Writing the Past: the Dust Bowl

Writing the Past: The Dust Bowl

Author Cleo Lampos visits with us today. I marvel at people surviving the Dust Bowl in the thirties, and Cleo’s parents did just that. During that time, people took whatever life gave them and did what they could to make ends meet. And Cleo has made this story from the Dust Bowl into a novel I’m looking forward to reading. She is offering a free book, e- or paperback, to one fortunate commenter. AuthoNow I’ll let her tell the story:

Blame it on the letters.

When my mother passed away, there was not much left of her earthly life. But a box of letters and journals came back to my home on the south side of Chicago. Too grieved to read them, they collected dust in the back of a closet until my age crossed the sixth decade. I decided to delve into my mother’s past.

Born in 1910, the oldest of eight children, Mom grew up on an Iowa farm and married my father in 1930. Just in time for the Great Depression.  I can hear her now, saying, “Your father always had a job. We had food.” Times were tough.

Cleo’s father.

My father dug irrigation ditches, spud cellars, or drainage ditches for highways. There are photos of him with his dragline surrounded by curious Lakota Indians. Because his work was location specific, the letters were addressed to 26 different addresses in Wyoming, Colorado and Utah in a five year period. The address to Greeley, Colorado remained for over twenty years because my big brother needed a permanent place to go to school.  Many of the letters were those written by my mother to my grandmother as she described her life out West.

It was first hand historical information with a personal appeal. Especially all the entries in the journal in which my mother is making another quilt square. She describes how she obtained the scraps needed to make the square, and the design used. Much fabric was taken from the remnants of the feed bags that she utilized to create aprons, curtains, and pillowcases. My sister guards one of the quilts that she made during this period. Quilting became important to me because it represents the women of this era.

While living in tents, cabin camps and a small wooden trailer hitched behind the dragline, my mom and dad visited Hoovervilles. They bought trinkets created by desperate people etching out bare subsistence. My parents carried their young son to view the mountains, square dance with sheep herders, and hunker in during the Black Blizzards that terrified even the most devout. All of these stories were in the letters and the journals of my mother.

Researching the decade of the 1930s uncovered so much information about the people who would become the Greatest Generation. With this background and my own perspective from living, the historical novel, Dust Between the Stitches,was written. As I penned this work, the emotions of the men and women who faced daily challenges of food, shelter, foreclosure, and destitution forced me to think of how they would respond. Much of what I researched pointed to a generation that held tenaciously to a faith forged from the difficulties of life. It is that solid-rock faith that I hope comes through in my writing.

Bio: Cleo Lampos was born in Greeley, Colorado, but lives on the south side of Chicago. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and from St. Xavier University-Chicago. After 26 years of teaching behavior disorder/emotionally disturbed students, she is retired with her husband, Vernon. Together they volunteer at the community pantry garden, and are urban farmers on their own city plot. Church and 11 grandchildren fill their lives with activities. Lampos has written numerous magazine articles, and seven books.

Contact Cleo at: FB: Author Cleo Lampos

Website: www.cleolampos.com

E-mail: cleolampos@gmail.com

Are Whirlwind Romances Always Fictional?


Welcome to Elaine Stock today as she tells us about her latest release, When Love Blossoms. She’s also offering 1 Kindle copy of this novel to a commenter, good only in the United States.

Many years ago, a college student peered up from her philosophy textbook and off toward her right. She spotted him immediately. In a sea of students who might have been clones of each other because of the similarities of dress, hairstyles, and expression, this guy stood out in a most positive way. The first thing she noted that marked him as singular and possibly refreshingly special was his clothing choice of a vest. Hmm. Interesting. And what kind of glasses was he wearing? Rimless? Different. Not nerdy, but a signature that quietly stated he preferred a distinct preference and didn’t have to conceal it just to look and act like everyone else.

Wow—a fellow individual! Did he have a charming personality to accompany the way he carried himself?

Thirty days ticked by, happily filled with talk between this young woman and man. They enjoyed long walks, dinner out…just time spent with each other.

