Sweltering temps have arrived in full force. Reminds me that eighty years ago, some American citizens had been ushered into poorly insulated camps to sweat out the summer. Taken from their homes in various areas of our country as potential enemy aliens and shipped to internment camps, they had no choice.
Years later, some government officials regretted these actions, especially in certain specific cases where very slim evidence led to arrests of innocent families and great hardship.
LAND THAT I LOVE addresses this historical situation that I discovered through my research for this novel. Of course, I knew about Japanese and Italian citizens forced from their homes and livelihoods. But who had heard of this occurring to German American citizens, as well?
Sometimes we uncover disheartening facts about the past–a camp specifically for German-American citizens sat deep in the heart of Texas. Imagine the heat these interned Americans endured! It’s good to understand the tensions people experienced during World War II, and to learn from the ways they coped.
If this bit of information intrigues you, I think you’d enjoy reading Land That I Love.
Welcome to Laura DeNooyer-Moore, whose novel about Appalachia comes out of her own experience in Appalachia. Laura is offering an e-book giveaway to one fortunate commenter.
Throw 22 Midwestern education students in a bus and drive them to western North Carolina to help in the mountain schools, and you’ve got a culture clash. Turns out the teacher aids have the most to learn.
Such was my first introduction to southern Appalachia.
Enter Mr. Woody. He lived forty percent of his life covered in sawdust. He spent half the week in the forest seeking the right wood—the way his family did for generations. His chairs were so solid he could balance each on one leg with all of his weight on it. No doubt he could make a fortune with his chair-building skills.
Yet he couldn’t tell you how long it took to make one.
Meet the blacksmith who never advertised. Though he was booked solid with orders, he took his time with 22 college kids. He demonstrated how to forge a fanciful leaf from a hunk of iron, then preached a sermon from Revelation 2 about how the attributes of iron compared to Christ.
Though blacksmithing provided a livelihood, his lifeblood wasn’t from any exchange of money. It came from the instruments of his trade, and the personal exchanges between him and anybody who entered his shop.
To put it in mountain terms, Mr. Woody and the blacksmith cared no more for money than a crow cared for a holiday.
We students also learned mountain clogging, hiked the Appalachian trail, and were captivated by the storytelling magic of Richard Chase, resident folklorist. I was struck by the number of people who created meaningful lives by a route much different than those seeking the prosperity of the American Dream.
With little money, few possessions, and no races up the ladder of success, these folks still enjoyed rich lives—a foreign concept to me then. No fancy homes, expensive cars, or Caribbean cruises. But they were wealthy with things they could never lose: a richness in spirit, a deep contentment, a joy in daily life, work, and family.
That primed the creative juices: “What would happen with a clash between big-city northern values and southern Appalachian culture?” I wrote a prize-winning short story about it when I got home.
I tucked the tale away but it wouldn’t rest in peace. Over the years, those characters beckoned me back to their hills until I succumbed and wrote their story in novel form.
Are secrets worth the price they cost to keep? Ten-year-old Tina Hamilton finds out the hard way.
She always knew her father had a secret. But all of God’s earth to Tina are the streams for fishing, the fields for romping, a world snugly enclosed by the blue-misted Smokies. Nothing ever changed.
Until the summer of 1968. Trouble erupts when northern exploitation threatens her tiny southern Appalachian town. Some folks blame the trouble on progress, some blame the space race and men meddling with the moon’s cycles, and some blame Tina’s father.
A past he has hidden catches up to him as his secret settles in like an unwelcome guest. The clash of progressive ideas and small town values escalates the collision of a father’s past and present.
Laura DeNooyer, a Calvin College alumni, thrives on creativity and encouraging it in others. She teaches writing in SE Wisconsin. She and her husband raised four children as she penned her first novel, All That Is Hidden. An award-winning author of heart-warming historical and contemporary fiction, she is president of her American Christian Fiction Writers chapter. Her new Standout Stories blog features novel reviews and author interviews. https://lauradenooyer-author.com
Do you ever wonder how authors choose their settings? Ane Mulligan, author of many Southern Fried Fiction novels, shares her process for her latest story, the first book in a series. She is also offering an e-book giveaway to someone who leaves her a comment.
A Journey of Discovery
I like to set my stories in fictional towns. Once I know who my characters are, I draw a map and place the businesses and houses where I want them. That way, nobody can say there wasn’t a store on that street.
After writing five contemporary novels, my agent liked the premise of In High Cotton.She noted that it fit my brand of ensemble casts of strong Southern women, facing life’s issues together. She gave her blessing on the Georgia Magnolias series.
