Thursday, September 10, 2015

VALLEY OF THE SHADOW - J M Hochstetler - One Free Book

Welcome back, J M. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
Growing up in a family with the history the Hochstetlers have, I was naturally drawn to historical accounts by the time I was in high school. It wasn’t dates, events, and places—the usual subjects of history textbooks—that especially drew me, but people. I wanted to know what the lives of the people of bygone ages were like, whether they were leaders or the common people of the day. What did they share in common with us today? And how were they different, and why?

I believe that we can’t understand ourselves and our own time without understanding what shaped us, both events and people. Only by learning from history can we avoid the mistakes of the past and also benefit from great advances that were made. Over time, as a way of making sense of all that, I began to write novels about people set during historical eras that especially interested me.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
I have three daughters, and I have to say that the day each was born and the day each of my grandchildren was born were the happiest I’ve experienced.

How has being published changed your life?
It’s made me feel a greater connection to my audience and a deep responsibility to write stories that not only entertain—which certainly has to be the first priority or no one will read them—but also in an organic way to educate, and then encourage readers to a higher standard. I’m committed to representing the historical period along with the people, society, and culture I’m writing about as accurately and authentically as possible; to portraying human nature realistically, in a way that communicates universal truths and offers personal insights that are life-changing for readers.

What are you reading right now?
I’m researching my next book, so I’m reading a lot of resources on Native Americans, specifically the Lenape and Seneca tribes. I just found a particularly helpful, very well researched children’s textbook published in 1985, now out of print, titled The Magic Moccasins. I’m developing a high regard for children’s and young adult stories that are deeply researched, and this is one of the most detailed I’ve found on several Native American tribes, including the two that appear in my current project.

What is your current work in progress?
I’m working on The Return, book 2 of the Northkill Amish Series, which I’m writing with my fifth cousin, multi-published author Bob Hostetler. This is the story of our non-resistant Amish Hochstetler ancestors, who came to this country from Europe in 1738 and got caught up in the French and Indian War. Readers can find more information about them and the series at

What would be your dream vacation?
I’d love to travel the Alsace region in Europe and Switzerland, where my Anabaptist ancestors originated, and follow in their footsteps as they emigrated to America. I’d also incorporate side trips to Germany, Austria, Italy, and Greece. Those are countries I’ve always wanted to visit. New Zealand and Australia also have a great appeal to me. It would be wonderful to spend several months visiting all these countries and sampling local history, culture, and cuisine.

How do you choose your settings for each book?
The historical era I choose to write about essentially determines the settings of each of my novels. The Northkill series is set along the Pennsylvania frontier and in Ohio Territory in the 1750s and 1760s because that’s when and where my ancestors lived. My American Patriot Series takes place during the American Revolution, and each volume is set in the particular theater of war the book covers. Book 1, Daughter of Liberty, is set in the Boston area, and the sequels move to New York, Philadelphia, and Fort Pitt, and also into Ohio Territory as the war impacts the Native American communities. The remaining volumes will follow the characters to France and onto the high seas with the expansion of the naval war, and then return to the Southern states as the land war in America moves south to its conclusion at Yorktown, Virginia.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
Right now it’s Dr. Ben Carson. I’ve read his life story and seen him on TV a number of times, and I’m incredibly impressed by how he overcame a difficult childhood due to the strength and love of his mother, an emphasis on education, and a deep relationship with God to become this brilliant, compassionate, wise, and truly civil man. There’s no one like him on the public stage today. He amazes me, and I would love to get to know him better.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
I love to spend time playing in my garden. I could do that all day long. And I’m getting back into scrapbooking, which I had to set aside for a couple of years because of writing projects. But I’m discovering that participating in one art strengthens others as well. Antiquing is a particular love as is playing around with my home’s décor. In another life I would have been an interior designer. Or maybe a landscape designer. Or an archeologist. Or an artist…

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Balancing research and writing is the hardest. I could easily bury myself in research for months on end, but then I would never get the story written. So there comes a point at which I have to force myself to put aside my research resources and just write!

What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Read, read, read. Then write what you love to read. Write about subjects you’re deeply passionate about. Don’t worry so much about getting published. Worry about writing the very best story you can write, and you’ll find an audience.

Tell us about the featured book.
Valley of the Shadow is Book 5 of my American Patriot Series. Elizabeth Howard is a prisoner aboard a British prison ship in New York Harbor, surrounded by the might of the Royal Navy. British General William Howe has summoned Brigadier General Jonathan Carleton to surrender to him or she will be executed. Carleton knows, however, that Howe will never release her, but will surely execute them both as soon as Carleton surrenders. From heart-pounding battles on the high seas, to the rigors of Valley Forge and the Shawnee’s savagely fought wars to preserve their ancestral lands, Valley of the Shadow continues the thrilling saga of America’s founding in an inspiring story of despair, courage, and triumph.

