Fictionalizing History

In her novel Lainey of the Door Islands, Judy DuCharme brings history to life. Here, she shares the ins and outs of staying true to historical facts while using literary license to give fiction readers a great read. She has agreed to give a free e or paperback book to one commenter.

Lainey of the Door Islands uniquely tells the history of Door County in the late 1800s. I live in this huge tourist area, host to approximately three million visitors every year. Before I wrote Lainey, my seventh book, it just seemed time for a local book set in a place so many people love. 

I pondered and prayed and then one day the beginning dropped into my spirit and I sat down and typed the first several thousand words in one sitting. I said to my husband, “I’m writing and I can’t stop.”

Then began the research. I had already visited the islands at the tip of Door County and several lighthouses, but now I revisited with notebook and camera (phone) in hand. I doublechecked stories I heard, talked with those who knew the history and acquired books that told about the lighthouses and shipwrecks.

I believe I did thorough research, but chose to not be bound to getting every single detail into the story. While being accurate, I allowed myself to embellish and weave the history into the story. Hopefully I didn’t info dump or drag through tons of background. It’s a tricky walk at times, but that’s where practice and critique groups help. Be sure to join critique groups – you need their eyes and instincts.

It’s important to realize that sometimes a line or two, a quick reference in the dialogue, can provide a great deal of information of the history and the setting. When I write first drafts, I often neglect the setting description as I just want to tell the story. I then must go back and provide that. I still need some reminders, but am much more aware than when I began writing fiction.

Remember, in your author notes, you can inform the reader that you changed a few dates, adjusted a bit of the setting. I don’t know if it’s a term, but I say I fictionalized it. You want to keep the spirit of the story, the strength, hardships, and joys of the people.

An added benefit to a local historical story is that it encourages travel to the area. I have friends who loved to go to Prince Edward Island because that’s where Anne of Green Gables took place. Hence, I made Lainey a tour guide and did 30-60 second videos of the places where she spent time in the book, posted them on Facebook, and encouraged people to also visit those places. 

Here’s my advice: do the research with enjoyment, physically visiting the places, then embellish and weave those facts into your story. I think you’ll like the result and others will too.

Judy DuCharme grew up with Lake Huron next to her back yard and has always loved the water. She, her husband, daughter, and son moved to Door County in 1984. After teaching 5th Grade at Gibraltar School for 22 years, Judy followed the calling that tugged at her all her life to write. Lainey of the Door Islands is her 7th published book and she is the recipient of numerous awards. She also writes for Guideposts Magazine. If you visit Door County, you may find her hiking in the woods, jet skiing on the bay, worshipping at her church, teaching a Bible study, cheering for the Green Bay Packers, playing with her amazing grandson, or sitting outside enjoying the beauty around her.

Connect with Judy here:,              

Three Reasons to Love Historical Fiction

Welcome, Marie Sontag. I’m already an historical fiction lover, but really appreciate your take on this topic. The idea of a “sliding glass door” that helps us understand others different from us…whoa! Do we ever need this today!

Readers, please see below for Marie’s offer of THREE free copies of her novel.

What happens when Daniel Whitcomb, a fictional thirteen-year-old, meets twelve-year-old Virginia Reed, an historical member of the Donner Party, on a wagon trail to California?—a friendship Daniel doesn’t think he needs, mentorship from the man who leads whites into Yosemite Valley, and an historical fiction story that shows how what we want is usually not what we need. 

1. Historical Fiction Creates a Web of Meaning

I love historical fiction. It brings the past to life as it touches readers’ emotions within an historical context. This wedding of narrative and history creates a web of meaning that helps readers relate to and remember what they’ve read.

California Trail Discovered, my latest middle grade novel coming out this fall, places my fictional protagonist alongside historical figures, providing a context to help readers relate to the trials of the trail in 1846—when pioneers left family and friends to move into the unknown. 

2. Historical Fiction Can Create Empathy

I also enjoy historical fiction because it provides a window into people’s lives and cultures. Good historical fiction provides readers with a safe way to move in and out of their own experiences and into those of others. This kind of “sliding glass door” can promote empathy for those different from us. 

