The Red Feather by April W. Gardner

War, captivity, hunger that will not be denied. And a blackberry moon with enough pull to endure the test of time.

The Red Feather by April W. GardnerFrontierswoman Adela McGirth has never feared her neighbors, the Creek Indians, but a suspicious encounter with a steely-eyed warrior shakes her confidence. As dreaded, a skirmish with the natives sends her family fleeing into a hastily constructed fort. But no picket is strong enough to hold off a party of warriors who fear nothing but the loss of their ancient ways.

Totka Lawe, a Red Stick bound by honor to preserve his heritage, will do what he must to expel the whites from Muscogee soil. But in the midst of battle, he is assigned to protect those he’s expected to hate and kill. One of whom is the copper-haired woman who has haunted his thoughts since that strange night under the blackberry moon. The war was simpler before his enemy became a beautiful face with a gentle warrior’s spirit he cannot resist.

But what woman would have a warrior whose blood-soaked hands destroyed her life? Then again…does she have a choice?

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My Thoughts

Dances with Wolves meets The Last of the Mohicans with a splash of The Colonel’s Lady and oh the warm fuzzies as I read this book, y’all! There are precious few things I enjoy more than a thoroughly researched historical novel. Native Americans are some of my favorite people groups to learn about and the strength of their spirit is awe inspiring.

At first glance, Adela McGirth is a simple, carefree, middle daughter of an Alabama territory family. Her faith carries her through trials and tragedy, revealing a fierce and feisty young frontier woman ready and able to stand up for herself and her loved ones. Adela lives out her faith and chooses to literally love her enemies even in the most trying circumstances.

From the first time he sees her, Totka Lawe is both enchanted and befuddled by the copper-haired woman. He is torn between his duty to preserve his heritage and the growing desire he has to make Copper Woman his own. Totka is frustrated by the obstacle of her faith yet he remains honorable and patient.

April Gardner has captured the beautiful contrast between the beliefs, traditions, and history of the frontiersman and those of their Muscogee neighbors. This story captured my heart and transported me to that tumultuous time in our history. I am a BIG FAN now and I can’t wait to read more!

I received a copy of this book from the author. The opinions expressed are my own.
This review THIS REVIEW FIRST APPEARED ON FAITHFULLY BOOKISH

 

About the Author

April W. GardnerA military spouse, April has performed the art of homemaking all over the world. Currently, she lives in Georgia with her two children, and USAF spouse. She is unashamedly a child of the King. In her free time, April enjoys reading, organizing, and DIY. In no particular order, she dreams of owning a horse, visiting all the national parks, and speaking Italian.

After a year gaining experience as content editor with Clean Reads, April is now a freelance editor, certified through the University of California, San Diego. As a way to give back to the writing community and to promote Christian fiction, April founded and runs the literary contest site, Clash of the Titles.

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REVIEW BY BETH ERIN

Book Spotlight: The Sacred Writings by April W. Gardner

Happy Wednesday, Reader Friends!!

Thanks for stopping by today. I’m happy to share a new book spotlight, The Sacred Writings, by April W. Gardner. This is part two in Beneath the Blackberry Moon. Let’s get started!

About the Book

Big Warrior Totka Hadjo enters his toughest battles yet—the fight for love, the invasion of fear, and the inescapable ashes of each.

The war has ended, and now, Totka Hadjo must endure eleven moons and twenty-six sleeps without his beloved Copper Woman. But he has a two-fold task to keep him occupied: establish a lodge deserving of her and challenge her Jesus Creator to a vision, to prove his existence.

Totka leaves the white settlements with Copper Woman’s holy book, an object with medicine strong enough to keep at bay the hounding ghosts of his unavenged ancestors. But the sacred writings cannot restrain the Bluecoat who has returned from the dead, the one who first owned her heart. From the far reaches of the Muscogee Confederacy, Totka is powerless to stop the onslaught of events that conspires to take his beloved from him forever.

Leaping Waters, Totka’s old passion, is a constant presence he cannot escape, but she might be able to unlock the spiritual mysteries found in the holy book’s talking leaves. While he wades through the confusing symbols, the Choctaws, his ancient enemy, are determined to seize prime Muscogee hunting lands. In the process, they aggravate wounds that might never heal and expose him to a truth too bitter to swallow.

Denial and revenge go down much easier.

Purchase: Amazon

About the Author

APRIL W GARDNER writes history with a Christian perspective and a little imagination.

