Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse

Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse
Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse ~ Photo: Mark Papke

Sunday, February 20, 2011

"The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous." ~ Frederick Douglass ~ American abolitionist and statesman. (b. 1817 - d. 1895)


The American Historical Christian Fiction blog hi-lights books by Christian authors who are led by the Lord to write about characters and stories set in America's past. They are exciting stories of romance, adventure and suspense, written to inspire and encourage.

If you're looking for a book for yourself, a loved one, or those who may need an uplifting message woven through an entertaining story, please consider new monthly releases in inspirational historical fiction found here--the kind that take you on a journey into our country's past (from early colonial times to WWII) and illuminates the trials, beauty and blessings of our great nation.

This week it's my pleasure to hi-light Author of the Week: Henry McLaughlin and his February release: "Journey to Riverbend"

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I dabbled in writing for many years before I got serious about it in 2002 after heart problems and surgery nearly sent me to heaven. I came out of that experience with a strong sense that I was called to write. From that point on, I changed my focus from dabbling to writing.

How did you prepare? College courses? Workshops? Books on Craft?

At first, I prepared by reading magazines and books on the craft. My next step was to complete the courses offered through the Christian Writers Guild (Apprentice, Journeyman, Craftsman). I attended mentoring clinics with DiAnn Mills, conferences, workshops, residencies and retreats. I acquired a library on the craft of writing. I joined on-line and in-person critique groups and developed a core group of critique partners on whom I rely to provide honest feedback.

Why do you enjoy writing historicals? (and anything more you want to add to this--anything special about time/settings etc.)
I majored in American history in college and historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. I’m particularly fond of Westerns. Journey to Riverbend, in its early forms, was a Western. As it went through re-writes and edits, it became clear that the novel needed a stronger romance element so the characters could fully develop. Throughout all the drafts, I attempted to anchor the story in the broader context of American history. The story is set in 1878 and the Civil War is part of the backstory along with the Panic of 1873.

Do you have other work besides writing; and if so, how do you manage to balance both?

How many years/stories did you write before the first one was accepted?
It took nearly eight years, from mid-2002 (when I decided to become serious about writing) to February, 2010 (when Journey to Riverbend was awarded the Operation First Novel award.

What's your next book/release date we can look forward to? (A quick sentence or two of what it's about to whet our appetites? :)

I recently submitted a manuscript for a contemporary novel to my agent. The working title is Mr. Latham’s Lincoln. In the story, a young wife disappears, leaving her husband and father-in-law devastated, grieving and full of questions. The reason she left could not only destroy the family but their church as well.

I am in the process of completing the manuscript for the sequel to Journey to Riverbend. The working title is Riverbend Justice. In the story, the hero attempts to clear the name of a young man wrongly hung for murder in the first novel. To achieve his goal his must overcome threats, not only against his own life, but also against the lives of dear friends and the woman he has fallen in love with. This will be in the hands of my agent by the first of March.

After that, I will begin writing a third Riverbend novel.

Title: Journey to Riverbend
Author: Henry McLaughlin
Publisher: Tyndale

A chance for redemption was something they never expected.
A chance for love was something they never dreamed of.
Sometimes the journey is only the beginning . . .

Michael Archer made a promise he intends to keep. Though he was unable to save Ben Carstairs, Michael is determined to carry out Ben’s dying wish: to be reconciled with his father. What he doesn’t know is that Sam Carstairs—one of the most ruthless businessmen on the frontier—has no use for his own son, much less a man of God seeking reconciliation.

Soon after arriving in the booming town of Riverbend, Michael meets the stunning Rachel Stone while waiting for Sam to return from a business trip. Beautiful yet guarded, Rachel is running from a past as dark as Michael’s, and the last thing she expects—or thinks she deserves—is a chance at love. Yet there’s a spark between them neither can deny.

When word reaches town that Sam has been kidnapped on the stage coach home, Michael joins the search posse. But the trail ahead is more dangerous than any had imagined, and making it back alive will require Michael to face his past and overcome his deepest fear.

