Friday, June 23, 2017

The End of the Kickstarter Chapter in War of Loyalties



I sent this note to backers last night, and wanted to include it on the blog today for all of you. This is The End of this chapter in the War of Loyalties journey. We wrote it together.

I am sitting here looking for words.

One month ago, I calculated one more time and realized I needed to budget more on my Kickstarter than I had originally planned.

One month ago, I took a deep breath and hit launch.

And last night, on the last day of the campaign, at 9:20pm, I got an email notification that said



You made it! 


We made it.

There is absolutely no way we could have planned what this journey looked like so far. It's been one of grace, of so much generosity, of overflowing love from so many kind-hearted friends.

You prayed. You shared. You gave $5,000 dollars to make this indie dream a reality.

So much goes into the making of a dollar--good days and hard days, and wish-you-could-stay-in-bed-days. The fact that you chose to channel your dollars towards this project was a huge gift. And I want most of all to be a wise steward in the days ahead.

We're rejoicing today. We'll have more words, more plans, more things to share, and so much more to rejoice over.

But for today, I just want to say--

That God breaks down barriers.

That he provides in ways that look impossible.

That is joyful night is the super-sweetest thing.

That I wish I could give you all a hug.

This is my celebration, and your celebration, and our celebration.

Thank-you is such a tiny, inadequate word. But you made my heart sing tonight--and I thank God for each one of you.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Meet Jaeryn, Terry, and Charlotte...

Welcome, welcome, folks, to the War of Loyalties character interview! We’ve PASSED 4K on Kickstarter, and we went over the 75% mark yesterday!! Yippee!! We have less than 1K to go, which is a HUGE milestone! I am so grateful for the Lord's provision, for his tender mercy and peace throughout this process. I truly feel like he is leading and providing. I'm so thankful for willing hands and hearts who have prayed, spread the word, and given--without you, none of this would be possible, and I am so grateful for all the support.

Charlotte, Jaeryn, and Terry received the highest votes yesterday for a character interview. I thought this might be a bit awkward at first, but then I realize the three of them actually do have a scene together in the story, and since Jaeryn and Terry are good friends, and Charlotte can hold her own with anyone, I think they’ll get along quite well.

This interview will be conversation style, so I’ll delay no longer. Sit back and enjoy!

1.       What’s your profession? Do you like it? How long have you had it?
Terry: Ladies first, Mrs. Doc.
Charlotte: I’m a nurse—that is, until I married, and now I volunteer at the Folkestone Maternity Homes. I like the work. I’ve never wanted to do anything different—though I did like being a nurse in America better than coming to Folkestone where the future is so uncertain.
Jaeryn: Doctor for two years. Agent for seven years. I wouldn’t trade either profession for a sultan’s fortune. This is what I want to excel at.
Terry: I’m kind of a professional world wanderer, if that’s a thing.
Jaeryn: If it makes you money, it’s a thing.

2.       What’s your role in this story?
Jaeryn: Holding the world together.
Charlotte: My world spins just the same without you in it, sir.
Jaeryn: Some people prefer to think that, but I think they’d be hard-pressed if I wasn’t around.
Charlotte: Anyway. I’m moral support, and assistant at the clinic where Ben and Jaeryn work together.
Terry: So in other words, Jaeryn holds the world together, and you help him hold his clinic together.
Charlotte *beaming smile*: Exactly.
Jaeryn: I’m a doctor for part of Folkestone, an agent for the British Secret Service, and responsible for managing all the agents in Folkestone. So far, none of them have taken too kindly to managing, but we’ll make it.
Terry: Well, I don’t mind you managing me, doc.
Charlotte: What’s your role in this story, Terry?
Terry: Well—you know—being a friend mostly, and holding people’s heads together, and getting into trouble sometimes.
Charlotte: But, I mean, more specifically.
Jaeryn *hastily*: I think we should go on to the next question.