She is a copyeditor, military wife, and homeschooling mother of two who lives in Texas. She writes Christian historical romance with a focus on our Southeastern Native tribes. In no particular order, April dreams of owning a horse, learning a third language, and visiting all the national parks.

Connect and follow: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Author Interview: April W. Gardner

Happy Monday, y’all! Wait to you see who’s chatting with us today! That’s right, April W. Gardner, historical romance author. She’s going to be talking about her novel, The Red Feather. Be sure to check out her other books on the Diverse Books recommendation page AND Beth Erin will be sharing her review of The Red Feather, later this week. Let’s get started!


About the Book

theredfeatherOn a moonless night in 1813, Adela McGirth encounters a set of wolves and the steely eyed warrior who slays them, searing himself on her heart. When he returns, it’s with a brand of a different sort—the flaming arrow that destroys her life.

In the copper-haired captive, Totka Lawe finds the other half of his spirit. He vows he would die ten deaths to protect her, and he would kill any who tried to steal her away. With bluecoat soldiers pursuing him, a jealous cousin pursuing her, and the woman herself pursuing home, that vow stands a serious chance of being called into action.

In the first of this three-part, inspirational story, award-winning author April W Gardner brings to vibrant life an obscure event and the noble people who once dominated the Southeast but are now forgotten.

Purchase at: Amazon    Add to: Goodreads


About the Author

aprilwgardnerAPRIL W GARDNER writes history with a Christian perspective and a little imagination.

She is a copyeditor, military wife, and homeschooling mother of two who lives in Texas. She writes Christian historical romance with a focus on our Southeastern Native tribes. In no particular order, April dreams of owning a horse, learning a third language, and visiting all the national parks.

Connect and follow: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads


Interview

Toni: Thank you so much for joining us to talk about The Red Feather, part 1 in the Beneath the Blackberry Moon saga. I’m tickled pink that you’ve chosen to focus on Native Americans in this book. Care to share a little about the tribe Totka Lawe is part of?

April: Sure! But before I dive into that, thank you for having me, and thank you for this blog. It’s more needful today than ever before, and I’m honored both to have been invited and to write diverse characters.

Totka is Muscogee, or Creek as his people were first called by the British. For over a hundred years, the Muscogees were the dominate people group in our Southeast. They ruled from the East Coast to present-day Alabama and beyond. When they migrated into the area, they were smart conquerors and incorporated the tribes they overtook into themselves and, over time, created the Creek Confederacy. It was so mighty that President George Washington treated it with the same respect he did the European nations.

This history is taught in few American schools today. The Creeks and their history have been systematically swept under the rug since 1813 when the nation raged over the massacre at Fort Mims (the setting of The Red Feather). It was the largest massacre of whites by Natives in our history (some estimate 500 dead). The event was horrific, no denying, but I take special care to show both sides of the story. I tell it through the eyes a Muscogee warrior named Totka who simply wants to preserve his land and his culture from encroaching whites. Their method of warfare was a more violent one than Americans were (and are) accustomed to, but they were behaving in accordance with their culture and traditions. However, from that day on, Americans associated the Creek Nation with disgust and began to wipe them from the history books. It’s their forgotten story I long to tell.

Toni: Wow! Now you’ve got me wanting to do a search to learn more! Such an interesting story to tell. And your other character,  Adela McGirth, is Totka Lawe’s captive. Man, oh man, did that get my attention in the blurb. There’s a struggle that appears between one’s past life, present circumstances, and the future. How does Adela handle the pressure?

April: Adela is the other half of the equation, and her story is based on the actual McGirth family. They were rescued from the fort in the heat of the battle and protected by a Muscogee warrior for the duration of the war. The romance is my own invention, which wasn’t easy to do, considering Totka is partly to blame for Adela’s grief. How does she handle it? The only way any person can handle such a thing and come out the stronger for it is through the power of Christ. Apart from His grace and the comfort of the Holy Spirit, I don’t know if it’s possible to survive such a thing emotionally, much less come away loving the enemy. Adela is a strong character to begin with, and though she does emerge from the ordeal bearing emotional scars, she relies heavily on God, staying true to Him and her faith.

Toni: God is amazing! I love to see how His presences changes a person. Now, since we’re all about diversity, I have to ask, how did you develop Totka Lawe’s character without falling into racial stereotypes?

