Rhubarb Jam, Books and WWII

On Thursday, my sis and I made a batch of rhubarb strawberry freezer jam. I’ve never been very successful at this, but decided to try again, since our rhubarb crop gives me no excuse not to. And my husband loves this stuff.

Having a mentor helped–thanks, Wendi–because the process seems to have worked. Four jars of this bright red confection now rest in our freezer.

So today I’m making another batch. You cut 5 cups of fruit, cover it with 4 cups of sugar and let it sit until the sugar dissolves.

I suppose there’s a great chemical explanation for how this works, but it’s fun to watch. When you check about ten minutes later, the sugar has turned to juice.

After about ten more minutes, the substance gets even juicier, and that’s when you bring the gooey mixture to a boil while WATCHING CONSTANTLY…that’s the tough part for me…

Then you remove the pan from the heat, stir in a small package of dry strawberry jello, and pour into clean jars.

That’s it! Almost too easy to take credit for–but somebody had to do the cutting, stirring, and pouring, right? My husband will enjoy this on his toast or muffins for months to come–a sign of true love, when you’re willing to make something you’d never eat for someone who delights in it. (If you think that because I’m gluten and sugar free, my husband must suffer.) LOL–not so much! (:

So here’s a picture finished product, on this Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend.

Gives a sense of satisfaction not so different from what I experience when completing a writing project. There’s a lot of picking, cutting and writing and going back to check, stirring, waiting again, adding and deleting, sharing with other readers who leave comments, and then going back through to check again…and again.

But it’s wonderful to have the finished product in your ( or your husband’s) hands.

In a few weeks, WordCrafts Press will release the result of my collaboration with author Cleo Lampos. The title: The Food That Held The World Together, tells the tale. This non-fiction book was fun to research–we learned a lot about World War II, and working together doubled the delight.

It’s amazing how important FOOD was during those years. Rationed, planted in victory gardens, pined for by hungry troops, and denied Allied prisoners of war… Food became the star in many soldier’s dreams.

Food’s vital role in the war years will stand front and center in this book.. And by the way, back then, if you wanted to make jam, you’d have to seal and process it, because the majority of homes boasted no freezer yet.

May your Memorial Day this year integrate gratitude, memories and present joys.

Twelve Sisters Who Changed History

Amber Schamel visits us today with her non-fiction book about women of courage–sisters who made a difference during their time. I’ve recently become acquainted with the Grimke sisters through this book, and am reminded of how guidance comes to individuals. We meet certain people, discover similar interests and share our passions. Then we make choices about how much to become involved.

This was true of these pre-Civil War sisters reared on a Southern plantation. As they matured, no one would ever have guessed how their lives would proceed, and what consequences would resul from the decisions they made..

Over this Memorial Day weekend, we’re already mindful of many others who “did their bit” to alter an ugly side of history. Here’s to all of them!

Amber is giving away a free signed paperback (in the U.S.) to a commenter.

Doing what’s right is not without cost. 

That was a concept that was difficult for me to grasp. As a little girl growing up, I latched onto the thought that if you did things right, if you followed the rules, life would be easier, and you wouldn’t have to pay the consequences. What I failed to realize is that there are often consequences of right actions too, and sometimes even a punishment. The women we’re talking about today certainly experienced this. 

Sarah and Angelina Grimke were raised on a slave-holding cotton plantation in South Carolina. Despite her very southern upbringing, Sarah always knew something was wrong about the way her family’s farm operated on the backs of human beings. Her conflicting convictions caused dissention between her and the rest of her family. When Angelina was born, Sarah was a great influence on her, and she too saw the horror of slavery. 

After the death of their father, the pair of sisters ended up in a Quaker settlement in Pennsylvania. They did not intend to become voices in the fight for racial equality and the end of slavery in America; actually, their public careers launched rather accidentally. Still, it was not without cost. 

Angry mobs of people opposing their views turned violent against them on more than one occasion. They received hate mail and threats. As if the persecution from the outside was not enough, the two sisters also took blows from those closest to them. Their family in South Carolina disowned them and threatened to have them arrested if they returned. Their Quaker community wasn’t any better. They were excommunicated from the fellowship, not because of their views, but because they vocalized their views.  

