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Phyllis A. Still Author Interview

Phyllis A. Still Author Interview

Fleeing the Shadows is a satisfying follow-up in the continuing Dangerous Loyalties series as our brave heroine flees with her family into the Kentucky frontier. What direction did you want to take this novel in that was different from the first book?

After the danger caused by Papa’s covert activities in book one, I wanted readers thrust headlong into survival mode with thirteen-year-old Mary and her family.

The family is always running from something and danger seems to lurk around every bend. Did you plan the plot twists before writing or did they develop organically?

I used a rough outline to keep the story moving but allowed surprises to happen naturally.

 Mary continues to carry the bulk of the family’s worries as her Papa makes increasingly difficult decisions. What were some obstacles that you felt were important for her characters development?

Mary struggles with PTSD. She must deal with each fear and keep going. Mary rises to the task of taking charge of her siblings when Papa must care for Momma. When Mary shuts down in fear, she allows her family to care for her. Her ultimate challenge leads her to face real and imagined shadows to save her family.

Where will book three in the series take readers?

Mary hopes life at Fort Boonesborough will fulfill her dreams of a peaceful life with friends and suitors. She has her heart set on a certain someone and is determined to win him for her future husband, but Papa and the American Revolution say otherwise.

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She blames herself for the bounty onPapa’s head.

Book Two in the Dangerous Loyalties series–a historical novel for teens–continues the riveting story of Daughters of the American Revolution patriot Mary Shirley McGuire.

It’s late summer in the Alleghany Highlands, 1775. Colonial Virginia has resolved to support the American Revolutionary cause for liberty. The British are determined to retain control of the fur trade and keep frontiersmen fighting Indians instead of joining the Continentals.

Thirteen-year-old Mary Shirley is still recovering from emotional wounds inflicted when she risked her life delivering traitorous dispatches. She trusted the wrong men, and now the family must flee Indian Creek to stay ahead of British Loyalist who seek her papa’s life.

But they can’t risk being captured by taking the main road to Daniel Boone’s trail that leads into Kentucky territory. They must endure the more dangerous and grueling hunter’s path that leads to rough frontier forts along the Clinch River.

Passions are ignited, friendships are formed, and shocking lessons are learned.

Papa ignores the warnings to wait for other travelers, causing Mary’s anxieties to worsen. Once they cross the Cumberland Gap, they’re at the mercy of God and the Chickamauga Cherokee to make it to Fort Boonesborough alive. Frontiersmen tell them the settlement of Fort Boonesborough isn’t defendable, and Mary doesn’t want to continue. Papa is confident that the Indians are too busy preparing for winter to raid.

A few days from the fort, Mary is feeling hopeful for the future. Then disaster strikes, leaving the family devastated and heartbroken. There is no other choice. Mary must lay aside paralyzing fear and excruciating pain to save her family before time runs out.

Fleeing the Shadows (Dangerous Loyalties Book Two) invites readers to experience traveling the dangerous wilderness trails with Mary and her family through thick wild forests of Southwest Virginia and into Kentucky territory that leads straight into a Native American hornet’s nest. Mary just wants to make it Fort Boonesborough and live in peace.

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Defiance on Indian Creek

Defiance on Indian Creek4 Stars

Defiance on Indian Creek is a quiet, but enthralling read by Phyllis A. Still. We follow a smart, courageous thirteen-year-old girl, Mary on the frontier in West Virginia on the eve of the Revolutionary war. Her father comes home with news that disrupts Mary’s world; talk of loyalty to the unfair King and moving to far off Kentucky. The relationship with her father is stretched as she finds him mired in plots and implications of possibly being a traitor or even a spy. Mary is forced of her own loyalties to her father, family and country as the weeks go on until she is asked to make an impossible choice.

Overall, Still has clearly done her research in this fine YA novel. In the tradition of historical fiction before it, Defiance on Indian Creek takes a quiet frontier family and throws them in the forefront against an increasingly dangerous time. Reading these pages gave me the feeling I was actually there in the reeds of Indian Creek alongside Mary and her Papa. The maps included at the front of the book were helpful in understanding the setting and getting even more of a feel of what this era felt to those early colonists.

