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

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.

PROTECTING ANNIE

Jodie Wolfe shares her new releasE with us today–THIS IS RELEASE DAY!! and is offering an e-book to one commenter. Enjoy!

Protecting Annie -for Gail Kittleson

A foolhardy, straitlaced schoolmarm wasn’t who the sheriff planned to rescue.

Today is release day which is always exciting in the life of an author. Protecting Annieis book two in my Burrton Springs Brides series. In the first book, Taming Julia, my heroine was a no-nonsense, rugged female who spent her whole life living along the trail. Jules (Julia) was a little rough along the edges. She was a duck out of water when she started living in a town.

I thought it would be fun to create a heroine for book two who is the complete opposite of that, which is how I came up with Annie McPherson. Annie is a well-educated, demure heroine. What she lacks in common sense, she makes up for with her research and book knowledge. 

At the end ofTaming Julia,I alluded to Jules trying find a match for her brother, Josh Walker. I knew there had to be a deeper reason why he avoided town living. It was fun throwing Annie and Josh into situations that dug deeper into both of their pasts.

Here’s the official back cover blurb for Protecting Annie:

Blurb

After twenty years of living along the trail as a deputy U.S. Marshal, Joshua Walker takes a job as sheriff in Burrton Springs, Kansas so he can be closer to his sister. Only problem, she no longer requires his protecting so he’s unsure of his next step.

Annie McPherson needs a change after the death of her father. She accepts a position as schoolmarm, hoping her past won’t catch up with her. Life is good, except for the pesky sheriff who continues to question her ability to adjust to life in the west and creates confrontations at every turn.

When the irritating schoolteacher’s past and present collide, dragging him into the turmoil, Josh has to decide who he’s willing to defend.

I hope you’ll enjoy my new book. Please leave a comment for your chance to win an ebook of it. Tell me what you’re looking forward to this month.

Bio

Jodie Wolfe creates novels where hope and quirky meet. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Faith, Hope & Love Christian Writers, and COMPEL Training. She’s been a semi-finalist and finalist in various writing contests. A former columnist for Home School Enrichmentmagazine, her articles can be found online at: CrosswalkChristian Devotions, and Heirloom Audio. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her husband in Pennsylvania, reading, walking, and being a Grammie. Learn more at www.jodiewolfe.com.

Social Media Links:

Website: https://www.jodiewolfe.com

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jodie-wolfe

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jodie-Wolfe-553400191384913

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15220520.Jodie_Wolfe

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jodie-Wolfe/e/B01EAWOHXO/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

MeWe: https://mewe.com/i/jodiewolfe

Purchase Links

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/protecting-annie-jodie-wolfe/1139707155?ean=9781522303763
https://pelicanbookgroup.com/ec/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=37_46&products_id=1544

Sunflowers and Hope

In August 1945, the world was lifting its head in hope, like this sunflower. We’ve been waiting all summer for the tightly closed blossom to open and shed its brightness on a corner of our property.

Over the past few days, the plant has shown signs of being the bright spot we expected. But in ’45, our nation had been at war four long years. Over 400,000 American GIs had sacrificed their lives, and at least 75,000,000 people had perished worldwide. Seventy-five MILLION!

It’s difficult to imagine the scope of the devastation, impossible to comprehend the gargantuan changes this war caused. But in August of 1945, the U.S. Navy was preparing to receive the formal Japanese surrender on board the USS Missouri. September second in Tokyo Bay–V-J Day.

The war truly had come to an end. What a riotous celebration occurred that day all around the world, profound loss mixed with tears of relief.

In a few days, our blossom will be fuller, more complete. But sometimes it’s good to think about preludes to a culmination. Last night I completed my latest novel, about a British citizen who emigrated to Texas Hill Country before World War II. Seeing the war through his eyes as his homeland suffered so much gave me fresh insights.

Always more to learn about this rich, intriguing era!

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.

mariesontag@mariesontag.com

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Poppies for Remembrance

Yes, it’s July, not Memorial Day when we see poppies worn by the American Legion. But our neighbor’s beautiful poppy patch is abloom, and enjoying it led me to explore the significance we attach to this flower.

Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote the World War I poem In Flanders Fields about red poppies blooming in the WWI battlefields of Flanders, France. Inspired by McCrae’s poem, Ms. Moina Michael published We Shall Keep the Faith and vowed to always wear a red poppy in remembrance.

This one patriotic woman’s persistent efforts led the American Legion to adopt the red poppy as the national symbol of sacrifice honoring war casualties. The United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand also adopted the poppy.

Read more about Ms. Michael here: https://www.alaforveterans.org/features/moina-michael/

It’s good to look into the origins of our traditions and consider their full meaning. Even when tearing down becomes popular, we can choose to employ history to build up.

In the World War II novels I write, this is always my goal.

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 https://www.facebook.com/Wordsworth-PublishingLynn-Dean-161921870546466/.

Those Special Days

Yesterday Lance gave me these flowers for my birthday.

Notice the message on the mug: CHOOSE JOY. What a perfect instruction for one of those big DECADE birthdays that makes you consider how quickly time passes.

Tonight we watched the Queen’s Royal Marine’s at the Guards’ parade ground just behind Whitehall and next to #10 Downing Street. How fun to watch them perform again, as we did in person two years ago when we celebrated our fortieth anniversary in England.

We’d been walking in St. James Park and happened to notice someone selling tickets to some event. When we realized it was the Royal Marines, we were hooked, and so enjoyed the performance that evening in the stands with Londoners who’d come out for the show. Watching them again tonight is a way to cherish the memory…to choose JOY.

Someday, we might return to England, and I have quite a few other items on my bucket list. I’d like to viisit another American air field we couldn’t get to on our first trip and many other places.

It would be so meaningful to be in Portsmouth again, right on a D-Day anniversary…or across the Channel the Allied troopsD-Day crossed on June 6, 1944. We’ll see.

But whatever memories I make as the years come and go, I hope to make the MOST of them!

Criminal Minds: 18thCentury Edition

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

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

The Story Behind The Blue Cloak

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

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

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

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

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

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

Story summary:

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

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

About the author:

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

You can connect with Shannon on these social media links:

Website: shannonmcnear.com

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

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

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

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

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

Dreams Deferred

Wow…if ever a cover provoked interest, this is it! And how fun to be able to bring to life story from your own family history. Readers, June is offering an e-book to one fortunate commenter, so please leave your response for a chance to embrace June’s unique plot!

 

The Story Behind the Story

Dreams Deferred is inspired by the true-to-life story of my great grandfather and great grandmother. I chose to set it in contemporary times, nevertheless, I borrowed many of the story elements from the true story.

Frances Mathew Halbedl grew up in the European Austrian Empire and followed tradition in which the oldest son became a priest in his family’s Catholic faith. After being ordained in Moravia, he immigrated to the United States in 1866 to serve in a parish in the state of Louisiana.

My aunt and mother always told the story of how one Sunday while saying mass, he spotted a young teen, much younger than my Mary Louise. He waited several years for her to grow up, then stepped down from the priesthood to marry her. I wish I knew some of those rich details of their courtship, but since I don’t, I fictionalized their romance.

They later moved to San Antonio, Texas, and had five children, three girls and two boys—Ida, Mamie, Alice, Roy, and Clifton, who was my grandfather. Just for fun in one scene, I imagined that Matt had a dream he was riding in a car with Mary Louise and the three youngest kids. In my story, the dream helped him realize how much he loved Mary Louise.

Mathew taught music both in the public school and privately. Later he became the first principal of a high school in San Antonio. In December of 2005, my husband and I visited San Antonio and looked up Matthew and Mary Louise’s house. The large, two-story home is still there on Roseborough Drive. We weren’t able to go in because it’s a private residence. But I had so much fun envisioning Matt and ML’s lives as they lived there with their children.

We also visited Clifton Halbedl’s home, which I remember from childhood. I also had the address for Mamie’s home, and we were able to go inside. A gracious lady who spoke no English invited us in. I have tons of pictures and hope to share them on my blog.

In the story, Matt gets a job at Jefferson High School. This is patterned after Thomas Jefferson High School where my mother went to school. Her name was Mary Louise, as well, named for her grandmother.

If I’ve learned anything from writing this book, I wish I’d probed for more information when my mother and aunt were still alive, but I’m grateful for what I do know.

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