Trip Tidbits

Back in North Iowa after five days in Texas Hill Country, I have photos! I’m very grateful to several people who made my research so easy and intriguing. First of all, Lynn Dean, who drove me around like a professional chauffeur. Here’s a photo of her with John Byerley, whom I cannot thank enough for showing us around Loyal Valley.

In front of the Loyal Valley Schoolhouse, John is taping the sole of Lynn’s boot.

This one-room schoolhouse, now owned by John, is where Donnie, one of the characters in my novel to be released in early September, went to school during World War II. His father, Everett, brought him to the U.S. along with his butler friend in 1938.

And here is the actual spot where German pioneer immigrant John Meusebach established his home in the mid-1800s, with fruit trees he planted still visible in the background. This incredible pioneer established many communities in the Hill Country, first by forging a treaty with the warring Comanche tribe.

This powerful leader led the way for thousands of immigrants to purchase land and make a living. As Donnie’s father gets to know this country, he realizes how much John Meusebach has to teach him from a century earlier.

We visited John’s gravesite, where the engraved logo, Tenax Propositi, declares what was required of these intrepid early settlers. Tenacious of Purpose. His life testifies to the incredible difference one person’s courage and fortitude can make.

More to come soon!

The Time Game

It’s a true delight to present D.A. Featherling this week. What an ingenious, effort-full gift she has given to her grandson, and also to others who read her work! This travel adventure series, 13 books in all, was originally written for 10-12 year-olds, but adults seem to like it, too, although the series is geared for a Y/A audience. I’ll let Dorothy explain, and she’s giving away one paperback copy of Book One to each of THREE commenters. Now, D.A. explains the origin and development of her series:

These books were originally aimed at the YA audience. My grandson loves to read, and I wanted to write something he would enjoy, and I could leave as a remembrance/legacy for him. At the time I started the series, he loved time travel stories. So, as a doting grandma, I decided to write some for him.

Of course, the first issue I had to solve was ‘how was I going to get my characters from one place/time to another?’ A lot of time travel books have been written and everything from a tree house to a rowboat to a horse and more used as the medium of travel. I finally decided a board game would best serve my characters, so before I started writing, I designed The Time Game.

Twelve illustrations gave me twelve locations to send my characters and the center “Deep Underground” picture would finish the series with book number thirteen. I had the game manufactured and added a few ‘penalty’ type boxes to help the excitement of playing, but the illustrations were intended to be the key to the stories.

My protagonists are twins – Marcus and Samantha Willoughby – in the beginning twelve years old. I aged them a year every couple of years so that by the last book they were eighteen and graduated high school. That also allowed readers of various ages to enjoy the adventures since they weren’t limited to one age.

They discover an old board game in a deceased relative’s dusty attic. They take it home and soon find they have introduced excitement and peril into their lives they never expected. Their great-uncle was a self-styled scientist/inventor, and the game was produced and stored by him. A most important part of the story (and the game) are four stones (gemstones used in the game). The red stone transports the twins from their time to the place they ‘land’ and returns them home. The blue stone produces a force field, the green stone heals, and the yellow stone provides heat and/or light. The stones are introduced one at a time in the first four books and then in combination in succeeding books.

The game consists not only of the stones, but tokens as well. Each token is imprinted with one of the illustrations on the game board. When the twins put the matching token on the board square while holding the red stone and touching, they are transported through time to the place represented by the illustration. They have no control, therefore, on where or when they will end up. The titles of all the books represent the number of the tokens as well, i.e., “Eye of the Storm: The First Token”, and so on through book number 13 titled “Deep Underground: The Final Token.”

Wanting the books to be unique, I made a huge effort to find places that had something interesting and not necessarily well-known in history as destinations for the twins. Also, I wanted there to be an element of danger or adventure involved in each story. So it was necessary for me to do a lot of research to come up with unusual ideas that tied into the board illustration and ones that occurred at different times in history. The books are set, not in order, from 1798 to 2048 in various locations throughout the world…and beyond.

