Borrowed Lives

Carol McClain is with us again this week, with a novel that delves into the darker side of our society, yet with hope and humor. Knowing goats, an eccentric family, and recovery are involved in this story tweaks my curiosity. Carol’s giveaway to one commenter is a kindle version of BORROWED LIVES. Also love this title! Tell us about your book, Carol.

One of my most frequently asked questions is, “How do you get your ideas?”

The answer is simple. From people.

I love people—their quirks, their heroism, their frailties. All of us have the capacity for greatness or great cruelty.

When I moved to Tennessee, I became involved in helping addicts overcome their addictions and the issues those addictions caused. The stories I heard appalled me—what people had to endure would not be believable.

In our church, we have one family devoted to foster care. The work they do astounds me. I tried my hand at foster care many years ago and discovered how totally inept I was with the process.

From these factors, Borrowed Lives was born.

Borrowed Lives

After her own tragedy, Meredith Jaynes finds three abandoned children. If she turns them over to DCS, the sisters will be separated. But healing them isn’t possible in her broken world.

Borrowed Lives is a novel about loss, hope, love, and faith from beginning to end.

God Only Lends Us Those We Love for a Season 

Distraught from recent tragedy, Meredith Jaynes takes pity on a young girl who steals from her. Meredith discovers “Bean” lives in a hovel mothering her two younger sisters. The three appear to have been abandoned. With no other homes available, Social Services will separate the siblings. To keep them together, Meredith agrees to foster them on a temporary basis.

Balancing life as a soap maker raising goats in rural Tennessee proved difficult enough before the siblings came into her care. Without Bean’s help, she’d never be able to nurture these children warped by drugs and neglect—let alone manage her goats that possess the talents of Houdini. Harder still is keeping her eccentric family at bay. 

Social worker Parker Snow struggles to overcome the breakup with his fiancée. Burdened by his inability to find stable homes for so many children who need love, he believes placing the abandoned girls with Meredith Jaynes is the right decision. Though his world doesn’t promise tomorrow, he hopes Meredith’s does.

But she knows she’s too broken.

https://www.amazon.com/Borrowed-Lives-Carol-McClain-ebook/dp/B08Z3HL2FZ/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Borrowed+Lives&qid=1617991853&sr=8-1

Carol McClain My times are in His hands.

Sign up for Carol’s newsletter and blog.http://www.carolmcclain.com/

Carol McClain is the award-winning author of four novels dealing with real people facing real problems. She is a consummate encourager, and no matter what your faith might look like, you will find compassion, humor and wisdom in her complexly layered, but ultimately readable work.

Aside from writing, she’s a skilled stained-glass artist, an avid hiker and photographer. She lives in East Tennessee. Her most recent interests are her two baby does Peanut & Buttercup. Like all babies, they love sitting on our laps and being bottle fed.

You can connect with her at carolmcclain.com.

On Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/author.Carol.McClain

On twitter and Instagram: @carol_mcclain

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14030286.Carol_McClain

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/carol-mcclain

Heroes of The Tundra

A warm welcome to Laurie Wood, who lives in Central Canada and writes inspirational romantic suspense with an edge of danger. She’s also a military wife who’s raised two wonderful special needs children to adulthood. They’ve lived all over Canada and are still on that journey. When she’s not writing she can be found at her spinning wheel, knitting, or hanging out with her dogs in the garden.

AND… Laurie has served as a police officer. This hooked me immediately–in her series about PTSD and police officers, she knows what she’s talking about! She’s giving away an e-copy of Northern Protector to a commenter. Thanks for visiting!

If He’s Not a Cop, He’s Nobody

Constable Ben Koper is still healing from the polar bear attack that almost killed him. Nine months after it happened, he returns to Churchill, Manitoba, a changed man—scarred more than just physically. PTSD is his new shadow, haunting his every step, and he can’t seem to kick the pain meds he shouldn’t need anymore. He’s determined to prove, to himself and his colleagues, that he’s still up to his job. Failure isn’t an option.

ER nurse Joy Gallagher spent the entire last winter texting with a healing Constable Koper. What started as friendly concern from this single mother has grown into full-fledged romantic feelings, and she’s eager to level up their friendship and introduce him to the idyllic comfort of small-town life. Until a teenager is murdered at a summer party. The crime is strikingly similar to the cold case murder of Joy’s foster sister, stirring old trauma Joy has never fully dealt with.

When another victim is snatched in town, Ben and Joy must confront their own demons, and join forces to track down an elusive killer. The race to rescue the next victim before it’s too late will test Ben and Joy to their limits. Can they survive their encounter with this heinous killer, or will the past destroy them.?

