September Tea Party Winners: Janet Grunst's -- A Heart For Freedom for Chappy Debbie
audible of A Heart Set Free for Lucy Reynolds Roseanna White's is Wilani Wahl -- Debra E. Marvin's -- Kailey Behrendt paperback of Dangerous Deception, Carrie Fancett Pagels' -- The Victorian Christmas Brides collection goes to Nancy McLeroy!
October Tea Party winner for The Cumberland Bride goes to Teri DiVincenzo!!

Monday, November 19, 2018

The Moravian Church During Colonial Times – Living in a Choir

by Denise Weimer 
Germanic-built Single Brothers' House
In my last post, we focused on the origins of the Moravian Church (The Unity of the Brethren). Moravians followed the convictions of Protestant reformer John Hus and expanded from the Saxon Herrnhut estate of Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf to missions around the world. They also established trade towns in America—especially Pennsylvania and North Carolina—to support missionaries to the American Indians.

A Moravian sister on baking day

While Moravians embraced many traditional Protestant beliefs, during the mid-1700s, they engaged in some unique practices. One of these involved the choir system. 

The practice started when a group of single men moved into their own dormitory in 1728 Herrnhut. Some unmarried women did likewise a couple of years later. Soon, even married couples lived separately, only meeting occasionally in “special sleeping quarters.” Children were sent to the “nurserie” as soon as they were weaned. They entered the dorm for older boys and girls around age twelve.

Single Sisters' House in Salem
Count Zinzendorf believed each group of people could best minister to its own kind. Each choir possessed its own liturgy, hymn book, and services, in addition to the community worship services.

The choir system served as part of the communal “General Economy” meant to provide for the financial needs of the community and the missionaries in the field. Each person had the freedom to apply themselves to specific industry. Single sisters devoted time to washing, nursing, teaching, sewing, cooking, gardening, and livestock care. The choir system also allowed them to hold church offices like eldress, choir helper (spiritual overseer for other sisters), and deaconess. The deaconesses helped the priests and held the bread baskets during Moravian love feasts. 

Count Zinzendorf died in 1760. By 1762, an economic crisis threatened the church in Germany, and choir houses remained only for single men and women. A 1764 synod meeting prevented Moravian women from holding church offices with oversight over both men and women. The move toward the town structure had begun.

Salem Single Brothers Tailor Shop
Single Brothers Woodworking

Another unique practice of the Moravians involved taking major decisions—including marriage!—before the lot. Stay tuned for a future post about the lot—and for my novel, The Witness Tree, coming in September 2019 from Smitten Romance, about a marriage of convenience in Salem, North Carolina, that leads to an adventure in the Cherokee Nation.

See also: National Council on Public History, “Religion in Moravian Bethlehem” and Moravian Women’s Memoirs: Their Related Lives, 1750-1820, Katherine Faull

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Whiskey Rebellion of 1794

In my recent release, TheCumberland Bride, I reference some unrest taking place in the Ohio Valley at the same time, related to a tax that had been levied on the sale of whiskey.

Farmers in the westernmost states had discovered that due to the high cost of shipping things back east (there were no wagon roads west of the Appalachian Mountains, yet, so they had to use pack horses or mules), they could make more money selling whiskey (distilled from grain grown west of the mountains) than from shipping the grain itself east. Alexander Hamilton, looking for ways to fund the newly formed American government and to defray the lingering cost of the war for independence from Britain, decided to levy a tax on the whiskey.

The farmers didn’t appreciate this new tax and felt they’d just fought for independence from that kind of heavyhandedness, that government was ultimately up to the people and if the people didn’t approve of the tax, well then, they shouldn’t have to pay it. Violence broke out all along the Ohio Valley, from northeastern Kentucky up into western Pennsylvania. Protesters threatened to burn Pittsburg to the ground.

President Washington felt the supremacy of the United States government, and the Constitution itself, was at stake, and so in the face of some vigorous protests, rode out to western Pennsylvania himself with a strong show of force. General Daniel Morgan, the tough, hard-bitten hero of the Battle of Cowpens almost 14 years before (during the Southern Campaign of the Revolution), was chosen to lead one wing of that army, and the Whiskey Rebellion subsided without a shot being fired. (Interestingly, one member of his force, which stayed in western Pennsylvania through 1795, was Meriwether Lewis.)

Several of those who had led the violence were arrested, but only two men were tried and sentenced to hangings. Washington eventually pardoned even those two. He was apparently satisfied that he’d upheld the Constitution, but many farmers still felt the government had looked out more for its own interests than those of its citizens.

