Not Just Any Man

Welcome to New Mexico author Loretta Miles Tollefson. As you relax after the holiday, here’s your chance to learn about Old New Mexico, a gorgeous ares of the Southwest United States. I can tell this author is all about research because of the many questions she asks.

AND here is a chance to win a print copy of Loretta’s novel by responding to one of her questions at the end of her post

Sometimes, the character in one novel becomes the impetus for an entirely different book. In 2017, Sunstone Press published The Pain and The Sorrow, my novel about an 1860s Hispanic teenager married to a serial killer. In that book, a middle-aged multiracial woman named Alma Kinkaid comes to my protagonist’s assistance after the girl reports her husband’s nefarious activities.

Even before The Pain and the Sorrow was published, I began thinking about Alma’s heritage. I envisioned this Black/Native American/Anglo woman as living in New Mexico all of her life. This would mean she was born there in the 1820s. But how did that happen?

The most rational explanation was that her father was a black mountain man who married a New Mexico girl of mixed heritage. So then the question became how a black man from Missouri, where many of the American mountain men came from, and a young woman in New Mexico might have met and fallen in love. What kind of issues might have stood in their way? What events were occurring in New Mexico at the time? How would those events have affected my protagonists? Historical fiction is made fro questions like these. The result was Not Just Any Man.


Not Just Any Man addresses some of my favorite themes. There’s the love story, of course. But there’s also the search for a way to achieve one’s heart’s desire without compromising one’s integrity. In addition, the novel explores the issue of being accepted for one’s character rather than one’s external appearance or possessions. We all want these things. They’re universal needs that transcend location and time.

Not Just Any Man and The Pain and The Sorrow are just the first of many stories of Old New Mexico that I hope to tell. I’d love to hear from you about the kinds of novels you wish someone would write about 1800’s New Mexico and the American West. What kinds of characters and situations intrigue you? What themes do you wish historical fiction would address more often? Comment below for a chance to win a copy of Not Just Any Man or The Pain And The Sorrow, the novel that inspired it.

Loretta Miles Tollefson grew up in the American West in a log cabin built by her grandfather. She lives in New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo mountains, where she researches the region’s history and imagines what it would have been like to actually experience it.
Readers can contact her at or via the contact page at
The Amazon link for Not Just Any Man is

Christmas thoughts 2019

Frosty days…frostier nights. Ice waiting right outside your door. The days get shorter, the nights get longer. That’s Iowa in winter.

But last week, in the midst of my research/writing about the HORRID winter of 1944 and commiserating about the plight of Allied soldiers in the Battle of the Bulge and my nurse heroine trying to save their lives,  a little elf came to our house to decorate…


Inside and outside. Wherever needed…pretty much everywhere!

She brought so much energy and joy along, winter seems brighter already. And then we started baking…

Christmas Eve arrived, and the. photos multiplied.

How did our grandson get so tall, compared with last year at this time?

And our Greatest Generation GREAT Grandma still made her famous German potato salad and rice pudding for us all last night.

As Charlie Brown says, it doesn’t matter what’s under the tree, what matters is WHO is around the tree.

A blessed Christmas to all of you.

Historical Biblical Fiction Mystery Thriller?

I’d like to welcome Kelly Fitzgerald Fowler today. Her unfamiliar/unique genre poses questions in my mind, which may have something to do with age, but we’re still here to learn and grow, right? One of my questions is, WHY would someone want to read this?

So come along with me and attempt to grasp the gist of this genre. Please feel free to ask Kelly questions, and she’s giving away one free audiobook and one free e-book. We’re trying something new this time: if you can find a way to use the word THRILLER in your comment, you will qualify for her giveaways. (:  enjoy!

Over My Dead Body: A Supernatural Novel– Historical Biblical Fiction Mystery Thriller!

Have you ever heard of an Historical Biblical Fiction Mystery Thriller? If not, get ready to dive into this new genre as I break down why Over My Dead Body is more than just a novel.

Historical fiction is a made-up story set in the past, borrowing characteristics of that period. Take Margaret Mitchel’ls Gone with the Wind, for example; a real war but fake characters. When you think of a biblical thriller, think of the thrilling life David must have led as he escaped the grip of King Saul, who was determined to end the young king’s reign before it could even begin.

Think in terms of The Robe or This Present Darkness. Now, try to imagine these two breath-taking genres working together to create a gripping tale that is too good to be true!

Over My Dead Body spans from the creation of the universe through ancient biblical times to the present with lead character, Joel Cohen, attempting to solve an old family mystery as angels and demons fight for and against his mission. The story weaves the influence of the past with events of the present in a heightened sense of suspense, excitement, surprise, and anticipation you would find in a thriller.

