Welcome to Sutter’s Landing

Ginger – expert mouser

I’m interrupting my normal blogging schedule to introduce you to some very special friends of mine. If you’ve read Annabelle’s Ruth, you already know most of them. This time around, you’ll find a few new names and faces in the bunch.

Joseph David Cross

Connie is loving her new role of motherhood.

Is there romance? Oh, yes, the romance–(spoiler alert if you haven’t read Annabelle’s Ruth)–Alton amps up the romance in Sutter’s Landing. He’s determined not to let his brother Jensen discourage Connie and send her running for the hills or maybe back to paradise.

Why Sutter’s Landing? Alton’s big house (known to all the locals as Sutter’s Landing) welcomes Connie with open arms. Or, maybe it’s the folks who live there. Alton, his mother (Miss Lillian), their cook, housekeeper, and friend (Regina). And it seems everyone loves Connie.

Surprises are headed their way, including a hundred-year flood, and a puzzling dilemma for Annabelle. I love Annabelle. She’s tough, but in this sequel, we see what’s going on beneath the calm surface.

Samson has  a new friend, too. I think you’ll like him.

The Kindle version of the book is available for preorder for the low introductory price of $2.99. That special price won’t be around long, so secure yours today.

What I write. If you love inspiring historical fiction with a heaping spoonful of romance, I think you’ll like Sutter’s Landing. If you’ve never read one of my novels, I hope you’ll take a chance on me.

So come, sit a spell–maybe we’ll enjoy a glass of sweet tea, or ice cold lemonade. You can almost hear Miss Lucy a-sangin’ in the field.

I hope you’ll stay in touch. I’ve got exciting plans for the release. I’ll give away some copies of the book, and maybe a gift or two. You can follow my blog, or like my Facebook page. I’m @batowens on Twitter, and sometimes I even remember to post on Instagram.

Thanks for stopping by!

Still reeling from tragic losses, Connie and Annabelle Cross face life with their signature humor and grace, until fresh hope arrives on their doorstep.

In early spring of 1955, Annabelle Cross and her daughter-in-law, Connie have nearly made it through the first winter on their own. Then the skies open up as West Tennessee and much of the south endures one of the worst floods in history. As many of their neighbors endure losses due to the flooding, Annabelle and Connie sit tight on dry ground.

As spring gives way to summer, Annabelle begins to dread Connie’s upcoming marriage and removal to Sutter’s Landing. Though she’s happy to note the growing affection between Alton Wade and her daughter-in-law, their marriage means Annabelle will be on her own for the first time in her life.

Connie’s doubts increase when Alton’s bigoted brother Jensen uses every opportunity to drive a wedge between them. Is she doing the right thing? Did she move too quickly? Unexpected summer visitors and anticipation of a new neighbor provide diversion and open possibilities for both Annabelle and Connie.

Buy Link





An Encouraging Word

Happy 3rd Tuesday in May!

It’s a great, gettin’ – up morning. Here are a few words to start your day:








Expect great things. Endure all things. Encourage one another. Establish yourselves, be established in…your faith…your life…your love. Exalt the Lord. Sing His praise, because his love is extravagant! Excellent!

Enjoy this day.

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. –Psalm 118:24

If you’re feeling down, check your calendar. Find something you can look forward to. If there’s nothing, plan something. Even if it’s just a trip to a nearby park.

  • Go for a walk, or ride a bike, if you can.
  • Dig in your garden.
  • Feed (or just watch) the birds.
  • Read a book.
  • Spend time with your pet.
  • Call a friend.
  • Play in the water!

Writing a Life

I have my cup of morning coffee. I’m ready to jump into my story and write the perfect ending. A happy ending, almost as satisfying as that first sip of freshly-brewed coffee. I ignore several pings on my phone, because I know they’re email pings. Not going to be pulled away from the story to check the email.

How could you say no to this face?

But then…I get that text ping. It feels like a needle prick that deftly separates my attention from the words on my computer screen. Who is texting me at this hour of the morning? It has to be work, or one of the kids is sick and needs a place to stay for the day. Grandma works at home.

The story is placed on hold, and my coffee is cold.

So how does an author deal with interruptions? When you’re in the “zone” and your writing seems inspired–it flows–it’s energetic. Then poof! Life happens.

Recently, I read a meme that pictured a harried female writer staring at the computer screen. The caption said something like, “If your house is neat and clean, you’ve probably never finished writing a book.”

The problem is real, especially if you’re a writer on a deadline. You’ll be burning the midnight oil. The family has to see to their own meals and laundry. Even when you’re with them, you’re not really with them. You’re constructing scenes in your head. Jotting notes on napkins, dictating conversations to your phone. Because we all know, you get the best conversations at times like those, amid the cacophony of a carload of quarreling children.