NORTHERN PROTECTOR is the second book in my Heroes of the Tundra series. (NORTHERN HEARTS is a Christmas novella set in the same town of Churchill, Manitoba) The hero, Ben Koper, is the best friend of the hero from the first book. He’s actually mauled by the polar bear in book 1, and this book is the story of his recovery from PTSD from that traumatic experience and injury, as well as how he grapples with addiction to painkillers.

I wanted to write about PTSD because it’s more common in the life of police officers than we like to think. Not every officer will face down a polar bear, but police work isn’t like it’s shown in TV or the movies. When I was a police officer, I faced off against a man with a gun one-on-one, several who wanted to use a knife on me, a hostage situation outside a liquor store, and was in many, many physical fights trying to arrest someone.

I’ve arrested rapists, drunk drivers, men who’d just beaten their wives or children, women who’d beaten other women, women who’d beaten up their children, and people in bar fights. And while I was never shot or knifed, I had my wrist broken once by a biker who refused to give up his booze when I said he couldn’t take it back. I won that fight but ended up with a broken wrist and the rest of the summer off because I was in a cast. I also got a permanent back injury from being thrown against the concrete wall in our prisoner’s cell block by a guy on some kind of drugs who mistook me for someone else.

Back in the mid-1980’s when I was a police officer, no one called the after-effects of situations like these PTSD. We just had to “shake it off”. However, I can tell you that being in a hostage situation isn’t like it is on shows like “The Rookie” or “Law and Order.”

Nor was going one on one with a biker who outweighed me by about a hundred pounds like anything I’d ever seen on TV. The “bad guys” don’t conveniently fall to the ground with one punch to the jaw. It’s more like a Mixed Martial Arts battle, heavy on the face punches.

When police officers take off their uniforms after their shift, they’re just regular people. They have to make split-second decisions about their safety and that of others around them. A situation can change in an instant. On a tv show, the police might be out of breath after a foot chase, but they don’t have nightmares, or feel like their skin is crawling the next day when they go to pick up their start-of-shift coffee. 

This book is my favourite of the ones I’ve written so far. It takes courage to go back to work after a traumatic experience on the job. I hope I’ve done our police officers proud with this story.

NORTHERN PROTECTOR:

Constable Ben Koper is still healing from the polar bear attack that almost killed him. Nine months after it happened, he returns to Churchill, Manitoba, a changed man—scarred more than just physically. PTSD is his new shadow, haunting his every step, and he can’t seem to kick the pain meds he shouldn’t need anymore. He’s determined to prove, to himself and his colleagues, that he’s still up to his job. Failure isn’t an option.

ER nurse Joy Gallagher spent the entire last winter texting with a healing Constable Koper. What started as friendly concern from this single mother has grown into full-fledged romantic feelings, and she’s eager to level up their friendship and introduce him to the idyllic comfort of small-town life. Until a teenager is murdered at a summer party. The crime is strikingly similar to the cold case murder of Joy’s foster sister, stirring old trauma Joy has never fully dealt with.

When another victim is snatched in town, Ben and Joy must confront their own demons, and join forces to track down an elusive killer. The race to rescue the next victim before it’s too late will test Ben and Joy to their limits. Can they survive their encounter with this heinous killer, or will the past destroy them.?

Buy Links:

Amazon.com:https://amzn.to/3femV6Y

Amazon.ca:    https://amzn.to/2KfyoYq

Anaiah Press: https://bit.ly/3pGPrD6(Print copies)

Bio & Social Media Links:

Laurie loves to hear from readers and always replies, so feel free to get in touch with her:

Please visit her at https://www.lauriewoodauthor.com

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

Twitter:                 https://twitter.com/LaurieJeanWood

The Sower and The Seer

Cherie Dargan, an author friend from the Cedar Falls area, is celebrating an IOWA book to which she contributed. She’s going to tell us more about it, and is offering a signed paperback copy to a commenter.

IT ALL STARTED WITH A DATE….AND RUTH SUCKOW

First, a joke I used to tell my Literature students: Ruth Suckow is the most famous Iowa writer you never heard of. But she was hot stuff during the 1920s through 1960. And the famous editor H. L. Mencken praised her work in the 1930s, calling her the “most important female writer in America.”

Over 20 years ago, my then boyfriend, Mike, thought that taking me to the Annual Meeting of the Ruth Suckow Memorial Association in Earlville, Iowa sounded like a great date. So, we piled into a van driven by his former UNI Professor, Barbara Lounsberry, and another Suckow scholar, Harvey Hess. 