Jim Savage, a historical figure and member of Daniel and Virginia’s wagon train, warns a member of the Donner Party to return a buffalo fur the man stole from a Lakota Indian’s burial site. Jim had once lived with Indians. At first, Keseberg refuses. “The Indian is dead. He won’t need it.” Jim fires his pistol into the air. He tells Keseberg,“It’s not open to discussion. This is how Lakota honor their dead, and there will be consequences for stealing it. Put it back.” 

3. Historical Fiction Provides Insight into Our Own Lives

Like all good stories, historical fiction teaches us something about ourselves. We all have wants, but it’s often difficult to discover what fuels those wants. 

In California Trail Discovered, Daniel doesn’t want to move with his guardian to California. He wants to get back to Illinois and find out who murdered his parents. One afternoon, Daniel walks beside Virginia as she picks flowers. She comments, “Friends are like flowers. They add sunshine and color to your life. Don’t you agree?” 

Daniel shrugs. “Sometimes, I think friends are like mosquitos. They buzz around in your ear, waiting to take a bite out of you, then leave behind an itch you really shouldn’t scratch.” 

Through the friendships Daniel makes on the trail, he discovers that wanting to find out who killed his parents has masked his real need to connect with others and to become part of a new family. 

Take It Home

What historical novel has helped you better remember factual events? How did it do that? Did it help you relate more with those from a different culture? In what ways? How did the plot help the characters better understand their wants, and reveal the needs behind those wants? Did it give you any insight about your own wants and needs? In what ways?

Feel free to share any of your answers in the comments below, or send me a note on my Facebook author page. One week after the posting of this blog, I will hold a drawing for those leaving a comment. Make sure to provide your email, or PM my on Messenger or my email. Three lucky winners will win a copy of California Trail Discovered.

Marie Sontag enjoys bringing the past to life, one adventure at a time. Her fifteen years of teaching middle school and high school have given her insight into what students find entertaining, and her B.A. in social science and M.A. and Ph.D. in education provide her with a solid background for writing middle grade and young adult historical fiction. 

Born in Wisconsin, she spent most of her life in California, but now lives with her husband in Texas. When not writing, she enjoys romping with her grandkids, playing clarinet and saxophone in a community band, and nibbling red licorice or Tootsie Pops while devouring a good book.


Word Play Becomes a Career Move

Word Play Becomes a Career Move

Sandra is offering to the first three readers to post comments below a free PDF copy of “How to Write and Punctuate Dialogue with Confidence.” It includes:  How to write effective dialogue, punctuate it and tag it, plus extensive lists of substitutes for “said” (by purpose, mood, volume, sound and more!). 

In a recent interview I was asked how long I’d been editing. My immediate (gut) answer was: “Forever!” Well, maybe not quite that long, but it brought to mind a photo I’d found among my mother’s things. It was me as a youngster while we were in Heidelberg, Germany where my father worked in medical records in a U.S. Army hospital after WWII. 

Dad loved writing stories and poems, and he encouraged me to plunk out stories as well. The keys created fine dark images which surely formed wonderful stories, or so I believed. Since I couldn’t read or write, let alone type, at that time, it was a practice in vain. Or was it …?

My dad loved playing with words, imitating his favorite poet Ogden Nash. It was that “after war” period when society ached for fun and levity, and words provided that in our house. Dad would read his poems to me with a gleam in his eye. The oddity of rhyming schemes and playful meanings entranced me. No wonder years later I would write stories with tongue-in-cheek tones as I began to be published. 

That fascination with words continued to intrigue me as I participated in critique groups. I soon realized I was as interested in reviewing the wording of other writers as much as in writing myself. That eventually led me to editing of Writers Open Forum (later becoming Writers International Forum) and then into serving writers with editing services. 

I’ve been privileged to edit memoirs of people with amazing lives, mysteries that enthrall readers, fantasies that take us out of this world, and adventures that plunge readers deep into the wild forests of nature as well as the dangerous jungles of human emotions. I’ve experienced eras and traveled through countries that I could never have otherwise, enjoying so much of life through the reflections and imagination of others. 

I feel grateful to my father for sparking in me the wonder of written words. And for that old typewriter that let my own young imagination soar. As our society tumbles through troubled times, I hope to help writers find their voices as well to entertain and inform and enlighten readers of the future.

