Posts Tagged ‘#identity’

BLOGWORDS – Tuesday 9 May 2017 – HOW IT ALL BEGAN


written for Lisa Lickel at Living Our Faith Outloud, posted yesterday


In the beginning God created…  Okay, not that beginning. Then again, in that beginning God created, and isn’t that what we are? As writers? Creators? (not to dis any other form of art, of course)


And when God created… ME, He instilled creativity in me. In mega doses, it seems. Fast forward a bit, and skipping over the why’s, for years I [attempted to] shoved that creativity into a nice little box—or cage. It didn’t stay.


And when I dove headlong into writing my debut novel, Tessa, in the fall of 2013, I realized I was swimming in the pond I should have been in all along. The water was perfect, there were—are—others like me here but not too crowded; we each have our own little eddy of space. And when those eddies coincide it’s a beautiful thing.


I tried for years to be something I’m not—a conformist. I tried to fit somebody else’s ideal for me. It didn’t fit. It didn’t work. And I was miserable. Then again, that very experience (years of that miserable experience) has given me the very thing I write about—identity. In discovering who I am and more importantly, who I am in Him, I discovered my purpose. And that is to write.


Interesting thing though. The more I discovered my identity as a writer, the more I discovered who I am in Him—which feeds my identity as a writer, which feeds who I am… Holy Spirit showed me something years ago about Psalm 37 verse 4.

Because they are tied together. The desires that are in our heart are there because Father put them there.

He made us that way. Whether it’s writing or singing or engineering or teaching—the thing we yearn for, that stirs within us is His to begin with. Therefore, when we pursue that very thing, we also are pursuing the One who put it there. Or perhaps, more accurately, we are fulfilling the purpose of the One who put it there.


I read a statement on another blog today, and I paraphrase here, “If my dream is not His dream, and if my dream does not bring honor and glory to Father, then I don’t want it.”



I’ve deviated from my journey as a writer. But maybe not. When I dove into that pond back in 2013, I truly had | no | clue. I wrote. And that was it. A friend hooked me up with Kindle (otherwise I was going to pay for vanity publishing! AACK!!) and even uploaded my doc for me. I started blogging, “I’ve been thrown into the deep end. Of a deep ocean. In a tidal wave.” That was my first blog. I floundered for several months, and published my book baby in print. After a few queries about a sequel (which I hadn’t considered before) I looked, and what to my wondering eyes did I see? Two distinct places, right there in Tessa, that point straight to Clara Bess. And even Cissy, the third and final book.


I’m still winging it, but I’ve learned more of the “air currents” of this crazy industry. With each book I read or blog I share, there’s something new to learn, something to apply in my writing or networking or the dreaded marketing. With each word I write, I’m more selective, I’m writing sharper and tighter—and better. I’ve even ventured to write a couple of lovey-dovey scenes, something I’d not done before… reading plenty of them. (courtesy of Pepper Basham, and others)


Yeah, I’m in a new pond. And it’s my pond. And I’m swimming bolder and stronger and more confident every day. And I’m here to stay.


PS (and this is for Lisa) apparently I work better with a deadline…  😉











Blogwords, How It All Began, In the Beginning… God created, Artists, Creators, Cage, Pond, Identity, Cadet Brain

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The month of November is a special time for me:

my second novel and sequel to


the second in the unsavory heritage series,


Clara Bess

will be available 30 November on Amazon





Welcome Lori!


For our last anniversary, knowing I’d long been curious whether the stories my grandmother passed down about our family—our being descended from the Powhatan Nation—were true, my husband bought me a DNA kit through Ancestry.com. With great anticipation I followed the instructions included in the kit and mailed it off for analysis.

As it happens, I don’t have a trace of Native American DNA. Predictably I’m mostly Scandinavian and western European. The only surprise is a trace of Central Asian DNA. Others among my kin will need to be tested to discover which side of the family that comes from, but it’s stirred my curiosity. Again!

Identity is defined as a person’s conception and expression of their own and others’ individuality or group affiliations. It’s something most of us contemplate at some point, whether it’s the country from which our ancestors hailed or who we are on a deeper level: our world view, spiritual beliefs, calling, or life’s work. How has God made us unique in our personality, talents, and destiny? For He has crafted us each with exacting and purposeful attention. Psalm 139 tells us, “My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth… and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”

As a storyteller, I’m drawn to characters who wrestle with the notion of identity. In my debut novel, Burning Sky, Willa Obenchain was a woman caught between two cultures, that of her birth (white/European settler) and that of her adoption (Mohawk), and Neil MacGregor, a man struggling to redefine himself after a debilitating brain injury.