One night, after having a rough day—what a Friday the 13thshe was having!—she went to his off-campus apartment and surprised him with a dinner-out invitation. For dessert, he took her to buy a diamond engagement ring. Eight months later, they wed on a beautiful, mild cloudless July 4th.

To a few readers, this may sound like a whirlwind tale of lovers. Maybe you’re thinking that it just doesn’t happen in real life and therefore the concept isn’t plausible. Well, dear reader, love can and does happen pretty fast at times. That young man and woman in the above scenario is my husband and myself. And, as July 4thapproaches, we’re looking forward to another blessed wedding anniversary and year to come together.

In my newly released novel, When Love Blossoms, Book 2 of the Kindred Lake Romance Series (though a standalone read), Kierra and Ryan don’t plan on meeting and for that matter, aren’t looking for a romantic partner. The not-too-long-ago breakup with her fiancé still has Kierra’s heart aching. Meanwhile, Ryan is just beginning to get onto his feet after witnessing a sad tragedy, yet his teen daughter’s needs and demands rate number one in his concerns.

But.

Ah, love. True love happens when it does and where it occurs. True love is always right, never misplaced. True love arrives at the right time, never late, nor early.

I hope you will visit with Kierra and Ryan and that their story showers you with hope and joy. May true love bless each one of you. 

Blurb for When Love Blossoms:

The journeys in life take you to unexpected destinations. The love of a good person brings you home.

Kierra Madden, proprietor of the Kindred Lake Inn, struggles for stability after her engagement ends, family strife continues, and business slows. When her mom, sister and teenage niece move in with her, life becomes a lot more complicated. There’s certainly spare room…until one guest arrives…on his bicycle. Ryan Delaney is fit and trim…quite the eye candy.

Ryan, a TV news anchor on a leave of absence following a horrific incident, enjoys the peace long-distance biking offers. Only in town to mend his strained relationship with his teen daughter, he never expects to fall for Kierra fast and hard. Despite her policy of separating business and pleasure, mutual attraction pulls them closer until unforeseen consequences threaten to wedge between them.

Surrounded by springtime beauty, will the temptation of desire bloom into a more powerful and lasting love?

Available on Amazon in print, Kindle, and Kindle Unlimited: https://amzn.to/2PNZZi3

Bio and links:

Elaine Stock is an award-winning author of Women’s & Inspirational Fiction to uplift with hope of better tomorrows.Her novel, Her Good Girl, received the Outstanding Christian/Religious Fiction in the 2018 IAN Book of the Year Awards, 2018 Readers’ Favorite Silver Medal in Christian Fiction and the 2018 American Fiction Awards in the Christian Inspirational category.


Elaine is a member of Women’s Fiction Writers Association, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Romance Writers of America. Born in Brooklyn, NY, Elaine has now been living in upstate, rural New York with her husband for more years than her stint as a NYC gal. She enjoys long walks down country roads, visiting New England towns, and of course, a good book.

Visit with Elaine at 
https://www.elainestock.com
https://twitter.com/ElaineStock
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorElaine…

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9873485.Elaine_Stock
https://www.bookbub.com/authors/elaine-stock

Get a free book at: https://elainestock.com/free-gift-for-you

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1JYAwNy

A WACKY WORLD

It’s summer, and we all need some laughs, right? You’ll find them here, courtesy of Elizabeth Calwell, and in her memoir, Dear Passenger: Welcome to My Wacky World as a Flight Attendant.

Some readers will want to know this book contains some mild “language,” because that’s part of the life of a flight attendant. Having said that, I think you’ll still enjoy her true stories. And she is offering a giveaway–one free paperback book to a commenter. Now, enjoy!

Hey y’all, I’m a “High Altitude Safety Technician”. That’s a highfalutin way of saying I’m a flight attendant. 

It’s just not possible to get trained for all the bizarre things that happen on airplanes these days. You’ve watched the stories on the TV news from the comfort of your recliner, but I’m locked in with this insanity going on.