About the author:

Sandra Haven lives on Washington state’s evergreen Olympic Peninsula with her husband. She formed a private FaceBook group page for Writers for the Next Reality for those looking ahead at the changes in our world. Feel free to join it! She also provides editing services for authors through her website, You can email her directly or find her on these social media:


Website and Blog:


FaceBook: Sandra’s Tips on FaceBook

Twitter: @Haven4Writers


Wasn’t it a famous fictional character who instructed, “Slow and steady wins the race?” Well, this author, Penny Frost McGinnis, gives us an example of self-acceptance in addition to a steady role model. And she is offering such an interesting giveaway…She quips, “Hopefully this calendar with its big turtle (see below) will remind the winner-It’s Okay to Crawl Like a Turtle to the Finish Line!” I hope we can all learn a bit about being patient with ourselves here from Penny’s story.

As I worked full time with family responsibilities, I struggled to scratch out time to write. My first book-length piece took over five years. In the process, I blogged and wrote poetry, articles, and devotions. I even had the opportunity to publish a few. The practice of writing the short pieces drove my desire to finish the novel.  After  I did, I shopped it around and realized I had a lot to learn.

That first book lives in my closet. But the novel bug didn’t die, instead it grew. After I retired, I spent eight months finishing a rough draft I’d started a year before. At first , I felt guilty because I got to stay home and play with words. I know I’ve earned retirement, but I couldn’t get past the feeling I was spinning my wheels and not being useful. My writing slowed to a crawl. 

Until this whole COVID-19 thing happened. 

A switch tripped inside me, and I started editing (at a turtle’s pace.) I sent chapters to a writer friend for critique and signed up for the Blue Ridge Mountain Writers Conference, coming this November. In the meantime, I followed BRMWC’s posts on Facebook. They offered a paid mentor for an hour to look over a synopsis and first chapter. I signed up. And boy did I learn from my mentor. She showed me what my first chapter should give the reader. Even more important, she gave me tools and encouragement to keep writing. 

Back to the first chapters to edit—again.

As a slow writer, I’ve had to learn it’s okay to take my time. I may not finish my book this year, but I’m still plugging along. In June, I attended the Kentucky Christian Writers Online Conference where I listened to Lisa Carter who shared so many great tips on editing and finding your voice and Bob Hostetler who is such a joy and inspiration. 

My turtle pace frustrates me at times. But I realize this is how God wired me. Even at a slow crawl, God has given me the desire and ability to put words on paper and share his truth. He’s also given me opportunities to keep learning the craft.

It’s okay to crawl like a turtle to the finish line! Just keep writing.

Penny Frost McGinnis writes devotions, book reviews, and thoughtful posts on her blog, Hope for Today’s Heart. Penny is a monthly contributor to Midwest Almanac, and has been published in Chicken Soup, The Upper Room and Christian Devotions. She believes God has called her to bring hope and joy to people’s lives through her writing.  She and her husband live in southwest Ohio.

In High Cotton

by Ane Mulligan  @AneMulligan

Do you ever wonder how authors choose their settings? Ane Mulligan, author of many Southern Fried Fiction novels, shares her process for her latest story, the first book in a series. She is also offering an e-book giveaway to someone who leaves her a comment.

A Journey of Discovery

I like to set my stories in fictional towns. Once I know who my characters are, I draw a map and place the businesses and houses where I want them. That way, nobody can say there wasn’t a store on that street. 

After writing five contemporary novels, my agent liked the premise of In High Cotton.She noted that it fit my brand of ensemble casts of strong Southern women, facing life’s issues together. She gave her blessing on the Georgia Magnolias series.

I wanted a rural setting for In High Cotton. I discovered an area around Uvalda in southeast Georgia. There is hardly anything near it, except two rivers (the Ocmulgee and the Oconee) converge near there to form a third (the Altamaha). The Indians called this area “Where Rivers End.” That gave me my town’s name of Rivers End.

As a kid, I spent summers at my cousins’ home in Winkelman, Arizona. I know. What kid spends summers in Arizona? It was heaven—a real-life cowboys and Indians town. My cousin owned an old Army Jeep I got to drive as a ten-year-old. What fun we had, chasing wild burros, every turn around tall Saguaros, spewing sand and dirt. 

