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

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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

Purchase: https://amzn.to/2HF4UB9

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/laura-denooyer-moore

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

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

Four Christmases at War

Anne Clare visits us today with her latest novel. I’ve read WHERE SHALL I FLEE, and find this heroine especially credible because she seems rather bitter and unlikable at first. There are always reasons for this sort of veil people wear, and Anne did a great job of helping me care for this spunky WWII gal. Of course, her path holds even more difficulties, but cheering for her make-do attitude through them became a joy. Leave a comment for Anne if you’d like a chance to enter her giveaway of one paperback copy (U.S.) or e-book.

There are few times throughout the year when the longing for home and family is stronger than around the holiday season. I’ve lived more than 2,000 miles away from my hometown for nearly 16 years and I still find myself wistfully thinking of crunching across the snowy road to the little country church for the Christmas Eve children’s service, anticipating the after-church treat of a brown paper bag containing peanuts, an orange, an apple, and a bit of candy. 

However, I’ve had the blessing of creating Christmas traditions with my own family in the comfort of our home. How much stronger must have been the holiday longings of the U.S. military personnel serving overseas during the long years of the Second World War—far from home with no certainty of when, or if, they’d be able to return. 

There are many stories from those years of ways people tried to keep Christmas. Stories of soldiers throwing parties for local children and orphans. Stories of turkey and the trimmings served up in mess kits. Stories of POWs combining what goods they had to create some semblance of a celebration. 

Today, Gail has kindly invited me over to share just a few of the stories from the United States’ four Christmases at war. 

1941

Christmas of 1941 found America still reeling after the December 7thattacks on Pearl Harbor. War had come to the United States.

Pearl Harbor was not the only location to be attacked. While thousands of Americans enlisted in the military and began looking for ways to help on the Homefront, others were facing the realities of war head-on. 

Wake Island was assaulted on December 8th, but the small band of defenders—449 Marines along with some Navy personnel, radio operators, and civilians—had held off the Japanese invaders. On December 23rd, however, their resistance was crushed. The survivors would spend Christmas 1941 as prisoners of war. 

On the Philippine island of Luzon, American and Filippino troops had been engaged in their own struggle against invading Japanese forces. On December 23rd, General MacArthur made the decision to have these troops pull back and move their defense down onto the Bataan peninsula. 

Lieutenant Frances L. Nash, a U.S. Army Nurse who had been stationed in the Philippines, spent her Christmas Eve and Christmas Day continuing to serve in the surgery and destroying documents. On Christmas night, she and the other surgical staff were loaded on small ships and evacuated across Manilla Bay to the light of burning ships and buildings. On May 6th, the American forces in the Philippines would finally surrender, and Nash, the other nurses she served with, and thousands of troops would spend the next three Christmases as POWs. 

1942

Though the Philippines had been lost, the war in the Pacific theater raged on.  By Christmas of 1942, American troops faced off against Japanese troops in New Guinea and struggled for the island of Guadalcanal. 

In November the Allies had stormed North Africa in a move dubbed Operation Torch. By Christmas they’d made progress, but home was still very far away. The nurses in the Army hospital at Arzew tried to make the holiday memorable for their patients. The Red Cross helped to provide gifts which the nurses supplemented with homemade candy. They decorated the wards using ornaments cut out from old plasma cans, hand-painted holly and candles, and an evergreen tree decorated with tinfoil from the X-ray department. Worship services brought the Christmas spirit to young men and women far from home.  

1943

Not all of the troops who served were on the front lines for Christmas. According to the National WWII Museum, over 500,000 U.S. personnel celebrated their 1943 Christmas Day in England. Even without the imminent threat of an attack, Christmas away from home was difficult. 

“On Christmas Day, Captain George Nabb Jr., of the 115th Infantry Regiment wrote home to his wife and young son that “it doesn’t seem like Xmas in the least. We do have the day off and have had an excellent turkey dinner.” (Bamford, 2019.)

War still raged in the Pacific, and the Allies had opened a new front in the Mediterranean, crossing over into Italy in September of 1943. The slog up and down the cold, muddy mountains was difficult for soldiers and support staff alike. However, the nurses once again worked to make the holidays festive. The 95thEvacuation hospital, serving casualties from the fighting around Monte Cassino, decorated their wards with strung up rubber gloves, colored penicillin bottles dipped in Epsom salts for “frost,” and tin stars, while “Santa” circulated, passing out gifts to the patients. 

In spite of primitive cooking conditions, the nurses even managed to make homemade fudge to share. Candy making in a war zone was no easy task. Nurse Claudine “Speedy” Glidewell shared her recollections of the process in the excellent book And If I Perish: Frontline U.S. Army Nurses in WWII.

