Wilted Dandelions: Traveling into the Unknown

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Council Bluffs Western Historic Trails Center, Catherine and Christopher Blue.

In my previous article; First Footsteps of Western Expansion, I described the process I took creating my historical romance Wilted Dandelions. How I needed to know that every detail, every mile which Rachael and Jonathan traveled was as close to authentic as humanly possible for a writer of the 21st century. Little did my husband and I know what we were getting ourselves into when we decided to follow the route I described in Wilted Dandelions

My husband and I were at one of the Western Historical Trails Center, when an old newspaper clipping caught my attention. Harold of the Newport Times wrote back in 1846, “Might as well attempt to march an army to the moon as to march overland to Oregon.” That article was written ten years after Narcissa and Jonathan’s trip.

Everything went fine for my husband and me until we drove through a dust storm in Nebraska, then we lost our cell phone connection in Wyoming, and the red light on the dashboard of our car blinked, “low fuel”. There were no gas stations in sight!

If this wasn’t enough to get us worried just a little, what I thought was a lovely white puffy cloud turned out to be snow flurries that soon covered the steep mountain side. We could only pray that our little Ford fusion was capable of hugging the steep icy and snow-covered pavement. One slip would land us upon a rocky precipice and into the gaping abyss beneath us. I glanced down at our road map. The tiny black print I had missed earlier stood out like a neon light “Wyoming back way  may not be suitable for travel during inclement weather.” We safely made it to our destination. However; the experience is imprinted upon our minds forever. casper-wyoming-national-historical-trails

I admire the bravery of these first missionaries who left the comfort of their professions and homes to ‘march to the moon’, believing in God and their Savior, Jesus. These missionaries did not come for wealth or adventure. They sacrificed their lives in order to preach the Holy Bible and Christ’s salvation message to those who were ignorant of Satan’s abyss.

The publication of Wilted Dandelions and the book signings in Michigan, Missouri, and Kansas, brought another unexpected surprise to me that ignited my passions again. Rachael and Jonathan were no longer fictitious characters. They were as real as was their over 200-year-old story about the Second Great Awakening and our nation’s history.  A story about a woman seeking God’s plan for her life, yes a woman on a mission who met her destiny, in spite of difficulties, and learned through her experiences how God doesn’t create coincidences, He designs possibilities!  wilted-dandelions-with-awards-2

Note: I will be selling copies of Wilted Dandelions at the Local Author’s fair at the Warren Civic Center Library from 12 to 5 p.m. on Friday, April 7. I hope to see you!

Writing is a Business

Southern Writers - Suite T

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

WRITING IS A BUSINESS

By Catherine Brakefield

A well-written book should inspire your imagination.

I shall never forget when I read about Helen Keller. I remember thinking, “I want to write so descriptively that a woman like Helen Keller who has never seen the sunset, heard the laughter of a child, or smelled the lusty scents of horses, will have no problem experiencing it through my words.”

I use descriptive scenes in my novels because I want my readers to be immersed into my settings, swept away into that time period, and to enjoy stepping into the role of my hero or heroine. This is so important to me that in my recent novel, Wilted Dandelions, I took a road trip out west just to make sure my scenes accurately depicted the landscape of my story.

But I often get too caught up in my characters and settings and forget that writing is a business. In “How Much Do you Know About your Target Audience,” author and writing coach Debra Butterfield writes “People read to meet a need in their life.” Butterfield does a great job in describing how the author must be very familiar with their target audience and how this steers their writing.

I steer my writing toward saved and unsaved women between mid-twenties to seventy years old. In the past, I wrote editorial articles for local newspapers and magazines. I have also written some history books, and I find that most of my readers are historically curious and romantically inspired by my novels. But men and young adults have expressed their appreciation for my novels as well.

Here comes the hard work. How do you get that great book of yours into your unknowing readers’ hands and into their hearts?

