Reviewing Grace

IMG_9437

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted, but I really don’t want to post just to post. I want to have something worth your while reading too. And today I think I do.

You know how they say a watched pot never boils? Well, Amazon reviews are the same way. I hadn’t received any new reviews on my book since April, so I quit checking. I was  surprised to discover three new reviews in just the last month! The only way I found out was someone tagged me in one of the reviews.

Here’s what they had to say:

5.0 out of 5 stars So affected by this book!, September 7, 2013
This review is from: Through the Eyes of Grace (Paperback)

I just finished Through the Eyes of Grace and wanted to review it right away – what an absolutely beautiful story of a young girl I could easily relate to, as Grace was my own daughter’s age when her life took such a dramatic turn. Knowing that Grace, her family, and the life that she lived were all real at one time, made this a particularly fascinating read for me. I ached as Grace did, at the rawness of her shame & her struggles, but the thread of hope weaved throughout her life was so profound and just so … beautiful. I’m anxious to hear the rest of the story (the author alludes to another volume in the epilogue), but for now I’m excited to share this exquisite tale of redemption with my own teenage daughter, and anyone else who will read it!

5.0 out of 5 stars Well written story, September 3, 2013
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

This book tells a story of very difficult circumstances thrust upon the main character, 15 year-old Grace. It deals with sensitive issues in a delicate and tasteful way, and brings a healthy resolve in the end. It doesn’t unnecessarily stir up romantic passion, but gives an accurate, sweet account of a love, rebellion, redemption and grace. Well done.

5.0 out of 5 stars Wow!, August 11, 2013
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

This book is incredibly well written. It is easy to lose yourself in the author’s flowing language and vivid descriptions of the western territories and life as a settler. You will feel Grace ‘s pain and joy as if you were her. Debi Gray Walter has a true hit here! This book is also seen inspiration to the reader to dig into one’s own family history and stories before they are lost. Well written and well enjoyed! When’s the next one?

What wonderful reviews! Thank you so much to all of you who have taken the time to review Through The Eyes Of Grace. If you haven’t had the chance, would you consider writing one? I want you to be honest in order to help others know whether or not they would like to read it.
“Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.” 🙂
― Will Rogers

Something To Ponder

Photo Credit: jordipostales on Flickr

Photo Credit: jordipostales on Flickr

Today would have been Grace’s 124th birthday. And more people know her story and care about what happens to her next than she ever could have imagined. I hear it all the time…when are you going to write the next book? My plans are to begin soon. Since my mother passed away I have found much inspiration from her boxes of genealogy research papers. Here are few things I’ve found:

  • a picture of one of William and Grace’s sons when he was 2. She had it mounted under a clear paper weight. It is fading now, but I would love to try and get it restored.
  • Uncle Bud’s family bible complete with his handwriting marking the births, marriages and deaths of family members.
  • Grace’s journal of a trip she and William took out west.
  • A turquoise and silver indian belt.
  • Mary Elizabeth Ishmael’s crystal candy dish.
  • A tiny porcelain cup that Sarah Kirwin gave to Grace when she was 12.

It has been exciting to discover these items, but it comes with such sadness. I can no longer call my mom for answers to questions I have. I’m on my own when it comes to writing book two. It won’t be the same. I will miss Mom with each page I write, but knowing she read and enjoyed Through The Eyes Of Grace before she passed away thrills my heart! And to think…she’s in Heaven with my grandmother telling her all about it.

Now that is something to ponder, isn’t it?

Questions For Grace

Questions for Grace

I’ve added a new page at the top titled, Questions for Grace. I invite you to bring any questions you have regarding her story, advice or thoughts.  Life speeds by so fast we rarely have the time to sit and talk with our elders about things which matter most. How I wish I had done this with Grace while she was still alive, but I was only 19.

Who in your life could answer questions about your family’s history? Even if you’re not interested now, you probably will be some day. Don’t neglect the opportunity you have today to sit and chat about the past. There is great wisdom to glean from our elders, but they won’t share it with us unless we ask them good questions. Maybe your elders are all gone, and you’ve no one left to ask. Well, make sure you leave answers for those coming behind you. Use the questions provided at the back of my book to write in your own journal your story. There could be no greater gift than this.

What questions would you ask Grace today?

Have You Heard of Goodreads?

goodreads_f

Have you heard of Goodreads? It’s a site dedicated to helping those who love to read connect with others who love to read. You can keep a running library of books you’ve read, books you want to read, and books you’re currently reading. It’s basically a social network for the literary-minded, and I love it!

When my book was published I added it to my library of books read. Imagine my delight when people started posting their thoughts on Through The Eyes Of Grace? Following is the first review I received from someone I don’t know. Her words are a huge encouragement to me, and I pray that more will come to find my book as a result of her review:

This is a novel based on the life of the author’s grandmother, Grace Kirwin. In 1904, Grace, Age 15, lived in Oklahoma Territory with her parents and siblings. The action begins almost immediately with a traumatic experience for Grace in chapter 1. Written in first-person point of view, we travel with Grace through her parents attempts to do what they think is best for her, her reactions to their choices, and her move to Indian Territory to live with a cousin and begin a new life. Nightmares and memories follow Grace, sometimes causing her to pull away from people. With the love of family and a special gentlemen, Grace successfully begins her new life.

