Winner - Best in Fiction Indiana Faith and Writing Contest 2014
Ginny Red Fawn McLain is determined to hold fast to her adoptive Shawnee culture despite her sudden reentry into her white birth family. She rejects their Christianity, fearing the tenets of the white man’s religion will prevent her from practicing as a Shawnee medicine woman. But her heart refuses to shun her uncle’s young friend and apprentice minister, Jeremiah Dunbar.
Jeremiah Dunbar has never doubted what he would do with his life—he’d follow in his father’s footsteps as a minister of the Gospel. But a mission trip west to the Native American tribes makes him begin to question his future plans. At the discovery of his fellow missionary’s long lost niece living among the Shawnee, Jeremiah is immediately smitten. But unless Ginny Red Fawn McLain joins Christ’s fold—something she adamantly resists—Jeremiah will have to choose between the woman he loves and the work God has called him to do.
Ginny and Jeremiah struggle to discern the will of God, the Great Spirit, for their lives, and if fitting their love into His plans is even possible. Dreams and cultures clash amid an atmosphere of contempt and distrust, threatening to make their love the last casualty of the Pigeon Roost Massacre.
A soft, moist touch against his lips jerked Jeremiah awake. At the sight of the white Indian girl kneeling over him, myriad emotions darted around his chest like a bevy of barn swallows. Surely she had not…
Red Fawn dipped her finger into a little wooden bowl then touched it to his lips, moistening them with an oily salve. “I am sorry to wake you, but the sun is rising in the sky, and your friend asked me to bring you medicines.”
Jeremiah pushed up to a sitting position on his woolen-blanket cot. Heat suffused his neck and face at his initial mistaken impression of her actions. He poked out the tip of his tongue to taste the oil she’d spread over his cracked lips. The sweet, light taste told him it must be either plant or mineral based.
“It is sweet birch oil,” she said, answering his silent question. “It will heal your lips and make the skin soft again.” Her smile transformed her features from comely to breathtakingly beautiful.
“You speak English well.” He found it surprising that she hadn’t lost the language of her childhood during her years with the Shawnee.
She set the bowl aside. “My father wanted me to keep the white man’s language and to teach it to him and my mother. He said it would be good for our family and our tribe when dealing with the whites, so we spoke it often in our home.”
“Where is Zeb?” Jeremiah cleared his burning throat and glanced around the longhouse. He needed to direct his thoughts away from this girl who made his heart hammer like a woodpecker’s beak on a dead log.
“He has gone to Chief Great Hawk’s lodge to tell him what is written in the book you brought,” she said, her voice turning harder. She walked to the fire, bent over a steaming iron pot, and stirred its contents with a shaved stick.
She spoke as if the Bible was new to her, but Zeb said the Shawnee had taken her at the age of six. Jeremiah recalled his own sixth year vividly. That year, his family had traveled from Kentucky to Indiana, and his mother gave birth to his brother Joel in the Conestoga along the way. He and his seven-year-old sister, Dorcas, had kept three-year-old Lydia occupied by fishing for crawdads on a creek bank during Mother’s travails. It seemed inconceivable that this girl, who remembered her given name as Ginny McLain, had no memory of her parents or Zeb and his wife, Ruth, setting her on their laps and telling her stories from the Scriptures.
“Surely, you remember the Bible. I remember the Bible stories my ma and pa told me and my sisters when I was six.”
She stopped stirring the sweet-smelling contents of the pot and became still. At her silence, hope leapt in Jeremiah that perhaps he’d jogged a long-buried memory in her.
Without answering him, she grasped the pot handle with a scrap of wool material to protect her hand, lifted the pot from the fire, and set it on a flat rock. She dipped an earthen bowl into the pot and then carried the vessel to him. She set the bowl on the ground in front of him. “When it is cool enough, drink it. It will heal your sore throat.”
As she walked out of the longhouse, an ache not associated with his illness throbbed in Jeremiah’s chest. Regret filled him. God had given him an opportunity to share Christ with Red Fawn, and he had squandered it.
Giveaway: An e-book to one commentator
What was the best money you ever spent for your writing career?
Answer: The money I spent attending the American Christian Fiction Writers annual conferences, especially in the early years of launching my writing career. I doubt I’d be published today if I hadn’t attended those conferences and had the opportunity to meet editors and multi-published Christian authors. Their help and instruction proved key to my eventual publication.
Were you an avid reader as a child? What did you read?
Answer: Yes. My mother taught me to read before I attended school and I fell in love with reading from the start. I had a book of fairy tales and I read a story each night at bedtime. I spent most of my allowance money for chores on books. Some of my favorites were The Bobbsey Twins series, The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, and Laddie by Indiana author, Gene Stratton Porter.
How does your faith affect your writing?
Answer: I consider my writing a ministry, so my faith is an integral component of my writing. Through my characters I strive to portray the human condition with all its challenges, heartaches and joys and show how, if we invite God to work in our lives, He will reveal His will for our lives and, as stated in John 10:10, we might “have life and have it to the full.”
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
Answer: I remember my dad reading to me from The Complete Poetical Works of James Whitcomb Riley, the acclaimed “Hoosier Poet.” Both my parents wrote poetry and I, too, inherited that gift. Listening to Riley’s descriptive poetry sparked a love for how words can paint a picture in the mind. I simply fell in love with words.
What did you edit out of this book and why?
Answer: I originally wrote a prologue showing Ginny as a child at her cabin at Pigeon Roost on the day of the attack. To make the story more active from the jump, I decided to edit that out and work that information further into the book. I love the prologue though, and did keep it on my computer.