Riding in A Covered Wagon– not all it’s cracked up to be!

Donna Schlachter, Author and Story Teller, visits us this week with her new novel, Calli. Words that paint pictures, pictures that tell stories, and stories that change hearts. Read on for information she learned researching her latest novel and a GIVEAWAY.

I love western movies. The long rides into the sunset. Horses that always do what you ask of them. People who help you out of a tough spot. The bad guy always gets what’s coming to him. And, of course, travel in a covered wagon–comfortable, convenient, and carefree.

What’s that? Wrong!?

But that’s the way movies show them, isn’t it? Rolling along across the flat prairie. Children skipping alongside. Butter churned by the end of the day. Complete dinners prepared over a campfire. Coffee always available.

As any of the hundreds of thousands of westward emigrants could attest—and often did, in their journals, letters home, and books—covered wagons and their journeys weren’t as easy a way to journey as we think.

In researching my recent book, Calli, I discovered the following facts which I found very interesting:

  • Although most movies show Conestoga wagons, they were rarely used in the west because they were too heavy to pull up and down mountains. Instead, the small and lighter wagon, often a simple farm or cargo wagon, was used.
  • Oxen were used even more often than horses. Oxen are stronger, can pull for more hours a day, and are more durable than horses.
  • Clambering into a covered wagon involves getting your body up at least five feet above the ground. Step stools were rare, so unless somebody stood on the bed and hauled you up, your path usually involved the wheel hub, the top rim of the wheel, then gripping the side of the wagon and hoisting your leg over. All in a skirt and several layers of petticoats that reached to your ankles, if you’re a woman. 

Giveaway: I will gift one lucky randomly-drawn winner with an ebook copy of Calli. Leave your answer to the following question AND include your email address cleverly disguised in this format: donna AT livebytheword DOT com  That way the spammers can’t find you, but we can!

Question: What’s the strangest vehicle or method of conveyance you’ve ridden/driven in. For me, the moto-taxis in Lima Peru. 

About Donna:

A hybrid author, Donna writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 50 times in books; is a member of several writers groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both. 

Stay connected so you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter! www.DonnaSchlachter.com

Anchored Hearts

Julie Arduini has visited DARE TO BLOOM before, but this time, she’s really been industrious! She’s introducing a the first novel in her six-book Surrendering Hearts series. She shares her unique plot idea with us, and is offering a choice of a paperback copy or an e-book to a commenter here.

I enjoy hearing the inspiration behind new things.  Couples and how they met. Employees and how they ended up in their career. Authors and how they came to the idea for their book. With my new release, Anchored Hearts, it’s quite the journey on how the book and series started.

 My new series, Surrendering Hearts, revolves around the question, what if a family with a unique birth story stayed in the national spotlight because of tragedy? It took a while to come to that question, but it all started with a chat one day I had with my sister. We were talking about unique birth stories and she encouraged me to write about it. One idea we tossed around was about donor siblings. We also talked about multiples.

I followed the McCaughey septuplets since their birth and looked forward to the annual interview Ann Curry would host showing the world how the family was doing. When that conversation came with my sister, I thought about a fictional family of multiples.

From there, I considered how inspired and challenged I was watching This is Us. The writing fascinated me. How did they create such complex characters and span those decades? When that drama started, I wondered could I even attempt writing anything with a big family at the center? 

It took years of starts and re-starts, but Surrendering Hearts is a fleshed-out six book series about the fictional Hart sextuplets from Upstate New York. Each sibling will get their own book to answer the question about the national spotlight. Each book will also show their quest to discover their own identity and find a love like the one their parents shared. 

First up is Jordyn, the oldest and the one having a hard time giving up control. What happens when she has a new job and colleague who is just like her?

Can two go-getters surrender their need to control and find a happily-ever-after?

Jordyn Bell Hart succeeds in most everything she does. Her promotion to morning show co-anchor blossoms her career in the same way her mother’s work did. Jordyn keeps tabs on her family and enjoys helping them grow. When life around Jordyn starts to change, can she surrender her desire to control?