If you all think this inflight craziness has only been happening the last few years, let me tell you about my very first international flight over twenty-five years ago.

We were on the way to Jamaica. I was standing in the galley with several of the flight attendants when a woman tapped me on the shoulder and yelled, “You need to do something about that thing.”

“I’m the brand new flight attendant here but is there something I can help you with?”

She said, “I’m not kidding. That thing’s waking my baby.” 

Then we heard a strange noise. “Cock-a-doodle-doo.”

Cock-a-doodle-doo?” We all looked at each other then rushed to investigate.

A Jamaican man had snuck a rooster on board in a brown-paper bag and shoved it under the seat in front of him. Do you know what a cock does when it wakes up? “Cock-a-doodle-doo. Cock-a-doodle-doo!” 

Everyone was laughing and all the passengers were pointing at the man, who didn’t understand all the excitement. He said, “Hey Mon, No problem here. It’s my dinner.” 

Speaking of dinner, back when we regularly served meals on flights we hustled as fast as we could to get the passengers served as quickly as possible. Each new row, we repeated in rapid succession, “Beef? Or chicken? Beef or chicken? Beeforchicken?” 

When I moved the cart forward to the next row, a man sitting next to the window declared in a booming voice, “I think I’ll have some of that thar’ beaver-chicken.” 

“Excuse me?” 

“Yeah. Beaver-chicken.” 

There are things that just don’t bear explaining. I served him the chicken without a word. After all, doesn’t everything taste like chicken? 

When we got closer to the back of the plane, we ran out of chicken. I asked a passenger, “Would you care for the beef for dinner?” 

He demanded, with a Spanish accent, “I require cheeken.”

I said, “I’m so sorry, but we don’t have any more chicken, all we have is beef. 

            “I require cheeken. My ticket say I require cheeken.” 

            “Really! OK, show me your ticket.” 

Sure enough, he pulled out his boarding pass and pointed to where it was printed in bold letters, CHECK IN REQUIRED. 

Why couldn’t that man have been on my very first international flight?  I could have handed him some really fresh poultry in a brown paper bag!

###

You’ll find lots of amusing situations like these in my comedy memoir, Dear Passenger: Welcome to My Wacky World as a Flight Attendant. It’s humorous, light-hearted and entertaining with some vital information about air travel slipped in. My small town upbringing has given me a unique Southern perspective on the antics of passengers and unusual happenings while traveling.

Have you ever wondered about the life of a flight attendant? Or maybe you’ve had a hard day at work and need to escape your on the ground job. Well, fasten your seat belt and join me at 35,000 feet. I can tell you all about it.

Welcome aboard!

Elizabeth Calwell

Purchase Dear Passenger at:https://www.amazon.com/s?k=books+Dear+Passenger&ref=nb_sb_noss

You may contact Elizabeth at: Elizabeth@elizabethcalwell.com

Lord of Her Heart

Welcome to Sherrinda Ketchersid with her debut novel. Sometimes, the timing for our projects change. This happened with Lord of Her Heart , the novel Sherrinda started about a decade ago, and many authors can relate. Sherrinda is offering an e-copy of this novel to one commenter.

I began my writing journey late in life. I had turned forty and still had teens in the house, but decided I wasn’t going to grow old and regret not writing a book. Since historical romance is my genre of choice, I began researching women from the middle ages and learned wealthy girls were sent to convents for an education. They learned to read, write, spin, weave, etc. to prepare them to run large estates after they were married.

The question ‘what if?’ kept running through my mind. What if a girl were abandoned at a convent? What if she was forced to either take her vows or marry an old man willing to pay money to the convent? These questions gave me Jocelyn’s story in Lord of Her Heart. 

It took several years to write the story, and by then I had learned to edit the manuscript, and worked to polish it as best I could. The novel finaled in a few contests and won the TBL Contest back in 2011, but I couldn’t find an agent. It was a frustrating time. 

