The Train to Belkuah Snippets Post

-The Train to Belkuah -Snippets Post

If you remember, I had six different story ideas for NaNoWriMo, and you, my lovely readers, voted.

The Train to Belkuah was an easy winner, having five more votes than any of the other projects.  And I am happy (OK, relieved) to say that I finished the entire first draft during NaNoWriMo!

To celebrate and to thank you all, I am sharing snippets today!

Quick synopsis: When Zebedee Delray is abducted from his train car on the way to Cambridge, he thinks it is a terrible mistake, no more. Laid up with a broken arm, he is forced to stay in Wales at the home of his rescuer, an Indian baker who holds an odd sway over four young men who hang around the bakery too much to be a coincidence. 

When he realizes that his cloudy memories of his abduction don’t match anything in this world, things get strange. But they swiftly turn dangerous when he realizes he is being followed, and that the bakery is a disguise for something much bigger….

And now for the snippets!

He held the umbrella over the both of them as if the closeness beneath its canvas expanse would keep them together longer, shut out the inevitable parting.

“Do not forget, Tamar,” he whispered.

“How could I ever?” She slipped off her left glove to show a thin silver band upon her slim ring finger. “I am yours, Delray. Yours to be forever, and I will not put it off again, even if the trousseau isn’t finished until July.”

He laughed.

A sudden burst of outdoor light and the whip of rain spray revived Delray a little—enough to see the racing of the trees, the boulders as they rushed past.

“Go,” said a voice clearly in his ear, as if speaking to him, and the world ceased its racing as the ground tumbled upwards and he crashed to the piney heather.

“He would have fallen asleep immediately if you had,” said a voice with scorn.

“And maybe never woke up,” said the first voice, taking on a bulldoggish tone.

“He’s stirring, give him another dose.”

The bitter taste of silver knocked against his teeth, and something smooth and bitterly silky slipped down his throat.

The darkness swam and swirled, but he heard many other things, as if in a dream, before it took him over again.

He cleared his throat. “This is a mistake.”

“A what?” asked the same woman, a tall, ivory-skinned beauty with jet black hair and bright lavender eyes.

“A mistake. You have the wrong man, because I haven’t the slightest what is going on here.”

One of the fellows laughed as if he had made a joke.

“What do you suggest we do then, Mistake?”

Morning,” he greeted, coming through the door and seeing Jeremy perched on a table. “Don’t you think you should get down?”

Jeremy slid down sheepishly as Shay turned from his rolls with a stern look.

“What did I tell you, Jeremy?”

“Sorry, I forget. Besides, aren’t I older than you?”

“It’s not your bakery,” returned Shay, chopping nuts with a large knife and not looking up.

“Perfect weather—a little sun. They won’t be out in fair weather.”


“Belkuans. Dark Belkuans in general. We don’t want to be seen with the cola.”

“The what?”

Tash grinned, a brief burst of sun in the dark ice his face had taken on since the day before. “You’ll see. Hazelthorne has a very particular weakness.”

The Little Man still looked reluctant, but nevertheless he unbuttoned his shirt, slipped his right arm out of its sleeve, and displayed his upper arm, on which, tied with a tight leather band, was a small red jewel.

Tash looked at it closely. “A fine thing,” he answered quietly.

“You lie, you know what it is. I see it in your eyes,” said The Little Man.

They left the last door, the Little Man setting the blue bird’s-egg stone just so, and they started making their way up the hill.

They had not gone a quarter of a mile from the place when there came on the wind a high sound, both eerie and beautiful. It was as if a dog could sing, or a woman could be a beast. Every one of them froze.

“We’ve been betrayed,” whispered Shay, going pale.

Thank you, Staghorn,” said one of the women, as Delray was led before their half-moon of chairs.

Staghorn smiled that clear, amused smile and tapped his chest with his fist before flinging his arm wide. “My greatest, most beloved pleasure.”

Then he was gone, almost as if he had vanished into the misty light, and Delray was alone, facing the row of strangers.

I forgot to give Mrs. Patterson the rent,” said Jeremy sadly. “I wanted her to remember me fondly.”

“She will. No one bakes pies for people they don’t like,” Bryn said in an uncommon show of goodwill.

It wasn’t on the shelf where it always sat. Odd. He stepped forward and then almost fell in a mess of oil and glass.

The lamp had been shattered on the ground, as if flung from its place.

Blast. Now he would have to look for a candle. His foot hit more glass, more than it should have from just the lamp, and scuffed against paper.