We were in the back seat, and seemed to be hurtling down the road, and Mike handed me the book with the collection of short stories we were going to discuss. I had never heard of this woman, and I was an English teacher, had been an English major, had taken numerous literature courses at two universities. I had no idea that there was an early feminist writer who captured the Iowa of yesterday that my mother and grandmother knew. It was love at first read. I read many of the stories and was able to join the discussion. 

I enjoyed the meeting and made some new friends. I devoured her books and was struck by her strong female characters, her description of what we have dubbed the generation gap, and her fierce determination to transcend categories and labels.

I added one of her stories (A Rural Community) to my Intro to Lit class, and found my students understood Suckow, and loved her descriptions. I added an essay that Ferner wrote about forced farm sales during the great depression. One of my students asked me, “Cherie, you don’t have a crush on a dead guy, do you?” Apparently, I talked about Ferner, her handsome, much younger husband, more than I thought. (Want to read her short stories? Go to the Suckow website, www.ruthsuckow.organd you can find out more about her life.) Here is an essay by Barbara Lounsberry, the President of the RSMA, introducing the group of short stories on the Iowa Digital Heritage site. www.ruthsuckow.org/home/iowa-digital-heritage-collection

There are now 21 items on the Iowa Digital Heritage Site, including 18 short stories, a novella, “A Part of the Institution,” .and two books, The Kramer Girls and The Odyssey of a Nice Girl.

www.iowaheritage.org/items/browse?collection=127&sort_field=Dublin+Core%2CTitle

Mike and I married and became active in the RSMA. He created the first website, which I now maintain. He wrote the Suckow Wikipedia article; I wrote the Wikipedia article about her handsome younger husband, Ferner Nuhn. 

Jon Lauck, a professor from South Dakota, visited one of our Annual Meetings, and announced he was writing a book about the Midwest, and invited me to submit a proposal. The results were  a chapter about Ruth Suckow. (The Midwestern Moment: The Forgotten World of Early Twentieth Century Midwestern Regionalism, 1880-1940. Edited by Jon Lauck. Hastings College Press, Hastings, Nebraska. 2017. My chapter was “The Realistic Regionalism of Iowa’s Ruth Suckow.”)

In 2016 Barbara Lounsberry and Rosemary Beach partnered to create the Cedar Falls Authors Festival and invited me to join the planning committee. I had just retired and quickly became busy with volunteer work. I became the webmaster and learned a great deal about the five best selling, nationally known writers with ties to Cedar Falls: Ruth Suckow, Bess Streeter Aldrich, Robert James Waller, James Hearst, and Nancy Price. We went on to plan 60 programs for the year of 2017/2018 and it was wonderful. It also prepared me to write this chapter.

The Sower and the Seer: Perspectives on the Intellectual History of the American Midwest. March 2021. Wisconsin Historical Press.

For this book, I focused on Cedar Falls, Iowa. My friend Barbara Lounsberry, the President of the RSMA, dubbed it the “City of Writers.”

Here is the summary of my chapter. 

“Mind & Soil: An Iowa Town that Grows Writers.” Cedar Falls, Iowa predates

the Civil war by a decade: this frontier town became a railroad town, provided

a home for Civil War orphans, established a college to train teachers,

supported a newspaper, created a library, and built a number of churches. Along

the way, it became an important hub for readers and writers: five best-selling

authors have ties to Cedar Falls, including Bess Streeter Aldrich, Ruth Suckow,

James Hearst, Robert James Waller, and Nancy Price. 

The secret of this town’s success? A persistent focus by a succession of civic leaders on the fertile blend of literature and the land. Many towns had literary societies, but early Cedar Falls had Peter Melendy, founder of the Cedar Falls Horticultural and Literary Society in 1859. His motto,“the mind and the soil,” bore fruit in the creation of a city with beautiful parks, gardens, and trees complemented by a vibrant literary culture with a modern public library. This chapter explores the city’s early history, examines several community organizations that fostered reading and discussing ideas, and explains how the community has honored its five best-selling authors.

What did I learn by researching and writing this chapter?

I discovered the three reasons that Cedar Falls became such a literary powerhouse:

First, the town valued literacy. Peter Melendy organized the Cedar Falls Horticultural and Literary Society and gathered 500 books for the first lending library in 1859-1860.

Second, it valued its history:both Peter Melendy and Roger Leavitt served as early historians.

Finally, the college brought educated people to the community to serve on the faculty, giving the townsfolk opportunities to interact with them.

Without these men and women, and their vision for Cedar Falls as the “Garden City” and the city of a bustling modern library and university, Cedar Falls would be a very different community today.

