Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Selah Awards Finalist!

 


Hey everyone,

I want to share my exciting news with you! UNDER THE TULIP TREE is a Finalist in the 2021 Selah Awards Contest, sponsored by the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference! For a complete list of Finalists, go to the BRMCWC Facebook page. Winners will be announced at the conference later this year. 


If you haven't had a chance to check out UNDER THE TULIP TREE, now is a good time to do it! Here's a blurb about the story:
Sixteen-year-old Lorena Leland’s dreams of a rich and fulfilling life as a writer are dashed when the stock market crashes in 1929. Seven years into the Great Depression, Rena’s banker father has retreated into the bottle, her sister is married to a lazy charlatan and gambler, and Rena is an unemployed newspaper reporter. Eager for any writing job, Rena accepts a position interviewing former slaves for the Federal Writers’ Project. There, she meets Frankie Washington, a 101-year-old woman whose honest yet tragic past captivates Rena.

As Frankie recounts her life as a slave, Rena is horrified to learn of all the older woman has endured—especially because Rena’s ancestors owned slaves. While Frankie’s story challenges Rena’s preconceptions about slavery, it also connects the two women whose lives are otherwise separated by age, race, and circumstances. But will this bond of respect, admiration, and friendship be broken by a revelation neither woman sees coming?

Thank you, Readers and Judges, for choosing UNDER THE TULIP TREE! It's truly an honor. 

For purchase information, visit my website

Blessings,

~Michelle

Friday, January 29, 2021

Exciting News and a Giveaway!

UPDATE: The winners of my giveaway--Susie Q and dpruss--have been notified via email. THANK YOU to everyone who left a comment. And WELCOME to everyone who signed up as a NEW subscriber to the blog!! I appreciate you all very much! I'll have more giveaways in the coming months, so stay tuned! ~Michelle


Hello, Friends!

I want you to be the first to know my exciting news! 



I've just signed a contract with Tyndale House Publishers for my NEW historical time-slip novel, tentatively titled HOLD ON TO THIS MOMENT. Whoo-hoo! Release date to be determined, but look for it sometime in 2022! I'll share more details in the coming months, but for now I want to celebrate and you're invited to join the fun!!

I'm giving away TWO signed copies of UNDER THE TULIP TREE to TWO lucky subscribers of my blog (which is also my newsletter)! Here's all you need to do to be entered:

  1. Become a subscriber if you aren't already subscribed! It's easy to do. On the upper right hand corner of this page, you'll see a box that says "Sign up to receive my blog in your inbox." Type in your email address and submit. Done! If you're already a subscriber, you're already entered in the contest.
  2. Next, leave a comment on this post and tell me the name of your all-time favorite novel. (Nope, it doesn't have to be one of mine. Haha!) But remember, only subscribers who leave a comment will be entered in the contest. (If you're reading this in an email, click the link to the blog and pop over here to leave your comment.)
On Saturday, February 6, I'll draw ONE winner from the list of subscribers and ONE winner from everyone who leaves a comment. I'll notify the winners via email and post an update here. 

Thank you for your continued encouragement and support. I appreciate each one of you more than you'll ever know!

Okay! Let the fun begin!

Blessings,

~Michelle

Sunday, January 17, 2021

LISTEN: My word for 2021

 Happy New Year!

I hope 2021 has started well for each of you. Many are still feeling the effects of all that happened in 2020, and my prayer is that this new year will bring peace, joy, healing, and everything else this hurting world needs. 


For the past few years, I've chosen a word to meditate on in the new year. TRUST in 2017 when we lost our jobs and moved to Tennessee. REST in 2018 after surviving the craziness of 2017. HOPE in 2019 as I began writing a new book. COURAGE in 2020 as that book, Under the Tulip Tree, went out in to the world. 


The word I've chosen for 2021 is LISTEN. 

Listen is such an interesting word. To listen is different than simply hearing. We hear things--music, voices, birds, traffic, etc-- all day long, but we don't necessarily listen to them. The Pharisees heard Jesus speaking, but they didn't listen to what he was saying. The same is all too often true when GOD speaks to us today. Whether it's through His Word or through our spirits, listening to him--not just hearing--is vital! To listen also requires action. James 1:22 says, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says!"

With the new year underway, I'm determined to listen more. I looked up a few verses to keep me on track: 

"Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone." Deuteronomy 6:4 NLT

"This is my Son, my Chosen One. Listen to him." Luke 9:35 and Mark 9:7 NLT

"Listen to me and remember what I say." Luke 9:44 NLT

"Pay attention to how you hear." Luke 8:18 NLT

And my favorite, the verse I've chosen for 2021:

"My sheep listen to my voice. I know them, and they follow me." John 10:27 NLT

Listen. 

I think it's a great way to start a new year! This song by Chris McClarney, I'm Listening, is the perfect song to go with it. "Quiet my heart, I'm listening."