Then in 2014, I felt led by the Lord to set aside my writing. It had become an idol in my life and I knew I had replaced my focus on God with a focus on writing—or at this point, publishing. This was not easy, but it was the right thing to do. I quit writing and blogging, worked an outside job and focused my free time on my family and church.

During this time I learned an important lesson. There is nothing in this life—no pursuit, no love, no career … nothing—more important than our journey with God. Anything that pulls us away from our relationship with the Lord needs to be re-evaluated.

When our focus is on God and His will, everything else in life falls into proper order. Now that I’ve taken up writing again, I’m learning that it is not about the success of my book—it is about my journey with God throughout the whole process.  

I had set aside Lord of Her Heart and begun writing a second medieval romance when I heard about #FaithPitch on Twitter. On a whim I pitched Lord of Her Heart in March of 2018 and got a request to submit to Smitten, the historical line for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

Within a few weeks I was offered a contract. It’s been a whirlwind of editing and marketing, and I feel so blessed to have been offered this opportunity. This truly is a dream come true.

Author’s Back Cover Copy

Lady Jocelyn Ashburne suspects something auamiss at her family’s castle 
because her father ceases to write to her. When she overhears a plot to 
force her into vows—either to the church or a husband—she disguises 
herself and flees the convent in desperation to discover the truth.

Malcolm Castillon of Berkham is determined to win the next tournament 
and be granted a manor of his own. After years of proving his worth on 
the jousting field, he yearns for a life of peace. Rescuing a scrawny 
lad who turns out to be a beautiful woman is not what he bargained for. 
Still, he cannot deny that she stirs his heart like no other, in spite 
of her conniving ways.

Chaos, deception, and treachery threaten their goals, but both are 
determined to succeed. Learning to trust each other might be the only 
way either of them survives.

Author Bio

Sherrinda Ketchersid is a lover of stories with happily-ever-after endings. Whether set in the past or present, romance is what she writes and where her dreams reside. Sherrinda lives in north-central Texas with her preacher husband. With four grown children, three guys and a gal, she has more time and energy to spin tales of faith, fun, and forever love. 

Connect with Sherrinda:

Website:www.sherrinda.com

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

Twitter:https://www.twitter.com/sherrinda

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

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

Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19022507.Sherrinda_Ketchersid

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/sherrinda-ketchersid

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sherrinda-Ketchersid/e/B07Q5Y8QHF/

BUY LINK: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Q4R9L8Z/

Freedom River

WELCOME to Claire Sanders, award-winning inspirational fiction author. Claire tells us about her latest CIVIL WAR release here, and is offering a paperback copy of FREEDOM RIVER to one commenter. 

I know the following statement is an open confession that I am a book reading nerd, but I’m going to admit how excited I get when I find a new author I love.  Right away, I look up all of her publications and dive in.

I hope you’ll feel the same way about my newest release, Freedom River.  It is a historical romance set during the time of the Underground Railroad. Several of the characters and events are based on actual people and real situations.

Stories of people who fought evil with goodness have always intrigued me. The abolitionists who participated in the Underground Railroad knowingly broke federal law.  They risked imprisonment in order to follow the dictates of their conscience.  I sometimes wonder if I have the same courage of my convictions that they did.

There are four main characters in Freedom RiverConstance has joined the abolitionist movement in Ripley, Ohio, but has done little more than write pamphlets and attend meetings. But her minor role changes drastically when she is the only person available to help a runaway slave.

Micah, once a student of Reverend John Rankin, one of the chief architects of the Underground Railroad, spurned abolitionist teachings and became a slave catcher.  He’s sure he’s found sufficient justification for hunting runaways, until an escapee gives him reason to doubt.

Opal was born a slave.  She never considered escaping across the nearby Ohio River until her master gave her no choice.  Will risking her life and the life of her baby for an unknown future be worth it?

Charlie was born free.  Nevertheless, he helps runaways move to the next safe station or employs the men on his farm.  But what will he do with a beautiful woman who crossed the river with a baby on her back?

