Friday, July 27, 2012

Better Than Fiction Guest Post: Hillari Delgado

Today we have Hillari Delgado guest-posting on the story of Annette and Henry Beveridge. She came across this information while researching for her work in progress, The Traitor of the Taj, a historical romantic suspense set in Victorian India and England.

Hillari's e-mail to me about these two was just as interesting as the post itself. I had to let you all in on some of what she said:

Annette was a bluestocking spinster (gasp) raised in the English Nonconformist tradition (double gasp) who went out to India as an unmarried woman of thirty to set up a school for Indian girls (triple gasp, she was really beyond the pale!).  When she met and married Henry Beveridge, a judge in the Indian Civil Service, she jumped from despised missionary to member of the most exclusive level of the British Raj in India.  Annette and Henry's life-long love supported and sustained them in their God-directed path of service toward others.
So, with that introduction, I present to you...

‘The marriage of true minds’—Annette and Henry Beveridge

by Hillari DeSchane Delgado

As she disembarked a steamship in 1872 onto the quayside of the Hooghly River, the port for Calcutta, India, Annette Susannah Ackroyd might have been dismissed as just another English spinster.  After all, she was already thirty years old and still unmarried.  Each year scores of women seemingly just like her made up the infamous ‘Fishing Fleet’ that journeyed from England to India to ‘catch’ a husband.   

But Annette Ackroyd was hardly the typical young English woman and she had a very different destiny in mind for herself(1). Annette had come to India in partnership with the Brahmo Samaj, a progressive Hindu reform society based in Calcutta(2).  She hoped to advance the condition of Indian women by founding a school for young girls. 

Annette was highly educated; she had attended Bedford College, London.  And she was strong-willed and serious minded.  Raised in a staunch Nonconformist Evangelical background, she had been reared to the ideal of personal service to others to advance God’s kingdom.  She may have thought she was prepared for the physical hardships she was to face, but little could have prepared her for the loneliness.

 Missionaries and philanthropic workers were usually shunned by English society in India.  Because Annette lived and worked with local inhabitants, she would have been criticized for ‘letting down standards’ seen as necessary for the English Raj to maintain its hold over a vast indigenous population, and for crossing the increasingly strict boundaries between the races(3).  Annette also suffered a major blow to her aspirations for Indian women’s rights when one of her most ardent patrons and opponent of child marriage, Keshub Chunder Sen, himself contracted his very young daughter to a much older man(4).  It would have been easy for Annette to consider her mission a failure and return home to England.

In 1875 Annette met her match in 38-year-old Henry Beveridge, a district sessions judge in the Indian Civil Service(5).   They were united not only by the beginning of a lifelong love, but also by their desire to live out their faith.  They were married in a civil service in a Registry Office by an Indian official.  ‘We are in a Bengali country,’ Henry wrote to Annette, ‘and must try to school ourselves into seeing Bengalis in office and yielding to them the submission due to their office,’(6) a radical and highly unpopular stance for the time.

In her new career as wife and helpmeet to a busy government official, Annette Ackroyd Beveridge found new ways to advance the causes dear to her heart and faith.  In 1881 she held an ‘International Evening Party.’  Drawing on her experience living among Indians and her sensitivity to cultural restrictions, Annette organized separate food tents that allowed for religious purity laws and overcome a major barrier that often kept Muslim, Hindu and Christian women apart(7).

Life did not become easy for Annette and Henry Beveridge just because they enjoyed a shared faith and satisfying marriage.  Writing to Henry before their marriage, Annette imagined life together in the ‘mofussil’ or countryside: ‘We will stay at home and you shall read French and I German to one another…Are you willing to do that when we go into banishment with only the frogs in the tank [reservoir] for our companions?(8)’  Transfers were frequent and travel across the rugged terrain was difficult and dangerous. The 100 miles from Rangpur to the hill station of Darjeeling took Annette four days by dog-cart, train, dandy [a hammock litter carried by two men], and tonga [horse cart](9).

            Annette continued to defy convention by remaining a bluestocking. She learned Bengali, Persian and Turki.  She translated the memoirs of Emperor Babur, the founder of the Mughal dynasty, earning herself an international reputation as an Orientalist(10).  Henry too was a prolific writer and scholar.  He authored monographs on Indian culture, politics and history, and translated the chronicle of Akbar, the great Mughal ruler, from Persian(11)(12).  Returing to England upon retirement, Henry and Annette Beveridge died within months of each other in 1929.

