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

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Cassia Nominated for Christy Award

In Cassia, the third novel in the Xanthakos Family Trilogy, Lilyan and Nicholas and their three children are attacked by pirates in the North Carolina Outer Banks in 1799.

Here's a review by Elaine Marie Cooper, author of the Deer Run Series.

It’s difficult to pinpoint what I appreciate the most about Susan Craft’s latest release entitled “Cassia.” Is it the well-crafted and impeccably researched story? The amazing tale filled with love and adventure? Or the fact that the author describes the true face of evil, not falling into the unrealistic device of romanticizing pirates who seek to kill and destroy? It is each of these aspects of this third book in her series (that includes “Chamomile” and “Laurel”) that had me riveted to my kindle late into the night.

I am just saddened to bid farewell to these precious characters, so skillfully created by the author. But I applaud Ms. Craft’s satisfying finish to an amazing family saga. And I never fear that the author has short-changed us on getting the historical facts correct. Her amazing ability to blend details from the past with an enticing story for present day readers never ceases to amaze me.

Another five star novel to satisfy this historical romance reader. Well done!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Cassia and Ships Throwing Slaves Overboard


      In my novel, Cassia, the Xanthakos family come across a ship at sea that is dumping dead and dying slaves overboard.
     This happened a lot when ships packed what they considered their "cargo" too tightly.
     For example, the British slave ship Zong threw 54 sick and dying women and children into the sea. Two days later 42 male slaves were thrown overboard; 36 slaves followed in the next few days. Another ten, in a display of defiance at the inhumanity of the slavers, threw themselves overboard.   
     On 22 December, 1781, the Zong arrived at Black River, Jamaica, with 208 slaves on board, less than half the number taken from Africa. The King’s Bench Trial Reports.

Cassia is a historical romantic suspense that spans from 1799-1836 and from the Blue Ridge Mountains to Charleston, SC, and to the NC Outer Banks. It is the third book of the Xanthakos Family Trilogy. The first two are The Chamomile and Laurel.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Careening -- Pirates Watch Out!

        As a result of the research I did for my novel, Cassia, set in the NC Outer Banks and the Atlantic Coast in 1799, I have lots of interesting trivia about pirates and maritime customs I’d like to share.
        One practice is called “careening,” turning a wooden ship on its side to expose the hull. It was the most dangerous time for pirates as it made them vulnerable to attack.
        Ships’ hulls would become thick with grasses, seaweed, worms, mold, and organisms such as barnacles making the ships difficult to steer. Since speed was critical to pirates, it was necessary for the hulls to be scraped every two to three months.
        Careening also allowed for repairs of damage caused by dry rot or cannon shot and for coating the exterior with a layer of sulfur, tar and tallow to reduce leakage.
        A wooden ship would be beached at high tide to expose the ship below the waterline. This was also called “hove down.”

Hove down
        Ships would be taken to a shallow area and the masts pulled to the ground by securing the top halyard to an object such as a tree.
        The practice of heeling over a ship in deep waters by shifting ballast or cannon to one side was called “Parliamentary heeling.” It was a much faster way of cleaning the hull. 

In 1782, the HMS Royal George was lost while undergoing this procedure.

The Xanthakos Family Trilogy

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Cassia Book Launch September 14!

         Join me in celebrating the release of my newest inspirational historical suspense, Cassia. The Online Book Launch Party will be on FaceBook Monday, September 14 from 6-9 p.m. EST.  

      The party will be on my author page/event, Susan F. Craft, at this link:

      Come by, chat, and leave a comment for a chance to win some really great prizes.  

        The Xanthakos family’s sea voyage from South Carolina to the North Carolina Outer Banks turns ugly after they pressure their ship’s captain to rescue a pregnant woman thrown overboard from a slave ship. When the slave contracts smallpox, the captain maroons her, Lilyan and Nicholas and their children, Laurel, Paul, and Marion, on an island.