With more details to discover, Over My Dead Body explores the life of the High Priest Annas (Ananias) and his Jewish Dynasty, 70 AD Jewish Historian Josephus in his report about ancient Jerusalem and Rome, and gentile saviors (think Schindler’s List) from World War II with Joel’s Bubbe (meaning Jewish Grandmother) Rachel recording a detailed account of her escape from the Nazis.

As I mentioned above not only human eyes see what lies in the past or the present.  Narration from an angel named Harper and a demon named Marq walk you through many of the historical events from spiritual realms revealing even more mysteries.

Since this novel was developed from my own personal Bible study, I decided to put together a study guide to accompany the book for anyone who is interested in diving deeper into the major concepts in the novel. Concepts such as gentiles grafted with the New Covenant, the Throne room of heaven, and the angels mentioned in Ezekiel.

The study guide will be released initially via e-book in February 2019 for a Bible study I will personally lead at Seacoast Church in Mt. Pleasant, SC, in March. There are also discussion questions at the back of the novel for book clubs that would like to dig deeper into scripture and biblical discussions of the concepts in the story.

So, as Gail asked, why would you want to read this? Jesus said in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” The full abundance Jesus is speaking of does not start when you make it to heaven. It starts when you meet Jesus. A biblical thriller is our story of our own personal walk with our savior. It’s a thrill to be on assignment for the Kingdom of God and I promise Joel’s mysterious assignment will take you to places you would never imagine.

I hope you look forward to an adventure through this new and exciting genre and learn something new along the way. If so, Over My Dead Body: A Supernatural Novelis available in paperback, hardcopy, e-book and audiobook on Amazon here You can also learn more at my website:


The Writer’s Roadmap

Today I’m welcoming Leigh Shulman, who mentors writers and lives in beautiful Argentina, as she introduces her helpful new book for writers: The Writer’s Roadmap: Paving the Way To Your Ideal Writing Life.
                           Thank you for sharing with us, Leigh!

Back Cover Copy:

Have you always dreamed of making a living from writing? Or even just a way to fit writing into your everyday life? But you’ve stopped before you’ve even started because fear and doubt get in the way…


“What if I’m not good enough? What if nobody wants to read what I have to say? I’m overwhelmed with ideas and lack of time and don’t know how or where to start.”


Your writing dream can seem impossibly hard to reach.


These are all blocks that writing teacher and author, Leigh Shulman, has helped hundreds of students overcome, to go on to achieve their writing goals. Now in The Writer’s Roadmap, she shares her twenty years of experience of helping others to write and publish their way to their ideal writing lives.


Through a combination of practical steps and mindset work, Leigh will take you through the creative process and shows you achieving your writing aspirations is not only possible but joyful (and profitable!). From hands-on writing exercises and real-life case studies from her students to stories from her own personal journey to her dream writing life, The Writer’s Roadmap is the essential guide that shows you not only where your writing life could take you, but how to get there.


So if you want to avoid the number one reason why most people never write or learn how to deal with rejection or believe that you can earn money from your writing, then The Writer’s Roadmap will signpost the way to take that big scary writing dream and break it down into manageable steps.


Writing is a journey, but you’ll never reach your destination if you don’t take that first step. If you’re ready to stop dreaming and start writing then adventure awaits…

Leigh Shulman is a degreed writing mentor with twenty years teaching experience under her belt. She’s taught at universities and writing programs worldwide and founded The Workshop, her online writing community and Creative Revolution book writing retreats in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, New York Times and The Huffington Post among others.

She currently lives in Argentina with her family where she writes and wonders if she’s the only person on earth who doesn’t like dulce de leche.

Leigh’s contacts…



Twitter: theleighshulman
facebook author page:


A fellow writer recently sent me this photo of his newborn calf, a Saler-Hereford.

SO cute! Look at all that curly hair, and a face any mother could love!

How does this tie in with today being RELEASE DAY for Kiss Me Once Again? Very clearly.

Sending a story into the world after such a long process of drafting, writing, editing, re-editing, re-re-editing (you get the picture) shares several parallels with birthing an infant.

But when that infant grows up, they’re out of your hands…well, actually quite a while before that point.

So off you go, Kiss Me Once Again, my first World War II novella…out into the cold, but hopefully not cruel world. It’s been joy-laced hard work to bring you to this moment. May you touch hearts and faithfully reveal the incredible era of World War II.

My publisher tells me this novella debuted at #56 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases chart in the World War II Historical Fiction category.