Winkelman had a population of around 600, and my cousin owned a small grocery store. He let me work in it in the afternoons, when even kids melt in the desert sun. That served as my model for Parker’s grocery. 

From there, I let my imagination take over. I gathered lists of food costs, what was available, what Maggie (my heroine) would have carried in the grocery. Campbells only had twenty-one varieties at the time. Today, that number is 226. 

That led me to wonder about Depression era recipes. I’ve included several in the book, ones I found interesting. One thing I noticed, Georgians use peanuts as a staple source of protein. They were in many of the recipes I unearthed.

I’ve found I love writing in the Depression era. I’m looking at WWII for a potential series, too. But whatever the era, readers can count of it being Southern-fried fiction. What’s that? It’s strong, plucky women and loyal friendships, all served up with a dash of humor and a lot of heart. 

Ane Mulligan has been a voracious reader ever since her mom instilled within her a love of reading at age three, escaping into worlds otherwise unknown. But when Ane saw PETER PAN on stage, she was struck with a fever from which she never recovered—stage fever. She submerged herself in drama through high school and college. One day, her two loves collided, and a bestselling, award-winning novelist emerged. She lives in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a rascally Rottweiler. Find Ane on her websiteAmazon Author pageFacebookTwitterInstagramPinterestand The Write Conversation.  

In High Cotton, releasing August 3rd

Southern women may look as delicate as flowers, but there’s iron in their veins.

While the rest of the world has been roaring through the 1920s, times are hardscrabble in rural South Georgia. Widow Maggie Parker is barely surviving while raising her young son alone. Then as banks begin to fail, her father-in-law threatens to take her son and sell off her livelihood—the grocery store her husband left her. Can five Southern women band together, using their wisdom and wiles to stop him and survive the Great Depression?

Available on Amazon, LPCBooks, Target, and in bookstores.

Psychology and Writing

I’ve always thought being a psychologist would provide a wealth of information for writing. This week, I’m happy to introduce someone who experiences this! Christina Sinisi , a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, writes stories about families, both the broken and blessed. Her works include being a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest and the American Title IV Contest in which she appeared in the top ten in the Romantic Times magazine.

Her published books include The Christmas Confusion and the upcoming Sweet Summer, the first two books in the Summer Creek Series, as well as Christmas On Ocracoke, expected this December. By day, she is a psychology professor and lives in the Lowcountry of South Carolina with her husband and two children and cat Chessie.

Now, Christina is offering a free e-book copy of Christmas Confusion to one commenter–It’s Christmas in July. Welcome, Christina!

I started writing in the third grade—poetry—to be followed by a play in 5thgrade, short stories, and my first “novel” in 8thgrade. There was never any doubt in my mind that I wanted to be a writer.

At the same time, I grew up poor. The idea of a job without a steady paycheck and so many uncertainties filled me with fear.

I also was an avid reader. In high school, I stumbled upon “Sybil” and Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar.” The women in those books, their mental illnesses and the people who tried to help them, psychologists, fascinated me. 

It occurred to me that if I wanted to write about people, I needed to know about people. So, I came up with the plan of becoming a psychologist by day and writing on the side. Being a psychology professor offered me the security I craved even though, now that I think of it, business might have been a better-paying option. 

I also have learned so much about people and how they tick. The heroine of my work-in-progress suffers from clinical depression, but has avoided a diagnosis because of the stigma. Every individual has quirks and flaws. It’s good to know how those might operate in a person’s life—a little OCD, a little anxiety, these things make the character more realistic to the reader.

Children are featured heavily in my stories. My area of specialization is Developmental Psychology—researcher, not therapist—and I’ve found knowledge in this area can be helpful. Yes, I’m a mother, but each child is different so it’s good to know the hallmarks of typical development. Even such a simple thing as the language development of a two year old versus a four year old can be important for authenticity. How tall, what average weight? What does a child of a certain age understand and what are some misconceptions they might have?

So, readers, expect to find characters who have human frailty when reading my books, but know they, like us if we so choose, find help and comfort in their faith in God. Plus, they also seek out the help of a therapist or other professional if needed. God gave counselors gifts so they can help, just as He endowed doctors and scientists. The stigma needs to be addressed—it is NOT in the Bible that God only helps those who help themselves or that He doesn’t give us more than we can handle. It IS in the Bible that he will help us.

