M.B. Tosi, author of The Indian Path Series
www.MBTosi.com      

MY BLOG

Can Fiction Help Your Life?

Self-help books flood the shelves of bookstores (and the imaginary shelves of online bookstores), and there is definitely an enthusiastic readership for such books. The modern world is a tough place to navigate, and if I do these ten things to guarantee my happiness, shouldn’t I at least try them? Or, what about these five things I can do to make my workplace a more positive place? Or, these ten affirmations which will lead to abundance in my life? Although the list goes on and on, it’s a positive thing to have so many experts generously sharing their expertise and helping people.

One area of writing that often gets overlooked when speaking of helping readers is fiction. As a writer of historical fiction, I would like to pose the following question. Can fiction help readers’ lives in a similar way to self-help books? You probably already know that my answer is yes, but to be honest, it depends on the author’s intent. A book can be wildly entertaining, sensual, comical, violent, futuristic, or any number of valid things because of the author’s intent and creativity, and many times its sole purpose may be to escape from the real world.

Many fiction books, however, do try to help readers. Through historical fiction, I try to make history alive and point out the commonality of people in different centuries facing the same problems that we face today. And like all of us, my characters wrestle with problems, make mistakes and poor choices, struggle with philosophical issues, and grow more courageous as life goes on.

Take a young German-American girl in the 1860s in my second book, The Secret Path of Destiny. Isolde is a young girl of faith, but life has tossed her some major problems. Not only does she have a disability, but her father dies. She and her mother are impoverished, and her mother accepts a position as a housekeeper for a widower in a German town in Texas. The town is in the heart of Comancheria, the homeland of the Comanche, during the Indian wars. To make matters worse, Isolde’s mother marries her new employer, who is not only wicked, but dangerous.

Just as you and I journey through our sometimes troubled lives today, we accompany Isolde on her path of self-discovery. We watch as she summons up an inner strength to face her problems head-on. We also watch as she struggles with her faith and why God would allow her to suffer with her disability. Through her strength and perseverance, maybe we can find our own.

Have you ever faced a problem so big and so life-changing that you didn’t know what to do or where to turn? I did, and it can shake you to the core as you feel immobilized and helpless. It can be anything—a personal illness or an illness of a spouse or child, the death of someone you love, the end of a relationship or a divorce, financial reverses, poverty, loneliness, or even bitterness. Have you ever asked yourself why God allowed you to suffer, but then you were too embarrassed to admit it to anyone?

Whether you know it or not, you’re probably a quiet hero like Isolde, putting one foot in front of the other to get through your day and make sense of your world. As a fiction author, I don’t give you ten steps to solving your problems. But I do give you Isolde, a brave young girl in a different century, struggling to make sense of her disability and poverty in a war-torn world. As she questions what her destiny could be and why God has allowed her to suffer, can she find love in the midst of a hate-filled world and a path of peace and joy and wholeness in spite of her circumstances?

The real question is what about you? Are you trying to make sense of your struggles? Are you searching for love and wholeness? Are you a quiet hero just trying to get through one day at a time? If so, I hope you will join Isolde on her path of courage. Maybe you will be inspired for your journey by a simple fiction book meant to help you.   

Author M.B. Tosi

 

The Challenge of a Disability

As I was writing my most recent book, The Secret Path of Destiny, I was reflecting on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was signed into law in 1990. How fortunate for those who have disabilities to be born in an age when the government prohibits discrimination in such areas as employment, transportation, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and telecommunications.

But what if a young girl had a disability in 1865 before such protections existed? How would she manage, especially if she and her mother were impoverished and alone in New York City? Because her mother was a German emigrant with few job skills, she reaches out for a lifeline being offered by a widower in the German town of Fredericksburg, Texas. The two travel through the aftermath of the Civil War, but another war is brewing, this time with Native Americans. The young girl, Isolde, and her mother are heading right into the heart of Comancheria, the homeland of the Comanche.

