Thursday, May 12, 2022

Welcome Back, Julie Arduini

Welcome Back, Julie Arduini!

Linda: Welcome back! It’s great to chat with you again, and I look forward to hearing about your latest book, Anchored Hearts. What was your inspiration for the story? 

Julie: I’m a fan of the TV show, This is Us. I was so impressed by the magnitude it took to create a series involving multiples and how an event from the past affected everyone for decades. I thought it was a good challenge to explore a unique birth story. My sister pitched to me donor families, but I’m not ready for that yet. I decided on a family of sextuplets with the challenge---what would happen if a family with a unique birth story stayed in the national spotlight because of tragedy? 

LM: What sort of research did you have to do for this book? 

Julie: I read a lot on the McCaughey septuplets for starters. I researched morning shows and various aspects of a news station. The series is set in the Finger Lakes Region of Upstate NY, specifically, the Elmira-Corning area. That’s my hometown, so I didn’t need too much research there. I did change some things for fiction, though. 

LM: How do you choose character names and places for your stories? 

Photo: Pixabay/
Oliver Cardall
Julie: I remember Jerry Jenkins talking about the name process, and I tend to follow it. I try not to get too complicated, and will use common names or objects. In future books it will be revealed that sextuplets #4 and #5 were names patriarch Paul Hart chose, and they were named James and Kelly in honor of his favorite Buffalo Bills quarterback, Jim Kelly. As for places, I use Upstate NY settings for my romances. I spent 34 years in Upstate NY and there are so many small towns and areas that few know about. When I wrote the YA/Women’s series with my daughter, Surrendering Stinkin’ Thinkin’, I used Ohio as a setting since we have lived in NE Ohio for 18 years. 

LM: As a female, what is the most difficult thing about writing male characters? 

Julie: I have wonderful critique partners who catch a mannerism I use or phrasing, and they know it’s a feminine trait. I’m thankful for them. 

LM: What books are on your TBR pile? 

Julie:. So many. I tend to read by author. I find one I enjoy and I’ll go through everything they have. Late last year I discovered Jess Mastorakos. She writes sweet and inspirational military romances, and I love that. 

LM: What would you tell your younger writing self? 

Photo: Pixabay/Stock Snaps
Julie: Stop overthinking it and just do it. My weakness is grammar and I let that hold me back for decades. Now I have a solid team of critique partners, editors, proofreaders, and Beta readers to help me. 

LM: What’s next for you? 

Julie: Surrendering Hearts is a six-book series featuring each Hart sextuplet. Ryan is the second-born, so he’s next with Repairing Hearts. I am SO excited. 

Linda: Where can folks connect with you? 

Julie: The easiest way is to find me on Link Tree at All my links are included there. I love to connect, so please reach out! 

About Anchored Hearts: 

Can two go-getters surrender their need to control and find a happily-ever-after? 

Jordyn Bell Hart succeeds in everything she does. Her promotion to morning show co-anchor blossoms her career in the same way her mother’s work had. Jordyn keeps tabs on her family and enjoys helping them grow. When life around her starts to change, can she surrender her desire to control? 

Spencer Collins knows how to balance a busy life. He has his work as a reporter, his time caregiving for his grieving father, and looking out for his little brother. When he learns he’s the new co-anchor of a morning show with Jordyn Hart, can he handle working with a celebrity who brings a lot of challenges to life on and off the set?

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Western Wednesday: Shopping in the Old West

Western Wednesday: Shopping in the Old West

Photo: Pixabay/
Sabrian Eickhoff
What do you think of when you hear the term “Old West?” Probably cowboys or ranches. Maybe saloons. But one mainstay of life in the towns that sprang up across the country during the 1800s is the general store, also known as a mercantile. Unlike the cities of the time that featured specialized boutiques, these small hamlets were remote, serving a population that had little time for shopping and often limited funds. 

The goal of the general store was to provide whatever the locals needed. Patrons could find tobacco, cigars, hardware, jewelry, buggy whips, horse tack, lanterns, pails, foodstuffs, fabric and sewing notions, household items, tools, small farm implements, soap, crockery, dishes, guns and bullets, clothing, candy, coffee, toiletries, school supplies such as slates and chalk, and patent medicines (most of which were untested and alcohol-based!). 

