10 Things You Might Not Know About Lynn Austin

  1. I grew up in New York State in the Hudson Valley about 60 miles north of New York City. As the middle sister of three, I’m blessed to have two built-in, lifelong, best friends.GetAttachmentThumbnail
  2. I was a huge fan of the Beatles as a teenager and heard them perform in person twice—once in Atlantic City, and once in Shea Stadium in NYC. The stadium held 56,000 screaming Beatles’ fans and afterward it seemed like most of them were trying to board the same subway train home that I was. I was nearly crushed to death but it was worth it, of course.Beatles
  3. I left New York to go to Hope College in Michigan where I met my husband Ken. He was a music major and I was struggling through a required music history/appreciation course. He offered to tutor me—and we fell in love. I got an A in the course.GetAttachmentThumbnail
  4. The summer before we married, I worked as an attendant in a mental institution. I was a psychology major in college and wanted some practical experience. Well, I got plenty of it!—along with some valuable insights that help me create realistic characters.
  5. I worked as the secretary to the Dean of Students at Yale while Ken was earning his Master’s degree there. At the time, I had no idea that all the typing I did every day would be good practice for being a writer.
  6. A year after we were married, Ken got a summer job performing with the Alaska Festival of Music. We decided to drive from Connecticut to Anchorage in our tiny, two-seater sports car. Being poor students, we camped out along the way in an army-surplus pup tent and cooked our meals on a propane stove.triumph
  7. After Ken graduated, he won a job performing with the National Symphony Orchestra in Bogota, Colombia. I taught 4th grade in a Colombian school for a year until our son Joshua was born. I do NOT recommend giving birth for the first time in a foreign language! By the time they laid Josh in my arms, I was so confused I started talking to him in Spanish. Ken said, “What are you doing, Lynn? He speaks English!”
  8. Our son Ben was born in Canada when Ken performed with the Thunder Bay Symphony in Ontario and our daughter Maya was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba when Ken played in the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. At least they spoke English in Canada! All three of our children have dual-citizenship.
  9. To research my first novel, “Gods and Kings,” I lived in Israel for a month and volunteered on an archaeological dig. Our son Josh, who was 14, went with me. His dream was to uncover a skull—he and his site team found an entire skeleton!dig
  10. You may have figured out by now that Ken and I love travel and adventure. We have always kept active, whether it’s skiing (downhill and cross-country), backpacking, hiking in the mountains, and now cycling. We just returned from a 2 ½ week trip to Florida where we pedaled a total of 220 miles. The exercise makes up for all the hours I spend sitting at my desk.P1030135

So, do you share any similarities with my crazy life? Any Beatles fans out there? I would love to hear from you!

Underwater Explorers

Last Saturday I attended a wonderful program by the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association—a group of divers who search for sunken ships in the Great Lakes. I attended their presentation last year and it inspired me to include a shipwreck in my upcoming novel. This is exciting stuff!
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These shipwreck experts start their adventures the same way I start a novel—by doing research. They comb through piles of public documents, newspaper reports and eyewitness accounts to narrow down the wreck’s possible location. They search photos and drawings for the ship’s distinguishing details, such as size and profile. This research phase can be a treasure hunt in itself! But if they do their job well, the expedition has a better chance of success when the exploration phase begins.

Exploration involves creating an imaginary grid over the suspected area of the wreck and slowly sailing back and forth, using sonar to detect a sunken ship on the bottom of the lake. Scanning for hours and hours, days on end, sounds tedious to most people, but I sensed the experts’ excitement in this step of the search, too. It requires expertise to examine the grainy sonar pictures and interpret the findings. And when a sunken ship was finally spotted, everyone celebrated. I suppose most people would find my job tedious, sitting at a computer day after day, typing page after page, chapter after chapter until my novel is finished. While it appears to be boring, it takes expertise to create a story and get the words precisely right. And wise authors also celebrate their successes, big and small.

The last phase of underwater discovery is obviously the most enjoyable for these veteran divers. Armed with cameras and scuba equipment, the team finally has a chance to dive on the site and explore the wreck. I watched in fascination as ghostly images of these once-stately ships appeared on the theater screen, encrusted with shells, lying in their final resting places. I listened to the dramatic stories of their demise, usually due to violent storms. The divers became underwater detectives, solving the mystery of why and how each vessel sank, and where the ship and its crew came to their final end.
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On one of the deeper dives, the team could spend only 30 minutes exploring the wreck before making the nearly two hour journey back to the surface, pausing to adjust to the changing pressure and avoid the deadly bends. I marveled at such disciplined devotion! Why do these divers do it? Since removing treasure from these wrecks is strictly forbidden, why make such a huge commitment of time and energy and finances to explore a sunken ship?

I suspect that the thrill of diving and solving a century-old mystery are rewards in themselves. But sometimes there are other surprises, too. In the audience on Saturday night was a gentleman who had been ten years old when he lost his father in the wreck of the William B. Davock, sunk during a storm on Lake Michigan seventy-five years ago. His father’s body was never recovered. Thanks to the work of these divers, the now-elderly gentleman was able to see images of his father’s final resting place and find closure after all these years. He sailed with the dive crew to the site on Lake Michigan and placed a memorial wreath in the water above his father’s grave.