Five Things I learned from writing my chapter

  1. The importance of the river and the railroad to the growth of Cedar Falls, established eleven years before the Civil War. During the war, the expansion of the railroad stopped, but it transported troops and supplies east, and brought people and news to Cedar Falls.
  2. The influence of the college in the community’s intellectual and literary growth, evidenced by several teachers joining local discussion groups
  3. The influence of early leaders like Peter Melendy, founder of the Cedar Falls Horticultural and Literary Society in 1859. His motto, “Mind and Soil” led to a city that had beautiful parks, gardens and the first lending library.
  4. The role of the local newspaper–and two brothers, who brought their printing press with them
  5. The group of authors with ties to Cedar Falls: Ruth Suckow, James Hearst, Bess Streeter Aldrich, Robert James Waller, and Nancy Price. 

You may contact Cherie here:

cheriedargan@gmail.com

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cherie.dargan/

Author page: https://www.facebook.com/Cherie-Dargan-Writer-106756544789778

Website– www.geekygrandma.org

Blog — https://bloggingbasicswithcherie.blogspot.com/

Cherie is a retired Community College teacher who reinvented herself in retirement: she is an active volunteer, a writer, blogger, and family historian working on a trilogy about a midwestern family named Grandmother’s Treasures.

Cherie earned her B. A. from Buena Vista University, an M. A. from Iowa State, and another M. A. from the University of Northern Iowa. She is a member of the Cedar Falls Supper Club, served on the Planning Committee for the Cedar Falls Authors Festival, and continues to do research on Iowa writer Ruth Suckow. She’s webmaster for the Ruth Suckow website as well as the Cedar Falls Authors Festival. She is also the President of the League of Women Voters of Black Hawk and Bremer Counties, and the webmaster of their website.

 Ruth Suckow Webmaster —www.ruthsuckow.org

Cedar Falls Authors Festival Webmaster —www.cfauthorsfestival.org/

The Six Triple Eight to the Rescue

When the Mail Stops During War

By Cleo Lampos

 “The Post Office, War and Navy departments realize fully that frequent and rapid communication with parents, associates and other loved ones strengthens fortitude, enlivens patriotism, makes loneliness endurable and inspires to even greater devotion the men and women who are carrying on our fight far from home and friends.”

                                    -1942 Annual Report to Postmaster General

By 1945, 2.5 billion pieces went through the Army Postal Service and eight million pieces through Navy post offices. The men counted on getting their letters of encouragement from home. Their loved ones needed to know that their military man remained safe. As long as the system worked, morale remained high.

But what if a glitch in the transmission of mail existed and mail call disappointed the men?

What then?

In February 1945, the unthinkable happened. Warehouses in Birmingham, England, piled high with millions of pieces of mail. Undelivered Christmas packages and an endless tsunami of incoming envelopes increasing the chaotic paper mess. Servicemen, U.S. Government personnel, and Red Cross workers languished from the lack of letters from home. The system was in chaos. 

Who could make sense of such a mess?

Within the U.S. Army was a battalion of 817 African-American enlisted personnel and 31 officers formed from the WAC, the Army Service Forces and the Army Air Forces.  Their unit was created and designated as the 6888thCentral Postal Directory Battalion, nicknamed the SixTriple Eight. They trained for their duty as any other soldier.

On February 3rd, these recruits sailed for Britain, surviving close encounters with Nazi U-boats and German V-1 rockets. When the women of the Six Triple Eight arrived in Birmingham, they set to work in warehouses stacked to the ceiling with letters and packages. Working conditions in the unheated, dimly-lit buildings with blackout curtains prompted them to wear long johns and extra clothing under their coats. They tried to fight off the rats seeking out packages of spoiled cakes and cookies. The unit members worked three separate eight-hour shifts around the clock, seven days a week.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%22Somewhere_in_England,_Maj._Charity_E._Adams,…and_Capt._Abbie_N._Campbell,…inspect_the_first_contingent_of_Negro_members_of_the_Women%27s_Army_Corps_assigned_to_overseas_service.%22_-_NARA_-_531249.gif

The difficulty of the job did not overwhelm them. They tracked individual service members by maintaining about seven million information cards including serial numbers to track different individuals with the same name. 7,500 men named “Robert Smith” needed to be differentiated. The postal workers investigated insufficiently addressed mail for clues to determine the intended recipient.  They handled the solemn duty of returning mail of deceased servicemen. The unit worked diligently, knowing that the motto was true: “No mail, low morale”.

The Six Triple Eight resided in quarters, mess halls and military recreational facilities that were segregated by the US government and the Red Cross. However, the English local people welcomed them into their homes for tea and into the British public spaces with prim and proper friendship.

