An optician by trade, Judi Ann Ehresman said she has always been a writer. Now retired and living in Vinton with her husband Richard, Ehresman has had the time to write – and then some. Her third novel in the “Hand of God” series is set to be published by OakTara in mid-January. The novels are available on line at venues like christianbook.com and amazon.com, and locally at the Family Christian store on Starkey Road in Southwest Roanoke County.
Born in Virginia but raised in Indiana, Ehresman set her Hand of God trilogy in that state as well. Characters from each novel appear in the subsequent book, sometimes as secondary players in the preceding novel and major factors in the next. “They are sort of separate stories [but connected],” said Ehresman. She called the series the Hand of God “because in each of the three books, in different ways, you can see the way the hand of God moves.” It’s a subtle approach, she promises.
The third and final Hand of God novel is entitled “Where Two Agree.” In the first novel a slave escapes; that character, Deidre, becomes the principal player in the new book. Two other novels Ehresman has finished but are not yet published are stand-alone books, not related to the Hand of God trilogy.
“If they could get over the border into Indiana [slaves] were considered free,” notes Ehresman. “This young woman brings her infant child to Indiana … but her husband was sold away.” The story revolves around the couple’s desire to be reunited.
Ehresman’s husband runs the bookstore at Hollins University now but is a retired minister, making the Christian themes in each book perhaps more understandable. While freelancing for her local newspaper in Indiana, she wrote “The Long Road Home” which is book one in The Hand of God series.
“What really sparked the book,” says Ehresman, commenting on the oaktara.com website, “was seeing how un-forgiveness and grudge-bearing affected people’s lives. I wanted to portray the freedom that comes in letting go of hurts and wrongs.”
The second book in the trilogy, “On the Wings of Grace,” was just released at Thanksgiving. “It takes time to find a publisher,” said Ehresman, who shopped the Hand of God series for two years before OakTara published them. She’s written two books a year recently, one in the spring and one in the fall, and gardens in the summer.
“I’ve just always written,” said Ehresman, who also dabbled in poetry while working as an optician. “I always knew someday I would write a book.” Now she has written five – three published as of mid-January – and hopes to see the other two in print soon.
“I hope the books can help challenge people to help make wise choices in behavioral patterns, to be able to see how God works in our lives – when we let him,” said Ehresman, who hopes to conduct a book signing at Family Christian store and other local venues after “Where Two Agree” is published.