I’m sorry for the long hiatus. I hope everyone had a very bookish Christmas! Mine was spent reading—big surprise I’m sure! One of those books was Harmony on the Horizon and today I’m thrilled to introduce you to the author, Kathleen Denly. You can read my review here.
Kathleen is graciously giving away an eBook copy to one Romancing History visitor so make sure to see the Giveaway section at the bottom of this post.
Kathleen Denly writes historical romance to entertain, encourage, and inspire readers toward a better understanding of our amazing God and how He sees us. Award winning author of the Chaparral Hearts series, she also shares history tidbits, thoughts on writing, books reviews and more at KathleenDenly.com.
Kathleen lives in sunny California with her loving husband, four young children, one dog, and nine cats. As a member of the adoption and foster community, children in need are a cause dear to her heart and she finds they make frequent appearances in her stories. When she isn’t writing, researching, or caring for children, Kathleen spends her time reading, visiting historical sites, hiking, and crafting.
Connect with Kathleen:
Website | Newsletter | FB Author Page | FB Reader Group | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | BookBub | Amazon
About the Book
Her calling to change the world may be his downfall.
On the heels of the Great Rebellion, Margaret Foster, an abolitionist northerner, takes a teaching position in 1865 San Diego—a town dominated by Southern sympathizers. At thirty-seven years of age, Margaret has accepted spinsterhood and embraced her role as teacher. So, when Everett Thompson, the handsomest member of the School Board, reveals his interest in her, it’s a dream come true. Until her passionate ideals drive a wedge between them.
After two decades of hard work, Everett Thompson is on the verge of having everything he’s dreamed of. Even the beautiful new teacher has agreed to his courtship. Then two investments go south and a blackmailer threatens everything Everett has and dreams of.
As Everett scrambles to shore up the crumbling pieces of his life, Margaret unwittingly sets off a scandal that divides the small community and threatens her position as teacher. With the blackmailer still whispering threats, Everett must decide if he’s willing to risk everything for the woman still keeping him at arm’s length.
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- Dogs or Cats? Cats!!! We have nine. (NINE???)
- Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy? Colin Firth (Excellent choice!)
- Kindle, Audiobook, or Paperback? Audiobook. I love the smell of paper and kindle is crazy convenient, but after a long day of writing or marketing, I’m ready to rest my eyes. Plus I can listen while doing other things. (I prefer Audio books too!)
- Run, Bike, Hike, or Swim? Running & Hiking. I can’t pick. Both feed my soul.
- Dark or Milk chocolate? Milk! Dark is icky. ;)cAuthor Interview with Kathleen Denly
RH: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How long you’ve been writing? How many books you have published and what era(s) do you write in?
KD: I write historical Christian romance set in nineteenth century America, with a special focus on California. My hope is to entertain, encourage, and inspire readers toward a better understanding of our God and how he sees us.
I have been writing in some form or another for almost as long as I can remember. However, I didn’t begin writing my first novel until high school and didn’t start taking my writing seriously until after the birth of my third child in 2010.
My debut novel, Waltz in the Wilderness, book 1 of my Chaparral Hearts series was published by Wild Heart Books and released on February 4, 2020. I have three novels and one novella currently available for readers, with three more full-length novels and one more novella in the works. All of these are part of the Chaparral Hearts series, although each can be read as a stand-alone novel. All of my novels are published by Wild Heart Books, but I indie-publish my novellas. The Chaparral Hearts prequel novella, Ribbons & Beaus, is currently available for free to my newsletter subscribers. I hope to have the second novella available by fall 2022 and plan to also provide it free to my Kathleen’s Readers’ Club Members.
RH: Wow, you’ve been a very busy author. I look forward to reading some of your other titles. Can up share something unusual about yourself? Something not in the typical back of the book author bio—something quirky?
KD: It drives me crazy when people dig a gouge in a tub of food. For example, margarine, peanut butter, ice cream, jam…all of these should be scraped across the top when retrieving your portion. The result should be a relatively smooth surface left behind instead of craters that resemble the surface of the moon. LOL I have no idea where I picked up this bizarre pet peeve, but it was worse in high school. Back then, I would actually spend time smoothing out the damage others had caused and, if serving myself, would just keep scooping ice cream until the surface was level. You can imagine that this resulted in some larger-than-my-stomach portions. These days I mostly roll my eyes, grumble under my breath, and move on. But it still bugs me.
RH: Oh dear, good to know in case we ever get to meet for lunch! LOL! Fans of romantic fiction love a cute meet. How did you and your significant other meet?
KD: I was directing a children’s play at our church and my (now) husband volunteered to help build the props. This was a very large church that I’d only been attending for about a year, so we hadn’t met until this moment. It’s actually a very humorous memory because my first thought on meeting him was, “Not my type.” And I was in a phase where I’d sworn off dating. LOL! A few weeks later, a mutual friend pointed out that he and I had been flirting during our college group Bible study and I vehemently protested. I wasn’t flirting. We were just being friendly and having fun. Right? Right? Wait. Ummm. Yeah. LOL! I ended up fasting for a week in search of God’s guidance. Long story short, we just celebrated our twentieth anniversary and I’m more in love with this man than ever.