Merchandise could be purchased with cash or barter items, such as milk, eggs, or surplus produce. Shopkeepers also extended credit as necessary. In 1853, customers could expect to pay eight to ten cents per pound for rice, eleven cents per pound for pork versus nine cents per pound of salt beef. Fresh beef could be had for five cents per pound, whereas lard would run them up to twelve cents per pound. 

Many general store owners began as roving peddlers. After accumulating enough capital and inventory, they would establish a permanent location in a growing settlement. Others specifically sought one of the boomtowns such as a mining camp or railroad town. Sometimes, the mercantile would be the first business in a new settlement. 

Photo: Pixabay/
Brigette Werner
In addition to providing for the physical needs of the community, the general store was often the social center. A collection of chairs encircled the massive woodstove that was often located in the middle of the store. Some merchants offered inexpensive snacks such as soda crackers to allow folks to “sit a spell.” In his book, Pill, Petticoats, and Plows: The Southern Country Store, Thomas Clark indicated “Fox races, tobacco, cotton, horses, women, politics, religion—no subject is barred from the most serious and light-hearted conversation.” 

As the communications center of the town, the general store was typically the location of the post office with the owner acting as postmaster, sometimes even town clerk, Justice of the Peace, and/or undertaker. In later days, the mercantile was the first or only place in the town with a telephone. Less formal communication included a wall filled with lost and found notices, event flyers, election information, auctions, and “wanted posters” for outlaws. 

Keeping the shop clean would have been a challenge. With unpaved roads, customers tracked in dirt and other detritus, and the wood stove produced soot that settled on the goods. One report I found indicated it was not unusual to discover rodents foraging inside the store. 

Photo: Pixabay/
The late 1800s saw the advent of the mail order catalog business with Tiffany’s Blue Book considered the first in the U.S. In 1872, Aaron Montgomery Ward sent out his first “catalog,” a single sheet of paper showing merchandise for sale and including ordering instructions. Twenty years later, he was sending out a 540-page illustrated book selling 20,000 items, including prefabricated kit houses. Sears followed in 1888, and the decline of the general store began. The coming of the automobile in 1910 gave farmers and ranchers greater mobility, and as towns grew in size, the population was able to support specialized shops. 

There are remnants of general stores scattered around the U.S., and you may be pleasantly surprised to find one near you.

This article is a reprint of a guest post I did in February 2021. 


Gold Rush Bride Tegan

She’s out to prove herself. He’s only looking for adventure. Neither one realizes they’ll find more than gold “in them thar hills.” 

Tegan Llewellyn has always been different than her adopted family, except Grandmother Hannah, a prospector during the 1829 Georgia gold rush. Now, seventy years later there are reports of gold in Nome, and the opportunity is too good to pass up. But Tegan doesn’t count on the dangers that strike from the moment she steps off the steamer, including the threat of losing her heart. 

Elijah Hunter has prospected for gold all over the US and Canada and likes being on the move. The last thing he expects to find on his latest search is a lady miner who proves to be nothing but trouble. Can he convince her that leaving is for her own good before it’s too late...for both of them?

Friday, May 6, 2022

Fiction Friday: New Releases in Christian Fiction

May 2022 New Releases More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website

Contemporary Romance:

Anchored Hearts by Julie Arduini -- Can two go-getters surrender their need to control and find a happily-ever-after? Jordyn Bell Hart succeeds in everything she does. Her promotion to morning show co-anchor blossoms her career in the same way her mother’s work had. Jordyn keeps tabs on her family and enjoys helping them grow. When life around her starts to change, can she surrender her desire to control? Spencer Collins knows how to balance a busy life. He has his work as a reporter, his time caregiving for his grieving father, and looking out for his little brother. When he learns he’s the new co-anchor of a morning show with Jordyn Hart, can he handle working with a celebrity who brings a lot of challenges to life on and off the set? (Contemporary Romance from Surrendered Scribe Media)

