A Model of Grace- Observing Grace Livingston Hill’s writing

While, I was preparing to write At All Cost. I was drawn to reading Grace Livingston Hill’s romance novels. The key to GLH novels is that she never introduces a bevy of characters in the first few chapters. When she adds a new character, she makes sure they have a purpose.

In Ariel Custer, I was intrigued by a particular secondary character of Emily Dillon, who is considered old at forty-two years old.  Hill does add Emily to the later chapters, with a brief description. My character descriptions in my own novels would last forever.

Also, I noted her chapters are succinct and short.  She doesn’t include subplots that don’t help the story to move along.  You can tell she has taken many years to perfect her chapters.  Her chapters are great for those who have a short attention span. It’s amazing how I can read the first chapter of any other novel, and then I can determine if it will put me in a deep sleep.

Besides her character descriptions, she does well with description of a particular place. She picks out three objects of the room, to help the reader get a grasp of the room. In Ariel Custer, Hill focuses on three important pieces of the setting: a wide hearth of a field stone, fireplace, deep cushiony couches. A romance novelist, Rebecca Vineyard explains the importance finding several things for the reader to have a sense of place.

So, what I learned from Ariel Custer is that I need to have short chapters, great descriptions, and a great sense of place.


I did use Grace Livingston Hill books for my senior paper at Oral Roberts University.

Ariel Custer

Grace Livingston Hill

J.B Lippincott © 1925


A snapshot of history

 I took artistic license in recreating this story—hopefully you will enjoy a brief snapshot of history.

Ransom Lewis leaned back in his chair on his porch of his home in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He knew today was June 1, 1830. He was part of the census, as the census taker barraged him with so many questions. His wife, Hattie Lewis offered the taker a hot cup of coffee. The steam of the coffee fogged the older census takers spectacles. His young partner just took notes as the man asked him about his family history.

What was the white man’s fascination with the past? Here he was a freedman and his blood flowed with a white father and a Negro woman. He would choose today and be known as a Negro. He felt he at least needed to owe that to his mother. She was taken against her will—by the then young Mr. Ned Lewis. It was by the grace of God, that the youngest daughter of Ned’s daughter Mary Lewis had the decency to give him freedom. He praised the Lord daily for his favor.

Being in his fifties, and realizing his namesake was now in Tennessee participating in the same census. He believed his son would pass down the family history to the next generation.

Nan Lewis grew up and married Anderson Wiley. In their union they had several children and they had a daughter named Lucille Elizabeth Wiley. She would become my grandmother.

Ah Alabama

I’m a girl from Tulsa, Oklahoma who happens to be in the place of where the 1921 Race Riot happened in the Greenwood Area of downtown Tulsa. When I first told a friend I was doing a historical novel in Alabama. The friend was like “What about the 1921 race riot?”  I didn’t tell her but I have only lived in Tulsa for twenty –four years. Already great people have written about the race riot. An African-American lawyer Hannibal Johnson has written about it.

Not Tulsa, but Alabama interested me.  The lives of the four girls who lost their lives in the 16 Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, when their church was bombed on September 15, 1963. I recalled hearing about these girls at the age ten or eleven. In my mind, I thought they had died in the basement of the church. This began my inherent fear of basements in the bottom of the church.

The church has been restored since fifty y-one years ago. One woman who went to the church, her name is Carolyn McKinstry tells of the aftermath in While the World Watched. She tells of her survivor guilt and possibly she may have suffered from PTSD. Actually, McKinstry still serves at the church. I believe you can watch her interview on CBN.com.  We must remember the people who have faced trials and still came out victorious.   It is about not becoming a victimized by our circumstances and allowing it defeat us.

It is important with any setback is not to allow it to defeat us. So, today just remember that you are not a victim, but a victor.

Five ways to make your cashier smile

  1. Greet your cashier.
  2. Smile at them.
  3. Pull your coupons off—before you put your items on the belt. Also, don’t lay your coupons on top off your items. They may get lost.  Please remember your cashier is not your mother. The cashier is not here to help you save you money. You are the one who is trying to save money.
  4. Please group your items together. For example the cold with the cold- and the meat with the meat. Don’t pile all the groceries expecting the cashier to reorganize them. That is not the cashiers’ job. It is your job! Also, using the cloth bags—make sure you help the cashier, by putting the bags out.
  5. Always thank themJ

The Price of Freedom

rosa parks by okreitz

rosa parks by okreitz

The Price of Freedom

My great –great grandmother Nan Wiley actually had Freedom Riders stay at her home in Laconia, Tennessee, during the turbulent 1960s. This is really important as I explore the price of freedom for blacks during the Civil rights era.  The first freedom rider was Rosa Parks.  She inspired many—she basically helped with the bus boycott. My quest right now is to adequately address the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama.  Thus, began my quest to write a historical novel that revisits this tragic event.

I recently finished the first draft of my manuscript of At all Cost.  As, I revise the manuscript; I think of the men and women, who fought for the rights of future generations. My generation has flourished from the freedom of people like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. The question to ask ourselves,” Is what have we done with the freedom, we have had so long? ”Will we become apathetic with our freedom? What can we do to change it? Are we willing to be a freedom rider? What are we passionate about? What injustices would we like to fix?

Become a freedom rider for the next generation!!!!