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A Legacy of Forgiveness by Betty Thomason Owens

Group of People Holding Cross and Praying in Back LitOne of my favorite things, as a child, was digging through Grandma’s box of black-and-white photos. Some of these dated back to the early 1900s. One caught my eye and I always drew it out first—a professional portrait of a couple, dressed up for an outing. It was the 1920s, and the woman in the picture wore a dress that skimmed the tops of her knees. Shocking! Grandma said the woman was her cousin, who lived in Chicago, and the man was her “intended.”

Grandma’s cousin also wore white stockings and high-heeled shoes and a ribbon around her forehead. I memorized the photo, making up stories as I gazed at it. Of course, she was from a big city. According to Grandma, decent girls around her small town in West Tennessee wouldn’t dream of dressing like that. In the early sixties, about the time I was pawing through her pictures, Grandma still wore a dress while she worked in the garden and the field.

Grandma married in 1920, at the age of fourteen. Grandpa was seventeen. They moved in with his parents and younger siblings, where Grandma was given the daily task of cooking, keeping house, and watching the youngest children, while the rest of the family worked in the cotton fields. And she was only fourteen. Maybe that’s why no one she knew dressed up in the flapper costumes.

One thing they did do in the Mississippi Valley was make and partake of … moonshine. It was outlawed, of course, as was all strong drink. So there was money to be made and two hundred-proof swill to guzzle. Unfortunately, my grandfather died in his thirties as a direct result of the alcohol he drank.

When I set out to write the story of Nancy Sanderson, I remembered that photograph and set the story in the 1920s, an era that had always fascinated me. A few of the remote facts of my family’s history found their way into the story as well. One of the characters in Amelia’s Legacy has to dodge the law because of his connection to the moonshine-running industry.

As I wrote and worked on the story, I noticed a recurring theme running throughout—of forgiveness. Forgiveness has been an ongoing issue in my life. I think it so often finds its way into my writing, because it’s been ever present in my life. I find great joy in the fact that I am forgiven. And not only has God forgiven me, He has blotted out my sins, according to Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

Forgiveness is so important to God, He places a demand on us to forgive (Matthew 6:14-15). Forgive, so that you may also be forgiven. The Message Bible goes on to say, “…if you don’t do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.”  And how many times do we forgive a transgression? Seventy-times-seven (Matthew 18:22). I don’t know about you, but I don’t keep count, because I’m hoping no one keeps count of the number of times they’ve had to forgive me.

Nancy Sanderson achieves forgiveness and begins to turn her life around then suffers a setback when her past catches up to her. How often does this happen? She deals with it the best she knows how, which isn’t very well, and definitely isn’t the right way. Thanks to a loving family, she eventually finds her way. But it comes down to a final question of forgiveness. Can she forgive the one who set out to destroy her?

In my heart I desire to leave the reader with a basic knowledge of the practice of forgiveness. Or at least a prompting in the heart and desire to make things right. It’s like getting up in the morning and deciding to smile and have a good day. Sometimes, that’s what you have to do. Smiles are contagious. If you smile, other people return your smile. Forgiveness is similar. If you forgive, others will be much more likely to forgive you. God knew this, you see. It is really for our benefit.

It still all comes down to that amazing Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

Betty Owens 2About the Author:

Betty Thomason Owens lives in Kentucky with her husband, Robert. They have three grown sons living in the area, along with their daughters-in-law, four beautiful granddaughters (one more on the way!), and two handsome grandsons.

Betty is semiretired, and spends most of her time writing, studying about writing, and critiquing other peoples’ writing. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group, and attends regular local meetings. She’s also involved with Bluegrass Christian Writers, a lively group of Kentucky writers, who meet quarterly in a Lexington, Kentucky bookstore.

Betty has two fantasy-adventure novels, The Lady of the Haven and A Gathering of Eagles, in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale Books, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell Press.

She also writes historical fiction. Her most recent release, Amelia’s Legacy is the first novel in the Legacy series for Write Integrity Press. In addition to the ’20’s era romances, Betty also writes contemporary stories as a co-author of A Dozen Apologies and the upcoming Love Boat Bachelor.

Visit her webpage or find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.Amelia's Legacy FRONT CoverMore About Amelia’s Legacy:

It’s the Roaring Twenties and anything goes …

Orphaned and living with her grandmother since the age of six, Nancy Sanderson desires only her freedom from her strict grandmother, Amelia Woods Sanderson, who divides her time between Nancy and a successful career. Her grandmother’s plans include a wealthy, smart, and well-connected young lawyer named Robert Emerson, who bores Nancy.

Instead, Nancy seeks the company of the wild-hearted Nate Conners. When her rebellion turns deadly and her dalliance with Nate leaves her in trouble, Nancy turns to Robert, who promises to protect her. But Robert has underestimated Nate’s thirst for revenge.

As hidden truths become known, can Nancy find the strength to forgive herself and gain true and lasting freedom?

Author Interview: Betty Thomason Owens

Betty Owens 2Today’s guest is Betty Thomason Owen.  Betty lives in Kentucky with her husband, Robert. They have three grown sons living in the area, along with their daughters-in-law, four beautiful granddaughters (one more on the way!), and two handsome grandsons.