Spencer Collins knows how to balance a busy life. He has his work as a reporter, his time caregiving for his grieving father, and looking out for his little brother. When he learns he’s the new co-anchor of a morning show with Jordyn Hart, can he handle working with a celebrity who brings a lot of challenges to life on and off the set?

Anchored Hearts

Genre: Christian/Clean & Wholesome romance

Ebook: https://www.amazon.com/Anchored-Hearts-Surrendering-Book-ebook/dp/B09XH1KVXD

Softcover: https://www.amazon.com/Anchored-Hearts-Julie-Arduini/dp/1733687645

Julie Arduini loves to encourage readers to find freedom in Christ by surrendering the good, the bad, and —maybe one day—the chocolate. She’s the author of the new contemporary romance series SURRENDERING HEARTS (Anchored HeartsRepairing Hearts, +four more.) Her other romance series is SURRENDERING TIME (Entrusted, Entangled, Engaged.) She also co-wrote a YA series with her daughter, SURRENDERING STINKIN’ THINKIN’ (You’re Beautiful, You’re Amazing, You’re Brilliant.) Her stand-alone romances include MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN and RESTORING CHRISTMAS. Julie maintains a blog at juliearduini.com and participates in the team blog Christians Read. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Learn more by visiting her at http://linktr.ee/JulieArduini.

Julie Arduini loves to encourage readers to find freedom in Christ by surrendering the good, the bad, and —maybe one day—the chocolate. She’s the author of the new contemporary romance series SURRENDERING HEARTS (Anchored HeartsRepairing Hearts, +four more.) Her other romance series is SURRENDERING TIME (Entrusted, Entangled, Engaged.) She also co-wrote a YA series with her daughter, SURRENDERING STINKIN’ THINKIN’ (You’re Beautiful, You’re Amazing, You’re Brilliant.) Her stand-alone romances include MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN and RESTORING CHRISTMAS. Julie maintains a blog at juliearduini.com and participates in the team blog Christians Read. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Learn more by visiting her at http://linktr.ee/JulieArduini.

A Heart To Cherish

I don’t often feature Romance authors here, but am happy to welcome Judith McNees, because the story behind her novel touches me. She’s out to make a difference in this old world! Hope you enjoy A HEART TO CHERISH. AND Judith is offering a free e-book to one commenter here.

The first seeds for the character Julia in A Heart to Cherish began to form in my mind back in 2011 when my husband and I went through foster parent training. In one of the classes, we listened to a panel of foster parents and former foster youth talk about different aspects of the foster care system. 

The thing that stuck out to me the most from that experience was hearing just how many children “age out” of foster care without being adopted. Perhaps I’d been naïve to think that, on the whole, the system was working. That day, my paradigm changed, and I realized that young people were leaving foster care by the thousands with no support system behind them.

Writing what I’m passionate about comes naturally, so when I got the stirring in my heart to write a novel last summer, having a character who was a former foster youth was an obvious choice for me. I wanted Julia to be a character who would show how heartbreaking it can be to grow up in this system but also leave my readers with a sense of hope. The love she experiences in her new “found family” helps her to grow beyond the loss and abandonment she went through many times over as an orphan and a foster child.

Just like Julia, it is very common for teens who “age out” of foster care to become homeless, and well over half of the girls become pregnant by the time they are twenty-one. Like Julia, more than half of them experience difficulties finding gainful employment by the time they are twenty-four. Though many of these teens report a desire to go on to college, as many as one quarter of them will fail to even graduate high school due to the number of times they have to switch schools as well as other problems that make it difficult to finish.

I’m very thankful for my own journey with foster care and adoption and the things I’ve learned along the way. It is my hope that, through Julia’s story, others will be encouraged to find their own ways to help as well. 

https://judithmcnees.com

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www.goodreads.com/judithmcnees

Waiting for the Book (baby)

Cherie Dargan will soon be sharing her soon-to-be-released DEBUT NOVEL, The Gift. This Iowa tale with some surprises from family history marks the beginning of her Grandmother’s Treasures series. Like the Mama robin in our honeysuckle bush just outside my window, Cherie awaits the BIG MOMENT! If you’ve ever anticipated the arrival of either baby or book, I think you’ll appreciate her take on this season of life.

