Fool Me Once

I’m always on the hunt for stories by my favorite Christian authors. By now, you probably know who my top three are:

Isabella Alden (writing as Pansy)

Grace Livingston Hill

Marcia Livingston (writing as Mrs. C. L. Livingston)

I love finding a gem of a story that hasn’t seen the light of day in years, and making it available for others to read.

So you can imagine my excitement when I came across a book for sale that had not one—not two—but three novel-length stories by Isabella Alden!

The seller provided a helpful snapshot of the anthology’s table of contents:

I recognized the title of the first story; The Randolphs was one of the first Pansy books I ever read; but the other two Pansy titles were brand new to me. So, of course I hit the “buy now” button and claimed that book for my own!

The book arrived yesterday, and I could hardly wait to open it up and begin reading. I snuggled down in my favorite chair and turned to page 65 to read the story titled “A New Craft.”

Imagine my surprise when I saw this instead:

Image of the first page of the story with title "A New Graft on the Family Tree" at the top.

Argh! That’s not a new story, at least, not for me. I’ve had my very own hardback copy of A New Graft on the Family Tree on my bookshelf for years.

But I shook off my disappointment, remembering I still had a third story to read, Wise to Win. So I flipped to the appropriate page, took a sip of my favorite tea (to help get me back into reading mode), and dove into the story.

Image of the first page of the story with the title "Wise to Win" at the top.

I hadn’t read very far before I began to think the story sounded familiar. So I did a search of all my Pansy books and found it was word-for-word the same as One Commonplace Day, another book I already had.

Argh, again!

One Commonplace Day was originally published in 1886, so I’m not sure why it was reprinted in this 1903 anthology under a different title. I’ll confess, though, that this isn’t the first time I’ve been fooled like this. Over the years I’ve bought a few Pansy books, only to find out I already owned them under a different title:

Interrupted was republished at a later date under the title, Out in the World.

Ester Ried, Yet Speaking was republished as Following Heavenward.

And Six O’clock in the Evening was published under two different titles: Grandma’s Miracles and Stories Told at Six O’clock in the Evening.

Luckily, I caught myself before I bought Way Station, a reprint of Twenty Minutes Late.

I’m a little sad that my latest book-buying experience didn’t end the way I wanted. Still, there are a few of silver linings:

  • The remaining stories in the book are ones I haven’t read before, so I’m looking forward to enjoying them.
  • This one-hundred-and-eighteen-year-old book is in great shape! Once I’ve read it, I plan to donate it so someone else can enjoy the stories as much as I have.
  • It has illustrations! I may have already shared the stories before, but the illustrations of key moments in the Pansy stories are very nice and worth sharing in future blog posts.
Photo of open book showing one of the book's illustrations.

Will my latest book-buying experience deter me from buying other Pansy books? Absolutely not! I’ll continue to hunt for short stories and novels written by my favorite authors; and when I find them, you can bet I’ll share them on my Pansy blog.

If you haven’t visited my Isabella Alden blog yet, please follow this link. You’ll find lots of Christian books and stories to read for free. See you there!

What a Year!

Like a lot of people, I had some big plans for 2020.

And as it did for a lot of people, COVID-19 changed each and every one of those plans. Changed them as in, none of my plans were accomplished. Not one.


In any other year, I would have beaten myself up for such poor performance, but not this year. With the box full of crazy uncertainty this year foisted on us all, I decided I would not fall into the trap of focusing on my shortcomings.

Run for your lives! It’s the attack of the year 2020!

Instead, I want to tell you about something good that happened—something from which we will all benefit.

If you know anything about me, you know I’m a fan of writer Isabella Alden. Her novels mean so much to me, and I admire her example of living a Christ-centered life. It’s been my joy to help spread the word about her stories on my other blog (www.IsabellaAlden.com/blog) and help new readers discover the beauty of her stories for themselves.

Because I post regularly on that blog (and on corresponding Facebook and Twitter accounts) with samples of her stories and news about her life, I’m always on the hunt for information I can share about Isabella.

A couple of months ago, I found a treasure trove of some of her short stories in a collection of magazines I purchased from an auction site. Each story is new to me with titles I’ve never heard of before.

A few of the stories are only one chapter long; some stories are as long as eight chapters; and one is a full-length novel! I feel as if I hit the Isabella Alden Jackpot!

If you’re like me, you probably need a good Isabella Alden story after the year we’ve had, and I’ve got the perfect one to share. Please  check with me here (or on Isabella’s blog) on January 12, when I’ll publish the first of the new stories, “For This.”

In the meantime, I wish you a bright and promising New Year! See you in January!

Updates and My New WIP

It’s been a busy 2018 so far.

The good news is that all that busy-ness has produced some real results! Here’s what I’ve been up to in the last few months:

Isabella Alden Blog

I manage a website dedicated to sharing the life and written works of Christian author Isabella Alden. With weekly blog posts and daily updates on Facebook, it keeps me pretty busy!

