Beauty for Ashes, Hickory Ridge Series #2Beauty for Ashes, Hickory Ridge Series #2
Dorothy Love
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She's a beautiful young widow. He's a charming Charleston gentleman with a notorious past. Both need a place to call home.

After years of mourning the death of her young husband and longing for a family of her own, Carrie Daly has promised to wed bookstore owner Nate Chastain. But questions about his true feelings for her cause her to hesitate.

After years of mourning the death of her young husband and longing for a family of her own, Carrie Daly has promised to wed bookstore owner Nate Chastain. But questions about his true feelings for her cause her to hesitate.

Charlestonian Griffin Rutledge, scion of a low country rice planter, former blockade runner, gambler, and horseman, arrives in Hickory Ridge to collect an old debt before heading off to try his luck in Australia. Estranged from his family for years, Griff is a loner and likes it that way. Offered the opportunity to train a magnificent Thoroughbred for the local banker, he settles down . . . temporarily. But a chance meeting with Carrie triggers a chain of events that causes him to question his choices. Maybe God brought him to Hickory Ridge-and to Carrie-for a reason.

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Dorothy LoveBefore returning to her writing roots in historical fiction, Dorothy Love published twelve novels for young adults. Her work has garnered numerous honors from the American Library Association, the Friends of American Writers, the International Reading Association, the New York Public Library, and many others.

Favorite Verse: Romans 8: 38-39: For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God whichis in Christ Jesus our Lord.


 Our Interview with Dorothy Love


Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I established a writing career after many years in school administration and in teaching at the college level. Before coming to the inspirational market, I published a number of novels, both historical and contemporary for preteens and young adults in the general market.  Historical fiction always has been my first love. I’m a lifelong Southern girl, born and bred.  With the opportunity to write Southern historical novels at Thomas Nelson I feel I’ve finally come home.

What is your favorite Bible verse (translation too, please)? Why?

It’s hard to choose just one as a favorite, because I’m drawn to different ones at different points in my life. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate how precious and fleeting time is, and to remember it’s God’s gift that shouldn’t be wasted. So with that in mind, I love Ecclesiastes 3:1 : To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. ( KJV) It reminds me not only to live in the moment, to notice everything happening around me, but also to wait upon God’s timing for those things I hope to achieve.

Have you lived in or near the Smokey Mountains all your life?

I was born in western Tennessee, the opposite end of the state from the beautiful Smokies and spent my childhood there. I’ve always appreciated their mystery and beauty. My family moved to the Midwest when I was fourteen and then to Texas when I was in my late teens and I’ve lived here for most of my adult life. My older brother still lives in Tennessee and I go back there as often as I can.

What was your inspiration to develop Beauty for Ashes?

When I created Carrie Daly as a secondary character for Beyond All Measure (the first Hickory Ridge novel) I knew I wanted her to finally set aside her years of mourning for her husband who died at the Battle of Shiloh and make a new life. Beauty for Ashes is her story. The inspiration came from blending the historical events taking place in 1876, and the personal challenges Carrie faces as she tries to start anew. And I was inspired by the words in Isaiah 61:3 in which the prophet speaks about giving those who mourn “beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for mourning.”

How much of the story comes from personal experience?

Carrie does the hard thing and accepts a responsibility she really doesn’t want, only to discover in its midst beauty for ashes--a blessing in the most unlikely place. I think many of us, myself included, have gone kicking and screaming into one situation or another, only to receive a blessing from it, and we finally understand God’s purpose in taking us there.

How much research did Beauty for Ashes take?

It’s the second of three books set in Hickory Ridge, my fictional town in the Smokies. Much of the background research was already in place as a result of having published Beyond All Measure last year. For this book, in which Carrie’s love interest is a former Confederate blockade runner turned horse trainer, I had to learn about how colts are trained for a race, what the problems might be, as well as learning about how a blockade runner worked.


What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing Beauty for Ashes?

