Welcome to the blog, Wendy! Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a professional Genetic Genealogist by day, a Writer by night, and an Artist in between. My love for history and the incredible stories I unearth during research is what compels me to write. When I’m not engaged in writing, art, or research, I love to hike, paint, camp, travel the world, and spend time with my favorite people—my family. I’m also a movie buff—especially Bollywood movies! My favorite! Because I travel to India for work now and then, I’ve fallen in love with the people and their culture, and wow, do they know how to make epic movies!!! I’d start with Padmaavat if you’ve never seen one.
Can you describe your story in 5 sentences or less?
Two teenagers, two centuries, one city, dual-timeline.
In 2018, A gifted artist suffering from debilitating grief, delves into her Irish ancestry, and embarks on a life-changing journey.
In 1817, a young man leaves Ireland alone and crosses the Atlantic to find a way to save his family, embarking on an epic journey, which changes the destiny of his family forever.
Her story intersects with his.
She is healed by the insurmountable odds he overcame and is inspired to go on to paint a masterpiece.
I adore dual-timeline stories? Do you have a day job? If so, how do you find time in your day to write?
I DO have a day job. I’m a professional Genetic Genealogist. I research through DNA testing and traditional genealogical records, the ancestry of mainly adoptees and those with unknown fathers, to find their living, biological families. It’s a highly satisfying career because most of my clients get happy endings.
And as far as writing? I write in spurts. This is because I have to switch gears in a major way—out of my client’s real-life stories—back into the current historical fiction I’m writing. And that takes serious re-immersion, where I stay for a few days and do nothing but write.
Are you a night owl or morning person?
I’ve never been a morning person, but I do like getting up early once in a while to write, because before dawn, when all the world is quiet, story structure, plot points, and character details, all seem to flow through my mind with ease, and at a quicker pace.
But I’m definitely a night owl—always have been—and the opposite end of the day works well for my writing too; when my house is quiet, and I have it all to myself.
How did you come up with the names of your hero and/or heroine?
The present-day main character, Beth, is 15-years-old, and is named after a long line of ancestors named Elizabeth, who are real people in the historical chapters. And she goes by Bethy because she doesn’t like the name Elizabeth. She thinks it’s archaic. Until she begins the research of these women and it changes her life. You’ll have to find out for yourself how she feels about her name at the end of the story!
Bethy’s counterpart, Preston, her childhood friend, and romantic interest, was named because I took a poll at a girl’s camp where I was a youth leader. I asked the girls the names of the cutest boys they knew and made a list. Preston won!
Allen Hamilton, the main character of the historical chapters, was a real person, so his name is his own. Based on a 200-year-old letter collection, the historical chapters are based on real people—and the suffering they endured in Ireland while they tried to keep track of their son’s epic journey through antebellum America. So, all of their names are real, taken straight from letters and historical records. Allen Hamilton is actually my 3rd great-uncle, the oldest son of my third great-grandfather. His story is my very favorite in my family tree. And that’s saying a lot!
What does your family think of your writing?
My family is incredibly supportive and can’t wait to read what I’ve written next. My mother is a talented poet, and it’s the same thing in my family for her. We all can’t wait to read what she’s written next.
And my husband is the most supportive person in the world, as are my daughters. They have cheered me on every step of the way.
Are you part of a writing group?
I started out my writing journey as a member of the West Valley Critique Group in the Phoenix, Arizona valley. There, I gained probably the equivalent of an MFA. The group is run by a retired English Professor, and his support was huge—along with the other writers—who I supported as well.
Who was the first person you allowed to read your completed book?
I think my daughter Aubrey was the first to read my book–my very first beta reader. And she’s a high school teacher with a master’s in education, and a big fan of Young Adult novels, so her input really helpful.
My husband and my brother were right in there too. I read the whole story to my husband as I was writing, and when I travelled with my brother, for my other day job, he read over my shoulder as I wrote on airplane after airplane.
Here is your beautiful cover, along with the back blurb and an excerpt from the historical section:
“A gifted artist suffering debilitating grief finds healing and inspiration in her Irish ancestry and goes on to paint a masterpiece.”
