In His Stead ( A Father’s War) by Judith Sanders-A review, guest post and giveaway

IN HIS STEAD (A Father’s War) by Judith Sanders-a review, guest post and giveaway

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In His Stead
A Father’s War
by Judith Sanders

Release Date November 2012

In His Stead / / Barnes and Noble / The Book Depository

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date November 12, 2012


Retired Army Ranger Thomas Lane once burned for the taste of gunpowder and the thrill of the battle. But as he struggles to cope with his own PTSD and the death of his eldest son, killed by an IED in Afghanistan, Lane learns that the price of war is far too dear.

When the National Guard calls up Lane’s youngest son to serve, Lane knows he will do anything to save his child—even if it means going in his place, a pursuit unheard of since the Civil War when slaves were sent to war in place of their masters.

In His Stead, Judith Sander’s second novel, follows Thomas Lane’s crusade against the United States Army, its JAG corps, a vengeful officer, the very son he is desperate to save, and his own wife, who has the Solomon-like choice of losing either a husband or a son.

Capturing the essence of family life in wartime—the good, the bad, and the hopeful—In His Stead explores what it means to be a father and a man.


In His Stead is a contemporary storyline that reads like a psychological study in guilt, torment and fear.

The premise focuses on a little known civil war law that allowed a slave to take his master’s place on the battlefield. In this particular storyline, Thomas Lane had already lost one son to the war in Afghanistan and to prevent the death of his second son, he invokes his rights as an American citizen to fight in his son’s place- ‘in his stead’.

I am not sure as to the accuracy of this particular law and if it can still be used today. I am not American and at this point I will not go into the background of America at War but the emotional ride that is this story is one that can only be felt by any parent who fears for the loss of a child.

Thomas Lane’s guilt and fear is enhanced as he blames himself. Like many parents he was busy building a foundation and life for his family but in doing so, his priorities left the children vying for their father’s attention. When his second son Donnie got into trouble with the law, Thomas intervened and Donnie found himself serving in the National Guard to avoid a jail sentence. Donnie’s unit was called into action and deployed to Afghanistan and Thomas’s guilt knew no boundaries. He wasn’t about to lose another son to the war, so ‘in his stead’ Thomas took his son’s place.

The story also focuses on the family dynamics at home. The dutiful wife and mother; the eldest son and hero lost to a war; the screw up son who believes he is worthless; and a country at war, not of their making. It is also about a father’s guilt.

Some readers will struggle with the storyline premise including the political and sociological overtones of America at war and the number of young people dying to serve their country for personal and financial gain. Others will struggle with the plausibility of the storyline-sending a fifty something former soldier into war because his son is too frightened to go and in the end, said son, is all about the hero that is his father.

Overall, In His Stead, is a storyline that serves to relay a political message and one that the readers may or may not agree. I tried to remain neutral throughout the story but it was difficult – I am not American and my opinion about this war will remain my own.

In His Stead is an interesting and emotional storyline. Not emotional in the sense that I felt the character’s angst and pain, but emotional in that I still struggle with the concept and the reality of a war that is showing no signs of ending; where sons and daughter, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers are dying for a cause that no one can remember as to why!

Copy supplied by the author.

Reviewed by Sandy

Guest Post

The Sticky Process of Writing
By Judith Sanders

Follow Judith at : Goodreads / Website / Twitter /

Judith SandersWhen I think about my process for writing a novel it reminds of my best and worst dreams rolled together like a piece of twisted taffy.

Writing fiction gives me the chance to take what my brain would ordinarily label as weird, keep it to myself material and give it life. And to make that happen I have to untwist my ideas and reform them in a logical process. While that might sound boring, I find it fascinating.

I start with a rough outline to keep me on track and moving in my chosen direction. While that may sound silly I have a tendency to get so involved in a scene that I stray off course.

Then I write character profiles. These are very detailed and include not only a physical description of each character but his or her birthdays, allergies, foods likes and dislikes, their personal quirks (these set them apart from the other characters and make them easily recognizable by my readers), and of course each has a distinct voice.

