Jerome…a step back in time

Suzanne Bratcher, whom I met in Mogollon Rim Country a few years ago, is now releasing the second in her series, set in Jerome, AZ. She’s here to introduce us to this popular tourist destination and to gift an e-book to one commenter. Enjoy!

Jerome, Arizona, population 444, claims two titles: “largest ghost town in America” and “billion-dollar copper camp.” An hour’s drive from my home in Flagstaff, Jerome was one of my favorite getaway spots for almost thirty years. When I first went to Jerome in 1978, it was a genuine ghost town with more buildings abandoned than occupied. The rugged unpaved road that crossed Mingus mountain into Prescott attracted aging hippies on motorcycles and four-wheel drive enthusiasts like my husband. A vacant hospital, an echoing school, and empty houses with sagging roofs all tickled my imagination with stories. The Douglas Mansion, home to the tiny Jerome State Historic Park, introduced me to the history of the once dirty, noisy copper camp that mined copper, silver, and gold. 

Fast forward to five years ago when I decided I wanted to write a series. Though I’d moved to Arkansas by then, Jerome leapt onto my computer screen: ghost town, billion-dollar copper camp, and home to a sophisticated pre-Colombian culture. I had my setting with an interesting twist for three books. Next two characters stepped on stage: antiques expert Marty Greenlaw and historian Paul Russell, ordinary people caught in a confusing web of greed and murder. The Copper Box, Book 1 of the Jerome mysteries, is Marty’s story set against the ghost-town backdrop. The Silver Lode, Book 2, which grew out is Paul’s story set against the copper-camp history. Paul and Marty are the main characters of the trilogy, but each book is a stand-alone mystery. 

Today I’m giving away an e-book of The Silver Lodeto a commenter, so here’s a quick synopsis: 

Beneath the ghost town of Jerome, Arizona, a labyrinth of abandoned mine tunnels hides a vein of silver ore mixed with pure gold. The discovery of that silver lode caused a murder decades ago. Are more coming? 

Historian Paul Russell is about to lose his job and the woman he loves. He doesn’t have time to search for the legendary silver lode. But when a student drops a seventy-year-old cold case on his desk, a murder connected to the silver lode, the mystery offers Paul the perfect opportunity to work with Marty Greenlaw and win her back.

As Paul and Marty search for the silver lode, suspicious deaths begin to happen. When Paul’s son disappears, the stakes become personal. 

You may connect with Suzanne J. Bratcher at

link to The Silver Lodee-book: https://amzn.to2LWE3Rx

link to The Silver Lodepaper book:

November musings…

A harsh wind brings a chill to northern Iowa, squirrels prepare for winter, and November reminds us of our hard-won privilege and responsibility to vote. 

 “The whole aim of politics is to keep the populace alarmed, and hence clamorous to be led to safety, by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” 

Today’s journalists might beg to differ, but H. L. Mencken, early twentieth-century social critic and journalist, would most likely stand his ground. In this voting month, how appropriate to consider his words—and that’s all I’ll offer on this topic! 

         November also honors our veterans, and on Thursday the seventh, I’ll be speaking for the Rotary Club in New Hampton, Iowa. That night, I’ll be at a veterans’ dinner in Alta Vista, and on Friday the eighth, at the Kling Memorial Library in Grundy Center (2 p.m.) 

I’m looking forward to sharing a devoted veteran’s story—it’s always a pleasure to introduce audiences to Dorothy Woebbeking, whose story fills the pages of Until Then

         Saturday from 1-4, I’ll co-facilitate a workshop integrating art and writing—pure fun! If you’re near the Marion Public Library, please consider joining us at this free event.

Always, people have worried about the future or the injustices around us. But we can also view these challenges as channels for growth. It’s good to consider Ralph Waldo Emerson’s declaration:

“Only to the degree that people are unsettled is there any hope for them.”

Well, it appears our lives abound in hope! 

Hiding From Christmas

Alice K Arenz is sharing one of her new releases with us–perhaps you can do a little early Christmas shopping! And, she’s giving away an e-book to one commenter.

Please tell us how this book idea came to you, Alice. 

Last fall, my publisher put out a list of ideas for different boxed sets to be published during 2019. The moment I saw the “Secret Santa” listing, I signed up. Then, I questioned why I’d done it. I didn’t have long to wait to find out.

