Here’s a genre we don’t often feature: Regency Romance, by Karen Cogan. Karen, welcome to DARE TO BLOOM. I really like the play on words in your title. And here’s the cover . . . Karen is offering a FREE download…go for it!
The Lure of Historical Romance
Do you find historical romance intriguing? I personally love a good Regency novel. The quaint customs of language and activities are fascinating Unlike our evening at the movies, their evening at the theater lasted most of the night. Sometimes a local blacksmith might set bones for humans as well as for animals. Drinking the water at Bath, England was said to cure gout, lameness, infertility, and diseases of the skin along with many other ailments.
The speech of this time was charming. Women “took a turn” around the parlor or garden”, meaning they took a walk. They used the term “droll” to mean odd, humorous, or whimsical. If they“fancied” a crumpet or spot of tea, it meant they wanted it. This infatuation with the speech and customs inspired the writing of my Regency romances.
My most recent clean Regency novel is titled A Relative Matter. In this story, we are introduced to Anne and her young brother, Jeremy as they arrive from India to live with their grandfather in England. Though they do not know him, the kindly man proves a balm for their hearts wounded by the death of their parents. When their grandfather also dies, he leaves the estate to Jeremy. Since the boy is not yet of age, his grandfather’s nephew, a man with a mysterious past, is named guardian of the property and soon arrives to take up his duty. Though he is kind and loving to Anne and Jeremy, he has a son who is evil and cunning and stands to inherit the estate should Jeremy die. Since he intends to inherit it, he will stop at nothing to get his hands on the property.
Meanwhile, Anne keeps company with Lord Westerfield who is kind and handsome and deeply in love with her. As murder and threats of murder soon threaten young Jeremy, Lord Westerfield is the only one standing between Jeremy and death. Will he be able to protect him?
A Relative Matter is a free download at kecogan.blog and scroll down to the novel.
Donna Sager Cowan shares her series for Middle-GradeAuthor children with us today. Donna is happy to offer a giveaway of With the Courage of a Mouse to a commenter. Enjoy!
This series was inspired by my granddaughter asking about what my cat did every night when she stayed out. I came up the bedtime story of Catt saving her animal friends because she was a superhero. After many retellings, I decided to write and publish the story.
But it needed more background, so I decided to start at the beginning of Catt’s story—How she became a Superhero. Then Superhero School was born and Simon Cheddar took center stage.
I’ve always wanted to write a positive story for kids about finding that inner strength to keep going. To find the Superhero hiding inside all of us, just waiting for that perfect moment to shine. Using animal characters makes the story more accessible to children around the world. They can see themselves in Catt, Simon, Patty and Freddy. See their teachers, parents and grandparents in Mrs. Gee, Grandma Whisker, and even Sergeant Jones and Nigel. Building the self esteem of kids gets harder every day. I am so thrilled with the reaction to With the Courage of a Mouse from the schools I’ve visited. The simple idea of learning from each other and our mistakes isn’t new, just a little dusty.
Finding friends in the most unlikely places, pulling together to solve the problem, and believing in ourselves is the foundation for every child’s future.
Jennifer Beckstrand, an author of Amish fiction, joins us with her first Western release. One look at her cover entices me to discover more, AND she’s giving away a paperback copy to one commenter!
Jessie and James is my first published Western historical novel, and I couldn’t be more excited. The first book I ever wrote was a historical Western, and I’ve been wanting to write another one for ten years. (That first Western is still hanging around my house somewhere. I might decide to publish it next. J) For my research, I traveled to an old mining town about two hours from my house. Yes, it really is named Eureka, and it was a boomtown in the 1880s, the period in which my book is set. I met an old-timer in Eureka who told me some fascinating stories about mining then and now.
Did you know that you may own the ground your house sits on, but you only own it to sixty feet deep? A mining company can come in and dig a mine right under your house, and it’s perfectly legal as long as they have the permits. Many mines were dug straight down or in any direction that would get them to ore faster. In the 1880s in Eureka, often they’d dig straight down using only picks, shovels, and dynamite. A plumb bob was utilized to make sure their tunnels were straight up and down. They usually dug down 600 feet then drifted horizontally a couple hundred feet, then dug down again. Some mines went deeper than 1800 feet. Nowadays, there aren’t many mines that deep. They’re more dangerous, so they’re too expensive to insure.
In Jessie and James, James is an ex-cowboy turned geologist looking for gold. Jessie is a feisty, independent woman who runs a boarding house with her parents and thinks Eureka needs a little more fire-and-brimstone preaching to keep the incorrigible miners in line. Jessie doesn’t want anything to do with a gold digger, and she’s willing to use her shotgun to run James off. But James doesn’t scare that easy, especially when the woman on the other end of that shotgun might turn out to be the love of his life.
You can order Jessie and James now on Kindle and paperback.
Jennifer Beckstrand is the two-time RITA-nominated, #1 Amazon bestselling Amish romance author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series, The Honeybee Sistersseries, and The Petersheim Brothers series for Kensington Books. Huckleberry Summer andHome on Huckleberry Hill were bothnominated for the coveted RITA® Award from Romance Writers of America. Jennifer has always been drawn to the strong faith and the enduring family ties of the Plain people and loves writing about the antics of Anna and Felty Helmuth, the Honeybee sisters’ aendi Bitsy, and Alfie and Benji Petersheim. Jennifer has written twenty-one Amish romances, a historical Western, and the nonfiction book, Big Ideas. She and her husband have been married for thirty-five years, and she has six children and seven adorable grandchildren, whom she spoils rotten.
Feeling Grateful For a Full Fridge: On Rationing and the Black Market in WWII Britain
What was it like for British citizens during World War II, when it came to feeding their hungry families? Read and see…and please leave author Anne Clare a comment, as she’s giving away a copy of her debut novel, Whom Shall I Fear to one commenter. I’ve read this book, and it reminded me that there’s ALWAYS more to learn about this tough time in history. Thanks for visiting!
As I’m writing this, it’s Saturday morning, which is “hot breakfast” morning in my family. This morning, I was in the mood for French Toast. I pulled open my fridge and grabbed eggs- there were plenty left from the 18 I’d bought last shopping run. The milk was a little low, but I could just pick up more later. With the cheap loaf of bread I’d picked up on sale yesterday, I was all set!
The steps between “I want this to eat” and “Hey kids, it’s breakfast time!” were so simple that it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t always so.
Before the onset of the Second World War, the island nation of Great Britain had imported around 70% of its food—not to mention other goods—requiringmillionsof tons of shipping.
Then, war broke out.
German U-boat “wolf packs” prowled the Atlantic, blocking shipments, destroying ships, and threatening to starve Britain into submission. How were the British people to be sustained?
The British Ministry of Food enforced a strict rationing program to ensure that there would be sufficient food to go around. Families would register with local sellers to receive their weekly allotments. Lines, or “queues” were long, and families had to plan out how they would use their ration coupons and points from week to week—assuming, of course, that the items they were standing in line for wouldn’t have run out by the time they got to the front.
Kitchen staples like milk, sugar and fat fell under rationing. Average weekly rations for an adult would include 8 oz sugar, 4 oz bacon or ham, 3 pints of milk, 2 oz of tea, and one fresh egg.*
“A shopkeeper cancels the coupons in a British housewife’s ration book for the tea, sugar, cooking fats and bacon she is allowed for one week. Most foods in Britain are rationed and some brand names are given the designation “National”” Photo and caption courtesy of Wikimedia commons.
Non-food items, like clothes, shoes, gasoline and soap, also fell under ration.
However, fruit and vegetables did not, and many people participated in the “Dig for Victory” program, planting gardens in every available bit of soil. Others found clever ways to make up for items they couldn’t get—girls might paint their legs to simulate “stockings” or use beetroot juice to color lipstickless lips.
Some people, however, chose less reputablemeans to supplement their rationed goods.
Illegal activities took many forms. In some cases, it might be as simple as someone “forgetting” to mention that an elderly relative had died and continuing to collect rations with their books. Or perhaps someone might raise chickens but not register the eggs that were produced. In the cities, bombed out buildings were a strong temptation for looters. And, as might be expected, a black market thrived.
If someone wanted to find something and couldn’t through legal means, “spivs” had wares to offer, off the books, for a price. Even reputable shopkeepers might have a few things under the counter. As the war dragged on, even people who wouldn’t have considered theft in ordinary times might be tempted to supplement their rations if something that had “fallen off the back of a lorry” just happened to be for sale in their area.
While some steered clear of illegal goods, the temptation was strong—according to the Imperial War Museum, “By March of 1941, 2,300 people had been prosecuted and severely penalized for fraud and dishonesty.” ** And there were still four years of war left to go.