Yet, after all this, they still continued to advocate for their right cause. 

As we enter this season of Memorial Day, we remember the lives of many people who paid the price of a right cause. It is good to remember. It is right for us to muse and memorialize these lives. So please take time to do that. But I also challenge you to ask yourself a question. After looking at the inspiring lives of so many people who fought for the right regardless of the cost…what will I do? What is the righteous cause I was meant to fight for? 

And once you find it, pray God gives you the courage to follow through. 

The remarkable lives of twelve sisters who changed the course of history.

Historians paint pictures of amazing men and women who influenced the world, but seldom do we hear about sister duos that forever altered the course of history. Whether fighting together—or against each other—these twelve women set armies to flight, guarded homelands from invasion, transformed countries and religious systems, and begat nations. From mythical Athena and Artemis, to the English thrones of Mary & Elizabeth Tudor, the influence these women left behind is taken for granted. Join us on an inspirational journey through time as we explore the extraordinary lives of Sisters Who Changed History.

*Athena & Artemis (Ancient Greek Mythology)

*Rachel & Leah (Ancient Palestine)                                                                          

*Tru’ng Trac & Tru’ng Nhi (Vietnam) 

*Mary & Anne Boleyn (England)

*Mary & Elizabeth Tudor (England)

*Angelina & Sarah Grimke (United States) 

Buy Links for 12 Sisters    

Ebook

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FDF93RM

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07FDF93RM

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/878118

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/12-sisters-who-changed-history-amber-d-schamel/1129217244?ean=2940155774723

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/12-sisters-who-changed-history-1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40229630-twelve-sisters-who-changed-history

Amber Schamel is the author of Solve by Christmas, and the two-time winner of the Christian Indie Award for historical fiction. She writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. Her passions for travel, history, books and her Savior results in what her readers call “historical fiction at its finest”.  She lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado as a very happy newlywed. Amber is a proud member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association. Visit her online at www.AmberSchamel.com/and download a FREE story by subscribing to her Newsletter!

Newsletter & updates: http://www.amberschamel.com/newsletter-signup.html
Blogs – http://stitchesthrutime.blogspot.com/
           http://www.hhhistory.com/
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Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmberSchamel

Twitter – @AmberSchamel https://twitter.com/AmberSchamel

Pinterest – http://pinterest.com/AmberDSchamel/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7073165.Amber_Schamel

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Amber-Schamel/e/B00CIXK91M

Criminal Minds: 18thCentury Edition

Welcome to Shannon McNear, who has spun a tale about a murderous duo that really lived and wreaked terror along the Wilderness Trail in the early days of the United States. Never heard of the “terrible Harpes?”

Neither had I, but Shannon’s historical research has brought them to life, including the demise of their reign of terror. She’s also offering a free signed copy of THE BLUE CLOAK to a fortunate commenter.

The Story Behind The Blue Cloak

If you believe “the good old days” were kinder and gentler than our modern era, think again. Human nature has always been fascinated with the dark or mysterious, and film and social media are but recent methods for feeding that curiosity. History is full of ghost stories and accounts of horrific crimes.

In the terrible Harpes, you get a bit of both—or at least, a level of demonic intimidation that feels a bit ghostly. And who are these Harpes? Micajah, also known as “Big” for his sheer size and “ugly,” threatening appearance, and Wiley, called “Little,” though his height was not insignificant, referred to themselves as brothers, but were most likely cousins. Their boyhood dominated by the American Revolution and sons of staunch Tories, they melted into the frontier for several years after the war, reportedly living with the Cherokee for a while before surfacing as part of “white” society sometime around 1797. They tried their hand at a semblance of ordinary life as settlers near Knoxville, Tennessee, but after accusations of livestock theft, they took their three women and went on the run for several months.

Yes, that’s three women, between two men. Their presence on the Wilderness Road in Kentucky in December 1798 is well documented, as is a string of murders laid at their feet. They spent time in jail but escaped before they could be tried, temporarily leaving their hapless women and newborn babies behind. The spring and summer of 1799 brought a veritable reign of terror across portions of Kentucky and Tennessee, where the men struck lone travelers and whole families alike, having no respect for either age or gender.