“When there was an air raid or a shelling, she and her tentmates would jump into the foxholes they had dug under their cots. They kept a suitcase nearby and pulled it over the opening of their foxholes to stop or slow down any shrapnel that might come their way. If anyone had to get out of her foxhole for any reason during the air raid or shelling, the other nurses would holler, “Stir the fudge!”” (Monahan 228)**

1944

After the successful “D-Day” Allied landings in Normany on 6 June 1944, hopes of a speedy end to the war ran high. Perhaps, some thought, the troops might even be home for Christmas. 

However, the war in the Pacific went on, and fighting across Europe was fierce and long. Then, just before Christmas of 1944, Germany launched one last great offensive. 

On December 16th, the German army pushed hard against the thin American lines spread out through the Ardennes forest. This attempt to split the Allied forces created such a dent in the American lines that it became known as “The Battle of the Bulge.” 

Freezing temperatures and brutal fighting—including at least one incident of SS troops killing captured American soldiers—turned December of 1944 into a nightmarish struggle.

Once again, the staff of the hospitals were a key part in providing some Christmas cheer to the wounded who visited them. The 128thEvacuation Hospital set up in Verviers where V-1 rockets sailed overhead with the tell-tale “buzz” of their motors. Hearing the motor was a good sign—when it stopped, one knew that the bomb was about to fall.

“At 0800 Christmas Day, the 128thEvac officially opened to receive casualties. One hundred eighty-three wounded and ill soldiers were brought in that day…Patients and staff sang Christmas carols together, shared the Christmas meal, participated in a mass, and exchanged small gifts mostly created from personal items donated by the nurses.” (Monahan 421) **

The Battle of the Bulge would not end for another full month. The Allies would not declare victory in Europe until May 8th. After that, the war in the Pacific would drag on until August, with Japan signing the official surrender documents on September 2nd

However, though there would still be struggles ahead and terrible losses, by Christmas of 1945, America, though still rebuilding, and though still waiting for some of its men and women to come home, could say that at last it was celebrating a Christmas at peace. 

Quoted Works:

*Bamford, Tyler. December 13, 2019. “An Excellent Turkey Dinner”: Christmas Overseas in World War II | The National WWII Museum | New Orleans (nationalww2museum.org)

****Monahan, Evelyn and Neidel-Greenlee, Rosemary. And If I Perish: Frontline U.S. Army Nurses in WWII. New York. Alfred A. Knof, 2003. Print.

New Book Blurb: 

When she had signed up, she’d thought she was ready. Ready for a combat zone. Ready to prove that she could be brave. The sick feeling in the pit of her stomach, stronger and longer lasting than any bout of seasickness, foreboded that maybe she had been wrong.

1944

Lieutenant Jean Hoff of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps and infantryman Corporal George Novak have never met, but they have three things in common.

They are both driven by a past they’d rather leave behind.

They have both been sent to the embattled beachhead of Anzio, Italy.

And when they both wind up on the wrong side of the German lines, they must choose whether to resign themselves to captivity or risk a dangerous escape.

Where Shall I Flee? follows their journey through the dangers of World War II Italy, where faith vies with fear and forgiveness may be necessary for survival.

THE CRYPTOGRAPHER’S DILEMMA

Johnnie Alexander’s The Cryptographer’s Dilemma joins Saving Mrs. Roosevelt in the Heroines of WWII series, and I’m delighted to share both of these novels with you. Imho, they’d make perfect Christmas gifts for anyone who enjoys this era.

The Cryptographer’s Dilemma took me right back to World War II, into the life of a young Navy cryptographer nabbed from her secret decoding work to aid a government investigation. It’s a hush-hush operation, of course, which doesn’t faze Eloise at all. But the specifics of the situation do bother her. She’s being assigned to travel across the U.S. with a male agent. Together they’ll be interviewing several folks in various parts of the country, and traveling mostly by train. In addition, this agent fails to impress Eloise when they first meet.

I’ve read some of Johnnie’s other novels, so I expected this story to keep me on my toes. It certainly did, with some twists and turns from Eloise’s family background that heightened the tension. (: I hope you make this book a part of your winter reading cache. AND Johnnie is giving one print copy to a fortunate commenter!

Here’s the purchase link:

http://bit.ly/ja-TCD

And more details from Johnnie:

Finding the Doll Woman

A talented codebreaker. A seasoned FBI agent. And a doll collector who sold naval secrets to the enemy.

These characters confront one another in my latest World War II novel, The Cryptographer’s Dilemma.