As you can tell, the twins get around to a lot of places and to a lot of different times. While researching for the novels, I often discovered what I considered interesting tidbits of historical information that really didn’t fit into the storyline. Not wanting my readers to miss anything, in most of the books, I’ve included a section at the back…”Authors Note”…and shared those bits of information. So the books are educational. And whether humorous or serious in content, always correct as far as the information is concerned.

I also made every effort to be sure the books are as historically accurate as possible. Many readers enjoy having a story that’s true and often contains real people who were involved in interesting and not well-known situations. 

The Time Game Series books are clean reads, with a slight faith element where appropriate. Hopefully, even though my grandson is now a bit older and less inclined to read as opposed to looking at a screen, I hope the children/grandchildren of others will enjoy the books for years to come.

BIOGRAPHY

            D. A. (Dorothy) Featherling is an award-winning, multi-published author with thirty books in print. She has published adult thrillers, mysteries, romantic comedies, and end times fiction. Her non-fiction books include a 1930s Georgetown, Texas cold case murder, two e-books on giving school presentations and a print book encouraging activity for folks who sit too much. She also has a thirteen-book time travel fiction series being read by ages 9-99. The board game that inspired the books has been produced and is available through her website.

         Her administrative years in private corporations, state agencies, and a university physics research center, and as owner of a home staging business, have given her a multitude of ideas and characters for her novels.

         She has also written numerous technical pieces and has won awards for fiction, journalism, and public speaking. Her first mystery, “It Adds Up to Murder,” book 1 of the “It’s Murder at the Office” series, won a Daphne du Maurier Mystery and Suspense Award.  D.A. now lives in Georgetown, Texas.

         Her website: https://dafeatherling.comcontains more information about her and her books. She can be reached at: dafeatherling@gmail.comand loves to hear from her readers.

Shepherd- It’s All About Books!

This week, Ben Fox highlights his vision for his remarkable new site. I’m excited about this venture, and think you will be, too. Ben invites readers to send him feedback and ideas at ben@shepherd.com


I love to read and I love wandering through my local bookstore. Nothing can replace the pleasure I get from that experience. That said, I want to try to build something like that but for the online world and help readers discover books in a new way while helping authors meet more readers.

Shepherd is my attempt to try to find new ways to discover amazing books. I ask authors and experts to recommend 5 books on a topic they know well. Alongside that list, I introduce readers to the author and their book.

This is a win-win situation where readers can find amazing books and authors get to introduce their book to more readers. 


For many years I’ve been wanting to do something to promote books and reading. I started working on the project full-time in December 2020, with no background in publishing. But I am a long-time tech entrepreneur. I think that brings a fresh perspective to this industry and I am hopeful I can bring some value to readers and authors. 

I bought the domain Shepherd.com many years ago. I wasn’t sure what I was going to use it for, but when building this project I felt the domain name was a perfect match for this project. It matches the goal of shepherding readers to pastures full of amazing books. 

In addition to myself, I work with a freelance developer in Berlin and a designer in Serbia on a part-time basis. For the April launch of Shepherd, I manually created data entries for 400+ book recommendation lists, 2,340 books, and 2,457 author profiles. I should have some help soon to speed that up, and along with the developer, have built a really great system to improve the process.


There is a growing trend in publishing that authors have to become their own marketing team. This concerns me because it takes time away from writing and is very difficult to do. I have decades of experience with online marketing, which it is not easy to learn and requires daily investment. 

One of my long-term goals with Shepherd is to make it easier for authors to market themselves and figure out how I can help. To start, I ask authors to recommend 5 books on a subject they are passionate about and we feature one of their books alongside that list forever. The goal is to help authors meet more readers interested in that topic and sell more books.

This is just the start, and we have a lot more coming at Shepherd. 


I love to read and books, and stories are one of my favorite things about humanity. I want to see more authors make enough from their writing to do it full time. Partially for the selfish reasons that I love reading and want to read more great books. And, partially because I think the more we share our experiences and perspective with others, the more we create a more understanding world. 