The craziest thing, however, was their effect even on mounted patrols whose sole purpose was to hunt them down. Several accounts were given of search parties coming unexpectedly face-to-face with the Harpes but suddenly losing their nerve and turning tail to run. I could understand it in the case of travelers who barely had a rifle or two between them, but—fully armed men, who were supposed to be mentally prepared for the job?

It didn’t help that in particularly rugged and remote terrain, the Harpes—men, women, and their babies—were skilled at vanishing into the wilderness like wraiths. With folk not knowing where they’d strike next, and only the most savvy trackers able to tell where they’d traveled, it’s probably no wonder that people were in mortal fear.

When researching this sliver of history for my most recent novel, The Blue Cloak(#5 of the True Colors crime series), I became convinced that the story of their pursuit and end was above all one of spiritual warfare, and that prayer must have played a crucial role in putting an end to their murder spree.

Story summary:

From 1797 to 1799, a pair of outlaws known as the terrible Harpes spread terror across the Kentucky and Tennessee frontier.

Rachel Taylor watched her best friend’s marriage turn to horror before the entire family disappears into the wilderness of Tennessee and Kentucky. Virginia native Benjamin Langford seeks the whereabouts of his missing cousin and uncovers a reign of terror all up and down the Wilderness Road. In their shared grief, the pair join the effort to bring the Harpes’ murder spree to an end and rescue Rachel’s friend from a criminal’s life.

About the author:

Transplanted to North Dakota after more than two decades in the Deep South, Shannon McNear loves losing herself in local history. As the author of four novellas and three full-length novels, with her first title, Defending Truthin A Pioneer Christmas Collection,honored as a 2014 RITA® finalist, her greatest joy is in being a military wife, mom of eight, mother-in-law of three, and grammie of three. She’s also a contributor to Colonial Quills and a member of ACFW and RWA, and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. When not cooking, researching, or leaking story from her fingertips, she enjoys being outdoors, basking in the beauty of the northern prairies.

You can connect with Shannon on these social media links:

Website: shannonmcnear.com

Facebook(https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shannon-McNear/462336880012)

Pinterest(http://pinterest.com/shenandoahdawn/)

Goodreads(https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6880909.Shannon_McNear)

Twitter(https://twitter.com/ShannonMcNear)

BookBub (https://www.bookbub.com/profile/shannon-mcnear)

V-E DAY SEVENTY-FIVE YEARS

For four years, my dad wore this Army Air Corps patch on his uniform, along with thousands of other young men drafted into military service. The only son of an Iowa farmer, he left behind a lot of work for my grandfather.

Times had been tough. They’d lost a farm during the Depression and earned it back through diligence and perseverance. Dad went from driving a team of draft horses through the fields to training in Washington, D.C. And then to North Africa and beyond.

But during World War II, you went when you were called. And you served as long as you were needed. It’s difficult to imagine how much the victory won in Europe meant to these soldiers, sailors, and airmen.

Far on the Ringing Plains

Welcome to Patrick Craig, whose writing has earned him a passel of fans. Here, he shares his passion for change in the publishing world. I agree with him–every character we create exhibits a spiritual side, even if it’s well-hidden. Some of the greatest books I’ve read would not qualify as “Christian fiction” these days, but they still had a powerful effect on my life.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Patrick, and readers, Patrick is giving away a signed paperback copy of this WWII novel–just leave a reply to the question he asks at the close of this article. (And there are more to come in this series.)

The Resurrection of Christian Fiction

Today I want to talk about my latest book, Far On The Ringing Plains, co-authored with Murray Pura, one of the best writers I have ever read or worked with. I also want to speak to the death of Christian Literary Fiction and its hoped-for resurrection—a resurrection that will only come if authors stop letting agents who tremble in their boots at the thought of one of their clients “Breaking the Brand” tell them what to write.

Murray and I are both former pastors who have been writing CBA (Christian Book Association) books for years. But we have grown weary of an industry dominated by easy- read books written for women, about women and by women. 

Most of the fiction books on the shelves of Christian bookstores or the digital shelves of Amazon or B&N Christian books are what the industry calls “HEA” or “Happily-Ever-After” Romance. That includes Amish, Contemporary, Historical, Biblical, and all the other genres stuffed in under the category, “Christian Fiction.”