Please give us the first page of the book.
Thursday, 30 October, 1777
11:05 p.m.
In the flickering candlelight the words swam and blurred before his eyes. Clenched in his hand, the paper shook.

Brigadier General Jonathan Carleton stared at the letter, his mind gone blank. A wave of terror and rage squeezed the air from his lungs and brought bile into his throat.

By degrees he became aware of the gusting wind that beat against the inn, the sudden bursts of freezing rain flailing the window panes, his own ragged breath. Despite the heat radiating from the hearth’s blaze, chill sweat trickled down his brow and beneath his worn buckskins, darkly rain-slicked from the downpour his Rangers had ridden through. He swallowed with difficulty and forced himself to focus on the letter’s signature.

William Howe.
Knight of the Bath. Commander in Chief of His Majesty’s forces on the North American Station.

“Jon, what is it?”

Behind him, Colonel Charles Andrews’s voice sounded hollow and far away. Ignoring his friend, Carleton studied the words scrawled boldly above Howe’s name as though, if he willed it, they would say something else.

That the American cause was entirely lost. That Washington had surrendered to the British. That Howe’s entire army waited outside the door to escort Carleton to the scaffold, there to hang for treason.


Not this.

Sounds interesting. How can readers find you on the Internet?
They’ll find my personal website at For information about The American Patriot Series, go to, and for information about the Northkill Amish Series go to I’m also on Facebook at .

Thank you, Joan, for sharing this book with me and my readers.

Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Valley of the Shadow -
Valley of the Shadow (American Patriot Series) - Amazon
Valley of the Shadow (The American Patriot Series Book 5) - Kindle

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Google+, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link:


Melanie Backus said...

Thank you for sharing Joan's Valley Of The Shadow. I would love to read it.

Melanie Backus, TX

Mary Preston said...

The series sounds amazing. Is that a painting on the cover?

Mary P


J. M. Hochstetler said...

Thanks for stopping by, Melanie and Mary! Good luck in the drawing to both of you.

Mary, the painting is Combat d'Ouessant, 23 juillet 1778 by Théodore Gudin. It portrays a naval battle between France and England on July 23, 1778, which took place less than a year from when Valley of the Shadow is set. It's perfect for the story and was a serendipitous find!

Amy C said...

Squee! I can't wait to get my hands on Valley of the Shadow! Thank you so much for the interview and giveaway.
Amy C

Caryl Kane said...

Wonderful interview with Joan! I can imagine myself aboard the ship on the cover. I would love to read Valley of the Shadow.

Caryl in TEXAS

Deanna Stevens said...

A prisoner aboard a British prison ship ! That sounds like a great story line...
Dee from NE would like to read this book! !
I think Ben Carson would be very interesting to visit with too :)

J. M. Hochstetler said...

You're so welcome, Amy! Best wishes for the drawing! :-)

J. M. Hochstetler said...

Glad you stopped by, Caryl, and good luck in the drawing!

J. M. Hochstetler said...

Deanna, I tried to make it exciting. Thanks for dropping by and good luck in the drawing!

Melissa M. said...

Sounds like a great story, and your writing seems quite alive!

-Melissa M. in TN

rubynreba said...

I enjoy historical books set in the American revolution. The cover is perfect for the book!
Beth from IA

Brenda Arrington said...

This sounds like one that will definitely hold my interest. I enjoyed the interview, also. Thanks for the chance to win.

Brenda in VA

J. M. Hochstetler said...

Hi, Melissa, Beth, and Brenda! I'm so glad you dropped by. Best wishes to all 3 of you for the drawing!

Unknown said...

I am so glad to enter this drawing for Joan's book. Anything she writes is of interest to me! I hope I am a winner.

Unknown said...

I am from Illinois. I forgot to include that on my entry.

J. M. Hochstetler said...

Hi, Phyllis! I'm delighted you dropped by and entered the drawing. Good luck!

MammaG said...

Hi Joan,
I loved your book 'Northkill" and am excited about this series of yours as well! Thank you for sharing your wonderful talent with us and the history of your ancestors! God Bless!

J. M. Hochstetler said...

MammaG, you just made my day. Thank you so much! Blessings back at'cha and good luck in the drawing!

Unknown said...

What a great historical period in which to write. It's not only the beginning of our country, but a time when so much was in transition. Thanks. I'll be sure to look this up.
I also agree with you about research. It is hard to blend time discipline between that and writing. Good for you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lena and Joan. Thanks for this interview. I have some of Joan's books and would love a chance to win this one. Thanks for the chance. GOD bless you both. Maxie (TX) > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

Anonymous said...

Hi Lena and Joan. Thanks for this interview. I have some of Joan's books and would love a chance to win this one. Thanks for the chance. GOD bless you both. Maxie (TX) > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

Unknown said...

Now look at that cover, wow ! It's beautiful yet powerful at the same time. Sounds like a very interesting read !
Deanne in PA