Blessings, 

~Michelle


Sunday, December 20, 2020

An Angel's Story: Part One


From my family to yours, 
MERRY CHRISTMAS! 

May you experience the True Joy of Christmas!
This year has been incredibly difficult for many people around the world. Yet despite it all, Christmas still comes. Jesus didn't enter a perfect world all those years ago. In fact, the people of those days could probably relate to much of what's happened in 2020. 

A few years ago, I wondered what it might have been like to be an angel during those days. We read in the Bible about the angel Gabriel coming to tell Mary and then the shepherds about Jesus, but perhaps there was another angel--one who wasn't entirely certain what was happening. 

This is his story.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

AN ANGEL'S STORY
PART ONE 


Excitement tingled in the air. I and all the angels of heaven, as well as those serving on earth, had been summoned to present ourselves before the LORD. Something big was happening, but no one knew what. I hurried to take my place among the multitude, anticipation making it hard to stand still. When we'd all assembled--ten thousand times ten thousand and more!---Gabriel stepped forward and stood near God's throne. The Lamb sat on a throne on God's right. He looked peaceful, serene.

God rose from his seat and everyone grew quiet.

"Today the prophecy I gave my servant Isaiah will be fulfilled." His voice thundered through the heavens.

A hushed murmur rose from the crowd of angels. We knew God spoke of the covenant he'd made with a human named Isaiah, one of God's chosen race, the Hebrews. Isaiah was obedient and faithful, and God had placed upon him the responsibility to be His voice throughout the ages to the disobedient Jews. Through Isaiah, God promised to send a Messiah, One who would save the entire world from sin. God's patience with mankind continued to amaze me. They deserved the same fate as the people in Noah's day, but God promised never to destroy them again. Instead, He set in place a plan of salvation that even I didn't fully understand.

Seeing Gabriel standing beside God, I wondered if perhaps he was being sent to save the human race. Gabriel would be a good choice. He was strong and mighty, and God had sent him to earth on other occasions.

But just when I expected God to call Gabriel forward, the Lamb stood.

A collective gasp went through the crowd. Surely not the Lamb!

"I am sending the Lamb to be a sacrifice for all mankind," God said. "Whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life with us."

"No!" angels shouted all around me. "Not our Prince!"

God raised his hand for silence. "It must be so. There is no other way."

I looked and saw Michael and his army draw their swords. Relief swept through me. The Lamb would be protected. No harm would come to him.

But God instructed them to put their weapons away. "The Lamb will go alone. He will become human. He will be born of a virgin, and he will grow in wisdom and stature. After a time, however, the men of earth will reject him and kill him."

A terrible hurt rose inside me. I'd heard humans talk about something called sorrow, and I knew this must be what they meant. The pain grew deeper than anything I'd ever known as I watched my beloved Prince--heaven's treasure--depart God's presence. I didn't understand how God could allow this to happen, but I trusted Him to know what was best. He had never failed us before, and I knew He would not fail us now.

I felt a strange wetness on my face and was surprised to find tears dripping from my eyes. I looked and saw others around me wiping wetness from their faces too.

I hadn't known before.

Angels can cry.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Click here to continue reading An Angel's Story Part 2.

Click here to read An Angel's Story Part 3, the Conclusion.



Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt STOP #20


UPDATE! 
THE HUNT IS OFFICIALLY CLOSED.  THE WINNER OF A SIGNED COPY OF UNDER THE TULIP TREE WILL BE NOTIFIED VIA EMAIL.  
THANK YOU TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED!

Welcome to the Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt! If you’ve just discovered the hunt, be sure to start at Stop #1, and collect the clues through all the stops, in order, so you can enter to win one of our top 5 grand prizes!
  • Hunt through our loop using Chrome or Firefox as your browser (not Explorer). 
  • There is NO RUSH to complete the hunt—you have all weekend (until Sunday, 10/18 at midnight MST)! So take your time, reading the unique posts along the way; our hope is that you discover new authors/new books and learn new things about them. 
  • Submit your entry for the grand prizes by collecting the CLUE on each author’s scavenger hunt post and submitting your answer in the Rafflecopter form at the final stop, back on Lisa’s site. Many authors are offering additional prizes along the way!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I'm so glad you're here! I'm Michelle Shocklee, a fellow reader, but also a writer of historical fiction. As an admitted history nerd, I dearly love digging into the past through research and by visiting musty old buildings, forts, and battlefields, always imagining what it would have been like to live in bygone days. You can find out more about me and my books here on my blog, on my website, Facebook page, Twitter, and Instagram. 

My newest release, UNDER THE TULIP TREE, is a time-slip novel based on the Federal Writers' Project Slave Narratives. It tells the story of two women, separated by age, race, and circumstance, who form an unlikely friendship in 1936. But will this bond of respect, admiration, and friendship be broken by a revelation neither woman sees coming?