Betty is semiretired, and spends most of her time writing, studying about writing, and critiquing other peoples’ writing. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group, and attends regular local meetings. She’s also involved with Bluegrass Christian Writers, a lively group of Kentucky writers, who meet quarterly in a Lexington, Kentucky bookstore.

Betty has two fantasy-adventure novels, The Lady of the Haven and A Gathering of Eagles, in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale Books, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell Press.

She also writes historical fiction. Her most recent release, Amelia’s Legacy is the first novel in the Legacy series for Write Integrity Press. In addition to the ’20’s era romances, Betty also writes contemporary stories as a co-author of A Dozen Apologies and the upcoming Love Boat Bachelor.

Visit her webpage or find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Betty, I’m so happy to have you back again to discuss your latest release. Tell us a little about Amelia’s Legacy?

Amelia’s Legacy is the story of a young woman’s rebellion against what she believes is a blatant attempt by her grandmother to turn her into someone she isn’t. So Nancy sets out to derail that train and would have ended in a wreck, if not for Grandmother Amelia’s foresight and planning.

As the story begins, Nancy has a very selfish view of life. Amelia is concerned about the many lives in her care. Those livelihoods could be directly impacted by Nancy’s frivolity. This, along with a strong desire to protect her granddaughter’s reputation, is what steers Amelia’s decision.

Robert Emerson becomes the bridge between the two. His steady influence on Nancy’s life brings her to a point where she knows a decision must be made. As often happens, events collide at that intersection to change her life’s course and wrest the decision from her hands.

The story is set in the 1920s, and you bring that era to life. Is there a reason that you chose this era?

I have always had a fascination with the twenties, an era often compared to the sixties, because of the music, the short dresses, promiscuity, and substance abuse. The timeline of events is fascinating as well, especially when you have real life to compare with it. My dad’s mom was born in 1906 as revival took off across America. Then WWI came along and many women worked outside the home, often leaving young children to fend for themselves. As they grow to maturity, we see an era of increased promiscuity, followed by a financial crisis and a deepening depression. If you’re a history buff, that kind of thing really catches your attention. How did they endure it? I loved the stories Grandma told and some of those made it in to Amelia’s Legacy.

Nancy is a memorable character for me because she starts out as a naïve girl who has some growing up to do. She’s a dreamer and a bit headstrong, and that gets her into trouble. Though she doesn’t lose her flawed nature, she matures, but her troubles follow her. So, I have to ask: did you write Nancy from experience?

Aha. You’re on to me. I was a dreamer. I desired to be that rebellious one, and like Nancy, I was too cowardly to be really bad. There were times when my poor decisions and pig-headedness landed me in places that reflected badly on me. Don’t tell my granddaughters, though.

Nancy’s grandmother, Amelia, reminded me of my own grandmother. She was our family matriarch, and without a doubt, she was the most important person in my life. What about you? Did you have a grandmother like Amelia or a grandmother that in some way impacted you the way that Amelia surely impacted Nancy’s life?

Amelia is a figment of my imagination, or maybe a concoction of several women I’ve met in my life. I think my maternal grandmother would have been a lot like Amelia. Grandma was an elegant mixture of Austrian and American Indian who escaped the dust bowl by moving to Seattle. She died when I was two, so I have no memory of her, just the bits and pieces shared by my mother.

Amelia’s Legacy is the first novel in the Legacy series. Would you mind sharing a little about the series and about any other novels you are writing?

I am well into writing the second novel in the Legacy series, Carlotta’s Legacy. Nancy’s best friend Rebecca Lewis is the heroine. She has a strong character and a quick wit, so she’s fun to write. Nancy always envied Rebecca’s freedom, and Rebecca envied the fact that Nancy’s grandmother cared what Nancy did and how she turned out. Rebecca didn’t have that in her life. Her parents fritter away a vast fortune and end up with nothing. Rebecca must make a decision regarding her future that will benefit the parents who basically ignored her most of her life.

I like that these two women will have recurring roles throughout the series. Nancy’s daughter Amy will have her day in the third, as yet unnamed novel. When Amy seems to be headed in the same direction as her mother, her parents must find a way to steer her in a more positive direction. I think Rebecca will figure into the solution, as well.

Amelia's Legacy FRONT CoverMore About Amelia’s Legacy:

It’s the Roaring Twenties and anything goes …

Orphaned and living with her grandmother since the age of six, Nancy Sanderson desires only her freedom from her strict grandmother, Amelia Woods Sanderson, who divides her time between Nancy and a successful career. Her grandmother’s plans include a wealthy, smart, and well-connected young lawyer named Robert Emerson, who bores Nancy.

Instead, Nancy seeks the company of the wild-hearted Nate Conners. When her rebellion turns deadly and her dalliance with Nate leaves her in trouble, Nancy turns to Robert, who promises to protect her. But Robert has underestimated Nate’s thirst for revenge.

As hidden truths become known, can Nancy find the strength to forgive herself and gain true and lasting freedom?