We live in a time where social-media algorithms serve only to reinforce our world view. I want Shepherd to play a role in combatting that. A book is one of the best ways to help someone see the world through different eyes. We need a lot more of that right now.

I’ve got a lot planned for Shepherd! Between now and August we will be rolling out a feature to relate book lists to each other to help readers follow their curiosity through the site, full topic pages to help readers find books they are interested in, and a search feature. Plus, a lot of improvements to the front page to help readers find something that interests them. 

Visit Ben’s site to find what may become your favorite book!

https://shepherd.com/.

All I Have Seen . . .

Out back, our “cottage garden,” is aiming to mimic those in England. These botanical gems appear rather scattered, but are, in fact, designed to appeal to the eye like a butterfly flitting from blossom to blossom.

Our early flowers include coreopsis, and behind, barely peeking through, forget-me-nots with their delicate periwinkle hue.

The Romantic poets–think Thomas Hardy and Coleridge–created floral treasures just outside their cottages–hence the name. There, beauty was allowed space to run wild, much like the human imagination.

Here, a few of our daisies are blooming against purple stalks of my favorite ground cover, ajuga.

Our garden includes vegetables, and some of our first lettuces added flavor and color to today’s lunch:

The novel I’m working on right now moves from England to Texas Hill Country, and over the next few weeks, I plan to share photos from our courtyard here in Northern Iowa, and then some from those Texas Hills as I embark on a short research trip.

After some severe disappointments, our hero emigrates from his native land in the years before World War II. As he begins a new life, he wonders if the climate of these Texas hills will support a cottage garden.

Well, there’s only one way to find out! RW. Emerson encourages him along the way: “All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.”

Seeing developments in Europe through this British chap’s eyes intrigues me. At the same time, his perspective on developments here in the States, like the Pearl Harbor attack, broadens my understanding of those tumultuous days in our history.

Hope you enjoy the blossoming of our cottage garden and an inside glimpse as this story gradually takes shape.(Yep . . . like a cottage garden!)

Aw, I had to run out for a better shot of those lovely little forget-me-nots!

A Harebrained Idea, a NANO Project, and Loads of Fun

Welcome to Georgiana Daniels, who veered from her normal writing path a few years back . . . and discovered a new genre! She’s offering a giveaway: a paperback copy of Crumbs of Passion to a reader hungry for some FUN READING. (USA only)

Have you ever had a harebrained idea that you had to see through to the end? That was me, back in November 2019—and that’s how Crumbs of Passionwas born! Every year I try (and fail spectacularly) at National Novel Writing Month, NANO for short. That year, I decided to switch things up and write a cozy mystery, just for the fun of it.

Until then, I’d written Christian fiction, and my hope was always to share a deeper purpose and meaning. But when KC Crumb—a woman on the wrong side of 35, returning home after losing her job and her boyfriend—presented herself to me, I had to see what would happen. (I mean, once she found the dead body of her ex in her garage, I knew things were about to heat up!)

Creating a small-town mystery with a cast of zany characters was both a creative release and a way to slip into someone else’s stilettos. I have to say, following my harebrained idea was the most fun I’ve had writing in years, and I believe it comes through in the book! 

Now I’m inviting you along on my harebrained adventure, to join KC and her gang of gung-ho ladies from Crumb’s Bakery as they solve murders and share a whole lot of laughs and friendship along the way. (KC Crumb is also hoping for romance, but we’ll just have to see about that! Book 2, Crumb and Punishmentis in the works—due out Summer 2021.)

You can get to know the gang when you join my newsletterand receiveThe Mystery of the Missing Groom, the short story prequel to Crumbs, as a thank you!

What harebrained ideas have you had lately? Enquiring minds want to know!

Buy link: Crumbs of Passion

Let’s connect!

Facebook

Twitter

Bookbub

Back cover:

What do you get when you cross a jilted ex, a dead body, and a killer canine named Pooh Bear?