She’s offering a signed copy of THE GIFT to a commenter here. As you’ll see, there’s a very special person at the heart of Cherie’s story.

Every quilt has a story.” The Gift, 2022, WordCrafts Press.

So much energy goes into writing a novel–and then finding a publisher. We don’t talk enough about what happens after you sign the book contract, especially as a novice. I knew I needed to set up an author page on Facebook, create a website, order business cards, and open a new bank account. I made a list of what to do once the book arrives, but until then, I’m stuck waiting.  

A photographer took photos of me with some of the family “treasures” that inspired the series, including a chest built by my grandfather, filled with a dozen vintage quilts. I liked the photos, used them online, then began wondering what the book cover would look like–and will I like it? I looked at my friend Gail’s book covers and felt reassured because we have the same publisher. So, I work on editing the next book, wondering if this will be ‘the day’ that I hear something about my book’s publication or get a preview of the cover. 

Another friend’s new book, with the cover, page numbers and header formatted so nicely, stirred my emotions. I can’t wait for my book to come out! Then, it hits me. I’ve been nesting, something pregnant women do before the births of their babies. Expectant moms paint the nursery, buy a crib, clean, organize, and practice saying baby names out loud. They hope their babies will be healthy. They pat their tummies and stare at the ultrasound pictures in awe.

I don’t pat my tummy, but I worry–will people like my book? Read and review it? Will it help me launch my series? Did I pick a good title? Gail tells me ‌I’m having Braxton Hicks contractions and I’ll be fine once the “baby” is here. But it’s hard to be patient.

Aunt Jeanne in 1945 with her daughter

After all the hard work planning, researching, drafting, and revising the book, I imagine opening the first shipment. Holding my book. Presenting a copy to my Aunt Jeanne, 97, whose real-life experiences as a Rosie Riveter building bombers during WWII inspired me to create a character based on her. Just as I placed my babies in her arms, I can’t wait to sign my book and hand it to this lovely woman who has been like a mother to me.

Together, we’ll celebrate its ‘birth.’

Learn more about Cherie and how to contact her:

Cherie Dargan reinvented herself in retirement. She’s the President of her local League of Women Voters, manages several websites, and continues to research her family history, which goes back to the 1850s in Iowa. Her grandsons are the seventh generation to live in Iowa. 

She describes her writing as women’s fiction set in the Midwest, with a twist of history, mystery, faith, and love.

Grandmother’s Treasures, Book One, set in 2012, takes place in Jubilee Junction, Iowa—a frontier railroad town on the Jubilee River. Three big families—the Nelsons, O’Connors, and Carlsons—founded Jubilee Junction in the early 1850s. Each book in the series focuses on a quilt, a war, or an era in American history, and has dual timelines and narrators, starting with The Gift. 

Aunt Violet—one of the main characters—is based on Aunt Jeanne’s personality, faith, and enduring love for her family.


Retired Professor of Communications Author & Advocate/President, League of Women Voters of Black Hawk-Bremer Counties  

cheriedargan@gmail.com

www.cheriedargan.com
www.facebook.com/Cherie-Dargan-Writer-106756544789778

Prodigal Lives

Aren’t all of our lives prodigal in some way or another? Carol McClain uses her teaching experience with recovering addicts to open our eyes to “life on the other side.” I admire her determination to make a difference in our society. Carol is offering an e-book copy of PRODIGAL LIVES to one commenter.

My husband and I had a chance to teach recovering addicts in jail. The program, proven to reduce recidivism, helped them identify behaviors that ruined their lives and how to readjust their own actions. Loaded with our workbooks and naivete, we set out to teach them how to change their lives.

Instead, these individuals opened our eyes to the fact that our penal system is structured to destroy them. 

Odd as it seems, the local jail did everything they could to ruin the program. They lied to the individuals, reneged on their promises, denied them the on-the-job training already in place for them, and jettisoned any chance for us to return to the jail and help others.

Then, once these individuals got out, they had nowhere to go but to the addicted families who messed them up in the first place. Once released with huge fines, no vehicle, no work training, and no support group, they quickly fell into old patterns.

Guess what happened next?