        After Nicholas and Marion leave to seek help, Lilyan and her children and the baby, whom they have named Cassia, are captured by pirates and taken to their island hideout under the command of the vile Captain Galeo (The Shark), but Paul escapes along the way.
        Galeo is attracted to Lilyan and orders her and Laurel to dine with him where reveals his plan to make Lilyan his own and auction Laurel to the highest bidder and where he forces them to witness a mock trial and a hanging.
        Heartsick to see her child exposed to such evil, Lilyan rekindles her long-dormant courage and forges an escape plan. Meanwhile, Nicholas faces his self-perceived failure to protect his family. He must abandon the life of a vintner and once again call upon the skills he honed as a captain in Francis Marion’s militia.
          Together they face the hardest challenge to a parent, watching as life tests the mettle of their highly sheltered and beloved children. Bolstered by their faith, they realize their strength isn’t enough to see them through and that God is in control.
        Will the Xanthakos children withstand their trials and learn to be as tough as their parents? Will the family be united and return to their peaceful Blue Ridge Mountain home?
One of the prizes is a sugar cinnamon candle and a packet of Cassia notecards.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

My Novel Cassia and Colonial Medicine

picture of a medicine chest
 courtesy of
        Sometimes doing research for my colonial era novels can be amusing.
        A couple of months ago, I saw my family doctor for a problem I’d been having. The night before, I’d been reading a resource book for my upcoming novel Cassia. The name of it is Indian Doctor – Nature’s method of curing and preventing disease according to the Indians.
        I took the book with me to show the doctor the Indian cure for my problem. What a hoot! We had such fun looking through the book. Seems as if every cure involved mixing something with wine, ale, beer, or liquor. We came to the conclusion that with enough of the “cure,” even if you still had the problem, you wouldn’t care anymore.
        Here’s what the book says for my problem, “Take some pounded panic (panic is another name for powdered corn), and give it to the patient to drink with wine, and he will recover. The same panic, being boiled with goat’s milk, and eaten twice a day, morning and evening, will operate the same.”  
        Seriously, knowing the right herbs and natural cures was extremely important in an era where there were very few, if any, doctors available. And, most of the time, those doctors weren’t classically trained.
        Lilyan Xanthakos, the heroine of Cassia, is not only a portrait and mural artist she is a healer who carries her medicine kit wherever she goes. In Cassia I mention an incident in Swansboro, NC, where pirates blockaded the port not for money or other booty, but for medical supplies (which were worth their weight in gold.)
There’s also a scene where the ship’s cook, because there is no doctor on board, applies a camphor-based ointment to the scratches on Lilyan’s face.
       While she's being cared for, Lilyan checks out the cook's medicine kit that has: jalap for purging, mercury salves for the Foul Disease, autumn crocus and meadow saffron for gout, and St. John’s Wort for insomnia, all carefully wrapped in oil-soaked paper.
       Lilyan, along with most colonial women, maintained a medicine kit that might have included the following: (Some of the items in this list that may seem misspelled come directly from Nicholas Culpepper's The English Physician, Enlarged in 1653.)
  • Valerian root, combined with hops and lemon balm; a sedative for sleep disorders, insomnia
    valerian root
  • Sweet gum bark, boiled; for sore eyes, wash eyes three times a day
  • Rum or brandy; for a burn apply a wet rag doused; Two or three swallows of cold water before breakfast; for heartburn
  • Feverfew; for headaches/migraines, body aches, and fever
  • Southern Wood; for upset stomach (also used as an insect or moth repellent
    southern wood
  • Calendula, dried, ground and mixed with animal fat; for cuts
  • Tansy; for indigestion, cramps, sunburn, and to remove freckles
  • Basil; draw poison out of animal bites
  • Black Cohosh; for menopause
  • Boswellia; for arthritis
  • Chamomile tea; for digestive problems
  • Flaxseed; for menopausal discomfort and osteoporosis
  • White Willow Bark; for back pain
  • Ginger; for nausea and vomiting
  • Lavender flowers; for anxiety
  • Fleabane; for venomous bites, smoke from it kills gnats and fleas; dangerous for women and children
  • Hellebore root snuffed up the nose; for sneezing and melancholy and to kill rats and mice
  • Penyroyal; for vomiting, gas, and vertigo
  • Fox’s tongue softened in vinegar; applied topically, draws out a thorn or splinter
  • Rose petals steeped in vinegar; applied topically for headache
  • Chalk; for heartburn
  • Calamine; for skin irritations
  • Cinchona Bark (contains quinine); for fevers
  • Garden celedine, pile wort, or fig wort; for boils
  • Cottonweed, boyled in lye; it keeps the head from Nits and Lice; being laid among Cloaths, it keeps them safe from Moths; taken in a Tobacco-pipe it helps Coughs of the Lunges, and vehement headaches.
  • Take howse leeke Catts blod and Creame mixed together & oynt the place warme or take the moss that groweth in a well & Catts blod mixed & so aply it warme to the plase whare the shingles be; for the shingles.
        Oh, two weeks after I saw my doctor, who prescribed medicine that cured my original problem, I had to see him again for a terrible earache. We looked at the Indian cure that involved lily onions, marsh mallows, oil of violet and, of course, taken with wine. And then, bleeding.
       I’ll stick with the antibiotics.