"Shocklee elevates the redemptive power of remorse and 
the grace of forgiveness in this moving saga." 
~Publishers Weekly

"With its haunting message of forgiveness, this is a must-buy for 
any Christian or historical fiction collection."
~Library Journal

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you haven't had an opportunity to read the word-for-word narratives of 1936, I highly recommend searching them out online at the Library of Congress. Reading them was life-changing for me. In the meantime, let me introduce you to a few of the people whose stories inspired some of the most unforgettable characters I've ever written.

Anderson and Minerva Edwards, Ages 93 and 87, Marshall, Texas
Library of Congress, 1936-38

Anderson and Minerva Edwards, a Baptist preacher and his wife, were slaves on adjoining plantations in Texas. Anderson was born in 1844, and Minerva in 1850. They were married after emancipation and raised sixteen children. The first "church" Anderson attended was under a big mulberry tree on the plantation. His master told him that if he was good and obeyed his master, he'd go to heaven. But Anderson felt there was more to it than that, and kept praying until "I felt the change in my heart. I was by myself down by a spring when I found the Lord."

I find their love story and their faith in God incredibly inspiring. The relationship between Frankie and Sam in UNDER THE TULIP TREE is loosely based on them.

Sam Jones Washington, Age 88, Texas
Library of Congress, 1936-1938

His smile is infectious. I can almost hear him chuckling at something the photographer said before snapping his picture. A picture that would, 82 years later, inspire the character of Sam in my novel UNDER THE TULIP TREE.

Sam Jones Washington was born a slave in Wharton County, Texas. He was sixteen years old when the Civil War ended. Like many slaves in Texas, he wasn’t aware of the war or its end until his master told him he was free and would now earn a wage for his work. After the war, he farmed and worked in a factory before retiring. I hope he doesn't mind that I borrowed his name and his smile for my character, Sam.

                                                          Unnamed Mississippi cotton sharecropper
Library of Congress, 1937

I'll never know her name, but her photograph changed my novel.

Her right hand, resting in her lap, looks different. Large and possibly disfigured. As I studied it, I couldn't help but wonder, "What happened to her hand?" That question--and the answer I eventually imagined--changed Frankie's story in UNDER THE TULIP TREE. It changed me, too. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here's the Stop #20 Basics: 
  • If you're interested, you can order UNDER THE TULIP TREE on Amazon, B&N, ChristianBook, or at your local bookstore!
  • Clue to Write Down: that
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Before you go, be sure to become a Subscriber to this Blog for a chance to win a print copy of UNDER THE TULIP TREE (US only) or an eBook copy of one of my plantation novels! To become a Subscriber and be entered in this exclusive giveaway, just type your email address in the box on the top-right of this page! Easy and done! I'll notify the winner Monday, October 19.

Every blessing,

~Michelle 

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Why Forgiveness is Important, Even in Fiction

 


Forgiveness is a major theme in my latest novel, Under the Tulip Tree. I appreciate the way Publishers Weekly put it in their review of the book: the grace of forgiveness. 

Forgiveness isn't an easy subject to write about, mainly because the act of forgiving isn't always easy. It's especially hard when the person who needs forgiveness extended to them has done the unspeakable to you or to someone you love. 

Such is the case with the character of Frankie in Under the Tulip Tree. In the book, she is a 101-year old woman who was a slave before the Civil War. It's now 1936 and she's been asked to tell her story to a young white woman who works for the Federal Writers' Project, a real government program that sent out-of-work writers across 17 states to collect first-hand stories from former slaves. Those stories--more than 2,300 of them plus over 500 photographs--are now archived in the Library of Congress in Washington DC. 

In my research for the book, I read well over one hundred narratives (and listened to a handful of unforgettable recordings), captured by the raw honesty of the stories these former slaves told. It was that kind of honesty I hoped to portray through the character of Frankie. One of the things that struck me as I read through the first-hand accounts of life in bondage was the lack of wallowing in the pain. They simply told their life's story, with poignant details that left me brokenhearted. 

So, as I set out to write the book, one question demanded an answer.

Was it possible for a former slave to truly forgive the people who'd abused them?

I point you to Frederick Douglass, a former slave who escaped slavery and became one of the most famous authors and voices in the anti-slavery movement. His writings are fascinating and eye-opening, and they make me wish I could have heard him give one of his many passion-filled speeches. 

Yet despite Frederick Douglass' vehement words against slavery, he did an astonishing thing.

He forgave. 