3.       Are you married? Happily, or unhappily? If you’re single, do you want to be?
Charlotte: I am happily married, and I like that so much. I could have stayed behind in America, but I’d rather be together with my husband than alone at home where it’s safer.
Jaeryn: I am happily single. It gives me more mental space to focus on my work.
Terry: I am unhappily single. But that’s going to change one of these days. I mean, how can anyone be happily single?
Jaeryn: You were happily single for a long time until the right girl showed up.

4.       What are you most afraid of?
Jaeryn: I am most afraid of—I am most afraid of losing people under my supervision in the work. It happens more often than I like, from people changing sides, and agents being killed in the line of duty. I try to keep the good ones safe and together.
Terry: I don’t know if that’s what you’re most afraid of, doc.
Jaeryn: Yes. Yes, it is. Charlotte?
Charlotte: I don’t think it’s the sort of thing a married woman confides in two men who aren’t her husband. Especially since I haven’t even told my husband about it.
Jaeryn: Fair enough. We won’t pry. Terry, the question for you is, what should you be afraid of that you aren’t?
Terry: The only thing you have to fear is fear itself, doc. And I don’t fear that, so I guess there’s not much to worry about.
Jaeryn: I’m not sure about the line of reasoning there.

5.       What’s your ideal vacation, after this story is over?
Charlotte: Home. To see my parents, and give them a hug, and tell them the truth about what we’ve been up to. Only, I don’t think I’ll be able to tell them the whole truth since it’s involved with secret intelligence, which is sad.
Jaeryn: *secret smile*
Terry: I’d go home, too, to see my mum. She hasn’t seen me in a while. I care about her a lot, I just keep tumbling into things that take a while to get out of, you know? And handwritten letters take such a long to write.
Jaeryn: You should get your girl to write them for you.

Terry: Now that’s a grand idea.


Thank you SO much for helping us get to this point, everyone! I am so grateful for you all! We're having a Facebook Live video at 10:30am EST on Friday, no matter what happens with the Kickstarter, to celebrate and debrief about what happens next. Feel free to bring any questions you might have so I can answer them! Also, the video should be archived so you can view it afterward, (as long as all the technology works out). It will all be happening at my author page: https://www.facebook.com/authorschuylermcconkey/?ref=settings and I look forward to seeing you there!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The War of Loyalties Interview Poll

We just hit $3,500 on the War of Loyalties Kickstarter (70%, my math skillz need help today). And in celebration, we're unrolling the character poll for the War of Loyalties character interview!

So here's what you do: choose 3 characters from the poll below (it lets you choose three characters at once) and click the "vote" button. The poll is open until midnight tonight! (Please vote only once.)

To get to know the characters you'll be voting for, check out the War of Loyalties character post here.

(Having trouble? Copy and past this link into your browser: http://ladybibliophile.blogspot.com/2017/05/meet-characters-in-war-of-loyalties.html)

Feel free to comment below with any questions you want to ask the characters! (You can also email me, Tweet, or Facebook your questions!)





Summer TBR + War of Loyalties Guest Post

via Pixabay
War of Loyalties Update + Guest Post

Looking for more news about War of Loyalties? Check out a post at Defending the Legacy covering some of the historical details and sources I used in the book--including enlistment law and the bomb drop in Folkestone.

Historical Details in War of Loyalties: Life on the Home Front in WW1 


The final days are ticking away on the War of Loyalties Kickstarter! On Thursday, June 22nd, at 11:59 pm, the last chance to donate--and our last chance to raise $5,000--will be gone. Kickstarter is all or nothing--meaning if we don't hit $5K, we're back to $0. Backers have poured so much incredible support into this project, and I am praying and trusting that the Lord will provide the rest. God will not let us lack the resources we need to accomplish the work he calls us to do in HIS way and timing.

You can check out the project on Kickstarter here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/968825317/bring-war-of-loyalties-to-print-historical-fiction?ref=user_menu

As soon as we hit 75%, (Just $90 to that milestone!) I'll put up a poll so you can vote for the characters you want to hear from. Then I'll start writing up a character interview with them! You can ask the top-voted characters any question you want, too! Just shoot me a comment (below), Tweet, or Facebook message, or email me at ladybibliophileblog[AT]gmail[DOT]com with questions you want the characters to answer! :) This is going to be fun!

