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.

You may contact June here: 

junefoster.com

https://www.amazon.com/author/junefoster

https://twitter.com/vjifoster

https://www.facebook.com/authorjunefoster

 

 

Purchase Link:   https://tinyurl.com/y3g555tz

Sand Creek Serenade

Jennifer Uhlarik, our featured author, discovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has finaled and won in numerous writing competitions, and been on the ECPA best-seller list numerous times.

In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children.

Jennifer is giving away one free paperback copy of her new novel to someone who leaves a comment. Welcome, Jennifer–please tell us about your research for Sand Creek Serenade–lovely title and cover, by the way!

When I first came up with the concept for Sand Creek Serenade, it was supposed to be a novella to be included in a collection about women working in a male-dominated field. I chose to write about a woman working as a doctor during the Civil War era. However, I didn’t want to dig into the Civil War itself. While I love that time period, I felt too overwhelmed with the volume of details I would have to research. You see, I’ve always shied away from those well-known, well-documented historical events because I’ve had a fear that I would get too many details wrong and hear from knowledgeable readers about my faulty research.

So rather than write about some Civil War campaign, I decided to research other events that might allow my doctor heroine show off her skills. I stumbled across the Sand Creek Massacre, thought it would be a good alternative more in keeping with my western brand, and wrote it into the synopsis. Only later, after the synopsis was written and submitted did I realize what a well-documented historical event the Sand Creek Massacre was. My fear kicked into high gear at that point. As I dug into the history, I found eye-witness accounts, historical records from the Congressional investigation that was done, and a plethora of non-fiction books chronicling the events before, during, and after the massacre. I’d stepped out of the proverbial frying pan and straight into the fire! I’ll admit that there were times I considered ways I could bail on the project.

The thing is, this story would not leave me alone. The characters and the story were so compelling that, despite the well-documented nature of the historical event, the story needed to be told. So I prayed a lotand dove into writing it. I poured over research books and historical records trying to be sure I got every detail correct.

I’m sure I didn’t.

Thankfully, the “perfectionist” mentality eased, and I found ways to stick closely to the historical timeline while telling a compelling fictional story. So Sand Creek Serenade was a learning curve for me. I had to learn to overcome the unnatural fear that I’d get history snobs emailing me to correct any research gaffes, but more importantly, it was a lesson in learning to trust God. I believe He called me to write this story and orchestrated every step from the conception of the idea on to its publication and beyond, but so many times through the process, I found myself having to hand this story back to Him and ask for His guidance and blessing, rather than relying on my own power to get it done.

I’m so very thankful for His faithfulness, and I’m praying the story He had me craft will bless readers!

 

 

 

Social Media Links:

 

Website: www.jenniferuhlarik.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JenniferUhlarik

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

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

 

Can You See It?

I’ve learned about something new. My Iowa friend Jill came over to help dig out my water pipe after we had 36 inches of snow, and pointed out the BLUE SNOW she saw everywhere. At first I couldn’t share her excitement, because I didn’t know where to look.

But then, viola! Between the crevasses and cracks, it’s everywhere. With all the melting going on, there’s not so much now, but this morning I took some photos. Can you see it here?

Or here, even though these are just cell phone photos?

 

For me, this is a new phenomenon, and of course, scientists have an explanation:

As with water, this color is caused by the absorption of both red and yellow light, which leaves light at the blue end of the visible spectrum. When this light travels into snow or ice, the ice grains scatter a large amount of light.

Cool! Even in the midst of a massive snowfall, we can find something intriguing and (for me, anyway) exciting. Having lived in snow country my whole life, I have to wonder why I never saw this before. Maybe it’s because of the altitude here?

Whatever the reason, there it is. And like my friend asked me the other day, CAN YOU SEE IT? becomes the big question.

This question figures in many of the novels we read. The reader sees something the characters don’t, or vice-versa. In a mystery, we seldom see the whole picture until the end.