Within hours God gave me the title Hiding From Christmas, and He’d encouraged me to pick up paper and pen—which I only do when paying bills!—and I had nearly the first chapter! That had to hold me for awhile because I’d also signed up for a Romantic Suspense due May 1 of 2019 and the Secret Santa wasn’t due until September.

I kept the paper handy, though, and continued writing little bits and pieces of ideas that would just miraculously pop into my head. When I finally started the real writing, I must admit to being overwhelmed. I thank God every day for seeing me through to the end.

 What obstacles did you conquer during the writing? 

Creating a company for my characters was, well… in a word, difficult. I’ve made up things before, but nothing as elaborate as the company Ornamental! You’re talking to someone who hates research, okay? This book had me researching something—most times MANY things—every single day! And that’s just the writing.

I have a condition with my ears where I “over hear” things. As in, something that doesn’t make much noise to most, is overwhelming to me. During the writing of both Dark of Night and Hiding From Christmas, there were constant sounds of construction, heavy equipment, etc., that would throw off my balance, making it difficult to even sit in my office chair. Yet another PRAISE GOD moment—moments!

How is this publication unique from others you have written?  How does it compare with others already published? 

It’s unique in that it’s a Christmas book—and the tremendous amount of research that went into the book, most of which wasn’t even used. 

Um… Maddie Kelley is almost 25, the youngest protagonist I’ve ever had. She loves baking and cooking—something I don’t do much of anymore. She gets excited over kitchen appliances, things like that. Oh, and I also used memories from my life, which I don’t usually do.

I’d say that the closest book to Hiding From Christmas would have to be The Wedding Barter. They are both romances, with Hiding a bit lighter, more fun. You can’t compare either of these to the romantic mysteries/suspense. Though the two Bouncing Grandma books (The Case of the Bouncing GrandmaThe Case of the Mystified M.D.) are lighter, funny cozies—and all four books are set in the fictional town of Tarryton, Missouri. 

What would you say to someone considering this read for themselves or for a gift?

If you want a light, fun book with just the right amount of romance this book is for you. Maddie doesn’t know where she fits into the company founded by her great-grandfather and his best friend, or in life, for that matter. She is passionate about baking, her little rescue kitten, and wanting to keep a promise to her deceased father. According to one of my editors “She’s real!”

check out my books at

As the Seasons Change

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Our journeys sometimes get interrupted by the unexpected–that’s what has been going on here lately. As autumn days grow shorter, someone so dear to us, a once very independent soul who handled her affairs single-handedly, suddenly faces a frightening world without the benefit of memory.

How can it be that a photo of her husband of nearly sixty years stymies her–who is this guy? Or that facing her account baffles this bookkeeper-at-heart, and organizing her daily pills has become a bridge too far?

Her “I don’t know,” rings plaintive, unbelievable.

Yet weeks are passing. In this chasm of loss, acceptance follows shock . . . we do believe.

Many of you have trod this path with loved ones, so you understand. You know, too, how much simple beauty means at times like this.

Some ground cover near the back porch somehow survived last night’s hard frost, so you pick a few and find a vase. Weary eyes light up, and those flowers on an end table near your loved one make all the difference for a day or so.

For those of you who follow my blog, thank you. I’ll post when I can, but probably won’t be writing much here for a season. I so appreciate your prayers.

The Beauty of This Moment

Victor Hugo, the great French author who gave us Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, wrote: “Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.” 

Pastoral scenes remind us of the serenity that time in nature offers, but sometimes we feel as though we’ve been knackered by life.


Knackered comes from a slang term meaning “to kill,” as well as “to tire, exhaust, or wear out.” The origins of the verb remain uncertain, but the word may relatesto an older noun which originally referred to a harness-maker or saddlemaker, and later referred to a buyer of animals nolonger able to do farm labor, or a buyer of old buildings. Knackered is used on both sides of the Atlantic but is more common with British speakers.

When we feel worn out and “done in,” it’s good to remember Victor Hugo’s words. We can only do our best. Controlling all the outcomes lies beyond our powers. I can’t help but think how the WWII nurses of the Eleventh Evacuation Hospitalmust have grappled with this concept–they did their utmost to relieve suffering and sustain life.