Kiss Me Once Again is a sweet novella that will make you feel like you are in the WWII era. I loved how Gail crafted Glenora, I could really feel her tough exterior filled with grease and less-than feminine features, but she also captured “Glen’s” tender interior. Hank is everything you want to read in a 1940’s hero. Affected by war, yet lacking confidence due to everything he’s been through. It’s a novella, so it’s a quick read. I definitely recommend!  

 “Kiss Me Once Again is a heartwarming story of love, sacrifice, dreams deferred, faith and family. I always appreciate the historical research that underlies author Kittleson’s stories. 

Purchase Kiss Me Once Again HERE for Amazon

Purchase Kiss Me Once Again HERE for Barnes and Noble


Leaving My Mark


Welcome to Margaret Welwood, and her children’s books! Tell us how you got started, Margaret.

I’ve always enjoyed sharing stories with children. But when one little granddaughter started asking for “fake” stories, she wasn’t just asking for fiction. No, she wanted stories that were made up on the spot. My writing muscles, used to striving for clear, concise, and compelling non-fiction for adults, stretched in new and happy ways as I strove to share my faith and values with a story-hungry little girl.

When it came time to start writing some stories down, I continued to read to children, but now with an added purpose: to learn from the masters. The Berenstains are among my favorites, and Coralie (the artist for my first two books) and I studied their work. I also read books about writing for children and began reviewing children’s books.

Scissortown, my first picture book,answers the two questions that burn in the heart of every serious reader 😊

What happens when a neat and tidy town is invaded by Slicers and Dicers? These pleasant-looking creatures mean no harm, but they never met a pinking shear or nail clipper they didn’t like.

The clever grown-ups hide all the cutting tools, which brings us to your second burning question: What happens when nobody can cut anything at all?

“A delightful story with many layers of meaning.”

“Teaches children the importance of being responsible and using their thinking skills to solve problems.”

If Scissortown explores your burning questions, Marie and Mr. Bee leaves a question unasked.

Children with disabilities and their parents find this story of compassion, forgiveness, and forever friendship particularly empowering because no one asks why Marie uses a wheelchair. She is an equal and beloved partner in work and play, and her forest friends make accommodations for her disability without comment.

“All sorts of important ideas pop up while Marie and her friends play and work in the forest: the power of choice, the treasure of friendship, the capabilities of ‘disabled’ children, what kindness looks like.”


Little Bunny’s Own Storybook is the tale of a library-loving rabbit who takes matters into his own paws when his favorite place closes for inventory.

“By describing with words and illustrating Bunny’s book-making process, the author gives readers a detailed how-to.”

Children (both human and animal) who make—or learn to make—good choices in cute, humorous settings are one place I want to leave my mark.

Where do you want to leave your mark?

Connect with Margaret!




Writing blog




Pearl Harbor Day and After…

In this photo from long-ago. yours truly is the shortest baby boomer

Julie Arduini,,a fellow author, reviewed my new Pearl Harbor day release this week on her blog. Positive words to warm an author’s heart. Thanks, Julie. For those who like short reads, or need a gift for someone who loves this time period, but prefers something less exacting than full novels, this novella might be just the ticket.


Kiss Me Once Again is a sweet novella that will make you feel like you are in the WWII era. I loved how Gail crafted Glenora, I could really feel her tough exterior filled with grease and less-than feminine features, but she also captured “Glen’s” tender interior. Hank is everything you want to read in a 1940’s hero. Affected by war, yet lacking confidence due to everything he’s been through. It’s a novella, so it’s a quick read. I definitely recommend!


Purchase Kiss Me Once Again HERE for Amazon

Purchase Kiss Me Once Again HERE for Barnes and Noble

Far From Home For Christmas

I’m so excited to introduce a real-life World War II story – Barbara von der Oster’s father missed not just one Christmas with his family, but three. World War II stole him away, and I think you’ll enjoy Barbara’s tale of his three holidays as a lonely sailor. I learned so much from reading LST 388, the name of the vessel that took her father to several major war theaters and the title of Barbara’s book. She offers us yet another gift–a paperback copy of this book to a reader who leaves a comment. 


With the start of December comes planning for the holiday, including decorating, baking, shopping and making decisions on where to spend Christmas. Yet, even with all the commotion and must-dos, every year I pause and remind myself of those who can’t be home for Christmas. Our military men and women often find themselves far from home during this time of year.

My father, while serving in WWII, missed not one, not two, but three consecutive Christmas holidays with his family back home in New York. His first Christmas away, in 1942, he found himself in Norfolk, Virginia after receiving a few hours liberty from his new assignment on the amphibious force landing ship, USSLST-388.