In my latest release, Prodigal Lives, Pearl Solomon found herself, like these incarcerated people in our county jail, beyond redemption. Having sunken so low, she had to find the one source of hope. Jealousy and pride alienated her from her sisters and foster mother. Sure of herself and determined to have fun, Pearl, who has no mentor, slides into despair.

But don’t you despair. McClain can enthrall you with love, humor, and pathos in her newest release Prodigal Lives, the second volume in the Treasured Lives series. Many say Prodigal Lives is her best novel yet.

As one reviewer stated, “This book deftly continued from the excellent book Borrowed Lives … the beautiful fosterlings Meredith fell in love with in the first novel are taken from her life one by one … The story follows each of the children as well as Meredith as they deal with seemingly unsurmountable obstacles and heartaches. Love prevails in this wonderfully well written and fast-paced novel.

You can find your copy on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Prodigal-Lives-Carol-McClain/dp/164949551X/ref

Keep up with McClain at carolmcclain.com. Sign up for her newsletter and blog and never miss an update.

Not By Sight

Were the patriarchs real people like you and me? Elizabeth Jacobson has some valuable insights concerning this question, and is offering a free ebook copy (MOBI or EPUB) of her novel NOT BY SIGHT to a commenter. (I love this cover!–Have to say so b/c Elizabeth and I share the same publisher. (:

Imagine you’re back in Sunday School, sitting down with all your friends and watching the nervous volunteer parent who teaches the class smile over the flannelgraph. “Now, friends,” (s)he says, holding up a flannel image of a teenager in what looks like a rainbow bathrobe: “This is Joseph.”

Joseph is plastered to the flannelgraph, and the parent puts a flannel group of angry men next to him. “His brothers hated him because his father gave him a beautiful coat. They threw him in a pit and sold him as a slave!”

Appreciative gasps echo from the crowd of five-year-olds – even kids know that good drama comes from torturing your characters.

“His master threw him in prison – ” (we necessarily skip why) “– but one day Pharaoh had a dream!”

Flannel Pharaoh appears, slapped on the flannelgraph, wearing a white skirt and lots of bling.

“Joseph interpreted the dream, and Pharaoh made him his second-in-command. When Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt looking for food during a famine, Joseph helped them. And you know what, friends?” The parent looks around with a grin. “Joseph never lost his faith in God! Isn’t that amazing?”

You and your friends nod solemnly. What a guy.

You probably hear this story at least once a year in Sunday School, but by the time you’re a worldly-wise sixth grader, you start to nod a little less and frown a little more.

You know the story like the back of your hand.

But it doesn’t make sense anymore.

The truth is that this Joseph, this icon of the Sunday-School world, isn’t a person to emulate. He can’t be emulated.

Because the story of a man who faced every unthinkable hardship thrown his way with a smile on his face and praise on his lips and forgiveness in his heart is. Not. A. Story. Of. Real. Faith. 

You want real faith? Look at the guy who talked to Jesus in Mark Chapter 9. “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

Humans aren’t perfect. Why then are we shown a perfect Joseph?

The Bible is not written as a novel. Most narratives in the Bible go over the events needed to comprehend the message in rapid-fire succession. No discussion of motives, internal conflict, or thought processes. It’s easy, then, to step back from the humanity of Joseph and place near-perfection on him.

In writing Not by Sight, my goal was to come up with consistent personality traits and motivations – and logical, human reactions to events, that would lead Joseph to become the person of true, unwavering faith that he ultimately was.

It was a wild ride, but I had a blast. I’m excited to share it with you!

Back Cover of NOT BY SIGHT

Beloved. Betrayed. Despised. Exalted. Joseph, the eleventh son of the patriarch Jacob, had his father’s favor, and that was his downfall. Sold into Egypt by his enraged and jealous brothers, Joseph is left with nothing to cling to except the stories of his father’s God, a seemingly remote and unreachable figure. Faith may prove futile, but Joseph is desperate – for the very hate that enslaved his brothers has begun to overtake him.

Not by Sight is a retelling of the story of Joseph, his brothers, and his coat from the Biblical book of Genesis. Focusing on both Biblical and historical accuracy, the novel examines his extraordinary journey of faith.