But sometimes their efforts led to lesser outcomes–the undesirable natural consequences of war. They arrived in French Morocco with the best of intentions to use their training to the utmost.

They labored under impossible conditions:

And when they finally got a break from their backbreaking work, they fell asleep. That’s all a human being can do. But along the way, they found beauty…in a simple wildflower, in the laughter of their comrades, in letters from home.

And so it is with us. Whatever we’re facing, we fund little joys tucked into our days . . . we simply must look for them.


Andrew by Jennifer Beckstrand

Welcome, Jennifer – any plot revolving around self-recrimination and forgiveness strikes my fancy–it’s so difficult NOT to cling to our errors, no matter how distant. Of course, this creates barriers for us, but . . .

At the end of her post, Jennifer has an offer for each of you. Enjoy!

Things at the Petersheim house are getting too crowded for eight-year-old twins Alfie and Benji. As if things weren’t bad enough with three older brothers hogging all the bacon at breakfast and using more than their fair share of toilet paper, Mammi and Dawdi Petersheim have to move in because of Dawdi’s stroke. If Alfie and Benji have any hope of getting their old bedroom back, they have to get rid of their annoying brothers, and the only way to convince their brothers to move out is to make each of them fall in love. What could be so hard about that?

Alfie and Benji will do just about anything to get Andrew married off. And I mean, just about anything. You’re going to love the Petersheim brothers! 

Andrew Petersheimis a godly, hard-working man, and he knows any girl would be blessed to marry him. He can afford to be picky, and he hasn’t yet met a girl good enough to capture his heart. Mary Coblenz certainly isn’t that girl. She left the community over a year ago and now she’s back, unmarried and expecting a baby. It doesn’t matter how pretty she is or how vigorously she challenges his notions of forgiveness and Christian charity, Andrew refuses to fall in love with her. 

But maybe Andrew is just a little too sure of himself…

In Andrew, the first book in my new series, The Petersheim Brothers, I wanted to explore repentance and forgiveness, particularly the concepts of forgiving ourselves and forgiving others. When someone has offended us, do we hold so tightly to their past sins that we deny them the possibility of a brighter future? Do we ever have trouble forgiving ourselves and moving forward with faith? 

J. Holland said, “There is something in us, at least in too many of us, that particularly fails to forgive and forget earlier mistakes in life—either mistakes we ourselves have made or the mistakes of others. That is not good. It is not Christian. To be tied to earlier mistakes—our own or other people’s—is the worst kind of wallowing in the past from which we are called to cease and desist…It is not right to go back and open up some ancient wound that the Son of God Himself died trying to heal.

Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change and improve…If something is buried in the past, leave it buried. Don’t keep going back with your little sand pail and beach shovel to dig it up, wave it around, and then throw it at someone, saying, ‘Hey! Do you remember this?’ Splat!”

In Andrew, Mary Coblenz comes back to her Amish community hoping to make a life for herself, even though she’s made some serious mistakes. Andrew learns some valuable lessons in forgiveness, but will Mary’s Amish neighbors be as accepting? 

“If you love Amish fiction, romance, and humor, you will LOVE Jennifer Beckstrand. Grab a copy of ANDREW today and see how well Andrew learns his lesson in loving.”

“Each part of the story was wonderfully crafted to make this book an awesome read. I love Jennifer Beckstrand’s books. She has a way with words that grabs you from the beginning of the story and keeps your attention. If you haven’t read any of her books, Andrew is a good one to start with!”

Don’t miss Abraham, book 2 in the Petersheim Brothers series, coming November 26!

If you go to my website and sign up for my readers club, you will receive a free ebook copy of Kate’s Song, my first Amish romance. Find out more at

The Southeast Iowa Tour

It’s been a great week meeting new friends in Waterloo, Davenport, and Solon, Iowa. No matter what the group, Until Then’s WWII heroine’s story touches hearts and woos readers. Someone at one of my signings said, “I’ve read this book already, and you nailed Dorothy’s character in the first three pages–how did you do that, when what was happening went so fast?”

Well . . . things DID happen in a hurry at the battlefront when casualties started rolling in. And Dorothy allowed her training, laced by her own compassion, to take over.

Here’s a great photo of her, gorgeous even in her Army shirt and below, a shot of some who heard her story.