Finding Love in San Antonia by Miralee Ferrell and Kimberley Rose Johnson -- For TV chef Adela Romero, the lights of LA have lost their luster. The grief of her husband’s death three years ago still hangs heavy over her and her daughter, Fabi. When Adela returns to San Antonio for a summer break with her daughter, she learns her mother-in-law's Mexican diner is struggling. Adela wants to help, but her career is tugging her in another direction.Local food critic David Agraponte has a history with Adela. A history he’d like to rekindle. When he interviews Adela, sparks fly—both good and bad. In Adela’s struggle to put her past behind her, she’s tentative about a new relationship, but David hopes she’ll stay at Romero’s long enough to give him a chance. (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

From Shore to Shore by Tabitha Bouldin -- Bree Jamison comes to Sparrow Island for one reason: to study coral reefs. She's not interested in happily-ever-after and certainly won’t allow her handsome boat captain to sway her into believing these islands are different from any others. But when she finds an old shipwreck and learns the history of pirates and treasure, Bree finds herself searching for something that always feels just out of reach. Cooper Carmichael takes the job as boat captain for the enigmatic Bree to further his career. He never expected her to be so driven—or so painfully opposed to God. All Cooper wants is his happy island life. He wants for nothing. In fact, he's made it his mission to be content. In every aspect of his life. Bree throws a wrench in his plan as her presence pushes Cooper to want for things he deems unnecessary. A man striving for contentment. A woman who believes God is picking on her. (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit Publishing)

Home Where She Belongs by Penny Frost McGinnis -- Small-town romance with a dash of mystery and the promise of hope. Tired of being a pawn for her father and an emotional punching bag for her ex-boyfriend, Sadie Stewart escapes to Abbott Island where she spent summers with her grandparents. Would the love and faith she learned from them be enough to fuel her new life? She wants to believe God's promises, yet broken trust holds her back. Joel Grayson left the island long enough to train at the Police Academy. The community trusts him, even though he's failed. When he finds Sadie at her grandparents' cottages, his heart skips a beat. He'd love to get to know her again, but no one needs to share the hurt he harbors. When Sadie discovers someone is sabotaging her future, she seeks Joel's help. As they are drawn together, will Joel let down his guard and let her in? Will Sadie trust the man who loves her and the Father Who cares? (Contemporary Romance from Mt. Zion Ridge Press)

If You Rescue Me by Jerusha Agen -- Can his love set her free? Not all prisons have bars. Charlotte Davis should know—she’s lived in a prison of abuse for years. When her abuser goes too far and threatens her ten-year-old daughter, Charlotte runs to the stranger her mother believed would save her. She hopes to find answers and escape, but she doesn’t expect to meet a man who’s everything she fears yet everything she could love. Police Sergeant Gabe Kelly can tell Charlotte’s hiding something and doesn’t trust cops. But despite his better judgment, his heart is drawn toward Charlotte and her little girl. What begins as kindness threatens to turn into something riskier if Gabe doesn’t get ahold of his feelings. When Charlotte’s secrets catch up with her, Gabe’s badge puts them on opposite sides of the bars between them. Will God’s redemption be enough to set them free to love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Love in Second Bloom by Sandra Ardoin -- She's searching for direction. He's trying to change his. Are they beyond renewing the dream of a future they once believed in? At a crossroads in her career, Erin Ward works as a groundskeeper in a small town filled with precious, romantic memories. With Shaun Hadley’s surprise arrival, Erin dreams of a second chance at romance with the guy she broke up with in college. But Shaun isn’t the same man she once loved, and she blames herself. As an easygoing college computer geek, Shaun let Erin’s rejection light a determined fire under him. Today, he’s a successful businessman seeking to relax. Letting go of his workaholic ways is harder than he’d imagined, even when it threatens both his health and a renewed relationship with the love of his life. What hope do they have when Shaun can’t slow down, and Erin refuses to stand up for herself and their future...again? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Not Since You by Dulcie Dameron -- When Claudia Clark was involved in a tragic accident in high school, it set her on a devastating path toward heartbreak. For the past eight years, she’s carefully guarded her heart. With her business now thriving, she doesn’t have time for any unwanted distractions. She’s learned from her mistakes. But when the biggest one of all comes face to face with her again, she starts to question the belief she’s desperately clung to for so long. Dorian Vance can’t get over his past—or the girl that it’s wrapped up in. So when a family emergency brings him back to the small town of River Hollow, he decides it's time to accept the truth and confront the girl he left behind. Unfortunately for him, she’s dead set on making him pay for his sins. As sparks start flying and well-meaning townsfolk meddle in their affairs, Dorian and Claudia are forced to resurrect old ghosts that lay buried in a mire of guilt and shame. But as they find themselves in the center of a vengeful scheme, the hope and forgiveness they seek seem impossible to obtain. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Royally Married by Jill Boyce -- Dr. Claire Thomson, queen of Amorley, has banished all the dragons in her life—or so she hopes. Her wedding to Ethan Kane, the love of her life, looms on the horizon, yet unwelcome houseguests of her stepmother, Lord Chicanery of Maltenstein and his son, Hans, threaten her upcoming wedding with new obstacles. New questions abound about the integrity of the crown and the necessity of its future. If Claire cannot prove her loyalty to Amorley and disavow her involvement in a nefarious plot to defraud the country’s coffers for personal gain, then she may have to postpone more than just her wedding. She may have to leave the life she’s come to love in her father’s homeland as Parliament calls the monarchy into question. Dangers lurk in the castle, and if Claire’s not careful, she will lose more than her crown; she will lose her life. If she survives, will Claire and Ethan finally make it to the altar and solidify her position as queen? Can she protect the monarchy and those she loves from the evil plans of her enemies? Has time finally run out for Claire on her quest for her happily ever after? (Contemporary Romance from Winged Publications)