In The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn there’s Jesse Bird, unable to remember his origins, who has led a vagabond life among the Shawnees and on the Tennessee frontier, and Tamsen Littlejohn, whose startling discovery about her mother’s past shatters her conception of self. Their journey toward personal identity is set against the backdrop of a frontier community trying to decide whether it’s still part of North Carolina or the upstart state of Franklin.

In The Wood’s Edge (and its upcoming sequel, A Flight of Arrows), twins are separated at birth, one raised white, the other Oneida. Both brothers face the soul-wrenching challenge of deciding which side of a blurring cultural line he belongs, while around them one nation is being birthed and another struggling to stay alive amidst the upheaval of a revolutionary war. Sides must be chosen, identities assumed, from the political to the individual level.

No matter where our ancestors originated, or the family into which we were born or adopted, our truest identity is found when we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ. No matter our skin color, national origin, cultural affiliation or anything else that defines us, at the foot of the cross we are clothed in His righteousness, sons and daughters of a Heavenly Father we have the privilege to call Abba—Papa.

But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us. Ephesians 2:13-14


Have you researched your own family history? Did you find any surprises? Or do you have a family story/history surrounding your identity that you’ve always wanted to prove true or false? For a chance to win a signed copy of The Wood’s Edge, Book 1 of The Pathfinders series, leave a comment on this post. Two names will be randomly drawn on 1 December 2015. *open to U.S. residents only.


Woods Edge_FINALFINAL_500


Enjoy this exclusive first sneak peek of A Flight of Arrows, releasing April 19, 2016 from WaterBrook Press.


Flight of Arrows (2)FINAL FINAL


Anna… Lydia… the Doyles. Their faces rose before William as he made his way to his billet, intent upon putting the bow out of sight. He didn’t want to think of Reginald Aubrey as well. Most of all he didn’t wish to think of those other hazy figures, a mother, father, brother, also in the path of destruction. Would any of them survive the coming campaign? Would they despise him forever for taking part in it if they did?

The thought had barely formed before a wall of brown flesh and flashing silver loomed across his path. Clutching his bow like a stave, William drew up. The tall Indian was alone this time. They were in a populous place, near a market that reeked of fish sellers. He mastered his alarm.

“What do you want of me?” He’d spoken overloud, drawing the attention of those nearby, most of whom took one look at the towering Indian and drew off. But the warrior gazed at him with eyes that reflected no hostility.

“You are William Aubrey.”

It wasn’t a question.

“You know my name? Did Campbell tell it you?”

“Your officer said nothing of your name.” The Indian’s English was surprisingly good.

“How then do you know me?” They were standing in the way of customers attempting to buy fish. The Indian nodded his head, started to move off. After a brief hesitation, William followed.

Sam. He must know this warrior. Since Sam Reagan wasn’t here, was the man attempting to make contact with him, hoping William had goods to sell?

He stopped the Indian with a hand to a lean, powerful arm, a hand he snatched away when the Indian pivoted to face him. William took an involuntary step back. “Listen. I don’t know what arrangement you and Reagan have, but I’ve nothing to do with…”

He let the words trail off as incomprehension crossed the Indian’s high-boned face, feeling a chill creep out from his innards. This hadn’t to do with Sam.

“Had I not heard your name,” the Indian said, “I would know you by your face. I know your mother, your father. When I lived at Kanowalohale I was friend to the brother you were born with.”

They were standing at the corner of a stone-built structure. Against the wall a hogshead stood. William groped for its rim, feeling himself blanch. “My brother?”

“He and I went under the water on the same day. Made our hearts clean in Jesus.”

William blinked, struggling to make sense of the words. “You’re Oneida?”

The Indian shook his head. “No, but my father is Oneida. Years ago he sent me to Kanowalohale, where I came to know your kin. Your brother spoke of you—you and that Welsh bow.” The Indian nodded at the bow William had half-forgotten he clutched. “He wanted much to see it for himself.”

William couldn’t get his breath. His brother knew of his bow? How?

Anna. For a mortifying instant William thought he would be sick with the tide of regret and longing that crashed over him. Fruitless longing for home—one he could never return to, one that had never truly existed. The Welsh had a word for such impossible yearning. Hiraeth.

He avoided the dark eyes studying him. “And what are you called?” he asked the Indian, having no idea what else to say.

“I have been called Tames-His-Horse since I was young,” the warrior replied. “But the name I favor now is Joseph.”