At a bar in a seedy part of town, he writes in his journal about listening to songs on the jukebox, such as White Christmas, and thinking of home. As he leaves the bar with other sailors, Christmas carols blare from the loudspeaker above the Monticello Hotel. He joins in, singing along with sailors and civilians alike as he walks along the street.

By the time the next Christmas, 1943, arrived, he had sailed overseas to North Africa, participated in two hostile invasions (Sicily and Salerno) and sailed to England to begin preparations for a third (Normandy).

While on a short liberty in England, he runs into a woman who happens to have a sprig of mistletoe attached to her coat. He bets her she can’t raise it above her head, and, much to his delight, she does. He leans in and plants a kiss on her lips. Returning to the ship, he finds he has several letters waiting and settles in to read each one, treating them as special gifts. Soon, however, he and his shipmates are forced to spend the next several hours fighting off an attack by German planes and eboats in the English Channel. A subdued Christmas Day dinner follows after all but their nerves have quieted down.

Another year passed, which included the devastating invasion at Normandy, and Christmas found my father once again in the English Channel, this time carrying reinforcement troops and equipment from England to France. Unbeknownst to him at the time, the German navy had launched a last desperate offensive to stop the supply of more troops to the continent, sinking several ships directly ahead in his own ship’s path.

All throughout, my father sought out church services on Christmas, whether at the USO or American Red Cross, or even onboard his ship. He never lost his faith. Today’s military men and women no doubt are doing the same.

So amidst the holiday hustle and bustle, the planning, praising, gift-buying and decorating, I’ll be keeping not only my father in mind, but also present-day military men and women’s sacrifices. Let’s all keep them in our prayers this year, and hope they’ll be home soon.


Barbara co-authored the book LST 388: A World War II Journal with her father, who passed away in December 2016 at the age of 96. She is currently working on her first historical fiction novel, based loosely on her father’s experiences in WWII. She says, many times people will pick up a novel rather than a memoir or history book, so this is another way to share a bit of history, and keep the memories and sacrifices of WWII alive.

Barbara will also have her own memoir out in early 2019. In it, she shares her experiences as a fashion model in Europe during the mid-1980s.

You can reach Barbara through her book website,

Follow her on Amazon for future updates:

Connect with her on Twitter,

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas…

My husband sent me this photo, not one he took himself, and it it launched the Christmas season for us. With our store of books, we could easily fashion two or three of these inventive trees. I bet many of you could, too.

It’s fun to try thinking of something new this year, although we’re creatures of habit and usually change very little around the holidays.

But before I seriously think about that, I have several book talks coming up–I’ll be at the Cresco, Iowa library on December first at 11:30, and at the Kirkendall library in Ankeny at 11:30 on the seventh, Pearl Harbor Day. That’s RELEASE DAY also. (:

Speaking of Kiss Me Once Again, I want to say a big thank you to all my writer and reader friends who made this book’s launch party so memorable last Monday…it’s good to know you all care enough to share in this stepping stone on my writing path.



When President Lincoln declared a national day of Thanksgiving in the midst of the American Civil War, a series of editorials written by Sarah Josepha Hale inspired him. This commemoration of gratitude was to be celebrated on the 26th, the final Thursday of November 1863.

Interesting…do you recall hearing that Sara Hale’s writing created such an effect on the President? I didn’t…and it’s one more example of how our writing can be used. Maybe she intended this, or perhaps the outreach of her writing surprised her.

Tomorrow I’ll be in Story City, Iowa with a group of hearty souls undertaking memoir writing. We’ll be crafting a Christmas memoir, and of course, each participant’s will be unique. Our own personal take on life is so vital…we share our perspective.  And as Sarah Josepha Hale instructs us, who knows how much that viewpoint may affect others?

My books arrived last week…and that brings me to gratitude. Ah, yes. For the desire and determination required to research stories, and for the joy involved. For my husband, who pays the bills, for the easy availability of facts and stories from World War II, for a cousin, sister, and friends who encourage me, for my publisher, and for readers who allow my characters into their lives.

All these gifts shower upon me, and I’m so thankful…

“…we plow the fields and scatter the good seed on the land, but it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand…” Matthias Claudius, 1782, translated by Jane M. Campbell, 1861. Thanks to these two people for unleashing their creativity. I wonder if they thought their words would still be sung by churchgoers in 2018…

Who knows how our gifts sent out into the world might be used? Our task is to simply keep sending them. 

A week of Thanksgiving lies ahead–may yours be full of good memories.