I wanted a rural setting for In High Cotton. I discovered an area around Uvalda in southeast Georgia. There is hardly anything near it, except two rivers (the Ocmulgee and the Oconee) converge near there to form a third (the Altamaha). The Indians called this area “Where Rivers End.” That gave me my town’s name of Rivers End.
As a kid, I spent summers at my cousins’ home in Winkelman, Arizona. I know. What kid spends summers in Arizona? It was heaven—a real-life cowboys and Indians town. My cousin owned an old Army Jeep I got to drive as a ten-year-old. What fun we had, chasing wild burros, every turn around tall Saguaros, spewing sand and dirt.
Winkelman had a population of around 600, and my cousin owned a small grocery store. He let me work in it in the afternoons, when even kids melt in the desert sun. That served as my model for Parker’s grocery.
From there, I let my imagination take over. I gathered lists of food costs, what was available, what Maggie (my heroine) would have carried in the grocery. Campbells only had twenty-one varieties at the time. Today, that number is 226.
That led me to wonder about Depression era recipes. I’ve included several in the book, ones I found interesting. One thing I noticed, Georgians use peanuts as a staple source of protein. They were in many of the recipes I unearthed.
I’ve found I love writing in the Depression era. I’m looking at WWII for a potential series, too. But whatever the era, readers can count of it being Southern-fried fiction. What’s that? It’s strong, plucky women and loyal friendships, all served up with a dash of humor and a lot of heart.
Ane Mulligan has been a voracious reader ever since her mom instilled within her a love of reading at age three, escaping into worlds otherwise unknown. But when Ane saw PETER PAN on stage, she was struck with a fever from which she never recovered—stage fever. She submerged herself in drama through high school and college. One day, her two loves collided, and a bestselling, award-winning novelist emerged. She lives in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a rascally Rottweiler. Find Ane on her website, Amazon Author page, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterestand The Write Conversation.
In High Cotton, releasing August 3rd
Southern women may look as delicate as flowers, but there’s iron in their veins.
While the rest of the world has been roaring through the 1920s, times are hardscrabble in rural South Georgia. Widow Maggie Parker is barely surviving while raising her young son alone. Then as banks begin to fail, her father-in-law threatens to take her son and sell off her livelihood—the grocery store her husband left her. Can five Southern women band together, using their wisdom and wiles to stop him and survive the Great Depression?
Available on Amazon, LPCBooks, Target, and in bookstores.
As clearly as if in a waking dream, she saw herself married to Thomas, saw herself loving him with all of her heart and soul. Which, of course, was impossible. Painfully so. Quickly, she dropped her gaze, blocking his scrutiny. Surely her eyes would give away both her foolish feelings and her dirtiness.
He reached up with his fingertips and gently tilted her chin upward, forcing her to look him in the eye. “Forgive me, but … I need to see if that was just my imagination.”
She swallowed hard. Look away, Anna …
And now, a little more about this novel.
Wings Like a Dove by Camille Eide
Have you ever felt as if you didn’t belong?
Growing up, Anna lived through many upheavals and displacements and has never truly felt at home anywhere, but at least she always had her family. Home was wherever she and her mother and siblings were. But since her family has come to America, she has found this new country not as welcoming as she had been made to believe. This feeling intensifies when, turned out of her home, she finds herself in a place where Jews are despised. But this time, Anna is far from family and friends. She is wired for community, thriving best when part of a larger whole, but now, alone in this strange, hostile environment, she faces not only danger without, but also heartbreaking loneliness within.
Unwed and pregnant, adrift and alone, Anna finds not only solace and refuge among the rag tag family of orphans and their kind caretaker, but also champions. Thomas and the boys have taken a stand against the wave of bigotry in their community and refuse to be bullied. In their home, Anna may have found refuge and shelter against hate, but then again, she may have only landed in the eye of a storm. Finding out where she belongs in the world will have to wait. What she needs now is to protect herself, her unborn child, and this family she has grown to love… even though it means leaving her heart behind with these boys and the man who would do whatever it takes to raise them into men of faith, compassion, and honor. A man who longs for Anna in ways she is desperate to forget.
Anna faces hatred and danger, but her biggest fear is that she will never truly belong, never feel anchored again.
If you’ve moved a lot growing up or in life, what anchors you?
About the Book:
Can the invisible walls that separate people ever come down?