In the process of publication, things sometimes change. I should let you know that the release date for All For The Cause, in which the heroine and hero navigate many World War II questions, has been changed. You can now expect it to surface into the big, wide world in late March or early April.

In the meantime, keep your eye out for blue snow and the like!

And since few of my blogs are complete without a photo from Lance, here you go…see the blue?

The Sky Above Us

A special welcome to award-winning World War II author Sarah Sundin. Here’s her latest novel, and Sarah is offering a giveaway of one signed copy of The Sky Above Us to one fortunate commenter between now and Feb. 18.  Thanks so much, Sarah.  

Tell us about your new release, please.

Burdened by his past, Lt. Adler Paxton ships to England with the US 357th Fighter Group. Determined to become an ace pilot, Adler battles the German Luftwaffe as the Allies struggle for control of the air before D-day. Violet Lindstrom wants to be a missionary, but for now she serves in the American Red Cross, where she arranges entertainment and refreshments for the men of the 357th in the Aeroclub. Drawn to the mysterious Adler, she enlists his help with her programs for local children. Adler finds his defenses crumbling. But D-day draws near. And secrets can’t stay buried forever.

Why did you choose to write about these aspects of World War II?

With each novel and each series I like to focus on different aspects of the war to keep things fresh. A few years ago, I thought it would be interesting to write a series about D-day, with three brothers fighting from the sea, in the air, and on the ground. My first series focused on bomber pilots, and a lot of readers told me I should write about a fighter pilot. What if I had a fighter pilot flying over the beaches of Normandy on D-day? That’s how Lt. Adler Paxton came to be.

For the heroine, I decided to have Violet Lindstrom work for the American Red Cross. The ARC ran Aeroclubs at the US airfields in Britain, arranging refreshment and entertainment for the airmen. That sounded like a fun and adventurous way for a woman to serve her country.

What unique aspects about your research can you share with us?

Although this was my eleventh World War II novel, each story presents new research challenges. Adler’s story was surprisingly easy to research. I’d already tracked down a lot of information on the US Eighth Air Force while writing my Wings of Glory series.

And fighter pilots love to tell stories. I found countless memoirs, oral histories, home movies, and photos. These were valuable to help me understand the mindset of fighter pilots, how it felt to fly a P-51 Mustang in combat, and what everyday life was like on the air bases in England.

Violet’s story with the American Red Cross presented a greater challenge. In general, stories from personnel in any support capacity are scarcer. I found a treasure trove of primary documents about the Red Cross on Fold3.com (a division of Ancestry.com). These provided many of the big picture details I needed about ARC services overseas. On the personal side, I perused the Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project on the University of North Carolina, Greensboro website. They’ve collected oral histories, photos, and documents from women veterans, including dozens of Red Cross workers. These helped me piece together the colorful bits about what life was like for these brave and resourceful women.

Bio:

Sarah Sundin is a bestselling author of historical novels, including The Sky Above Us and The Sea Before Us. Her novels When Tides Turn and Through Waters Deep were named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years,” and Through Waters Deep was a finalist for the 2016 Carol Awardand won the INSPY Award.A mother of three, Sarah lives in California and teaches Sunday school. She also enjoys speaking for church, community, and writers’ groups.Please visit her at http://www.sarahsundin.com.

Sarah has also shared this trailer for The Sky Above Us: you may view it here: 

 

The Dog Days

Learned something new today: the Latin word canicular, meaning “small dog”, originates in Canis, from which we get our word canine.

Sirius, the star that represents the hunter Orion’s hound in the constellation, was also called Canicula. Because we first see Sirius rise during summer, the hot sultry days from early July to early September came to be called dies caniculares, i.e. “the dog days.”

Isn’t it fun to discover all the ins and outs of our vocabulary? All of what I’ve written so far is to introduce more photos from our England trip. The first, from Bletchley Park, shows some women dishing up corned beef hash. They offered tastes, and sent the recipe home with all comers.