The Xanthakos Family Trilogy

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Limners, Portrait Painters

 A 1765 oil on canvas by Matthew Pratt (1734-1805).
Pratt sits at his easel, and his teacher and friend, Benjamin West,
stands at the far left holding paint brushes.
         By the early 1700s, wealthy American colonists hired painters, called “limners,” to paint portraits of their families. These limners, mostly self-taught, generally unknown by name, turned out naïve portraits in the Elizabethan style, the Dutch baroque style, or the English baroque court style, depending upon the European background of both artist and patron.
        Many limners painted miniatures -- tiny watercolor portraits -- on pieces of ivory, often oval-shaped. These were commonly worn as jewelry.
        Limners also painted on paper and canvas and earned, on average, $15 per portrait.
        Like most artisans of their time who found it difficult to support themselves with paintings only, they also worked in pewter, silver, glass, or textiles or took jobs doing ornamental painting of clocks, furniture, signs, coaches, and landscapes.
        Portraiture was the most important form of painting during the Colonial period, but rather than a true portrait, the paintings were idealistic and did not present a true representation of the personality of the sitter and were often two dimensional.
        Artists focused on the material wealth of the subject, giving much attention to their clothing and accessories. Some artists painted only the faces of their subjects, explaining that they need not bother with tedious sittings, and that they would paint the bodies and clothing later. They would show their subjects English and French prints from which to choose whatever costumes they preferred. Limners Samuel McIntire and Duncan Phyfe became celebrated painters of furniture.
        Famous portrait artists included Joseph Blackburn, Peter Pelham, John Smibert, John Singleton Copley, John Trumbull and Charles Wilson Peale. An American painter, Benjamin West, became painter to the king and president of the Royal Academy in London. American painters flocked to his studio to learn under his tutelage, including Gilbert Stuart.

Gilbert Stuart, a portrait by Sarah Goodridge
        Colonial limners kept supplies of pigments which they mixed to create watercolors, oil, and tempera paints. Watercolors consisted of pigment and chalk. Oil paints were a mixture of pigment and linseed oil. Tempera paints were a mixture of pigments, lime, and milk. Pigments were derived from white lead, zinc oxide, mercuric sulfide, iron oxide-containing clay and Paris green, a poisonous compound made of green copper and arsenic. Artists also used Prussian blue, a blue iron pigment.
        Limners sometimes made their own brushes, but could buy them from merchants as well. Brushes were made of quills from geese, ducks, and crows. Red sable-tipped brushes were often used for watercolor paintings, as were squirrel-hair quill brushes. They would have afforded limners working on a miniature the ability to create fine lines. Boar's bristles, widely used for a variety of tools, were likely used for paintbrushes, as they are today. Boar's bristle paintbrushes are most commonly used for oil paintings.
        Artists stored their pigments and paints in color boxes a sort of antique backpack--wooden boxes with hinges attaching the top to the bottom. The bottom half of the box served as a storage place for paint materials, and the lid served as a palette. A leather shoulder strap was attached for easy transport.
        In 1754 in British colonial New York, an artist took out the following ad in the Gazette and the Weekly Post: Lawrence Kilburn, Limner, just arrived from London with Capt. Miller, hereby acquaints all Gentlemen and Ladies inclined to favour him in having their pictures drawn, that he don't doubt of pleasing them in taking a true Likeness, and finishing the Drapery in a proper Manner, as also in the Choice of Attitudes, suitable to each Person's Age and Sex, and giving agreeable Satisfaction, as he has heretofore done to Gentlemen and Ladies in London. He may at present be apply'd to at his Lodgings, at Mr. Bogart's near the New Printing-Office in Beaver-Street.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Jayme H. Mansfield - Author, Artist, Educator