Short and Sweet: 13 Sweet, Romantic Stories by Susan Page Davis -- This collection of short stories is perfect for quick reads. Fall in love with a firefighter, a florist, a soldier, or a church usher. Join Kelly at a wedding, Sam at a charity box social, and Kara at a date she’s looked forward to for ten years. Whether it’s an office romance or a chance meeting on a railroad platform, join the fun and soak up the romance. (Contemporary Romance from Tea Tin Press)

The Road Home by Cathe Swanson -- Christopher Wright came home from Afghanistan a changed man. He’s found peace as an over-the-road trucker, but he’s never forgotten the woman he grew close to overseas – or the promises they made to each other. But when a newspaper article leads him to the Unity Plenkiss Community Center, the elusive Tally isn’t happy to be found – and she’s definitely not interested in picking up where they left off. After two years on the streets, Tally Zemmer has found a home and begun to heal, building a new life for herself. Christopher’s reappearance is a reminder of her scars and the ghosts that followed her home from Afghanistan. But he’s the one man who knows her secrets and still cares for her. They have a special connection, shared faith, and experiences no one else can claim. Can they find a new road home together? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Historical Romance:

A Promise Engraved by Liz Tolsma -- Can Promises Made in Times of Struggle Endure 200 Years? Young, spirited Josie Wilkins life is about to take a turn when faced with political turmoil and forbidden love in San Antonio of 1836. John Gilbert has won her heart, despite being a Protestant preacher who is forbidden to practice his faith in Texas. Will either of them survive an epic battle for liberty to create a legacy of love? Nearly 200 years later, Kayleigh Hernandez takes breaks from her demanding job as a refugee coordinator working with Mexican migrants to attend flea markets where she has found a uniquely engraved ring. Enlisting the help of appraiser Brandon Shuman, they piece together a love story long forgotten. But will dangers linked to Kayleigh’s work end her own hopes for leaving a legacy built on hope, faith, and love? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

When the Meadow Blooms by Ann H. Gabhart -- If any place on God’s earth was designed to help one heal, it is Meadowland. Surely here, at her brother-in-law’s Kentucky farm, Rose and her daughters can recover from the events of the recent past—the loss of her husband during the 1918 influenza epidemic, her struggle with tuberculosis that required a stay at a sanatorium, and her girls’ experience in an orphanage during her illness. At Meadowland, past troubles become rich soil in which faith can grow. Dirk Meadows may have opened his home to his late brother’s widow and her girls, but he keeps his heart tightly closed. The roots of his pain run deep, and the evidence of it is written across his face. Badly scarred by a fire and abandoned by the woman he loved, Dirk fiercely guards his heart from being hurt again. But it may be that his visitors will bring light back into his world and unlock the secret to true healing. (Historical Romance from Revell/Baker Publishing)