It isn’t often such a tale is spun on the frontier, but also invokes the greater happenings on the east coast. Mary is a fun protagonist to follow as the story progresses, because Still is able to give the reader the feeling of anguish from the girl and her struggles over choosing to place trust in her father and the lack thereof.

Being a YA novel the story itself is pretty straightforward and does not beat around the bush when it comes to finding out certain things. Mary herself seems to grasp things beyond her years, but her parents are not the usual inept adults that are so often present in YA novels. And being a young girl, who genuinely wants her father to be okay and her family to be safe, the reader can only root for her.

There are few books that I could remember for the relationships it creates between characters, but Still has managed to make the daughter-father relationship in this book a special one. Especially, since the tension between them is so palpable as the book goes on.

If there is any criticism for the book that can be offered it would be for something that is almost uncontrollable. It concerns the background conflict between the Colonies and the Crown. This is what gives historical fiction its flavor, but it does overshadow the very personal, family struggle between Mary and her father. This is the only real issue with the storyline, beyond this Defiance on Indian Creek will be a pleasurable read to any person who enjoys YA and a painstakingly researched historical fiction.

Pages: 212 | ASIN: B01HBV3VOW

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The Most Fascinating People In History

James W. George Author Interview

James W. George Author Interview

My Father’s Kingdom is a historical fiction novel centered around the religious strife during the American settlement at Plymoth in the late 1600’s. Why did you want to write a novel about this event and time?

I’m a big fan of historical fiction and I wanted to choose a topic the casual reader was not familiar with. King Philip’s War was one of the most tragic and devastating conflicts in American history, and too many of us have never even heard of it.

We have plenty of novelists focusing on topics like the Viking invasions of England, the Tudors, and the American Civil War…and that’s wonderful. These are almost always fantastic works. In my opinion, however, there are approximately 150 years of colonial American history (1620-1770) that are woefully neglected in fiction. There are certainly some great novels about this era, mostly about Salem, but I think the era as a whole deserves a lot more attention.

I find the Puritans and Separatists to be some of the most fascinating people in history. Their piety, courage and diligence were truly remarkable, but history is well aware of how they treated anyone alien to their political and religious worldview. The history of New England is also the history of incredible Native American nations like the Wampanoag and Narragansett, and their stories need to be told.

The narrative of this story is told from the perspective of native Americans and the pilgrims. Each offers a different opinion and set of beliefs on the alliance between the people. What kind of research did you do to ensure the story was as accurate as possible?

I’m not a historian but fortunately there is a wealth of historical research about this era, much of which I mention in my Author’s Notes. “Mayflower” by Nathaniel Philbrick is probably the first thing that comes to mind regarding this era. Sarah Vowell’s “Wordy Shipmates” is a fantastic read. Jay Moore and the Charles River Editors wrote “King Philip’s War: The History and Legacy” and it is a treasure of information. The online “Plymouth Colony Archive Project” by Patricia Scott Deetz, Christopher Fennell and J. Eric Deetz is an incredible resource for understanding how 17th Century New Englanders lived and worked.

Obviously, it was also critical to understand the Native American perspective of these events. Nativeamericannetroots.com was a valuable asset in that regard, among other sources.

As you can imagine, much of the history is crystal clear, but much is very murky. For example, we seem to have a very good idea what Metacomet told Deputy Governor John Easton when Easton tried to mediate the conflict. Conversely, there are numerous conflicting accounts of Wamsutta’s final days.

I felt that a consistent theme in the story was the importance of peace. What were some themes you felt were important to develop the story?

I’d say in addition to peace, some themes are the paradox of Puritan values and how they lived their Christian faith. The corollary theme would be how awesome yet baffling the English Christians must have seemed to the natives in 17th Century New England. A third theme would be no matter which community the characters hailed from (Puritan or Quaker, English or Wampanoag), they all looked to the divine, spiritual world to help guide them through what must have been astoundingly fearful times.

I found the characters to be very well developed and in depth. What were your inspirations for the characters?

Thank you for the compliment. I’d say one inspiration for Israel Brewster is the Chaplain Corps in the Armed Forces. Although I am certainly not a chaplain, during a recent deployment I had the opportunity to help review and grade annual award packages for the chaplains. It really helped to bring home the remarkable dedication and service they provide to the men and women they serve with. Sometimes I think we as a society are too quick to glom onto the scandals and shortcomings of the clergy, and are far too oblivious to the impact they are making in the lives of others.

Israel Brewster in 1671 is a model of certainty, whereas Linto represents all that is uncertain. He is a young man trying to find the meaning of his life in a world of sickness, hatred, and turmoil.

What is the next book you are working on and when will it be published?

Certainly, there will be a book two for “My Father’s Kingdom” and I hope it will ultimately be a trilogy. I’d like to publish book two this year. I’m also mapping out a novel about professional sports, because as much as I love my current topic, it will also be nice to write something light-hearted.

Author Links: GoodReads

My Father's Kingdom: A Novel of Puritan New England by [George, James W.]“In 1620 more than one hundred devout men and women crossed the treacherous Atlantic Ocean and established a colony in the New World where they could build a righteous and Godly society. Without the fortuitous friendship of the Wampanoag people and their charismatic leader Massasoit, however, it is doubtful the holy experiment would have survived.

Fifty years later Plimoth Colony has not only survived, it has prospered, and more and more Englishmen are immigrating to New England. The blessed alliance with the Wampanoag, however, is in severe jeopardy. Massasoit has passed away along with most of the original settlers of Plimoth Colony, and their children and grandchildren have very different ideas about their historic friendship.

Thrust into the center of events is Reverend Israel Brewster, an idealistic young minister with a famous grandfather and a tragic past. Meanwhile, Massasoit’s son, known as “King Philip” by the English, is tormented by both the present and the past. He is watching the resources and culture of the Wampanoag nation fade away at the hands of the English and desperately wishes to restore hope and security to his people.

In a world of religious fervor, devastating sickness, and incessant greed, can the alliance of their forefathers survive? Or will New England feel the wrath of tragic, bloody war?”

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My Father’s Kingdom

My Father's Kingdom: A Novel of Puritan New England by [George, James W.]5 Stars

A historical fiction novel by James George, My Father’s Kingdom is centered heavily around the religious strife during the American settlement at Plymoth in the late 1600s. The story is told through the narrative of both native Indian tribes and from English settlers, 50 years after our beloved Thanksgiving holiday occurred. The differences between the two people, especially in religious decisions, is what drives the stress between the alliance. The wordsmanship by George is a beautiful combination of elements and themes, pulling together from the hardships our ancestors faced and the fear that comes with abnormalities and change.

The narrative of this story is told mostly by Linto, Metacomet, and Israel Brewster. Each offers a different opinion and set of beliefs on the alliance between the people, and on their personal religious journeys. This plot of the story is comprised of a brewing rebellion after an untimely death nine years prior. Tension is strong between the two people, and fear and talk of war is present early on.

Meanwhile, the characters are on journeys of their own, to find a connection with God. Linto is hungrily trying to understand the Englishmen’s God, and is plagued by the stress. He seeks comfort in his own communion with nature with The Great Spirit. Metacomet is overcome with grief for the loss of his brother, and struggling with the responsibility of leading his tribe down the correct path. His distrust for the Englishmen and the revenge he seeks plays an important role in the evolution of the story, and it feels like you grow right along with the young leader as the tale unfolds.

On the other side of the coin, the English settlement faces troubles of its own, told mostly from the Reverend’s point of view. Israel is also a character who is suffering internally, battling the repercussions to his faith with the loss of his wife. While he does his best to keep his community pure by offering extensive counseling, he also battles with the shaky relationship with the local native tribes.

The consistent theme to the story is that which exploits the importance of peace. Often we forget what truly happened in the history of America, and instead focus on the gracious holiday that was born from the struggles of the first settlers. This story helps serve as a humble reminder of the bloodshed and the turmoil that really occurred.

Everything meshed together beautifully, staying accurate enough to the history of the war that happened while giving a unique and fresh tale to follow. It breathes life into the history we read so blandly, and George does an excellent way of making the scenario relatable and understandable to modern time. The characters are beautifully flawed, and all so different from one another. You feel the pain they feel in their journey, and I was eager to discover the endings that they would come to face. It’s a beautiful picture of American History and the fragile nature of peace and friendship.

Pages: 169 | ASIN: B01MS5OQP8

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