In 1933, Anna Leibowicz is convinced that the American dream that brought her Jewish family here from Poland is nothing but an illusion. Her father has vanished. Her dreams of college can’t make it past the sweat-shop door. And when she discovers to her shame and horror that she’s with child, her mother gives her little choice but to leave her family. Deciding her best course of action is to try to find her father, she strikes out . . . hoping against hope to somehow redeem them both.
When Anna stumbles upon a house full of orphan boys in rural Indiana who are in desperate need of a tutor, she agrees to postpone her journey. But she knows from the moment she meets their contemplative, deep-hearted caretaker, Thomas Chandler, that she doesn’t dare risk staying too long. She can’t afford to open her heart to them, to him. She can’t risk letting her secrets out.
All too soon, the townspeople realize she’s not like them and treat her with the same disdain they give the Sisters of Mercy — the nuns who help Thomas and the boys — and Samuel, the quiet colored boy Thomas has taken in. With the Klan presence in the town growing ever stronger and the danger to this family increasing the longer she stays, Anna is torn between fleeing to keep them safe . . . and staying to fight beside them.
About the Author:
Camille Eide is the award-winning author of inspirational fiction including The Memoir of Johnny Devine. She lives near the Oregon Cascades with her husband and is Mom, Grammy, and enjoys the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. She also loves the liberating truth and wisdom of God’s word, and hopes that her stories will stir your heart, strengthen your faith, and encourage you on your journey.
Her other titles include:Savanna’s Gift(Christmas), Like There’s No Tomorrow, Like a Love Song, The Memoir of Johnny Devine, and The Healer(exclusive to newsletter subscribers).
I’m always grateful for new friends gathered during the year, and 2019 has brought me a written friend from Idaho. I’m so looking forward to getting to know her better during the new year, and am delighted to share her new historical novel with readers. Happily, I’ve read this story, and still think about its characters. If you enjoy historical fiction of this era, this book belongs on your reading list!
Jan is offering a free paperback copy of ALL MY GOOD-BYES to one commenter here. Now, she shares with us a little of her family history behind this novel.
I Wish I’d Known
It dawned on me the other day that I was born just 9 years after the end of WW2. This boggles my mind. As I have been researching for my latest release, set in those years, I had it set in my mind that the war was far removed from me. But the more we discover about our pasts, the more we realize how things that happen long ago effect who we are today.
If it had not been for certain circumstances of the war, I would not be here at all. I don’t mean to sound mysterious, okay maybe I do, but legacies were cut short for many of the men and women who fought and died then. World War II changed the course of history for families everywhere.
I had to research to find out how my life came to be, because my parents both were gone by the time I became interested in their stories. I never bothered to prod them about their experiences as they lived through the depression and the war. I took for granted that life had been as smooth as mine. I never realized there were so many secrets unspoken, so many unpleasant memories tucked down deep. By the time I felt the weight of the past calling me to write, it was too late to ask those close to me all the important questions.
This is now a sort of mission for me – to encourage folks to talk to their aging parents and grandparents and even great-grandparents. Some may still not want to explain their experiences, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Most of them have rich stories that should be written down and passed down to the next generation. How tragic that so many of these stories are being lost as the people of those war years die.
One thing I discovered as I pulled out family photos and documents is that most of them were not marked with names and dates. It would have been so much easier to put the puzzle pieces of my family together if those items had been identified. This is something each family can do when they are together for the holidays – catalog all those pictures of places and people.
As I finished up my historical series, I was so thankful for the treasures of knowledge I had gained. But I long for more. I want my children to know where they came from and the solid, courageous, and honorable heritage they can be proud of. I tell what I know, even when they look bored or roll their eyes.
But I’ve noticed one thing…the little ones are fascinated by the stories I tell.
Like me, my grown children may not be all that interested until it’s too late, but when I’m not around to tell them anymore, my books will be. This is why I must keep writing them. It’s my way to leave the story legacy of the family for the future.
I hope if you haven’t gleaned those experiences from your loved ones that you will take a few minutes to make a plan for the new year. Go through your closets and find the old albums and use them to start conversations with your elders. Or if you are the elder, initiate a reveal of those special memories.
My book All My Goodbyes is based on the life of my mother and I hope the parts I had to guess about are close to accurate. It is a work of fiction but with real life entwined, with a surprise at the end. I hope you will read it to inspire you to uncover your own legacy.
I would love for you to follow me on Facebook at Jan Cline author. Also, you can check out my website and sign up for my monthly newsletter to receive a free short story. Jancline.net
Here’s a genre we don’t often feature: Regency Romance, by Karen Cogan. Karen, welcome to DARE TO BLOOM. I really like the play on words in your title. And here’s the cover . . . Karen is offering a FREE download…go for it!