"How can I claim to love Jesus Christ and still reserve for myself the right to continue to hate?" he told a crowd at the Metropolitan AME Zion Church in Washington DC. At the time, he was speaking of his hatred for Thomas Jefferson, whose words about freedom in the Declaration of Independence rang false to him. But his forgiveness didn't end with Jefferson. In his later years, Douglass sought out Thomas Auld, his former owner, and forgave him for the mistreatment he'd endured during his time of bondage. "I entertain no malice toward you personally,” Douglass wrote in a letter to Auld some years before their meeting. “There is no roof under which you would be more safe than mine, and there is nothing in my house which you might need for your comfort, which I would not readily grant…I am your fellow-man, but not your slave.” History.com has a good write-up about their meeting if you'd like to read more. 

As I studied Douglass' life and words, I wondered how many of the millions of unknown slaves came to the same place of forgiveness as he did. The person who'd endured slavery until the very moment it was abolished. Who'd had unspeakable things done to them by another human being, simply because their skin color was different. Were they ever able to forgive their former masters and those who'd abused them?

There is no possible way for me to fully appreciate or understand what it meant to live in bondage. To grasp how utterly helpless enslaved people were against the legal ownership of a human being. To watch their children and loved ones brutally abused, sold away, and used in the most heinous ways. In writing Frankie's story, I in no way cast any judgment on an individual who might have taken their hatred to the grave with them. The truth is, I wouldn't blame them one bit.

Yet forgiveness must play a role in the story, because forgiveness is part of the human story. The story between God and man. Forgiveness isn't something any of us deserve, yet it was granted to us freely when Jesus went to the cross, carrying every sin known to man. All my sins were forgiven before I was ever born. Yours too. Forgiveness isn't something we can ever earn. It has to be freely given by the one who's been wronged, no matter if the person who wronged you ever admits it or seeks forgiveness.

Frankie's journey to forgiveness is inspired by Frederick Douglass and others who chose not to let hatred consume them despite being completely justified in that hatred. If you'd like to read Frankie's story in Under the Tulip Tree, visit my website for buying options or click the cover on the right of this page.

Every blessing,

~Michelle

  


 

Friday, September 18, 2020

Frankie: The woman who inspired my all-time favorite character


When I began writing Under the Tulip Tree in the summer of 2018, I thought I knew where the story was headed. I'd discovered the slave narratives several years earlier while researching slavery in Texas for my plantation novels, so I was very familiar with the word-for-word first-person stories told to employees of the Federal Writers' Project by former slaves in 1936. My goal in writing Under the Tulip Tree was to capture the raw realness of the narratives by creating a character that would bring them to life for readers in the same way they'd come to life for me. The problem was, as I began writing Frankie's story, something was wrong. She was flat. A cardboard cutout of a woman who'd endured one of the most shameful practices known to man. I could have kept writing and hoped for the best, but ultimately I knew something major needed to change. I just didn't know what. 

Getting the character of Frankie right was vital. Not just for the sake of the story, but for the sake of the history behind the story. For the real people whom my characters would represent. The former slaves who shared their stories with strangers back in 1936 deserved my very best in 2018. To accomplish that, I needed to dig deeper. Deeper into Frankie, and deeper into myself.  


I returned to the narratives. While I prefer to read them in their unedited state, with the storytellers' own pronunciation and wording, the little research book I'd purchased about slavery in Tennessee is edited for clarity.  I picked it up, as I'd done dozens of times, and thumbed through the pages, wondering what I was missing in Frankie's story. Because it would be impossible for me to understand what life was like for a person kept in bondage, I relied heavily on the narratives themselves to guide me. 

After searching the pages without success,  I closed it, frustrated. I couldn't keep working on my book until I figured this out.

That's when my eyes fell on the woman gracing the cover of the research book. Of course I'd seen her picture many times before, but this was the first time I truly looked at it. What I saw was an elderly black woman sitting on the porch of a simple dwelling, deep in thought. There are other details to notice--her braids, her ring, the hole in her blouse--but it was her hand in her lap that captured my attention. 

In the photo, it appears it doesn't seem quite right. The knuckles look too big and there may be two fingers missing.

"What happened to her hand?" I gasped.

That question---and the answer I eventually imagined---completely changed Under the Tulip Tree and Frankie's story. I won't give any spoilers, but for those of you who have read the book, you know what I mean. Frankie's story poured out from that picture. I did some investigating and discovered that the woman pictured was a sharecropper in Mississippi.  Her name, however, was unfortunately not recorded. (Note: I eventually found a second photograph of her from a different angle, and although her hand is hidden, it does appear that all her fingers are intact.) 


Cotton sharecropper; http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2017770271/

Cotton sharecropper. Library of Congress.

For me, she has become Frankie. I hope one day I get to hug her and tell her about Frankie and how her picture and her life changed me. 

I hope you'll choose to read Under the Tulip Tree and get to know Frankie and Rena. Order links are on the top right of the blog home page or at my website, www.MichelleShocklee.com.  

If you're interested in learning more about the slave narratives and the Federal Writers' Project,  visit my website. I've posted links to some of the sites and books I used in my research. 

