Christmas In September

Welcome to Diane Tatum, who writes in several genres. She’s here with her Christmas novella, Dreaming of a Wedded Christmas, and offering a free copy to a commenter.

Dreaming of a Wedded Christmas is my tenth book but my first free-standing Christmas story. This tale begins in the boardroom of Wycroft Booksellers. Grandpa Jay is cleaning his glasses while the young people around the table argue over the future of the company. I wrote this much at a writer’s conference. Then it sat in my journal until I was interested in writing the full story when I received the opportunity from my editor to write a Christmas novella.

This story is part of a set available this Christmas, called MISStletoe Romances. Each story is centered on nearly missing something. My story is a triangle love story. Jaymie is engaged to Dave Garrett. During their search for a house, Jaymie meets Kyle Mason, their real estate agent. Literal sparks fly. The closer they all get to Christmas, the more stress they experience and the more Jaymie feels confused about the wedding.

I write romantic fiction in several genres. My first book is Gold Earrings, an historical novel. I’m writing a Main Street Mysteries series. The next installment of Dorie and Ross’s story is called DNA Secrets, and my Colonial Dream series is historical fiction. The fourth book in that series will be A Time to Create. I have two other free-standing novels: Mission Mesquite, and Oxford Fairy Tale, part of a set Romancing the Billionaire.

I began writing in elementary school. My first degree was in Accounting so I could support myself while pursuing my dream of writing. God intervened by bringing my husband into the picture. I finished my degree and we started our family. I started writing youth Bible curriculum for Lifeway and articles for magazines in the early ‘90s and finished Gold Earrings, my first novel begun in high school. After finishing a master’s degree in teaching Language Arts, I taught full time for eleven years. My husband asked me to “come home and write my stories” in 1989, so I did.

I’m living my dream and enjoy my novels. God inspires my stories and gives me the opportunity to publish them. I’m giving away Dreaming of a Wedded Christmas to one reader of this blog. Please leave a review on Amazon for me.

Website: www.dianeetatumwriter.comAmazon page: amazon.com/author/dianeetatum

blogs: http://tatumlight-tatumsthoughts4today.blogspot.com/http://tatumlight.wordpress.com/   email: tatumlight@gmail.comFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/tatumlighttwitter: @DianeTatumPinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/tatumlight/
Gold EarringsMission MesquiteColonial Dream: Book 1 A Time to Fight,                            Book 2 A Time to Love                           Book 3 ATime to ChooseMain Street Mysteries: #1 Kudzu Sculptures                                    #2 Gemini Conspiracy                                    #3 Attic VisitationsOxford Fairy Tale
Watch for:Colonial Dream: Book 4 A Time to CreateMISSletoe Romance: Dreaming of a Wedded Christmas

Dad’s birthday

I’m a little late, but a week ago was my dad’s birthday.

During WWII, he served with the Army Air Force in North Africa, and after four years returned to his father’s Iowa farm. He was still hitching up horses when he left, but after training in Washington, D.C., spent three years sleeping in tents and driving Army trucks.

Like most veterans, he rarely spoke of his experience, but once he described an airplane loaded with soldiers headed back to the States. Something went wrong and the plane exploded on the runway. Who knows what else he witnessed?

After the long trip back across the Atlantic by ship, coming back to the farm must have seemed like heaven to him. No more freezing in the desert at night, no more standing in line for rations or meals if he was lucky, no more waiting days for a shower.

Thanks for your service, Dad.

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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BEGONIAS and WWII

Once you start researching this war, the word OPERATION keeps coming up.

Operation Overlord, (The D-Day Invasion), Operation Market Garden, and on and on.

But did you ever hear of Operation Begonia?


British special forces carried out Operation Begonia in 1943 after the armistice with Italy. Six SAS men paradropped on the Italian Coast to locate and evacuate POWS who had escaped from Italian camps when the fighting still continued.

I never dreamed so many flowers would have connections with the war, but there you go!

The Potato Bug Wars

July brings so much beauty. We’ve been enjoying all the colors of the spectrum in our courtyard garden.

Hollyhocks’ velvety petals woo us to their side of the garden.

Tomatoes drip after a sudden shower.

And something we’d rather not see. Potato bugs, gnawing an incredible amount of leaves. We’ve picked them off, smashed them, and applied de-bugging powder. We’ve sprayed on some nasty stuff guaranteed to rid the poor potato plants of these varmints.

But underneath some leaves, there’s another color: orange. It’s potato bug eggs. ARGH!

Masses of them, and out of focus, but you get the idea. Will we ever win this war? This one is nothing at all compared to the war I research, fought back in the forties. Women working in the Women’s Land Army, though, may have battled insects like these.

At this point, I have my doubts we’ll win our little battle. But that’s July…not everything is roses. Still, the world is definitely full of color!

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.

Pansies In Chair And World War II

I learned today that during World War II, the British Land Girls Army sometimes had to destroy established flowerbeds on estates in order to plant much-needed vegetables to feed the populace. That would’ve been tough for blossom lovers, and even more difficult for the caretakers who had carefully nurtured those beds, sometimes for decades.

Because of rationing, it was “every hand on deck” to provide enough for all of the citizens. Here in the States, women worked in agriculture too…sometimes planting gardens on city rooftops.

Here are some pansies that so far have weathered the heat on our sheltered front porch.

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! 

GIVEAWAY!!

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 www.lillian-duncan.com 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:   www.lillianduncan.com.  

The Lowly Scone

Because of my World War II research, I’ve learned a lot about scones, and have been exploring their origins. Our daughter has recently devised a fabulous recipe for luscious, mouth-watering scones to serve fresh in her cafe. Her father and I buy them frozen to bake one at a time in the morning. Ah…the savory aroma!

Today’s flavor is white chocolate raspberry. Oh my! Compared to the ones I’ve made over the years, well, let’s just say there’s no comparison. (:

Scones are believed to have originated in Scotland, and resemble the griddle-baked flatbread known as bannock. Made with oats and shaped into a large round, scored into four to six triangles, and cooked on a griddle either over an open fire or on top of the stove. But some say this occurred in other locations besides Scotland.

Throughout the centuries, we can only imagine the hoards that scones nurtured to adulthood.

The origin of the name ‘scone’ is just as nebulous as its first locale. 

“Some say the word comes from the Stone of Destiny where the Kings of Scotland were crowned, while pthers believe the name derives from the Dutch ‘schoonbrot,’ meaning fine white bread, or the German word ‘sconbrot,’ meaning ‘fine or beautiful bread.’

“Others propose the Gaelic ‘sgonn,’ a shapeless mass — or large mouthful–as the source of the term scone. Whatever its origin, I can say without doubt that scones produce a smile for my husband after he takes a bite!