In Emma Siemasko’s article dated February 17, 2011, “15 Ways to Let the World Know About Your Awesome Business,” she says “When our founders started Grasshopper, they were intent on using natural and transparent ways to get the word out. Their goal was (and still is) to get people gabbing about what we do. If they’re happy with our product, they’ll tell their friends, who tell their friends, and so on and so forth.”

Research shows that your time has become more valuable than money. I agree. Monetary pleasures will fall by the way side. Watching my parents I realized that the older we become, the more our memories become cherished commodities. Not that couch or bookcase you bought ten years ago. Ah, but your family, good songs and good books that memory remains with you…

That is why when your novel is complete, your real work begins. Fine tune the essence of your book into one sentence and be ready to stimulate your potential reader into the imagination of words. Once you get your book out there, the next step is, as Siemasko says, “To get people gabbing” about your book.

One of the best ways to get the word out about a product and about your book is through positive reviews. Siemasko says her research shows that an army of fans can out do anything a fancy PR firm can do for a favorite author. If you like a book you need to say so to your friends and social media. The best advertising is word of mouth.

Get your book in front of the right people. If you have written a children’s book, visit day cares, parent’s groups, elementary schools, and other places where your target market is likely to be. Faith-based historical romances often find their niche in libraries and women’s and church groups. Self-help and inspirational books do well with self-help church groups, YWCA groups, and adult educational groups.

Love, life, and the legacy of words, whether you expertise is intrigue, history, romance, insight, or inspiration, a thought provoking story should encourage, up-lift the heart, and carry the reader through their trials, providing biblical wisdom for life’s decisions.

Writing is a business, and no one can sell your product better than you. Be friendly, be assessable, and be excited. You’ve created a great book, now go out and tell the world!

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Catherine says, “My readers inspire my writing! Catherine Brakefield is the author of three faith-based historical romances; The Wind of Destiny, Wilted Dandelions, and the first of a four book Destiny series, Swept into Destiny scheduled for release in May 2017. She has also written two Pictorial history books: Images of AmericaThe Lapeer Area, and Images of AmericaEastern Lapeer County. Her short stories have been published in Guidepost Books True Stories of Extraordinary Answers to Prayer Unexpected Answers and Desires of Your Heart; Baker BooksRevell, The Dog Next Door and Horse of my Heart; CrossRiver Media Publishers, The Benefit Package and Abba’s Promise; Bethany House Publishers, Jesus Talked to me Today. She enjoys swimming and horseback riding and lives in Addison Township with her husband, Edward, and their Arabian horses. Now that her children are grown and married, she and Edward are the blessed recipients of two handsome grandsons and a lovely granddaughter! See www.CatherineUlrichBrakefield.com for more information

Her author Facebook page is www.facebook.com/CatherineUlrichBrakefield To purchase Wilted Dandelions and book promotions visit www.CrossRiverMedia.com

 

 

FOOTSTEPS OF WESTERN EXPANSION

My adventurous spirit screamed yes. I dreamed of writing a novel about western expansion and those first missionaries who inched their way across the Great Divide, battling raging rivers, hostile tribes, and wild animals. Then that small voice whispered that I needed more than just my over-exuberant imagination to make my story a reality.

Research, research, and more research transpired before I allowed my characters access into my story. I felt like I was in a tiny time capsule in my search into ladies’ customs and etiquette of the era. I couldn’t believe that women couldn’t vote, lost their property rights when they married, and were considered old maids at the early age of 20! Ouch. I figured that my great grandmother’s marriage at fifteen was abnormal not normal.

I learned, too, that my missionary story really dated back to 1802 with the Second Great Awakening at a revival meeting in Cane Ridge, Kentucky, where 20,000 people attended. Because of the Holy Spirit people were healed of their afflictions and alcoholics freed of their habits. Lives changed and people realized they could be saved through the grace of God. The circuit riders, who were made up of Protestant preachers grew in numbers to spread the Good News to the neighboring communities.