Every blessing,
Michelle 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

It's Release Day!


HAPPY BIRTHDAY, 

UNDER THE TULIP TREE!! 


"...for He already had in mind what He was going to do." John 6:6


Today is Under the Tulip Tree's birthday! Whoohoo!! I'm so excited to share this story of unlikely friendship, reconciliation, and forgiveness with readers. I began writing it in the summer of 2018, signed the contract in August 2019, and here we are in September 2020. It's not exactly like the birth of a child, but close. We authors have hopes and dreams for our "book babies." Not just that they will succeed out in the big world, but that they'll serve a purpose that goes beyond sales numbers and reviews. The verse I've quoted above from John 6:6 is the verse I've chosen for this book. Jesus was getting ready to feed the 5,000, but all he had to work with was five small barley loaves and two small fish. Under the Tulip Tree is my loaves and fish. A small offering in the hands of Jesus can do amazing things! 

I'd love for you to celebrate with me. I'll give away a FREE signed copy of Under the Tulip Tree to one of you! Just leave a comment on this post and I'll put your name in a special drawing I'm holding exclusively for readers of my blog. For an extra chance at winning a copy of the book and some other Nashville-themed goodies, all you need to do is become a subscriber to the blog (which currently acts as my newsletter). I promise you won't be inundated with emails--only a few here and there. I'll be giving away several copies of the book over the next months, but only folks signed up to receive the blog via email will be entered as a way of saying THANK YOU for your continued support and encouragement. To subscribe, enter your email in the top right-hand corner of the blog home page. It's easy to unsubscribe at any time...but I hope we'll stay connected here.

Under the Tulip Tree is available online and in bookstores. Visit my website for store options or you can visit my Amazon page

Thanks for celebrating with me!

Every blessing,

~Michelle

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Calling All Subscribers



As I'm gearing up for the September 8th release of my novel, Under the Tulip Tree--a book that deals with racial issues in 1936 & 1860s Nashville--I'm very aware of the atmosphere and division between the races. It's heartbreaking. As a woman who comes from a family of mixed heritage--my father's family is Hispanic and my mother's roots go back to Germany--I love diversity. Wouldn't it be a terribly boring world if we all looked the same?

Yet because of the tension we're currently experiencing, I feel strongly that prayer is desperately needed. For our country and our people, but also for Under the Tulip Tree. This is not a plea to pray for increased sales or anything of that nature. It's a prayer request from my heart, because I know the enemy would love nothing more than to distort and destroy the message of the book, which is forgiveness, reconciliation, and togetherness.

When I began writing Under the Tulip Tree in 2018, I had no way to know the cultural climate the book would be releasing into in 2020, but GOD did!! A friend reminded me of that wonderful quote from Esther 4:14: "for such a time as this." My hope and prayer is that my book will join the conversations happening all over the world. That it will be one pebble on the wide road to Togetherness and Unity.

That's where YOU come in, faithful subscribers to my blog! I'll be posting a bit more in the coming months, and I'd love it if you'd simply say a prayer for me, the book, and the issues each time my blog lands in your email inbox. If you'd like to join my Prayer Team for the book, here's a link to it's Facebook page.

As a way of saying THANK YOU for your prayers and support, I'll also be doing SPECIAL GIVEAWAYS exclusively for Subscribers to this blog!! I appreciate each of you more than you will ever know.

If you haven't subscribed to my blog yet, there's plenty of time!! Just type in your email address in the box to the right. Done!

Every blessing,
~Michelle


Sunday, March 1, 2020

Five Loaves, Two Fish, One Boy

Wanna know what one of my all-time favorite stories from the Bible is?


Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand.

I've read this story a gazillion times. As a child, I colored pictures of it in Sunday school. As an adult, I've written and taught about it. I've heard dozens of sermons preached on it. Yet, despite its sweet familiarity, there is mystery about this amazing event. In fact, I think the older I get, the more mystery there is. When you really study the scriptures and try to imagine the reality of the events of that day, it's kinda hard to wrap your mind around the details.

The story of Jesus feeding the five thousand is found in all four gospels (Matthew 14, Mark 6 and Luke 9), but for this post I'm going to use the one from John 6:1-15. Why? Because this is the only book that tells us where the fish and loaves came from.

"...Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee and a great crowd of people followed him..." v. 1-2

That crowd wasn't just a couple hundred people. It is estimated there were 5,000 men, plus women and children, bringing the total to between 10,000 - 20,000 people. They'd all heard about Jesus and were following him. Some believed he was the Messiah. Others were simply curious, while still others were out-and-out doubters. But there they all were, way out in the country, because of Jesus.