The talented codebreaker is Eloise Marshall who is recruited by the FBI to determine whether seemingly innocent letters about dolls aren’t so innocent after all. Eloise, who is mourning the death of her brother who was at Pearl Harbor, wants to do all she can to bring an end to the war. 

After studying the letters, she realizes they are written in jargon code. For example, one letter mentioned an old fisherman doll with a net over his back. This most likely referred to an aircraft carrier since safety nets draped this type of ship.

The seasoned FBI agent is Phillip Clayton. When his hope of becoming a bomber pilot is dashed because of his color-blindness, he makes a Plan B. But that plan is also interrupted when he’s given one last assignment before he enlists in the Army or the Navy—find out who wrote the forged letters to a Japanese contact in Argentina.

Eloise and Phillip travel from the east coast to the west coast and back again to interview the women whose names were forged on the letters. These letters, which included the women’s return addresses, had either shown up in their mailboxes as “Addressee Unknown” or been flagged by postal censors and handed over to the FBI. 

They discover that the forger and traitor is an unremarkable woman who owns a doll shop on Madison Avenue in New York City and has an obsession with Japanese culture.

A woman who actually lived. Who actually forged such letters. Who actually betrayed the United States.

Her name is Velvalee Dickinson, a traitor the FBI nicknamed “The Doll Woman” and designated as the “War’s Number One Woman Spy.” 

She was arrested in January 1944 and is the only person known to have provided the Japanese with naval secrets during the war. It’s suspected she also had advance knowledge of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Velvalee pled guilty to breaking postal censorship laws to avoid facing charges of espionage. She served seven years of a ten-year sentence, changed her name, and eventually returned to her home state of California to live out the rest of her life in anonymity.

The Cryptographer’s Dilemma is the first novel in Barbour’s new Heroines of World War II Series. Full of intrigue, adventure, and romance, this new series celebrates the unsung heroes—the heroines of WWII.

Back Cover Copy

A Code Developer Uncovers a Japanese Spy Ring
 
FBI cryptographer Eloise Marshall is grieving the death of her brother, who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor, when she is assigned to investigate a seemingly innocent letter about dolls. Agent Phillip Clayton is ready to enlist and head oversees when asked to work one more FBI job. A case of coded defense coordinates related to dolls should be easy, but not so when the Japanese Consulate gets involved, hearts get entangled, and Phillip goes missing. Can Eloise risk loving and losing again?

Bio

Johnnie Alexander creates characters you want to meet and imagines stories you won’t forget in a variety of genres. An award-winning, best-selling novelist, she serves on the executive boards of Serious Writer, Inc. and the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference, co-hosts an online show called Writers Chat, and teaches at writers’ conferences and for Serious Writer Academy.

A fan of classic movies, stacks of books, and road trips, Johnnie shares a life of quiet adventure with Griff, her happy-go-lucky collie, and Rugby, her raccoon-treeing papillon. Connect with her at www.johnnie-alexander.com.

Saving Mrs. Roosevelt

What a treat to welcome Candice Sue Patterson, with her Romantic Suspense novel set in 1942. She’s giving a signed paperback copy (US residents only.) Enjoy being taken back in time!

Semper Paratus, Always Ready—that was the motto for the SPARs, the first female-only reserve of the Coast Guard commissioned by Franklin D. Roosevelt in November 1942. The SPARs were created to train women to work military jobs on the home front to free able-bodied men to fight. Women enlisting had to be at least twenty-two years of age, healthy, able to pass an aptitude test, and willing to serve her country. 

The SPARs were both named and directed by Dorothy C. Stratton, Dean of Women at Purdue University. She was director in the WAVES—the female-only reserve of the Navy—when she was asked to head up the Coast Guard reserve. She named the reserve SPARs after the Coast Guard’s motto “Semper Paratus, Always Ready.”

Dorothy, the daughter of a Baptist minister, believed that as a woman, a member in the military, and an American citizen, one should be “always ready” whether during war time or in a time of peace. Ready to teach, serve, encourage, and pray for those around us. I Peter 3:15 says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”

In researching and writing Saving Mrs. Roosevelt, a romantic suspense novel centered around the SPARs, I’ve challenged myself to be a SPAR. To always be ready with a kind word, a way to help and serve, to teach and to be taught, and to answer to “the hope” that is within me. You, too, can be a SPAR, and together we can serve our country by sharing the light. 

Saving Mrs. Roosevelt is book three in Barbour Publishing Inc.’s Heroines of WWIIseries. Publishers Weekly says, “This intriguing installment in the Heroines of WWII series will appeal to both romantics and history buffs. It’s a fun little escape.” For more, visit www.candicesuepatterson.com.