I’m sure you’ll find Freedom River to be an exciting and engrossing story.  Be sure to connect with me at any (or all) of the online sites below.

Click here to buy.

Claire Sanders is an award-winning author of inspirational novels.  Her attention is always drawn to stories about someone fighting for what’s right in the face of overwhelming resistance.  That, and a life-long interest in history led to an appreciation for the abolitionists who dared to break mankind’s law in order to uphold God’s law.

Claire writes about Christians in conflict. Never one to preach, she lets the plot reveal how the characters’ faith sustains them through the struggle. To find out more and see an complete list of her novels, visit her website –   www.clairesandersbooks.com.

Click here to signup for Claire’s newsletter

Connect with Claire through Social Media

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/clairesandersbooks/?ref=bookmarks

Pinterest   https://www.pinterest.com/joannr2010/

Bookbub  https://www.bookbub.com/profile/claire-sanders

Dreams Deferred

Wow…if ever a cover provoked interest, this is it! And how fun to be able to bring to life story from your own family history. Readers, June is offering an e-book to one fortunate commenter, so please leave your response for a chance to embrace June’s unique plot!

 

The Story Behind the Story

Dreams Deferred is inspired by the true-to-life story of my great grandfather and great grandmother. I chose to set it in contemporary times, nevertheless, I borrowed many of the story elements from the true story.

Frances Mathew Halbedl grew up in the European Austrian Empire and followed tradition in which the oldest son became a priest in his family’s Catholic faith. After being ordained in Moravia, he immigrated to the United States in 1866 to serve in a parish in the state of Louisiana.

My aunt and mother always told the story of how one Sunday while saying mass, he spotted a young teen, much younger than my Mary Louise. He waited several years for her to grow up, then stepped down from the priesthood to marry her. I wish I knew some of those rich details of their courtship, but since I don’t, I fictionalized their romance.

They later moved to San Antonio, Texas, and had five children, three girls and two boys—Ida, Mamie, Alice, Roy, and Clifton, who was my grandfather. Just for fun in one scene, I imagined that Matt had a dream he was riding in a car with Mary Louise and the three youngest kids. In my story, the dream helped him realize how much he loved Mary Louise.

Mathew taught music both in the public school and privately. Later he became the first principal of a high school in San Antonio. In December of 2005, my husband and I visited San Antonio and looked up Matthew and Mary Louise’s house. The large, two-story home is still there on Roseborough Drive. We weren’t able to go in because it’s a private residence. But I had so much fun envisioning Matt and ML’s lives as they lived there with their children.

We also visited Clifton Halbedl’s home, which I remember from childhood. I also had the address for Mamie’s home, and we were able to go inside. A gracious lady who spoke no English invited us in. I have tons of pictures and hope to share them on my blog.

In the story, Matt gets a job at Jefferson High School. This is patterned after Thomas Jefferson High School where my mother went to school. Her name was Mary Louise, as well, named for her grandmother.

If I’ve learned anything from writing this book, I wish I’d probed for more information when my mother and aunt were still alive, but I’m grateful for what I do know.

You may contact June here: 

junefoster.com

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

https://twitter.com/vjifoster

https://www.facebook.com/authorjunefoster

 

 

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

From South Africa to Canada…a writing journey

Our guest this week has the unique history of moving from South Africa to Canada a couple of decades ago. That’s a long way–and Melony’s writing journey proves as exciting as such a long trek…probably more!

Discovering Purpose Through Writing

Who would have thought I’d be in my thirties when I decorated my first gingerbread house? I was even older when I discovered there were different kinds of snow. This South African girl had no idea.

Getting on a plane in 1999 to start a new life in Toronto, Canada with my husband was one of the best and hardest things I have ever done. It’s difficult leaving your familiar life, friends, and family to venture into the unknown. Yet Toronto was, and still is, where I am meant to be. Now I have two beautiful Canadian teenagers.