I returned home from the program pondering why I write. There is some monetary gain, to be sure, but for me it’s also about the thrill of discovery and the satisfaction of seeing the results of my hard work and discipline in book form. Most of all, it’s about the joy I experience whenever I learn that one of my stories has touched someone’s life. I easily understood the joy those dedicated divers from the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association felt when they saw the tears of an eighty-five year old man who had waited a lifetime to find his father.
GREAT LAKES WRECKS

King Hezekiah’s Seal

Gods and KingsIt’s been in the news but you may have missed it during the busy Christmas season. Archaeologists digging near Jerusalem’s Temple Mount have found a stamped clay seal that once belonged to the biblical King Hezekiah. As my readers know, I “wrote the book” on King Hezekiah—three books, in fact, and two more on his son King Manasseh. I used stories from the Old Testament along with my own research to create the five-book “Chronicles of the King” series about King Hezekiah’s life.667144301000100640360no

The Ophel in Jerusalem near where the seal was discovered
The Ophel in Jerusalem near where the seal was discovered

The clay seal that the archaeologists found was stamped with his name: Hezekiah son of Ahaz. It had once been used to seal a papyrus scroll, a document that was probably signed by Hezekiah himself. Archaeologists discovered it in a section of ancient Jerusalem where the king’s palace once stood.

Hezekiah's Broad Wall
Hezekiah’s Broad Wall

I love King Hezekiah! This descendant of King David and ancestor of Jesus Christ ruled from about 715 to 686 BC. And what a life he lived! A contemporary of the prophets Isaiah and Micah, he lived through the exile of Israel’s ten northern tribes by the brutal Assyrians. In fact, so many refugees fled to Jerusalem that Hezekiah enlarged the city and built a new wall around it for protection. A portion can still be seen in Jerusalem’s Old City. Hezekiah also dug a tunnel beneath the city to safeguard his water supply from the Assyrians, bringing water from the Gihon Spring to the newly built Pool of Siloam. He was in such a hurry to finish that his workmen began tunneling from both ends and met in the middle, an engineering marvel. It still carries water (and tourists) beneath Jerusalem.

Hezekiah's Tunnel
Hezekiah’s Tunnel

But what I love most about King Hezekiah, and what inspired me to write all those books about him, was his faith—his imperfect, often wavering, but true-to-the-end faith. I was intrigued by the fact that his wicked father, King Ahaz, sacrificed his sons to the pagan god Moloch, yet Hezekiah launched a religious revival in the first month of his reign, purifying the temple that his father had desecrated. He invited everyone to return to God and celebrate Passover, which hadn’t been kept in decades. Hezekiah’s faith grew as he faced trials. When the Assyrians first attacked, he asked Isaiah to pray for him. When they returned a second time, he went up to the Temple and bowed before God himself, asking Him to save Jerusalem so that all the kingdoms on earth would know that He alone is God.

Hezekiah's Tunnel and Gihon Spring
Hezekiah’s Tunnel and Gihon Spring

Hezekiah’s newly-discovered seal depicts a winged sun. Several news stories questioned his use of a non-Jewish symbol. But knowing what I do of his life, I think it’s a perfect symbol. Hezekiah became seriously ill and Isaiah told him to get his house in order because he was going to die. But Hezekiah prayed and God graciously granted him fifteen more years to live. As a sign that Hezekiah would indeed get well, God “gave wings” to the sun and caused it to briefly retreat backwards.

A few years later, the Assyrians surrounded Jerusalem and demanded Hezekiah’s surrender. Isaiah convinced him to trust God, promising that He would save the city. During the night, the Angel of Death killed 185,000 enemy troops and “the next morning—there were all the dead bodies!” God’s salvation from the Assyrians appeared as the sun was rising—just as centuries later our salvation through Hezekiah’s descendant Jesus Christ would come at dawn on Easter morning.

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Jerusalem

For a world that believes scripture is made up of fables and fairy tales, that its stories and people are fabricated and embellished, Hezekiah’s newly discovered seal offers proof to those who doubt, that God’s word is Truth.

For more information, try one of these links from December 4, 2015: colsoncenter@colsoncenter.org
http://www.timesofisrael.com/seal-bearing-name-of-judean-king-found-in-jerusalem/

Rosie the Riveter

WomeninHistoryMonthI often give a speech at women’s conferences and churches across the country, about how women’s roles have changed through the past centuries. Inevitably, wherever I go, a sweet, grey-haired woman—or two or three—will come up to me afterwards and say, “You know, I was once a Rosie the Riveter.” As I listen to them talk about their jobs in shipyards and aircraft factories, I marvel at how they learned to use welding torches and rivet guns to build submarines and jet airplanes. The women all smile sweetly and say something like, “Oh, but we just did what we had to do.”

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Dorothea Dix

WomeninHistoryMonth I’m so honored to be part of the amazing group of women writers. And I’m excited about introducing you to Dorothea Dix.

Dorothea Dix
Dorothea Dix

As a Baby Boomer, I was fortunate to grow up in an era where girls were encouraged to pursue a college education. But when it came time to apply to colleges and choose a career, I discovered that most adults, including my high school guidance counselor, still believed that the only acceptable careers for women were as teachers or nurses. They made it seem as though I should be grateful for those two options!

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