April: With lots of help! My dear expert, Ghost Dancer, is Muscogee. He is passionate about preserving his heritage and has dedicated countless hours to helping me get it right. Without his guidance and the careful eye of another expert and friend, Edna, I probably would have stumbled into more than one racial stereotype.

Toni: How awesome! I love to hear who authors have spoken to in their research. What is it about this time in history that captivates you so?

April: Good question! I grew up hearing that my great-great-something grandfather was Billy (Red Eagle) Weatherford, one of the attacking Creeks who later leapt from a bluff to save his people from the pursuit of General Andrew Jackson. As a young adult, I dug into that story, wished it were told in novel form, and decided to do it myself. My research became an addiction and a love that continues to this day.

Toni: Ah, that makes sense. Family history has a way of weaving into our present. How about some easier questions?
What do you do for fun in your spare time?

April: Um, write? LOL. Other things I enjoy doing are walking my fur-babies (two German Shepherds), visiting historical sites, and reading.

Toni: German Shepherds are such gorgeous animals. How about favorite meal?

April: Anything I don’t have to cook. Ha! But if you’re looking for something specific… I’m a big rice girl. If it has rice, I’m a fan!

Toni: Kindred spirits! I say the same thing and rice is wonderful. Especially with butter and sugar. But I digress. Favorite Christian song?

April: There are a ton of contemporary songs that I adore, but my favorite hymn is “The Love of God” by Frederick Lehman. The third verse is my favorite:

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Toni: Beautiful! Last but not least, what’s next for you on your writing journey?

April: Glad you asked! Bitter Eyes No More released February 7. Its tagline is, “A man of abiding honor, tested by a woman of ruinous passion. A woman of unspeakable sins, pursued by a God of unquenchable mercy.” It takes place during the last days of Spanish Florida and depicts the upheaval between the Spanish, Natives, and Bluecoats (American soldiers).

It’s such a new release that my “what’s next” is still at least six months away, but I’m already working on it. The fifth book in the Creek Country Saga is entitled Love the War Woman. Its female lead is a Muscogee woman who is, you guessed it, a warrior. She is bodyguard to Chief Tall Bull who is far too handsome and prestigious to consider loving a roughened woman such as herself. It’s set during the inciting event of the First Seminole War, and because of the rare setting and characterization, it promises to be quite unique!

Toni: It sounds great! I’m looking forward to it and definitely adding your books to my TBR pile. Thank you so much for talking with me today.  I’ve enjoyed it. 🙂 What about you, reader friends? Care to ask April some questions?


Interview conducted by Toni Shiloh

Open Discussion: Where can you get diverse fiction published?

Happy Saturday, y’all!

Thanks for joining me as we settle down for another open discussion. One common question I’ve seen across social media is where can you get ethnically diverse Christian fiction published?

Readers are clamoring for fiction that fits their lives. Not everyone around them looks like they do, experiences the same life issues they do, etc. Yet, their fiction usually focuses on the same theme, a Caucasian who lives in a small-town.

A lot of ethnic authors are Indie (independently/self-publishing) publishing their works. Each has their own reason, but some Indie publish, because no one will take their ethnically diverse characters.

So, if you know of an agent or publishing company (small press, big press, etc.) who wants diversity, leave a comment and help an author out. 🙂

But, before you go, since this is an open discussion, tell me, what do you think publishers should do to change the market to be open to everyone regardless of race?

Color of Danger by Alexa Verde

About the Book

Color of Danger by Alexa Verde
Secrets of Rios Azules #1
Genre: Romantic Suspense

color of dangerFormer runaway Mari Del Lobo works hard to save her struggling restaurant and to trust people again. Dallas surgeon Dr. Luke Goodman turns her world upside down with terrifying news. A recent murder has her late brother’s – aka the Smiling Killer – signature and MO. When attacks on her escalate, Mari fights her growing attraction to the good doctor as fiercely as she fights for her life. To rescue herself and those she loves, will she be able to stop the murderer before he strikes again?

Luke couldn’t save his fiancée from the Smiling Killer, but he’ll do anything to prevent more murders, even ask help from the serial killer’s sister. Finding a kindred tortured soul and the perpetrator’s next target in Mari, Luke is determined to protect the stubborn ex-rebel. But Mari would rather face danger than risk the safety of the man she comes to love.

GOODREADS | AMAZON

My Thoughts

Life in the sleepy small town of Rios Azules in South Texas was not so calm and monotonous after all.