Character Interview: Nancy Sanderson from Betty Thomason Owen’s Amelia’s Legacy

Amelia's Legacy FRONT CoverToday’s guest is Ms. Nancy Sanderson from Amelia’s Legacy. Nancy you live in a very interesting era in our country’s history. Would you mind telling us a little about your life?

We had a country house and a town home. The town home was only slightly smaller than the country house. Some would call either of them a mansion. I called them prison when Grandmother was there.

Of course, there were servants, but only a few. We had a housekeeper, a cook, and a chauffeur who often doubled as a gardener. We could not possibly have done without any one of them.

I attended a private school for girls, and was driven to and from school by the chauffeur. Though Springfield was a smaller metropolis, I was not allowed out unchaperoned. Period. Though times were changing all around us, Grandmother insisted on decorous behavior at all times.

Many of my friends bobbed their hair, wore short dresses, and partied. Grandmother wouldn’t allow any of that. So whenever possible, I escaped, usually by way of my bedroom window. Grandmother’s idea of a good time was a celebratory dinner with her peers, or an afternoon tea given by one her employee’s wives.

A trip to Europe was the highlight of my youth, for it was on that voyage, I met Rebecca Lewis. I’ll never forget the peaceful, sunny days we spent on the French Riviera when Grandmother assumed Mrs. Lewis was chaperoning. She was not.

You’re a dreamer. That’s clear from the start of the story. How do you think being a dreamer affected your life?

You may understand why I was a dreamer after reading my answer to the former question. Dreaming got me through some difficult, empty places in my life. Most of my dreams were very foolish, but there were positive elements. When my life was at its darkest point, I made use of my imagination to survive.

I believe that grandparents can make a tremendous impact in a child’s life. I know your grandmother Amelia did that for you, but I’d like to hear about your grandmother from your point of view.

My grandmother stepped in and took over raising me when my parents died. She was often distant. Partly because she had also taken over running the company her father had built and her husband maintained until his death. Her strength was a steadfast presence in my life. As a child, I longed for her approval and love. It took a health crisis in her life for her to realize she’d shortchanged me in that department. She tried to make up for it, and for a few bright days, we enjoyed one another’s company. That was a gift.

You went through most of your life without a relationship with the Lord. How would you describe the troubled years when you did not know that you had a loving Savior to lean upon?

My idea of God was one of a judge sitting at a great desk, ever ready to exact judgment on His children. We seldom attended church, but Grandmother made me memorize scriptures pertaining to obedience and honoring ones’ elders. For this reason, I constantly struggled with guilt and condemnation. I felt that every bad thing that happened to me, came as a direct consequence of my guilty behavior. I deserved it.

Life didn’t turn out exactly as you expected it to, but we know that God promises that all things happen for good to those who know the Lord … Nancy, looking back over your life, even as far back as the loss of your parents, are you able to see how God used those things—including the mistakes you made—to bring the good to light?

Oh goodness, yes. If my parents had lived, no doubt I’d have been spoiled rotten. I hate to admit it, but Grandmother knew exactly what I needed all along. I think she was trying to right the wrongs in her life—the mistakes she’d made with my father.

Some of my worst mistakes, especially one of them, produced great gifts for which I am so thankful. If there ever was a guiltless person, which there isn’t except for our Savior, they would never know the true joy of being forgiven. That’s the best “good thing” to come out of all this. I’ve been forgiven. That’s true freedom.

Thank you for being with us today and speaking so candidly. I look forward to talking, once again, with your author, Betty Thomason Owens on Wednesday.

More About Amelia’s Legacy:

It’s the Roaring Twenties and anything goes …

Orphaned and living with her grandmother since the age of six, Nancy Sanderson desires only her freedom from her strict grandmother, Amelia Woods Sanderson, who divides her time between Nancy and a successful career. Her grandmother’s plans include a wealthy, smart, and well-connected young lawyer named Robert Emerson, who bores Nancy.

Instead, Nancy seeks the company of the wild-hearted Nate Conners. When her rebellion turns deadly and her dalliance with Nate leaves her in trouble, Nancy turns to Robert, who promises to protect her. But Robert has underestimated Nate’s thirst for revenge.

As hidden truths become known, can Nancy find the strength to forgive herself and gain true and lasting freedom?

BettyThomasonOwensAbout the Author:

Betty Thomason Owens lives in Kentucky with her husband, Robert. They have three grown sons living in the area, along with their daughters-in-law, four beautiful granddaughters (one more on the way!), and two handsome grandsons.

Betty is semiretired, and spends most of her time writing, studying about writing, and critiquing other peoples’ writing. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group, and attends regular local meetings. She’s also involved with Bluegrass Christian Writers, a lively group of Kentucky writers, who meet quarterly in a Lexington, Kentucky bookstore.

Betty has two fantasy-adventure novels, The Lady of the Haven and A Gathering of Eagles, in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale Books, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell Press.

She also writes historical fiction. Her most recent release, Amelia’s Legacy is the first novel in the Legacy series for Write Integrity Press. In addition to the ’20’s era romances, Betty also writes contemporary stories as a co-author of A Dozen Apologies and the upcoming Love Boat Bachelor.

Visit her webpage or find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.