When I left the beloved shores of Durban, South Africa, I also had no inkling I would finally discover on the shores of Lake Ontario, Canada, what I wanted to be when I grew up. What started out as a private blog about my health and fitness journey on SparkPeople.com turned out to be the start of another journey—becoming a writer. Blogging taught me the discipline and habit of making time each day to tap away at the keyboard. Those ramblings paved the way to a more public blog about food, fitness, and nutrition. To be honest, I thought if I wrote a book it would probably be a cookbook.

God had other plans.

One day, at an event packed with artistic and gifted people, I came face to face with the fact that I too could follow my dream to create art. I realized for the first time I could do whatever I set my mind to do.

The Lord showed me that the only thing stopping me was, well… me.

I wanted to be a writer. Therefore, I did my research. E. B. White was one of my biggest inspirations and I realized that I wanted to be a nonfiction writer. E.B. White was a contributor to The New Yorker magazine and a co-author of The Elements of Style.Natural curiosity led me to want to ask questions, interview people and uncover the good news and meaningful stories within my community.

I read somewhere that you should start local and begin as soon as possible to collect rejection letters. They said that those would bring you closer to an acceptance. Therefore, I submitted my first article to my local newspaper, and did not get that rejection I thought I’d secure. So much for that.

That first article, published in our town’s newspaper in July 2010, had me hooked on writing. Since then, my writing journey has led me to interview sports and Hollywood celebrities, local philanthropists and authors.

Aside from my published work, I also started a blog on my new author website, interviewed Christian authors, and reviewed Christian Fiction. My world expanded in ways only God could accomplish.

Along the way, someone invited me to join a brand new writer’s group, which led to co-authoring a devotional for Christian writers and speakers. These women are now my dearest friends and loudest cheerleaders. The local Christian university uses the devotional, As the Ink Flows, as a resource and part of their curriculum. God is faithful to provide people to support us in our dreams. My husband has been a pillar of strength through it all.

Aside from doing communications for various non-profit organizations and freelance clients, these days I am focusing on my fiction work.

Looking back on that day when I said, “Hey, I want to be a writer”, I did not understand then where this wonderful profession would lead. I could never have imagined how God would use it in my life.

There is nothing more fulfilling than discovering your purpose and God’s will for your life.

Has it always been easy? No.

Has it been worth it? You bet.

Melony Teagueis a freelance writer who believes everyone has a story to tell and each story is unique and sometimes wilder than fiction. She loves to uncover the good news in society and writes human interest and community pieces. As co-author of As the Ink Flows, she loves to inspire and motivate others through her written words. In her spare time, she reviews books and interviews authors on her website. She also teaches seniors in her local community to write their own personal story. She writes Contemporary Romance with a dash of humor. Member of ACFW. Melony Teague was born in South Africa and now lives in Toronto with her husband, their two children and two cats.

WEBSITE: https://www.melonyteague.com/

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: https://twitter.com/MelonyTeague

FOLLOW ON FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/melonyteague/

FOLLOW ON GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14249646.Melony_Teague

“Whether beginners or seasoned pros, writers and speakers of all types will find inspiration and gentle encouragement within the pages of As the Ink Flows. It’s a breath of fresh air for the creative soul!” — Carla Laureano, RITA® Award Winning Author

Grab your free sample copy of the e-book here: https://bookgrabbr.com/books/38096-as-the-ink-flows

GET THE BOOK:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2NmyU4v

Christianbook.com: http://ow.ly/6Z7K30nNIig

Judson Press: https://www.judsonpress.com/Products/J237/as-the-ink-flows.aspx?bCategory=JPBKS!JPINSP

Barnes & Noble: http://ow.ly/A0EP30nNIzZ

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. 

FAR FROM HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

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.

BIO:

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, www.lst388.com.

Follow her on Amazon for future updates: https://www.amazon.com/Barbara-von-der-Osten/e/B079JZWVKG

Connect with her on Twitter, https://twitter.com/BarbvdO

Save Your Sanity, Authors!

