Walt Mussell | @ICFWriters
Today we welcome Walt Mussell back to our blog.
I’d like to thank Jenny for having me as a guest this Tuesday and Wednesday. I apologize for answering questions late. I’m operating on east coast U.S. time. 😊
Last summer, after numerous years of frustration, I received the great news from Kindle Press that the book of my heart, The Samurai’s Heart, would be published. Since penning the initial words (and getting initial rejections), I’d published three novellas, two short stories, and several magazine articles. I’d also written some very bad manuscripts that will forever stay hidden.
So why did this one manuscript stick with me? I must say I had some inspiration.
I used to live in Japan. I met my wife there. We’ve been married over twenty years and have two sons. We’ve done our best to visit Japan to see friends and family as often as we can.
On one of those trips (in 2008), we went to see Himeji Castle.
Himeji Castle is Japan’s best-known castle. It’s a six-story structure built to resemble a white heron in flight. It was the backdrop for the movies The Last Samurai
and You Only Live Twice
. It was also the backdrop for the made-for-TV miniseries Shogun
Himeji Castle is also the site of one of the biggest mysteries of Japan’s Christian Century, the Himeji Castle Cross (at the top of this page).
In yesterday’s post, I spoke about Japan’s Christian Century (1549 – 1650) and how Christianity was driven underground in the mid-17th century. One of the things the government did at this time was to destroy everything that had even a hint of a connection to Christianity.
The cross I speak of first appeared at Himeji Castle in the late 16th century. Officially, according to the sign at Himeji Castle, no one knows where the cross came from. It appeared when the castle was only three stories tall and Christianity was still welcome though under watch. When the castle was remodeled (1601-1609) to its current six-story appearance, the cross was one of the few items that survived the reconstruction. A picture of how it appears to castle-goers now is below.
The tiles pictured with the cross along the castle roof edge are called “devil’s tiles.” They are set there to ward against tsunamis, fires, typhoons, etc. They’re meant to bring luck. You can find them on many castles.
But only Himeji Castle has a cross.
And the image of that cross, placed among the tiles, has remained with me. How did it survive the Christian purge? Why would a government that was destroying every trace of Christianity it could find leave such a display on its greatest work of castle architecture?
The blogosphere does offer a theory. The cross may be tribute to a former castle lord that was himself a Christian. It’s also thought that a majority of the samurai in charge of the remodel were Christian. But no one knows.
Anyone have any ideas?
Please comment below for a chance to win an e-copy of my book, The Samurai’s Heart. Check back March 28th to see if you are the winner.
Walt Mussell lives in an Atlanta-area suburb with his wife and their two boys. He primarily writes historicals, with a focus on Japan, an interest he gained during the four years he lived there. He refers to his work as “Like Shogun, but the heroine survives.”
Walt is a 2017 Kindle Scout winner, which led to the contract for his first novel, The Samurai's Heart. E-copies can be downloaded from any Amazon website. Print copies can be ordered at your local bookstore. Please visit Walt’s website at waltmussell.com to subscribe to his newsletter.
Walt Massell | @ICFWriters
Today we welcome Walt Mussell to our blog today. Walt will be joining us again tomorrow and is giving away one ecopy of his book.
When I started writing Christian fiction set in medieval Japan, I knew I would learn much about Christianity’s early efforts there.
What I did not expect, was that knowledge would compel me to do.
Japanese history has what is called a Christian Century, roughly 1549-1650. In 1549, a team of six missionaries, led by Father Francis Xavier, landed at Kagoshima, Japan, and begin the spreading the faith. Within 65 years, the Christian population surpassed 300,000, making it the jewel of missionary efforts in the Far East. However, in 1614, the ruling government, the Tokugawa Shogunate, began driving the religion out of the country. Missionaries were ordered to leave and those that stayed risked death. Over the next few decades, tens of thousands of Christians would be killed. The Jewel of the Far East was now as forbidden as the Garden of Eden.