Note the authentic 40’s clothing, enamelware, and head gear. Now, picture British women like these sweating over a hot stove in a cramped flat with no air conditioning, not even a fan. In one of England’s industrial cities, with bombs being dropped night after night.

The hash wasn’t bad…exactly. Just very bland, but spices were hard to come by. That’s why the black market managed such a thriving business, despite severe reprisals if the seller were caught in the act.

Here are some items he (or she) would carry…I personally would have a TOUGH TIME if tea were rationed, and know some people who might be highly tempted to go black market for precious coffee!

The oppressive heat of dog days makes many of us crabby, but we can find a cool place to spell us through the worst. The citizens of England could not, but they KEPT CALM and CARRIED ON. And can you imagine how relieved they were when one by one, items became unrationed? Keep in mind, this took years AFTER the war…my hat is off to all who toughed it out!

Whispering Hope

It’s wonderful to welcome back Peggy Blann Phifer, who is offering a free kindle version of her latest release, Whispering Hope, to a commenter. Don’t you love the heroine’s gloves and glamour on the cover? 

Thanks for having me on your blog, Gail. I’m pleased to be here. You asked me to share some thoughts about my writing, my book, the genre, and what it took to get it written. So, here goes …

Whispering Hope is what I call Historical Romantic Suspense. I’m not sure there actually is such a genre … officially … but it’s my story and I’m sticking with it. And yes, it’s all three.

Historical: Yes, the time is 1930, during Prohibition. The opening scenes are set in Chicago, but the rest of the story takes place in northwest Wisconsin, my old stomping grounds, in a fictitious town and county created entirely out of my imagination. It was fun to write, drawing on some old memories and locations I knew back in the day. But mostly challenging. It took a lot of research. I bought books, maps, a PBS video of the era produced by Ken Burns, and LOTS of “Googling.” I have at least a ream of paper I printed out during the writing time.

Romance: My lead female protagonist, Virginia “Ginny” Hopewell, Wisconsin country girl, visiting her cousin in Chicago, gets caught in a shooting at a local speakeasy. At the same time and place, was my male protag, Ransom “Rance” Blake, FBI agent for the Chicago Bureau of Prohibition. Their paths cross again after Ginny returns to Wisconsin and Rance is sent up there to apprehend the man responsible for the shooting and to discover how illegal liquor from Canada is getting into Wisconsin and down to Chicago.

Suspense: It’s all there. An elusive gangster. Illegal stills. Suspicious guests at the Whispering Hope Resort. Murder. And a kidnapping.

I hope this whets readers’ appetites!

Back Cover Copy:

1930 Chicago is no place for a Wisconsin country girl.

Virginia Hopewell visits her cousin in Chicago and gets caught up in a deadly gangster shooting at a speakeasy, barley escaping with her life. After learning of the tragic death of her father, brother, and sister-in-law, Ginny returns to Wisconsin and convinces her mother to reopen the resort her father had closed after losing everything in the stock market crash in 1929.

Ransom Blake, an agent with the Chicago Bureau of Prohibition, had been at the same speakeasy acting on a tip about the shooting. Rance is charged with finding the gangster responsible. He and his team are sent to Wisconsin where the man was reported being seen, and to investigate how illegal liquor from Canada is making its way to Chicago.

With the opening of Whispering Hope Resort, Rance registers as a guest and comes face to face with the lovely redhead he’d briefly encountered at the speakeasy during the shooting.

Bio:

Author Peggy Blann Phifer, a retired executive assistant after twenty-one years in the Electrical Wholesale Industry, lives in the ‘boonies’ of NW Wisconsin. A late bloomer, Peg didn’t start taking writing seriously until age fifty.

Her debut novel, To See the Sun, a contemporary romantic suspense, released in January 2012. A second novel, Somehow, Christmas Will Come, contemporary women’s fiction with a touch of romance and mystery, released in November 2014, revised and re-released in late 2015. A new work titled Whispering Hope, an historical romantic suspense, set during the years of Prohibition, released in early May 2018. Her work has also appeared in numerous anthologies over the past five years.