In the crowd that day was a boy (v.9). I'm going to imagine he was 9 or 10 years old. I remember my own boys at that age. Rambunctious. Happy. Adventurous. I think the boy in our story was having a blast running around with his friends that day. His parents were probably in the crowd of onlookers, but he was too busy to really pay attention to what this guy Jesus was saying. In fact, he was so busy having a good time he forgot to eat the lunch his mom packed for him.

By afternoon, our boy starts to get curious about Jesus. He's heard his parents talk about the miracles Jesus did, and he'd like to see one. He inches closer to where Jesus is sitting with his disciples and overhears this conversation:

"Send the crowd away so they can go find food and lodging," the disciples said to Jesus. 

"Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" Jesus asked Phillip. He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

"Eight months wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!" Phillip replied. 

"You give them something to eat," Jesus tells the disciples.

I image the disciples turned to one another with "What in the world are we gonna do now!?" looks on their faces. They probably had a couple bucks between them. How could they possibly buy enough food to feed everyone?

This is when the boy might have tugged on Andrew's cloak, sneaking a peak at Jesus. "I have some fish and bread you can have."

I can almost imagine Jesus winking at the boy and the boy grinning broadly.

"Have the people sit down," Jesus said.

Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. 

Amazing!

Five-thousand-plus people ate their fill, with 12 baskets of leftovers! Don't you know that boy's life changed that day! He had a front-row seat to one of the most awesome, miraculous events to ever take place. Out of a crowd of 20,000 people, God saw that kid, whose name we will never know, and said, "I'm going to use him for My glory, for My purpose."

There are so many lessons in this story. Here are some I've been pondering lately:

  • When God created those 2 small fish, he knew he would feed a multitude with them. 
  • When the boy's mother baked the 5 loaves, she had no idea God would use them in a miracle. 
  • The boy chose to give his lunch to Jesus. 
  • Other people in the crowd most likely had food, but they chose not to give it to Jesus. 
  • There were sinners in the crowd, yet Jesus fed them
  • I can't feed the 5,000 on my own. I just have to bring my loaves and fish to Jesus and let him do the rest. 
  • God sees you. He already knows. Trust him.

Blessings,

~Michelle

Friday, February 21, 2020

COVER REVEAL: Under the Tulip Tree

Hi everyone!

I'm so excited to reveal the cover for my NEW historical time-slip novel that will release in September!!




 Isn't it gorgeous?!

To celebrate the cover reveal, I'm giving away a $10 Amazon giftcard to one of you! All you have to do is answer one (or all, if you're game!) of these questions:

The cover has a few clues about the setting, storyline, and time period.


  • Just by looking at the cover, what would YOU think this book is about? 
  • What city is it set in? (If you follow me on social media, you might remember I posted about it!)  
  • What year does this young woman live in?

UPDATE: Our winner was notified. THANK YOU to everyone who participated. Stay tuned for more contests, giveaways, and fun events as we get ready for Under the Tulip Tree to go up for pre-orders!  


Blessings,

~Michelle

Sunday, December 15, 2019

A Christmas Gift for Readers of The Planter's Daughter

Merry Christmas from 
My House to Yours! 



I hope this finds each of you ready to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!  May joy fill your homes and hearts throughout the Season!

I want to thank you, dear Readers, for your continued enthusiasm for The Planter's Daughter, the first book in The Women of Rose Hill historical series. Your many 5-star reviews, your emails, and your sharing about the book warm my heart. The themes in the book --- Freedom, Redemption, and Forgiveness---are also what Christmas is all about, so I wanted to give you something many of you have asked for: An Epilogue! A letter from Adella Rose has winged its way across time, and in it she shares about the Brantleys first Christmas in Oregon and gives clues about some of the characters you've wondered about. Enjoy! (Remember, you can also find out what happens next in The Widow of Rose Hill, book two!)

Merry Christmas!

~Michelle

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

December 24, 1860

Dearest Natalie,

Christmas greetings, Sister. I hope this finds you and those we love well. Thank you for your letter. Papa Brantley sent it once we settled here in our new home. I am ever so sorry to hear that Papa and George's anger against me continues, but I am grateful to know I can trust you with full confidence. If Papa knew where to find us, I fear what might happen. I pray someday my father and brother will understand why I made the choices I did.

Our happiness in this new life abounds. We've purchased a lovely parcel of land, with timber and a creek. Our new neighbors helped Seth in building a snug cabin and a barn as big as Texas. The community is new and full of hope and excitement. We now have ten wild mustangs, and Freedom will soon be a father. Seth hopes to build the herd and has already received offers from interested buyers, as strong horses are much in need. The land here is rich and fertile and everything from animal to human seems to thrive. God is so gracious to us.

We are making ready for our first Christmas in Oregon. Seth brought in a tree, and Mara and I have enjoyed decorating it with ribbon and stringed berries. She continues to thrive and is such a happy, sweet girl. I've shared our secret with her, although I don't expect she understands that a new baby will arrive in the spring. So many changes will take place in the new year, but I look ahead with much peace and anticipation.