When social media manager KC Crumb is fired from her bougie job in L.A., she returns home to Beaver Bluff, Oregon only to discover a dead body in her new rental. Unfortunately, the body belongs to her philandering ex-boyfriend—a man she publicly threatened before she left town 15 years ago. Now all eyes are on KC, including those of hunky officer Antonio Hamson. With the help of her new best friend, who happens to be a jiu-jitsu expert/librarian, and a gaggle of gung-ho ladies from her aunt’s bakery, KC and Pooh Bear set out to track down the real killer. Half the town is under suspicion, including a shady car salesman and a preening personal trainer, causing the clues to mount faster than the followers on her newly single social media profiles. And when her life is mysteriously threatened, KC has to sniff out the murderer…before the handsome officer hauls her in for homicide.

Author bio:

Georgiana Daniels is an author, homeschooling mom, and master’s
degree student. “Busy” is her middle name, but if she finds a nugget of free time she enjoys knitting, reading, and fumbling around on the piano to the dismay of others. Georgiana lives with her family in Arizona where she’s always on the lookout for her next great adventure.

Night Bird Calling

Q & A with Cathy Gohlke

Three-time Christy and two-time Carol and INSPY Award–winning author Cathy Gohlke writes novels steeped with inspirational lessons from history. Her stories reveal how people break the chains that bind them and triumph over adversity through faith. When not traveling to historic sites for research, she and husband, Dan, divide their time between northern Virginia and the Jersey Shore, enjoying time with their grown children and grandchildren.

Cathy is giving away a hard copy of Night Bird Calling to one commenter on this blog. And here’s my review of this novel: Religion can cause great pain when it’s used to control others, and there’s a vast difference between this kind of travesty and true spirituality. The author has the courage to go behind the scenes with abuses kept hidden in other eras, but also shows how healing results through honesty and faith.

What inspired you to write Night Bird Calling?

Years ago I wrote a number of short stories based on some quirky characters in a fictional North Carolina foothills town called No Creek. I loved those characters, but in order to create a novel I needed an outside character who could see both strengths and foibles in my town folk and still care about them, still want to become part of their community, and who could tie their stories together.

For many years I’ve also wrestled with the idea of writing about the racial divide and abuse I saw growing up during years of the civil rights movement in the South, as well as domestic abuse and church oppression, things I experienced in my youth and young womanhood. Night Bird Calling is the marriage of all those experiences and stories.

Night Bird Calling involves some very challenging topics like domestic abuse, racism, and church abuse. What motivated you to write on these topics? I grew up mostly in the South during years of the civil rights movement, where I witnessed segregation, desegregation, racial oppression, and abuse but also heroic stands against injustice and some hard-won changes. I learned that attitudes do not change just because laws change. Transformation of the heart is also needed.

That is as true today as it was then. As a young woman, I ran away from an abusive marriage and an oppressive church. My journey toward emotional and spiritual healing took many years. I want women in similar situations to know that they are not alone, that God loves them so very dearly and that the condemnations of their oppressors do not come from Him.

I wrote Night Bird Calling not only for victims of abuse, but in the hope that readers might gain insight, sympathy, and empathy for those who’ve been abused or pushed down, that they might better understand and see creative ways they can help, ways they can be a voice for the voiceless or those needing someone to walk alongside them.

Visit website at cathygohlke.com and Facebook at CathyGohlkeBooks.


Tyndale: https://www.tyndale.com/p/night-bird-calling/9781496429728

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Night-Bird-Calling-Cathy-Gohlke/dp/1496429729/ 
Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/books/night-bird-calling-9781496429728/9781496429728

ChristianBook.comhttps://www.christianbook.com/night-bird-calling-softcover/cathy-gohlke/9781496429728/pd/429729

Psychedelic Spies

The word Psychedelic doesn’t show up here very often, but that’s what Sally Carpenter has titled her series. Those of us who came of age in the 60’s either were drawn to, or stayed away from those lights! Writing about this era would be daunting for me, but below, Sally tells us how she chose it. Leave a comment to enter a giveaway for a paperback copy of “Flower Power Fatality.” (U.S. addresses only.)