As I was researching all of this for my recently released novel, Whom Shall I Fear?—in which one character finds himself deeply entangled in the underworld of the black market, with dangerous consequences—I found myself newly grateful for the often-overlooked blessings of a fully stocked pantry and grocery stores!
Welcome to Lillian Duncan, an Ohio writer from Amish country. I’ll let Lillian describe how her writing world changed with her brain tumor diagnosis and her uinique giveaway to celebrate the release of The David Years.
Actually TWO different giveaways! The grand prize is a $25 Amazon gift card and your choice of one of my ebooks. To enter, CLICK HERE and follow the directions! I’ll also pick FIVE lucky winners to receive their choice of one my ebooks from comments left on my blog about The David Years. To entered that giveaway, go to www.lillian-duncan.com and leave a comment under one of THE DAVID YEARS posts. EASY-PEASY!I
First, tell us a little about yourself.
I’m 64, happily married, and live in a small town in Ohio. I worked as a school speech pathologist for 34 years, mostly in a large urban school district with deaf and hard-of-hearing students.
I write because I have these stories that rattle around in my brain. I love books and stories. But the real reason is that I believe God created me to write.
I used to not have the nerve to say that! In 2012, I was diagnosed with brain tumors—benign but not benign. They were non-cancerous but they still wreaked havoc on me and my life. One of the results is a “fuzzy” brain or some people call it brain fog. Either way, my brain doesn’t work quite the same as it did before the brain tumors.
But miracle of miracles, when I write, something happens. The fuzziness goes away for a while, I can remember the details I need to for the story to make sense, and I can write! And that’s why I believe God created me to write.
And now, a little about The David Years
THE DAVID YEARS is the sequel to PUZZLE HOUSE. In Puzzle House at the age of fifteen, Nia was anointed to become a healer. Overwhelmed by the thought, Nia’s auntie tells her how King David was anointed at a young age, but didn’t become king for many years. Those were his learning years and now she has her David Years ahead.
Most of this story takes place after Nia graduates from high school as she struggles to find her place in the world. Impatient to begin her life as a healer, Nia tries to make it happen in her own timing. But God will not be rushed and whether Nia likes it or not, she’s still in her David Years. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, ‘we learn from our mistakes.’ Well, Nia learns a lot that year, meaning she makes a lot of mistakes.
Puzzle House was intended to be a stand-alone novel. But I couldn’t stop wondering about what happened to Nia, so that inspired me The David Years. Even though Nia is a college student, we all struggle to find our place in the world—no matter what age we are. Nia’s lessons may just help someone else struggling to find their way.
Where do you get ideas for your books?
Anywhere and everywhere! In the case of Puzzle House and The David Years, I was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors and a genetic condition called Neurofibromatosis Type 2 or NF2 for short. Puzzle House features a character with the same condition.
I get to know my characters as the book progresses through several drafts before I even think about submitting to my publisher. Each draft teaches me more about my characters.
What themes do you write about?
One recurring themes is forgiveness, but another has been emerging: how crucial God’s Word is to our life journeys. My tumors have affected my health, but God’s Word gives me the wisdom and strength I need to have peace and joy in spite of my struggles. I want other people to know that God doesn’t leave us alone in our battles, he’s given us His Word so we can be victorious in spite of our circumstances.
How does your faith affect your writing?
I hope it does! I like to think of myself as a parable writer. A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly message. Even my suspense stories have a heavenly message.
Do you put yourself in your books?
Of course! Sometimes it’s a snippet of a real-life event that happened to me or someone I know, but more often it shows up in other sneaky ways without me being aware of it—until I read it back. Then I have to decide whether to leave it in or take it out.
What are you working on right now?
I have another book releasing at the end of September—TRAPPED. It’s completely different from THE DAVID YEARS – romantic suspense with lots of action and a little romance. Along with that I’m also working on the third Puzzle House novel—SUFFER THE LITTLE CHILDREN.
Nia looked at her aunt and asked, “So what am I ‘spose to do now?”
“Have you ever heard of King David from the Bible?”
“There were a lot of years between the time David was anointed as the king and he actually became the king. It’s a time for you to grow in your relationship with God.”
“And then later I get to be king?” Nia giggled.
“I meant that figuratively not literally but these are your David Years.”
“My David Years. I like that.”
Nia Johnson has spent the past four years developing a closer relationship to God. She wants to believe she’s still anointed to become a healer at Puzzle House but as each year passes, she has more and more doubts.