The Safety of the First Lady Rests in Shirley’s Hands

Shirley Davenport is as much a patriot as her four brothers. She, too, wants to aid her country in the war efforts, but opportunities for women are limited. When her best friend Joan informs her that the Coast Guard has opened a new branch for single women, they both enlist in the SPARs, ready to help protect the home front.
 
Training is rigorous, and Shirley is disappointed that she and Joan are sent to separate training camps. At the end of basic training, Captain Webber commends her efforts and commissions her home to Maine under the ruse of a dishonorable discharge to help uncover a plot against the First Lady.

Shirley soon discovers nothing is as it seems. Who can she trust? Why do the people she loves want to harm the First Lady? With the help of Captain Webber, it’s a race against time to save Mrs. Roosevelt and remain alive.

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Heirs of Falcon Point

A unique novel written by four authors. Sometimes war’s effects are passed down through the generations. The modern-day Lang family traces their roots and discovers a treasure worth fighting for. One of the authors, A.L. Sowards, offers us a peek into this complicated story today, so get set for a trip back into a chaotic chapter of World War II.

In the early days of World War II, the Lang family lost everything. Eighty years later, it’s time to take it back.

The Nazis have taken control of Austria, and wealthy widower Leopold Lang faces a difficult decision: join the ranks of the foreign power that has taken over his homeland or flee with his children to safety. Leopold makes his choice—but too late. His family is ripped apart, never to be reunited. But decades later, fate brings together the descendants of this broken dynasty in the place where it all began—Falcon Point.Anna, Cole, and Tess have never met, each relying on fractured pieces of information to understand their Austrian heritage. But when unforeseen opportunities draw these Lang cousins to Falcon Point, they soon discover they are not alone in their quest to claim the coveted property and the fabled treasure hidden within. Unfortunately, another claimant, one with a much darker heritage, is determined to eliminate the Lang family once and for all.

About the authors:
Traci Hunter Abramson was born in Arizona, where she lived until moving to Venezuela for a study-abroad program. After graduating from Brigham Young University, she worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for several years, eventually resigning in order to raise her family. She credits the CIA with giving her a wealth of ideas as well as the skills needed to survive her children’s teenage years. She loves to travel and enjoys coaching her local high school swim team. She has written more than thirty bestselling novels and is a seven-time Whitney Award winner, including 2017 and 2019 Best Novel of the Year. 

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Sian Ann Bessey was born in Cambridge, England, but grew up on the island of Anglesey off the coast of North Wales. She left her homeland to attend Brigham Young University in Utah, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in English. 

She began her writing career as a college student, publishing several articles in the New Era, Ensign, and Liahona magazines. Since then she has published historical romance and romantic suspense novels, along with a variety of children’s books. She is a USA Today best-selling author, a Foreword Reviews Book of the Year finalist, and a Whitney Award finalist. 

Sian and her husband, Kent, are the parents of five children and the grandparents of three beautiful girls and two handsome boys. They currently live in Idaho, and although Sian doesn’t have the opportunity to speak Welsh very often anymore, she can still wrap her tongue around, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch still rolls off her tongue. 

Traveling, reading, cooking, and being with her grandchildren are some of her favorite activities. 

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Paige Edwards is an award-winning author of contemporary Regency romances with a side-order of suspense. Her stories have debuted in the number-one Amazon spot for Christian fiction and have received national five-star reviews by Reader’s Favorite and InD’Tale Magazine. Her novels appeal to a wide range of readers from Historical Romance to Mystery/Suspense. She holds a degree in interior design and has worked professionally in that field. Due to her strong British roots, Paige’s books are often set in the UK, and she hops the pond whenever she gets the chance. She Is the Lady Paige Edwards when in Scotland, but her favorite title is Grandma. When she needs a break from writing, she serves as president of her area’s Interfaith Community Council, she is fond of digging in the dirt (what some might call gardening), she bikes the battlefields, and she kayaks on the lake. 

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A. L. Sowards has always been fascinated by the 1940s, but she’s grateful she didn’t live back then. She doesn’t think she could have written a novel on a typewriter, and no one would be able to read her handwriting if she wrote her books out longhand. She does, however, think they had the right idea when they rationed nylon and women went barelegged. 

Sowards is the author of multiple historical fiction novels, with settings spanning the globe from the fourteenth to twentieth centuries. Her stories have earned a Whitney Award, several Whitney Finalists positions, and a Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal. 
She lives with her husband and three children and has called Washington State, Utah, and Alaska home. She enjoys hiking and swimming, usually manages to keep up with the laundry, and loves it when someone else cooks dinner. She doesn’t own a typewriter, but she does own a pair or two of nylons. 

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Amanda / A. L. Sowards