Life doesn’t give you more than HE can handle. 

Book Blurb: When Tiffany Marano’s high school sweetheart drove off to join the Marines and never looked back, she swore off men. Now, she’s content to teach at Summer Creek, South Carolina’s local elementary school, lead a Sunday school class, and spend weekends with her niece—until Nick Walsh suddenly reappears wearing a wedding ring and with a daughter in tow. Everything about Tiffany’s calm, quiet life is now one disordered mess.   

Nick Walsh comes face to face with Tiffany after all these years, and sparks fly. But not the happy glittering kind, because each of them thinks the other responsible for their estrangement. Before they can work it out, though, Tiffany’s sister disappears. Left with custody of her niece and forced to work with new police detective Nick to find her sister, old feelings begin to resurface. As they start to unravel the truths that left them confused and apart for too long, Nick must learn to let go of his past. But can Tiffany let go of her fear and learn to trust that God isn’t the only one who won’t abandon her? 

You may find Christina at these online links:


Social Networking Sites (Please use complete URL):

Twitter: @ChristinaSinisi


Instagram: @csinisi123




These Healing Hills

Ann Gabhart’s research of health care in Kentucky during the 1920’s intrigues me. I can only imagine how tough this must have been for nurse midwives who came to the area. I had never heard of Mary Breckinridge, a real-life heroine full of compassionate ideas and the courage to realize them for the sake of others.

Ann is offering a free print copy of what sounds like a powerful read! Just leave her a comment.

Finding Stories in the Appalachian Mountainsby Ann H. Gabhart

When I am searching for a new idea for a novel, I like exploring Kentucky history to get inspiration. A few years ago I came across a story about the Frontier Nursing Service established in the 1920’s by Mary Breckinridge in the Eastern Kentucky Appalachian Mountains. After Breckinridge lost her two children, a cherished son at age four from appendicitis and a baby daughter who only lived a few hours, she wanted to find a way to help mothers and children in poverty areas. In France, after World War I, she witnessed how nurse midwives did so much for the French people devastated by the war. 

Breckinridge attended midwifery school in England since America had no such schools at that time. Then she started her midwifery service in the Eastern Kentucky Mountains where the people had little or no access to professional healthcare. A charismatic woman, she was able to get others to share in her vision and come to the mountains to ride up into the hills on horseback to take care of patients in their cabins. When she recruited midwives, she promised them their own horse, their own dog and the opportunity to save children’s lives.

 I used that history as the background for my novel, These Healing Hills. In it, my main character is a nurse midwife who “catches babies.” That was how the mountain people described what the midwives did, but the women did more than that. They treated any and all health needs. As you can imagine, that kept them very busy. 

Breckinridge came up with a unique way to free up some of their time by recruiting young women as volunteers called couriers to do some of the mundane chores of caring for the horses, delivering messages, escorting visitors around, and all sorts of other tasks. They also sometimes accompanied the nurse midwives on their patient calls which might include helping a baby come into the world. 

These young women were usually from well to do families that Mrs. Breckinridge depended on for monetary contributions to keep her service going. The couriers would come to the mountains to rough it with no electricity and nothing easy, but they loved their experiences in the mountains. 

Since I wanted to share more Frontier Nursing history and more about Mary Breckinridge, An Appalachian Summer features one of those young couriers as the main character. Piper has had a sheltered life, but she wants to do something different before she settles into a woman’s expected role in the 1930’s of wife and mother. She volunteers for a summer in the Appalachian Mountains where she discovers the truth in the Frontier Nursing Service saying, “No one comes here by accident.”    

Piper’s summer in the mountains changes her forever. It was no accident that I had the pleasure of exploring more Kentucky history for my mountain story.  

An Appalachian Summer

In 1933 Louisville, Kentucky, even the ongoing economic depression cannot keep Piper Danson’s parents from insisting on a debut party. After all, their fortune came through the market crash intact, and they’ve picked out the perfect suitor for their daughter. Braxton Crandall can give her the kind of life she’s used to. The only problem? This is not the man–or the life–she really wants.