© 2015 by Lori Benton. All Rights Reserved



Lori Benton was raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American history going back three hundred years. Her novels transport readers to the eighteenth century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history. When she isn’t writing, reading, or researching, Lori enjoys exploring the Oregon wilderness with her husband. She is the author of Burning Sky, recipient of three Christy Awards, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, and The Wood’s Edge.


lori benton - book images



Lori’s website: http://loribenton.blogspot.com/
The first two chapters of The Wood’s Edge: http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Woods-Edge2.pdf
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Woods-Edge-Novel-Pathfinders/dp/1601427328/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
CBD: http://www.christianbook.com/1-the-woods-edge/lori-benton/9781601427328/pd/427320?event=ESRCN



#loribenton, #aflightofarrows, #identity, #thewoodsedge, #pathfindersseries, #burningsky, #pursuitoftamsenlittlejohn

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Welcome to the Cover Release Party for Robin E. Mason’s second women’s and family fiction story, Clara Bess, set to release 30 November 2015. Robin’s debut novel, Tessa, arrived in March 2014 and has been met with fantastic reviews.


A few notes of praise for Tessa:




This is such an amazing read because there are so many twists to the plot. The characters are very well thought out and brought to life. I don’t want to give away too much information, but I would like to say, get ready. Robin E. Mason is a wonderful author and I look forward to reading more from her. If you are looking for a book that is open and shut, this is not it. If you are, however, looking for a book that will leave you on the edge of your seat asking how, when, why, and where, this book is for you! Grab a copy today! – Alisha Cagle, Author


Even the prologue is a twist! Be ready for a spell binding book that will keep you on the edge of your seat. You simply can’t wait to turn the page (or click the next page). Plots within plots within plots. I simply don’t know how she could keep up with it all! – Dede Stockton, Author


You won’t be able to put it down. Indeed, a story that beautifully captures the brilliance of women and the mayhem of family. A must read. – Heather Burch


This story has twists and turns and heartaches and mystery and hope and love and anger and twists and turns and well… I loved how the story keeps you wondering: Who the heck? What in the world? And, Oh, dear! It is one of the least predictable books I have ever read. I enjoyed laughing and I enjoyed crying. I am not going to tell you anymore about the plot or the characters because you’ll simply have to read it yourself. – Leslie Hoyt



Back cover blurb for Clara Bess:

On the day of her 50th birthday, Clara Bess Caldwell was not basking in the joy of a blissful Christmas Day winding down. She was not at home with her family, enjoying eggnog or coffee by a fireplace, nor was she checking a goose roasting in the oven.

Clara Bess was at her mother’s house, going through her personal effects, something she had put off for several weeks. Her children, her husband, her siblings, had all urged her to wait another day. To not put herself through this ordeal on Christmas Day.

“But it was her birthday, too.” Clara Bess reminded them.

But Clara Bess wasn’t at all prepared for what she unearthed at the bottom of her mother’s keepsake box. Not in with legal papers, not in her own baby book, not in the safe even. Nor was she prepared for the discovery of her unsavory heritage.

Clara Bess read, with shock and no small degree of confusion, the line on her birth certificate where her mother’s name should be. It did not read Lily Isabella Mayes.


Clara Bess rode waves of confusion for several weeks, unsure what to make of the erroneous information. Afraid it could be true, she couldn’t bring herself to go to the courthouse, or the hospital, to have it corrected. Little things pinged in her memory things that pointed to the unbelievable possibility.

Clara Bess was adopted.

Where, then, were the adoption papers?


This book has many of the same things enjoyed in book one – historical details, deep emotions, adventure, humor.

So without further ado, we introduce Clara Bess – available 30 November 2015 on Amazon for Kindle, and CreateSpace.

So without further ado, HERE IS THE COVER, may I have a drum roll please:


clara bess - cover reveal - the cover


Launch events will be on 30 November, both online at https://www.facebook.com/events/727075850756986/

and live at Stomping Grounds Coffee House and Wine Bar, 208 Trade Street, Greer, SC


Hope to see you at one event or both!


Leave a comment for your chance to win a signed copy of Clara Bess, which will be sent to the winners the first week of December!


What’s one thing you like about this cover? Or, if you read Tessa, what was one thing you enjoyed about Robin’s debut?


ME - 041115 - cropped


“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!


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


Ms. Mason has lived in the Upstate of South Carolina since 1988. She lived in Colorado for sixteen years, during which time she: went to high school, got married, had babies, got divorced and went to college. Her “babies” are now grown, two have babies of their own. She currently lives alone, with her five cats.
Ms. Mason writes Christian-worldview–in other words, there’s no salvation message, but there are plenty of characters who know the Lord and share His perspective with those who are struggling.