            Perhaps the strongest evidence of the quality of Annette and Henry Beveridge’s shared love and God-directed worldview is the legacy their marriage left to the world.  Their son, William Henry Beveridge, 1st Lord Beveridge, was a lifelong social reformer and champion for the unemployed and underprivileged(13)(14).

Hillari DeSchane Delgado serves up historical Romantic Suspense ‘with a side of wry.’  Whether Regency or Victorian, her witty heroines and endearing heroes take murder and romance seriously, but never themselves.   Hillari is the author of pending novels When in Rome and The Warlock of Windermere.  Her research for work in progress Traitor of the Taj uncovered the story of Annette and Henry Beveridge.  She would love to chat on Twitter @HillariDelgado and can be found at her brand new author page on Facebook.   View her boards on Pinterest: Traitor of the TajVictoriana, and Regency Revealed.

**If you have an idea for a Friday "Better Than Fiction: Real Historical Romance Tales" Feature, visit this post for criteria and submission details.**

(1) MacMillan, Margaret.  Women of the Raj.  Thames and Hudson, 1988.

(3) MacMillan, M.  Women of the Raj.

(4) MacMillan, M.  Women of the Raj.

(6) MacMillan, M.  Women of the Raj.

(7) MacMillan, M.  Women of the Raj.

(8) MacMillan, M.  Women of the Raj.

(9) MacMillan, M.  Women of the Raj.


Important: my comments feature (below) is in transition and the kind folks at Disqus are helping me work out a few kinks. In the meantime, if you're unable to leave a comment here, hop on over to Hillari's brand new Facebook page and leave her a note there. And while you're there, why not give her a "like"? She's wonderful, I tell you. You won't be sorry. Thanks again, Hillari, for being here today!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Stop Striving

“You’re big!”

The little voice shrieked delight, pointing at my shadow, which yawned a long, looming path before us.

“You’re right,” I said to the little one. “That’s my shadow; that’s what happens when the sun is right behind us- it makes our shadows so, so tall!”

And then it hit me, on that simple summer walk—He is theLight of the world. Just as the dipping sun can stretch my shadow five times my actual height, He can reach far beyond the feeble places that even my greatest strivings -- in my own strength -- could reach.

Sometimes, He calls us to do things we don’t understand. “But I’m just one person,” we think. “What difference will that make?”


“Why would anyone listen to me?”


“What you’re putting on my heart doesn’t make sense. There is no humanly possible way I can do it.”

Well, that’s the long and short of it right there. That’s exactly the point. It’s not supposed to be humanly possible.

All we need to do is...
Be faithful. Be there. Trust.

Trust that He is mightier, and that He knows what He is about. Trust that He can reach the places we cannot, open doors we cannot, strengthen, soften, heal and work in ways that we cannot.

 It is only when we grasp—or even attempt to grasp--   “…how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,”
 And only when we remember that He “who has calls you is faithful and He will do it,”

that we can we begin to fathom, in our wildest dreams, “how wide and long and high and deep” he can take us, use us, make a difference through us.

He is the light. We need only be where he’s asked us to be, do what he’s asked us to do, and He will reach the length he wants to reach.

And if that length is one person? One single soul?

Then that is perfect. That is an amazing length. For he paid all for that very one. He orchestrated this moment for that one.  

And if that length is thousands?
Then that is perfect, too. He paid all for each and every one.

And if that length Grasp hold of that, too, for you are His Beloved, and He gave all for you.

So as we go out to take that single first step toward what looks impossible, let’s remember:

The Lord will fight for you today; you need only to be still.” Just be there, right where He’s put you, and listen. He’ll show you what’s next. He’ll shine, He’ll reach exactly the lengths he needs to.  Let your strivings and stretchings and contortions and stress and burdens cease.

It’s Him. He’ll do the work. We need only be still, be available.

And  then, when someone stops and points and declares “You’re big!!” You can smile and say, in all honesty, “It’s Him. It’s the light.”

**For more on this subject, see these posts from days gone by: Lum and  Is Anything Impossible? **

**Tune in for this Friday’s “Better Than Fiction: Real Historical Romance Tales”. The talented Hillari Delgado will be our special guest, and the story she has to share is one you won’t want to miss! ** 
** I have a brand new commenting system-- please forgive any hiccups you may encounter if you want to chime in below.  {For me, it's working in Chrome but not Internet Explorer right now. (??? Wierd.} Anyhow, I'd love to hear from you!**

Come Visit With Me...

...over at Melissa Tagg's today, where I'm guest-blogging on my writing system.

Here's a little teaser:
Just a tiny piece of the puzzle. Hop on over if you want to see the whole thing, and hear why in the world I have clothespins hot-glued to thumbtacks (and why I wouldn't use hot glue ever again on those things).

