BOOK REVIEW FRIDAY – I, JOHN CULPEPPER BY LORI CRANE

Culpepper_1I sure hope author Lori Crane (click here for Author Wednesday interview) plans to release the next book in her new historical fiction series on the Culpepper family very soon. When I finished the first book, I, John Culpepper, I felt like I’d lost a good friend. I need to find out what happens in this spitfire’s life after . . . Sorry can’t say anything more than that without giving away a spoiler. Ms. Crane said when she first starting writing about this man (her 10th grandfather), she realized she had stumbled upon more than just one novel.

The author transports the reader back to the early 1600s and straight into the lives of the Culpepper family. Tensions start in the beginning chapter between John and his father, playing an integral part in the overall plot of I, John Culpepper.

While many things seem so different from our fast-paced lives today, universal emotions and relationships show us we have much in common with our ancestors, and learning about them may help us to avoid the same downfalls as them. Ms. Crane says the history of our ancestors is the collective history for us all. And it is clear, through the father and son relationship she tells in this story, that we do share a universal past.

Sometimes I put the book down to simply contemplate what it must have been like to travel two weeks or more to visit the family home by horseback. That trip today might take a few hours out of the day. What did the others do while waiting for a family member to return? Imagine how few books had been published up to that time. They must have memorized the ones they had. Reading this book puts into perspective how far we’ve really come in some areas. However, in others we haven’t grown quite as much. Or perhaps the lesson to take away from reading this book is that the conflicts we face in life provide us with the opportunity to grow and mature.

Beyond what we might learn, I, John Culpepper is simply an enjoyable read that I highly recommend.

Purchase links for I, John Culpepper

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

AUTHOR WEDNESDAY – LORI CRANE

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She’s back! One of my favorite authors and a dear colleague and friend, Lori Crane (click here for previous interview) visits Author Wednesday to tell us about her new release, I, John Culpepper. Lori is quite popular and famous for her works of historical fiction, and this book is no exception. Here she is to tell us all about it.Culpepper_1

Hello, Lori! I’m so happy to have you return as a guest on Author Wednesday. Let’s get right to it. Give us the one sentence pitch for I, John Culpepper.

I, John Culpepper is a work of historical fiction based on the life of the 17th-century man historians refer to as John Culpepper the Merchant who was forced to rise against his father to achieve his childhood dream.

I know you usually write about your ancestors, so give us the scoop. Are you related to this fascinating man? 

John Culpepper is the progenitor of the modern-day American Culpeppers. He was my 10th great-grandfather.

I’m always amazed at how far you’ve been able to reach back in your ancestry to pull out these characters worthy of a novel. I’m very envious, but mostly I’m in awe. How long did it take you to finish the book, from idea to publishing?

I first had the idea to write his story in August of 2014, but the more I researched, the more interesting tidbits I found and it became four books with four distinct stories: his childhood, his life during the English Civil War, his rise to family patriarch, and finally, his coming to terms with his past, his family, and his beliefs. His story became the Culpepper Saga with “I, John Culpepper” being the first of the four books. From idea to publish, since I ended up writing four books at the same time, took nine months.

So we have more to look forward to. That’s amazing that you wrote four books in nine months. Is there a message in I, John Culpepper for us?

As a young man, John had to stand up to his father. For those of us who have stood up to a parent, we understand the pain involved in that process. At the end, John realized that, perhaps, his father wasn’t the bad guy after all. I think that’s a lesson we all learn when we finally realize our parents are only human.

I can relate as I’m sure many others can as well. I’ve been both the parent and child on that process! What is the best thing someone could say about I, John Culpepper?

I love it when readers tell me how interesting my family is, not realizing these stories are of our collective past. We are all the products of the survivors, the heroes, the brave men and women. I hope they see John as the hero he was. He was a bit of a rebel, but his rebellion is what eventually saves his family…on more than one occasion.

Thank you for saying that. Yes, it’s our collective history. What kind of research did you do to pull off this work of historical fiction?