We've heard from our friend on the Mexican border with news of Jeptha, Zina, and Aunt Lu. They've settled into a community and are well, for which we are ever so grateful. How I pray Mr. Lincoln will be able to abolish slavery once he takes office and can work to bring freedom to all. I firmly believe, dear Natalie, that Rose Hill would continue to prosper if Papa and George would listen to their hearts and free those enslaved. There are many free black men here in Oregon, and our hope is one day Jeptha and his family can come here to live and join Seth in raising and training horses. Until slavery is abolished, however, it would be far too dangerous.

Dearest Natalie, my heart's prayer is for your happiness. I sincerely hope you and George find it together. You may continue to write to me in care of Papa Brantley and he will see that I receive your letters. In this way, you may remain ignorant of our location should my father or George ask. Please give my love to Carolina, Mammy, and the others who remember me fondly.

Your Sister,

Adella Rose Brantely

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Don't Become A Lion's Snack!

"Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." 1 Peter 5:8

This verse from the Book of Peter is short and to the point: DON'T BECOME A LION'S SNACK!

Seriously, though, the imagery it conjures is frightening. Our enemy, Satan, is prowling the earth, looking for defenseless, unsuspecting people to devour. In Job 1:7, all the angels have come to present themselves to God, including Satan, because, remember, he is an angel in rebellion to God's authority. God asks Satan, "Where have you come from?" and Satan answers, "From roaming through the earth, going back and forth in it."

Chilling!

Image result for picture of lion stalking preyBut all too often, we forget this truth. We go about our lives, going to work, taking kids to school, paying bills, and we forget that there is a real enemy patiently waiting for just the right moment to attack us. Can you envision a lion stalking its prey? Well, that's you and me being stalked by the enemy of this world. 

The thing is, his tactics aren't always obvious. From the very beginning of humanity, he's used lies and deceit to get us to do his bidding. "Did God really say...?" he asks Eve in Genesis 3:1. And you know what? He is still asking that very same question today!! "Did God really say ______?" That blank can be filled in with everything from marriage, sex, money, faith, and anything else, all the way to "does God truly exist?" 

Sadly, most of us don't recognize the deception, the strategy against us, until we're in the throes of a life gone terribly wrong. I look back at certain situations I've gone through and clearly see the "flaming arrows" the enemy lobbed at me at different times in my life. But in the heat of the moment, in the daily struggle of life, I didn't. I didn't know the serious, real effort the enemy goes to to draw people away from God. To destroy lives. To steal blessings. Thankfully, as I've matured in life and matured in my faith, I DO see them now! Just last week, one of my faith-based books was attacked online by a group of women who had NOT read the book but deemed it "racist." I ran around cyberspace for days putting out fires and posting the truth, but I also recognized it as an attack from the enemy. As Ephesians 6:12 says, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

What can we do against such an enemy? How can we prepare for the battles we WILL face? The Apostle Paul answers this in Ephesians 6:10-17 (LVG):

"Last of all I want to remind you that your strength MUST come from the Lord's mighty power within you. Put on ALL of God's armor so that you will be able to stand safe against all strategies and tricks of Satan...Use every piece of God's armor to resist the enemy whenever he attacks, and when it is all over, you WILL still be standing up. But to do this, you will need the strong belt of truth and the breastplate of God's approval. Wear shoes that are able to speed you on as you preach the Good News of peace with God. In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan. And you will need the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spriit--which is the Word of God."

Like soldiers going into battle, we MUST be prepared to face the enemy every. single. day! Think of what would happen if a soldier dropped his shield or weapon on the battlefield? Not good! 

I'll leave you with this song by Michael W. Smith. It's become a favorite anthem of mine lately!

Blessings to you and yours as you fight your battles,
~Michelle





Thursday, August 15, 2019

NEW Fiction Coming Fall 2020 & Giveaway!

Hi Everyone,

I want to share some exciting news with you! I've signed a contract with Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. to publish my NEW historical novel! Release date is tentatively set for Fall 2020. I'm in love with this story and the characters, and I can't wait to share it with you! If you've followed my posts the past year while I worked on this book then you know it's a time-slip story set in Nashville in 1936 and the 1860s. Stay tuned to the blog and/or my social media outlets to keep up with dates, news, and happenings.


Signing with Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. is like coming full-circle. How? Let me explain. 

Way back in 1973, my Sunday school teacher gave me The Children's Living Bible. I already owned a Bible Mom and Daddy had given me, but it was the King James Version and I didn't always understand it. The Living Bible, a paraphrase, made things so much clearer. A few years later, for Christmas in 1980, Mom and Daddy gave me The Living Bible. I was a senior in high school, getting ready to spread my wings and leave the safety of the nest. Mom knew I'd need God's word to protect and grow me, and the verse she wrote inside the cover, Psalm 119:11, is a verse that is still very near to my heart. 