Melissa is a blast, and I'm honored to be hanging with her today.  Hope to see you there, too!


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Come Join Me at My New "Digs"

As many of you know, this past year has taken me down the unexpected (and gloriously fun) road of authoring my first book.

That manuscript will soon be shopped to publishers, so in preparation for that, I have been studying how many authors and publishers connect with their readers. One of the outcomes of this "study" is my author Facebook page.

I love connecting with readers here on the blog, and would love to see you over there as well. For a taste of what sorts of things will slip into your feed if you "like" my page, here's my current posting schedule:

And if you're more of a Tweeter than a Facebook-er? Find me on Twitter at @AJDykes.

Looking forward to our conversations!

In other news, if you hop on over to Melissa Tagg's blog this coming Wednesday, you'll find me over there talking about my writing systems and set-up. Hope to see you there!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Better Than Fiction Guest Post: Heather Day Gilbert

Today we have Heather Day Gilbert guest-posting on the love story in her own historical fiction novel, God's Daughter. God's Daughter is based on the life of Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir, the first European woman to have a baby on North American soil. Heather has creatively decided to write what Gudrid's husband, Thorfinn ("Finn" in the book) Karlsefni, thinks of his courageous wife.

The Words of Thorfinn Karlsefni, World-trader and Leader of the Viking expedition to the New Lands, Straumsfjord and Vinland (Newfoundland). His Thoughts on his Wife, Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir.
 Sometimes I don’t think my wife realizes how much she means to me. No other Viking woman has ever sailed with her husband so far. Well, her sister-in-law Freydis did travel with us to Straumsfjord, but she hardly came along to support her husband. Freydis came along to avenge her brother’s murder by the natives here.
Gudrid’s beauty surpasses any woman I’ve seen, and I’ve traded as far as Constantinople. Her eyes are sea-glass green, and her hair is yellow like sunlight, not colorless like most Icelanders’. Despite her beauty, she’s unaware of her effect on men—all the men in this camp, in very fact. I should have listened to Leif and left her behind in Greenland. But that would’ve meant I had to leave her with Leif…and he has his own reasons for keeping Gudrid nearby.

 Gudrid, unlike Freydis, demands respect without trampling over everyone to get it. My wife knows when to hold her tongue, and when to speak up with all her authority as a chieftain’s daughter. Even though she turned her back on paganism, rejecting her training to become high volva, people admit that Gudrid’s God is more powerful than Thor, or even Odin. The One True God, she calls him. The Christ.
For a woman with a soft heart, Gudrid’s backbone is strong. How her eyes glowed like the fire, those winter nights she bested me at King’s Table in Greenland! She listened to me dream and plot our trip to the new lands, even knowing her second husband died in such a quest for plunder. Even knowing she was with child.

 Death is no stranger to Gudrid. She lost her own mother in a pagan sacrifice—a sacrifice her chieftain father ordered. Her first husband, drunken fool that he was, wrecked their ship off the coast of Greenland, then promptly died of an illness.
And now, death crouches for us outside our very camp. The native Skraelings trade with us, all the while watching our weapons and plotting to kill us. I must leave for Vinland, to find our plunder so we can justify our travels. But Gudrid will have to stay behind at Straumsfjord, since Freydis can’t be moved—her baby is coming too early. Even though I’ve chosen only the most trustworthy men to guard the women, I curse myself for taking advantage of Gudrid’s love and bringing her here.

 I still wonder if she chose me from all her suitors simply because I was the wealthiest. But sometimes there’s a look in her eyes, as if her heart is closed to everyone but me. I’m no stranger to leading men, but leading such a willing, perfect woman is somehow the heavier duty.
I thought women loved to talk, but not my Gudrid. She doesn’t waste words. And now I fear an illness has crept into her heart. Sadness wraps her like a cloak and makes her sleep later and later, our young son almost invisible to her. If only she would tell me her fears, I swear I would give my life to heal her once and for all.

Heather Day Gilbert enjoys writing stories about authentic, believable marriages. Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir is the main character in God’s Daughter, Heather’s historical fiction novel rooted in the Icelandic sagas. Gudrid was the first European woman to have a baby on North American soil. You can find out more at Heather’s blogspot:, or at her FB page: She’d also love to chat on twitter @vikingwritergal. She has a God’s Daughter inspirational pinboard on Pinterest here:

**If you have an idea for a Friday "Better Than Fiction: Real Historical Romance Tales" Feature, visit this post for criteria and submission details.**

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

When "Seize the Day" means "Be Still and Wait"

I’m in a season of waiting.

