Bio: Brenda H. Cox is a life-long English educator at the high school and university levels. She earned a BA at The University of South Carolina, an MAT from The Citadel, and a PhD at The University of Georgia where she served as the Assistant Director of the Freshman English Program. She was affiliated with the National Writing Project site at
where she led
a Writing in the Humanities Institute and is a member of the North Carolina
Writers’ Network. She has taught numerous writing workshops and delivered
papers at state and national conferences and directed The Young Writers
Conference at The University of North Carolina at Clemson
University Greensboro where she was an Assistant
Professor of English Education. She has published articles in English
leadership and in 18th century rhetoric. In addition, she has served as a
writing consultant in numerous school systems in the Southeast and in the
American and International Schools in Kuwait. She also served as a Reader
of Advanced Placement exams for The College Board, and her students have won
numerous local, state, and national awards in writing. Brenda lives in , and is married to Jim Cox. They have one son and daughter in-law and two
perfect grandsons. Greensboro, North
Welcome, Brenda. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
My husband and I always have some kind of humorous banter going, so I try to infuse that in the conversations between couples. I think that makes their relationships seem more authentic.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I drink iced tea all day every day of the year! I confess that I sometimes use exaggerated accents at the drive through speaker to order my tea just to see the reaction of the servers. Sometimes they don’t bat an eye, sometimes they look shocked, and sometimes they laugh out loud. I always act as though I have no idea why.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
At age 64. I’m a late baby boomer bloomer! I taught research-based argumentative writing at high school and university levels for 43 years. It was time I tried something more creative, although I give myself away with all the historical documentation in Tethered.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I like a broad range of books, both fiction and non-fiction, although I confess I’m not a fan of romance. I know that’s near heresy.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I pray, pray, pray and love, love, love my grandchildren! My son and his precious wife and their two boys live with us, so I try to keep life as simple and uncomplicated as possible.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Well, I write historical, creative biography, so I usually have all the names all ready to go. If I need to invent any, I use variations of older family members’ names. For instance, I named the captain of a ship “George McIntyre” after my grandfather.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I earned my PhD from the
while my husband was on his last active duty tour there teaching Army ROTC. I
was gratified to accomplish that with a four-year-old, but publishing my first
book was right up there. University of Georgia
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I am not fond of cats, but I would be one so I could lie in the sun all day and be as finicky as I pleased.
What is your favorite food?
My Grandmother Mary’s coconut cake!
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
TIME! I have to carve out time to write to keep from getting blocked. The longer I stay away from it, the harder it is to get rolling again. I prefer to write between 10pm and 2am, but I have obligations that make that impossible. It’s so hard to write with dirty dishes and bathrooms waiting on me!
Tell us about the featured book.
Tethered: The Life of Henrietta Hall Shuck, The First American Woman Missionary to
China begins in 1835 as Henrietta and Jehu Lewis
Shuck set off on an arduous 19,000 mile voyage from Virginia
to establish the first Baptist mission in “The Celestial Kingdom.” In Tethered
Henrietta holds onto a leather strap nailed to the railing of their ship to
keep from falling overboard, but her life is also tethered to her husband, to
their mission board, and to God as she seeks to educate young girls whose lives
were bound in centuries of traditions as brutal as the ligatures that bound
their feet. On their voyage, they encounter a ship of convicts headed to Australia, British missionaries returning home
from Ceylon, a whaler
butchering her catch, and a slave ship that shatters Henrietta’s illusions of
her gentle life in Virginia.