This is an uplifing story and does not dwell on negative aspects of the events. Historical facts are plentiful and expertly woven into the context.

The book contains old family photos of the people in the story. Coupled with the excellent writing, this story comes to life on the page.

If you are already on Goodreads, won’t you share with us your thoughts about the site? What do you love about it? How has it helped you meet your reading goals?

All I Can Say Is…Wow!

Stella Grace at 4 months

This week I am more and more aware of God’s kindness to have brought me this far in the writing process. I have heard from dozens of people as they’ve read Through The Eyes Of Grace, and it brings tears to my eyes. Grace’s story is affecting others for good. I have heard moms tell me they are going to have their daughters read my book in hopes of inspiring them to know their own grandparent’s stories. I have had people stop me to tell me their story of regret towards their parents or grandparents who are no longer around to ask. I have even had some tell me of their dream to write a similar story to honor their family legacy.

All I can say is, Wow!

God is taking my little mite and using it for His purposes. If you’ve read my book and found it enjoyable, would you take time to write a review on Amazon about it for me? Your words will help others decide if they would enjoy it as well.

I must say that what I love most is hearing from you. Your words of encouragement are washing away years of disbelief that I could ever accomplish such a feat. Now that I have, the temptation is even greater to discount my work, which I’m sure saddens the Lord who is the One who enabled me to do it in the first place. I want to be quick to give Him the glory for the big picture story of His grace that He weaves into each of our lives.

How has your family impacted your appreciation of God’s grace at work in you?

Teasing Comes Naturally, I’m Afraid

Uncle Billy teasing Norah

Yes, I’m prone to teasing, ask my family. I get it naturally from my brother who is the master! But I’ve learned my brother is a lot like my grandfather who died when I was only 4. I don’t remember much about him, except that he loved his eggs scrambled in a pan with hot sausage served over a bed of grits. And you know what? This is how I like breakfast as well. He also smoked a pipe and would let me help him light it whenever I was around. I still love the scent of pipe tobacco, I guess because it brings back fond childhood memories.

So what does teasing have to do with today’s post? I want to “tease” you with the first half of the Prologue to my soon-to-be published book. I’m hoping it will entice you to want to read more. All good stories have a strong hook–read the following and let me know if I’ve managed to tease you for more! If so, you’ll have to wait another week to read the rest.

Prologue

June 1979

With a nervous exhale I opened the heavy door.  The clock tower struck one, two…fading away as the door closed behind me.  The foyer was dark and smelled of centuries-old stories, never to be told.  A hush followed each group of well-meaning guests as they entered the sanctuary.  I was next.  My hands were clammy; I felt nauseous.  I wasn’t ready to see…her, not in this way.  My eyes were darting back and forth, desperately searching for something when I saw it; right in the middle of the large oak table was a gift wrapped in lavender and lace.  As my eyes adjusted, I noticed my name scribbled on the card; who on earth? I couldn’t believe…

“Miss?” The usher interrupted my questions with his extended arm.  I supposed it was his job to escort me to where the rest of the family were seated.

My knees threatened to buckle under me as we started down the aisle.  How often I had come to this church with Big Mama.  She was a founding member and loved it dearly.  And if she had anything to say about it, I would love it too.

As I passed one pew I expected to see Mr. Pemberton stand and greet me with a butterscotch candy from his white suit pocket.  He always sat in the back, but not today; Mr. Pemberton was long gone, and now Big Mama was too–nothing would be the same.

“Greetings, friends! On behalf of the family of Grace Stella Oswalt, I would like to say thank you for coming to show your respects to such a God-fearing woman.”

I made it to the family pew just in time.  Sniffles sounded in unison as I held my breath trying not to join in.  I knew if I started I wouldn’t be able to stop.  Mama knowingly slipped a handkerchief in my hand as the preacher continued.

“Grace, wife of the late William Marion Oswalt, was the mother of six but is survived only by her daughter, Claire; nine grandchildren and many, many great-grandchildren…”

Six children? I didn’t know Big Mama had six children.  I knew my Uncle Vic and Aunt Ruby.  What happened to the others?

“Please stand as we sing Grace’s favorite hymn on page 56 of your hymnals.”

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound…

What else didn’t I know? For a moment I felt a deep sadness for the stories that would be buried with her.

…I once was lost, but now I’m found.  Was blind, but now I see.

It was true.  Big Mama loved this hymn.  When I was little she would often play it on her piano as I sat next to her on the bench.  Her voice would crack, and I would sing off key, but the words never lost their meaning for her.  When we got to the third verse, she always seemed caught up in another world.

…through many dangers toils and snares.  I have already come.  Twas grace hath brought me safe thus far.  And grace twill lead me home.

Glancing at my watch, I hoped it was almost over.

“The family would like to invite you to join them graveside following this service, and then for dinner in the church social hall,” the pastor announced.

What? Another service and dinner, too? I hadn’t been to many funerals in my nineteen years, and this was the first in our family.  It was as painful as I feared it would be.

My Mom knew what I was thinking without a word.  Heaviness pressed against me; the back door offered my first chance to escape.  I jumped to my feet ready to be the first one out the back, but a tall, sliver of a man appeared.  I was unaware of the tradition–family is always escorted out separately.  He said nothing, only pointed with his opened palm towards the side door.  I had missed my chance and silently followed Mama to a waiting limousine.