Really, what could make a man turn to God when every event in his life screams that God has turned his back on him?

Published by WordCrafts Press!

Elizabeth Jacobson is a middle-school math teacher in sunny California who loves the Bible, fantasy, and science fiction. She got bit by the writing bug at age thirteen and has been frantically putting words on pages ever since. Her goal in writing is to share with the world the most important message anyone can express: the Love of God and His Son, Jesus Christ. 
Not by Sight: a novel of the patriarchs is her first novel.
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Middle-Grade Fiction Series

A grateful welcome to Dr. MaryAnn Diorio this week. She will be giving away a free copy of her novel to a commenter, in whatever format the winner chooses. In these times with so many attacks on our youth, we need books like this!

My foray into children’s fiction began many years ago while I was browsing in my local bookstore. I was delighted to discover a book about Jesus in a secular bookstore. But my delight soon turned into sorrow as I scanned the book.  The author had presented Jesus as merely a teacher a prophet, like Mohammed or Buddha. Worst of all, readers were encouraged to choose to worship the one they preferred.


I literally left that bookstore in tears, determined to write a book that told children the truth about Jesus. That book became Who is Jesus?, published in 2014.

From there, I went on to write a series of chapter books for six-to-ten-year-old reluctant readers whose main character is an adventurous eight-year-old named Penelope Pumpernickel. 

Dixie Randolph and the Secret of Seabury Beach is my first middle-grade novel. I love this age group and believe it to be an impressionable age during which children face choices that will impact the rest of their lives.


About Dixie Randolph and the Secret of Seabury Beach

A 200-year-old family feud, a hidden pirate’s treasure, and a theft launch 12-year-old Dixie Randolph and her BFF, Tilly Mendoza, on an adventurous journey to discover the thief, to reconcile the feuding families, and to solve what has become known as  the “secret of Seabury Beach.”  Along the way, Dixie faces her own personal family feud when her younger sister Heather refuses to acknowledge Dixie as her sister because Dixie was adopted. Despite Dixie’s repeated attempts to befriend Heather, their relationship worsens. But when Dixie comes face-to-face with the wrath of the thief’s direct descendant, she risks her life not only to save the feuding families but her sister Heather as well.

In this first book of the Dixie Randolph Series of Middle-Grade Novels, Dr. MaryAnn Diorio offers 8-to-12-year-old children an exciting and entertaining story that will keep them turning pages as they explore the themes of sibling rivalry, forgiveness, friendship, and adoption. Set on beautiful Cape Cod, Dixie Randolph and the Secret of Seabury Beach will be sure to delight your middle-grade child with timeless truths about family, forgiveness, and love.

MaryAnn will giving away a free copy of her novel, in whatever format the winner chooses. 

My Website:  https://www.maryanndiorio.com

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6592603.MaryAnn_DiorioAmazon Author Central: https://www.amazon.com/MaryAnn-L.-Diorio/e/B005FU4IAS
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/maryann-diorio

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drmaryanndiorio/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/drmaryanndiorio/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/drmaryanndiorio/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DrMaryAnnDiorio

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Chicken Soup For The Soul

Welcome to Sheila Roe, an Arizona author. Sheila and I met several years ago, and since then, She’s been busy writing! She shares with us about her story for Chicken Soup For The Soul this week, and is offering TWO signed paperback copies to two of you who leave a comment.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grieving, Loss & Healing

It’s not a question of “if”, but “when” grief will intrude on your life. While it’s true there are many aspects to grief, they may rear their ugly heads in random patterns, look like something unexpected and even ambush you in a quiet moment when everything seems to be fine.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grieving, Loss & Healing is a collection of 101 true stories of grief. Each story is unique, yet there are commonalities across the spectrum. Thankfully, as our society has become more open about sharing difficult times, the way in which we approach grief as individuals and families has evolved. Chapter 7: “The Monty Dinner” is the story of a first-grief experience for children. As related in this chapter, that experience is often the death of a beloved family pet. What was a crushing blow to our children provided our family an opportunity to lay the groundwork for grief experiences to come later in life.