Speculative Fiction:

Celestial by Hannah Mae -- For millenniums, angels like Captain Jediah had waged war against their former brethren: the demons. As Keeper of the Abyss, it's his duty to ensure Appolyon's army remains imprisoned until the end of the age. Unfortunately, despite all that God had entrusted him with, Jediah is plagued by an unceasing guilt. It drives him to thirst for Christ's redemptive power, but there's one glaring problem. He's not human. God's gift of salvation is meant for mankind alone. When God appoints him to lead a task force of five wildly different angels to capture two dangerous demons, Jediah ponders if his return to earth might be his only chance to learn what the core of human salvation truly is. however, one of Jediah’s angels hides a secret agenda, and Jediah’s dark past is hellbent on hunting him down too. Can Jediah risk everything for the relief he's desperate for? Or should he even bother chasing what he cannot have at all? What does living redeemed mean? (Speculative Fiction, Independently Published)

This Dreamer by Sara Watterson -- When Evie, an immortal Watcher turned reluctant assassin, finds herself captivated by her intended target, Adan the Dreamer, is it worth the cost to prevent his untimely end? Evie grows restless observing mortals from the safety of her desk in the Control Room. When the promotion for the only job she’s ever wanted—Guardian among humans in Sector Five—is canceled, a friend offers to smuggle her by portal into a booming metropolis called Shura. Evie jumps at the chance to see the world with mortal eyes. Secretly, though, she also hopes to observe Adan, a human Dreamer, in his natural habitat. Only a glimpse, she promises herself. All seems well until she returns to the Control Room, where she has landed in a heap of trouble. Not only did she take an unsanctioned trip to the ground, but the boy, the Dreamer, is missing. And all blame is placed squarely at Evie’s feet. This Dreamer is a clean fantasy romance adventure inspired by Joseph and the coat of many colors. (Speculative Fiction, Independently Published)

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

Brides of Seattle by Kimberly Rose Johnson, Three strong women discover love where they least expect it. (Contemporary Romance)

Magi Journey: Babylonia by Terry Phillip Garner, Magi Journey – Babylonia – continues the sweeping saga as the Magi continue their journey from Assyria in 734 BC to Bethlehem in the year -0-. (General Historical)

Puppy Ciao: Novel Companion and Study Guide by Annette Ohare, An All in One Devotional and Inspirational Novel Study Guide. (Children’s)

Saving Grace by Candee Fick, Not all heroes wear a uniform. (Contemporary Romance)

The Bookseller’s Promise by Beth Wiseman, The book leads the trio deep into mysterious questions about life and death, love and loss, and the impenetrable purposes of God. (General Contemporary)

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Carolyn Miller

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Carolyn Miller!

Linda: Welcome to my blog! Congratulations on your upcoming release, Midnight’s Budding Morrow. An intriguing title - where did you get the inspiration for your story? 

Carolyn: Thanks so much for having me, Linda! The title for Midnight’s Budding Morrow came about as I am a fan of John Keats and enjoyed his poem ‘To Homer’ which includes this phrase. The three titles in the Regency Wallflowers series are all based on lines from this poem. For Midnight’s Budding Morrow I wanted to create a more Gothic Regency story, and this book explores some of the challenges of mental health, and how even in the depths of pain there is hope that is available. We might be suffering our midnight, but God promises that joy comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5) 

LM: What draws you to the Regency time period? Is there some aspect of the era that most readers don’t know about? 

Carolyn: I’ve enjoyed how the Regency era holds an almost mythical fantasy element, where we, as modern readers, ascribe all kinds of romantic notions of chivalry and gentlemanly behavior (thanks, Mr. Darcy) to a time period where people were much like us, but just wore prettier clothes and had to hide the truth behind politeness. And while I like creating stories about lords and ladies, in this new series I’ve enjoyed using more regular people and exploring some of the more challenging issues of the time, like how ailing soldiers managed life after war, financial issues, even laudanum addiction. I think readers can underestimate just how much the world was changing in the early 1800s, through war, medical and technological advances, political and social upheaval, and exploration of the world. There are many fascinating aspects to write about in this era. 