The reason I feel like I've come full-circle is because these Bibles were published by Tyndale House Publishers. From Tyndale's website, the story of Tyndale House Publishers and it's founder, Kenneth N. Taylor goes like this:

For Dr. Kenneth Taylor, making Scripture accessible for all people was his life’s passion. Concerned that his ten children were having a hard time understanding the King James Bible, Taylor began paraphrasing the scriptures, so they could better understand the nightly Bible readings.

In 1954, as he rode the commuter train to his job in Chicago, Taylor started paraphrasing the New Testament into modern English. After seven years of writing and rewriting, he submitted the manuscript to several publishing houses, but it was rejected by all of them. Convinced that there was value in the work for more than just their children, Taylor and his wife Margaret, decided to use their limited savings to publish Living Letters.

In 1962, Taylor exhibited his self-published Living Letters at the Christian Booksellers Association convention. The following spring Billy Graham saw a copy of Living Letters and asked if he could print a special edition and offer it on the telecasts of his crusades. Half a million copies were given away through the Graham crusades. Ken Taylor’s dream had become a reality and more—a publishing entity had been born. Tyndale House Publishers grew from a modest home into a major publishing entity that reaches every continent in the world.

It makes my heart smile to know the same year I was born, Dr. Taylor and Rev. Billy Graham birthed Dr. Taylor's dream. 

Fast-forward to May 27, 1992. That's the day Jesus got all of me. I've shared about that amazing day here on the blog, but what simply happened is that I was reading in the Book of John, chapter 6, from my Living Bible, when God became real and personal to me. He went beyond the pages of the book and into my heart. 

Now it is my utmost honor and privilege to become an author for Tyndale House Publishers. Not only was this company founded on biblical principals that are still in place all these years later, they strive to give back from the blessings they receive. This video titled "Tyndale House Publishers: Who We Are" is so informative and inspiring.


So that's my news. To celebrate, I'm giving away TWO print copies of The Mail-Order Brides Collection, but only subscribers to this blog will be entered. If you haven't signed up yet, it's EASY! Just type your email address in the space to the right of this page where it says, "Sign up to receive my blog in your inbox." DONE. You'll be entered in the contest, plus you'll receive news and updates without having to remember to check back here. (I promise you won't be inundated with emails from me!) I'll draw two winners--one from "old" subscribers and one from "new" subscribers--on August 30. Sound good?

Thank you, Readers and all, who've supported me with your purchases, your encouraging emails and reviews, and your continued interest in my writing. I appreciate each and every one of you! I'm very excited to share this new novel with you. SOON! 

Blessings, 

~Michelle  

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

GOD has Already Prepared the Way


I positively LOVE this! My dear friend, author Paula Scott Bicknell, posted this meme yesterday, and when I read it, the truth of it hit me like a heavy rain shower, washing away all the doubt and fear that was building up inside me. See, I'd received two emails shortly before reading this meme. One held good news. The other, not so much. Neither are life-altering, but they're about something I've been praying about for several months. Something I really, really want to happen, yet have absolutely no control over.

Have you ever felt that? Fear and doubt about the future? I'm sure you have! Let me share six words of truth that will alleviate it.

GOD HAS ALREADY PREPARED THE WAY!

Here's a little example of that:

Two years ago we knew our job in Texas was coming to an end. We were looking for a new position, but nothing opened up before we found ourselves unemployed for eight weeks. But you know what?

GOD HAD ALREADY PREPARED THE WAY!

Walking at our boss's lake house in Kentucky, basking in
God's goodness to us. This is where He reminded me that He
prepared this place for me long before I arrived!
While we waited in Texas to see where God would take us, He was working here in Tennessee, clearing the way for us. It's amazing to look back and see how he arranged people and situations, almost like a giant chess board, throwing open the doors for us to live and work in the most wonderful place, for the most wonderful employers.

How do I know God worked out all the details? There is absolutely no way it could have simply been coincidence. The job we ended up getting--working as a couple on a large property--wasn't the job that was advertised. They originally were only looking to hire my husband. But we trusted God would provide a job for me too, and continued through the interview process. And you know what?

GOD HAD ALREADY PREPARED THE WAY!

The property owner wanted to meet me too since I'd be living on the property. After Skyping with them a couple times, they liked me so much they offered me a job!

YES, GOD HAD ALREADY PREPARED THE WAY!

I can look back through so many situations in my life and see that even when I thought things were at their worst, when I'd lost all hope, GOD HAD ALREADY PREPARED THE WAY!

My prayer is this truth will resonate with you today and bring you hope that you are never alone, you are never forgotten, and you are always loved by our Heavenly Father! This song by Casting Crowns speaks to this in such a beautiful way! Enjoy!

Blessings,

~Michelle