During their visits with established missionaries in Calcutta,
Burma, and Singapore, they gain valuable insights that will
help to prepare them for the challenges they will meet in Macau
all the while developing a deeper relationship with each other. The young
couple’s marriage grows from a mission’s partnership to genuine love and is
marked by humor and unflinching determination to minister to the poor despite
illness, poverty, robbers, and opposition from the mission board at home in the
volatile years of conflict in the First Opium War. By the end of her story, she
has come to a full faith relationship with God and has become an icon in
Baptist missions for American and Chinese Christians across two centuries.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Chapter 1: The Louvre
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:19–20 KJV
Gathering her skirts, Henrietta Shuck stumbled up the steps to the deck of the Louvre, fighting to keep her balance as the vessel lurched through the rough Atlantic toward the coast of
Africa. She forced her hand into a
leather strap like a prisoner accustomed to being shackled and, once secure,
leaned over the railing to allow the spray to bathe her face. It was the only
relief from the desperate seasickness that had consumed her since boarding ship
in Boston with her husband Lewis on their voyage
Henrietta’s eyes stung, and her hair was dripping wet from the cold salt spray,
but any relief from the unrelenting nausea was welcome during what would become
a yearlong, nineteen-thousand-mile voyage to the other side of the globe. Shortly
after leaving Boston,
she had first leaned over the railing with her toes barely touching the deck
when the first mate of the Louvre,
George McIntyre, grabbed her around the waist with one arm and plunked her down
hard on the deck as though she was a rag doll.
“Mrs. Shuck! For Mercy’s sake! What are you thinking! I’ll have no one falling overboard on me! I’d never get the skiff in the water before you’re drowned!”
Still on all fours, she struggled to rise before him when her gut violently twisted, and she showered his boots with her breakfast. Other crewmen roared at the sight of the little woman, barely four feet and ten inches tall, on her hands and knees retching like a dog choking on a bone and the first mate dancing a high step to shake the remains of Henrietta’s meal of beans and salt pork off his boots. Ordinarily, the seasoned sailor would have spewed a succession of blasphemous oaths at every step, but he and the rest of the crew had been unexpectedly polite and accommodating to the Shucks and to the other twenty missionaries on board on their way to
One withering look from McIntyre as he stormed toward the main mast sent the
crew back to their duties while Henrietta was left to fend for herself. Moments
later, he reappeared swinging a massive hammer round and round in his right
hand and a leather strap in his left stomping straight for Henrietta. Still
kneeling and feeling the vibrations of his stomps drawing closer, she swallowed
hard and wiped her hair from her face, dreading what he had in mind for her. Tucking
the hammer under his arm, he grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her to her
feet, recoiling a bit from the shock that she weighed so little and that her
wrist was no bigger than that of a child. Still holding her wrist, he looped the leather
strap once around her hand and then let her go. Henrietta fought to maintain her balance and
didn’t know what to think as he pounded the leather strap to the railing with
two heavy nails and said, “Mrs. Shuck: you’re to pull your hand through the
tether and hold tight should a wave sweep you overboard. I’ll not have you
swimming in the deep.”
Relieved as much that the mate meant her no harm as grateful that she would not end up drowned with an unexpected lunge into a wave, she looked up at the massive man to say, “Thank you. I will, Mr. McIntyre, and I’m so sorry I fouled your….” The corners of Henrietta’s mouth suddenly turned down, and the mate sidestepped as she forced her hand into the loop and again nearly threw herself over the rail retching helplessly. The few members of the crew who had gathered to watch his hammering parted and ran back to their stations as Mr. McIntyre stomped back across the deck, again swinging his hammer.
Henrietta would find comfort in the salt spray more times than she could count during the nine months on the ocean. To reach the Orient, ships sailed towards the coast of Africa, then back towards
Brazil, and then, turning again, sailed far to
the south using the trade winds to skirt around the Cape
of Good Hope. On this seemingly interminable trip, dolphins that
would share the ship’s wake on occasion mesmerized her and suspended the
debilitating nausea. She fancied that the same group had joined them on and off
during their trip to , the
small island occupied by the Portuguese and English traders from the East India
Trading Company and her future home that, unlike the main land, was tolerant of
“Europeans.” To the Chinese, these included Americans as well as the English, the
French, and the Portuguese. Macau,
How can readers find you on the Internet?
I’m on Goodreads at http://bit.ly/2lz8L54
Twitter at @BrendaCox51
Pinterest at http://bit.ly/2EswrQX
KOBO at http://bit.ly/2DhwM8n
My website is http://www.brendahcox.com. It contains a bio, reviews, and historical facts about Henrietta including her only known portrait that my husband’s family contributed to the Foreign Missions Board.
Purchasing links may be found at:
Amazon at http://amzn.to/2C5fA5l
Barnes and Noble at http://bit.ly/2lvbxJj
CrossLink Publishing Company at www.Croslinkpublishing.com
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