When did you first discover that you were a writer?
        The first time I found myself in “the zone” was when I knew I had found my passion to write. Hours and hours went unnoticed and turned into full days in front of the computer.
        Ironically, for being an extrovert, I discovered a wonderful place—to be by myself, creating new stories.

What inspired your novel Chasing the Butterfly?
        The initial seeds for the story grew out of writing assignments for the Christian Writers Guild and my personal passions for painting and traveling to France numerous times. But after that, I was inspired to persevere and complete the novel as a personal journey and challenge.
        At some (often many) junctures of our lives, we have to contend with forgiveness. Writing the book was my way of navigating pain, communing with the Lord, and ultimately realizing the freedom and joy that come with forgiving.
       I promised God I would finish the story, and when I did, I wasn’t sure if it would remain for His eyes and mine only. But His ways are surprising—that’s when the doors began to fly open.

Where do your story and character ideas come from?
        My characters come from bits and pieces of family members, friends, and myself. I don’t recall ever concocting all of the characters—instead, they seem to invite themselves into the story because they have something important to say or do.
        As for the story idea, I am fascinated by strong women who eventually figure out how to survive life’s difficulties, and ultimately find hope in the blessings. I have always been intrigued with history so weaving that with an artistic element motivates me to create story.

Tell us how you came up with the lovely cover of your book.
        My long-time friend, Kelly Berger, is an accomplished professional artist in Colorado. When I received word from the publisher that they would consider an original piece of art for the cover, I went straight to Kelly. She read the manuscript and fell in love with the story.
        I had pulled at least thirty different images and photographs of Provence, laid them out randomly in my art studio, and asked her to take a look. From those and our shared travels to Provence, we envisioned the low vantage point—poppy field with the butterfly in the distance and the sunset backdrop.
        Off to work she went…when the final painting was unveiled, I was stunned. Truly, it was exactly how I had imagined the cover!
        Our friendship has been blessed by the opportunity to share in the creation of the novel.

You are one of the busiest writers I have met. How do you manage to balance writing time with teaching school and being mom to three active boys?
        I suppose I’m one of those people who have never understood the meaning of boredom. I find that I am driven by my passions to create in many forms. Sometimes, I wish I could lay aside a thing or two, but then I feel something’s incomplete.
        It’s probably a good thing I have three boys and a husband who are active and have so many personal interests. But I admit, there have been many days that I jump on and hold on tight!

How did you research your setting in France? Do you have any anecdotes or interesting experiences arising from your research which you would like to share with our readers? Have any of these found their way into your book?
        I’ve been to France, particularly Paris and Provence, several times. On each visit, hundreds of photographs captured the beauty and history—those images became ingrained in my mind and served as the visual memory when I wrote many of the scenes.
        I find World War II fascinating to read about, both in other novels and in non-fiction. Eventually, I needed to pull myself away from researching and get on with the story.
        On a fun side-note, whenever I mentioned paint colors I had to make sure the specific names of the paints existed at that time. I had a wonderful time delving into the history of art materials—it’s amazing where those unique names originated—but, that’s another story.

How do you see the importance of Christian fiction?
        The presence of Christian fiction is imperative—it’s a venue for biblical truth to be woven into story in an appealing, inspirational, and fresh manner. I can’t tell you how many readers have appreciated enjoying a story without the offenses that are prevalent in much of today’s writing. Whether a reader has been a Christian or not, the discussions that have ensued from the story always contain elements of faith, hope, love, and God.

