Hi! I’m a grandma to four living in south Texas with my husband. I’m originally a science teacher, but my passion for education has morphed into bringing history to life through historical fiction. I hope that if you learn something along the way, it will be painless!
But my main passion is for the gospel. I craft my stories around core gospel truths, not in a “preachy” way, but in a way that it suitable to the time and place. My first historical fiction novel answers the question, what would it have been like to live during the great revival of the 1740s?
My new release, The Heart of Courage, is a sequel to this first book, a stand-alone set during the French and Indian War. Three individuals, one a Shawnee Indian, face the conflict of war. They also face internal battles, spiritual and emotional. There’s romance in the story, too, but it’s low-level and clean—appropriate for the time period.
When I wrote the first book, The Shenandoah Road, I had the idea that it would be the first in a trilogy, tied together by a single family in the Shenandoah Valley. Courage takes that second spot, and I hope to write a book set during the Revolutionary War time period.
When I began my research for Courage, I was slapped in the face by a problem. The Indian raids against the settlers were sometimes horrific. There was a particular event that bothered me for days. Have you ever read a news account that stuck in your mind? It was like that. I couldn’t gloss over this stuff—but if I were truthful, the Native Americans would look like savages.
So I created a Shawnee point-of-view character, and he became my favorite character to write. I had to dive into Shawnee history and culture. And just use my imagination, because we don’t have Shawnee diaries or journals. Not from that time period. All is second-hand, from captives’ stories and so forth. A challenge! I enjoy reading fiction with Native American characters myself. I hope my readers enjoy Red Hawk and Grandmother as much as I did.
Here’s a short excerpt from The Heart of Courage:
James Paxton is studying for the ministry, but when war breaks out, he joins Washington and Braddock’s army. He is injured in the battle now known as “Braddock’s defeat.”
James was falling. He slammed into something hard and searing pain jolted him awake. The rattle of tongue and axle, clop-clop of hooves surrounded him. A wagon—he was in a moving wagon. A groan issued from a man next to him.
Above him stars circled. Or maybe they weren’t circling. He blinked, trying to clear his vision, and slowly the dizziness subsided. The darkness was profound. He raised his left arm, strangely heavy, and touched the side of the wagon, the familiar texture of wood rough under his hand. His right hand felt instinctively for his rifle. No rifle, only fabric. Someone’s coat.
He drifted off again. Tomahawks flashed, and flies landed on Halkett’s face. Where was Red? Where was Russell? He needed to cover Russell.
Someone sobbed near his feet. James blinked, trying to emerge from the fog. There was no moon, that’s why it was so dark. A miasma of sulfuric gunpowder, metallic blood, and stale sweat filled his nose. Rustling, moans, and curses marked the presence of soldiers not far away. The army was on the march—at night? The trail was difficult even during the day.
Where was Russell? The last thing he remembered was McKee’s dead face. James’s stomach cramped just thinking of it. Losing Mac was one thing; he was convinced the man had peace with God. But McKee? It didn’t bear thinking about.
And all the others … no, he couldn’t think about them either.
James sensed the presence of several men clinging to the end of the wagon as if for support or guidance. He didn’t blame them. How anyone could find the way in this hellish darkness he could not fathom.
The sobbing intensified.
“Shut up,” someone growled near the source of the cries. “You will bring the savages down upon us.” A thin thread of panic suffused the voice.
The wagon halted. The harness jingled and an animal gave a familiar grunt. A mule was pulling the cart. James seized on the thought. Mules were canny, sure-footed creatures. A good thing.
Where was his own mule? Had she survived?
Muttering broke out into an argument somewhere.
“Come this way.” Washington’s voice rose above the rest.
His back screamed in pain as the wagon jolted into motion. A new smell choked him, the smell of the outhouse. James thrust down his nausea.
Eerie sounds swelled and ebbed away, the sounds of wounded soldiers. James heard one distinctive cry for water. Moans and grunts, and once, the scream of a horse. A pistol shot. An injured beast put out of its misery.
Help … Lord.
James couldn’t seem to pray. Panic and despair chased the army, and all he could do was strain for glimpses of the stars. But even they seemed cold and hard.
A strange sound floated over the groaning. A melody? A meetinghouse tune.
“God is our refuge and our strength, in straits a present aid …”
The familiar psalter tune diminished, then surged in strength.
“Though hills amidst the seas be cast …”
It was Russell’s voice. James mouthed the words, his lips stiff and cracked.
“God is in the midst of her …” No one shushed the man.
James clung to the words, a slender thread of truth and sanity in the horror-filled night.
The sobbing ceased at his feet.
When my book launch is behind me I think I will find my neglected duster. My house suffers when things get crazy, but my husband supports me. I’m also a member of a group under the aegis of ACFW and belong to a local chapter. When I run across someone with an itch to write, I tell them to join a critique group of some sort. Of course when I write something it sounds great to me. But my choice of words is only half of the communication process. Did I actually deposit my story into your head?
I love feedback from readers, even if it’s not all positive. I also have a newsletter in which I give my readers updates and alert them to special deals. To sign up or to get in touch you can go to https://www.lynnetagawa.com/
The Heart of Courage (the Russells book 2): https://amzn.to/3ajxMKs
The Shenandoah Road (the Russells book 1): https://amzn.to/2XVm0kA
Do you enjoy reading about this period of American history? What do you enjoy most about reading historical novels with diverse characters?