When Piper gets the opportunity to volunteer as a horseback Frontier Nursing courier in the Appalachian Mountains for the summer, she jumps at the chance to be something other than a dutiful daughter or a kept wife in a loveless marriage. The work is taxing, the scenery jaw-droppingly gorgeous, and the people she meets along the way open up a whole new world to her. The longer she stays, the more an advantageous marriage slips from her grasp. But something much more precious–true love–is drawing ever closer.

Ann H. Gabhart bio

ANN H. GABHART has been called a storyteller, not a bad thing for somebody who grew up dreaming of being a writer. Ann has published thirty-five books for both adults and young adults with more stories on the way. She keeps her keyboard warm out on her Kentucky farm where she likes walking with her dogs or discovering the wonders of nature with her nine grandchildren. To find out more about Ann and her books or to read her blog posts visit You can follow her on Facebook., Twittter, or Instagram

A Literary Work in Progress

Lynn Dean joins us today with an encouraging story for authors about her work in progress. She’ll draw from names of readers who “Like” and follow her Facebook page and leave a comment for an ebook copy of More Precious Than Gold, the first novel in her Sangre de Cristo series set during gold rush days in New Mexico Territory.

This mountain range has intrigued me for years, so I really appreciated all the specific history and imagery in these novels. Now, here’s Lynn:

Life rarely turns out the way we think it will.

Since good stories model real life, writers probably shouldn’t be surprised when a work in progress takes on a life of its own. Sometimes a character we thought would play a minor role suddenly steals center stage and demands to be heard. Other times our manuscript changes in medias res because we discover new information or contrive a plot twist. But occasionally our story changes because of outside influences beyond our control.

When I began writing Lilacs many years ago, a friend surprised me with a research trip to Mackinac Island where the story is set. It was a magnanimous gesture. I’d always wanted to go, and she’d already bought the tickets, so what could I say but “thank you”?

It was 40 degrees and raining sideways the weekend we visited, but the island was perfect. We stayed at the Grand Hotel and enjoyed a carriage tour. Along the way I shared my story idea and some interesting history about the hotel, including a long-ago scandal. I wasn’t sure I would mention that event, explaining that it would be difficult to handle delicately so nothing would reflect poorly on the hotel or its current owners. For some reason, when we returned, my friend decided to “help” me by marching up to the concierge desk, telling the hotel representative that I was writing a book, and asking for details about the scandal. The stunned man made a terse reply and left…and I couldn’t blame him!

Mortified, I shelved the whole project—all 45,000 words of it.

But readers know that dark moments are never the end of the story.

Fast forward. I’m at a writers’ conference in an interview with a literary agent who says she loves “Downton Abbey” stories with romantic settings and characters from different backgrounds and socio-economic classes. “Do you have any stories like that?” she asks.

It so happens I do!

I pitched the story I thought was ruined. She loved the concept, so I began to rewrite Lilacs with a different focus. I’m pleased to say the new story is better in every way than the original would have been.

Moral? Never give up, even when you think your plans are ruined. The dark moment is simply the crisis that forces us to get creative, opening new possibilities we would never have imagined otherwise.

LYNN DEAN lives near San Antonio, Texas—a near-perfect setting for a historical fiction writer. She loves to travel and meet people. Sooner or later, most of her experiences end up in a book. Keep up with what she’s writing at

Inspirational Multi-Genre Suspense/Romance Mystery!

Need a good summer read? Lillian Duncan shares how she came up with her latest novel. released on June 26, 2020. And she’s offering a giveaway with THREE winners…see below for how to enter. Take it away, Lillian…

JANE DOE is my latest novel and it’s a doozy! 

What’s the genre you ask? It’s suspense with lots of drama and action…but also a political thriller…this story has a lot of mystery components…but there’s the romance element as well… and let’s not forget the spiritual message! No matter in what genre you classify this novel, it’s one I think you’ll enjoy!

So how did JANE DOE come about? 

I’d finished all my edits on a current book and was feeling very uninspired. I had no idea for my next story, so I went on FB and asked people to send me an idea for my next suspense novel. An old high school friend sent me the suggestion to write a story where the main character struggled with memory loss. 