Peg is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. When she’s not writing, Peg enjoys reading, blogging, and sharing her home with her daughter, son-in-law, and a Border Collie mix dog named Rocky.

Social media and buying links

Blog/website: http://whispersinpurple.blogspot.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pegphifer

Twitter: www.twitter.com/pegphifer @pegphifer

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/pegphifer

Google+: http://plus.google.com/+AuthorPeggyBlannPhifer/posts

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/pbphifer

Email: pbphifer@centurylink.net

Purchase link for Whispering Hope: https://amzn.to/2KURU8x

 

Keep Calm and Carry On

That’s a mouthful at times. I have a friend who’s facing surgery with extensive recuperation, plus two dreadful diseases in her close family.

Keep calm, you say?

With another friend, we have an ongoing discussion about how people make it through suffering, sorrow, illness, and loss. Sometimes I think it’s a combination of this “carry on” attitude plus faith, of course, and a good dose of everyday concerns that keep us going.

 

On our recent trip, Lance ordered bangers and mash, also known as sausages and mash, a traditional British and Irish dish combining sausages and mashed potatoes. The flavored sausages may be pork, lamb, or beef (often specifically Cumberland sausage. The dish is sometimes served with onion gravy, fried onions, or peas.

This dish, even when cooked at home, may be thought of as an example of pub grub, quick and easy to make in large quantities. I’ve read accounts of wartime children being sent to pick up the family’s order of this dish at a local restaurant, since both of their parents were working.

During World War II, I wonder if, in addition to seeking divine comfort, the necessary constant task of providing food for their families helped everyone make it through. Here in the states, women survived dire Depression-era poverty and went on to endure the wait for their loved ones to return from the second world war.

Maybe it’s no wonder that generation taught us to eat everything on our plates and placed high value on a good, solid meal followed by a lush dessert.

Changed Plans and Reminders

A promise is a promise. I said I would send photos from England and a continuous report of what we are doing over here. However, the photo part has to wait because my husband is at a camera shop right now seeing if his camera damage from the trip over the Atlantic can be fixed or if he needs to buy a new camera.

In the meantime, he has been taking what we hope are wonderful shots of everything we have seen so far. So here goes from Portsmouth where the D-Day Museum completely captured our attention and where I put my pinky in the very cold waters of the English Channel.

The Salty breeze from the channel made me very thankful for the coat our daughter found for me last week. We stayed minutes from the channel in the Easley guest house where Steve and Clare provided great breakfasts and loads of information about Portsmouth now and during World War II.

One of the highlights for me was meeting a couple of women on vacation during breakfast the first day. One of them grew up in a big brick house across the street and told us that along the line of houses, where we now could see a more modern one, that meant the original one had been bombed out during the blitz.

As usual meeting these women was a highlight for me. We also explored a bombed-out local Garrison church built long before Jamestown was founded.

We went to the Mary Rose museum. The Mary Rose was Henry the VIII’s pride and joy, his best warship. But he watched her sink from Portsmouth Harbor. Centuries later, she was partially brought to the surface and is now reconstructed underneath a huge glass enclosure. So many artifacts retrieved from the Mary Rose and it’s amazing they were still recognizable.

Today I am taking a break from concrete and cement for my poor aching feet, but ice is helping. We wanted to be on a tour today, but as often happens in life, had to change our plans. The same thing happened with being able to check my emails so if any of you have written me and not received a reply now you know why.

Still, it’s a gorgeous day in Oxford England. Yesterday we saw punters rowing their flat-bottomed boats—which they call “punts”—on the river beside the colleges. We ate dinner where C.S. Lewis and his buddies met every week. It’s a pub called The Bear and it was flooded with Americans. I sure hope Lance’s photos have turned out OK. He can’t tell at this point, but hopefully will be able to send some soon. For now, a few from our phone will have to do.

 

In the meantime, I’m reading The Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis out in a beautiful back yard of our hotel and being reminded that even when our plans go awry the beauty around us reminds us of what really matters. Signing off for now.