LM: What sort of research did you have to do to ensure accuracy in this story? 

Photo: Pixabay/
Jonathan Cannon
Carolyn: One of the most fascinating resources I used was Letters from Flushing by ‘An Officer of the 81st Regiment’ (1809), with eye-opening details about the sickness that decimated England’s army in the Netherlands, and which I’ve referenced in James’s account of his time in this part of the Dutch coast. As this book is set in a Northumberland castle by the sea I also used a booklet titled The Romance of Northumberland by Arthur Granville Bradley (1908). I love using real-life accounts and blending them with fiction. 

LM: You’ve also written some contemporary novels. How was that different than penning historical fiction? The same? 

Carolyn: The first books I ever wrote were contemporaries, and my new Original Six series is using (much rewritten and edited!) versions of some of my first stories, such as Love on Ice and Muskoka Blue. I love writing contemporary, these books are fun and funny yet still woven with faith threads, and the research is not nearly as demanding (ie I don’t have to research whether words were in use at the time!). I’ve found switching between the two genres works as a kind of mental palate cleanser and can see things more clearly in the Regency world after spending time with my hockey players and their sassy, strong heroines. 

LM: What writers have most influenced your career?

Carolyn: It’s probably no surprise that I’m a fan of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer (my first Regency, The Elusive Miss Ellison, came about as a challenge to blend Austen and Heyer’s wit and social observations with a strong faith component). Other authors I’ve been inspired by include Susan May Warren, Becky Wade and Carrie Turansky. 

LM: What other projects are on the docket for you? 

Carolyn: So many! This year I have another two books releasing in the Original Six series (Big Apple Atonement and Muskoka Blue), then there are another two books in the Independence Islands series (Rebuilding Hope and Refining Josie), then next year I have an Australian gold rush story releasing as part of a Barbour novella collection titled ‘Across the Shores.’ Plus I have some more hockey stories, the last Wallflowers book (Dawn’s Untrodden Green) and maybe a rom-com as well. Life is pretty busy! 

LM: Where can folks find you on the web? 

Carolyn: I’d love people to visit my website and sign up for my newsletter at I also post regularly at my author page on Facebook: And Instagram

About Midnight's Budding Morrow:

Can real love grow between a wallflower and an unrepentant rogue? 

Sarah Drayton is eager to spend time with her best friend at her crumbling Northumberland castle estate. Matrimony is the last thing on her mind and the last thing she expects to be faced with on a holiday. Yet she finds herself being inveigled into a marriage of convenience with her friend’s rakish brother. 

When James Langley returns to his family’s estate, he can’t be bothered to pay attention to his responsibilities as the heir. War is raging and he wants only distraction, not serious tethers. But his roguish ways have backed him into a corner, and he has little choice but to obey his father’s stunning decree: marry before returning to war, or else. Suddenly he finds himself wedded to a clever and capable woman he does not love. 

Sarah craves love and a place to belong, neither of which James offered before returning to the battlefront. Now, everyone around her thinks she married above her station, and they have no intention of rewarding her for such impertinence. It isn’t until her husband returns from war seemingly changed that she begins to hope they may find real happiness. But can she trust that this rake has truly reformed? 

When tragedy strikes, this pair must learn to trust God and His plans. Will they be destroyed...or will they discover that even in the darkest depths of night, the morning still holds hope?

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Traveling Tuesday: Travel During WWII

Traveling Tuesday: Travel During WWII 

Photo: Pixabay/
Rene Rauschenberger
Until March 2020, when that-which-shall-not-be-named occurred, most people traveled without a second thought. For the most part, airfare and gasoline were affordable, so folks took regular vacations to visit family or simply get away, perhaps going somewhere they’d never been or return to a favorite location. Then lockdown happened, and travel came to a screeching halt. Now allowed with certain mandates and policies attached, trips are no longer the easy excursions they once were. 

Perhaps this has given us some appreciation for travel (and the severe shortage thereof) during World War II. 

Passenger air service continued during the war, but was primarily used for the war effort: either troop transport or civilian travel on defense industry business. The commercial airlines were pressed into military service, so they only way you could travel by air was to receive permission by the military or federal government. The naval situation was much the same with oceanic travel only done by the military (to say nothing of the danger of taking a ship across enemy-filled waters.) 