What are three things that have had the most influence on your writing process?
        Belief -- I have a story to create that is intended to touch the lives of others.
        Gratitude and Humility – this writing journey is not merely about me, and I couldn’t do it by myself.
        Challenge – writing is difficult in every way imaginable—but the process, nuances, and craft is exhilarating (even when I’m exhausted!).

Do you plot your stories ahead of time, or do you write from the seat of your pants?
        Give me a horse to ride, and I’m on it! That’s my way of saying, “I love to write seat of the pants!” I get a rush from letting the story take off and run.

What events in your personal life have most impacted your writing, and how?
        I write from plenty of emotion. I have discovered that I write scenes and dialogue based largely on what is currently on my mind and what themes are coursing through my heart and soul at the time.

More About Jayme:
Jayme H. Mansfield is an author, artist, and educator. She provides vivid imagery as she melds her inspiring writing and artistic talents.
        Her passion for weaving stories about women who find their strength in the Lord continues in her upcoming novel, Rush, a historically compelling tale of the Oklahoma Land Rush in the late 1800’s.
        Jayme owns, paints, and shares the joy of creating visual art with children and adults at the Piggy Toes Art Studio in Lakewood, Colorado, for the past twenty years.
        After a career in both the business and creative sides of advertising, Jayme received her teaching and Master’s Degree in Elementary Education and Creative Arts.
        For many years in elementary education, she has shared a passion for literacy and the writing process with her students. She teaches at Aspen Academy in Greenwood Village, Colorado.

About Chasing the Butterfly:

From a vineyard in the south of France to the sophisticated city of Paris, Ella Moreau searches for the hope and love she lost as a young girl when her mother abandoned the family. Ella's journey is portrayed through a heartbroken child, a young woman's struggles during the tumultuous times surrounding World War II, and as a reflective adult. Through a series of secret paintings, her art becomes the substitute for lost love--the visual metaphor of her life. But when her paintings are discovered, the intentions of those she loves are revealed.
Digit ISBN: 978-1-941-103-37-1
Publisher: Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: October 14, 2014
2015 Historical Fiction Book of the Year, Christian Small Publisher Association
2015 Inspirational Readers Choice Award Finalist – Women’s Fiction

Jayme on social media:
Facebook Author Page:
Other: Instagram :
 Art Studio website:

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Colonial American Cosmetics, A Deadly Vanity

Lady Dawlrymple by Gainsborough (an example of pale skin,
rouged cheeks and lips, and dark eyebrows)

         The average colonial American woman, whether due to a lack of money, time, incentive, or religious reasons and cultural mores, wore little or no makeup. European women who visited America from places where makeup was common among the upper classes, often commented in their letters and diaries about this.
       Colonial women did apply skin treatments that were intended to be washed off.
       Here’s one concoction for a cleanser made of a paste of dried almonds:
       Beat any quantity you please of Sweet and Bitter Almonds in a marble mortar, and while beating, pour on them a little Vinegar in a small stream to prevent their turning oily; then add 2 drachms of storax in fine powder, 2 drachms of white Honey, and 2 Yolks of Eggs boiled hard; mix the whole into a paste.
        Women, mostly wealthy, who were attentive to their looks did the following:
• For pale, waifish skin  -- apply rice powder or powder made from lead paint; trace the veins with a blue pencil
• Glistening eyes -- belladonna eye drops
• Lip Color -- mix beet juice with lard; use carmine red, a color derived from cochineal beetles imported from Central America (these beetles are used in lipstick today!)

cochineal beetle

vermillion powder made from
the cochineal beetle
• Blush -- pinch your cheeks or mix beet juice with talc or cornstarch;  puncture one’s finger and use the blood for rouge (Ee-ew!);  safflower, wood resin, sandalwood, and brazilwood mixed with greases, creams, or vinegars to create a paste
• Mascara/Eyeliner -- moisten eyelashes with your fingers or line eyes with coal tar (could cause blindness)
• Anti-aging skin creams --  rub bacon grease on your face or egg whites for a “glaze.”
• Lip Plumpers -- bite your lip several times throughout the day

 In 1767, Kitty Fisher, a famous English beauty,
died at age 23 from lead poisoning.
• Perfume/Scents -- no essential oils like sandalwood, but plenty of rose petals and potpourri were used to mask the smells of the streets
• Acne Products -- lemon-juice, rosewater, or concoctions of mercury, alum, honey, and eggshells (which is not advisable)
        The French physician Deshais-Gendron believed in 1760 that pulmonary lung disease among high-born ladies was associated with frequent use of lead face paint and rouge.