After I have complete the profiles my characters are as real to me as my family, in fact they become part of my family, at least until I send them out into the world.

Next I write a very detailed outline constructing plot points that will keep my readers engaged. In each chapter I try to answer a question and develop a new query that moves the end story forward. I hope my writing is like a scavenger hunt where my readers can’t wait to turn the page and find more.

I write two or three drafts of the same novel and often develop different twists in each. And that happens because as much as I plan, it is not unusual for one of my characters to go rogue and do the unexpected. While that changes the direction of my writing it doesn’t mean that the new incident is unwanted. Several times a character has become more interesting than I planned and the story enriched.

Writing is fun, publishing is the sticky part of the business and believe me publishing is big business. I read an article that said there are at least four thousand new manuscripts circulating through literary agents everyday. The odds of being picked up by a publisher are as great, if not greater, than winning the lottery.

So why do I write? Because, I absolutely love the process. The freedom of exposing my strange brain to strangers from a distance is irresistible. And the feeling of accomplishment is indescribable. Try it and you too will become addicted to the independence and freedom the expression of writing can offer.

My latest In His Stead: A Father’s War (received Indie Excellence Finalist Award) are available in all formats. Please check out my website for more information on writing and to read excerpts of my novels.

Proceeds from sales of In His Stead help support , a charity for military families.

ORDER your copy of IN HIS STEAD at : / / Barnes and Noble / The Book Depository


Judith is offering a copy of IN HIS STEAD to one lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.

Prize: Paper copy (US) or ecopy (International)

1. If you have not registered, please register using the log-in at the top of the page (side bar) or by using one of the social logins.

2. If you are using a social log-in, please post your email address with your comment.

3. Giveaway guidelines: Paper copy (US) or ecopy (International)

4. Giveaway runs from October 11 to October 14, 2013


10 thoughts on “In His Stead ( A Father’s War) by Judith Sanders-A review, guest post and giveaway

  1. Thank you Judith for the great guest post. It is always interesting to learn about the process for each author’s writing.

    And thank you for allowing me to read In His Stead. A very different look at how the war affects one particular family.

  2. Wonderful review Sandy. I understand your reluctance to comment about the war-as I am Canadian as well. My friend’s brother’s friend did two or three tours in Afghanistan and although he returned physically unharmed, I am not too sure how well he is holding up emotionally.

    Thank you Judith for the great insight into your writing process. Congratulations on the release of your novel.

  3. Nice review, Sandy, and this is an interesting premise. Though I am not into war and the emotional after effects it causes to families. War is war no matter what nationality you are…It is sad, it is destructive, and unfortunately it is part of our lives. Reading for me is enjoyment, as well as an escapism; at this time in my life, I don’t think I can read this type of book.

    Though I will say, Judith, I enjoyed reading your guest post. Good luck with your book.

  4. Great review Sandy . I commend you on reading In His Stead . I have to agree with Barb on this one , I am not into the war reads but I congratulations Judith on your Book .

  5. Sandy: As the author, I want to thank you for your review and posts and I thank your readers for their comments as well. As you see from the book’s forward, this novel was born from a real situation my nephew faced and the love he felt for his children. The facts I used to generate the scenario are real and, in fact, since publishing I’ve met several people (one who served in Vietnam, another deploying to Afghanistan) where an informal “substitution” was granted. My greatest fear, however, in tackling this topic is based on the fact that in the US only 1% of the population is connected to our service members and thus I was concerned that the other 99% would not relate to the story. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that most reviews & readers have been quite positive while a few find the topic a bit raw given the prolonged wars we’re engaged in & I believe their lack of contact with these wars in their daily lives. I have had readers in Canada, the UK, & Australia enjoy the book for it’s realism, sacrifice, and action. Clearly In His Stead is not for everyone, so I’m glad people have your review to help them decide. Judith

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