The Lure of Historical Romance
Do you find historical romance intriguing? I personally love a good Regency novel. The quaint customs of language and activities are fascinating Unlike our evening at the movies, their evening at the theater lasted most of the night. Sometimes a local blacksmith might set bones for humans as well as for animals. Drinking the water at Bath, England was said to cure gout, lameness, infertility, and diseases of the skin along with many other ailments.
The speech of this time was charming. Women “took a turn” around the parlor or garden”, meaning they took a walk. They used the term “droll” to mean odd, humorous, or whimsical. If they“fancied” a crumpet or spot of tea, it meant they wanted it. This infatuation with the speech and customs inspired the writing of my Regency romances.
My most recent clean Regency novel is titled A Relative Matter. In this story, we are introduced to Anne and her young brother, Jeremy as they arrive from India to live with their grandfather in England. Though they do not know him, the kindly man proves a balm for their hearts wounded by the death of their parents. When their grandfather also dies, he leaves the estate to Jeremy. Since the boy is not yet of age, his grandfather’s nephew, a man with a mysterious past, is named guardian of the property and soon arrives to take up his duty. Though he is kind and loving to Anne and Jeremy, he has a son who is evil and cunning and stands to inherit the estate should Jeremy die. Since he intends to inherit it, he will stop at nothing to get his hands on the property.
Meanwhile, Anne keeps company with Lord Westerfield who is kind and handsome and deeply in love with her. As murder and threats of murder soon threaten young Jeremy, Lord Westerfield is the only one standing between Jeremy and death. Will he be able to protect him?
A Relative Matter is a free download at kecogan.blog and scroll down to the novel.
Feeling Grateful For a Full Fridge: On Rationing and the Black Market in WWII Britain
What was it like for British citizens during World War II, when it came to feeding their hungry families? Read and see…and please leave author Anne Clare a comment, as she’s giving away a copy of her debut novel, Whom Shall I Fear to one commenter. I’ve read this book, and it reminded me that there’s ALWAYS more to learn about this tough time in history. Thanks for visiting!
As I’m writing this, it’s Saturday morning, which is “hot breakfast” morning in my family. This morning, I was in the mood for French Toast. I pulled open my fridge and grabbed eggs- there were plenty left from the 18 I’d bought last shopping run. The milk was a little low, but I could just pick up more later. With the cheap loaf of bread I’d picked up on sale yesterday, I was all set!
The steps between “I want this to eat” and “Hey kids, it’s breakfast time!” were so simple that it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t always so.
Before the onset of the Second World War, the island nation of Great Britain had imported around 70% of its food—not to mention other goods—requiringmillionsof tons of shipping.
Then, war broke out.
German U-boat “wolf packs” prowled the Atlantic, blocking shipments, destroying ships, and threatening to starve Britain into submission. How were the British people to be sustained?
The British Ministry of Food enforced a strict rationing program to ensure that there would be sufficient food to go around. Families would register with local sellers to receive their weekly allotments. Lines, or “queues” were long, and families had to plan out how they would use their ration coupons and points from week to week—assuming, of course, that the items they were standing in line for wouldn’t have run out by the time they got to the front.
Kitchen staples like milk, sugar and fat fell under rationing. Average weekly rations for an adult would include 8 oz sugar, 4 oz bacon or ham, 3 pints of milk, 2 oz of tea, and one fresh egg.*
“A shopkeeper cancels the coupons in a British housewife’s ration book for the tea, sugar, cooking fats and bacon she is allowed for one week. Most foods in Britain are rationed and some brand names are given the designation “National”” Photo and caption courtesy of Wikimedia commons.
Non-food items, like clothes, shoes, gasoline and soap, also fell under ration.
However, fruit and vegetables did not, and many people participated in the “Dig for Victory” program, planting gardens in every available bit of soil. Others found clever ways to make up for items they couldn’t get—girls might paint their legs to simulate “stockings” or use beetroot juice to color lipstickless lips.
Some people, however, chose less reputablemeans to supplement their rationed goods.
Illegal activities took many forms. In some cases, it might be as simple as someone “forgetting” to mention that an elderly relative had died and continuing to collect rations with their books. Or perhaps someone might raise chickens but not register the eggs that were produced. In the cities, bombed out buildings were a strong temptation for looters. And, as might be expected, a black market thrived.
If someone wanted to find something and couldn’t through legal means, “spivs” had wares to offer, off the books, for a price. Even reputable shopkeepers might have a few things under the counter. As the war dragged on, even people who wouldn’t have considered theft in ordinary times might be tempted to supplement their rations if something that had “fallen off the back of a lorry” just happened to be for sale in their area.