But my surprise didn’t end there. In 1803 France sells the land west of the Mississippi River to the United States. A coincidence? Or did God orchestrate this event. The Louisiana Purchase gave the United States 828,000,000 square miles stretching from the Mississippi River to the east to the Rocky Mountains in the west and from the Gulf of Mexico in the south to the Canadian border in the north. A vast region had opened up to spread the gospel message.

Tent revivals continued across America well through the 1830s because of this Second Great Awakening. Those dogmatic circuit riders spread the word on horseback for over a decade throughout the country and tent revivals sprang up like giant mushrooms across the byways.

I knew Wilted Dandelions would need some strong characters to carry this important mission across the impregnable Rocky Mountains. After all, spreading the news about Jesus to the Native Americans and witnessing to the rowdy fur trappers would not be an easy task!

Beautiful, high-spirited, and head-strong spinster Rachael Rothburn evolved. And, of course, Rachael would acquire her calling at a tent revival. Equally head strong, opinionated, handsome and proud Dr. Jonathan Wheaton happily stepped into the role as leading man and hero in Wilted Dandelions. He took one look at Rachael and wanted to become a missionary, vowing he would tame her. Of course, Rachael would have no part of him. That is, until she learns she must be wed in order to go to the Oregon Territory. So a marriage of convenience is arranged. And what a stormy wedding night that was!

Still, that nagging, lingering feeling, that small voice in the back of my head, told me I needed to do more. Rachael Rothburn and Jonathan Wheaton deserved my best, for they had become as real to me as my closest friends. Wilted Dandelions was no longer a fabric of my imagination, it had become real.

I needed to know that every detail, every mile that Rachael and Jonathan traveled was as close to authentic as humanly possible for a writer of the 21st century. Little did my husband and I know what we were getting ourselves into when we decided to follow the route I described in Wilted Dandelions

Stay tuned to Part 2 of “Traveling into the Unknown”.

IF AMERICA FALLS

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“If America falls there is no champion of good left in the world,” says Pat Robertson of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN).  Biblical leaders and concerned Christians across America realize America is at a turning point in history.  Franklin Graham is traveling from state to state in a Decision America Tour prayer rally. He will be at the State Capital in Lansing Michigan on Tuesday, October 4. The prayer rally will commence at 12 p.m. on the Capital East Steps. Pat Robertson of CBN is promoting forty days of prayer for America from September 5 to October 2.

This election will have huge consequences for every American. We need to pause, pray and join hands with Pat Robertson of CBN, Franklin Graham, and with the millions of Christians throughout our country who are praying for a spiritual awakening.

“Is there still hope for America?” Yes! Our country may be divided, but God is the same God that our forefathers prayed to for guidance.

“We live in a country that is the greatest the world has ever seen. America is the last hope and bastion of freedom in the world,” says Pat Robertson. “When the first settlers landed here, they claimed America for God and asked that the Gospel would be preached throughout the world from these shores. America has worked to fulfill that covenant!”

It is up to OUR generation to continue on this legacy our fathers have left us. We owe it to our children, our country, and the depressed Christians throughout the world who are losing their lives for Christians to pray for God’s guidance and divine intervention.

Your prayers are important and can make an eternal difference. God loves you so much that He promised to make all things work out for good for His children. So exercise your faith, claim the promises of Jesus Christ. His Word declares that when two agree on earth, it will be done in heaven.

2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turned from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Words! Words! Words!

CrossRiver Authors Wordsowers

“I’m so sick of words! I get words all day through; First from him, now from you! Is that all you blighters can do?” sings Eliza Doolittle from the musical, “My Fair Lady”.

In the song “Show Me” Eliza was sick of studying, and had packed her bags. “Never do I ever want to hear another word. There isn’t one I haven’t heard.” Have you ever felt that way?