And one of the worst part about all of this is that so few people today have ever heard of these Christians. A former pastor of mine put it best when he referred to these people as The Great Unknown Martyrs.
It was this history that led me to create a presentation that I now give at churches. I call my presentation, “The Path to Silence: Japan’s Christian Century and Beyond.” The title is based on the book Silence by Japanese novelist Shusaku Endo. The book’s setting is the 1640s, at the end of Japan’s Christian Century. Silence is the story of two young priests who journey to Japan to find their mentor, a priest who’d reportedly committed apostasy. In the end, one of the two priests dies for his faith. The other priest apostatizes to save the lives of local Christians. It’s an excellent representation of what happened in the time period.
The presentation runs roughly 90 minutes. Within a few weeks, I will be doing a 30-minute version for the Atlanta Archbishop’s office for a Lunch-n-Learn. I hope that people will want to invite me to their churches to do the full presentation.
And it’s this presentation that I think has changed me. Of all the things I thought about when I started writing, I never imagined giving speeches. I never imagined being a guest on national (U.S.) radio show as a subject-matter expert on Japanese martyrs. In one way, it’s like I came up with my own ministry.
But then I know it really wasn’t my own doing. 😊
My question today is this: Is there a way you feel you are being called?
Please comment below for a chance to win an e-copy of my book, The Samurai’s Heart. Check back March 28th to see if you are the winner.
Walt Mussell lives in an Atlanta-area suburb with his wife and their two boys. He primarily writes historicals, with a focus on Japan, an interest he gained during the four years he lived there. He refers to his work as “Like Shogun, but the heroine survives.” Walt is a 2017 Kindle Scout winner, which led to the contract for his first novel, The Samurai's Heart. E-copies can be downloaded from any Amazon website. Print copies can be ordered at your local bookstore.
Please visit his website at waltmussell.com
to subscribe to his newsletter.
We have TWO giveaways for our readers in March:
Winning Miss Winthrop by Carolyn Miller
Catherine Winthrop has cried out to God too many times to count. Years ago, the man who stole her heart rejected her--and she's never recovered. Now tragedy has brought him back into her life. This time it isn't her heart he's taking, it's her home and her family's good name--and she has no one to share her grief.
Jonathan Carlew's life may look enviable from the outside--wealthy, handsome, landed--but the mystery surrounding his birth has shadowed his entire life. Now as he ascends to the barony, fresh challenges await, including a scheming mama who wants him to embrace power, even at the cost of losing love. How can he remain the kind, honorable man he strives to be and still meet the demands of his new society responsibilities?
These two broken hearts must decide whether their painful past and bitter present will be all they can share, or if forgiveness can provide a path to freedom for the future.
Set in the sumptuous salons of Bath, Regency England's royal breeding ground for gossip, Winning Miss Winthrop is the first volume in Carolyn Miller's new series. Fans of the wholesome and richly drawn first series won’t want to miss this new set of characters.
Giveaway #1 - Winning Miss Winthrop
Carolyn Miller is giving away a print or ebook copy (winner's choice) of Winning Miss Winthrop.
To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on this post and/or Carolyn's Wandering Wednesday post on March 14.
Receive two entries in the drawing by commenting on both posts. Please specify which giveaways you're entering in your comment on this post.
Check out Carolyn's post last Wednesday
for more information on the giveaway and Carolyn's journey in Bath
- the English setting for her regency romances.Available from Amazon.com
Ruhanna's Flight and other stories by Jeanette O'Hagan
Tales of wonder, romance, adventure - dip into the world of Nardva with this collection of stories.
Ruhanna's Flight - Ruhanna's father is coming for a rare visit. In a flurry of excitement, she prepares for his arrival, when suddenly everything goes wrong and her life is in danger.
Ruhanna's Flight and other stories included stories previously published in a range of anthologies plus never before published. While mostly set in the Southern Hemisphere of Nardva, it ranges across the ages - from early days of the Lonely Isles to the space age. A great introduction to this fantasy world of engaging characters and stirring adventures.
