Welcome to the blog, Lynn! Could you tell us a little bit about More Precious Than Gold?
More Precious Than Gold is the story of a war-weary spinster who heads west to escape her grief and runs headlong into the man who caused it. Here’s the back cover blurb:
The bullet that killed Eliza Gentry’s fiancé shattered her dreams as well.Six feet tall and headstrong, Eliza expects to remain an “unclaimed treasure.” Clinging to her battered faith, she sets out for New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo mountains in search of new purpose and peace for her soul but finds that the western frontier is a wild place where former enemies—Yankees and Rebels, Freedmen and Indians—square off in the quest for land and gold.
Eliza must confront her prejudices and fears, and Jacob Craig embodies that conflict. The mountain man wins her trust with his gentle strength, but he harbors a secret. As a Union sharp-shooter, he met her fiancé on the field of battle and cost him his life. Eliza must learn that she will not find purpose or peace anywhere until she finds in God a faith more precious than gold.
A real ghost town comes to life in this story of love, forgiveness, and the sovereignty of God.
What led you to write this novel?
This is my fiction debut, but a dozen years ago I wrote a history curriculum, Discover Texas, for private and parochial schools. In my research I uncovered true stories that sparked my imagination. What might I have felt if I had lived then? How would the events have changed my life and my perspectives?
More Precious Than Gold begins during the Restoration era following the Civil War. An agent of the Freedmen’s Bureau was sent to my hometown to investigate two horrendous crimes, and a riot ensued. My curiosity was piqued by that and by three other historical events that took place in and around Elizabethtown, New Mexico—a ghost town that has fascinated me for years. I saw a common theme of prejudice and forgiveness, so I created a heroine whose story ties the events together.
How did your research for the novel affect your nonfiction endeavors?
It was more the reverse, actually. I began with the non-fiction research and the story grew out of that, but there’s definitely a link when you’re building a readership. When I’m invited to talk about my book, I mention my curriculum. When I speak or write articles about teaching history, I encourage people to read good historical fiction to understand an era and the causes and effects of events. Of course, I mention my story as one example. If you’re a writer with a following of people who share a common interest niche, there are often many ways to speak into that market.
After I finished writing Gold there was one last bit of research that niggled at me. I wanted to find the name of the crime victim whose story brought my story to life. His case never came to trial, but I didn’t want him to be forgotten—lost in history. A three-day hunt led me from Baylor University’s Texas Collection to the genealogy department of our local library to the National Archives in Fort Worth where I read the original handwritten reports preserved on microfilm…and I found him. Tony McCrary will have a legacy, and that feels very good.
You’ve also written a curriculum titled Discover Texas. Can you share a little bit about what inspired you to undertake such a big project?
We homeschooled our children. When it came time to teach state history, I found some used school books, but they were mostly text with a few black-and-white pictures—factual, but dry. I knew that students retain far more if they are involved in the learning process—if they can see, listen, taste, smell and touch then share what they’ve learned. Of course when it comes to state history we live in the middle of a field trip, but how do you know what’s available and where it all fits into the story? So I divided Texas history into 10 chronological eras—one for each month of the school year—and narrated the story on CD with lots of beautiful pictures, links to great websites and field trips, sources for library books, and ideas for activities and discussion questions. It took me one very long year to put everything together, but it’s a fun way to learn, and I enjoy making it available to benefit others.
What is your best advice on writing?
Never quit learning and growing in your craft. There’s an adage: anything that has ceased growing has begun to die. Growing keeps you young!
By the way, some friends and I sponsor a free website for writers. Each Friday we discuss a different aspect, so please drop by aNOVELWritingSite.com and leave a comment.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Lynn!
Lynn Dean was a reluctant historian. Bored with textbooks chronicling battle dates and dead people, she feared inflicting mind-numbing data on her own students. Fortunately she discovered the classic appeal of storytelling--adventure sagas about real people struggling to overcome obstacles while pursuing their dreams. For more than a decade she has combined unit studies, field trips, and quality literature to create unique and memorable experiences in discovery learning.
The same love of history led her to write fiction that tells HIStory. Her first novel, More Precious Than Gold, will be available for Kindle in August, along with a Christmas Sampler of inspirational short stories: Stars to Guide Us, A Rose in Winter, The Carpenter, A Light in the Barn, and Heart and Home. Christmas card covers make these perfect e-cards, and proceeds help rebuild storm-ravaged communities.
More Precious Than Gold is available at Amazon for Kindle readers (I’d love to have it for Nook as well.)
Read more at www.discovertexasonline.com and www.aNOVELWritingSite.com.
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