Color of Danger is packed with suspense! It starts off with some pretty high-stakes tension and doesn’t let up for very long throughout the course of the novel.  There’s not a lot of action necessarily, but the suspense is set up more psychologically. As a reader I got to the point where I almost didn’t trust anyone and about the time I thought I had it figured out, the author threw me another curve. This not only kept the pace of the novel steady, it also kept me engaged throughout.

Mari is the kind of character that makes you smile – spunky, feisty, determined. She loves fiercely and refuses to let anyone put her into a certain mold or expectation. Luke is the yummy doctor who thinks he’s part-cop, but I’m not complaining because his protective instincts made him even yummier. A cast of secondary and tertiary characters add more layers to the multi-cultural relationship between Mari and Luke. Part of that diverse blend is Mari’s childhood group of friends who are featured in the prequel novella and subsequent books in the series as well.

If you want a nail-biter of a suspense novel with plenty of twists and turns, then you’ve come to the right place! While it’s true that some of the characters’ motives and reactions didn’t ring true for me and others fell flat, the romance is sweet and endearing and the friendships are inspiring. I also really enjoyed watching Mari journey closer to Jesus – her progress was very sweet and without pretense. Again, the suspense held my attention nicely and kept me guessing through most of the novel. If you’re a fan of the TV show Criminal Minds, you need to add Color of Danger to your TBR list!

I VOLUNTARILY REVIEWED A COMPLIMENTARY COPY OF THIS BOOK WHICH I RECEIVED FROM THE PUBLISHER. ALL VIEWS EXPRESSED ARE ONLY MY HONEST OPINION.
THIS REVIEW ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON READING IS MY SUPERPOWER

About the Author

alexa-verde-253x300Alexa Verde writes sweet, wholesome books about faith, love, and murder. She penned her first literary masterpiece, a rhymed poem, at the ripe age of eight, and since has had 200 short stories, articles, and poems published in the five languages that she speaks. She has bachelor’s degrees in English and Spanish, a master’s in Russian, and enjoys writing about characters with diverse cultures. She can claim her 15 seconds of Amazon fame with her books climbing to the #1 spot in Hispanic American and #3 in Christian Mystery & Suspense. She’s worn the hats of reporter, teacher, translator, model (even one day counts!), caretaker, and secretary, but thinks that the writer’s hat suits her the best. After traveling the world and living in both hemispheres, she calls a small town in south Texas home. The latter is an inspiration for the fictional setting of her popular series Secrets of Rios Azules. For giveaways (for example, Russian souvenirs), news, and recipes, please sign up for her newsletter at www.alexaverde.com.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER


Review by Carrie

Book Spotlight: A Girl Named Mister by Nikki Grimes

We have another YA book for you all to check out from award winning author Nikki Grimes!

About the Book

3052eb_f450Mary Rudine, called Mister by almost everyone, has attended church and sung in the choir for as long as she can remember. But then she meets Trey. His long lashes and smooth words make her question everything, and one mistake leaves her hiding a growing secret.

Another Mary is excited about her upcoming wedding, and has done everything according to Jewish law. So when an angel appears and tells her—a virgin—she’ll give birth, Mary can’t help but feel confused, and soon finds herself struggling with the realities of God’s blessing.

While feeling abandoned, Mister is drawn to Mary’s story, and through reading begins to understand the future laid before her.

What Critics Are Saying

“This novel in poetry looks clearly at both teen pregnancy and struggles with faith. Mister is exceptionally well characterized … The language is intimate and immediate.” -Kirkus Reviews

Where to Buy: Amazon | B&N | CBD

About the Author

ph_nikkigrimes_2016_300dpi_3x5New York Times bestselling author Nikki Grimes is the recipient of the 2017 Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, the 2016 Virginia Hamilton Literary Award, and the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. Her distinguished works include the much-honored books Garvey’s Choice, ALA Notable book What is Goodbye?, Coretta Scott King Award winner Bronx Masquerade, and Coretta Scott King Author Honor books Jazmin’s Notebook, Talkin’ About Bessie, Dark Sons, Words with Wings, and The Road to Paris. Creator of the popular Meet Danitra Brown, Ms. Grimes lives in Corona, California.

Connect with the author!
Website | Twitter | Facebook

Author Interview: Ronie Kendig

In today’s interview, I’m talking to Ronie Kendig, author of 15 novels and six novellas. Her rapid-fire fiction keeps her readers turning pages.