Mmmm… but the old amnesia plot has been used many times and it’s a big no-no that writing experts warn against. Still, I took the challenge and wrote JANE DOE. It’s definitely not your typical amnesia plot, but the main character is haunted by her memories.

First, because she doesn’t have them, and then because she does!

Raven Marks survives a brutal kidnapping but just barely. Along with a broken body, her mind is broken. Even though she can’t remember the details of her kidnapping, she’s haunted by the thought that someone else is being victimized by the kidnapper she can’t remember.

Her journey to discover the truth leads her to the highest politicians in the state and then the country. Each reclaimed memory brings her closer to the truth—and to even more danger.

I’m not going to give away the plot, but there’s plenty of twists and turns to keep you reading late into the night! 


I’m having a giveaway to celebrate the release of JANE DOE on my blog! So hope over to www.lillian-duncan.comand leave a comment on any of my JANE DOE blogs at and you’ll be entered to win one of three $10 AMAZON GIFT CARDS! That’s right–three winners! 

Lillian Duncan… turning faith into fiction.

Lillian lives in a small town in Ohio with her husband. She writes the types of books she loves to read. Even though her books cross genres, they have one thing in common, faith-based stories that demonstrate God’s love—and lots of action. OK, that’s two things. 

She was a school speech pathologist for over 30 years but retired in 2012 after being diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors due to Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2), a rare genetic disease.  

Whether as an educator, a writer, or a speech pathologist, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word. To learn more about Lillian and her books, visit:  

A WWII Cinderella Tale

Joy Neal Kidney joins us today with her new book called Leora’s Letters. This story of love and loss during WWII features Joy’s mother, a young woman with dreams disrupted by huge loss. Yet she continued on to live a meaningful life–lessons for us as we face our own challenges.

Joy will give away one signed paperback copy of Leora’s Letters to a commenter. I’m finding treasures within–there’s nothing like letters straight out of the World War II era. Thank you, Joy!

An Iowa Waitress Became an Officer’s Wife–in Texas, by Joy Neal Kidney

It was the only formal gown my mother ever owned. She bought it for the opening of the officers’ club at the Marfa Army Air Base in Texas. Doris had just become an officer’s wife by marrying Warren Neal, an Iowa farmer who’d earned his pilot’s wings. 

Doris Wilson had been a waitress in Perry, Iowa, at the McDonald Drug Store, which had a soda fountain and a restaurant area. In fact, she was serving Sunday dinner there when the announcement of the attack on Pearl Harbor interrupted the background music playing on WHO-Radio. 

She remembered thinking that all her brothers were liable to be drafted. One by one the five Wilson brothers left to serve – two in the Navy, three in the Army Air Force.

Dale Wilson and Warren Neal, both Iowa farmers, had enlisted as air cadets in 1942. They were awarded their silver “wings” and became officers on the same day a year later – Dale at Roswell, New Mexico. Warren at Marfa, Texas. 

Warren was retained at Marfa as an instructor for advanced cadets. With calls for women to enlist to help with “the cause,” Doris had begun the process to apply for the WAVES. Warren was afraid they’d get separated forever so he asked her to get married instead. 

Doris, wearing an aqua suit, and Warren in uniform were married in May 1943 in Dexter, Iowa, then headed for Marfa, Texas.

They’d just gotten settled when they were to attend the formal opening of the new officers’ club. Doris’s first formal gown for the dance was nearly the color of the suit she’d been married in a few months earlier – aqua, short-sleeved, accented with lots of small ruffles.

She wrote home that she had fun at the dance and felt like Cinderella.

That fall, she wrote her brother Dale, then in combat in New Guinea, “I’m going to let you in on a secret. We haven’t told anyone yet, but we are going to have a boy (we hope) next May.” Dale never got her message. The V-Mail letter was returned, still sealed, marked “Missing in Action.” 

Decades later, I – the boy she’d hoped for – was the first person to open the little V-Letter and read it. 


There’s no photo of her wearing the aqua gown. I remember seeing it as a child only a couple of times among her keepsakes in the storeroom of our old farmhouse.

But now it’s been passed on tome, Doris’s firstborn, who eventually became the keeper of poignant family stories and letters and terrible telegrams. 

Treasures, like the aqua gown, to wonder about. Did she ever get to wear it again?

To feel like Cinderella once more? 

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