Under these conditions, the 6888thCentral Postal Directory Battalion created a new tracking system that processed an average of 65,000 pieces of mail per shift and cleared the six-month backlog of mail in three months. They linked the servicemen with their loved ones back home. Until the end of the war, these African-American women continued to astound the government with their success and efficiency in solving the military’s postal problems.

In writing the book, A World War II Holiday Scrapbook, Gail Kittleson and I researched the importance of mail to the men and women overseas. Reading the accounts from those of the Greatest Generation who received packages and letters brought tears to my eyes and gratitude for those who gave so much for freedom. The stories in this book highlight the mail sent during holidays for deployed loved ones until ’46.  Undoubtedly, some of this postal material was handled by the Six Triple Eight.

As Hallmark Cards reminded the homefront: “Keep ‘em happy with mail.”

“Christmas Greetings!  May the New Year hold for you the best of everything that peace and freedom bring.” – Message on WWII Navy Christmas card

Landscape

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Members_of_the_6888th_Central_Postal_Directory_Battalion_take_part_in_a_parade_ceremony_in_honor_of_Joan_d%27Arc.jpg

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:%22The_first_Negro_WACs_to_arrive_(on)_the_continent_of_Europe_were_800_girls_of_the_6888th_Central_Postal_Directory_Bn,_w_-_NARA_-_531333.jpg

***https://history.army.mil/html/topics/afam/6888thPBn/index.html

Four members of the 6888th. Source: United States Department of Defense.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/20/us/6888th-battalion-african-american-women-world-war-ii/index.html

Looking Back . . . and Ahead

We’ve been re-re-remodeling our old house. Again. Yep.

It’s good to look back to when we first purchased this property. It wasn’t what we were looking for, but in a town of 1,000 or so, you don’t always have a wide choice. I wanted a big old square house with a front porch, but none were on the market when we moved here. So . . .

We found a home with history. Guess that fits us both, although at the time, I hadn’t begun writing WWII novels. I did look into the history of this structure, though, and discovered it was one of the first built in St. Ansgar. 1873.

Continue reading

A Song for her Enemies

Sherri Stewart brings a wealth of research to her novels, and I’m especially excited to read about the Netherlands in World War II. She’s offering an e-book giveaway to one commenter this week. Here are some pics of the country she loves–and now, sit back and enjoy more about her book and the Netherlands.

What I love and hate about the setting of my book, A Song for Her Enemies

By Sherri Stewart

My book mostly takes place in Haarlem in the Netherlands—the original Haarlem—not the one near Manhattan. The story develops between the fall of 1943 and the end of 1948, but most of it occurs over the span of one year. 

Here is a bit about the plot: After Nazi soldiers close the opera and destroy Tamar Kaplan’s dream of becoming a professional singer, she joins the Dutch Resistance, her fair coloring concealing her Jewish heritage. Tamar partners with Dr. Daniel Feldman, and they risk their lives to help escaping refugees. When they are forced to flee themselves, violinist Neelie Visser takes them into hiding.

Tamar’s love for Daniel flowers in hardship, but she struggles with the paradox that a loving God would allow the atrocities around her. When Tamar resists the advances of a Third Reich officer, he exacts his revenge by betraying the secrets hidden behind the walls of Neelie’s house. From a prison hospital to a Nazi celebration to a concentration camp, will the three of them survive to tell the world the secrets behind barbed wire?  

A Song for Her Enemies is the story of a talented young opera singer and the bittersweet love that grows amid the tyranny and fear of World War II. Set against the backdrop of neighbors willing to risk their lives in the German-occupied, war-torn Netherlands, A Song for Her Enemiesis an inspiring and beautiful novel celebrating the resilience of the human spirit and the determination of Christians in the face of persecution. It is a novel for everyone seeking to understand the pain of the past and be inspired to embrace hope. 

My son Joshua and I visited the Netherlands in September 2019, just a few months before COVID-19 kept us isolated in our house. And we fell in love with the country. Haarlem is a short train trip from Amsterdam and a perfect place to set up camp. We stayed a block from the center market place, in the shadow of St. Bavo’s cathedral.

I love the ways Nederlanders embrace life. During the day, the sidewalks are full of people—shoppers stopping to browse and sit in outdoor cafés. This is true for nighttime cafés as well. Weather doesn’t stop them. Nederlanders love to sit and talk with their friends. Yet they are very fit. A plethora of bicyclists zoom by to the point that it is dangerous to step out in the street for fear of being run over by a bike! Age doesn’t matter. Quantity of bodies on a single bike doesn’t matter. Weather or lack of light doesn’t matter. Be careful stepping over the red line!