Giveaway #2 - Ruhanna's Flight
Jeanette O'Hagan is giving away a copy of Ruhanna's Flight.
To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on this post and/or Jeanette's upcoming Bookish Tuesday post on March 27. Receive two entries in the drawing by commenting on both posts. Check out Jeanette's upcoming Bookish Tuesday post on March 27 for more information on the giveaway. Please specify which giveaways you're entering in your comment on this post.Available from Amazon.com
The Heart's Appeal by Jennifer Delamere
Strong-minded and independent Julia Bernay comes to London to study medicine and become a doctor--a profession that has only just opened up to women. She witnesses a serious accident, and through her quick actions saves the life of an ambitious young barrister named Michael Stephenson.
Coming from a family that long ago lost its money and its respectability, Michael Stephenson has achieved what many would have thought was impossible. Hard work and an aptitude for the law have enabled him to rise above his family's stigma and set him on the path to wealth and recognition. But his well-laid plans are upended when the accident brings Julia into his life.
Michael soon discovers he's met a woman every bit as stubborn and determined to make her mark on the world as he is. Sparks fly--but will they find common ground?Available from Amazon.com
The Innkeeper's Daughter by Michelle Griep
A London officer goes undercover to expose a plot against the Crown
Dover, England, 1808: Officer Alexander Moore goes undercover as a gambling gentleman to expose a high-stakes plot against the king—and he’s a master of disguise, for Johanna Langley believes him to be quite the rogue. . .until she can no longer fight against his unrelenting charm.
All Johanna wants is to keep the family inn afloat, but when the rent and the hearth payment are due at the same time, where will she find the extra funds? If she doesn’t come up with the money, there will be nowhere to go other than the workhouse—where she’ll be separated from her ailing mother and ten-year-old brother.
Alex desperately wants to help Johanna, especially when she confides in him, but his mission—finding and bringing to justice a traitor to the crown—must come first, or they could all end up dead.Available from Amazon.com
The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel
Megan Jacobs always wished for a different heart. Her entire childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, sitting on the sidelines while her twin sister Crystal played all the sports, got all the guys, and had all the fun. But even a heart transplant three years ago wasn’t enough to propel Megan’s life forward. She’s still working as a library aide in her small Minnesota hometown and living with her parents, dreaming of the adventure she plans to take “once she’s well enough.” Meanwhile, her sister is a successful architect with a handsome husband and the perfect life—or so Megan thinks.
When her heart donor’s parents give Megan their teenage daughter’s journal—complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. Caleb—a friend from her years in and out of the hospital—reenters her life and pushes her to find the courage to take the leap and begin her journey. She’s thrown for a loop when Crystal offers to join her for reasons of her own, but she welcomes the company and the opportunity to mend their tenuous relationship.
As Megan and Crystal check items off the bucket list, Megan fights the fears that have been instilled in her after a lifetime of illness. She must choose between safety and adventure and learn to embrace the heart she’s been given so that she can finally share it with the people she loves most.Available from Amazon.com
Fierian by Ronie Kendig
Abiassa’s people fall. Her Deliverers wait as Poired Dyrth marches unchecked through the Nine Kingdoms. He’s taken the Embers of countless Accelerants. He’s taken Zaethien and Hetaera, the mightiest cities of the Nine. He’s taken the blood of the royal family. Now Dyrth is after Haegan’s power—the Fierian’s power. And after that, he wants the world.
But Dyrth will not take it unopposed. Battered and outnumbered, the remnant of the Nine forge new alliances, make friends of enemies, and prepare to stand against the last great press of evil. In faith, they wait. The Fierian will come.
While war rages without and within, Abiassa’s people face their greatest need. But before the Fierian can fulfill his destiny, he has to defeat the enemy in his own mind.Available from Amazon.com
The Golden Vial by Thomas Locke
Lady Shona, the newly crowned queen of the realm, is a leader without a throne. Pursued relentlessly by a dark force, her small contingent of loyal followers must make a difficult choice--flee or fight. Determined to save her land from nefarious threats, Lady Shona decides that she must seek out the enemy and attack them head on--a strategy that leads back to the region of the Three Valleys where Hyam was born.