Then on Saturday, October 5, I got to spend a whole DAY with WRITERS at Cole Library in Mount Vernon. SUCH fun–there’s nothing like being with people intent on learning. Here’s an example of one participant’s mind-mapping exercise for her memoir. SO delightful to see such motivated writers so eager to learn.

I’m filled with gratitude for all these experiences and everyone who made them possible. Thank you, thank you!

Trapped….by Lillian Duncan


TRAPPED is my latest romantic suspense novel—heavy on the suspense but enough romance to add to the enjoyment. Being a Christian Fiction novel, there’s always a spiritual message hidden in the pages of the story as well, and this one is no exception.

Angela Matthews had the perfect life until the day she’s kidnapped and trapped in a basement with a mad man. Even though she’s rescued, she remains trapped by the memories she can’t forget.

That’s true for so many of us. Even after the “bad situation” whatever that may be is resolved, we get stuck and can’t seem to move forward with our lives. Instead, we’re angry and bitter or maybe sad and fearful or most likely a combination of all of those negative emotions.

In the story, her rescuer discovers that Angela is indeed still trapped by her horrible experience. He’s had his own share of horrible as a Chicago policeman. Because of that, he reaches out to help Angela.

One of the mantras in the story is “baby steps.” So often we think we have to go from a sitting position to a full-out run or we are a failure. This story reminds us that’s not reality. Each baby step we take toward our goal is a win. Every win brings us closer to our ultimate victory!

But TRAPPED isn’t a self-help book, it’s a suspense novel. That means there’s lots of action, not to mention twists and turns that will keep you guessing who the bad guy is until the very end!

Giveaway:Two is always better than one, especially when it comes to giveaways. So, to celebrate the release of TRAPPED, I’m having two different giveaways! One lucky winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card as well as a choice of one of my books (e-book only).  Click Hereto enter. Five more lucky winners on my website will win a $5 Amazon Gift Card. To enter, go to www.lillian-duncan.comand leave a comment under the TRAPPED Giveaway Post. 

Backcover Blurb:

Angelina Matthews has everything—riches, fame, and beauty—until the day she’s kidnapped and trapped in a basement with a madman, wearing only a stained t-shirt. The dirt is his—the blood is hers. Tormented and tortured, she cries out to God. 

Help comes in the form of Nate Goodman. 

When their paths cross months later, Nate discovers Angelina is still trapped—not in a basement but in the memories she can’t escape. Nate knows all about being trapped, and getting un-trapped. As an ex-Chicago cop he’s had his own demons to wrestle, but his faith helped him to move forward. He reaches out to Angelina whose paranoid delusions have her trapped still. 

But are they delusions after all?

Lillian is a multi-published author who lives in the middle of Ohio Amish country with her husband. After more than 30 years working as a speech pathologist, she believes in the power of words to transform lives—especially God’s Word.

She loves to write stories that entertain but also demonstrate God’s love for all of us. To learn more about her, visit www.lillian-duncan.comas well as her devotional blog at

Stopped Cold

Welcome, Gail Pallotta – Gail shares her latest Y/A novel with us, AND is offering a free Kindle e-book to one commenter. If you have children/grandchildren in this age troupe, you’ll appreciate her plot.

It’s fun to compete and win, and it’s fun to watch winners. People hold contests in everything from quilting and pie tasting to racing cars. However, a problem arises when we fail to put the importance of being number one in perspective.

Unfortunately, I’ve had the misfortune of coming in contact with young people whose inability to cope with not always winning resulted in devastating results. They range from youngsters who had difficulty coping because they didn’t come in first in a race or receive all A’s to young people who attempted or committed suicide.  The drive seemed to originate from different sources, parents, siblings, peers or within.

I wanted them to know they didn’t have to be number one for God to love them. He’d given each of them a gift or gifts to use for Him. The desire rattled around in my head for years and finally became the theme for Stopped Cold.

In “A Young Athlete’s World of Pain and Where It Led,” published on June 22, 2016, in “The New York Times,” Tim Rohan tells the story of a young football player suffering from concussions. He didn’t mention it to anyone because he thought it wasn’t the manly thing to do. He ended up killing himself.

The CDC says “suicide among teens and young adults has nearly tripled since the 1940’s.”