Another blessing in the Netherlands is the fact that everyone seems to speak English. In fact, it was rare to see Dutch menus. I asked the owner of creperie why there wasn’t a word of Dutch in the restaurant. He said that most of their customers hailed from England, so there was no need for the native language. Really? Can you imagine that ever happening in our fair country?

Having counted the many blessings of the Netherlands, there is something about the country that breaks my heart—in a word, it is tolerance. This is also true for most of Europe. Now tolerance is a mighty important value—do not get me wrong. I value tolerance, but I do not worship it. 

This is what I see in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe and creeping into the US. People have extended tolerance to the point that there are absolutely no absolutes. Everything is right, whether it was considered wrong at one time. In the process of creating a tolerant society, they’ve wiped out faith in God because God has set up standards that some would deem intolerant. So God has to go. In other words, God is not tolerated. Ironic, huh? And the beautiful old cathedrals sit empty.

There are so many wonderful things about this beautiful post card of a country with its canals and tall houses, its gouda cheese and pancakes, its windmills and tulips. Pray for the Netherlands that its people will find a balance between tolerance and the absolutes that God has set. There is a balance between the two. 

Sherri Stewart loves a clean novel, sprinkled with romance and a strong message that challenges her faith. She spends her working hours with books—either editing others’ manuscripts or writing her own. Her passion is traveling to the settings of her books, sampling the food, and visiting the sites. She loves the Netherlands, and she’s still learning Dutch, although she doesn’t need to since everyone seems to speak perfect English. A recent widow, Sherri lives in the Orlando area with her lazy dog, Lily, and her son, Joshua, who can fix anything. She shares recipes, tidbits of the book’s locations, and pix in her newsletter. Subscribe at http://eepurl.com/gZ-mv9

https://www.facebook.com/sherristewartauthor/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/758893.Sherri_Stewart

Williwaws and Wild March Weather

Don’t you love learning new words? My latest, which you see above, means a sudden violent gust of cold land air common among mountainous coasts of high latitudes, a sudden violent wind, or a violent commotion.

Williwaw certainly describes a great many situations in our world this past year. We surely have witnessed a violent commotion in several areas of our lives. In addition to the wild winter weather still bearing down on parts of our country, children are uprooted from their normal educational process, adults are laid off from work, and citizens still sequester in fear. The suddenness of all this makes williwaw an appropriate noun to use in discussing these circumstances.

Of course, this proved true in many other eras in our nation’s history, as well. During and after the Civil War, for instance, chaos reigned in many quarters of the U.S. Unemployment, loss of domicile, child endangerment–the list goes on and on. Making comparisons leads us nowhere, but history does offer lessons for future generations.

The Civil War affected widespread areas, and vigilante justice often prevailed. For those with an itch to “Go West, young man,” the time was ripe. And for those with underhanded motives, using others for selfish gain proved easier than ever.

Enter one male character of my new release, Secondhand Sunsets. I dare not call him the hero . . . oh, no!

But this story’s heroine, young in years yet old in grief, definitely qualifies for her role. Putting ourselves in Abby’s place may seem a bit overwhelming, for her losses had mounted due to the war and other tragic events. In our society, she would definitely qualify for several support groups and might be labeled as suffering from PTSD.

Her devastation leads her to trust an untrustworthy man, and she nearly pays with her life. Sickened by the sympathies of her small community, Abby only wants to flee. Comforting words taunt her, and she sees no future in this vale of sorrow.

Her story exemplifies the unconditional love that plants us in hope. No matter how far we veer from our spiritual moorings, we never wander beyond this unchanging commitment to our health and wholeness.

Secondhand Sunsets enters our world in the midst of an anxious time. Grief and loss came upon Abby suddenly, too, like a williwaw. May her journey bring encouragement and satisfaction to readers, one and all.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Secondhand-Sunsets-Novel-Mogollon-Rim/dp/195247454XAmazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Secondhand-Sunsets-Novel-Mogollon-Rim-ebook/dp/B08XTJC1JDBarnes & Noble Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/secondhand-sunsets-gail-kittleson/1138920048Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/secondhand-sunsetsApple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1556170460Google Play Books: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Gail_Kittleson_Secondhand_Sunsets?id=SbUgEAAAQBAJ

Treasure in a Field

Sharon K. Connell brings her romantic suspense and short stories to us this week. She is offering either one of the books she shares with us to a commenter–if out of the U.S., e-book only.

Sixteen years ago, my career as an author began. Since then, I’ve published five novels, one novella, and a collection of short stories. Most of my stories are in the Christian Romance Suspense genre. The Lord has given me the ideas for and guided me through each tale.

In August of last year, I published “Treasure in a Field,” a fictional story set in the farm community of North Bend, Nebraska, and filled with legends of treasure, ghosts, and strange events that cause the main characters to wonder what’s true and who they can trust.