The excise tax remained difficult to collect, and many just plain refused to pay it. Hamilton was disappointed that his plan to help fund the new government had failed. Many feel that the events surrounding the Whiskey Rebellion directly led to the formation of two political parties, the Federalists who believed more power should lie with the government to protect and serve, and the Republicans who believed more power should lie with the people. A few years later, when Jefferson was elected president, he repealed the Whiskey Tax, despite the popular view of the day that Washington’s actions against the Whiskey Rebellion were necessary and successful.

Has anything really changed since then? It’s an interesting commentary on the history of our country’s politics, to be sure.

Friday, November 9, 2018


While World War I officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, it was formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, when the Armistice with Germany took effect. The U.S. holiday was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.

A very small percentage of the American populace currently serve in the armed forces. I’ve seen percentages anywhere from .04% -- 1%.
According to 2016 data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, there were approximately 20.4 million U.S. veterans, less than 10% of the total U.S. adult population.

Since Veterans Day falls on a Sunday this year, some government offices, schools, and other businesses are closed either Friday or Monday.

On November 11th, let's acknowledge and express gratitude for all the men and women who have served or are serving our nation in the armed forces. We are the beneficiaries of liberty and freedom only because others were and are willing to sacrifice. Many service members spend vast amounts of time away from family and friends, work long hours under stressful conditions, and go in harm’s way. Their service has preserved our union and allows us to pursue our plans and dreams. Take some time today and thank them.

The Dates  the US Military Organizations Were Founded

US ARMY (USA)                               June 14, 1775
US NAVY (USN)                                October 13, 1775
US MARINES (USMC)                     November 10, 1775
US COAST GUARD (USCG)            August 4, 1790
WOMEN IN NAVY (WAVES)           July 30, 1942
WOMEN IN COAST GUARD (SPARS)    November 23, 1942
WOMEN MARINES                          February 13, 1943
WOMEN'S ARMY CORP (WAC)     July 1, 1943
US AIR FORCE (USAF)                   September 18, 1947
WOMEN IN USAF (WAF)                June 12, 1948

Department of Defense founded September 18, 1947

Friday, November 2, 2018

Historical Artwork that Inspired Story

Like many writers, when I begin to plot and plan a novel, one of my favorite activities is to collect photo inspiration for the story. Sometimes this comes after the story is written, but often there are items, places, and people that have inspired settings or characters in the book, and I like to have an image of them.

One of those inspirations for my new release Mist O'er the Voyageur was the fascinating artwork of several artists of history.

  • Frances Anne Hopkins 
Mrs. Hopkins lived from 1838-1919. She was the wife of a fur trader - the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) official Edward Hopkins. One of her early paintings, Canoes in a Fog, Lake Superior, was selected by the Royal Academy for exhibition in London while she was a young wife and mother in Montreal in 1869. That painting helped to inspire the title for my book Mist O'er the Voyageur:

One of her most famous paintings also fed my imagination, and I am fortunate to have a print of this 1889 classic called Shooting the Rapids:

Mrs. Hopkins lived a very interesting life, and if you'd like to learn more about her, I recommend reading this post: http://www.hbcheritage.ca/people/women/frances-anne-hopkins

  • Arthur Heming 
Mr. Heming was  both a novelist and a painter from Canada who didn't merely dream up his visual depictions in his tales or paintings, but he also spent a great deal of time in the wilderness and was able to depict the harsh life, danger, and skills of the voyageurs from personal experiences. His work entitled Canadian Express shows the challenges the voyageurs faced as the freight haulers to and from the wilderness forts:

This one depicts the voyageurs taking a rest, referred to as "a pipe" and is aptly titled Taking a Pipe:

  • Michael Gnatek
  • Paul Calle

Michael Gnatek passed away in 2006, but not before accumulating a fabulous gallery of historical military art from various periods. I love his painting of a mountain man wearing a Hudson's Bay blanket capote. His work reminds me of another contemporary artist, Paul Calle, whose paintings are so details, right down to the weathered facial lines in mountain men and trappers. I am blessed to have two of Paul Calle's prints on my living room walls.  Do to copyright, I won't post the images, but I hope you'll check out the links:

The two Paul Calle prints on my wall. Here they are on Pinterest:

END OF A LONG DAY by Paul Calle

  • Margaret Killarney
Another contemporary artist, Margaret Killarney, another oil artist from Ontario, draws you into her paintings of the northern Lake Superior shoreline the way a stained-glass window beckons you into glorious prisms of light. Her work has even been featured on the cover of Lake Superior Magazine. Check out the beautiful imagery on her site:

  • Original Photographs of the Past by Various Historical Photographers
Though I can't share the actual photos which belong to the Minnesota Historical Society, please take a look at this piece written by Paul Peter Buffalo, as he chronicles his historical heritage along with a number of photos depicting native individuals and families (mostly Chippewa) along with their lodgings, handiwork, and lifestyle from long ago:


These are just a few of the artists that contributed imagery to my imagination as I penned Mist O'er the Voyageur. I must also say that when I first saw the cover for Mist, I let out a squeal of glee. I cannot overlook the talent of graphic artists who can compose the work of photographers and other artists into such beautiful book covers able also to capture our literary imaginations.