How did this happen? Back in the seventies the Christian Publishing Industry began grooming their readership to accept writing geared for women who wanted simpler reading fare… authors and readers fought it at the time but the policy prevailed and Christian Literary Fiction became a thing of the past. Male readers left in droves and so did female readers wanting more depth. We want them to return. 

Murray and I want to see Christian Literature become what it once was, realistic, deep diving, gritty reading that plumbs the depths of the human experience. We have tried to do that in Far On The Ringing Plains, with the rough edge of combat and the rough edge of language, human passion, and flawed humanity. Just like the Bible, in all its roughness and realism and truthfulness about life. And we have tried to show the best of human nature triumphing over the worst. Christ is there in all his strength, but He’s not “prettified” or made into “the meek and mild Savior.” Instead you will see the God who overturned the tables of the moneylenders and drove them out of the temple with a whip.

Look back on the men and women who wrote from this position: Jane Austen, G.K. Chesterson, Jonathan Swift, John Bunyan, Madeleine L’Engle, Flannery O’Connor, Charles Dickens, and many more. We’re not claiming that we have achieved that yet in our own writing, but that’s where we want to go. 

When do we stop preaching to the choir and get out into the world where the sinners hang out? If we are going to present the nitty gritty of our faith to a man or woman desperately looking for something to anchor themselves to, it’s not going to be found in a book where everything turns out peachy-keen just because the protagonists are Amish.

Enough, I say.

Give me some literature that will plunge me to the depths and raise me to the heights. Writing that will ring my bell with moment after moment, line after line, scene after scene that grabs me and shakes me and makes me feel like the author just walked over my grave. 

I want the real deal when I read. And that’s what I’m going to continue to write. How about you?

Patrick E. Craig

About The Book:

ISLANDS: Far On The Ringing Plains INSPIRED BY TRUE EVENTS
In the spirit of The Thin Red Line, Hacksaw Ridge, Flags of our Fathers and Pearl Harbor.

Realistic. Gritty. Gutsy. Without taking it too far, Craig and Pura take it far enough to bring war home to your heart, mind, and soul. The rough edge of combat is here. And the rough edge of language, human passion, and our flawed humanity. If you can handle the ruggedness and honesty of Saving Private Ryan, 1917 or Dunkirk, you can handle the power and authenticity of ISLANDS: Far on the Ringing Plains.

For the beauty and the honor is here too. Just like the Bible, in all its roughness and realism and truthfulness about life, reaching out for God is ever present in ISLANDS. So are hope and faith and self-sacrifice. Prayer. Christ. Courage. An indomitable spirit. And the best of human nature triumphing over the worst.

Bud Parmalee, Johnny Strange, Billy Martens—three men that had each other’s backs and the backs of every Marine in their company and platoon. All three were raised never to fight. All three saw no other choice but to enlist and try to make a difference. All three would never be the same again. Never. And neither would their world.

This is their story.


Patrick authored The Apple Creek Dreams series, The Paradise Chronicles, A Quilt For Jenna, The Road Home, Jenny’s ChoiceThe Amish HeiressThe Amish Princess, and The Mennonite Queen
Visit Patrick’s Website at Http://www.patrickecraig.com
and Amazon Author Page at http://tinyurl.com/megefh6

Small Things


It’s hard to avoid feeling our yard has very little to offer in the way of beauty right now, but here in Northern Iowa, beauty comes in small doses, it seems. 


My husband found an early butterfly, for one thing. These usually don’t show up for a few more weeks,and with the forecast predicting frost and temps in the lower thirties next week, I don’t know how long this beautiful winged creature will last. But right now, we get to marvel at the intricate artwork of these wings. 


And I never can get enough of daffodils. Late last fall, I ran out and planted some miniature daffodil bulbs minutes before the first winter storm blew in. Now, we’re feasting our eyes on their cheery blossoms as some purple tulips join in. 

Then, we look over at the bluebells we transplanted from our friends’ creekside pasture a few years ago. What a shade of blue to regale us! 

The trees may be just leafing out, but there’s nothing quite like that early spring green against the sky.

And from a high branch, we hear a cardinal’s call. Takes me back to reading The Secret Garden with our daughter when she was young. Such a lovely story, where simple springtime delights mean so much.