I started with my family tree. I initially wondered how the Culpeppers of 16th-century England, with their stately manors and vast land holdings, ended up being the modest people I knew in my childhood in Mississippi. Why would they give up that kind of prestige to move to an inhospitable land filled with savage Indians and probable starvation? I also researched the school John attended, the ships of the time, the colonial records of 1630s Jamestown, and I spent a lot of time on the Culpepper family website called Culpepper Connections. In the second book, the English Civil War breaks out, so I researched everything from the timeline of the battles, to the generals and the king, to the transcribed minutes of the House of Commons. I spent three days reading those minutes. Even though I knew I had family serving in Parliament at the time, to read their names on the actual roll call was exciting.

I’m sure it was–history coming to life right before your eyes. Tell us about your favorite scene.

I have a couple. The first is at the wharf the day John is born. John’s father is quite a formidable character. The second is when John sees the product of his prank on his headmaster. I laughed out loud when I wrote it. The third is when John takes his brother aboard his ship for the first time. I can just picture the pride and excitement on John’s face.

When you become that invested in the writing, magic is sure to follow! Is there anything else we should know about the book or about John Culpepper?

John Culpepper was a very, very popular name in English history, and each John had a brother named Thomas. All of those Johns and Thomases had sons also named John and Thomas. Deciphering which John was which from English and Colonial records was difficult, but after reading other theories and putting all of the different names and birth and death dates to paper, I believe I got the family history figured out. I took great freedoms in giving some of the men nicknames, just to keep them straight, but be assured, in historical records they are all named John and Thomas. The nicknames are mine and mine alone. I didn’t take them from any records.

Thank you so much for stopping by today, Lori. I look forward to reading your I, John Culpepper. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it as much or even more than your other books.

1394868_10201454031930551_434799525_nAbout Lori Crane:  BESTSELLING AND AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR LORI CRANE IS A WRITER OF SOUTHERN HISTORICAL FICTION AND THE OCCASIONAL THRILLER. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including her book Elly Hays, which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She is a native Mississippi belle currently residing in greater Nashville. She is a professional musician by night – an Indie Author by day.

Click here to read my review of Elly Hays.

Click on the links below to purchase and connect with the author 

I, John Culpepper Amazon US 

Amazon UK

Website

Blog

Twitter

Culpepper Saga fan page

Author Wednesday – Lori Crane

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Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome Lori Crane who writes historical fiction. She’s an avid Civil War buff. She also loves researching her ancestry and brings one of her forebears to life in her latest release Elly Hays.elly cover_small_web Lori is on a virtual book tour, and I’m pleased she found the time to include Writing Whims on her stop. Read to the end of the interview for information on entering some of the giveaways she’s holding during her tour.

 

 

Hello, Lori. I’m so happy you’ve stopped by today. I’ve only read your most recent released, Elly Hays, so I’m wondering if all your books have a common theme or thread?

Yes, my books are set in the deep south of early America and are written about my family. The Okatibbee Creek series begins with Okatibbee Creek, set in Mississippi during the Civil War. The sequel, An Orphan’s Heart, continues through the war and ends in Texas in 1890. The third, Elly Hays, goes back in time to the War of 1812 in Alabama to see how it all began for the Rodgers family. My other series, Stuckey’s Trilogy, though not about family, is about the place I grew up. The first, The Legend of Stuckey’s Bridge, takes place in Mississippi in 1901. The sequels, Stuckey’s Legacy and The Curse of Stuckey’s Gold, which take place in coastal Georgia and back in Mississippi, will be released in 2014.

Why have you chosen to write about this particular theme?

My love for this time and place emerged from genealogical research. Most of my family came to America from England in the early-mid 1600s, so I have four hundred years of American stories to tell. I’ve researched my family tree since before the Internet was invented, and now, mumble-mumble years later, I realize there’s so much more to family history than birth dates and tombstones.