You Want My Fur for What?!!! 

          During the third quarter of the 18th century, dark eyebrows became all the rage.
         Over time, lead-based cosmetics caused hair loss at the forehead and over the brows, resulting in a receding hairline and a bare brow.
         It became the custom as early as 1703 to trap mice and use their fur for artificial eyebrows, which were glued on. 
        Sometimes, the glue did not always adhere well. Wouldn't that make a wonderful scene in a book -- a runaway eyebrow!
        In 1718, Matthew Prior wrote a poem about eyebrows. Here’s the last stanza:

On little things, as sages write,
Depends our human joy or sorrow;
If we don’t catch a mouse to-night,
Alas! no eyebrows for to-morrow.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Colonial Valentine Poems

        As part of a fad that was called “the lovers’ literary campaign of 1768,” the Virginia Gazette featured acrostic poems where the first letter, syllable, or word of each line, paragraph or other recurring featured in the text spelled out a word or a message.
        Several love struck swains of Williamsburg and its neighboring plantations honored their beloveds during the month on February, beginning three days before Valentine’s Day.
        One unknown admirer sang the praises of Miss Frances Lewis of a prominent Gloucester County family.
        Notice that the first letter of each line of his poem spells out Miss Lewis’ name: 

        Minerva's choice;—Apollo's fond delight,
        In whom fine sense and music's charms unite:
        Sweet lovely maid; dear fav'rite of the nine. 
        Say, will you be my constant VALENTINE?
        For you the Muse expands her lapsid wings,
        Rears her fall'n pow'rs, and strikes the trembling strings.
        At thy dear feet she pays the tribute due:
        Nor thinks she bends too low to wait on you:
        Charm'd with thy lovely form;—thy music fine:
        Extatic raptures all my heart entwine.
        So my once lov'd Celinda touch'd the keys:
        Lovely like you—like you was form'd to please!
        Early in life the fatal summons came,
        Wither'd my joys and snatched the beauteous dame!
        In you dear nymph, the reparation lies,
        Say you'll be kind, or youthful Strephon dies.

        For the young men and women of Williamsburg, this romantic wordplay was the equivalent of pop songs and Hallmark cards. Here’s another sample written by David Mead of Nansemond County singing the virtues of his fiancée, Sally Waters: MISS WATERS

        Most praise the gaudy tulips streak'd with red.
        I praise the virgin lilly's bending head:
        Some the jonquil in shining yellow drest;
        Some love the fring'd carnation's varied vest;
       Whilst others, pleas'd that fabled youth to trace,
       As o'er the stream he bends to view his face.
       The exulting florist views their varied dyes;
       E'n thus fares beauty in each lover's eyes.
       Read o'er these lines, you'll see the nymph with ease,
        She like the rose was made, all eyes to please.

        Mr. Mead’s valentine must have succeeded in winning Sally’s heart, for three months later, on May 19, the Virginia Gazette announced, “on Thursday last David Mead, Esq., of Nansemond, was married to Miss Sally Waters, of this city, an agreeable young Lady."
        As with all fads, the lovers' literary campaign of 1768 faded away as quickly as it started, but cropped up sporadically with one poem appearing in 1769, and other tributes between March 1773 and December 1776. The final acrostic published in the Gazette in 1776 honored Sally Cary.
        A subsequent notice in 1768 provided a happy ending to that poem with this marriage announcement, "Thomas Nelson, jun. Esq; captain in the first Virginia regiment, to Miss Sally Cary, eldest daughter of Wilson Miles Cary, Esq; of the county of Fluvanna."

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Yankee Doodles and Macaronis

Yankee Doodle went to town
A-riding on a pony,
Stuck a feather in his cap
And called it macaroni.