Will you pray with me over the next few days for wisdom, confidence, and faithful stewardship of the opportunities the Lord has given me? I would appreciate that so much!



Summer TBR Stack 

Heading into the summer season, I've got some neat books lined up to tackle--I'm really excited about all of these.

Rescuing the Gospel: the Story and Significance of the Reformation, by Erwin Lutzer
This book covers some of the history of the Reformation. I didn't get around to my other Reformation read this spring, so I definitely want to cover Erwin Lutzer's book this summer, especially because I'll be doing some discussion lessons about the Reformation in the fall. This is an incredible time to cement why we believe what we believe and remember the people who helped us reclaim the authority of the Scriptures.

(Want more information about the Reformation? Check out my brother's incredible studies here.)

Boundaries, by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
I started this book, got so frustrated with myself because it was basically a mirror of my life, (totally not the book's fault) and then put it down again. But, after calming down and being so encouraged by K.M. Weiland's thoughts on it, I'm picking it back up again and heartily enjoying myself. It's an excellent read.

Gone Away Lake, Elizabeth Enright
This is another childhood classic I want to revisit. It was our family tradition to read this book every couple of years. While it has some independent kids for the first half of the book, the issues get straightened out eventually, and it brings back so many memories.

The Magician's Nephew, C.S. Lewis
I'll be teaching writing lessons that pull inspiration from The Magician's Nephew (thanks to this fantastic IEW curriculum) and I'm so excited to be revisiting The Magician's Nephew and reading it for myself this year. It's been too long.

Story Trumps Structure, by Steven James
This was on the Spring List, but it didn't get done. I can count it towards a summer reading program I'm in, so I'm going to tackle it again.

A Cup of Dust, Susie Finkbeiner
I've already skimmed through this book, and it looks absolutely incredible. Susie Finkbeiner is an author from the great state of Michigan, and reading a book by a Michigan author also counts towards the reading program I'm in.

High as the Heavens, Kate Breslin  and A Name Unknown, Roseanna White
Both of these are review books for the summer, which I'm super excited about, because they both have WW1 settings!

What are you hoping to read this summer?

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Lost Art of Biblical Meditation

As soon as I saw the title, I knew I wanted to review this book. Biblical meditation is a subject that isn't really talked about, and it leaves most people scratching their heads.

The topic of taking thoughts captive--and having healthy minds is a vital one in a world rife with anxiety. I first heard of sound thinking in the study True Woman 201, where Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and Mary Kassian talked about having a sophron (or self-controlled) mind (which Nancy Wolgemuth also addressed in her fantastic book Adorned).

Reclaiming the Lost Art of Biblical Meditation is another piece of the puzzle in pursueing sound thinking. Why we should meditate is something a lot of us may have never thought of, and this book is here to address that topic.

Book Description [official] 

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight. — Psalm 19:14

Do you long to deepen your intimacy with the Lord? To find a sense of soul-steadying peace? To develop emotional strength? Then you will need to pause long enough to be still and know He is God. Trusted Pastor Robert Morgan leads us through a journey into biblical meditation, which, he says, is thinking Scripture—not just reading Scripture or studying Scripture or even thinking about Scripture—but thinking Scripture, contemplating, visualizing, and personifying the precious truths God has given us.

The practice is as easy and portable as your brain, as available as your imagination, as near as your Bible, and the benefits are immediate. As you ponder, picture, and personalize God’s Word, you begin looking at life through His lens, viewing the world from His perspective. And as your thoughts become happier and holier and brighter, so do you.

My Thoughts 
One part of this book I really liked was in chapter 1. Robert Morgan says that our minds without Christ are dark places, and when we become saved, Christ redeems them, bringing light in. But, as he goes on to say, even Christians still struggle with shadows, and that's where meditation comes in. In another good analogy, Morgan likened meditating on God's Word to fresh water circulating through our mind. Thinking about God's Word, how to walk it out in life, and staying our hearts in anxious times on his character and promises, all help us to keep thinking in a way that is spiritually healthy. Instead of being overrun by anxiety, we are anchored to truth, something that, as I think a lot and can be melancholic, is a really good reminder. 