And what I'm being gently convicted of tonight is... If what lays before me is the task of waiting… then why not actually wait with all my heart? Not just endure it, not simply "put in my time", but approach it with grace and eagerness to do what good I can here, glean what wisdom I can here, because I won't be in this season forever and there's a reason I'm in it now. (Whew! How's that for a run-on?)

Have you seen this quote?

If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)
Take out the word “street sweeper,” insert the word “waiter” (not in the table-waiting sense of the word, though that would apply just fine too), and you’ve got the lesson God is teaching me tonight.

About a year ago, I was in a different season of waiting… and I wrote the following:
“I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry.” (Ps. 40:1)

That phrase- “waited patiently”—it indicates true waiting. Not foot-tapping, wristwatch-checking, exasperated-multitasking-waiting, but ordained, joy-to-be-found-in-my-purpose-here waiting.

Occasionally, some sneaky voice inside urges logistics on me: “what can you do to speed this up?” …and then, faithfully, a different voice- the still, small, and oh-so-mighty voice of truth- calms the coming storm of strategies and timelines with this: “Wait. Wait on me.”

In my devotions I’ve been going through Psalms, and a week or so ago I came upon Psalm 127: “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain” (v. 1). That’s what [I] want. Not logistics or strategizing or hurrying without a call to it. Such wonderful assurance in that verse!

A few nights after re-encountering Psalm 127, I ventured into Psalm 130 and dwelled on verses 5 and 6:
 “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.”

Yes! Just that. May my soul wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning—their very purpose in their job! …and it continues:

 “O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.”

Ah. Hope in Him. Hope that does not disappoint, no matter the outcome. Hope that waits on Him with a happy, assured expectation.

Simple truths, these, but lifelines and anchors.


So, what are we waiting for? Let’s seize the day. Let’s wait with all we’ve got.

Are you in a season of waiting? How can I pray for you in it?

(For more on this topic, see this post on being stalled)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Better Than Fiction

**Since I write historical romance, I thought it would be fun to feature true love stories from history here each week.**

8/9/2012 update: I had a thought. Historical Romance, as a genre, is not solely about the romance. I am expanding this series so that it is not limited to love stories. Love stories and ANY story that demonstrates God's hand in a given situation will be considered for posting.

If you have a neat tale in your family (or have come across a story in research) of how a couple met, a moment of sacrifice/valor/true love shown, etc., I'd love to hear it.

The Guidelines:
Story should...
  • Take place before 1950 (exceptions can be made)
  • Be around 300-800 words (I'm flexible on that)
  • Demonstrate God's hand working in the story. I write for the CBA (the Christian book market) and strive to encourage others and glorify Him through writing... what fun to do so by magnifying what He's accomplished through history's love stories!
The style of your writing is up to you. It could be narrative non-fiction, research-toned, or whatever you feel is best.

E-mail your submissions to SimpleRevelations {at] gmail {dot] com with the subject line "Guest Post- Better Than Fiction". Include a brief author bio and your photograph (if you want it included) as well as links to your social media and web pages if you have them.

Submission does not guarantee inclusion in series, but I will carefully consider each post and how it fits with this blog's audience. Thanks for your interest! I reserve the right to make minor edits to submissions.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Beautiful mess

It was to be a whimsical evening walk.
Kind sky cooling the day’s oppressive heat,
quiet in a patch of gardenny oasis,
delight sprouting at discovering an alyssum-spiced corner of the world.

Whimsical, you see.
and then there was me:

Shirt  splashed with coffee and  debris from the day's kitchen fiascos-- because I’m graceful that way.
Feet gritty from treading whimsical (yet dusty) trail in what my family has dubbed my “hiking shoes”...something along the lines of these:

(Christened "Hiking Shoes" due to the fact that I’m inevitably wearing some sort of grime-magnet sandals whenever a spontaneous hike finds us pulling over and venturing out)
I was a mess. The evening was beautiful. And my heart soared in its loveliness despite my grime and debris and splashes of coffee.
Beautiful mess.

Isn’t that His way, though? He finds us in the miry places, sets our feet upon a rock, wraps us in His white-as-snow grace, and reminds us we’re His.

We’re a mess,
His grace is not,
And He makes messy things beautiful.

I leave you today with a choose-your-own-soundtrack adventure:

  • For something more orchestral, contemplative, and also gloriously true,  remember – He makes “Beautiful Things Out of the Dust” :

" bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor..." Isaiah 61:3


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