Macaroni was the name given in the 1770s to an extravagantly dressed man, who wore bizarre and over-the-top fashions such as narrow breeches and short, tight waistcoats, usually decorated with large buttons and lace. Macaronis also wore high heeled shoes and small hats. They would often carry a posey of flowers in their hands or pinned to their waistcoats.

Clerical Macaroni
The name came from people who had been on The Grand Tour of European countries who liked all things foreign, especially food and who referred to something that was Italian in style as very Macaroni. Macaronis, or fops as they came to be known, frequented the fashionable places of London and won and lost vast fortunes gambling.

The newspapers of the day often made fun of them. For example, The Oxford Magazine published this account: “There is indeed a kind of animal, neither male, nor female, a thing of neuter gender, lately started up among us. It is called a Macaroni. It talks without meaning, it smiles without pleasure, it eats without appetite...”

The British employed the song as a dig at people from the American colonies who they thought were trying to give themselves airs and graces but looking ridiculous. During the Revolutionary War, the colonists reclaimed the song and made it their own patriotic song.
Thomas Jefferson's pasta machine design.

Speaking of macaroni as a food, macaroni and cheese was a favorite dish of colonists, especially Thomas Jefferson. In 1787, upon his return to America from his tour as minister to France, Jefferson brought back a pasta machine he had bought in Italy. He improved on the design of the machine and also came up with recipes that included not only American or English cheddar cheese, but also goat cheese and truffle cheese.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Raven Mocker, The Night Goer

In my novel, Laurel, the daughter of Lilyan and Nicholas Xanthakos is kidnapped by slavers who attack the Cherokee village that Laurel and her Aunt Golden Fawn are visiting. In search of her daughter, Lilyan comes upon the village to find a medicine man taking part in a ceremony to keep away the Raven Mocker from the dead and dying.

Raven Mocker
        The Cherokee call evil spirits that torment the sick Sunnayi Edahi, "the Night Goer." The spirits come at night to a sick person’s house and stomp on the roof, beat the side of the house, knock the person out of bed, and drag him on the floor. They try to hasten death. They want the sick person to die faster and not use up any of his life span so that they can take his unused lifetime and add it to their own.
        Of all the Cherokee evil spirits the most dreaded is the Raven Mocker (Kâ'lanû Ahkyeli'skï), the one that robs the dying man of life. They are of either sex and there is no sure way to know one, though they usually look withered and old, because they have added so many lives to their own. At night, when someone is sick or dying in the village, the Raven Mocker goes to the place to take the life. He flies through the air in fiery shape, with arms outstretched like wings, and sparks trailing behind, and a rushing sound like the noise of a strong wind. Sometimes as he flies he makes a cry like a raven and those who hear are afraid, because they know that some man's life will soon end.

picture by T.E. Mails
        When the Raven Mocker comes to the house he finds others of his kind waiting there, and unless there is a doctor on guard who knows how to drive them away they go inside, all invisible, and frighten and torment the sick man until they kill him. Sometimes to do this they even lift him from the bed and throw him on the floor, but his friends who are with him think he is only struggling for breath. After the evil spirits kill him, they take out his heart and eat it, and so add to their own lives as many days or years as they have taken from his. No one in the room can see them, and there is no scar where they take out the heart, but yet there is no heart left in the body.
        Only one who has the right medicine can recognize a Raven Mocker, and if such a man stays in the room with the sick person these witches are afraid to come in, and retreat as soon as they see him, because when one of them is recognized in his right shape he must die within seven days.
        The family will summon a medicine man to keep watch and hold it away until the person recovers. It the person dies, the medicine man will keep watch until the person is buried. After burial the heart cannot be taken. The medicine man drives a sharpened stick into the ground at each corner of the house. Then, about noontime he gets ready the Tsâl-agayû'nlï or "Old Tobacco," with which he fills his pipe, repeating the chant below. He then wraps the pipe in a black cloth. This sacred tobacco is smoked only for this purpose.
        He then goes out into the forest, and returns just before dark, about which time the sprit will arrive. Lighting his pipe, he goes slowly around the house, puffing the smoke in the direction of every trail by which the sprit might approach. He then goes into the house to wait.
        When the spirit arrives, the sharpened stick on that side of the house shoots up into the air and comes down like an arrow upon his head. This causes the sprit to die within seven days.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Laurel, a Post-Revolutionary War Inspirational Suspense