I admire how you’re able to take real people from your geneology and create stories about them. Are you planning to continue writing in the same genre?

I will continue the Okatibbee Creek series as long as I find interesting female ancestors to write about. Since there are more than 9,000 people in my family tree, most likely, yes.

Wow–9,000 people in your family tree–you’ll be writing forever! What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?

My favorite review was for Okatibbee Creek and said, “Thank you, Lori Crane for the professional, well researched material, but thank you even more for taking us down through history with a compassion seldom found today.” That really stuck out to me as someone who “got” it. That story was very dear to me as it was my third great grandmother’s life. I tried to write it in a compassionate and thoughtful manner that she would have been proud of, and that review made me feel like I accomplished that.

It’s always a wonderful feeling to know a reader “got” what we set out to accomplish. As a fellow writer, I’m always curious about the advice you give to other writers about receiving a bad review?

As everyone knows, you WILL get bad reviews. One bad review for Okatibbee Creek said there were too many names in the book, and it looked as if I was simply trying to mention all my ancestors. Well, the reviewer was exactly right. While writing the story, I gave a lot of thought to how many names were too many, and I admit there are a lot of names. But I did this for a reason. I did the math and found there are probably more than 200,000 descendants of the family living in America right now, and that number will double or triple within the next twenty years, so I would rather make those 500,000 people happy than to water the story down to please one reviewer. I tried to mention everyone, so if/when a descendant picked up the book, they would see their great grandfather’s name and know where he fit into the story. In my experience, I think the key to dealing with a bad review is to write the story in a way that you stay true to yourself. Then you can shrug off a bad review, knowing you wrote what you did for a reason.

That’s excellent advice. Thanks for giving us a little bit of insight to your stories. Now, for the giveaways!

GIVEAWAYS

1. EBOOK!  Every comment on this post during the book tour (November 4-16) will be entered to win an eBook of the first or second book in the Okatibbee Creek series, Okatibbee Creek or An Orphan’s Heart. Your choice of Kindle or Nook. One winner will be chosen. Prize will be delivered by email. Winner will be posted here in the comments on November 17, 2013. Visit each stop of the tour to increase your chances. An eBook will be given away at each stop. Tour schedule is posted at www.LoriCraneAuthor.com.

2. $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD! If you sign up for Lori’s newsletter by November 16, you will be entered into the drawing for a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card. One winner will be chosen. Prize will be delivered by email. Winner will be announced in the newsletter on November 18, 2013. Sign up at www.LoriCraneAuthor.com.

 

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About Lori Crane: Lori is a historical novelist specializing in the 17th-19th centuries of the American south. She is active in historical preservation as a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Daughters of the American Revolution, United States Daughters of 1812, and the Historical Novel Society. She is also a full-time musician and a member of the Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

 

LINKS

Website http://loricraneauthor.com/

Blog http://loricrane.wordpress.com/

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Lori-Crane/e/B00ATIQW8M

 

Author Wednesday – Elaine Cougler

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Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today, I welcome Elaine Cougler the author of The Loyalist’s Wife, an historical novel set during the Revolutionary War years. The Loyalist's Wife_cover_Mar18.inddHere’s a blurb about the book taken from the back cover: “With vivid scenes of desperation, heroism, and personal angst, Elaine Cougler takes us back to the beginnings of one great country and the planting of Loyalist seeds for another. The Loyalist’s Wife transcends the fighting between nations to show us the individual cost of such battles.” 

Welcome to Author Wednesday, Elaine. I’m intrigued with your book already. Before we delve into the specifics about The Loyalist’s Wife, I’d like to know more about you as a writer. When were you first able to call yourself a “writer” or “author?”

The term writer was easy to use as soon as I started writing for real. That means as soon as I set myself the goal to write a novel. Of course, my whole life I’ve been writing, but I was a student, a teacher, a mother, a singer, a friend, a wife, a lot of things that I easily called myself while never thinking of myself as a writer. The term author, however, was a harder label to give myself. In the spirit of fake it till you make it, I set up a Facebook Author page labeled ElaineCouglerAuthor a couple of years before publishing my first novel. Now author slips out really easily as in my own mind I’ve earned that label.