Welcome to Elaine Stock, and congratulations on your recent writing award!

9 Ways to Crunch Time While Saving Sanity by Elaine Stock

In all honesty, this is a fairly wonderful time for me. I can say this without bragging because I’m praising God for His blessings. On top of Life 101 and the day job, I’ve just won a national writing award and am trying to share the news, I’m about to launch my next novel, Christmas Love Year Round, and after a 30-year wait, I’m ecstatic to say that my kitchen is getting remodeled (which means, of course, I’m living with packed boxes all over the living room and no longer have any kitchen counters or cabinets until the new ones are up—and this is the way of life 2 weeks ahead of time because the floor has to be refinished). Lots of craziness, but I’m rejoicing. As one who has seen one too many upheavals through the years that I’d rather not have seen, and who knows what awaits ahead, I’m enjoying these good but chaotic days. Each day I awake and remind myself that I’m in God’s hands. It will all be okay for me.

It will all be okay for you.

Here are some tips I’m sharing to save your sanity:

1)Praise God. Whisper. Say thank you, Father, out loud. Think silently while others are talking to you. Say in prayer as you drift to sleep…while you shower…while you inhale your first mug of coffee. God has the world in control, and yep, that includes you. You are His beloved daughter or son. He doesn’t want you to suffer.

2)Befriend Your Constant Companion. As a continuation of #1, realize and accept that God is not only your Heavenly Father, but also your friend. Your companion. He is with you 24/7. It helps to make life less scary and overwhelming.

3)Consolidate Errands and Chores.  Map out your weekly strategy ahead of time and consolidate time and days. Sure, it may mean you might have to leave for work on the earlier side or arrive home later, but try to run errands on 1 or 2 days rather than 5 or more a week. Trust me—it’s a nice sense of breathing room when you have an extra 30 minutes to yourself here and there.

4)Use Daydreaming Creatively. When did I come up with this blog post? While at the day job yesterday! #ThankfulForBoringWork. You may want to reconsider if you’re a brain surgeon, childcare worker or…you get the picture, I’m sure. However, even if your work or personal demands are more attention-oriented than mine, there must be some downtime, like breaks, that you can constructively ponder away book scenes, uncooperative characters, or writing the next blog post.

 

5)Allow Off-days and Off-moods. Face it, sometimes it’s just plain okay to stress or be moody. Actually, get it out of your system and then quickly move on. This happened to me a few days ago when I woke up and things just felt off-kilter no matter what I did or thought. It happens. This time though, with everything going on, I remembered the above #1 and #2 and sure enough this mood passed rather quickly and I got back into the proverbial swing of things.

6)Ask for Help. What is it about us humans that we tend to be reluctant to ask for help? I may have asked for how-to help before my novels were published, but it wasn’t until my 3rdbook was released did I start a Street Team. These ladies have blessed me with their time, support, and most importantly, their friendship. Another thing I’ve been late in doing (albeit, I admit I don’t participate enough due to time constraints) is joining a few select Facebook groups to see and to share what others know.

7)Accept that You Can’t do it All. This is a hard one for me, mainly because I want to do it all. I’m like a child with one toy who wants more. Creativity gives me a happy buzz! Yet, financial restraints dictate my limited time; writing desires dictates my social media involvement. It’s a matter of…

8)Prioritizing. Yep, you saw that one coming didn’t you? Daily, prioritize. Family. The day-job. Friends. Obligations. Commitments. Vacations. Kitchen-remodeling. Ah… it’s back to #7. Speaking for myself, I’m slowly but surely realizing that I cannot do it all. And this brings me right back to…

9)Praise God. Thank you Father, that my life is in Your awesome hands. You can handle it. You want to handle it. And I surely cannot.

 

Elaine Stock is the author of the novels Her Good Girl, winner of the 2018 American Fiction Awards in the Christian Inspirational category,andAlways With You, which won the 2017 Christian Small Publishers Association Book of the Year Award in fiction. And You Came Along, a novella, released in December 2017. Her novels fuse romance, family drama and faith in a clean fiction style. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, and Women’s Fiction Writers Association. In addition to Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads, she hangs out on her active blog, Everyone’s Story, dedicated to uplifting and encouraging all readers through the power of story and hope.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, Elaine has now been living in upstate, rural New York with her husband for more years than her stint as a NYC gal. She enjoys long walks down country roads, visiting New England towns, and of course, a good book.

You may connect with Elaine here:

Website:http://elainestock.com

Everyone’s Story blog: http://elainestock.com/blog

Twitter:http://www.twitter.com/ElaineStock

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

Goodreads:http://goodreads.com/ElaineStock

And here’s a summary of Elaine’s latest release, Christmas Love Year Round:

Cami Richardsonis good at chasing away the men in her life:first Gavin Kinkaid, a former classmate she’d helped to bully, and later, her husband who left her widowed and a single mom. Now all she wants is to bring a smile back to her eight-year-old son. What she doesn’t expect is for Gavin to become her new neighbor.

Gavin wants to settle down after serving in the Air Force and mend the separation between him and his dad. What he didn’t count on is his changing feelings when he sees Cami as a kind woman instead of his former adversary.

When Cami’s son blindsides them both during the Christmas season, is their reunion at risk or will it grow stronger?

 

Writing Through Immersion

Please welcome Norma Gail Thurston Holtman today, who is giving away either a paper or e-copy of her debut romance novel Land of My Dreams. Your choice, just leave your contact into with your comment.

Norma, please tell us how your work takes shape. 

LoMD Bookvana cover

When the idea for a story begins to consume my mind, I mull it over for days or weeks until I grasp the characters and setting. I’m a pantster, only plotting when I get stuck or something doesn’t work.

When I finally sit down at the computer, I write in layers, first getting concepts on paper, the story deepening with each pass. Each time through the story, I concentrate on stronger hooks at the beginning and end of scenes. The characters emotions deepen, their dialogue strengthens, their interactions with setting and other characters reveal deeper meaning, and the plot intensifies. Most important, the spiritual journey of the characters congeals.

Creating a story world is very much like a method actor preparing for a role. Immersion is the key. See the setting as another character. Read books, watch movies, talk to people, do anything that helps you identify with every possible aspect of what your characters will experience. Live their life in your mind.

I create playlists on my phone for each story, try the food, travel if possible, and craft metaphors that paint clear pictures for my reader. I make screensavers that contain hundreds of photographs showing flora, fauna, geography, architecture, and everyday activities.

Research is critical. I study the geographical area, time-period of the novel, history, local hotspots, food, clothing, traditions, music, and matters of importance to the people. These have to be believable and recognizable to people who live or visit there. There is nothing wrong in creating fictional places, but there needs to be a balance with reality.

 

My debut novel, Land of My Dreams is set in Scotland and New Mexico. I do a lot of contrast and comparison, and readers seem to like it. Scots-Gaelic and lowland Scots, as well as slang create interesting language differences. The Scottish people use English words in ways that are unfamiliar to Americans. In my home state of New Mexico, both Spanish and Native American words are part of everyday conversation. The two locations create some interesting interactions between the characters.

 Writing fiction is a great adventure. At some point, the writer and characters merge and the characters take over; leading to scenarios the writer never imagined. When the writer feels the emotions of the characters, readers will as well. © Norma Gail Thurston Holtman, August 28, 2017

Norma 2017

Norma Gail’s debut contemporary Christian romance, Land of My Dreams, won the 2016 Bookvana Religious Fiction Award. A women’s Bible study leader for over 21 years, her devotionals and poetry have appeared at ChristianDevotions.us, the Stitches Thru Time blog, and in “The Secret Place.” She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Historical Writers of America, and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Norma is a former RN who lives in the mountains of New Mexico with her husband of 41 years. They have two adult children. If you’re interested in connecting with me, I invite you to follow my blog, join me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Goodreads, or Amazon.