Then something, he didn’t know what, perhaps just a creak of the shutter, made noise across the room and suddenly he was full of the feeling of danger.

He had to get out of here.

You must trust what I do. It is not right that five should die for one.”

“But you are ten times the rest of us.”

“In knowledge, perhaps. But in lives, no.”


What was your favorite snippet? Did you participate in NaNoWriMo? Feel free to share or link to any snippets posts you’ve done; I’d love to see them! 

Author Interview: Schuyler McConkey “War of Loyalties”

War of Loyalties Interview with author Schuyler McConkey

Today I have the great honor of hosting Schuyler McConkey, the author of War of Loyalties for an interview!

If you’ve read much on my blog you know how much I love War of Loyalties and how many memories I have made with her during its formative years. But if you are new here, here’s the cover and description to whet your appetite:


Book Description: 
April, 1917. A ring of German spies threatens the coastal town of Folkestone, England. Newly-recruited agent Ben Dorroll must uncover which British citizens are traitors to their country. When his first attempt at espionage falls prey to a trap laid by German sympathizers, the security of the British Secret Service is threatened. Feeling lost in a strange country and aching for a steady place to call home, he wants to resign and go back to his American medical work. But when he learns that his family identity holds the key to capturing the spy ring, Ben has no choice but to unite with the mysterious Jaeryn Graham so that the truth can be discovered.
In the aftermath of the Irish Rebellion, Jaeryn Graham’s British colleagues look warily on his Irish background. Always up for a challenge, he thinks his new mission in the Secret Service should be an opportunity to prove his prowess. But after encountering death and alienating two agents, he finds the road to victory isn’t as easy as he thought. Unless he can win the loyalties of his newest assistant, Ben Dorroll, his secret ambitions and his perfect success record will be destroyed.


And now, for the interview! Don’t forget to check out the giveaway below; it ends tonight! 

Greetings, Schuyler! I am so excited to finally host you here on The Herosinger!

Aww, this is the best moment ever!! Thank you so much for hosting me, Emily!

First question. You ready?

I’m ready!

You and I have had many talks about the impact of books on culture and readers. Can you share a little of your personal vision and why you decided to become an author?

Wow, that’s such a good question. To be honest, I feel like a lot of my vision as a writer is still forming. At first my vision was simply to write a good story and fill what I felt like was a gap in the market—I thought it seemed unfair that big, twisty books should be regulated to the 19th century, and I wanted to imitate my favorite authors from that time period.

I think I decided to become an author because I gut-level loved this story so much, and the characters inside it. I wanted to see them come to print, and it was worth the blood, sweat, and tears to make it happen. It really was a heart-project.

And now it’s starting to morph into other books that have captured my heart as well.

That’s fascinating. I think part of being an author is changing and constantly being shaped by the books we read. Here’s a question now about your own book: Why is Ben your protagonist? What does he bring to the book that makes him the right one to tell the story through?

I love this question, because I love him!

He grew out of a childhood love that I had for one of my favorite characters–someone who was hardworking, invested in family, and didn’t have a lot but made the most of it. I think actually he’s the perfect protagonist because of how normal he is. His whole aim in life has been to make ends meet, and the only dreams he’s ever had have already come true. But then he’s thrust into this world he doesn’t like, full of quirky, unique people. His normalcy nicely highlights their uniqueness. He’s plunged into this whole new world of espionage, one that they’re used to, and he brings fresh questions to why they do the things they do, and what makes it right.

But I think he shines in his own right, too. He’s forced outside his comfort zone, to care about things he’s never cared about before, and to realize that his perspective has been a limited one up to this point. He embodies integrity and home, which counteracts the shifting identities and morals of men more experienced than him.

Along similar lines, what is Ben’s greatest flaw and greatest strength? And would he answer differently?

His greatest flaw is that his perspective is limited and somewhat legalistic—he easily loves people he understands and agrees with, but he doesn’t like to let people into his life who are different than him.
But I think his greatest strength is when he loves someone, his sole desire is to take care of the people he loves in the very best way possible. His love is steadfast and self-effacing and ready to sacrifice.

Haha! I don’t think he’d like to answer for himself at all, but if I he did, I think he’d say is greatest flaw is to cherish resentment and his greatest strength is the ability to put in a hard day’s work.

What is your favorite thing about each of your main characters?

I love this question.

Jaeryn: He’s like a shooting star, full of passion and charisma and Ireland.