I'm also pleased to add some of the comments concerning Henry's first book. Thank you Henry, and we're looking forward to many more great stories!

“We’re so proud of Henry and his award-winning first novel. This one grabs you from the first sentence and never lets go.”
Jerry B. Jenkins, New York Times best-selling author and owner of the Christian Writers Guild

“A powerful first novel that weaves the consequences of a person’s choices with the lawlessness of the old west.”
DiAnn Mills, Christy Award-winning author of the Call of Duty series

“Journey to Riverbend is a superb debut novel. Faith, romance, action—they're all here in abundance. I look forward to more from Henry McLaughlin.”
James Scott Bell, best-selling author of Try Darkness

Henry McLaughlin is the 2009 winner of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest for Journey to Riverbend. He has a master’s degree in social work and spent many years working in the public child welfare system. Henry and his wife, Linda, live in Saginaw, Texas. They have five children, the oldest of whom is in heaven, and one grandchild. Visit his Web site at

And from Henry's website:

"In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government ought to be instructed.. .No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people." ~ Noah Webster ~ Preface to 1828 Dictionary

Remember to leave a comment for the drawing to receive a copy of "Journey to Riverbend."

Historic Flash Facts

Curious about what happened on your birth date one hundred years ago....(wouldn't it make a great theme for your birthday party?) Or searching for an historical event to include in a story you're writing? Check out Historic Flash Facts; new entries will be added weekly to keep you "up-to-date".

Feb. 20, 1792
President George Washington signed an act creating the U.S. Post Office

Feb. 20, 1809
The Supreme Court ruled that no state legislature could annul the judgments or determine the jurisdictions of federal courts.

Feb. 21, 1866
Lucy B. Hobbs became the first woman to graduate from a dental school, the Ohio College of Dental Surgery in Cincinnati.

Feb. 21, 1911
Composer Gustav Mahler, despite a fever, conducted the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie hall in what turned out to be his final concert. (He died the following May)

Feb. 22, 1732
The first president of the United States, George Washington, was born in Westmoreland County, in the Virginia Colony.

Feb. 22, 1924
President Calvin Coolidge delivered the first radio broadcast from the White House as he addressed the country over 42 stations.

Feb. 23, 1836
The siege of the Alamo began in San Antonio, Texas.

Feb. 23, 1861
President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrived secretly in Washington to take office, following word of a possible assassination plot in Baltimore.

Feb. 24, 1761
Boston Lawyer James Otis Jr. went to court to argue against the "writs of assistance" that allowed British customs officers to arbitrarily search people's premises; citing English common law, Otis declared: "A man's house is his castle." (Although Otis lost the case, his statement provided a source of inspiration for American independence.

Feb. 24, 1803
In its Marbury vs. Madison decision, the Supreme Court established judicial review of the constitutionality of statutes.

Feb. 25, 1836
Inventor Samuel colt patented his famous revolver.

Feb. 25, 1913
The 16th Amendment to the Constitution, giving Congress the power to levy and collect income taxes, was declared in effect by Secretary of State Philander Chase Knox.

Feb. 25, 1940
A hockey game was televised for the first time by New york city station W2XBS, as the New york Rangers defeated the Montreal Canadians, 6-2, at Madison Square Garden.

Feb. 26, 1861
Vassar college in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. received its initial funding from its namesake, businessman matthew Vassar, who presented the newly formed board of trustees with more than $400,000 in securities. (Although created exclusivley for women, Vassar went co-educational in 1969.)

"Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it." ~ Edmund Burke (British Statesman and Philosopher who is generally viewed as the philosophical founder of modern political conservatism.)

"May the Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: may the Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace." Num.6:25-26 (KJV)


  1. I already have Henry's book on my wish list and would love to win here. I love American History and these great historical books are great for learning more of our history.
    Thanks for the opportunity to enter.

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

  2. I would love to read, and have a copy of Henry's book. I love Historical books...and this one sounds very interesting!!