Shocked by the deaths of her parents, Haley MacKenna returns from college to her family’s centuries-old farm. Strange, unexplainable events occur. Are the old legends of pirate treasure and ghosts true? What about the supposed Indian burial mound that is now their backfield? Does the old stone barn in the woods hold a secret?

Larry Landgraf, author of “Tales of the Riverside,” said this about my story.

“…This book is well-written and edited. I didn’t find any errors. The story flowed great. There was never a dull moment, and I couldn’t wait to find out how it would all turn out. This kept me turning the pages. I recommend this book highly.”

The story gained two articles in the North Bend Eagle newspaper, even though I took artistic license to describe various areas of the locale in order to make the plot work.

Following the publication of “Treasure in a Field,” I put together “Sharon’s Shorts ~ A Multi-Genre Collection of Short Stories.” These short stories came from my writing classes and contests. Some were prize-winning tales, and a couple of them wound up in anthologies. After prayer, I decided to publish the collection.

“Sharon’s Shorts” covers the genres of romance, suspense, mystery, fantasy, women’s fiction, fable, and even paranormal. 

This review is from a Kindle Reader. “5 stars. Very Enjoyable! I just love this collection of short stories! Each is well written and entertaining. I’ve also purchased copies to give to friends, and they have really enjoyed them.”

My new story is set in O’ahu. I’ve never had so much fun writing a tale. This novel will be published by summer under the title Ko’olau’s Secret.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to present my latest writing, Gail.

Readers may connect with Sharon at these sites:

Website: www.authorsharonkconnell.com

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/sharonkconnell

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sharonk.connell

Author’s book page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/averypresenthelpbook1

Author’s Page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChristianRomanceSuspense/

Group Forum on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ChristianWritersAndReadersGroupForum/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SharonKConnell

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/SharonKConnell

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/sharonkconnell

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/rosecastle1/

AllAuthor:  https://allauthor.com/author/sharonkconnell/

YouTube: https://youtu.be/avtIO2XZ-Ds

Links to Books on Amazon

A Very Present Help http://amzn.to/2yuF4eE

Paths of Righteousness www.amazon.com/dp/1732923701

There Abideth Hope http://www.amazon.com/dp/173292371X

His Perfect Love http://amzn.to/2iCMALI

Icicles to Moonbeams https://amzn.to/2OfcHYi

Treasure in a Field www.amazon.com/dp/1732923736

Icicles to Moonbeams ~ Christmas Eve Blessings https://amzn.to/2OfcHYi

Sharon’s Shorts~A Multi-Genre Collection of Short Stories https://www.amazon.com/dp/1732923744

Book trailers links:

A Very Present Help https://youtu.be/wYyoOE5IzS0

Paths of Righteousness https://youtu.be/bBC25TioE9c

There Abideth Hope https://youtu.be/bQ7FT6PPLrs

His Perfect Love https://youtu.be/e3tRr6mLzZk

Icicles to Moonbeams https://youtu.be/-LBMY7Pe2vo

Treasure in a Field https://youtu.be/WFwFDANNs1Y

Sharon’s Shorts https://youtu.be/s0HrpWm2qPM

When Valleys Bloom Again

This week, Pat Jeanne Davis pays us a visit with her World War II novel. When Valleys Bloom Again. I can relate to her visit to England! Pat is offering a free e-book to a commenter.

I’ve had a keen interest in the WWII period, hoping to some day write a faith based novel with an Anglo-American connection. As the ranks of those who lived through those dark days grows smaller, I wanted to highlight their lives in an instructive and entertaining way. When Valleys Bloom Again unfolds through the eyes of Abby Stapleton from an estate on Philadelphia’s Main Line with its landscaped gardens, to the bombed-out inner-city and suburbs of London to the battlefield in North Africa and Normandy. 

I enjoyed doing research for When Valleys Bloom Again.I talked with those who lived during the WWII era and also had the opportunity to ask questions of veterans in the U.S. and U.K., then in their mid-90’s, who were willing to share their experiences and their photographs. I enjoyed traveling to distant and unfamiliar places. I visited living museums in England where people went about their tasks in 1940’s clothing. The guides were always helpful and eager to share what they had learned. I’m happy when I uncover an extra special tidbit of information that will enhance my story. 

On one research trip, I went into the largest purpose-built civilian WWII air raid shelter in England that was extended to accommodate 6,500 people. The Stockport Air Raid Shelter is a network of underground tunnels a mile long, carved out of the sandstone hills on which the city stands. These provided not only protection but a way of life for families. This underground world, still intact today, gave me an opportunity to learn about the raw realities of life during the Blitz. I came away with a deep admiration for my husband’s family and others who struggled to live with only the basic amenities in such depressing and stressful surroundings. In When Valleys Bloom Again, my heroine’s parents are forced to take shelter in the London Underground during an air attack.