The Glint of an Idea

By Sally Carpenter

How did a week at church camp lead to the creation of a cozy mystery series?

As a youth, I attended a summer church camp in Santa Claus, Indiana. Yes, that was the name of the town. At the time the Methodist Church owned a campground there. When mom picked me up from camp, I wanted to visit the town’s claim to fame: Santa Claus Land, the world’s oldest theme park that opened in 1946. The park is still in operation as Holiday World/Surfin’ Safari.

In about 2016. I was searching for a setting for a new mystery series, something different than the usual cozy towns. Santa Claus became Yuletide, Indiana, which, like its counterpart, has streets and stores with holiday names.

Santa Claus Land became the Country Christmas Family Fun Park. My protagonist, Noelle McNabb (she was born December 25), works as an actress in the park’s Candy Cane Capers musical show. 

In a radical move, I set the books in 1967. I’m not hip on modern technology; I don’t even own a cellphone. I love the culture of the 1960s: the music, media, clothes, vibes. It was a dark time too, with the generation gap, Vietnam War, civil rights movement, space race and the Cold War. 

With the popularity of the James Bond, movies and TV shows were full of spies. Television sets brought the Cold War into everyone’s living room. I created a spy agency that recruits Noelle. With her acting skills, she was a natural for undercover work. However, Noelle is a Christian; she attends Bethlehem Community Church in Yuletide. Her morals clash with the actions of the spy agency. Noelle loves her country, but what if her duty conflicts with her Christian beliefs?

Noelle also discovers she has an aunt she’s never heard of. Should she find the woman or let it be? Can Noelle bring her relative over from the dark side? 

But when Noelle is confused, she returns to the solace of her holiday-themed hometown. Christians also draw their strength from the Christmas story, the birth of the babe that brought salvation to the world.

From a week at church camp to the Psychedelic Spy series is quite a jump. One never knows which experiences God uses to inspire a writer.

Sally Carpenter is a native Hoosier now living in Southern California. She works full time at a family-owned community newspaper, including penning the Roots of Faith column. She serves as a lector (scripture reader) at her parish. Sally writes two mystery series for Cozy Cat Press. 

Purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/Flower-Power-Fatality-Psychedelic-mysteries-ebook/dp/B07DLJS6FF/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=flower+power+fatality&qid=1620143869&s=books&sr=1-1
Online links: My website: http://sandyfairfaxauthor.comFacebook.com.SallyCarpenter.54
Sally Carpenter
Psychedelic Spy mysteries

Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol mysterie

Connecting Generations

Becky Van Vleet preserves family memories in her picture book series–she tells us how she got started and is offering a free hardback copy of Harvey, The Traveling Harmonica to one commenter this week.

Let me add a short review: A Harmonica can find a way into your heart–I discovered this while reading Harvey, the Traveling Harmonica. The generations come together in Harvey’s delightful travels from a father to his son. And surprise! Our hero experiences great danger, rescue, and newfound friendship in the process of family life. I highly recommend this colorful, exciting children’s book, and plan to share my copy with our eight-year-old grandson.

I love creating and preserving family traditions and passing down stories to the next generation. That’s who I am! Sharing family stories with my children, journaling, preserving family traditions from my own childhood came naturally for me as a new wife and mother in the 1970s.

In my current season of life with adult children and my lovely Grands, more than ever I pass down our family stories, and I constantly fan the embers for past and new family traditions. After all, I’m a baby boomer. Shouldn’t we be sharing our stories with the next generations? We have firsthand knowledge of our parents enduring the depression and our fathers fighting in World War II. It is more important than ever before to share our stories.

As a sixty-something retiree, I decided to try my hand at writing a children’s picture book about a true family story. With a little plaid skirt that had been traveling in our family more than seventy years, I couldn’t let this story fade away. I wanted my book to capture this story and preserve the family memories. Thus, Talitha, the Traveling Skirtcame to be.