I am a firm believer in faking it until you make it. Good way to start visualizing your path. What’s going on with your current projects?

The Loyalist’s Wife was released in June; The Loyalist’s Luck is slated for next June (2014), and The Loyalist’s Legacy for the year following. Along with my research for my novels, I am creating a book of my own family’s history to leave for my grandchildren. This will be a photo book with pictures of tombstones and my ancestors themselves, where I have them, as well as anecdotal comments and explanations. This is taking way more time than I thought, but it is exciting as the research meshes very well with the research for my Loyalist series.

It’s so important to leave a record. Right now I’m in the process of formatting my great grandfather’s Civil War journal. It’s the only record I have of his life, and I’m very grateful to have it. You’ll have three historical novels when you’re finished. Why have you chosen to write about the beginnings of the United States and Canada?

I love reading historical fiction and have known of my own Loyalist background all my life so that writing a book about that just seemed natural. It has been a surprising journey of learning about the times of the American Revolution in general and then more specifically of my own family’s background in Canada.

That is very exciting and gives you even more motivation to share your family’s history with your grandchildren. Are you planning to continue writing in the same genre for your fiction?

Another book that is running around in my head is a memoir. This will be the story of a young girl growing up in a large family made up of way more boys than girls in rural Ontario with exceptional people for parents in a time of great growth and change in our world. And beyond that, I cannot think. Someday I may retire, I suppose. 🙂

We have a lot in common, except I grew up in Michigan. I’m curious about how you chose the title for the first book in the series. Has it been the title from the very beginning?

My working title, which I took to a writing conference, was Loyal to the Crown. I was dissatisfied with it, and my group of about twenty came up with another title, which just jumped out at me. The Loyalist’s Wife encompasses the Loyalist idea, the fact that there is a wife, and she’s pretty important, and the fact that there is a husband who is a Loyalist.

I like the current title. I also like that you asked for help in giving your “baby” its name. I’m sure you had to research quite a bit for The Loyalist’s Wife since it’s a historical novel. What type of research did you do?

My computer was a useful and convenient place to start researching with the library a close second. Then I visited local museums and bought books of the period. The best research, however, has been in visiting the actual places where many of the scenes in my novel take place. With my husband, I have taken day or two-three day trips to many forts in New York and the Niagara area, both on the American and the Canadian side of the border.

That makes the research much more interesting I’m sure. I did something similar this summer when we drove through many of the battle areas from my great grandfather’s journal. It made it all seem so much more real. You mention you took the trips with your husband. How does your immediate family feel about your writing life?

Support is what a writer needs, and that is what I get. My wonderful husband has been with me through all the ups and downs. My two adult children are clever and intuitive people to access when I want to ruminate about details or plot or history as they are both avid readers. The short answer is that they are appreciative and supportive, a pretty wonderful combination.

I agree. My grown daughter is one of my beta readers. I trust her because we read many of the same books and since she was very young we’ve discussed and shared our books with one another. My scientist husband thinks I’m the best writer he’s ever read. It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t read novels very much – it’s the support that counts. You are a very fortunate woman indeed. I’m very pleased you stopped by for a visit today, and I wish you the best in your endeavors. I hope you’ll come back when the next Loyalist book is published.

6203edit (2)About Elaine Cougler:  A native of Southern Ontario, Elaine taught high school and with her husband raised two children until she finally had time to pursue her writing career. She loves to research both family history and history in general for the stories of real people that emanate from the dusty pages. These days writing is Elaine’s pleasure and her obsession. Telling the stories of Loyalists caught in the American Revolutionary War is very natural as her personal roots are thoroughly enmeshed in that struggle, out of which arose both Canada and the United States.

Links

http://www.facebook.com/ElaineCouglerAuthor