There couldn't be more unsettling circumstances. Isolde, who had attended a public school in New York City which accepted her disability, is set to enter her junior year in a German-speaking one-room schoolhouse. Quickly, she finds her disability is in the forefront, and she is even bullied. Worse yet, her mother's new employer becomes her stepfather, and Isolde realizes he is a wicked man who is not who he pretends to be. In desperation, she seeks refuge with a Comanche Indian who befriends her near Fredericksburg, but that is not without danger because the Comanche are at war.

As Isolde's life unfolds and her disability makes life more complicated, she is forced to wrestle with issues of faith and destiny, and even whether her disability is a curse or a blessing. What is special to me in writing this inspirational historical romance is that it's not just about a young woman in a different century. It's about anyone who has persevered to overcome obstacles that life has presented. Not only can we empathize with Isolde's struggles, but we can rejoice with her victory and hopefully, our own victories over the troubles in our own lives.

Just released, The Secret Path of Destiny is Book Two of The Indian Path Series. Each book of the series focuses on a different Native American tribe during the Indian wars in the late 1860s, and the lives of fictional characters are woven into the true events. The theme of The Indian Path Series is finding life's purpose and a path of peace, love, and faith during times of trouble. As American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, "If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility."

To celebrate this inspirational book, the e-book is being offered at a special price of $5.99. I hope you will join Isolde on her path of destiny.

Author M.B. Tosi

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Discovering Your Theme

One morning a year ago, I woke up with a burning desire to finish a dusty manuscript tucked away in a dresser drawer. My children had been raised, life's major problems had been faced, and suddenly there was a gift of time to pursue my love of writing. As I picked up that unfinished manuscript, however, I realized my approach to writing had changed over a lifetime because I had changed.

When I was younger, I wrote simply because I loved to write. In retrospection, my writing was unfocused, but fun. Now that I'm older, I have experienced life's deepest emotions and known heartache and disappointment. I've also found peace in the midst of my troubles, love where I least expected it, and courage when I most needed it.

My life had unknowingly developed a theme that no matter what problem I faced, I could summon an inner courage through my faith. I wanted to share this theme through inspirational fiction which would help my readers find their own inner courage.

Because of my interest in Native American culture, I chose to focus on the historical times of the Indian Wars in the late 1800s. People in every century face the same challenge of how to find an inner courage to face life's problems. By choosing this time period, it became important to present Native Americans in an honest, unbiased light with a rich culture of traditions and family life. Soon, a more distant goal evolved to help Native American schools through my books.

After reflecting on the theme which had developed in my life and making it my focus, my writing took on a new life of its own. My unfinished manuscript was completed within a month and spun off into an entire series called The Indian Path Series. The most exciting thing for me is that the first book of the series, The Sacred Path of Tears, has been published. It is about a young Cheyenne woman torn between two worlds at war after the Sand Creek Massacre and the two men she loves. The second book of the series, The Secret Path of Destiny, will be out in 2012.

My theme remains constant to inspire my readers to discover that hidden well of courage during their times of trouble. My readers, likewise, continually inspire me. My focus has changed from the mechanics of writing to my readers. It's been a very freeing experience, and writing has become a joy again.

Author M.B. Tosi

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The Lone Ranger, Tonto, Winston Churchill, and Mother Teresa 

The most common question I get asked is why I write about Native Americans. It's easy to give a pat answer that I was born in South Dakota and developed an interest and respect for Native American culture (which is all true).

But I think it's more complex than that. Over my lifetime, I've watched Native Americans being left out of the conversation in America, in spite of the fact they have a vibrant, diverse culture. They've been somehow conveniently forgotten and tucked away into the dusty archives of history.

My early memories are of the Lone Ranger and his sidekick Tonto blazing the screens of television as did the early "shoot 'em up" style westerns. Except for Tonto's faithful character, however, Indians were simplistically portrayed as the bad guys, randomly killing the early settlers. Even as a child, I wondered whether this portrayal was true as it seemed stereotypical and lopsided. What was Native American culture really like in the late 1800s? Did they love their families like the settlers did? Did they have beautiful traditions and faith in a creator? Of course they did.