About the Book: 

51-1sjmtk9lDon your tactical gear and enter the world of black ops and espionage within the pages of Ronie Kendig’s thriller Firethorn. Former Marine Griffin “Legend” Riddell, a fugitive from injustice, finds it difficult to trust anyone. Covert operative Kazi Faron, the woman sent to free him, has a dangerous secret that may jeopardize her life, mission, and the only man she respects. As Griffin and Kazi race around the globe to save Nightshade, the danger mounts. Will they find the culprit sabotaging their black ops team? Can their newfound feelings and trust survive when Griffin and Kazi face truth and terror?

Purchase: Amazon, B&N, CBD


778896_560430620636255_619789673_o

Bio: Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author of a dozen novels. She grew up an Army brat. Now, she and her husband, an Army veteran, have an adventurous life in Northern Virginia with their children and a retired military working dog, VVolt N629. Ronie’s degree in Psychology has helped her pen novels of intense, raw characters.

Follow at: Website, Facebook, Twitter


Terri: It’s so great to have you here today. I fell in love your writing from the first book I read but Firethorn, the fourth book in your Discarded Heroes series, is extra special for me. How did you decide to write not only an ethnic character but an interracial couple, also?

Ronie: The development of Marine hero Griffin “Firethorn” Riddell wasn’t borne out of a conscious decision to “inject” ethnicity into my series but rather at the outset, I simply “saw” the team built up of diversity, which I feel is indicative our military itself. When I first encountered Griffin and dug deep into the research to know his story, I knew the only woman who’d both command respect and demand attention from him would be his complete opposite—so, where’s he’s large (6’4” and 250 lbs), she is petite (5’5”). Where he is content to sit back and let people figure things out, she was confrontational. Where he is African American, she was a very Caucasian with white-blond hair and fair skin.

Terri: Did you worry about pushback from your readers?

Ronie: In all honesty, *I* didn’t expect pushback because I didn’t think like that. However, when some involved wth the publication of my book suggested I should change Griffins ethnicity, I was both taken aback and angered, because to me, Griffin was who he was. It was his essence. I had even been told to be prepared to ‘get slaughtered’ for being a white female writing a black male.

Terri: There has been a significant amount of talk about sensitivity readers in the publishing world right now. You employed used sensitivity readers for this book. Why was it important for you to get their perspective?

Ronie: These new terms are interesting to me. When I wrote Firethorn almost seven or eight years ago, I approached his ethnicity with as much research fervor as I do with any other ethnicity or profession. Honestly, I simply wanted to get it right and show respect/honor to those within that culture that I was writing about. But because some in my publishing world had concerns, I was especially keen on getting it right with Griffin’s ethnicity. I had several long conversations with author and friend Michelle Stimpson, as well as with yourself, Terri, regarding writing an African American character. And quite honestly, you both educated me on things that I simply had never thought about—as happens with most “experts” I’ve spoken to. Writing is as much about learning as it is about entertainment to me.

Terri: Your books often take your characters into other cultures and locations around the world. How do you show these cultures without leaning towards stereotypes?

There are many ways to gain that information and accurately portray those cultures. A few include: digging around travel sites; reading pieces/articles/blogs by those who live there; talking with those who’ve been there. It’s the nuances—the smells, the colloquialisms, the foods, etc., that bring a culture alive in a novel. And quite honestly, if something is stereotypical of a culture/character, I work to make that “element” NOT a part of the character or turn it on its head. I think the biggest thing is to apply the same level of respect and intention/determination toward ethnicity as we do to professions within our books.

I think we need to write “unafraid,” because when you aren’t THAT person or haven’t worked THAT profession, you’re going to get something wrong. For example, I’d written something for a character from another country one time, based on direct input from someone from said country. Yet, another person from said country chastised me for not doing my research and said it was wrong. *shrug* But you have to be willing to make mistakes, learn and grow, both as a person and as a writer.

Terri: Coffee or Tea?

Ronie: Yes. Seriously, it depends on the day or maybe even the diet I’m on. LOL I love love a good cup of herbal tea, but I also savor having a caramel macchiato.

Terri: What is your go-to writing snack?

Ronie: The Krakken—apple sliced with peanut butter.

Terri: What’s next for Ronie Kendig?

I’ve been asking the Lord that myself. Ha. I’m currently about to delve into book 3 of The Tox Files, but after that? I’m exploring options that will continue writing paramilitary suspense as I’ve loved doing and have developed in my brand, Rapid-Fire Fiction.

Thank you so much for joining us today. I look forward to whatever God leads you to next.