Most of the blockade runners (the boats) were built in England, and few of the men who ran the Union blockade of Southern ports made much money at it after the first year. The Confederate government paid the men to move cotton and other Southern goods to foreign ports, mainly Nassau, where they could be shipped abroad and the money used to purchase medicines, arms and ammunition, and other necessities. For purposes of my story, I made my hero, Charlestonian Griff Rutledge, one of those who did manage to earn and save a great deal of money from that enterprise.
In researching the history of Thoroughbred horses I learned that all Thoroughbreds are descended from just three horses. And that although more than 34,000 thoroughbreds are registered in the U.S. every year, only 20 will get to run the race. The official birthdate of a Thoroughbred colt is always January 1, regardless of when it’s born. Arcane knowledge, but so much fun. All of history fascinates me. I love learning it and weaving it into my stories, saying to my readers, “Did you know this? Isn’t it cool?”

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

I think it was Joseph Priestly who said that there are two times when an author is supremely happy—when the idea for a novel first presents itself, and when the novel is finally finished, but before one has the time to realize how much better it could be.

A challenge for me is to know when to stop tinkering, and let my editors weigh in. When the work is going well, I feel as if I’m finally mastering some of the skills of storytelling; when I’m struggling, I have moments when I fear I don’t know anything and can’t possibly finish the book. But somehow I always do. 

In this media-centric publishing environment where authors must connect with readers through social media, blogs, websites, newsletters and the like, keeping up with it all while still meeting my deadlines sometimes feels overwhelming. It’s definitely a challenge. But I’ve met some of my most loyal and supportive readers through my blog and social media sites. I love chatting with them online.

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

I love the creative processes involved in planning and writing a novel or a series of novels. With every book, I weave together the historical and the personal and I enjoy finding those intersections and developing metaphors that bring the story to life.

First drafts are very difficult, but I love the revision process where I can refine my characters, the plot elements, the thematic connections. It’s tremendously satisfying to delete a bit here, add a bit there until the final shape of the story is revealed. I’m lucky to have talented editors at Thomas Nelson, and a meticulous outside line editor. Collaborating with them is satisfying and just plain fun.


Interacting with my readers, whether online, at a bookstore event, a conference or workshop is very rewarding. When readers e-mail to tell me how much a story has meant to them or how it helped them through a tough patch, I feel blessed and grateful to have this work to do. 

What clubs or organizations are you involved with helping with your writing?

I’m a member of the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). I don’t have as much time for it as I’d like, but I attend the annual conference every year and learn from the speakers. Last year, I attended Stan Williams’ class on Moral Premise and found it very helpful. I’m already looking forward to this year’s conference.

What new projects are on the horizon?

The third Hickory Ridge novel Every Perfect Gift will be out this November, concluding that series. I’ve just signed with Thomas Nelson to write three more Southern historical novels to be published each November through 2015.  These will be stand-alones, as opposed to a series. Two of the books are set in the beautiful South Carolina low country and are inspired by the lives of actual women living there in the mid 19th Century. The other is set on a Texas ranch modeled after the famous King Ranch. I’ve just returned from meetings with the editorial staff at Nelson, and I’m thrilled and excited to begin writing these new novels.

What message would you like your readers to take from reading Beauty for Ashes?
I’m asked this question often, and I’m hesitant to tell anyone what they should take away from a story. Once an author defines for the reader what the book is about, it’s then hard for the book to mean anything else. Each reader brings her own experiences and perceptions to the novel and makes her own meaning from it. To me, that is the beauty and the purpose of literature. Some will read Beauty For Ashes only for the romance between Carrie and Griff. Others will see it as a book about duty to family and to God. Still others will see it as parallel struggles for a common goal. My hope is that my novels meet readers where they are, that they entertain and edify, and cause readers to draw closer to their faith.

What were your favorite books as a child?

Oh my goodness. I read everything I could get my hands on, beginning with the Little Golden Books and Mother Goose, Black Beauty, Dick Whittington and his Cats, Little Women. Daddy gave me Robinson Crusoe when I was nine, and To Kill A Mockingbird when I was twelve. I loved them all.

What is your greatest achievement?

To be writing novels that have the potential to lift others up and affect their lives for the better.

What do you do to get away from it all?

Head to the beach. We live about two and a half hours from the Gulf of Mexico and get there, or to another beach, as often as we can. My soul feels at home there. I grab a cup of coffee and take a long walk on the beach as the sun comes up. It clears my head, restores my creativity, reminds me of my Creator as nothing else does.  Many of my novels are “born” at the beach.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks for the opportunity to share with your readers. I hope they’ll enjoy Griff and Carrie’s story.



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