Because all of us are generations removed from the time of the Indian Wars, there seems to be little emphasis on that time period of our country's history. I honestly can't remember ever studying Native Americans either in high school or college. Whatever history was taught was from the slant of U.S. governmental policies, the diversity of its immigrant population, the expansionism of its borders from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, and its growing worldview and importance. As Winston Churchill once said, "History is written by the victors," and it appears to be so in America.
 
There's a part of me that suggests this lack of inclusion of Native Americans in the dialog isn't fair or right. Can I, one unknown and unimportant person, change this phenomenon? Probably not. But in my own small way, I can include Native Americans in my dialog, and that's one of the reasons I write.
 
There are other reasons I write, too, and that is the self-satisfaction of it. The journalist in me loves to research history and make it alive. The writer in me wants to present a compelling fictional human story to draw a reader into the past and bring a sense of fulfillment and awareness. And the editor in me insists on objectivity. But in the end, this isn't about me or what I bring to the process. It's actually about us as a people and reminding us of who we are, our ideals, and where we've come from. And the correlation of that is where do we go from here?
 
Although I've given many reasons why I write about Native Americans, my heart continually reminds me of another truth. Native Americans are the original Americans, here for tens of thousands of years. We are a part of them, and they are a part of us for all of us together make up the soul of America. As Mother Teresa once said, "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."

Author M.B. Tosi

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Daring To Be Different 

I love to write about inspiring (and oftentimes feisty) heroines or heroes. They are the ones who dare to be different and stand up for what they believe is right. They keep promises. They persevere. They continually search for meaning in their muddled lives and a path of peace and love through the turmoil. Many are unaware they are even courageous as they sometimes appear foolish, weak, vulnerable, or powerless.

I can almost hear you say, "I'm not courageous. I barely get through my day as I have so many problems." If you're brave enough to get up each morning and try to make the world around you a better place, you're courageous. When you do what it takes to put food on the table for your children, or leave an abusive relationship, or volunteer to help an autistic child, or live with a disability, or take care of an elderly parent or spouse with Alzheimer's, or do a hundred other unselfish things, you're courageous.

My books are for you, the unsung heroines and heroes of the world. You need to be encouraged and inspired because the world needs you. Every day, I see the quiet bravery of people like you. Most of you will never be rock stars, movie stars, leaders of prominence, or possessors of great wealth, and the world tries to diminish your importance by quietly hinting you're ordinary. But I believe you're extraordinary, not ordinary at all, and I thank you for all you do to make the world a better place.

In my first book, The Sacred Path of Tears, a sweet teenaged Cheyenne girl, nicknamed Mokee, has her world turned upside down after the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864. Suddenly, the Cheyenne and other Native American tribes are embroiled in war, and Mokee fears each day will be her last. After taking refuge with a white family, she learns an entirely new way of life, but she becomes torn between two cultures at war and the two men she loves, one a white settler and the other a Cheyenne Dog Soldier. Can a quiet, unassuming Cheyenne girl who appears to be ordinary and even scared find the inner strength and resiliency to make a difference in her war-torn world?

In my second book to be published in a few months, The Secret Path of Destiny, a young disabled German-American girl, named Isolde, and her destitute mother grab a lifeline to a German town in Texas in the 1860s. Life begins going horribly wrong for the two, and Isolde is befriended by a young Comanche who lives near the town. When Isolde and her mother's lives are in danger, can Isolde find the courage to take charge and save their lives? Although she is disabled and appears weak and ordinary to those around her, will she find the inner strength to be extraordinary?

Both books are part of a new series called The Indian Path Series, and they take place during the Indian Wars in the late 1800s. Each book takes real events in our country's history and weaves in fictional characters that have one thing in common, their courage. In all centuries, there are people who do what's right and summon an inner strength they never knew they had. Mokee in The Sacred Path of Tears is such a person. I really hope you enjoy being transported to the time when our nation was suffering its birth pangs, and the line between right and wrong was unclear. Yet courageous people like you still managed to find their way.

Author M.B. Tosi

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