RH: Awww, such a cute story! Thanks for sharing! Which three words describe the type of fiction you write?
KD: Entertaining, encouraging, inspiring. 😉 At least, that’s my hope.
RH: What is the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex?
KD: Sometimes knowing how they’d react to a specific situation can be tricky. So I usually consult my hubby on those. Also, their scenes take more editing since most men are less verbose than my typical writing style. So I usually need to go back and rephrase things with fewer words in the scenes that are in a male’s POV. Then again, that can be true of any character. I usually write the scenes one way and then go back and tweak them to fit each character’s unique voice. That was triple true with Katie in Harmony on the Horizon since she is a first generation American who grew up in an uneducated, low-class, family from Northern England and thus has a very unique dialect.
RH: What was the inspiration behind Harmony on the Horizon?
KD: During a field trip with my kids to visit Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, we were given a tour of the Mason Street Schoolhouse originally built in 1865 (since been moved & rebuilt twice, but is now at its original location). During that tour, the docent shared the story of the Mary Chase Walker scandal. In essence, Mary, a northern teacher wound up in the southern-sympathizing town of San Diego on the heels of the Civil War. Through the choice to dine with a mixed-race woman, Mary infuriated many parents who then refused to send their children to class. Ephraim Morse was one of three members on the board of trustees at the time who were faced with the parents’ demands that she be fired. A meeting was held but we do not know the results of that meeting due to the records being lost in a later fire. What we do know is that by the end of the month, Mary was no longer teaching. She moved on to tutor children in a local family and Ephraim began courting her. Shortly thereafter they were married.
As soon as I heard this story, my writer’s brain kicked in and I knew I needed to do something with it. Thus, Harmony on the Horizon is inspired by, but not based on, the Mary Chase Walker Scandal. My characters, Margaret and Everett, are not meant to represent Mary and Ephraim. Rather, I used the framework of the true-life events to carry my own characters through their journey. I stuck as close as possible to the known facts of the true story, while filling in the blanks as I believed my characters would in the given situation.
RH: It’s always so interesting to hear how authors get their story sparks. Do you have a favorite quote from Harmony on the Horizon you’d like to share?
KD: “Even now the memory of her hearty laugh over dinner tugged a smile from his lips and tempted him to disregard the caution of reason, to forsake his ambitions for more time in her presence.”
RH: Sigh, that’s one of my favorites, too. It gives you all the “feels.” What scene in Harmony on the Horizon was the hardest to write? Why?
KD: Katie’s scenes were both the most fun and the most challenging to write because of who she is. As I mentioned above, she is not only uneducated, but her family is from a part of Northern England known as Cumbria. If you’d like to know how utterly unintelligible some of their speech can sound to foreign ears, search “Cumbrian dialect” on YouTube. I bought an entire dictionary and listened to hours upon hours of native speakers in order to understand Katie’s dialect as best I could. Then I needed to keep in mind that Katie was not raised in Northern England, but in America. So that had an influence on her voice as well. I then had to tone her dialect down enough for English readers to not feel like they needed a translator to understand her scenes. At one point I seriously considered including a glossary at the front of the novel. But in the end, I wanted Katie’s dialect to enhance, not distract from, the story. So I toned her dialect down even more. Just getting Katie’s scenes right doubled the length of time I spent in the editing phase. Hopefully I found that balance between showing her uniqueness and making her understandable.
RH: I really enjoyed Katie’s dialect and think you struck the right balance. I could hear her clearly in my head. Which secondary character do you think will resonate with readers? Why?
KD: Ha ha. I’m beginning to feel like I’m only talking about Katie, even though Margaret is the primary heroine of Harmony on the Horizon. But I have been hearing from readers that they connect with Katie because of the incredible difficulties she overcomes and the strength of her relationship with God. One reviewer even said that she wanted to be more like Katie.
RH: What a great compliment to your writing! I liked Katie as well and her determination to triumph over adversity. Excellent life lesson! What do you hope readers will take away after reading Harmony on the Horizon?
KD: Life is messy, people are complicated, and there is no new sin under the sun. Don’t be quick to be offended or quick to judge, consider that there are layers to each person which we cannot see or know. Always hope for the best and never give up trying to make this world a better place—but don’t strive in your own strength. Look to God for guidance in both your deeds and words.
RH: That is an excellent reminder, Kathleen. Our human nature is usually quick to judge others. What are you working on now?
KD: I am currently working on a second novella for my Chaparral Hearts series which I’m hoping to offer free to my Kathleen’s Readers’ Club Members in Fall 2022. But soon I’ll begin writing the fourth full-length novel for the same series which will be published by Wild Heart Books and is scheduled to release in 2023.
RH: Congratulations on all your upcoming projects. Thanks for visiting today, Kathleen. It’s been wonderful to get to know you a little better! I wish much success with Harmony on the Horizon!
This Giveaway is now closed!
Congratulations to our winner, Teri DiVincenzo!
Kathleen mentioned the great length of detail she undertook to make sure Katie’s Cumbrian dialect sounded authentic. To enter the drawing for an eBook copy of Harmony on the Horizon, tell us if you enjoy reading dialects in fiction. Do you like them? Why or why not?