But this year we (my techie friend Susan and I) made a few changes to the website we’re pretty proud of:

  1. We made Isabella’s website ad-free. No more distracting ads for heaven-knows-what kinds of products!
  2. We added a Privacy Policy page to the website, so visitors will know exactly how we do or do not collect or use their data when they explore the site.
  3. We arranged to publish Isabella’s Free Reads through BookFunnel. This is a big development for us. Every month we publish one of Isabella’s novels or short stories for free on the site; but in the past, we published those Free Reads only in Adobe PDF format. We now publish them in PDF, mobi, and e-pub formats, and distribute them through BookFunnel. It took a lot of work hours to get to this point, but we think it was worth it!

My WIP

I’ve been hard at work on my own novel, too!

Back in January I shared my “word of the year” with you . . .

Finish

. . . and pledged to finish at least one writing project of my own.

I’m pleased to report that it looks like I’m going to meet my goal!

My current work-in-progress is coming along nicely. So far, I’ve written

77,739 words!

That’s almost a complete book! Of course, I still have plenty of work to do to complete my novel, but I’m happy with my progress so far.

In my next post I’ll share my novel’s title and cover, so stay tuned!

All-in-all, 2018 is turning out to be a very productive year, and I couldn’t be happier.

How’s your year going so far?

 

Short Stories by Grace Livingston Hill

If you’re a fan of Grace Livingston Hill, you may know a lot about her life and her books. I thought I did; and I thought I’d read all her books. For proof I have a good collection of her vintage hard-backs on my bookshelves at home.

But something I didn’t realize until recently was how much Grace wrote for magazines and newspapers.

For years she wrote a weekly newspaper column dedicated to the Christian Endeavor movement.

Evening Star Jul 11 1903
Grace’s byline in 1903. From her regular column in the Washington, D.C. newspaper, Evening Star.

She also wrote short stories and serialized books for a number of different magazines.

I came across a couple of those old magazine issues not too long ago; and once I began to read Grace’s short stories, I knew I had to find more. I’ve been on a mission to find her stories ever since.

It’s tough going. Magazines from about 1900 to 1910 (when Grace was at the height of her short-story production) are hard to find. And some of the magazines she wrote for went out of business  long ago—their records ending up who-knows-where.

But I’ve been faithfully searching for those old magazines and I’ve had some success.

And each time I find a new story by Grace Livingston Hill, I realize what a gem it is and I have to share it!

I’ve reproduced some of her short stories on the Isabella Alden blog. You can click on the images to read the stories for free:

Beginning at Jerusalem Cover

Hazel Cunninghams Denial

You can also find a collection of some of Grace’s early short stories in Faith and Love. It’s a compilation of stories by Grace and by her mother, Marcia Livingston. The book is available on Amazon.com. You can click on the link to learn more and read an excerpt.

Cover_Story Collection

I hope you enjoy reading these hard-to-find gems as much I did!

Isabella Alden and the Pansy Books

Almost two years ago a friend and I were scouring used bookstores and the Internet, looking for books by our favorite Christian author, Isabella Alden. We’d been sharing her books for years, texting each other with “Guess what I just found?” whenever we came across a title we hadn’t read before.

The Randolphs
Original cover of The Randolphs by Isabella Alden

You may have heard of Isabella. She wrote hundreds of short stories and novels in the late 1800s and early 1900s, all centered around God’s message of salvation.

Sadly, her books fell out of fashion in the early 1920s and since then, she’s been known mostly as the favorite aunt of author Grace Livingston Hill.

Those readers who have heard of her often think she wrote only children’s stories. It’s true that she did write quite a few of those, but her novels for adults are the books my friend and I treasure.

Isabella Alden had a wonderful way of applying God’s word to the lives of her characters; and in each story , she demonstrated how relevant God’s word was then, and how relevant it is to me now. By the time I finish reading one of her books, I am amazed at the love God has for me; and I realize how my actions can influence someone else for Christ (a regular theme in Isabella’s books).

Original cover for Wise and Otherwise by Isabella Alden
Original cover for Wise and Otherwise by Isabella Alden

Isabella Alden’s books are thought provoking; they inspire me to consider my choices, think about my actions, and strive to be a better Christian.

By now you may be asking yourself: Can a book really do all those things or has Jenny gone just a wee bit over the deep end? My answer: Yes, a book can really do those things. Oh, yes. It can.

And Isabella’s books are proof of how inspiring a work of fiction can be.

That’s why it became important for us to find a way of preserving her books and making them available to today’s reader. My friend and I pooled our copies and started publishing Isabella Alden’s novels as e-books.

We started a website (www.IsabellaAlden.com) to share her books, and to chronicle Isabella’s life and the times. You can view the website by clicking here.

I hope you’ll take a few moments to visit the site. Check out the Free Reads tab where you’ll find a selection of Isabella’s books and short stories.

If you enjoy the stories you find there, please help us spread the word about Isabella Alden and her inspiring Christian books.