Maybe this season would be a good time to re-read that one. It’s never too late to enjoy a good book all over again.

Sometimes we can start feeling as though we don’t have much to offer, like our garden. But when we take a closer look, we find our gifts can meet needs in ways we might not have realized.

I would love to hear how this concept has proven true for you during this shelter-in-place time.

History Note

This generation had been born during and after the Spanish Flu Epidemic.

Now, the world had come through the Great War and the Great Depression. Hitler had taken control of the Sudetenland and Austria. When he invaded Poland, France and England declared war on Germany.

In May 1940, King George VI declared Winston Churchill England’s new Prime Minister. On May 10, Mr. Churchill addressed his new government.

“I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.
“We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival… But I take up my task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, “come then, let us go forward together with our united strength.”

August 5–transatlantic flights from London are suspended for September.

August 15- Government Quote and Cypher School personnel move to Bletchley Park

August 23 – most National Gallery paintings are evacuated to Wales

August 24 – Parliament recalled, Army Reservists called up, Civil Defense workers alerted

August 30 – the Royal Navy proceeds to war stations

In retrospect, the markers are clear, but many thought, surely the world will not engage in another horror like the Great War–surely humankind has learned its lesson!

Too late to turn back, the British people went forward. Soon afterward, the Blitzkrieg began, with tens of thousands of bombs dropped on their homeland. As with the Great War and the Influenza Epidemic of 1918, there was but one way to go–through.

Pansies…for pondering

We associate flowers with spring, including the traditional Easter lily for this Sunday when our thoughts turn to resurrection. But in this blustery wintry storm in Northern Iowa, we need some cheery pansies.

The word pansy comes from mid 15th century French from the word penser, and  pensee is the feminine form, meaning to think or ponder over something. The French word pensee derives from the Latin word pensare which means to consider or pendare which means to take measure of a situation, to take everything into consideration.

I can’t help but think of those who went before us, who spent their holidays…often several years’ worth of Easters far from loved ones, on battle fields, in field hospitals or other dangerous situations. They must have thought again and again, “this will one day be over.”

So taking into consideration all this day stands for–Hope instead of despair, light to replace darkness, life triumphing over death–a joyful Easter to you in spite of a nasty virus and in the midst of a snowstorm.

HOPE

This quality underlies all of our best efforts. Embracing hope means turning our backs on the doubt that so easily arises and doing what we can, right now.

The white hair in the background on this photo shows that I didn’t realize my reflection would show up. But maybe that’s not a bad thing, as our hope reflects how we face whatever comes our way.

Albert Einstein, a Greatest Generation member, said: “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

Hope means finding OPPORTUNITIES in the midst of life’s quandaries and challenges. May this be our determination in April 2020, even as it was for our parents and grandparents seventy-five years ago. Here’s a photo of HOPE snapped back then.

See the black arrow on the right? It points to Dorothy Woebbeking, R.N., a surgical nurse during one of WWII’s gruesome battles. Doing what you can with what you’ve got…this gave Dorothy great satisfaction. For more about her incredible HOPEFUL attitude: https://www.amazon.com/Until-Then-Women-Heartland-Book-ebook/dp/B07SZ4BD5D

Watching for Sunrise

Welcome April! Even though you bring us frightening news, we’re glad for the warmer weather. This morning in Butler County, Iowa, on the way to work, my sister captured the sunrise, and had graciously allowed me to share her photos.

I’m so glad she took the time to pause on the roadway and snap these shots, in a season when we all need reminders of beauty and hope. And what signifies hope better than a gorgeous sunrise?

Maybe this can remind us, too, to PAUSE in the midst of bad news. To take the time to do what we can during this period. A ninety-four year-old said the other day, “This makes me think of the polio scare back in the late forties early fifties.”

What a recollection–the polio epidemic struck fear into the hearts of Americans everywhere. This woman’s sister developed partial paralysis from the disease–she experienced the effects of this disease firsthand.

It’s almost always a good thing to PAUSE and consider history–realizing how we worked together to survive other scary times infuses courage. and courage has a lot to do with that wonderful four-letter word H O P E.

May you sense hope right now, even in the shadow fear casts over us.