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This historical Christian fiction by one of my favorite authors, Michelle Griep, was published by Shiloh Run Press, an imprint of Barbour Publishing Inc., in March of this year (2018). Although a stand alone, this book has a slight connection to a previous novel, Brentwood’s Ward, as its main characters are associates. This is a nice addition for those of us who have read the former book.

Johanna Langley is fighting a losing battle to preserve the Blue Hedge Inn; it’s all that stands between her family—Johanna, her mother and her young brother—and the workhouse. The realities of 1808 England are harsh: no social welfare, no government handouts, no adequate health care, no prisoners’ rights, etc. All things we take for granted.

When Alexander Morton shows up to stay at the decrepit Blue Hedge Inn, he wonders why his “handler” has sent him there, but he soon becomes interested in the feisty Johanna.

A series of unfortunate incidents and accidents prevents Johanna from coming up with the money needed to pay off the debt against the inn. Alex assists when he can, but he is unaware of the details, and is otherwise engaged in his own assignment. He risks his life to find the person or persons involved in suspected treason, to the point of jeopardizing his growing relationship with Johanna. Who is the real traitor, who can be trusted, how much risk is too much?

I enjoyed The Innkeeper’s Daughter for many reasons, not the least of which is Griep’s skill in creating fascinating characters. No one is as they seem, not even Johanna’s old “mam.” She is the source of my favorite quote: “God is not sitting about, watching impassive. Our tears are His. You never—ever—cry alone.” (Location 3489)

Two of the quirkiest characters, Mr. Nutbrown and his puppet, Nixie, are a great pacing agent for the intense plot, as Mr. Nutbrown can apparently only speak to others through Nixie. This obviously causes mixed responses from his various associates.

The author is a pro at using figures of speech to engage the reader. Her description of a terrible in-house band at the inn reads thus: “an off-key violin, a bodhran that could use a good tightening, and two mandolins dueling to the death…a voice jagged enough to weather the whitewash on the plaster” (Location 365)

She personifies the weather as: “Bird chatter was as loud as a gathering of washerwomen. The only thing amiss was the pewter sky, clouds bullying down with grey fists.” (Location 1557)

Similes and metaphors apropos of the times abound: “Her mind was as dodgy as a pickpocket’s fingers.” (Location 402) “The two were close as scabs on a pox victim.” (Location 516) And another of my favorite quotes: “Without so much as a flinch, Alex stared down the barrel of the loaded question.” (Location 1704)

The intriguing plot of this book is well-researched and fits the time and setting perfectly.

My takeaway from this story, beyond the obvious enjoyment of reading it, was that people are not always (or often) what they seem, and that even when the going is tough, God is ultimately in control. Thanks, Michelle, for another great read.

 

Michelle Griep

Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Website: http://www.michellegriep.com

Twitter: michellegriep

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Influences: Bronte, Peretti, Sandburg

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/michellegriep

Short Bio:  I hear voices. Loud. Incessant. And very real. Which basically gives me two options: choke back massive amounts of Prozac or write fiction. I chose the latter. Way cheaper. I’ve been writing since I discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. I seek to glorify God in all that I write…except for that graffiti phase I went through as a teenager. Oops. Did I say that out loud?

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I recently read a blogpost on the Novel Rocket site that tweaked my interest because it’s about indie publishing. It’s written by Michelle Griep, an amazing Christian author who, incidentally, has a great sense of humor. I’ve read a number of her books (Gallimore, A Heart Deceived, Brentwood’s Ward) and loved them. When I asked Michelle if I could repost her article here, she said, “You betcha.” So here is Michelle’s experience with independent publishing, so far…

You know those TV shows that feature some daredevil lighting his underwear on fire as he hops on a motorcycle and jumps over five semi-trucks and a baby, all while some scrolling type at the bottom of the screen warns you not to attempt this at home? Yeah. I feel like there should be some kind of warning to those considering self publishing because it’s really not as easy as it looks. Leastwise not if you want to put out a quality book.

So here is my attempt at enlightening those who think they’ll just slap up some type on Createspace and rake in a million bucks.

**pretend the following is scrolling across the screen . . . I’m not technologically savvy enough to do that and there’s no teenager around for me to collar**

  1. Covers are a pain in the patootie. Who knew there’d be so many decision to make? Color. Style. Artwork. Wording. Layout. Font. Sizing. Transparency. Bleed. And that’s just in the first consultation.
  1. No matter how many times you go through a manuscript, you can always find something else to change.
  1. A good editor is worth her weight in chai. I didn’t actually have the money up front to pay for a manuscript edit so I bartered for a lifetime supply of chai. So far it’s worked out pretty good. Of course, if she lives to be one hundred, I may be in trouble. Nah. I’ll be dead first. Hahahaha! Joke’s on her. . . wait a minute. Maybe not.
  1. If you put your book up for pre-order on Amazon, they give you a deadline set in stone to upload your final copy. If you’re late, oops! Your name is written on the Amazon naughty list and you don’t get to put up any more pre-orders for over a year.
  1. There’s way more that goes into producing a book than simply good writing, though that is a must. There’s book size, paper color, paper weight, ISBN nonsense, Library of Congress shtuff, a bajillion different kind of ebook conversions, yada, yada. Seriously, I had no idea.

It was an adventure putting out my self-pubbed book, Writer Off the Leash, but one that’s been a good education. Would I do it again? Probably. Will I leave the realm of traditional publishing behind? Nope. Each venue has their pros and cons.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

WOTL Front Cover Final

WRITER OFF THE LEASH: GROWING IN THE WRITING CRAFT is a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Michelle Headshot 2 2015

 

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. You can also find her at the usual haunts of FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.

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Brentwood's Ward coverMiss Emily Payne is a spoiled young woman in nineteenth-century London, seeking fulfillment and security in a high-society marriage. She seems to care for nothing beyond the young man she has decided to win, and her purchases of bonnets and jewelry for the conquest.

When Emily’s father hires Nicholas Brentwood, a Bow Street Runner, to protect her while he’s away on business, Emily meets her match in strong-willed character. Nicholas has only one reason for accepting this awkward assignment, and that is to save the money to help his gravely ill sister.

Those are the goals and motivations of the main characters. The obstacles that spring from this premise are considerable. What stands between Emily and her father? Where has he gone and why has his business partner been murdered? And why has Emily herself become a target?

Nicholas is challenged to protect Emily from herself as well as the criminals who stalk her.

Inherent in this tightly written romance are faith in God and commitment to morality. In light of the situations the characters find themselves in, their convictions are severely tested.

Readers are held by the conflict until the last page, yet all necessary threads are ultimately tied and solved. While faith in God is rewarded, life is neither easy nor predictable.michelle-griep-headshot

 

Michelle Griep has been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She seeks to glorify God in all that she writes—except for that graffiti phase she went through as a teenager. She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. An Anglophile at heart, she runs away to England every chance she gets, under the guise of research. Really, though, she’s eating excessive amounts of scones while rambling around a castle. Michelle is a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and MCWG (Minnesota Christian Writers Guild). Keep up with her adventures at her blog “Writer off the Leash” or visit http://michellegriep.com/about-3/

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