Photo: Pixabay/
Siggy Nowak
Train travel was available to civilians, but crowded with military personnel who took priority, so it was often difficult to get a seat. There was large-scale migration to industrial centers as people took jobs in the defense industry, and many women followed their husbands to military camp. 

Travel by car was limited by gasoline rationing, so people carpooled or took public transportation (buses or local trains) which again were severely overcrowded. However, drivers who used their cars for work deemed essential for the war effort were classified differently and received additional stamps. Others were limited as follows: 
  • Class A: Three gallons per week 
  • Class B (factory workers, traveling salesmen): Eight gallons per week 
  • Class C (essential war workers, police, doctors, letter carriers) 
  • Class D: Motorcycles 
  • Class T: Truckers 
  • Class X: Politicians and other “important people”
Photo: Pixabay/Cindy Jones
Coupled with the long hours that people worked (often six days a week doing defense work) they generally limited vacation and long-distance travel. In an interesting aside, major league baseball was incredibly popular, and a special letter from President Roosevelt, known as the “Green Light Letter,” approved continuation of the sport, but a directive from the Office of Defense Transportation ordered that all spring training take place north of the Potomac River and east of the Mississippi River to cut down on travel. 

Do you still take travel for granted or has that changed? 


Spies & Sweethearts

She wants to do her part. He’s just trying to stay out of the stockade. Will two agents deep behind enemy lines find capture… or love? 

1942. Emily Strealer is tired of being told what she can’t do. Wanting to prove herself to her older sisters and do her part for the war effort, the high school French teacher joins the OSS and trains to become a covert operative. And when she completes her training, she finds herself parachuting into occupied France with her instructor to send radio signals to the Resistance. 

Major Gerard Lucas has always been a rogue. Transferring to the so-called “Office of Dirty Tricks” to escape a court-martial, he poses as a husband to one of his trainees on a dangerous secret mission. But when their cover is blown after only three weeks, he has to flee with the young schoolteacher to avoid Nazi arrest. 

Running for their lives, Emily clings to her mentor’s military experience during the harrowing three-hundred-mile trek to neutral Switzerland. And while Gerard can’t bear the thought of his partner falling into German hands, their forged papers might not be enough to get them over the border. Can the fugitive pair receive God’s grace to elude the SS and discover the future He intended?

Friday, April 22, 2022

Fiction Friday: The Leavenworth Case

Fiction Friday: The Leavenworth Case 

Set in Baltimore, Maryland and Gunnison, Colorado, Ellie’s Escape takes place during 1878. Part of my research is to read catalogs, magazines, and books from the time period. One of the novels that Ellie could have read was The Leavenworth Case by Anna Katherine Green. 

Green was a poet and a novelist, and is credited with being one of the first writers of detective fiction. Her books are known to be well-plotted and legally accurate. She is often referred to as the “mother of the detective novel,” and Agatha Christie indicated in her autobiography that Green influenced her writing. 

The novel was published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons and weighed in at 475 pages. It became an immediate bestseller in America and Europe and shot Green to fame. Popular with both men and women, the book was also read by people of all ages. The author’s New York Times obituary stated that The Leavenworth Case was her most famous novel. Unfortunately her work has fallen into obscurity. 

A wealthy retired merchant, Horatio Leavenworth, is shot and killed in his library (shades of Clue, anyone?) Investigator Ebenezer Gryce (who would go on to star in future novels) and lawyer Everett Raymond look into the case and determined that no one could have left the house prior to the discovery of the body, creating what is known as a closed-room mystery. 

By using her knowledge of the criminal and legal industries, Green created a book that was technically accurate and included realistic procedural details. A coroner’s inquest, expert testimony, scientific ballistic evidence, a schematic drawing, and reconstructed letter hearken to future police procedural mysteries. The first “suspicious butler” also plays a role. 

The format includes a narrator who assists the detective, newspaper accounts of the case, wills and a large inheritance, a second murder, and a final confrontation which are aspects that would become standard elements in later detective fiction. Are you familiar with any of Anna Katherine Green’s novels? 


