You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Meet Author Melody Balthaser

Melody Balthaser

How did your interest in writing begin?

      My mother, who was a very expressive narrator, was responsible for my early love of reading. I remember her reading Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney to me. Then came Little House on the Prairie series, which I devoured, and during my teen years came my love of the romance genre. I was content with reading other people’s creations until the day, twenty years later, when a young woman named Sophie moved into my imagination. I couldn’t let her live a lonely existence in my head so her life poured out onto paper.

What was the inspiration for Seeking Sophie?

       Many years ago, I read a novel about a lighthouse keeper and so enjoyed the mystique of the profession. As the characters in my own story began to develop, they naturally progressed to a lighthouse setting.

Why historical romance?

      I find history so fascinating, in particular the women who sacrificed so dearly for the benefits we now enjoy. Their stories need to be continually told so that generations understand their import. I enjoy the research needed for an historical novel. What I learn about our forbearers consistently humbles and amazes me.

What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?

      I want my writing to entertain and enlighten. When life is particularly difficult, reading a good book can be a therapeutic escape. Beyond that, it can set the reader on a course to discovery of themselves and their relationship with God.

In 1858 New England, orphaned, indentured servant Sophie Stalz stabs her master to protect herself from rape. Now she must rely on her brother and his friends to protect her. Escaping through the Underground Railroad, Sophie finds herself stranded on an island in the hands of a stranger.
Surrounded by the sea and occupied with the duties of a lighthouse keeper, Jackson Scott just wants to be left alone with his memories. His fortress is about to crumble when his friend deposits Sophie on his doorstep. An old debt needs to be paid and the cost is dear.
As her master is Seeking Sophie, will Sophie and Jackson find a life together free from their past?

Melody lives in rural Pennsylvania with her husband and their three children. She has traveled to Africa to help orphans in Zambia and worked in children’s and women’s ministry. She enjoys traveling, hiking, camping, and canoeing, but when winter settles in she heads indoors to sit in front of the wood stove, while a classic chick-flick plays on the T.V., and homemade soup simmers on the stove. Melody’s passion is to encourage people to let God’s love free them of fear and rejection to live the adventurous life their Creator intended.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Betty Zane, The Heroine of Fort Henry

Elizabeth Zane (1765-1823)
Betty Zane delivering the gunpowder
 Library of Congress,
 Prints & Photographs Division, [LC-USZ62-2355]
      On September 11, 1782, Fort Henry in Wheeling, WVA, was under siege by the British and their Indian allies. Elizabeth (Betty) Zane’s family had taken refuge in the fort.
     Betty was loading a Kentucky rifle when her father was wounded and fell right in front of her. Soon after, the captain of the fort realized they were out of gunpowder.  
     With no men or time to spare, Betty volunteered to retrieve the needed gunpowder from her family’s cabin a short distance away.
     Shocked at seeing a woman run out from the fort, the enemy didn’t try to shoot her on the way there. But, on the way back, they noticed that she was carrying gunpowder in her apron. They opened fire, barely missing her with arrow and musket shot. 
     Reinforcements arrived the next day to save the fort.
     Betty’s story is best told by John S. Adams, who wrote a poem called Elizabeth Zane, which he penned more than one hundred years after the event.

This dauntless pioneer maiden’s name
Is inscribed in gold on the scroll of fame.
She was the lassie who knew no fear
When the tomahawk gleamed on the far frontier.

If deeds of daring should win renown,
Let us honor this damsel of Wheeling town,
Who braved the savages with deep disdain,
Bright-eyed buxom Elizabeth Zane.

‘Tis more than a hundred years ago,
They were close beset by the dusky foe;
they had spent of powder their scanty store,
And who should the gauntlet run for more?

She sprang to the portal and shouted,
“I ‘Tis better a gril than a man should die!
My loss would be but the garrison’s pain
Unbar the gate!” said Elizabeth Zane.

The power was sixty yards away
Around her the foemen in ambush lay;
As she darted for shelter they gazed with awe
Then wildly shouted, “A squaw! A squaw!”

She neither swerved from left or right,
Swift as an antelope’s was her flight.
“Quick! Open the door!” she cried amain,
For a hope forlorn! ‘Tis Elizabeth Zane!

No time had she to waver or wait
Back must she go ere it be too late;
She snatched from the table its cloth in haste
And knotted it deftly around her waist,

Then filled it with powder –never, I ween,
Had powder so lovely a magazine;
Then scorning the bullets’ deadly rain,
Like a startled fawn, fled Elizabeth Zane.

She gained the fort with her precious freight;
Strong hands fastened the oaken gate;
Brave men’s eyes were suffused with tears
That had been strangers for many years.

From flintlock rifles again there sped
‘Gainst the skulking red-skins a storm of lead,
and the war-whoop sounded that day in vain,
Thanks to the deed of Elizabeth Zane.

Talk not to me of Paul Revere
A man on horseback with naught to fear;
nor of old John Burns with his bell-crowned hat
He’d an army to back him, so what of that?

Here’s to the heroine, plump and brown,
Who ran the gauntlet in Wheeling town;
Here is a record without a stain
Beautiful, buxom Elizabeth Zane.

      Betty Zane's great-grandnephew, the author Zane Grey, wrote a historical novel about her, titled Betty Zane, which includes an account of Betty’s bravery. Unable to find a publisher for it, he published it himself in 1903. Grey later named his daughter Betty Zane after his famous aunt.
     Betty was buried in the Walnut Grove Pioneer Cemetery in Martins Ferry, Ohio. Her heroism is remembered each year during Betty Zane Pioneer Days.