Terry: At least at the beginning of the book, he’s an absolute teddy bear of kindness and fun.

Charlotte: She’s what I like to think of as a warrior wife—someone who, while never called to fight physical battles, will emotionally throw on her armor and watch over the people she loves.

And just to throw in Ben again: I love that he’s quiet, with a great capacity to love and be loved.

Lovely descriptions of all of them! Back to the theme of favorites, what is your favorite memory from writing or revising War of Loyalties?

Oh, definitely that second draft year we spent together. It was so fun to hear speculations and cheer and cry and get all of the Council’s lovely feedback on the story. That really made the book what it is today, because it departed significantly from the first draft. Having that one chapter per week immersive experience was something I’ll never forget.

It was definitely an experience I and the Council will never forget. We had so much time to speculate, and I think our feedback was that much better because of all the time we spent thinking about it.

Next one. Describe War of Loyalties to us in five separate words.

Spy. Home. Friendship. Bittersweet. Epic.

Ooh, those are good ones! I can definitely vouch for their accuracy, too! *wipes away tears*
Here’s a fun one:
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of writing or researching for this book?

Oh, wow, that’s a great question! Perhaps researching things like sucking chest wounds and drug overdoses (that last came up with nasty results; I don’t recommend researching it).

Eww. The uglier side of the research business for sure! On the subject of difficult things, you seem to have a lot of hard ethics in your themes (espionage, deliberate killing in war time, and so on). What made you decide to tackle these themes, and how does this play a role in your goals as an author?

Wow, that’s such a good question. I actually started out War of Loyalties as an ambitious sixteen-year-old, thinking I was going to write a novel that talked about what’s right and wrong for espionage. Some time later, I realized I was in over my head. It’s such a big topic, and I knew nothing about it.

I think one of the best things I did, at the suggestion of a friend, was to read a spy manual from WW2. While War of Loyalties was already in a later draft at that point, the spy manual showed me that real men are trained to do these things, and this is what they have to do.

I think what brought in one of the more dramatic scenes towards the first half of the book was the knowledge you can’t write a big book that has only quiet events. You have to put in the flashier side of spying to maintain the pace of the story. But I tried to handle it with compassion, while not glossing over the fact that it existed and is a normal part of espionage.

I will say, espionage is a tough subject to tackle or incorporate, and I think you’ve done quite a good job at striking the balance.

Thank you so much! That’s so reassuring to hear!

What was the most helpful piece of writing advice you received during the process?

My most recent piece of helpful advice was from my editor, who marked places I was telling instead of showing. Sometimes I had no idea it was telling, and when I took a good, hard look at it and rewrote the scenes, they came alive in a vivid, active way that I love way more than before he marked them. I had to kill a few darling lines, but they were worth it.

That’s the beauty of editing, isn’t it? And it’s totally worth the price of a few lines.

What do you hope your readers come away with after reading War of Loyalties?

I hope they have more book friends to love in the characters. I hope it inspires them to see how beautiful stories and characters can be. And I hope it touches their hearts with laughter and tears and they walk away enriched because of it. As a Christian artist, I want to create beautiful things that show a kaleidoscope of emotion, so if the reader can experience that emotion with me, I am blessed!

Beautiful. If your first readers are any indication, I think you have accomplished that.

Can you give us a little teaser for the future? What can we look forward to from you in the coming months/years?

I’d love to! My next project is War of Honor. I want to delve into good men in espionage that are both German and British and pit them against each other for an epic conflict.

I’m also taking a look at modern fiction, outlining a novel set in London which explores the Syrian refugee crisis.

Eeep! So much to look forward to!! So we come to our last question of the day, and it’s a little bit of an odd one: Which three characters would you want at your side if you were stranded on an island, and why?

Starlin King, Ann Meikle, and Fenton?

No. Not them.

How about Ben and Jaeryn and Pearlie (because Pearlie’s a good cook).

Excellent choices! Just enough sense and ingenuity to keep you alive (and hopefully get you off the island!).

That’s right!

It has been simply wonderful talking to you today.

Thanks, girl!

Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us all, and I look forward to seeing the reception this book will get—and, of course, your future books!

Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog, Emily! It’s amazing to be at this moment! Thanks so much for supporting the book all these years.



First Prize Winner:

-Paperback copy of War of Loyalties

-“Jaeryn’s Vow” 8×10 poster

-Custom War of Loyalties mug

Second Prize Winner:

-Ebook of War of Loyalties

-Real vintage Folkestone postcard (this is a postcard that has actually been posted in 1917.)