At the end of the book, there are 10 days of meditation guides about certain passages of Scripture. I think this is an invaluable section, as it gives you something tangible to get started with before you branch out on your own. 

I appreciated Morgan's last chapter about memorization as well. Memorization, I think, can really help with meditation, because while you're lying in bed, or driving to work, you've got that Scripture right there in your mind, and you can pull it out and think about it. If you're ever in a situation without a Bible in hand, you still have with you--memorization sometimes was the only Bible persecuted or imprisoned Christians can have, and it's always good to store it up in our hearts so we are never at a loss for fellowship with God. 

This book is written from a conservative biblical perspective, which really helps in tackling issues like meditation, which can often stray into the weird. If you've never thought about biblical meditation, this book gives a great introduction to the topic, though there are some aspects that I would love to continue to research on more in-depth. I also appreciated it, because reading a book about the Lord encouraged me to think about him more--stories are fun, but sometimes I need a recalibration. I had read the first part of the book and then let it sit for a few weeks before I finished it, but finishing the last three chapters over the weekend, as well as working on this review, helped me lift my mind to things above. 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher as part of the BookLooks blogger program. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The First Scene of War of Loyalties [a Kickstarter milestone celebration]

Guys! We made the next milestone goal!!! 50% on Kickstarter with 8 days left to go. How awesome--that made me so happy this afternoon! 

In celebration, I am proud to present to you the first scene of War of Loyalties, and the first sighting of the enigmatic Irish doctor, Jaeryn Graham.... 