Ellie’s Escape 

She’s running for her life. He needs a trophy wife. They didn’t count on falling in love. 

Ellie Wagner is fine being a spinster school teacher. Then she witnesses a bank hold up and can identify the bandits. Fellow robbery victim Milly Crenshaw happens to run the Westward Home & Hearts Matrimonial Agency so she arranges for Ellie to head West as a mail-order bride. But her groom only wants a business arrangement. Can she survive a loveless marriage? 

Banker Julian Sheffield is more comfortable with numbers than with people, but he’s done well for himself. Then the bank president tells him that in order to advance further he must marry in six weeks’ time. The candid, unsophisticated woman sent by the agency is nothing like he expected, but time is running out. When her past comes calling, does he have what it takes to ensure their future?

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Marie Sontag!

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Marie Sontag!

LM: Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your most recent release Yosemite Trail Discovered. What was your inspiration for the story? 

Marie: As a resident of California for over 58 years, I never heard the story of how non-Native Americans first entered Yosemite. The more I researched, the more I realized this "'clash of cultures" story needed to be told. 

LM: You had a full career as a middle-school teacher. Was it a natural progression to become an author of YA fiction? What can you tell us about your journey to publication? 

Marie: I always had a hard time going to sleep at night, and as a little girl, I’d make up stories in my head to pass the time. I started writing them down in junior high, but never thought of writing as a career. While teaching social studies and language arts in middle school, I couldn’t find adventurous historical fiction to help my students relate to the time periods we studied in class, so I began to create and share them with my students. When publishers bought the books, it moved me into a fun and challenging career as I retired from teaching. 

LM: What is your favorite aspect of writing? 

Marie: My favorite aspect of writing is sharing the adventurous stories in my head with young readers and getting them excited about history. 

LM: What do you do to prepare for writing? 

Marie: Since I write historical fiction, I do a lot of research. I also visit places I write about, if possible. I continually attend writer’s conferences and read books about writing to improve my craft. 

Photo: Pixabay/David Mark
LM: Yosemite Trail Discovered is part of a series. Did you intend to create a series when you wrote the first book California Trail Discovered? Are there more books coming? 

Marie: I initially envisioned the Whitcomb Discovery Series as only one book, but as I wrote it, I saw it would be too long, so I made it into two books. In the first book, the main character, Daniel, is thirteen. In book two, almost three years have elapsed and Daniel finds himself in the California gold fields. Book one is for middle grade readers, while book two is more for young adult readers. Friendships Daniel has in book one blossom into romance in book two. At this point, I only envision this as a two-book series. 

LM: You’ve accomplished quite a lot. What is one thing you wish you could do? 

Marie: I wish I was still young enough to teach in the classroom, but time moves on! I am so thankful for the young, dedicated teachers who give their all for today’s students. 

LM: What is your next project? 

Photo: Pixabay/Sasin Tipchai
Marie: I’m finalizing edits for a book coming out in August 2022, Underground Scouts. This YA historical novel tells the story of six teen Boy Scouts and Girl Guides who joined forces with the Polish underground army in 1944 to oust the Germans from Warsaw during WWII. In the future, I hope to write a book about a Spanish character who later became a Mexican citizen, then joined forces with the Texans when they fought for independence from Mexico. My research question I hope to answer is, “Why did this character (Lorenzo de Zavala, first vice-president of the Republic of Texas) change his allegiance from one country to another within a span of sixteen years, all before the age of thirty-six? 

LM: Where can folks find you on the web? 

Marie: I love connecting with readers. Here are some of my social media links: 
Google Scholar:

About Yosemite Trail Discovered

Join sixteen-year-old Daniel Whitcomb as he juggles a growing relationship with Virginia Reed, one of the survivors of the Donner Party, helps his Miwok friend learn how to read and write, and manages the account ledgers for his guardian, Jim Savage at his trading posts in the California gold fields. Is Jim correct when he says, You can't possess what you can't protect? Does that justify fighting the Yosemites after they attack Jim's posts, or the Mariposa Battalion's entrance into Yosemite to rout out the Ahwahneechee? And will Daniel ever make it back to Illinois to solve the mystery of his parents' deaths?