With the publication success of my first book, I asked myself, why not try another one? What family memory did I want to capture? In my growing up years, my father played the harmonica and I came to love that sweet music from a little instrument that could fit inside his pocket. When my keyboard met up with my memory of my father, Harvey, the Traveling Harmonicawas published soon thereafter. 

As I held my second children’s book for the first time, I asked myself, why not create a series of traveling books? All kinds of family stories swirled through my mind for preserving memories in the form of future children’s books. And I’m excited to say that Rosie, the Traveling Rockeris slated for publication later this year.

We all have stories to share along with family traditions. Our stories make our world. And what better way to preserve our stories, memories, and traditions than through books to connect us all together? I would love for you to check out my website which is devoted to family stories and traditions:  https://www.beckyvanvleet.comIf you have a story to share, let me know and I’ll feature it on my website for others to enjoy!

https://www.amazon.com/Becky-Van-Vleet/e/B07WPFZ98X?ref_=dbs_p_pbk_r00_abau_000000     Amazon author page

https://www.facebook.com/authorbeckyvanvleet     FB author page

https://www.pinterest.com/beckyvanvleet/_saved/

https://www.instagram.com/becky_van_vleet_author/

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/becky-van-vleethttps://www.goads.com/author/show/19507194.

I love creating and preserving family traditions and passing down stories to the next generation. That’s who I am! Sharing family stories with my children, journaling, preserving family traditions from my own childhood came naturally for me as a new wife and mother in the 1970s.

In my current season of life with adult children and my lovely Grands, more than ever I pass down our family stories, and constantly fan the embers for past and new family traditions. After all, I’m a baby boomer. Shouldn’t we be sharing our stories with the next generations? We have firsthand knowledge of our parents enduring the depression and our fathers fighting in World War II. It is more important than ever before to share our stories.

As a sixty-something retiree, I decided to try my hand at writing a children’s picture book about a true family story. With a little plaid skirt that had been traveling in our family more than seventy years, I couldn’t let this story fade away. I wanted my book to capture this story and preserve the family memories. Thus, Talitha, the Traveling Skirt came to be.

With the publication success of my first book, I asked myself, why not try another one? What family memory did I want to capture? In my growing up years, my father played the harmonica and I came to love that sweet music from a little instrument that could fit inside his pocket. When my keyboard met up with my memory of my father, Harvey, the Traveling Harmonica resulted, and was published soon thereafter. 

As I held my second children’s book for the first time, I asked myself, why not make a series of traveling books? All kinds of family stories swirled through my mind for preserving memories in the form of future children’s books. And I’m excited to say that Rosie, the Traveling Rocke ris slated for publication later this year.

We all have stories to share, along with family traditions. Our stories make our world. And what better way to preserve our stories, memories, and traditions than through books to connect us all together? I would love for you to check out my website devoted to family stories and traditions:  https://www.beckyvanvleet.com If you have a story to share, let me know and I’ll feature it on my website for others to enjoy!

Connect with Becky at these sites:

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/becky-van-vleethttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19507194.Becky_Van_Vleethttps://www.facebook.com/authorbeckyvanvleet/https://www.pinterest.com/beckyvanvleet/https://www.linkedin.com/in/becky-van-vleet-806055181/https://www.instagram.com/becky_van_vleet/

Research on a Musical Note

I’ve been having fun listening to CDs of World War II broadcasts to the Armed Forces. The Armed Forces Radio Services was formally established on May 26, 1942.

Initially AFRS programming included transcribed commercial network radio shows such as the Kraft Music Hour without the commercials.

Soon numerous original AFRS programs such as Mail Call were added. Famous crooners (mostly Bing Crosby) and musicians (Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Duke Ellington) regaled their audiences with songs, dialogue, and jokes.

So much to learn about the “trivia” of the era . . . what new products were being advertised, and even how many ration points they would cost the buyer.

Delightful stuff! I may just keep on and on. (: