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BLOG BLITZ –  Sunday 4 September 2016 – FRONT PORCH FELLOWSHIP – ARMOR of GOD

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The month of September is a special time for me:

my THIRD novel and sequel to

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the final in the unsavory heritage series,

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will be available 30 on September Amazon

WHEEEEE!!!!!

 

FRONT PORCH FELLOWSHIP

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ARMOR of GOD

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Cissy was an innocent little girl, not yet five years old. She heard words condemning her.  And not knowing to fight against it, not being equipped to fight against it, she didn’t. She lived it out. She believed the lie: she was evil.

 

 

Although not in this order, I believe there is significant to the order in which the implements of armor is listed.

  • First there’s the helmet of salvation; salvation is the portal, if you will, into the Kingdom of God. The battlefield is the mind, and once that battle is won, we guard it dearly with the helmet.
  • The breastplate of righteousness comes next. Once we enter salvation, we are made righteous. And it is our breastplate against fiery darts and attacks of the enemy. It covers our heart for a reason.
  • The belt of Truth. Father’s Truth is how we grow in Him, and in our identity. His Word if food to our spirit just as meat is to our flesh.
  • The shoes of the peace of the Gospel. As we gain our identity, peace reigns. And it becomes a powerful weapon wielded by a Child of God. Being bound about our feet, it conquers every step we take, and the land we walk upon.
  • The shield of faith. Ah! Faith. Without faith the rest of our armor is less effective. Notice it is the first piece not worn, but carried. It enables us to deflect incoming arrows and attacks from any angle.
  • And finally, the Sword which is the Word of the Spirit. It is the written Word as recorded in the Bible. Each of the other pieces of armor, even the shield, is defensive in nature. Protective of our heart, our mind, our spirit. But the Sword! It is an offensive weapon, wielded in forward attacks against the enemy. It is strength and power such as this world does not possess.

 

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Cissy is a fictional story, with fictional people and fictional scenarios.  Well, fictional specifics. But the principle remains. Evil words will come against us as fiery arrows of the enemy, and without our armor, the Word of God, we cannot stand against the onslaught.

 

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Gird yourself, then, with this mighty gift Father has provided. Be strong, stand against the enemy. And defeat him.

 

This is why I write my stories, this is why Father has taught me the weight of our words, for good or evil. To teach and share what I have learned. To set the captive free as surely as He has set me free.

 

Freely has the Word been given unto me, freely I give.

 

 

 

BLOG BLITZ  –  Saturday 24 September 2016 – BOOK EXCERPT

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The month of September is a special time for me:

my THIRD novel and sequel to

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the final in the unsavory heritage series,

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slide 4will be available 30 on September Amazon

WHEEEEE!!!!!

 

 

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EXCERPT

2015

 

            Caty held Saundra’s kitchen knife, studying the blade as the glare from the attic bulb glanced harshly in her eyes. She held it against her skin, cool and solid, and drew it across without penetrating her flesh.

She pressed, applied pressure in micro increments till tiny droplets of blood greeted her. Caty closed her eyes and forced the blade deeper.

Cissy, can you hear me?

 

Caty wasn’t sure she liked the cutting after all. She only drew the blade once, and it was barely more than a paper cut, but it smarted every time she moved, her dress or her shorts rubbing against it. She plied it with triple-antibiotic ointment but it just got rubbed off, and there wasn’t a Band-Aid big enough to cover the whole four inches.

Cissy, how did you stand it?

Caty decided not to try that again, couldn’t fathom why anyone would want to. As connected as she felt to Cissy, and as troubled as she was beginning to be because of it, she did not know the depth of internal torment Cissy had known.

Instead, Caty found her release in her paintings. The dark images of her music matched Cissy’s shadow-scapes, Drown and Avalanche and We’re In This Together. Trees, dead and barren, hills with wildflower stalks beheaded of their colorful blooms. Putting a modern day twist to the theme, Caty drew and painted polluted rivers, cigarette butts and beer cans along the shore, scrawny, skin-and-bone dogs scavenging through piles of refuse, flies storming the carcasses littering roadways.

>>> <<<

Caty did not want to attend the family reunion this year. While she longed to learn more of Cissy, to see her in her own element, to uncover more of Cissy’s writings and artwork, Caty didn’t want to see Macy.

It was just a game to Macy, like a real-life movie. And she was growing bored with it. She lived close enough she could continue their investigation any time she wanted, but chose not to.

Instead, Macy chose to direct her investigation to Talon Peters. She studied his sea green eyes, and his short curly brown hair, his angular jaw that showed a days’ stubble every day. At nineteen to Macy’s seventeen, and six-foot-four to Macy’s five-foot-six, he powered over her.

But he was a gentle giant, and a gentleman. He was courting Macy honorably, and quite seriously. Talon had even asked her pa, Eddie, permission to date her.

He was studying Criminal Justice at Tech, taking classes online, and commuting the 100 miles to Roanoke twice a week for labs.

But rather than be happy for her friend, Caty had no patience for Macy’s lack of interest in their joint venture.

 

Caty approached the reunion with the brakes on, apprehension at all the people she knew would be there, congenial, laughing people. People who would want to talk to her and ask how she was recovering from her accident. Even though the cast was long gone from her arm, and the stem cell treatment they did left her with virtually no scars on her face.

Her hair, though, remained the one evidence of her fall; having had to shave it on the one side, as it grew out she had no choice but to cut it all so it would be even.

I’m sorry, Cissy, about my hair. Caty walked through the meadow as she imagined Cissy had done. I didn’t have a choice.

Caty headed toward the towering rock face several yards ahead. New homes had been built, encroaching on Old Man Darby’s Meadow, but much of it had been declared a park area, and had been preserved as it had been when Cissy walked there.

Come to me.

Caty stopped dead in her tracks. Had Cissy just spoken to her?

Cissy?

Follow me.

Caty’s throat was suddenly dry. She tried to swallow but couldn’t. Her breaths became shallow and gulped, her eyes dilated, her pulse quickened.

Without realizing she was moving, one foot moved, then the other. She was climbing through the twisted branches and shroud of leaves, up the mossy stone steps; she knew the way, knew where she was going. Everything seemed familiar even as her eyes beheld it for the first time.

When she arrived, she knew where she was. Cissy’s cave.

 

END  SCENE

 

 

 

 

If you haven’t already, be sure to stop by and like my Facebook page, my author page on Amazon, follow me on Twitter, on my blog!  Please leave me a comment, let me know you’re here!

 

 

“I once said I should write down all the story ideas in my head so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!

 

I have been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on my debut novel, Tessa in 2013.  Meanwhile, I cranked out a few dozen poems, and made countless notes for story ideas.  I lived with depression for many years, and the inherent feelings of worthlessness and invisibility; I didn’t want to be who I was and struggled with my own identity for many years.  My characters face many of these same demons.

 

I write stories of identity conflict. My characters encounter situations that force the question, “Who am I, really?” For all who have ever wondered who you are or why you’re here, my stories will touch you in a very real—maybe too real—and a very deep way. I know, I write from experience.

 

Tessa and Clara Bess are available on Amazon, both for Kindle and in print, with the third book in the series, Cissy, coming out in September of this year.   I also have several poems included in an anthology, Where Dreams and Visions Live (Anthologies of the Heart Book 1) by Mary Blowers, http://maryblowers.com, as well as a short story, Sarafina’s Light, also in an anthology, Blood Moon, compiled by Mary Blowers. I will also be working on a personal compilation of poetry to be released in 2016 as well.

 

 

http://www.robinemason.com

https://robinsnest212.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Robin-E-Mason-Author-Artist/224223274404877

http://www.amazon.com/Robin-E.-Mason/e/B00MR5IQ9S

https://twitter.com/amythyst212

http://www.pinterest.com/amythyst212/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7808042.Robin_E_Mason

robinemason212@gmail.com.

https://writingpromptsthoughtsideas.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

CISSY LAUNCH PARTY, unsavory heritage series, Tessa, Clara Bess, Cissy, Book Excerpt, One Mother, Two Daughters One Favorite One Not, Where Were the Adoption Papers, #newbooklaunch

BLOG BLITZ  – Thursday 22 September 2016 – CHARACTER INTERVIEW – TESSA

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The month of September is a special time for me:

my THIRD novel and sequel to

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the final in the unsavory heritage series,

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slide 4will be available 30 on September Amazon

WHEEEEE!!!!!

 

This is a combo post, due to yesterday not happening.

I had the interview already rolling in my head, it was just a matter of writing it out. Which I was not able to do yesterday.

 

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But I also want to at least give mention to my intended post for the 23rd. And that is twins and myths and old wives tales. The whole premise of Cissy is based on an old wives tale I heard once. When or where or in what context I heard it, I could not begin to say. Nor could I find the first iota of mention of it in my research.

 

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What I did find about twins in mythology is interesting, and fun. As a matter of fact, the first one  listed occurs in Cissy!  wink wink

 

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I’ve blogged several times about twins and my fascination with them.  Twins, and identical features, and identity plays heavily in the unsavory heritage series. And it begins with Cissy.

 

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CHARACTER INTERVIEW – TESSA

 

rem: Good afternoon, Tessa. So good to have you back on the blog.

Tessa: Thanks, Robin. I enjoy being here. I see you’ve been busy.

rem: Indeed I have!  And you started it, ma’am.

Tessa:  [laughs]

rem: Why do you think the story started with you?

Tessa:  Oh, wow. I  guess I never thought about that.

rem: That’s what they pay me the big bucks for, right!  I wish!

Tessa: You’re so funny. But seriously, now that you ask, maybe it’s because my birthday is exactly 100 years after Cissy’s.

rem: Oh! That’s right. Sad it still took another fifty years to hear her.

Tessa:  Fifty-five, really.

rem: This is true. What was it like, watching it all unfold?

Tessa:  Surreal. Almost spooky. I mean, I knew growing up that Mom and I were identical. Then of course, Connie…

rem:   I know, Tessa. I’m so sorry.

Tessa:  [nods] Connie and I were identical.

rem: Tessa, I know this is hard for you.

Tessa:  I miss her, Robin. I wish she could have been part of this, the reunion. The whole family thing.

rem: Callie represented her well, though.

Tessa:  Callie broke away. She got away from it.

rem:  Only partly.

Tessa: Yeah, that’s true.

rem: She’s still who she is, still Connie’s daughter.

Tessa: I’m just glad Melody didn’t hide the truth from her when she asked about her birth mom.

rem: Me too. Melody’s good people.

Tessa: Melody’s family. [laughs]

rem:  She really is, isn’t she? You didn’t know any family history, then, other than Sunset Valley, did you?

Tessa:  No, I didn’t. Mom never spoke of her mother, let alone her father. I found old photo albums and asked her about them. She only told me her mother’s name, nothing else.  It was when I had bought the house in Sunset Valley and found stuff—a lot of junk, too—that they had left in the attic. We weren’t speaking much then.

rem:  I remember. She was wrapped up in the Barclay family.

Tessa: Oh my gosh, yes! The Bales, too. They were her family. She acted like her real parents never existed.

rem: That’s so sad.

Tessa:  I think she missed her mom, though.

rem: She did, Tessa. She did.

Tessa: I mean she was only ten when her mother died. And her dad, from what I understand he was a real work.

rem:  So how did you learn of all this? The Cissy heritage I mean.

Tessa: Saundra came to me with some… really weird questions. People can be so…

rem: Misguided.

Tessa: Yes. Deceived. It was horrible. And so sad.

rem:   At Thanksgiving, you knew pretty much what Saundra and Caty had to say, right?

Tessa: Oh, yes. Saundra told me what they had planned. We prayed about it together beforehand.

rem:   I know you have to be proud of Caty.

Tessa:  Of course! I hate she struggled with all of this. I’m really torn.  I feel honored that she was the one Cissy apparently chose to reveal herself to.

rem: Do you think it was more that Caty was sensitive to it?

Tessa: [nods] Oh, yeah. I see what you mean. Everything Cissy did, that she left behind had been there the whole time.

rem: Anyone could have found it.

Tessa: If the wrong person found it, though, it might have been destroyed.

rem: That would have been awful.

Tessa: It would have been a shame.

[pause]

Tessa: You’re right though, our Caty always has been a sensitive little girl. Well, young lady now. I can’t believe how fast she’s growing up.

rem:  She is so much like Cissy was. And I mean beyond the obvious.

Tessa: I think you’re right. I guess that’s why she connected so easily with her.

rem: What do you think of the twins?

Tessa: Which ones?

rem: I know right!

Tessa: You mean Sydney and Marni, though, don’t you?

rem:  [winks]

Tessa:  I think it’s important that one of them is from the New York branch of the family, and one is from West Virginia. Although, I guess Char and Rob live in Virginia, not West Virginia.

rem:   That’s a good point, Tessa. They represented the two branches…

Tessa: … and that unified the two.

rem: Or strengthened the connection.

Tessa: Yeah, strengthened is a better word. It solidified what was already started.

rem: Tessa, you’re story was a powerful one. Can you comment on that before we go?

Tessa:  Don’t ever be ashamed of who you are. Don’t ever, for anyone, hide your true self. Know your true self, and shine like God made you to be.

rem: That’s some wisdom right there. Thank you, Tessa, for coming back to visit today.

Tessa: Always good to be here, Robin.

rem: You’ll always be in my heart—and my head.

 

 

 

If you haven’t already, be sure to stop by and like my Facebook page, my author page on Amazon, follow me on Twitter, on my blog!  Please leave me a comment, let me know you’re here!

 

 

slide 6“I once said I should write down all the story ideas in my head so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!

 

I have been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on my debut novel, Tessa in 2013.  Meanwhile, I cranked out a few dozen poems, made countless notes for story ideas, and earned my BFA in Interior Design.  I lived with depression for many years, and the inherent feelings of worthlessness and invisibility; I didn’t want to be who I was and struggled with my own identity for many years.  My characters face many of these same demons.

 

I write stories of identity conflict. My characters encounter situations that force the question, “Who am I, really?” For all who have ever wondered who you are or why you’re here, my stories will touch you in a very real—maybe too real—and a very deep way. I know, I write from experience.

 

I have three novels published, the unsavory heritage series. Tessa, Clara Bess and Cissy are available on Amazon, both for Kindle and in print. I also have several poems included in an anthology, Where Dreams and Visions Live (Anthologies of the Heart Book 1) by Mary Blowersas well as a short story, Sarafina’s Light, also in an anthology, Blood Moon, compiled by Mary Blowers. I will also be working on a personal compilation of poetry to be released in 2017.

 

 

http://www.robinemason.com

https://robinsnest212.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Robin-E-Mason-Author-Artist/224223274404877

http://www.amazon.com/Robin-E.-Mason/e/B00MR5IQ9S

https://twitter.com/amythyst212

http://www.pinterest.com/amythyst212/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7808042.Robin_E_Mason

robinemason212@gmail.com.

https://writingpromptsthoughtsideas.wordpress.com/

 

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CISSY LAUNCH PARTY, unsavory heritage series, Tessa, Clara Bess, Cissy, Tessa Character Interview, One Mother, Two Daughters One Favorite One Not, Where Were the Adoption Papers, #newbooklaunch, Twins in Mythology, Old Wives Tales

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BLOG BLITZ  – Thursday 22 September 2016 – AUTHOR DOWN

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The month of September is a special time for me:

my THIRD novel and sequel to

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the final in the unsavory heritage series,

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slide 4will be available 30 on September Amazon

WHEEEEE!!!!!

 

 

CHARACTER INTERVIEW – TESSA

 

 

unsavory-google-banner

 

CISSY LAUNCH PARTY, unsavory heritage series, Tessa, Clara Bess, Cissy, Tessa Character Interview, One Mother, Two Daughters One Favorite One Not, Where Were the Adoption Papers, #newbooklaunch

BLOGWORDS SPECIAL EDITION – Wednesday 21 September 2016 – CISSY’S POEMS

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The month of September is a special time for me:

my THIRD novel and sequel to

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the final in the unsavory heritage series,

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slide 4will be available 30 on September Amazon

WHEEEEE!!!!!

 

SPECIAL EDITION

CISSY’S POEMS

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Cissy was a prodigy.  She had a high IQ and a photographic memory. Cissy was precocious, and learned easily and readily, and she learned at an early age. She was reading at the age of three, and reciting Scripture and poetry—from memory—and writing her own verses.

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Psalm 91 King James Version (KJV)

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;

10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

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No Coming to God without Christ

by Robert Herrick (1591 – 1674)

Good and great God! How sho’d I feare
To come to Thee, if Christ not there!
Co’d I but think, He would not be
Present, to plead my cause for me;
To Hell I’d rather run, then I
Wo’d see Thy Face, and He not by.

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Piers Plowman, Passus I

William Langland (1332 – 1386)

Lucifer with his legions learned it in Heaven,
But because he obeyed not his bliss he did lose,
And fell from that fellowship in a fiend’s likeness
Into a deep dark hell to dwell there for ever;
And more thousands with him than man could number

Leapt out with Lucifer in loathly form:
For they believed in him that lied in this manner —

            Ponam pedem in alquilone, et similis ero altissimo.

And all that hoped it might be so no Heaven might hold them;
They fell out in fiend’s likeness nine days together,
Till God of his goodness steadied and stayed
Made the heavens to be shut and stand so in quiet.

‘When these wicked went out wonderwise they fell;
Some in air, some in earth and some in deep hell;
But Lucifer lowest lieth of them all.
For the pride he put on his pain hath no end;
And all that work wrong wander they shall
After their death day and dwell with that wretch.
But those that work well as holy writ telleth,
And end, as I have said in truth, that is best,
May be sure that their soul shall wend to Heaven,
Where Truth is in Trinity and enthroneth them all.
Therefore I say, as I said in sight of these texts,
When all treasures are tried Truth is the best.
Learn these unlearned for lettered men know it,
That Truth is treasure the best tried on earth.’

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From: Paradise Lost

John Milton (1608 – 1674)

 

Th’ infernal Serpent; he it was whose guile,
Stirred up with envy and revenge, deceived
The mother of mankind, what time his pride
Had cast him out from Heaven, with all his host
Of rebel Angels, by whose aid, aspiring
To set himself in glory above his peers,
He trusted to have equalled the Most High,
If he opposed, and with ambitious aim
Against the throne and monarchy of God,
Raised impious war in Heaven and battle proud,
With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power
Hurled headlong flaming from th’ ethereal sky,
With hideous ruin and combustion, down
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In adamantine chains and penal fire,
Who durst defy th’ Omnipotent to arms.
Nine times the space that measures day and night
To mortal men, he, with his horrid crew,
Lay vanquished, rolling in the fiery gulf,
Confounded, though immortal. But his doom
Reserved him to more wrath; for now the thought
Both of lost happiness and lasting pain
Torments him: round he throws his baleful eyes,
That witnessed huge affliction and dismay,
Mixed with obdurate pride and steadfast hate.
At once, as far as Angels ken, he views
The dismal situation waste and wild.
A dungeon horrible, on all sides round,
As one great furnace flamed; yet from those flames
No light; but rather darkness visible
Served only to discover sights of woe,
Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace
And rest can never dwell, hope never comes
That comes to all, but torture without end
Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed
With ever-burning sulphur unconsumed.
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they dont want me

none of them do

amos dont want me

he telled me so

caleb dont want me

he sayed untrue

virgil dont want me

but he dont know

he’ll have me

clara must go

clara must go

clara must go

clara must die

   ccc  1880

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its dark

its cold

but i dont know

i neither

see nor feel

its silent too

and quivering still

but I dont hear

the noise in my head

the dissonant voices

the rumble of hell

   ccc 1880

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FOOTNOTES:

Poems found in

1  The Magic Garden of My Book House, edited by Olive Beaupré Miller, Published by The Book House for Children, Chicago, 1920

2   A Treasury of Christian Poetry, compiled by Mary Batchelor, published by Gramercy Books, New York, 2004.

** All quoted poems were found online on public domain sites.

 

 

CISSY LAUNCH PARTY, unsavory heritage series, Tessa, Clara Bess, Cissy, Blogwords, Special Edition, Cissy’s Poems, Poetry, One Mother, Two Daughters One Favorite One Not, Where Were the Adoption Papers, #NewBookLaunch, Psalm 91

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BLOG BLITZ  – Tuesday 20 September 2016 – BOOK REVIEW

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The month of September is a special time for me:

my THIRD novel and sequel to

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the final in the unsavory heritage series,

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will be available 30 on September Amazon

WHEEEEE!!!!!

 

 

BOOK REVIEW – JILTED

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How long will the past keep Lynda Turner captive? How badly does she want to be free? And how hard is she willing to fight to get there?

 

When wounds to the heart have been deep, and rejection has become her companion, Lynda Turner shuts herself off from the world. From further hurt. Living in isolation, even from her young daughter, Lynda is enveloped by depression so dark it renders her helpless against it; she welcomes the dark numbness.

 

But when long-time friend, Clyde Felton, shows up, he overrides her elusive boundaries. Will he  erase the shroud Lynda hides behind?  Will they survive the onslaught of wave after wave of exposed secrets that rock their hometown?  Or will her past overtake her? Will their mutual high school friend’s pride and ambition—and jealousy—destroy them?

 

 

Depression is not unfamiliar to this reviewer, and Ms. Denman has woven it poignantly into her story. The angst Lynda battles, the weight, the need to isolate herself—I felt these as Lynda strove to overcome. I felt the tug to trust, to deny the odds and let love in. And I felt her terror at the thought of allowing someone close.

Ms. Denman has created characters with flaws that are all too real, conflict that destroys. Her descriptions are vivid and delicious, and I wish Trapp was a real town so I could visit. For that matter, I wish the characters were real people so I could visit them. Lynda became my friend as she fought the invisible demon of depression, and I rooted for her every panicked step of the way. I cried with her and I cheered her on. And I was angry with her, too, when she reverted to old patterns and shut down. Angry because I am all too familiar with it.

 

The conclusion to this story and this series is well done, and satisfying, with some surprise twists and spiraling turns along the way. Thank you, Ms. Denman, for a beautiful story.

 

 

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Varina Denman writes stories about the unique struggles women face. She teaches creative writing and literature, volunteers in her local cooperative, and is a home educator to her five children. She resides with her family in North Texas.

 

https://varinadenman.com/

https://www.facebook.com/varina.denman/

https://twitter.com/varinadenman

https://www.pinterest.com/varinadenman/

http://www.amazon.com/Varina-Denman/e/B00KXZUCNM/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1469558817&sr=1-2-ent

 

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CISSY LAUNCH PARTY, unsavory heritage series, Tessa, Clara Bess, Cissy, One Mother, Two Daughters One Favorite One Not, Where Were the Adoption Papers, #newbooklaunch, Jilted, Tuesday Review-Day, Book Review, Varina Denman, Mended Heart Series, Jaded, Justified

 

BLOG BLITZ  –   GUEST POST – Monday 19 September 2016 – SCOTT REZER

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The month of September is a special time for me:

my THIRD novel and sequel to

slide 2

the final in the unsavory heritage series,

slide 3

slide 4

will be available 30 on September Amazon

WHEEEEE!!!!!

 


GUEST POST – SCOTT REZER

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Affectionately Yours…

A Sampling of Confederate Civil War Letters

By Scott R. Rezer

 

(The words of soldiers and private citizens are recorded just as they wrote them.)

 

In a letter dated Oct 10, 1864, Private James H. Allen of the 13th Virginia Infantry wrote to his sister,

 

… we had another hard battle on the 19th inst. at Newport. We whipped the Yankees in the morning and captured a great many wagons and artillery… in the even they charged us and broke our line… and they retaken everything back and a great deal besides.

 Our forces fell back to New Market. A great many of our men had to take to the mountains. I did myself, although I wasn’t but 2 or 3 days in the mountains before I got to my company. There is several hasn’t come in yet… The Yankees has too many men for us.

… our company is quite small. We have no officers, not even a sergeant. We are just here with no one to (lead) at all.

Ellen, I would give most anything to see you all. I am in hopes this cruel war will soon be over. I can get home to stay… I don’t think I can stay in no longer and this year no how.1

 

The war would end, just as Private Allen wished, six months later, but for many of the men involved with the fighting, and for those waiting for their loved ones to return home, those six months would prove far longer than the previous three and a half years. Private Allen could endure no more and deserted two months later.

 

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Outmanned by more than two to one, the Confederacy faced almost insurmountable odds of survival, and yet they persevered. Aside from a few battles such as Gettysburg and Antietam, the Southern States felt the brunt of the Civil War. It was a terrible war, with far too much bloodshed and death on both sides. For people living in the North, however, the front lines often seemed at a distance, whereas for the Confederacy, battles often raged in their own backyards. For them, the war was a constant presence.

Historians estimate that more than three million soldiers fought in the Union and Confederate armies. Thousands of letters survived the ravages of warfare and time to give a unique perspective of the soldiers, and to a lesser degree, the lives of their families, in their own words. Whether the letters were the polished words of educated men or the barely literate scribbling of farmers, they all exhibit the unique eloquence of their individual voices.

Soldiers talked about everything they experienced from descriptions of battles and their opinions of fellow soldiers and officers, to conditions of camp life and the trials of warfare. They wrote about food, and their lack of food, travels, politics, their fears, their needs, weather, and death. Patriotism was a favorite topic, as well the desire to return home. Farmers and carpenters, lawyers and bricklayers, doctors, druggists, fishermen, locksmiths, grocers, stonemasons, clerks, gardeners, and every other imaginable occupation of the mid-19th century found themselves thrown together in a common cause, whether to seek independence, or to keep in the Union intact. The letters soldiers penned tell us more about the terrible circumstances they endured than any history book or written record.