Chapter One
A Question of Duty

London, England – March 1917
Doctor Jaeryn Graham stepped out of his cab in front of a shop specializing in window glass exports. Devoid of aesthetic interest, but solid in its way. Inside, a radio droned out the latest war news, and propaganda posters plastered the walls with bloodthirsty red slogans. Samples of various types of glass and frames lined the walls displayed in well ordered cabinets. A young man in waistcoat and shirtsleeves sat behind a reception desk, keeping up the fiction of a clerk ready to show his wares. Only a select few knew the shop had a different purpose.
On his way through to the back hall, Jaeryn tipped a wink at the clerk. “How's business?”
The youth nodded in response. “Oh, just fine, doctor. Mr. Ryson's waiting to see you. He thinks you're late.”
“Let him, then. It's not easy to get from Folkestone to London with the trains delayed as they are in these times.”
The doctor's jaw had a steely look about it as he entered Samuel Ryson's office. Closing the door behind him, the familiar breath of fear ghosted through him.
“Ah, Graham. I've been expecting you.” His gray-haired supervisor motioned him to a seat. “I expect you are sufficiently recovered from your last escapade, hmm?”
“Completely.” Jaeryn flexed his fingers at the mention of what he had just accomplished. They were straight and unblemished, except for two—and those two, crooked as they were, caused a proud lifting of his chin as if he would gladly have them over the other eight, whole ones.
Ryson grunted his approval. “You never take much time to get back on your feet. Did you establish contact with the agents in Folkestone?”
“I did. Our disgust was mutual.”
“None of that. I’m sure they’ll come around in time. Were you able to purchase the medical practices?”
“Both of them, just as you wanted.”
“Excellent. With two medical routes, you should have sufficient access to the people you'll need to know. Besides, it would look strange if you only had one, with your colleagues rushing off to the front. As it is, you might get some persecution, being a fit man and not enlisting.”
Jaeryn made no effort to disguise his indifference. “There's not much anyone can do about it. No English bureaucrat can force an Irishman to enlist. It's the law.”
“You do your countrymen no favors with such remarks.” Ryson's pale blue eyes glared in frosty displeasure. He threw a quick glance at the door making sure it was locked, then pulled a map out of a desk drawer and pointed to the lower portion of it. “Your practices are in Folkestone. Have you been able to establish a connection with Mr. Emmerson yet?”
“The MP? He was one of my first patients. He’s dying. His heart won't hold out until summer.”
“I heard. At the beginning of the war, he was a consultant for our War Cabinet. In January of this year, we audited his correspondence and found a letter asking if he had distributed code identities to certain unidentified contacts in Folkestone. Such a measure had neither been initiated by nor was it cleared by our office.”
Jaeryn looked up from the map. “So, you are assuming it could be a private venture?”
“We fear so. Its location makes it a perfect observatory town for us, with troop stations and overseas shipping so nearby. Also, it would be a prime location from which to betray British interests. With a major offensive planned in Flanders only six months away, we can’t afford to have anyone leaking our plans to the Germans ahead of time.”
“So, you want me to watch for signs of counter-intelligence?” Jaeryn pulled out a notebook and wrote down several details that he wished to take extra care to remember. Ryson hesitated when the Irishman put pen to paper, but he relaxed again as he saw that it was not in English, but in Irish Gaelic.
“Precisely. Find those code identities and determine who they belong to. We think he may be growing a cell of agents for his own purposes. You will be in charge of discovering if that is the case.”
Jaeryn nodded his assent, “Anything more before I go?”
“Yes. We’re writing to America for an assistant for you.”
Jaeryn tucked his notebook away with an outward show of nonchalance. “Oh? Do I need help? This job hasn’t taxed my abilities thus far. If I need help with anything, it would be with managing the medical practices. And why America?”
Ryson shook his head. “I'm afraid it's necessary. The young man's father has connections in London and wants a career for his son in British Intelligence. He assured us it would be worth our while. His son has a talent for languages, and could possibly give us a new foreign agent in time. Here's a picture.”
Jaeryn took the photo and inspected it. The new agent appeared younger than he was if appearances were a good judge. The blue eyes and wavy brown hair could not produce a sharper contrast to his own dark hair and slim form. He looked pliable enough due to the slightly uncertain gaze in the eyes, and if that was the case, he might be a convenient assistant to have around. “If he's helpful to me, I have no objection. What's his name?”
“Doctor Benjamin Dorroll. He'll be going by Dailey here.”
A doctor. Even better. With two practices, they could split the work load. That would give them both more time to poke around in their patients' private affairs.
Ryson took back the picture and locked it in the file cabinet behind his desk. “His father specifically requested that we place Dailey with you.”
Only a flicker of Jaeryn's eyelashes showed his surprise. “Did he, now? Why me?”
“Mr. Dorroll’s reasons were not divulged to me by our superiors. He was told to write to his and offer the position. The service can’t afford to lose a link to a person that could be a worthwhile asset.”
“Curious.”
“It is.” Ryson lowered his voice, and Jaeryn leaned forward. “We're tracking his correspondence. Nothing so far. Whatever his reason for wanting his son to work with you, he won't say what it is. But he seems to have enough influence with the War Office that they acquiesced, I find the whole thing quite strange.”
“Why?”
“I only knew of one son; an army captain, Edmond Dorroll. He's done well for himself in the war. But this other son I had never heard of until his father requested the position for him. I cannot find any evidence that Benjamin Dorroll has been in England for some time. And besides, I find it strange that Matthew Dorroll would not want the position for the older son, instead of the younger.”
“Curious.” The word lilted, long and drawn-out, and Jaeryn smiled again to himself. “Do you think Matthew Dorroll has some unknown interest in Folkestone?” he asked.
Ryson's angular face remained impassive. “Perhaps. Try to find out what his interest was in our specifically placing his son with you. We can't be too cautious. If Benjamin Dorroll accepts, you’ll see him in May.”
“Excellent, I’ll be on the lookout for him.” Jaeryn took the file folder and stepped to the rear door and unlocked it.
“Graham”—with the door unlocked, Ryson sank his voice to a mere whisper. “Much depends on this. You have not failed us yet. Don’t let this be the first time.”
A golden glimmer sparkled in Jaeryn's eyes, and the flash of his white teeth appeared again. “I do not fear error. I play to win.”
And with that, he left by the back entrance and walked a few blocks to execute one of his own private commissions. He wanted to add a personal bodyguard to his operation as well as this new man; a bodyguard that he would choose himself. Just this morning, a death threat had been slipped through his mail slot. He suspected he was not entirely welcome in Folkestone. But if he told Ryson about it, Ryson would want to know why, and that would never do.
Once at the post office, Jaeryn scrawled out his message and handed it over to the plain-featured, red-headed girl running the telegraph. She wrinkled her nose as she tried to decipher his black smudge, then gave up and asked him to read it to her.
“Sorry, bad handwriting,” Jaeryn apologized. “It says: Need help. Bit of a risk, but I'll make it worth your while. Meet me in Dover. J.
With his message sent, Jaeryn assessed the street for anyone who might be watching him. Satisfied it was all clear, he set off at a brisk pace toward Paddington Station. The dense London smog dimmed the streetlights to a dusty glow, and he was glad. It reduced his visibility to anyone attempting to observe his movements.
A member of parliament starting up a possible spy ring in Folkestone. Well, that was a step up from his other assignments. Jaeryn rubbed his hands together gleefully. With six years of dedicated work to his credit, it was about time he got more trust.
After this last mission, he deserved preferential treatment. An Irishman didn't go through hell for nothing, especially for an Englishman. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