You finish writing your book. Time for a break, right? Ha ha ha! What a crazy dream. No. The work has only just begun. Now you have to get it ready. It has to be edited and sent here and there. Then the whole marketing scheme needs to be planned and put into motion, well ahead of the release. And then the release! You get a break, right?

No! Now the real work begins. You have to sell! Sell! Sell! You have to talk about yourself in third-person, like you’re the greatest thing since peanut butter.

But it’s still not over. Even after all the hoopla, now it’s time to move on. Write another one. Make it better than the one before. Dream up a brilliant story idea, preferably a series. Then it’s research, hunker down and write.

It never stops. Kind of like cleaning house. The work is never really done.

Allow me to introduce you to my latest effort:

Sutter’s Landing, Book 2 Kinsman Redeemer series

Any day now, you’ll be able to preorder it from Amazon.



May Musings

It’s Derby Week in my part of the world. Looks like it’s going to be a rainy one. But that won’t stop the celebration and it won’t halt the horses. It’ll just be muddy.

I usually avoid the crowds and peek at the pageantry from my television screen. Oh, I’ve attended Thunder Over Louisville–the big fireworks bash–in the past (I was one of 750,000 spectators at the waterfront). I’ve attended the mini-marathon (not as a runner), and had breakfast next to Pat Day. He was at the table next to mine, and completely unaware of my presence.

I’ve been to Churchill Downs several times, but never during the Derby, or even The Oaks. Avoiding the crowds, that’s my preference. But I love Derby Week. I love watching the beautiful horses, the smartly-dressed attendees and their fine hats. I almost always watch that two-minute race, and cheer as the winner crosses the finish line.

But the real reason I love Derby Week–tradition. Derby weekend signals the beginning of gardening season in our area, when it’s finally safe to plant the annuals. And it’s time to start my “annual” battle against the cute new crop of long-ears who love to nibble my flowers.

Then, just around the corner, since we didn’t have any significant snow days this year, school will be out for the summer! Fun!

So that’s my reason for loving this week. What’s going on in your area?

If you’re interested: 28-minute video of this year’s Thunder-Over-Louisville fireworks event.




Lazy Writing vs. Deep POV

Judging by the suggestions in my manuscript, you would think I had just started out with this writing thing.  I know better. When had I gotten so lazy?

Yes, I’d rushed a little to finish the manuscript. But what good is it if you have to go back and make dozens of changes?

Too many tags. I know not to do that. What are tags, and why not use them?

  1. “You can’t go that way, the road is out,” Darlene said.
  2. Darlene grabbed Gabe’s hand. “You can’t go that way, the road is out.”

#1 – “Darlene said,” is a tag. It identifies the speaker in the sentence.  Nothing wrong with it, but read the second sentence.

#2 – In a deeper point of view (POV), you use an action beat to identify the speaker. “Darlene grabbed Gabe’s hand,” is an action beat. You’re in the story. Nothing distracts you.

It’s okay to use tags. But if you want a deeper POV, you’ll limit your use of tags. I had way too many, and they were distracting.

I also overused some words. I found 176 uses of the word, “whisper.” I also used whispers, whispered, and whispering. Again–distraction!

That’s lazy writing. When you have to go back in and change those, it’s not just distracting, but it’s irritating. And while I’m confessing, let’s talk about then. I have a habit of saying, “and then,” which translates to my writing. “Then he went…”

“Lou called Amy and then left for work.”–Not so bad, but 48 instances of “and then”–definite distraction. And just when I think I’ve learned a thing or two, I find out how little I know. Yes, I’m aware I started a sentence with and. I also occasionally start a sentence with but. Your editor may call you out on it, but it’s not the end of the world. But…if you overuse it–lazy. And distracting!

 You call out to God for help and he helps—he’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, he’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living.–1 Peter 1:17 The Message Bible

Sloppy living. Yes, that’s another way of saying…laziness. *Sigh*

So, all you have to do is remove tags for a deeper POV?

Well, no–there’s a lot more to it than that. But it would take another, much longer post to talk about it. If you’re interested in learning more about  deep point of view, here are a couple of great resources:

The Art of Characterization by Fay Lamb

Put on your director’s cap and prepare to set your story world’s stage with memorable scenes and unforgettable characters.

Great storytelling isn’t done haphazardly. Storytelling is an art which requires practice to master. In The Art of Characterization authors are shown elements of storytelling which, when practiced correctly, utilizes forward–moving description and back story, deep point of view, dialogue, and conflict to create a cast of characters readers will never forget.

Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress

How do you create a main character readers won’t forget? How do you write a book in multiple-third-person point of view without confusing your readers (or yourself)? How do you plant essential information about a character’s past into a story?

Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint by award-winning author Nancy Kress answers all of these questions and more! This accessible book is filled with interactive exercises and valuable advice that teaches you how to:

  • Choose and execute the best point of view for your story
  • Create three-dimensional and believable characters
  • Develop your characters’ emotions
  • Create realistic love, fight, and death scenes
  • Use frustration to motivate your characters and drive your story

With dozens of excerpts from some of today’s most popular writers, Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint provides you with the techniques you need to create characters and stories sure to linger in the hearts and minds of agents, editors, and readers long after they’ve finished your book.

What word(s) do you tend to overuse in your writing?

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Spring Floods and Unexpected Visitors

It won’t be long now. Just weeks, and Sutter’s Landing, the sequel to Annabelle’s Ruth, will be available for purchase. We’re getting ready. Working through final edits, choosing the cover, preparing the marketing aspects. A lot of work goes into the release of a novel.

As Book 2 of the Kinsman Redeemer Series opens, Annabelle and Connie have settled into their little home on the old Sterling Place. Alton Wade, Annabelle’s young cousin, continues to court Connie. As her attachment to him grows, Connie struggles with her emotions.

Momma held the door for her (Connie). “You best get in here before you catch your death.”

Death. As she turned toward the door, Connie glanced over her shoulder to the place where Alton had disappeared into the mist . . . Would death steal him away from her, too? She sucked in a jagged breath as the screen door eased shut behind her. She sincerely hoped not. But thoughts like these were a daily struggle. When did one overcome such a fear?

It’s 1955, and the usual spring rains are a bit heavier than normal. In fact, they just don’t want to stop. Days of rain leave the surrounding lowlands completely under water.

How long will the rains continue, and even then, how long before the cotton fields are dry enough to plant?

One of the nicest things about small town living is having neighbors who care. In the fifties, folks often stopped by to “set a spell,” and visit. Imagine that. Surprising, at times, who stops by for a visit. Especially when the visitor is looking for Annabelle.

And then another man shows up on their doorstep. One Connie would never have expected. Not in a million years.

I’d like to invite you back to Trenton, Tennessee, as the story continues. The release date is tentatively set for June 20.

Samson and I will keep you posted.



Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Who was Robert Robinson? A hymnast–he penned one of my favorite old hymns, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. He was also a preacher, pastor, writer, and avid reader.

Born into poverty in Swaffham, Norfolk (England), in 1735, Robinson had a rough start. His mother was said to be a godly woman, who longed to see him become a clergyman. But in those days, a calling took money and position. His father died when Robinson was quite young, so the boy was indentured to a barber and hairdresser in Crutched Friars, London. He loved to read and read as much as he was able. After hearing a sermon preached by George Whitefield, he found “peace by believing” — after about three years of struggle (wandering–according to Robinson).

During a time of many great preachers like Whitefield, Gill, and Wesley, Robinson read, studied, and eventually agreed to speak in a Methodist church. His sermon well accepted, he was invited to fill the position. He would eventually move from the Methodist persuasion to the Baptist. He’d eventually pen some well-known sermons, poems, and hymns.

To me, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing is not only a hymn — it’s poetry. I love reading the lyrics. Some hymns are very simplistic, but this one seems to reach deeper and is well based in scripture.

Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount I’m fixed upon it
mount of God’s redeeming love.

Here I find my greatest treasure*;
hither by thy help I’ve come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
bought me with his precious blood.

Oh, to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee:
prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, O take and seal it;
seal it for thy courts above.

[The Psalter Hymnal, 1987]

A fourth verse not included in some hymnals:

Hallelujah! I have found it,
The full cleansing I had craved,
And to all the world I’ll sound it:
They too may be wholly saved.
I am sealed by Thy sweet Spirit,
Prone no longer now to roam;
And Thy voice, I’ll humbly hear it,
For Thy presence is my home.

*Interesting, the original text for the second stanza begins, “Here I raise my Ebenezer,” (which is how I remembered it being sung in the movie, Little Women.) –What in the world did the author mean by that?

You’ll find the answer in 1 Samuel 7:12 — “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’” (NIV)

During this Easter season, many congregations will get out some of the old hymns and sing them. What’s your favorite?

May God bless your Easter celebration!

I hope you’ll enjoy listening to Chris Tomlin’s version of the song, via You Tube:

[Some information for this article from Hymnary.org]