 

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Dear and affectionate father it is with a feble hand that I endeavor to write you a few lines to inform you that I am lying in Richmond wounded. I was in Maryland and taken prisoner by the Yankees. My wound is in the left leg opposite the knee and is doing well. It is nearly healed up but my leg is very stiff yet but I can go on crutches. My health is very bad at present. I am plagued very much with the diarea. The provision I get I think is the reson of it.  This is dear father and mother one great reson of my writing. I want you to send me a box of provision for if I do get to it will be sometime  yet  and if you can send some I know it will do your kind hearts good and so would it mine… Dear parents I had written a letter sometime ago but I do know whether you got it or not and I can not want but write again. Dear parents could I be at home is proven do me so much good but I hope to get a furlough after which I only pray to God that I may be granted to return home and more I will have close for I am so tired writing. May God bless you and it is my prayer write to me as soon as you get this.

[October 28, 1862—Pvt. William A. Collins, 48th North Carolina Regiment] 2

 

Collins had been captured at Antietam, paroled, and sent to Chimborazo Hospital in Richmond to heal from his wounds. In the midst of his letter, he nearly begged his parents to send him food in small quantities at a time to sustain him in his convalescence. Sadly, for Private Collins and his family, he died less than two months later of gangrene in his wound.

During the Civil War era, letters played an important part, both in helping soldiers feel connected with family and friends back home and in the transmission of news from the battlefields to those on the home front, waiting desperately for word of their soldier’s well-being. Surrounded by the horrors of war, soldiers were always desperate for news from home, even if the news was less than comforting as was often the case.

Newspaper reporters and military officers often proved unreliable sources of information, particularly in regards to transmitting accurate details of battles. Too often, casualty lists printed in the papers might incorrectly identify the wrong soldier. Much was the relief of many a family when they received letters from their loved one.  It was the only sure way of knowing that a soldier still lived—but only until the next letter arrived home.

 

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Such was the case for Mrs. Mary J. Cheek, a farm wife from Weatherford, Texas.  Letters from home were not nearly as plentiful as those written from the front lines. Men did not always have the luxury of keeping letters. Soldiers traveled light, discarding anything of value when necessary. The fact that Mary’s husband, T. F. Cheek, serving with the 8th Texas Cavalry, saved her letter dated February 18, 1863 for posterity is more than amazing.

 

My Dear, It was the greatest joy that I received a letter from you some days ago, just the day before I got it the news come that you were killed or taken prisoner, and that your captain was killed, you can imagine my feelings on hearing that awful news, for then I never expected to hear from you again, I had not received a letter for nearly three weeks, and was afraid… I do not get my mail regular at all, I scarcely ever get my papers… I’ll tell you when I heard you were killed or taken prisoner, it made my blood boil for revenge and I felt like if it was only in my power I would go and have it if I lost my own life in the attempt, sometimes I long to be a man, so I could go and help you fight the infernal Yankees I do think I would love to kill them, for they have caused us women so much trouble… O plague on the Yankees, I wish they were all dead and in heaven, a great many think peace will be restored this spring, but I have no hope for it as long as old Lincoln is in office…3

 

If we are take the reports of newspaper correspondents and officer battle reports as the final word of actual battles and the conditions, we would come away with a far different view than that of the soldiers who actually lived through the ordeals. Both sides quite often downplayed losses and reversals, and sensationalized victories in their reports. The letters of the soldiers, however, left an unsanitized version of the aftermath of battles as Private Allen recorded above.

 

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Many letters, if not most, record the terrible conditions soldiers endured in some fashion or another. Remarkably, perhaps it was the age in which they lived, the soldiers didn’t complain, they simply reported the things they experienced as we see in the following letters.

 

Dear Sister

… I received the things you sent… and am very much obliged to you for them. The shoes are rather thin, the snow soaks through them very soon. We have had an unusual quantity of that this winter. For the last four days we have had to travel through it nearly 15 inches deep. A pair of heavy boots would have been a great deal better. If you can conveniently get a black slouch hat… I would like it very much, these little caps are anything else but comfortable in rain or snowy weather the water runs down my neck… being wet is something I am used to… I have been busy lately, being the first sergeant of the company. I have all the business to do and am now fixing up my rolls and have to give an account of every man… It is a sad duty writing dead opposite so many names… I remain your affectionate brother.

[March 23, 1863—Sgt. John Beaton, 9th Virginia Infantry] 4

 

My Dear Wife

… We only gets one quarter of a pound of meat and that is tainty at times. We gets bread enough to make out with… Everything is scarce down here… Ned Kidd is sick at hospittle up beyond Golesburg… Mary I hope you have got rid of your diptharia. I ware very sorry to hear that you had it… I remain your devoted husband untell death…

[April 12, 1863—Private Charles W. Thomas, 56th Virginia Infantry] 5

 

Despite fighting a war, and more often for their very lives, soldiers were also acutely aware of the uncertain conditions at home. It must have left many a soldier troubled to hear of the trials they faced, knowing they were helpless to intervene. Too often, circumstances forced wives and children to fend for themselves, trying to preserve some semblance of normalcy to their crumbling lives. Read what Private Grant Taylor of the 40th Alabama Infantry wrote to his beloved wife and children on January 4, 1863.