While some steered clear of illegal goods, the temptation was strong—according to the Imperial War Museum, “By March of 1941, 2,300 people had been prosecuted and severely penalized for fraud and dishonesty.” ** And there were still four years of war left to go.
As I was researching all of this for my recently released novel, Whom Shall I Fear?—in which one character finds himself deeply entangled in the underworld of the black market, with dangerous consequences—I found myself newly grateful for the often-overlooked blessings of a fully stocked pantry and grocery stores!
It’s that time of year . . . the dill shows so many shades of green and yellow. Today I found a few stems perfect for picking – my mother-in-law taught me the shade to look for, and of course, the pungent smell.
Tickweed blossoms in our back yard couldn’t be brighter.
And the zinnias are not to be outdone. Talk about the “layered look!”
Then there’s the phlox . . . plain old-fashioned lovely.
Being gone for a couple of weeks in the middle of summer brings surprises when you return. I’ve been “gone” from my blog for too long, too, and this gets me started again. I’ve been editing the first book in the Women of the Heartland series, though, so haven’t gone completely AWOL.
In Times Like These shall rise again . . . and be all the better for it.
Now, a book on very early Arizona history has captured my attention. I really can’t imagine what it would have been like to ride those gorgeous canyons, viewing Sedona’s gorgeous red rocks or the outrageous beauty of Mogollon Rim Country for the first time. What would it be like happening on the Tonto Natural Bridge on horseback, or seeing a saguaro cactus in the distance?
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.
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.
I’ve always thought it would be fun to bring an ancestor to life for a modern-day audience. A few months ago, I read Jayme Mansfield’s RUSH and vicariously spent some time claiming land in Oklahoma with Jayme’s great-great grandmother. Jayme is giving a print copy of RUSH to a commenter.
Jayme, how did you choose your genre? What about the writing process for this genre challenges you most?
I love reading historical fiction, so it’s a natural draw to write in that genre. Researching for accuracy and depth of story and characters is essential. Since there are so many means available for research, it’s not difficult as much as time-consuming—in a good way! I’ve learned so much while researching and find special gems of information to add to the stories. RUSH was particularly exciting to research as the story is based on my great-great grandmother’s experience in the 1893 Oklahoma Land Rush. My family had a treasure trove of letters, documents, photographs, and an oral history to pull from that brought her story to life.
Tell us about your characters. Do you have a favorite?
Several of the characters are closely based on real people from my family lineage. Mary Louisa Roberts is the real name of my great-great grandmother and the main protagonist. Her perseverance, independence, and faith are not only inspiring, but endearing for readers. Since I share her bloodline, I admit she is my favorite! To fictionalize her life and round out the story, I created several characters. One whom readers wish was real is the handsome and kind illustrative journalist from Boston who becomes Mary’s love interest. Of course, there are several bad guys, and one in particular makes the skin crawl!
What struggles in Mary Louisa’s story are still applicable for women today?
Even though life is much different today than back in 1893, women often still struggle with identifying and following their true calling, especially in the midst of caring for others. Mary is not only a woman in a man’s world, but she is a single mother of a young child. Forgiveness, daring to love again, and trusting are timeless challenges.
What underlying moral premise undergirds your story? (What universal truth can readers take away?)
RUSH’s book trailer, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lbdg6w0c3JA, shares the message that there’s something special about the past—it draws us in and reminds us we are part of it. It’s a beautiful trailer and I hope you take a brief moment to enjoy it.
In what ways has writing changed your life?
Oh, where to begin? Besides all the wonderful people who are now part of my life, my work focus has shifted from teaching language arts and visual arts to primarily writing. I still spend a great deal of time running my art studio, but writing seems to permeate everything and is always on my mind.
Gail, thank you for inviting me to share about my passion for writing. Here’s to all of us crazy about books!
Jayme H. Mansfield is an author, artist, and educator. Her award-winning novels, Chasing the Butterfly and RUSH, are book club favorites and Amazon bestsellers.
Her stories weave artistic, visual imagery with compelling plots and captivating characters. Romance, nuggets from the past, and timeless truths provide the fiber to make her novels rich and memorable.
Jayme lives in Lakewood, Colorado, where she and her husband have survived raising three hungry, hockey-playing sons. Currently, a very needy Golden Retriever runs the roost. When Jayme isn’t writing, she teaches art to children and adults at her long-time art studio, Piggy Toes.