Third Prize Winner: (open to international winners)

-Ebook of War of Loyalties

November Roundup/I Almost Lost NaNoWriMo/In Other Words, I’m Back



Greetings from the cold North! December has come, and with NaNoWriMo in my rearview mirror, I am happily taking a break and focusing on Christmas preparations and getting back into the swing of this blog.

But back to November.

In My Life:


I visited San Antonio, ate authentic Texas barbecue, had a birthday (I’m loving 24), visited with friends and family near and far, ate authentic Mexican shrimp quesadillas, went on a road trip, drank flat whites, wrote in coffee shops with friends, played my bodhran, took long walks, wrote a book set in Wales with faery people, read a lot of Psalms and Hebrews, savored the rain (as opposed to the snow), played with horses, spent relaxing evenings with siblings, loved on little ones, watched new movies, schemed up new stories, sang my heart out, saw the longed-for publication of a book I love.



Read: Cinder by Marissa Meyer. It wasn’t too bad, but epidemics/pandemics are really not my thing. So reread? Probably not. I did love the Chinese stuff though, especially the buns across the street. Best food in the world.

Book haul:

Kit Kennedy: Country Boy: by S.R. Crockett

The Color Project: by Sierra Abrams

War of Loyalties: by Schuyler McConkey




I had an absolute blast with all of you picking my NaNoWriMo project. Huge thanks to all of you who commented and voted. The Train to Belkuah won the poll, and I am proud to say I finished it, and I’m not unhappy with it, though it is still a rough first draft.

One of my sisters, whose literary taste I have the utmost respect for, read the rough draft all in one night and told me this:

It’s so misty and mysterious and glamourous and folkish. The eerie whistles and the dusty flour and the snatches of Shakespeare dropped everywhere….” 

Strong impressions are the aim of my first drafts, so #win.

This was my aesthetic and synopsis:

Train to Belkuah

The Train to Belkuah//spec-fic//

First, fresh baked bread. Then let’s turn the world upside down.

When Zebedee Delray is abducted from his train car on the way to Cambridge, he thinks it is a terrible mistake, no more. Laid up with a broken arm, he is forced to stay in Wales at the home of his rescuer, an Indian baker who holds an odd sway over four young men who hang around the bakery too much to be a coincidence.

When he realizes that his cloudy memories of his abduction don’t match anything in this world, things get strange. But they swiftly turn dangerous when he realizes he is being followed, and that the bakery is a disguise for something much bigger….

What I’ve Been Listening To:


The Mission: May I recommend the tracks: The River, On Earth As it is in Heaven, Gabriel’s Oboe, Vita Nostra, and Miserere.

Jurassic Park: I have zero clue why. I’m not a huge John Williams fan. I started craving it in the last days of NaNoWriMo when my brain was dead from #words.

For the Cause by Keith and Kristyn Getty. The child’s choir version. ❤

How I Almost Lost NaNo:


This NaNoWriMo should have been the easiest one I have done. I had the entire story planned out. Chapter titles, descriptions of plot, everything. And if you know my style, that’s not usually how I work.

So I really I don’t know why I couldn’t get it written. Real life needed me. I had days where it was just work after rehearsal after life situation. And someone had an emergency over the holidays (not me) so that turned us all upside down.

In the end, I worked very hard for the last week of November, and made it. I have never lost, and the idea of losing on my easiest project yet made me more determined. I think I pulled about 34,000 in the last five days.

Also, I am super thankful for the people who helped me out. I have a good friend who covered for me one evening at a place where we both volunteer and then brought me coffee so I could have something while I wrote. Thanks, Lu. #friendgoals

Anticipating (Eee!)


December short story: Where writing is concerned I am making no goals for December. However, I have a Christmas short story I’ve been thinking about, and for recreation I may pull it out and play with it a little. It’s half portal fantasy, half romance, set in modern New York with Christmas lights, Handel’s Messiah, lattes, and Asian food.

War of Loyalties interview: I am going to be interviewing the author of War of Loyalties, Schuyler McConkey, right here on Friday morning. This is an interview you won’t want to miss. Plus, there will be a sweet giveaway!

Changes and such coming your way: I said a long time ago that was going to start rebranding The Herosinger, and is still going to happen. I am also working on some exciting things for all of you, including (hopefully) some publishing news on Crowning Heaven!


How was your November? Did anyone participate in NaNoWriMo? I’d love to hear how it went!