Now that she’s graduated from high school and is an adult she is sure it’s time to take the mantle of healing Rachel passed to her so many years before. But the harder she tries, the more it eludes her.
You never know when a surprise lies around the corner…maybe a spectacular event, or just as easily something quite simple. That’s how I felt when I saw this cute tomato peeking up at me like a little bunny.
Such a trite thing, you might say. But this unique creation caught my eye, and my husband smiled when I asked him to snap it.
A smile can be worth a lot during a busy week with health challenges and a sad funeral. After he took the photo, I thought, “Okay, now we can eat the tomato.” And then, “Oh, why not wait another day?”
That’s the way it goes with beauty. You want it to last.
Of course, you know it won’t . . . it’s August, after all, and this is Iowa. So you gather it all into your heart and hold it close.
Yesterday, one of my readers wrote me a note, another pleasant surprise. After lunch, she took a break from the garden and started to read Kiss Me Once Again, a World War II romance that released last December. She couldn’t stop because the story gripped her right from the start, and finished it by bedtime.
So heartening to this author! Glenora, the main character in this story, believes romance is over for her when her beau dies on the Arizona in 1941. But she has no idea what surprises wait just around the corner. Life is like that . . . sometimes our aspirations fall short of what might be possible.
If you need a short summer read, this novella could be just your cup of tea!
Welcome to Karen Allen, a cancer survivor who uses her experience to encourage others. Karen’s book cover features lavender rather than pink to encompass all types of cancer, and she’s giving away a copy of her book to someone who leaves a comment.
Sixteen years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer while working in a cancer research laboratory at the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. God was gracious in that the diagnosis stemmed from an enlarged lymph node deep in my armpit. Surgery was followed by chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Over the next nine months the Lord dealt with me in some incredible ways turning my cancer journey into a faith journey. Indeed, my prayer a month before my diagnosis had been to increase my faith! So wah-lah . . .
Not only did God answer my prayer but He did “exceedingly, abundantly” by expanding my experience to help others turn their cancer journey into something positive. Throughout my ordeal I wrote periodic updates and emailed them to friends and family, many out of state. (Blogs were not the norm at the time.) I learned my emails were being distributed literally all over the world! Turns out, they were a source of inspiration and hope. I considered writing about my journey and approached my pastor. We felt a book would be useful but that a cancer Bible study would be even more useful. I liked the idea.
After several years and lots of setbacks, Confronting Cancer with Faith is now available as a 6-week Bible study (5 lessons per week) written to bring encouragement, comfort, and hope through the trials of cancer or any chronic illness. Confronting Cancer with Faith focuses on God, His promises and attributes. I use my experiences as anecdotes, lessons, and stories to highlight God’s work and personal touch.
The book is perfect for a small study group or cancer support group but also adapts as an independent or friend-to-friend study. Cancer survivors, co-survivors, clergy, caregivers, or anyone wanting to learn more about what a cancer patient goes through will be enlightened, encouraged, and informed by this study. Topics include fear, brokenness, death, hair loss, effect upon family members, acceptance, treatments, side-effects, relationships, perspective, wearing the survivor label, and finding contentment in the aftermath of cancer.
The book is published through Ewe R Blessed Ministries and can be ordered from Amazon. It has received international attention and won the Christian Choice Book Award for Bible studies. A quality CD entitled “The Comfort of His Holiness” produced by me and my husband can be purchased separately if desired. Both the book and CD have garnered positive feedback.
It’s that time of year . . . the dill shows so many shades of green and yellow. Today I found a few stems perfect for picking – my mother-in-law taught me the shade to look for, and of course, the pungent smell.
Tickweed blossoms in our back yard couldn’t be brighter.
And the zinnias are not to be outdone. Talk about the “layered look!”
Then there’s the phlox . . . plain old-fashioned lovely.
Being gone for a couple of weeks in the middle of summer brings surprises when you return. I’ve been “gone” from my blog for too long, too, and this gets me started again. I’ve been editing the first book in the Women of the Heartland series, though, so haven’t gone completely AWOL.
In Times Like These shall rise again . . . and be all the better for it.
Now, a book on very early Arizona history has captured my attention. I really can’t imagine what it would have been like to ride those gorgeous canyons, viewing Sedona’s gorgeous red rocks or the outrageous beauty of Mogollon Rim Country for the first time. What would it be like happening on the Tonto Natural Bridge on horseback, or seeing a saguaro cactus in the distance?