Alas, Hyam has been struck by a mysterious illness that is silently sweeping through the realm. Known as the wasting disease, the sickness has no cure. But there is one shred of hope for Lady Shona and the realm--and it comes in the most unlikely of forms. A young orphan, untested and untrained, could well mean the difference between victory and total defeat.
Thomas Locke concludes his epic trilogy with a gripping tale of courage that will inspire readers to persevere even when all seems lost.Available from Amazon.com
A Most Noble Heir by Susan Mason
When stable hand Nolan Price learns from his dying mother that he is actually the son of the Earl of Stainsby, his plans for a future with kitchen maid Hannah Burnham are shattered. Once he is officially acknowledged as the earl's heir, Nolan will be forbidden to marry beneath his station.
Unwilling to give up the girl he loves, he devises a plan to elope--believing that once their marriage is sanctioned by God, Lord Stainsby will be forced to accept their union. However, as Nolan struggles to learn the ways of the aristocracy, he finds himself caught between pleasing Hannah and living up to his father's demanding expectations.
At every turn, forces work to keep the couple apart, and a solution to remain together seems further and further away. With Nolan's new life pulling him irrevocably away from the woman he loves, it seems only a miracle will bring them back together.Available from Amazon.com
Reclaiming Shilo Snow by Mary Weber
She was far more capable than Earth’s leaders had accounted for—and they had no idea what she’d do next.
Known as a brilliant mind that could hack humanity’s darkest secrets, seventeen-year-old Sofi Snow is the most wanted teenager alive. She found her way to the icy, technologically brilliant planet of Delon to find Shilo, the brother everyone but Sofi believes is dead.
But as she and Ambassador Miguel partner to find her brother and warn those on Earth of Delon’s dark designs on humanity, Sofi’s memories threaten to overtake her, distorting everything she holds true. She knows the Delonese kept her in a dark, deceptive place . . . and destroyed a portion of her life. Now, the more they discover of Sofi’s past, the more Sofi feels herself unraveling—as each new revelation has her questioning the very existence of reality.
In this harrowing sequel to The Evaporation of Sofi Snow, Sofi and Miguel must trust each other and discover the secrets locked inside Sofi’s mind as the line between what’s real and what they imagine begins to slip away . . . threatening to take humanity with it.Available from Amazon.com
I watched a bee try to get out of my house yesterday. He buzzed up a storm up and down the glass. He was trying to find a hole, I guess? Up and down, left, right. He pushed hard to get through every millimeter of that glass pane. He was dedicated. Committed. Probably a bit desperate. At the end of the day? Still stuck.
Before you think I’m heartless for watching the poor thing struggle without helping it, hear me out.
The window was open.
At any moment, he could have flown free. I did eventually help the little guy, but it got me thinking about how we live sometimes.
We can see the vision, the goal, the dream. We push towards it with every scrap of our energy. We keep pushing and trying, we change tactics and try again – because surely a God-given dream should work, right? And yet sometimes, there is simply no breakthrough. We try until our all our energy and passion is depleted and then a small sliver of disappointment lodges deep inside. If nothing changes, this sliver grows to a wedge that can drive us away from trusting God and what He’s called us to do.
Friends, if God has placed a dream in your heart – the window is open.
If I spoke bee, I would have said to that little chap buzzing in my window, “Hey, take a step back. Stop the frantic buzzing and breathe a little. Find the scent of fresh air and follow it.”
God is saying the same to us. “Step back. Stop the frantic buzzing and breathe. Find the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit and follow it.”
‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts.’ Zechariah 4:6
‘I know that everything God does will endure forever;
nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.’ Ecclesiastes 3:14
Dianne J. Wilson writes novels from her hometown in East London, South Africa, where she lives with her husband and three daughters. She is writing the third book in YA series, Spirit Walker, with Pelican / Watershed. Book 1, Affinity is releasing on the 8th of June 2018.