“The silence in the car is oppressive as we drive home on Thursday night. Just the four of us and an empty collar. The weight of a tiny dog is crushing all of us with his absence. Glancing at my husband behind the wheel, his eyes fixed on the road ahead, I turn to Max and Emma in the back seat. “Okay, tomorrow night we’re having dinner in the dining room. Your job is to find your favorite picture of Monty and bring it, and a story that goes with it.” They stare vacantly ahead. I’m not even sure they have heard me.

As parents, we do the best we can, often crafting plans on the fly, hoping they will yield the results we need and expect. In the end, we must have faith that the journey is what was intended. Perhaps it will heal us, certainly it will test us, but ultimately, it will strengthen us if we choose to share it with those we love and He who loves us through moments of darkness and light. 

How has a loss affected you and your family?

Arizona author Sheila Roe has worked with those in grief since 2003. She served as a Group Facilitator for and was the lead Facilitator Trainer and Director of Development for Walking the Mourner’s Path and acted as a consultant to the Journey to Joy grief recovery program. She has written extensively about grief, including its annual cost to American business and has presented grief training programs across the country. Sheila is a public speaker and freelance writer based in Scottsdale, Arizona whose work has been published in newspapers, magazines and books in the U.S. and Europe.

She is an award-winning author who co-wrote and co-edited the Arizona Centennial anthology Skirting Traditions: Arizona Women Writers and Journalists 1912 – 2012, the co-author of New Beginnings, Daily Christian Studies to Begin Your Grief Recovery, the author of Surviving the Holidays with a Grieving Heart and an author included in the 2022 Chicken Soup for the Soul book entitled Grieving, Loss and Healing.

Challenges on the Home Front, World War II.

Peggy Ellis join us today with the second edition of her book of stories written by World War II women. So much to learn here! Peggy’s giving away a signed paperback to one commenter (U.S. only). Thanks so much for honoring these women, Peggy!

From 1939 through the end of World War II in 1945, we learned war is not only bombs and battleships, firearms and foxholes. War demands support from people on the home front. That is the basis for Challenges on the Home Front, World War II.

Throughout history, women have held pivotal positions but too often without acknowledgement. This generation of women, through sheer determination, held the family together during the Great Depression and immediately accepted and conquered the challenge to hold their nation together during a devastating world war.

These women refused to revert to their subordinate role at the end of the war. With the support of President Harry Truman, they led the charge for gender equality which led to the equality movement of the 1970s and still affects us today.

From the time Germany and Japan declared war on Europe and the United States until total surrender in 1945, people who had dealt with the difficulties of the worldwide Great Depression now faced more deprivation and uncertainty. Women carried a major burden: the need to maintain their homes and families while taking the places men had formerly occupied in the workforce. 

To do this, they had to overcome the centuries-old belief that a woman’s place was only in the home. The term ‘Rosie the Riveter’ originally applied to women working in airplane factories but came to represent various previously all-male workforces.

Challenges offers stories from eight home frontsBelgium, England, Finland, Germany, The Netherlands, The United States, Wales, and The West Indies. These first-person stories were written by individuals, not based on interviews. 

Fifteen-year-old Miss Junior Red Cross Marie cared for wounded soldiers in a veterans’ hospital; at sixteen, Lucy earned silver wings as an official plane spotter; Ann was the first female to join the boilermakers’ union; Ardis taught sailors how to bake. Billie gives us unforgettable poetry. Challenges contains many more stories of women whose efforts still affect our lives today.

I have tremendous respect for a generation of women, my writers’ group helped me meet my dream of giving voice them. We contacted people we knew who had lived in other countries during the war. I emphasize that these individuals wrote their own stories

I originally prepared this for Women’s History Month, but some entries come from men—I only specified no battle stories. This second edition contains the original, including era photographs and additional stories. On a 2019 cruise, one of the speakers was a British authority on WWII, and my conversations with him enhances this edition.

Perhaps these stories will encourage you to research your family’s experiences during the years when women took on new challenges and proved themselves, indeed, to be “The Greatest Generation” as newsman Tom Brokaw labeled them.