 

… You must do the best you can with your affairs. I am too far off to give advice. Surely Pap will advize you. I think if you can you had better get more than 50 bu of corn. Give my best respects to all… Kiss the children for me and believe your true one, as ever.6

 

Imagine the initial shock loved ones at home must have felt to receive a letter informing them that their son, husband, brother, or father had received a terrible wound or were captured in battle. How many tears must those at home shed to receive such news, knowing they could do nothing except pray to relieve their loved one’s suffering? Late in the war, the news of a soldier’s capture might also mean a death sentence such were the conditions of those abominable places, and yet families held strong in their beliefs and hopes that they would see their loved one again despite terrible odds.

 

My dear Parents Brothers & Sisters:

Many times since I was made a prisoner over a month ago, I have intended writing home… I am in fair health, freezing weather is severe upon Florida prisoners. There is considerable want of clothing and blankets. John Chana died 2 wks ago of pneumonia. Jos Irvine in Co. B also died of the same disease 2 days ago.

In the past 30 days I have suffered a great deal. Give my love to every member of my family. We hear you may be permitted to send us clothing. Tell Mother I am not forgetting my Heavenly Father & Bible.

[January 20, 1865—Sgt. Archie Livingston, 3rd Florida Infantry] 7

 

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Too often, letters also proved vital in notifying loved ones of a soldier’s death.  No formal (or informal) process of notification existed for those soldiers who died.  Some commanders did try to write letters to the next of kin following a death, but only if time and circumstances permitted.  Most soldiers relied on their comrades to notify their families in the event of their passing, but often times it might come from a chaplain, a doctor, a nurse, or even a hospital volunteer.  Without such letters of condolence, many families might never have known of their loved one’s sacrifice.

 

To Mrs. B. A. G. Spears

I take up my pen to tell you very bad news. Your husband Henry Spears died at the Point Clear hospital on Wednesday night August 1, that evening I in company with some more ladies were in the hospital. I was talking to your husband and he asked me to write to you to say that he was sick, he said, “it will prepare her a little to hear of my death and will not be such a shock to her”… It is very painful for me to tell you this bad news but as I promised him I thought I had best do it. it will be some satisfaction for you to know that he was well attended to and all was done for him that could possibly be done. I can offer no consolation, God alone can console you…

[August 2, 1863—Miss Ellen Gaddes, Hospital Volunteer] 8

 

Four years of war and bloodshed took their long toll on the minds and hearts of the Southern people, whether they were soldiers or the desperate people waiting at home, as the inevitable outcome of the war loomed closer. It is evident most in the letters of the Confederate soldiers who faced terrible conditions as the hope of victory slipped away. For the Union, the sacrifices they made would bring the eventual reunification of the nation, though at a horrible cost, but for the Confederacy, defeat would bring an end to the way of life they’d always known. You can hear it in the voices that cry to us still from a hundred and fifty years ago.

 

Miss Mattie J Nunn

Dear Cousin… Your letter of the 23rd of September came to hand a few days since and brought the tidings that you were all well… You have but little idea of the horrors of war… Evils so many and so great that the heart sinks in contemplating it. Millions in property has been consumed and millions in debt have been accumulated to oppress the rising generation… Many thousands… have perished in battle or by disease… and other thousands have been maimed… The land is filled with widows and orphans… Where shall we look for help? I shall put my trust in the Lord… So. I will close. Forgive all mistakes. So farewell.

[December 21, 1863—Private William J. Bowers, Waul’s Texas Legion] 9

 

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In and amidst the grief and mounting despair, glimmers of hope shone bright like stars in the midst of a dark sky. In this case, a letter dated December 24, 1863, from Mary Watkins to her husband is tender and almost playful, offering her loved one a warm glimpse of home he certainly cherished while in a distant camp in the midst of winter.

 

“Tis the night before Christmas and all

through the house not a creature was

stirring, not even a mouse” expect one.

 

My darling Husband

It seems a very long time since I heard from you… Emmie and Minnie hung up their stockings before going to bed and I have just filled them with apples, ground peas, some candy… and some cakes Mrs Baker sent them. Our negro men have been over to get pay for their corn and get their overcoats. They made eighteen barrels of corn this year.

Dec 25th Little Mary waked up last night and would not go back to sleep again until I went to bed with her so I could not finish my letter. She and Minnie both sleep with me. Minnie sleeps at the foot to keep my foots warm she says and she is a regular little stove… You never saw children more delighted than Emmie and Minnie were at finding their stockings full Christmas morning… Emmie was rather expecting a china doll but I told her the Yankees would not let Santa Claus get such things nowadays… I asked [Minnie] how she got so black she said she had been looking up the chimney to see if Santa Claus was up there now…

I can’t help thinking about you shivering in a cold rain and can hardly enjoy a good fire when I think that you are perhaps suffering with cold.

