the world of historical fiction is Jillian.


What drew you to write historical fiction?

I lived many years in northern Virginia
and the history bug bit me hard there. My family spent a lot of time at
Smithsonian museums, at old historical battlefields and manor houses as well as
Jamestown and Williamsburg. I also read a lot of fiction set in England…

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Emily-Jane Orford

Pages of the Past

Emily-Jane Orford was the featured author on the April 5, 2019 issue of Pages of the Past. We’re pleased to share her interview with you here.


Interestingly enough, I didn’t meet Emily-Jane Orford through a historical fiction avenue. Thanks to this wonderful digital world we live in now, I ‘met’ Emily-Jane through an essay she contributed to the anthology In Celebration of Mothers about a Mother-Daughter day she shared with her mother, Jean Hills, with a writing workshop followed by lunch together.

With the distance between Canada
and Texas, our paths probably wouldn’t have crossed in real-life. Yet thanks to
the virtual airwaves between us, we’ve stayed in contact and I discovered that
this talented author writes in a variety of genres and about an interesting array
of different topics.

I’ve enjoyed her tale of Mrs. Murray’s Ghost and also her tale of
the past, Queen Mary’s Daughter,

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