OSSINEKE – Life as an author can be a little crazy at times. Just ask Pegg Thomas, who has been writing historical romances for a few years now.

Her latest work is called “The Blacksmith Brides,” a collection of stories published by Barbour Books, and debuting on May 1.

“I actually wrote the story about four years ago. I tried to get it published in another collection, but that fell through. So, it sat there for a while.” explains Pegg.

“The Blacksmith Brides” was originally expected to feature nine stories by different authors, but in the end the publishers decided on just four, including Pegg’s. Times have been tough for the book industry as of late has been struggling and finding ways to cut back.

The theme for the new book was thought up by Pegg herself who also came up with the theme for her previous collection. Pegg says most of the writers in these collections are established authors, but she will sometimes sneak in a new author or two.

“I was the one who contacted the authors and said I have this theme. What do you think of this?

“Like I said, I had already written the story and it already had a blacksmith in it. I’m kind of fascinated by blacksmiths anyways. My husband and I love to go Black Iron Days at Hartwick Pines State Park in August. We go there often. Love the smell of smithing coke.

“I grew up in a Christian family and was an avid reader. I don’t think there’s anybody who wants to be a writer who isn’t an avid reader. I was the kid with my algebra book propped up on my desk with [author] James Herriot inside of it. Or Anne McCaffrey.”

At the time she dreamed of writing a book someday but didn’t take it seriously. Through the years she would occasionally think about it again. Then, eventually the empty nest years hit. She and her husband only had one child. So when their son left home, the empty nest them hard.

After some research, Pegg learned about the Maranatha Christian Writers Conference held annually in Muskegon. She and her husband stayed at a campground just down the road to save on expenses. While she was taking classes, her husband camped and played golf. So, for them, it ended up being the perfect getaway. 

When she arrived, everyone was asked to write an essay. So, she wrote one up and won! Holly G. Miller from the Saturday Evening Post gave her her award. She had also been the judge. So, Pegg was on Cloud 9 after this, feeling great about her writing.

The next year she returned to the conference. This time the keynote speaker was bestselling Christian author, Jerry Jenkins, best known for the “Left Behind” series. Attendees were invited to submit a page of a story for him to critique. Pegg’s page was chosen first.

“So, I arrive for the critique and find out it is on an overhead in front of everybody. One hundred twenty-five people. He says ‘I really like this opening sentence.’ So, I am sitting up a littler straighter in my chair now. Then, he places his overlay on top. It looks like something from a Friday the 13th movie! 

There’s blood splattered everywhere!” 

She returned from the conference feeling discouraged. Later, after talking to other writers, she came to realize experiences like this were par for the course. The whole experience was meant to teach beginning writers how to write. This conference took place back in 2010. 

Despite having her feelings hurt that first time, Pegg refused to give up. Through conferences, she learned how to edit her work. She continued writing and began submitting stories to publishers. 

Finally, in 2017, she was asked to write a short story for Barbour Books. They were doing a historical collection called, “The Pony Express Romance Collection.” That became her doorway into the world of professional writing.

“I really enjoy writing Christian fiction. I don’t like Christian fiction that hits you over the head with the Bible. Some people do love it. And that’s okay. But I like a little bit lighter touch to it.

“I like to write about something I’m interested in historically and then build the story around it.”

The book Pegg’s agent is currently shopping to publishers about a Civil War veteran struggling with P.T.S.D. This story also takes place in Michigan in the area around Jonesville.

“At the time people didn’t call it that. They called it soldier’s heart. They believed it was a heart issue because of the increase in heart rate. He also has significant facial wounds and scarring.  The story also deals with the beginning of plastic surgery.  It was around before the Civil War to some extent, but it was really perfected during the Civil War.

She already has another story started as well. Once the story is finish, she’ll move on to finishing that one. 

Pegg notes the life of a professional author is a little crazy, filled with ups and downs and other surprises, but she absolutely loves it.

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Kurt J. Kolka grew up in the small community of Grayling, Mich., near the forested AuSable River. After majoring in English at college, he began a career in writing and newspapers spanning more than two decades. In his spare time he creates a Christian comic strip, The Cardinal, which has a 28-year history of publication. He has also authored a book, “Bullying is No Laughing Matter” (Front Edge Publications, Ann Arbor, Mich., 2014) and is working on his first novel. Kurt and his wife Diane have been married for more than 25 years and have one daughter, Rebekah, and an overprotective dog, Alli. Of life, Kurt says, “Life is never dull with God at the steering wheel, but, man, does He have a lead foot!” More about Kurt and his musings may be found at www.betweenthepines.org.
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