George Bernard Shaw’s, Eliza Doolittle is determined to rise above her meager existence by working hard to improve her English. Improving oneself can be disheartening and tiring, especially when we are not certain we are improving. Eliza was exasperated and says, “…one more word and I’ll scream!”

Romantic in spots, comical in others, and surprisingly philosophical, Eliza Doolittle rises from lowly flower girl to the heights of sophistication in much the same way authors hope their novels will climb from the bottom of Amazon’s charts into the ranks and starlight of popularity.

Word Sowers Christian Writers Conference held in Omaha, Nebraska, helped to encourage, equip, and educate authors so they could give back to their reading population the best novels, devotionals, and non-fiction books possible.

So now allow us to entertain you through the written word!

Attendees of Wordsowers, exuberant CrossRiver authors (from left to right) R. J. Thesman, Catherine Brakefield, Angela Meyer, and CrossRiver editor, Debra Butterfield are ready to share with the public their unique books.

Just think of it. Through the twenty-six letters of the alphabet, gathered into a cluster of rhythm and rhyme, words have the power to entertain, inspire, thrill, and humor you. So while grabbing a little sun, or vacationing at the cabin, read a good book today.

See http://www.crossrivermedia.com/ for some great books!

Wilted Dandelions connects East with West

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My faith-based historical romance Wilted Dandelions is about eastern missionaries Rachael and Jonathan Wheaton, traveling westward during the 1830s to minister to Native Americans. You can just imagine my elation when Twila Shreves from Altoona, Iowa invited me for a book signing at Hidden Treasures Gifts and Boutique on Thursday, from 4 to 6 p.m. April 28.

Lewis and Clark said of the west, “It was like going to the moon.”

Little could those first missionaries know that in the 1860s The Oregon Trail, would lead hopeful families to the same place these brave Christian missionaries; Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, Henry and Eliza Spalding and now my characters, Rachael and Jonathan Wheaton, went seeking to save the spiritual lost.

Rachael had to learn to trust God completely before she could reach her life mission. Like Rachael, we need to learn how to tap into that inner strength God gives us to rise above the pits of despair into the starlight of answered dreams.

Sod House with Ed Everywhere Edward and I drove, were the remnants of the trials and accomplishments of our early ancestors. Like this sod house standing along a busy highway. The clothesline outside, the rain barrel, the little flower box, and the curtains hung with care inside those walls of dirt.

Much of the tourist sites had changed from when I took my first road trip as a girl of seventeen. Only the people remained the same. The same friendly faces, the same stanch pride in their state and country, and the same helpful hand that was always extended to my husband and I. Christopher Blue, technical preservation specialist, Western Historic Trails Center read a proof of Wilted Dandelions and supplied this review:

“Catherine Brakefield has carefully woven several genres of fiction into a singular, well-crafted, narrative…Rachael is strong, independent, and committed to her beliefs, she is also product of her times and susceptible to the pressures of the day…”

Council Bluffs, Iowa Western Historic Trails CenterEdward and I are eagerly looking forward to meeting Christopher Blue of Council Bluffs again and you at Hidden Treasures Gifts and Boutique on Thursday, 4 to 6 p.m., April 28. Plan on sharing your stories about the west! Rachael and Jonathan’s trail in Wilted Dandelions will be available. Refreshments will be provided and two complimentary gifts are provided with every book purchase.

Hidden Treasures Gifts and Boutique is located on 100 8th Street. Altoona, Iowa

 

Oakland County author explores history and the Christian heart

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From left to right Zelma Fellows and author Catherine Brakefield during Summerfest at Christ the King Church.

Learn how to tap into that inner strength God gives to us to rise above the pits of despair into the starlight of answered dreams. Oakland County Author Explores History and the Christian Heart

Thank you Rachel Moulden for this beautiful article! The above article will be in print version in The Oakland Press Sunday arts section.

Don’t miss Wilted Dandelions’ book signing, Sunday, March 20, at Barnes and Noble, 2800 South Rochester Road, Rochester Hills. See you there!