We are all well here. Little Mary has one tooth… I want to send this letter to the Depot now. Good bye for the present. Hope too see you at home soon as you get here… begin to think about your going back. Your own.10

 

No letter, however, could be more precious or heartwarming to a soldier than the single letter I include for contrast sent to a Union officer from his youngest son. The letter, composed in 1864, perhaps on February 28th (his brother Lucien wrote a letter on this day), is only six words long consisting of a series of looping, childish scribbles, penned by four year old Charley Burpee to his father, Lt. Colonel Thomas Burpee of the 21st Connecticut. His mother, presumably, translated her son’s message. It reads simply:

 

Charley loves his Father very much. 11

 

Sadly, Charley’s father was wounded in June of the same year at Cold Harbor and died two days later. The letter was found among Thomas’ belongings and sent home to his wife and sons.

Yankee volunteers who most often saw their service as an act of duty to their divided nation, but the average Confederate soldier felt deep in their hearts they were fighting, not for the preservation of slavery or states’ rights, but simply in defense of their homes. All these circumstances lent a sense of immediacy to the letters they wrote and the private journals they kept. History is fortunate so many letters survived to preserve their voices. Some of their words I recounted here, not because they deserve it more, but rather because they are too often overlooked.

 

___________________

 

Citations

 

  1. Toalson 2006, pg. 244.
  2. Collins, pg. 5, 71-73.
  3. Toalson 2012, pg. 57.
  4. Toalson 2012, pg. 93.
  5. Toalson 2012, pg. 113.
  6. Toalson 2012, pg. 12.
  7. Toalson 2006, pg. 314.
  8. Toalson 2012, pg. 246.
  9. Toalson 2012, pg. 381.
  10. Toalson 2012, pg. 381.
  11. Trenholm

 

Bibliography

 

Toalson, Jeff (2006). No Soap, No Pay, Diarrhea, Dysentery & Desertion: A Composite Diary of the Last 16 Months of the Confederacy from 1864 to 1865 as Seen by the Soldiers, Farmers, Clerks, Nurses, Sailors, Farm Girls, Merchants, Nuns, Surgeons, Chaplains and Wives. Lincoln, Neb.: IUniverse.

Toalson, Jeff (2012). Mama, I Am Yet Still Alive: A Composite Diary of 1863 in the Confederacy: As Seen by the Soldiers, Farmers, Clerks, Nurses, Sailors, Farm Girls, Merchants, Surgeons, Riverboatmen, Chaplains and Wives. Bloomington, IN: IUniverse.

Trenholm, Sandra. “Civil War Soldiers: Thomas Burpee and His Sons.” The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, 9 June 2014. Web. 11 Sept. 2016.

“William A. Collins Papers, 1862-1865.” William A. Collins Papers, 1862-1865. Internet Archive, 15 Aug. 2005. Web. 11 Sept. 2016.

 

 

 

Images

 

Banks Envelope LOC 2012649852

https://www.loc.gov/item/2012649852/

 

Olmstead Envelope LOC 2012648297

https://www.loc.gov/item/2012648297/

 

Camp Tent Scene Pixabay 1569055

https://pixabay.com/en/civil-war-tent-camp-lantern-sepia-1569055/

 

Candlelit Writing

http://www.stockphotosforfree.com/free-stock-photos/p-73081-candle-lit-writing.html

 

Collins letter Chimborazo Hospital 10.28.1862 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chimborazo_hospital_richmond_civil_war_letter.png

 

Woman reading letter LOC 2010648375

https://www.loc.gov/item/2010648375/

 

Clack Letter 6.21.1862 LOC 2013645772

https://www.loc.gov/item/2013645772/

 

Anthony Letter 6.2.1862 LOC 2012648285

https://www.loc.gov/item/2012648285/

 

Couple Separated at Christmas

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thomas_Nast_illustration_of_a_couple_separated_by_war,_January_1863.jpg

 

 

 

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Scott R. Rezer was born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania in 1963. He met his wife and best friend while serving in the U.S. Air Force. They have two grown children and live in the Southwest. He is an indie published author of five historical fiction novels ranging from the Civil War to the Crusades to ancient Biblical history. Two of his books have garnered Editor’s Choice selections by the Historical Novel Society (The Leper King and Shadow of the Mountain). He is currently at work on a second Civil War novel.
As a maintenance technician in the U.S. Air Force, he worked on an aging, outdated nuclear missile system of questionable safety. He believes he may have been unwittingly exposed to radioactive material that altered his DNA and gave him his writing ability—well, maybe not. It could be he simply acquired his ability from his grandmother who was a local historian and writer. He could never ask her a simple question without hearing her say with a wink, “Go look it up.” In so doing, she managed to instill in him a love of history and a wonderful sense of discovery that have stuck with him ever since.

 

Website: www.scottrezer.weebly.com

Facebook Author Page: http://on.fb.me/1ngMVgE

Pinterest: http://bit.ly/1FvcibA

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1IJ7H7n

 

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CISSY LAUNCH PARTY, unsavory heritage series, Tessa, Clara Bess, Cissy, One Mother, Two Daughters One Favorite One Not, Where Were the Adoption Papers, #newbooklaunch, Guest Post, Scott Rezer, Civil War, Letter Writing, Affectionately Yours

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