This year, Peggy Lovelace Ellis celebrates fifty years as a writer and freelance editor. She continues both professions. She has published in many nationally-distributed magazines, had a regular column in the RPG Digest, ezine and print for 15 years, and published in the Divine Moments series, Merry Christmas Moments (2017), Christmas Stories (2020), and Broken Moments (2021). For four years, she produced and edited a 15-page monthly periodical for local readership. She compiled and edited three anthologies for her writers’ group: Challenges on the Home Front World War II (Chapel Hill Press, 2004; Second Edition, 2020), Lest the Colors Fade (Righter Books, 2008), and A Beautiful Life and Other Stories (Righter Books, 2010). Each contains her short fiction, memoirs, and research. She also published a book of her own short stories, Silver Shadows, Stories of Life in a Small Town (2021).

www.peggyellis.com

LinkedIn Peggy Lovelace Ellis

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All That Is Hidden

Welcome to Laura DeNooyer-Moore, whose novel about Appalachia comes out of her own experience in Appalachia. Laura is offering an e-book giveaway to one fortunate commenter.

Throw 22 Midwestern education students in a bus and drive them to western North Carolina to help in the mountain schools, and you’ve got a culture clash. Turns out the teacher aids have the most to learn.

Such was my first introduction to southern Appalachia. 

Enter Mr. Woody. He lived forty percent of his life covered in sawdust. He spent half the week in the forest seeking the right wood—the way his family did for generations. His chairs were so solid he could balance each on one leg with all of his weight on it. No doubt he could make a fortune with his chair-building skills. 

Yet he couldn’t tell you how long it took to make one. 

Meet the blacksmith who never advertised. Though he was booked solid with orders, he took his time with 22 college kids. He demonstrated how to forge a fanciful leaf from a hunk of iron, then preached a sermon from Revelation 2 about how the attributes of iron compared to Christ.

Though blacksmithing provided a livelihood, his lifeblood wasn’t from any exchange of money. It came from the instruments of his trade, and the personal exchanges between him and anybody who entered his shop.

To put it in mountain terms, Mr. Woody and the blacksmith cared no more for money than a crow cared for a holiday.

We students also learned mountain clogging, hiked the Appalachian trail, and were captivated by the storytelling magic of Richard Chase, resident folklorist. I was struck by the number of people who created meaningful lives by a route much different than those seeking the prosperity of the American Dream. 

With little money, few possessions, and no races up the ladder of success, these folks still enjoyed rich lives—a foreign concept to me then. No fancy homes, expensive cars, or Caribbean cruises. But they were wealthy with things they could never lose: a richness in spirit, a deep contentment, a joy in daily life, work, and family.

That primed the creative juices: “What would happen with a clash between big-city northern values and southern Appalachian culture?” I wrote a prize-winning short story about it when I got home.

I tucked the tale away but it wouldn’t rest in peace. Over the years, those characters beckoned me back to their hills until I succumbed and wrote their story in novel form.

***************

BLURB:

Are secrets worth the price they cost to keep? Ten-year-old Tina Hamilton finds out the hard way. 

She always knew her father had a secret. But all of God’s earth to Tina are the streams for fishing, the fields for romping, a world snugly enclosed by the blue-misted Smokies. Nothing ever changed.

Until the summer of 1968. Trouble erupts when northern exploitation threatens her tiny southern Appalachian town. Some folks blame the trouble on progress, some blame the space race and men meddling with the moon’s cycles, and some blame Tina’s father. 

A past he has hidden catches up to him as his secret settles in like an unwelcome guest. The clash of progressive ideas and small town values escalates the collision of a father’s past and present.

Purchase here or on my website: https://amzn.to/2HF4UB9   

BIO:

Laura DeNooyer, a Calvin College alumni, thrives on creativity and encouraging it in others. She teaches writing in SE Wisconsin. She and her husband raised four children as she penned her first novel, All That Is Hidden. An award-winning author of heart-warming historical and contemporary fiction, she is president of her American Christian Fiction Writers chapter. Her new Standout Stories blog features novel reviews and author interviews. https://lauradenooyer-author.com 

My website (with book trailer): https://lauradenooyer-author.com/books/all-that-is-hidden/

My newsletter—subscribe and receive a free prequel: www.StandoutStoriesNewsletter.com

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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5859120.Laura_DeNooyer_Moore.