There are lots of ways I choose characters’ names. At times I pull from a book I read, a film or documentary, or maybe someone I’ve known. In my debut novel, I used my great-grandfather’s full name, but added an “e” on the end of his surname. He immigrated to the United States, as had Uncle Will, the lovable secondary character in my novel. 

I attempt to give my reader a story that reveals God’s overruling providence through all of life’s experiences and that with our confidence in God and submission to His will, we can be hopeful and steadfast in purpose, trusting in His promise that all things work together for good. In When Valleys Bloom Again,my heroine, Abby, frequently reminds herself of this promise after she is uprooted from London due to impending war and forced to return to a country far from her family and the life she’s become accustomed to.

BIO:

PAT JEANNE DAVIS  has a keen interest in 20thCentury United States and British history, particularly the period of World War II. Her longtime interest in that era goes back to the real-life stories she heard about family members who served during the war. When Valleys BloomAgainis a debut inspirational romance set in WWII. She enjoys flower gardening, genealogy research and traveling with her British-born husband.  She writes from her home n Philadelphia, Pa. Pat has published essays, short stories and articles online and in print. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Please visit her at https://www.patjeannedavis.com 

When Valleys Bloom Again 

A Wartime Romance Set On Two Continents

by Pat Jeanne Davis

Tagline:

            After fleeing impending war in England, nineteen-year-old Abby Stapleton works to correct her stammer and to become a teacher in America, only to discover this conflict        has no boundaries and that a rejected suitor is intent on destroying her name, fiancé,        and fragile faith.

Book Cover Description When Valleys Bloom Again:

As war approaches in 1939 Abby Stapleton’s safety is under threat.Her father, a British diplomat, insists she go back to America until the danger passes.Abby vows to return to her home in London—but where is home?With her family facing mortal danger so far away and feeling herself isolated, she finds it hard to pray or read the Bible.Did she leave God behind in war-torn London too?Then Abby becomes friendly with Jim, a gardener on her uncle’s estate.

Jim can’t get Abby out of his mind.Did she have a sweetheart in England?Was it foolish to think she’d consider him?He curses his poverty and the disgrace of his father’s desertion and drunkenness haunts him.Can he learn to believe in love for a lifetime and to hope for a happy marriage?

Abby couldn’t know the war would last a long time, nor that she would fall in love with Jim—soon to be drafted by the U.S.Army—or that she’d have to confront Henri, a rejected suitor, determined by his lies to ruin her reputation and destroy her faith in God’s providence.Will she discover the true meaning of home?

Links:

When Valleys Bloom Again can be purchased here: Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/when-valleys-bloom-again-pat-jeanne-davis/1130351044?ean=9781948888912

 ChristianBooks.com:  https://familyfiction.christianbook.com/when-valleys-bloom-again/9781948888929/pd/888932?event=ESRCG

Social Media:   

Website:  https://www.patjeannedavis.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pat.j.davis.7

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

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18797403.Pat_Jeanne_Davis

Amazon Author Page: https://amazon.com/author/patjeannedavis

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/pat-jeanne-davis-34290422/                    

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

BookBub:  https://www.bookbub.com/books/when-valleys-bloom-again-by-pat-jeanne-davis

Message from Mogollon Rim Country

While I surely would never claim to be a cognoscente, or expert, about elk, the past decade has certainly taught me a lot about this animal. Seeing specimens around our house reveals new facets of their lives as the seasons changes.

One year, Lance videoed a male rubbing off his antlers for an extended time on one of the trees in front of our house. I was watching, too, and marveled at his tenacity and determination.

This past week, “the herd” has passed through nearly every day and often lingers for a while to reach high into our mountain oak trees for more leaves.

Imagine the strength of these neck muscles! I’ve always been amazed that such a large animal can survive on vegetation. But it’s true, every time you see them, they’re eating.

Since we first discovered this area, I’ve been working on a novel set in the Civil War era. For some reason, it has taken more than a decade (definitely a record!) to complete. But now, at last, Secondhand Sunsets will release next week.

It’s full of the flora and fauna of our area and the beauty of the Mogollon Rim. This pioneer story takes the reader on a treacherous journey across the nation, and highlights one woman’s will to survive.

Pant! I learned so much about this era’s history in the process, and though it seems peculiar to be releasing anything but a World War II story, here we go. So today I’d like to reveal the cover. Soon, we should have purchase information to share.