A 200-Mile Journey, a Trial, and a Shipwreck Test the Limits of Love and Faith 
From the first word to the last sentence, "Laurel" captured my attention. Chock full of factual history, the book moves from Appalachia to Charleston, South Carolina, and on to the Outer Banks of North Carolina with interesting twists and turns along the way. Characters become like family with whom you do not want to part, and the emotions expressed are spot-on for the circumstances. My hope is that there is a sequel to "Laurel" in the works as the book left me wanting to spend more time with this incredible family first introduced in the author's award-winning book "The Chamomile." In my opinion, "Laurel" is also a winner and award-worthy.
Brenda B. Crowley 


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Desperate Search for Their Kidnapped Child Is Just the Beginning

         A 200-Mile Journey, a Trial, and a Shipwreck Test the Limits of Love and Faith in the Post-Revolutionary War South
It's May 1783 in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina

        Your daughter’s been taken. Those unimaginable words begin Lilyan and Nicholas Xanthakos’ desperate trek to rescue their kidnapped daughter and her Cherokee aunt from slavers. The couple journeys two hundred miles through the Carolina wilderness, fighting outlaws, hunger, sleeplessness and despair.
         They track Laurel to the port of Charleston as post-war passions reach fever pitch. There, Lilyan, a former patriot spy, is charged in the murder of a British officer.
        Separated from her husband, she digs deep to re-ignite the courage and faith that helped her survive the war.
        Determined to free his wife at any cost, Nicholas finds himself forced back into a life of violence he thought he’d left behind.
        After the trauma of the trial, the couple follows a rumor that Laurel may be aboard a freighter bound for Baltimore and secure passage on a departing schooner.
        Two days into the voyage, a storm blows their ship aground on Diamond Shoals. As the ship founders, both are swept overboard into the roiling sea.

        Will the couple’s love and their beliefs buoy them as they struggle to find each other and their missing child?

        Laurel explores the faith that sustains hope in times of desperate struggle.

        Praise for Laurel: 5 Stars on Amazon
Craft is brilliant in her marriage of both fact and fiction, as she weaves a story that captures your attention from first page to last. Ms. Craft has a gift with her pen, creating words that are both breathtaking and beautiful. ~ Elaine Marie Cooper, Author of Fields of the Fatherless and Bethany's Calendar

In Laurel, Susan F. Craft weaves a tale of enduring familial love, sacrifice, and adventure that kept me reading late into the night. The stakes are high when a tiny child is kidnapped, but there’s no peril Lilyan and Nicholas Xanthakos won’t face to see their daughter restored. Readers of Craft’s The Chamomile and new readers alike will enjoy this exciting sequel set in the Carolinas during the first years after the Revolutionary War, a setting Craft brings to vivid life. ~ Lori Benton, Author of Burning Sky, a 2014 Triple Christy Award Winner

To Purchase Laurel, visit

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Laurel, A Post-Revolutionary War Inspirational Suspense

Searching for their toddler and her Cherokee aunt kidnapped by slavers, Lilyan and Nicholas Xanthakos trek from their North Carolina vineyard, through South Carolina backcountry to Charleston, a tinderbox of post-Revolutionary War passions. There Lilyan, a former patriot spy, faces a grand jury on charges of murdering a British officer. Once free, they follow Laurel’s trail by sea and are shipwrecked on Ocracoke Island.

Will they be reunited with their dear child or is Laurel lost to them forever?

Join me in the celebration of the release of my newest inspirational historical suspense, Laurel. The Online Book Launch Party will be on FaceBook Saturday, Jan. 17 from 2-4 p.m. EST.

Come by, chat, and leave a comment for a chance to win some really great prizes.

The party will be on my author page/event, Susan F. Craft, at this link:

Monday, January 5, 2015

Laurel, a post-Revolutionary War Suspense

My novel, Laurel, will be released January 12 by
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.