Clara Bess is the sequel to Tessa and the second book in the Unsavory Heritage Series, and will launch next month, with the third book in the series, Cissy, will be available in 2016. Ms. Mason also has several poems included in an anthology, Where Dreams and Visions Live (Anthologies of the Heart Book 1) by Mary Blowers, as well as a short story Sarafina’s Light, also in an anthology, Blood Moon, compiled by Mary Blowers.








#clarabess, #coverreveal, #robinemasonauthor, #unsavoryheritageseries, #tessa, #cissy, #womensfiction, #secrets, #identity

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The month of October is a special time for me:

my debut novel, my baby,


 tessa cover - front - 092314

will be released IN PRINT on Halloween!



One mother. Two daughters. One favorite. One not. Which daughter is Tessa? The favorite? Or the “not?”


Tessa is the story of Cassie Barclay, daughter of Marni Miller Barclay, phenom artist. Cassie is, “A quiet child a wall flower, who blended in to the back ground. Cassie was a beauty but went unpolished, unkempt. And unnoticed…”   Why so quiet? Why unnoticed? Why, when she is so beautiful, does she not realize her own beauty?


Like her mother, Cassie is an artist. But unlike her mother, Cassie is of the impressionist persuasion. She is part owner of a gallery in the imaginary town of Kcynia, in western New York State. We learn in the prologue that she has a secret. And that someone knows what it is. Who is the mystery caller? How does he know her secret? To what purpose does he call and hang up? For that matter, what is her secret? Who is Tessa, and what is her connection to Cassie?


Tessa is married, and has two sons. And, apparently, a daughter. And apparently, she used to be called Cassie. She is tall and slim, with sleek black hair that she wears long and straight. She has unusual ice blue eyes and a pale porcelain complexion. She looks just like her sister. Near identical. And they both look uncannily like their mother. More than a close resemblance, enough to make you do a double take. Near identical.


Before she was even born, there were shadows over Cassie. Unwanted, she never knew her mother’s love. She was loved, though, for there were many around her who saw to that, who filled that need. But not from her mother. And Cassie was okay. She accepted this as her life, didn’t question, didn’t know any different. Sometime during adolescence, she set her sights on the day she would be on her own, and satisfied herself with that.


I stated earlier that Tessa is not my story. The one connection that Cassie has to me personally is the feeling of insignificance. For vastly different reasons, I grew up without the knowledge of my worth. It’s pretty devastating, lemme tell ya!


I’m not sure at what point depression set in. I don’t mean sad days. I mean the disease. Years of feeling unworthy created a despair, which gave birth to depression. I lived with this for years and didn’t realize. Only when I lifted my head enough to try to get God’s attention to help me, did I realize what it was. And yes, I know that I’ve never not had God’s full attention; I didn’t know it then. I’m free of the disease now, this monster, I am realizing my worth and beauty in God’s eyes. But it has left scars. And from those scars, I write. This is why I write what I write. This is where my stories come from. Because I didn’t want to be me. I wanted to be someone, anyone else. [blog Identity, 062714] And so, too, my characters.


Cassie did not suffer depression. But, neither did she experience fullness of life. When, in that critical moment, she was presented an unthinkable opportunity, she didn’t have time to weigh the pros and cons. She jumped into her new life, that of her sister. And that changed everything.


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







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In light of my current endeavor to publish my Tessa in print (woo hoo!) I dedicate this week’s blog post to her. The above is my revised (and in progress) blurb. I offer you now, a few excerpts to whet your appetite. Details of the release shall be forthcoming, as well as my cover reveal and a release party contest!! All the up-to-date scoop will be on my Facebook page:


Be sure to stop by and pay me a visit, and like my page whilst you’re there! Always happy to have visitors and new friends!





Cassie had not been an excitable child. But at Christmastime the wonder and enchantment of the season overtook her usual unruffled demeanor. In spite of the fact that Marni played down the folderol and hoopla of the holidays, Cassie was as eager for Christmas morn as the rest of her fourth grade class.
And in spite of the fact that her mother kept her to a set schedule, Cassie was allowed to stay up past bedtime on Christmas Eve to watch for Santa’s sleigh in the sky. And in spite of the fact that she was up late, she always woke early, before the sun, anxious to get to her brightly wrapped gifts under the brightly decorated Christmas tree.