I hope you enjoyed taking in  some of this fabulous artwork. If you'd like to see more, follow my Pinterest board: Amazing Art, and also the boards for my individual book titles. Hmm...why not just follow them all? ;)

Here's to every artist out there!

Friday, October 26, 2018

October New Release Tea Party!

Raleigh Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg (Wiki)
A good day to you, and welcome to the October new releases tea party!

Because some of our locations are so far-flung and remote (see for instance this view, below, from Pinnacle Overlook at Cumberland Gap, Kentucky, with a view of three states), we're meeting a little closer to home for our party--the Raleigh Tavern at Colonial Williamsburg!

But we can't wait to introduce you to some other beautiful settings!

Pinnacle Overlook at Cumberland Gap
Please also join us on Facebook, 2-5PM Eastern, for more fun and prizes!
Click HERE to attend!


Shannon McNear is celebrating her first published full-length novel, The Cumberland Bride, #5 of Daughters of the Mayflower. She became a contributor to Colonial Quills five years ago, not long after receiving a contract for her first novella, Defending Truth in A Pioneer Christmas Collection, which went on to be a 2014 RITA® finalist.

The Cumberland Bride has more in common with Defending Truth than just being her first, however. Fourteen years later, in 1794, Truth Bledsoe's younger brother Thomas is all grown up and has had more adventures than he cares to admit--and especially not to Kate Gruener, daughter of settlers traveling the Wilderness Road into Kentucky. As he guides her family and others through the Cumberland Gap and deeper into the frontier, he isn't sure that she'll even survive the journey. But will she discover a courage no one knows she has?

You can find out more about Shannon, and her other stories, at her website and the following social media sites:

The Cumberland Bride is available here:

Amazon (both paperback and Kindle)
Christianbook.com (both paperback and ebook)
Barnes & Noble (both paperback and Nook)

Shannon is also giving away one copy of The Cumberland Bride to one commenter here on the blog.


Naomi Musch is happy to present her new release, Mist O'er the Voyageur. Speaking of far-flung settings, her story is set in regions around the upper Great Lakes, particularly Lake Superior, during the great fur trade years of the early 1800s.

Sunrise over Lake Superior (Duluth, MN) photo credit: Nevada Lund

Mist O'er the Voyageur is the tale of a Brigitte Marchal, a Metis woman from Montreal who, in fleeing a cruel suitor, disguises herself as a young man and signs onto a voyageurs' brigade departing to the Upper Country. She hopes to find her long-absent fur trader father, but danger abounds, and as a woman alone, who can she trust in such a rugged, unfamiliar country?

Mist O'er the Voyageur is available in paperback and ebook. Naomi will also be giving away a signed copy along with some book swag during Friday's party.

Naomi lives at the head of Lake Superior, in the big woods near where much of the story is set. She loves connecting with others, and you can find her around the web.

She also looks forward to sending friends occasional free reads through her newsletter, News of the Northwoods.


Tamera Lynn Kraft is celebrating the re-release of her novel Red Sky Over America, Ladies of Oberlin Book 1. Here's a little bit about it.

William and America confront evil, but will it costs them everything?
In 1857, America, the daughter of a slave owner, is an abolitionist and a student at Oberlin College, a school known for its radical ideas. America goes home to Kentucky during school break to confront her father about freeing his slaves.
America's classmate, William, goes to Kentucky to preach abolition to churches that condone slavery. America and William find themselves in the center of the approaching storm sweeping the nation and may not make it home to Ohio or live through the struggle.
Meet the Ladies of Oberlin, the causes they're willing to fight for, and the men who capture their hearts.
Red Sky Over America tackles the most turbulent time in history with thorough research and fascinating characters. Tamera Lynn Kraft has woven a tale about the evils of slavery that should never be forgotten. -- Mary Ellis, author of The Quaker and the RebelThe Lady and the Officer, and The Last Heiress.
Red Sky Over America is available in paperback and eBook:

Thank you all for joining us! And don't forget the Tea Party on Facebook, 2-5PM Eastern!