According to the Westminster Catechism, which I studied in the 1940’s and 50’s, man’s chief end is “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” 

I’m a fan of healthy competition. It pushes us to do our best, and we often achieve success beyond our goals, or not, but when the game or contest ends, win or lose, we’re still a child of God. Winning or losing doesn’t define our self-worth.

About Stopped Cold 

Stopped Cold is the story of a family facing problems existing in the real world in modern times. Even though their situation may differ from that of others who struggle with difficulties, the concerns, reactions and hardships are ones many can relate to. One reader says, “Very compelling with emotions and feelings that have been felt by everyone in their lives at one time or another.”


Things aren’t what they seem in peaceful Mistville, North Carolina.

Margaret McWhorter enjoys a laid-back Freshman year in high school swimming and hanging out with friends—until the day her brother Sean suffers a stroke from taking steroids. Now he’s lying unconscious in a hospital.

Anger sets a fire for retribution inside her, and Margaret vows to make the criminals pay. Even the cop on the case can’t stop her from investigating. Looking for justice, she convinces two friends, Jimmy and Emily, to join her in a quest that takes them through a twisted, drug-filled sub-culture they discover deep in the woods behind the school. Time and again they walk a treacherous path and come face-to-face with danger.

All the while Margaret really wants to cure Sean, heal the hate inside, and open her heart to love.

Buy links:

Amazon long link –

Barnes and Noble –

Kobo –

Bio: Award-winning author Gail Pallotta’s a wife, mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. A former Grace Awards Finalist and a Reader’s Favorite 2017 Book Award winner, she’s published six books, poems, short stories and two-hundred articles. Some of her articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums. She loves to connect with readers. Sign up for her newsletter at and visit her website at

Visit her online at the following places:

Blog at

Facebook page at

twitter at    (Gail Pallotta @Hopefulwords)

The high school in Stopped Cold has a twitter site. The heroine, Margaret, loves it when people follow the Meriwether Sharks at Meriwether Christian @MeriwetherCS (

Change is in the Air

Isn’t it always? We may sense this more as leaves turn orange and gold or snow melts away in the spring, but truly, every day brings change. By and large, we’d rather not, even when it’s a good change, but change we WILL.

Last week our granddaughter reminded me that the gorgeous gold of a harvest moon has to do with the amount of dust in the air, and that if you view the moon again in the middle of the night, it will have moved higher and be silver again.

One sure sign of autumn comes to us via the busy spider, spinning, spinning before winter comes.

Credit goes to Lance for these shots in a local field of corn. They remind me that we’re always spinning, too. My dear knitter friend carries her latest project with her–when she drove me to a doctor’s appointment earlier this summer, her knitting kept her company while she waited.

When we’re busy, seeing what’s at hand to do and putting our hands and hearts to it, even thistles have their beauty:

This week, I had the privilege of meeting Jerri and Regina, descendants of my heroine Dorothy Woebbeking/Worst’s sister Elfrieda. They shared some delicate Christmas cookies from Dorothy’s father’s recipe, and showed our book talk group the actual cutter he brought from Germany to make them.

It’s likely that he and his wife included cookies like these in their CARE packages to Dorothy and her three brothers deployed all over the world during World War II. Easy to imagine their delight at homemade treats like these, and to imagine the angst of these parents as the long years dragged on.

All this brings me to a point: I love sharing Dorothy’s story with whomever will listen. And here’s an update about the places I’ll be giving book talks (Oh, the places you’ll go…) during the next few weeks.

On Tuesday the 24th, I’ll be at the Alta Vista Public Library – 10:30 a.m. Then the Waverly Public Library will host me (and Dorothy…I really feel she’s right alongside) at 2:00 p.m. the same afternoon.

On October 3rd, I’ll be with a new friend for a “book party”, and at Davenport’s East Branch library at 3 p.m. on October 3rd. After another private engagement on the fourth, I’ll visit the Solon Public Library at 3:00 p.m..

On the 5th, I’ll co-facilitate an all-day memoir writing workshop at the Cornell/Mt. Vernon public library, and on the 11th, spend time with another book club. On October 12 at 10:00 a.m. you’ll find me in Janesville at the public library, still bursting with my heroine’s exploits–like these vines overtaking a building even though the growing season is past. (Ha! What do we know?)

Stop in when you can–I SO enjoy meeting you all in person!