Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Guest Post by J.M. Hochstetler

J. M. Hochstetler, author of the American Patriot Series, has been busy in recent days participating in a virtual book tour.

She makes a stop at Thoughts in Progess  to tell us about her latest novel and third in the series, Wind of the Spirit. She has agreed to guest post today.

Here is a brief synopsis of the book:  Elizabeth Howard’s assignment to gain crucial intelligence for General Washington leads her into the very maw of war at the Battle of Brooklyn Heights, where disaster threatens to end the American rebellion. Yet her heart is fixed on Jonathan Carleton, whose whereabouts remain unknown more than a year after he disappeared into the wilderness.

Carleton, now the Shawnee war chief White Eagle, is caught in a bitter war of his own. As unseen forces gather to destroy him, he leads the fight against white settlers encroaching on Shawnee lands—while battling the longing for Elizabeth that will not give him peace. Can her love bridge the miles that separate them—and the savage bonds that threaten to tear him forever from her arms?

When asked how her American Patriot Series came about, Ms. Hochstetler explained:

Back in 1983 I watched a TV movie, the Scarlet Pimpernel, with Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour. I was absolutely swept away. Talk about action, intrigue, suspense, heart-pounding danger, roll on the floor laughter—in fact, every emotion known to man including a really hot romance! I knew I absolutely had to write my own version of the story.

The trouble was the Scarlet Pimpernel was set during the French Revolution, and I wasn’t interested in that period. However, I was very interested in the American Revolution, so that became the setting for Daughter of Liberty. Then I decided to make my main character a woman instead of a man, so Elizabeth Howard came to life as the rebel courier, spy, and smuggler, while Jonathan Carleton, an officer in the British Light Dragoons, arrived as her nemesis—on the surface, at least.

I originally conceived Daughter of Liberty as a stand-alone novel. But after realizing that it would be easier to sell it as the first book in a series, I started thinking about a sequel. I’d included a minor detail in book 1 about Carleton having connections with the Shawnee as a youth. Thus book 2, by natural extension, became Native Son, in which General Washington sends Carleton to negotiate with the Indians to support the Americans in the Revolution, and he is captured and enslaved.
Book 3, Wind of the Spirit, started out as the last third of Native Son. My publisher at that time sent out an e-mail to all their fiction authors demanding that we keep our word counts below 90,000. Well, I was already above 120,000 and well on my way to matching Daughter of Liberty’s 127,000+. So ooops!! The editor did concede that I could go a bit higher than 100,000 words since historicals are generally longer than contemporary novels.

So after much agonizing, I cut the entire back end of the story off and wrote a new last chapter to conclude Native Son—on a real cliff hanger, by the way. And voilĂ ! Wind of the Spirit was born out of the remainder.

Of course I added a whole lot more to it to develop it into a full-length novel. In the end, what initially seemed like a disaster turned out to be the best thing that could possibly have happened as far as the story was concerned because it’s a whole lot stronger than the original version. God indeed knows what he’s doing and has everything under control!

A huge concern for me in writing this series has been my concern that our citizens today know so little about the founding of our nation and the legacy handed down to us by those who laid everything on the line to ensure our freedom.

In the American Patriot Series I’m striving to write the only truly comprehensive fiction series on the American Revolution and make it as entertaining and engaging as it is educational. My goal is to portray all aspects of the period, including the experience of colonists, African Americans, Native Americans, and women.

In writing these stories, I simply drop my fictional characters into the midst of the actual historical events of the Revolution and allow them to interact with the real people of the time—both the leaders and, in a number of cases, the common people who were involved in one way or another on both sides of the rebellion.

Consequently, most of the plot and the cast of characters of each volume are already laid out for me. I just choose which specific events will make the most thrilling story and figure out what my characters would do in that particular situation. It’s been fascinating and fun—not to mention a real education!

Thanks to Ms. Hochstetler for stopping by today. Now let me give you a little background on her. She writes stories that always involve some element of the past and of finding home. Born in central Indiana, the daughter of Mennonite farmers, she graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Germanic languages.