8 Days Left On Kickstarter + Unlock the First Scene of War of Loyalties!


These last couple of days have been amazing on the War of Loyalties Kickstarter--in the last two days, we've jumped from 25% to 40%. I'm floored. And so, so grateful. Thank-you to all of you who have shared, prayed, and contributed so sacrificially and generously.

There are 9 days to go for the Kickstarter campaign (maybe 8 if you're reading this Wednesday morning!) If you didn't know, Kickstarter is all or nothing, meaning if we don't reach $5,000 by the end of the 8 days, we don't come away with anything. The countdown is on! It's not too late to join this publishing journey!

If you would love to tag along in the process, there are still three ways to support:

1. Keep praying. 
God has been so good to encourage my heart and give me fresh confidence and direction in this project. I'm trusting him to guide all along the way and make the process clear. I appreciate your prayers for wisdom, full funding on the Kickstarter, and an obedient heart to whatever way he leads.

2. Keep giving 

Seriously, every dollar helps us reach goal. You can check out the Kickstarter campaign here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/968825317/bring-war-of-loyalties-to-print-historical-fiction?ref=creator_nav

As soon as we hit 50%, I'm going to upload the first scene of War of Loyalties here to the blog. It has Jaeryn Graham in it, who is an enigmatic Irish spy--I think you'll like being introduced to him. ;) (Check out more about him here. He has quite the fandom.)

3. Keep sharing. 

If you feel comfortable, you can share by several ways (Twitter. Facebook. Email. Phone call.)

If you're not sure what to say, here are some messages you're welcome to copy and paste onto your social media:

Email Message:

Hi Friends!

2017 marks 100 years since American entered WW1, and a friend of mine is publishing a book to celebrate. War of Loyalties is a historical fiction novel about two doctors who are drafted into British secret intelligence. They have to navigate family secrets, personal obstacles, and Irish rebellion as they try to uncover a ring of German spies.

Schuyler is trying to raise $5,000 to help with printing costs, and she has until June 22 to raise the full support. Kickstarter is all or nothing, which means if it isn't raised by then, she doesn't receive any funds from the campaign.

I would highly encourage you to check out her Kickstarter campaign and help her with this project. A $35 pledge will get you both an ebook and a paperback copy. You can find more about the book and the project here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/968825317/bring-war-of-loyalties-to-print-historical-fiction?ref=user_menu

Signed,

[your name]

Twitter Message:

Interested in historical #fiction? Join the #WarofLoyalties campaign on @Kickstarter and receive some cool rewards! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/968825317/bring-war-of-loyalties-to-print-historical-fiction?ref=user_menu

Thank-you so much for reading this. You all make my heart sing. *group hug* 
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