This year it was different, though. This year, Mommie was married. To Mr. Heath – Daddy, she was allowed to call him Daddy now. And this year, there was a baby coming.
Cassie padded down the hall in her silky soft pink slippers to Mommie’s room. But when she peaked in through the open door, Marni was not there.
Why didn’t they come get me? Cassie’s brow furrowed, hoping that all the gifts were not opened already.
But there was no one in the living room. Gifts unopened, they lay just as they were last night, and no sign that Santa had come either. Cassie checked the breakfast room. Still no sign of anyone.
Mrs. Dudek was in the kitchen, though, nursing a cup of coffee.
“Merry Christmas, little one!”
“Where’s Mommie?”
“They’ve gone to the hospital. The baby’s coming.”
“But what about my presents?”
“You’ll have a baby brother or sister for your Christmas present.”
Cassie tried to smile, but she wanted to open the bright red gift with her name on it. She wanted her Barbie Dream House from Santa. She wondered why he hadn’t come.”



Tessa’s nightmares started again, reliving the moment Connie went over. Living it as herself going over the edge, falling, perpetually falling, hitting the bottom only to fall again.
Marrying Stewart after all, being in her Chinese silk wedding gown, all bloody and ragged from falling. And always with Howie looking on.

In some of the nightmares, she pushed Connie over. In some of them, Connie pushed her over the edge.
The worst dreams, though, were that the wedding was taking place as planned. Except that Connie had become her, and was marrying Stew. She was shut out of her own wedding day, no one could see her, no one could hear her. She tried over and again to engage, to dance with her groom, her new husband. But he, this man in her dreams, only had eyes for the other her. She ran and ran, around and round the entire wedding party and festivities, the cake, the bouzouki players, her family, her friends – HER friends.
And always, she flew off the top of the mountain, her body smashing and thudding against every outcrop on the way down.”



Marni Miller was an exotic creature. Five-foot-nine and slender. Sleek black hair that she wore long and straight. And ice blue eyes.
Now, those blue eyes were snowflakes, misted and adrift. And scared. How can I tell Pop? This will kill him.
After graduation last year, Marni had remained at home to attend Valley Community College. As an art major, she knew she was a deep disappointment to her Pop; he wanted her to go into law or medicine, a generation before her time. But law did not appeal to Marni, and medicine – there was simply too much science and biology for a free spirit such as herself.
Except that now, some of that biology would have served her well. Particularly the reproductive chapters. Marni was not naïve. She knew about sex, and knew how this had happened. She just wished she knew more about the months ahead of her. Marni wished she knew about the immediate hours ahead of her, facing her Pop, but no text book could begin to address the nuances of her relationship with her father.”



Upwards of 200 guests gathered in Barclay Hall, clustered around the linen covered table. In the center stood a seven-tiered illusion in sugar.   Marzipan zoo animals marched around each layer, with yellow and pink frosting balloons bobbing in and out. The tiny top tier held a single yellow candle, nestled in a bed of pink florettes.

Upwards of 200 guests sang out, “Happy Birthday Sweet Connie. Happy birthday to you.”

Cassie sang along because she knew she wasn’t allowed not to. She knew the cake was meant for her too. She knew that Mommie and Heath had presents for her at home. And several of the guests bade her Happy Birthday as well.

But she wanted her own party. She was eleven now, she had her own friends. Mommie had let her invite a few of them to come over after school last week and Gina had made a cake. But there were no candles on it and they didn’t sing. It wasn’t really a party.


Dressed in look-alike pinafores and smocks, Cassie stood behind Connie’s beribboned high chair and helped blow out the candle. While Connie smashed her dimpled little fingers into a yellow giraffe, Cassie stole away with her china plate, and a tea cup of lemonade. Secreted on the velvet settee under the sweeping staircase, Cassie listened to the festivities of her half-sister’s first birthday. She opened her book and escaped to Misselthwaite Manor.”




Oh, darling, thank God you’re alive!” Cassie was still in shock, and this display of affection from Marni rippled through her in waves of numb bewilderment.

Marni continued, “I was so afraid it was you! I don’t know what I’d do if you had died and Cassie had lived.”

Cassie collapsed, the receiver clattered to the floor. The Police Constable picked it up, spoke into the phone in sketchy English while two medics lifted Cassie onto a stretcher.

“Mrs.” The Constable began. “Lady have black out. You to call later time.”

“Yes, yes, of course. Thank you.” The phone clicked off. In New York, on U.S. soil, Marni made ready to fly to Greece to claim the body of the daughter she had never wanted. A part of her was relieved that this unwanted person was no longer a millstone around her neck, a part of her felt great guilt at that truer sentiment. But a deeper part of her mourned the loss of a child she wished she could have loved.”












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