Ms. Hochstetler was an editor with Abingdon Press for 12 years and has published four novels that include Daughter of Liberty (2004), Native Son (2005), and Wind of the Spirit (March 2009), the first three books of the critically acclaimed American Patriot Series which are set during the American Revolution; and One Holy Night, a retelling of the Christmas story set in modern times. One Holy Night is the 2009 Christian Small Publishers Fiction Book of the Year and a finalist for the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Long Contemporary Book of the Year.

Ms. Hochstetler is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, Nashville Christian Writers Association, and Historical Novels Society. She and her husband live near Nashville, Tennessee.

For more information about Ms. Hochstetler and her work visit or at this book’s blog

Wind of the Spirit is available at


  1. Thanks for introducing me to Ms. Hochstetler. She is a wellspring of information--and has really done her research.

    I've also noticed that the schools don't seem to focus as much on the Revolution. Actually, I'm not sure my 7th grader has even had the subject come up in his studies.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. As Elizabeth pointed out, this part of our history is quickly forgotten. In these modern times it is important to remember how we got where we are. Thank you, Mason, for introducing this author to us! Hopefully she will become part of our writers' blogging community.

    Ms Hochstetler, I am from Nashville as well (live in Raleigh, NC now), and am writing a mystery/crime series set there. I grew up in Brentwood.

    I look forward to learning more about your series! Thank you!


  3. Mason, what a great interview. Ms. Hochstetler I will be interested in your interesting topic.

  4. Elizabeth, I had wondered how much the Revolution was taught in school now. No youngsters in my immediate family. It's sad to miss out on such a rich history.

    Michele, we do need to remember how we got where we are. In fact, this morning on an NPR station I listen to they told today is the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. How neat.

    JW, the series does sound interesting. I haven't read Wind of the Spirit yet, but I have it coming and look forward to reading it.

  5. country. I’ve been thinking about a book set in that timeframe, but wasn’t sure if readers would be interested. Ms Hochstetler’s experience clearly shows readers are interested. I’m newly motivated. I’ve a quick question, where or what resources do you use to research your work, Ms Hochstetler? Thanks.

    Best Regards, Galen.

    Imagineering Fiction Blog

  6. Galen, I do think readers are interested in that time frame. I think you should go for it. Good luck.

  7. Mason - Thanks to you and thanks to J.M. Hochstetler for sharing this really interesting work!! Historical fiction is a real interest of mine, and it's clear that this is a well-researched, fascinating example of it. It's kind of both you to introduce us to the book.

  8. Margot, historical fiction to me can be fun to read. I think some people shy away from anything that has the word "historical" associated with it. Hope you get a chance to check out the book and enjoy it.

  9. Galen,

    I agree that there is definitely an interest in the time period. Jeff Shaara, son of Civil War fiction author, Michael Shaara, has at least two books out in a series about the American Revolution.

    My daughter's 3rd Grade class is studying Colonial America and the American Revolution right now, and is reading books set during that time period, so even a book for young readers could be popular.

    Best of luck!


  10. Hello, everyone! I'm very excited to find so much interest in the Revolution here. I get kinda passionate about it, as you can tell. lol!

    I'm concerned to hear that your 7th grader may not be studying this era yet, Elizabeth. I sure hope they have or will soon! That's the age to get students really excited about history.

    Michele, you're all too right about this part of our history being all but forgotten today. I'm hoping that by writing this series I can encourage readers to educate themselves about it so we don't lose the precious freedom our Founders sacrificed so much to win for us. I'm interested to see that you're originally from Brentwood. I live out on the west side now, but I'm a transplant from Indiana, though I've lived here for almost 20 years. I'm glad to hear you're a fellow writer too! Hopefully I'll have a chance to read your series one of these days!

    Galen, I encourage you to write about this period. Not only is there a tremendous amount of fascinating material to work with, there isn't enough excellent historial fiction set during the colonial/Revolutionary period. So the field is wide open, and the number of nonfiction works on the subject that are being published indicates that there's a growing interest. Check out my Web site at I have many resources listed, including resources for teachers and students linked off the home page, as well as a page of print and video resources. Which reminds me...I need to do an update!

    Cheryl, you're right about writing for young readers too. More and more teachers are discovering that well-researched and accurate historical fiction makes excellent supplementary reading for students. You can have a lot of positive impact on young people by writing engaging stories for them.

    Thank you, everyone, for your very kind comments about my American Patriot Series and your interest in this period! I love the feedback--you all keep me writing!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.