Today Wednesday Writers welcomes Christian author Donna Schlachter. Donna will be sharing an excerpt from her book Echoes of the Heart, which is a part of The Pony Express Romance Collection, as well as telling us about her father’s book, which she helped write, and why she writes for the King. Welcome, Donna.
I wrote my dad’s memoirs a couple of years ago. Because we don’t live near each other, we spent time together at Christmas or Thanksgiving working on the book. I used a digital recorder and had a list of questions I needed answered. Once I got the story down, I’d send him several chapters at a time for him to review. Then I sent the final book, printed out in a binder, and he called with changes and corrections. Even once we sent it to a printer, we found errors in the galleys which we corrected.
My father held his book in his hand a month before he passed away.
He boasted to several people about his life story. The intake counselor at the hospice he went to was astounded he had a book, saying that many people came to this point in their lives wishing they’d written a book. She said she’d never known anybody who had.
I was so pleased to have been part of that process, to give my dad a book he was proud to hold in his hand. A book he was proud to have his name on.
Which got me to thinking about my other books. Would my Heavenly Father be proud to hold my other books in His hand? Would He be proud to have His Name on those books?
That changed the way I looked at my books. Because I realized they weren’t mine at all. He is the author. I simply transcribe the stories for Him.
And as such, it’s my job to be as accurate as I can. To show up for work every day. To do the best I can to listen and not inject myself into the story.
God’s job is to create the stories. To communicate them to me. To correct me when I get off track.
I like the partnership I have with Him. It takes a lot of pressure off me. When I’m staring at the blank page, I simply pray, “Lord, thank You for letting me be the first person you’ve ever shown this story to. Help me hear You correctly and do the work of transcribing.”
Knowing what I need to do and what I don’t need to do makes the job a lot easier which means I’m having a lot more fun. I’m working on the next book in my dad’s memoirs, and although he’s with Jesus now, I hope he’d be just as proud to hold this book in his hand as he was with the first one.
And I pray God would be proud to have His name on every book I’ve written.
And now for a peek at Donna’s book Echoes of the Heart
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Echoes of the Heart
By Donna Schlachter
Catherine Malloy, an orphan girl running from a compromising situation in Boston, answers a personal ad in a magazine, on behalf of her illiterate friend. Through his letters, she finds herself falling in love with this stranger. Benjamin Troudt is crippled and illiterate, and knows nothing of this ad. His route supervisor, Warton, who was helping Benjamin with the paperwork, has been given only a short time to live, and knows Benjamin needs help, so he places the ad. Can Catherine overcome her belief that the God of her parents has abandoned her? And can Benjamin allow God to open his eyes and his heart to love?
Hollenberg Pony Express Station
Catherine Malloy braced a hand against the doorframe as the stage rounded a turn. A cloud of dust encircled the coach, filtering through the gaps in the doors, the curtains, the floor, and the roof, threatening to choke her. She coughed politely behind her gloved hand, cringing at the sight of the stains on her once-white hand coverings. Her spirits were as rumpled as her sleeves and skirt. Would the dirt ever come out?
But no matter how primitive the conditions, no matter how hostile the natives or how cold the winters—all stories she’d heard about the Wild West—she would not turn back.
She had nowhere to turn back.
When she’d excitedly read the advertisement in the magazine to her friend Margaret, neither had truly contemplated just how far the Kansas Territory was from Boston. Four days on the train to St. Joseph, Missouri had been just the beginning. Three days in this bouncing torture chamber, surrounded by surly men, snot-nosed children, and sharp-tongued women caused her to question her sanity and her decision more than once. She’d already eaten more dust than she’d known existed.
In Mr. Troudt’s first letter, he’d explained that he ran a way station and needed a wife. Neither she nor Margaret knew what that was. They knew a man from Australia, who talked about working at a sheep station. Perhaps a way station was similar.
Not that any of that mattered. She had no reason to go back. No family. No job.
Not after the way Master Talbott had approached her.
She shifted her drawstring purse from its place on the floor behind her feet. Its weight clanged against the boards. While not her ill-gotten bag of coins and jewelry, the packet weighed on her heart and her conscience equally.
She glanced at her fellow passengers as they rocked in time with the movement of the stage. A man in a suit who looked like a banker or a lawyer. Next to him, a minister coming west to seek his flock, as he’d told her at least a dozen times in the past four days. Sitting beside her, a woman traveling through to California, who’d said little to anybody, instead keeping her face hidden beneath a wide-brimmed hat. Catherine had lost count of the people with whom she’d shared cramped quarters. Most were strange traveling companions, to be certain. Not that she was looking for a bosom friend.
She would stay here. Hollenberg Station, Kansas Territory. Where the Oregon and California Trails brought emigrants past what would become her new home. Very different from her parents’ house where she’d grown up. Not at all like the even grander Georgian house she’d lived in with her aunt and uncle.
Until he’d squandered her inheritance and forced her into servitude in the Talbott mansion.
The only good from that whole debacle was Maggie.
A lump filled her throat, threatening to cut off her breath. Maggie had taught her how to survive when she thought life no longer worth living. Taught her to curtsey, to keep her gaze low, to smile when asked to do the impossible, and to keep quiet when told to do the unreasonable.
She shivered. But she was no automaton. When the master of the house had made his intentions clear, she’d refused his demands.
She knew her days in that household were numbered.
And then she’d seen the advertisement in the penny magazine. She had hoped this was her way out. In her excitement, she’d read the notice to Maggie since her friend could neither read nor write. And Maggie had instantly latched onto the notion that this was God’s answer to her prayers for a way to leave Boston.
Catherine sniffed at the idea. God had no interest in her life. Maybe in Maggie’s, but if that was true, why hadn’t He removed her from her dreary position, the long hours of hard work, the drudgery of servitude?
Despite her doubts about God’s hand in the matter, on Maggie’s behalf, she had penned a response to Mr. Benjamin Troudt, Hollenberg Station, Hanover, Kansas Territory.
A month later, a letter arrived at the mansion addressed to Miss Margaret Thomas.
And the whirlwind long-distance courtship commenced, punctuated by month-long pauses where they wondered if he would respond. And when he did, such giddy excitement.
Mr. Troudt described a beautiful place, using language as pretty as poetry. Despite the fact he wrote to Maggie, Catherine imagined herself cooking in the kitchen, making delicious meals for her husband and his ranch hands. She saw herself weeding their garden, feeding their hens, riding beside her husband into town to purchase supplies.
It was a nice dream.
Except it belonged to Maggie.
Want to read more? You can find Echoes of the Heart at: http://amzn.to/2lBaqcW
About the Author:
Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a hybrid publisher who has published a number of books under her pen name and under her own name. Her current release, Echoes of the Heart, a 9-in-1 novella collection titled “Pony Express Romance Collection” released April 1. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. She will be teaching an online course for American Christian Fiction Writers in June 2017, “Don’t let your subplots sink your story”. Donna loves history and research, and travels extensively for both.
Connect with Donna at: http://www.historythrutheages.wordpress.com/