After Allen Hamilton left Ireland as a teenager, it took him a few years to find the place he wanted to settle in America to bring his family to. And there he became the first Sherriff of Allen County in Indiana. In his writings, I found his description of what he had to deal with as Sherriff on the American Frontier. One of the major issues was whiskey running—to get the Native Americans drunk, and take advantage of selling goods to them at exorbitant prices. This is the scene where Allen Hamilton once and for all attempts to apprehend the runners.
When August arrived, I’d recruited and trained s men, many of whom I knew personally. As each was familiar with the area, they assisted me in determining the criminals’ likely escape routes.
On the day of the annuity payment, I executed a well-planned strategy.
My posse members and I waited silently at our posts along the Maumee River and in the woods.
Callahan, a neighbor to Mrs. Kent, who had become a close friend, was at my side, along with Hawkins, another good friend. They were both dedicated trappers and family men.
We waited together close to four hours. Near to dusk, the day had almost passed without incident.
Low in the underbrush, concealed in a thicket of trees, we sat listening to bullfrogs and cicadas, reverberating along the riverbanks, when Callahan gave me a look. I nodded at him to remain patient.
Another half hour passed, causing me to wonder, had the runners somehow foiled our plans? Where were they? Had they found some other means by which to lure the Indians away?
Yet fifteen minutes later, Hawkins spotted men of ill-repute loaded down with jugs, wading silently upstream. We detected others creeping along the banks.
Cocking my pistol, I sprang into action and fired a warning shot. “Don’t let them progress to the fork in the river!”
The gates of hell broke loose as the first posse group rushed into the water and fighting ensued. Other bands of my men fired far-off shots, signaling they’d left their stations and were coming to our aid. Amid the conflict, the soft ripple of the Maumee grew into a scene of crashing white water, cursing, and gunfire.
I had just knocked one good-for-nothing senseless when two scoundrels jumped me from behind. I stood firm, attempting to prevent them from wrestling me to the ground. At the same time, I watched another rogue in the river pin one of my men beneath the water. I couldn’t see who it was.
I wrenched free from the two men and dealt them each a blow to the gut with my elbow, but one held tight to my leg. As I tried to scramble away, I saw my man surface.
It was Hawkins! He came up long enough to gulp air before another man joined the other to hold him under.
I had to get to him!
Struggling with all my might, I hit and punched my way free, but only after a bloke kicked me in the face, leaving a gash across my brow that streamed blood down my cheek.
When I made it to my man, the crushing right hook Lesley had taught me proved highly useful when I sank my fist into one scoundrel’s jaw, then the other, before yanking Hawkins to the surface.
Alarm burst through me when I found him limp. I shook him. “Hawkins!”
Was I too late?
Dragging him to the riverbank, I shook him again and pounded my fist on his back. He coughed once and spluttered water from his lungs. In relief, I held the near-drowned man on the muddy bank while he gasped and gulped for air.
All around us, the river suddenly went quiet. I watched as one by one, my men dragged the soaked and defeated runners from the river; some alive, some not.
“Thank you, Allen,” Hawkins said in a raspy voice.
Now assured he’d be all right, I stood to help my posse bind the runners’ hands to the sideboards of the wagons, and pile high the confiscated whiskey jugs, while others searched out the few that had floated downstream.
Once we’d rounded up the last of the jugs, I said, “Load the flagons into the remaining wagons, men. Then we’ll set off. Well done.”
They acted quickly, and I observed them with pride. But then I stiffened.
“Who’s missing?” I called out. “Is everyone accounted for?”
Drenched, bruised, and bleeding, my men glanced around at one another, taking note of who was present, and who was not.
One man said, “We’re missing Baxter, sir.”
“And Callahan,” said another.
I cursed under my breath and ordered the formation of a search party.
Within the hour, two bodies were found a half-mile downriver. Baxter, lifeless from a gunshot wound, and Callahan, deceased from probable drowning.
Somberly, I gathered my men together again. “We’ll meet tomorrow morning at Ewing’s Tavern for payment—and to honor our fallen brothers.” I glanced with a wretched heart at the two bodies lying in the mud, their faces covered with handkerchiefs.
My next dreaded task was to carry those fine—and deceased men— home to their families.
Wendy is offering an ebook giveaway to one lucky commenter today! What do you love the most about dual-timeline stories?
You can find Wendy online here:
And you can buy IRISH SUMMER here:
Barnes & Noble https://bit.ly/3omMaqK
Ambassador International https://bit.ly/36iO31g