Making Do

This past two weeks have tweaked my perspective after I fell and hurt my wrist. Since driving is out, these days have been more isolated than normal. Some friends came to my rescue with groceries and other household needs like chopping vegetables, opening cans, and vacuuming.

Some other friends visited, too:

Nice to have company…the first few days, I read through a pile of books I’ve been meaning to get to, and learned so much…about World War II. How’d you guess?

Once I could type again, even one-handed, my latest hero and heroine kept me company. Oh, what the ordinary citizens of the 40’s went through–they made do all the time. For this story, I’m researching the war in the Philippines.

Here’s one of my resources, a compilation of the Los Angeles Examiner’s wartime headlines. With a trusty magnifying glass borrowed from a friend, I’ve unearthed some real gems–hopefully, you’ll read some of them when ALL FOR THE CAUSE is published.

 

HISTORICALS: STAYING TRUE TO THE TIME

I’m glad to welcome Cynthia Roemer as she celebrates the publication of her first historical novel. Cynthia, please tell us about your experience researching this story.

Book cover - final

I’m as old-fashioned as they come, so historical novels are a perfect fit for me—both reading and writing. As a reader, I love the nostalgia and all the life lessons one can learn from those who’ve gone before us. But as a writer, I enjoy delving into the past and researching the time period, more specifically the nineteenth century. When writing a historical/historical romance novel, research is a must to ensure the book is true to the time period.

My debut novel, Under This Same Sky, which released in late April, took place in 1854. I’ve been thrilled at some of the comments thus far by reviewers stating the novel “makes you feel exactly like you lived back in those days”. How gratifying such comments are to an author who’s spent countless hours trying to be certain every detail is true and accurate.

The well-known facts are easy to achieve. Under This Same Sky took place on the Illinois prairie in the mid-1800s. Most everyone knows settlers lived in log cabins, but do they know how the cabins were erected and what materials were used to chink the log walls? It’s widely known that covered wagons were often used when traveling across the prairie, but not many will know that a bucket of tallow was kept handy so that when the wheels began to squeak and squeal they had to be greased much like a car engine needs oil to run smoothly.

There were so many questions I had to ask as I wrote the novel: What type of clothing was worn in 1854? What farming equipment was available? Had screen doors been invented? How would my characters cross the Mississippi? What would the city of St. Louis have looked like back then? What type of lighting was used? It’s these fine details that make a novel either believable or, if left out, leave readers with a less than satisfied reaction.

Though research is a vital part of writing a historical novel, that’s not to say a writer can’t have a little fun creating fictional people and places along with the true ones. Under This Same Sky is a blend of fictional and real. My main character, Becky Hollister grows up a few miles outside of the fictional town of Miller Creek, IL, but later travels to the very real town of St. Louis, Missouri. Only one of my characters is based on a real person. The others are products of my imagination.

What’s wonderful about historical fiction is that we can have the best of both worlds—the reality of the past blended with the creativity of fiction. A match that—in this author’s opinion, can’t be beat!

            ~ She thought she’d lost everything ~ Instead she found what she needed most. ~

Illinois ~ 1854

Becky Hollister wants nothing more than to live out her days on the prairie, building a life for herself alongside her future husband. But when a tornado rips through her parents’ farm, killing her mother and sister, she must leave the only home she’s ever known and the man she’s begun to love to accompany her injured father to St. Louis.

Catapulted into a world of unknowns, Becky finds solace in corresponding with Matthew Brody, the handsome pastor back home. But when word comes that he is all but engaged to someone else, she must call upon her faith to decipher her future.

bio1

Cynthia Roemer is an award-winning inspirational writer with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the lives of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the 1800s prairie. She writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband and their two college-aged sons.

 Contact Info:

Website: http://cynthiaroemer.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com@cynthiaroemer

 

Purchase Info:

Available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Under-This-Same-Cynthia-Roemer/dp/194509415X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1494271640&sr=8-1&keywords=under+this+same+sky