Friday, February 3, 2023

Fiction Friday: New Releases in Christian Fiction

February 2023 New Releases

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

Amish Romance:

Every Good Gift by Kelly S. Irvin -- Maisy never expected that a Plain girl like her could have her heart stolen by an Englisch boy. But when her rumspringa ends and Maisy realizes she’s pregnant, the reality of their choices—and their differences—sets in. Maisy knows she will never leave her faith to marry her baby's father. But she also knows the road to acceptance as an unwed mother in an Amish community will be long and hard. To protect her family from the scandal, she goes to live with her cousin in Haven, Kansas, where she will have some solitude to figure out what kind of future she might have. In Haven Maisy begins to find her way—thanks in no small part to Joshua Lapp, a Plain man who’s made it clear he isn’t bothered by her situation or ashamed to be seen with her, despite the bishop’s warnings. But Joshua has struggled with his faith ever since the death of his twin brother, leaving Maisy to wonder: How can two people who are so lost ever help each other discover Gott’s plans for their future? (Amish Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Contemporary Romance:

Dial V for Valentine by Linda Shenton Matchett -- Being part of the military is not just a job for Fergus Rafferty, it’s a calling. He’s worked his way up the ranks and doing what he loves best: flying Apache helicopters. The only thing that will make his life complete is marrying Celeste. After he transfers to a unit scheduled to deploy in three months, he’s thrilled at the idea of marrying before he leaves so they can start their new life. Except Celeste wants to wait until he returns. Can he convince her to wed before he leaves? Celeste Hardwicke has just opened her law practice when she finally accepts Fergus’s marriage proposal. Not to worry. She has plenty of time to set a date, then plan the wedding. Until she doesn’t. But a quickie wedding isn’t what she has in mind. Besides, why get married when the groom will ship out after the ceremony? When she stumbles on her great-grandmother’s diary from World War II, she discovers the two of them share the same predicament. At an impasse, Celeste and Fergus agree to call into WDES’s program No Errin’ for Love. Will DJ Erin Orberg’s advice solve their dilemma or create a bigger divide? One they’ll both regret. (Contemporary Romance from Shortwave Press)

Love Delivered by Amy Anguish, et. al. -- Romance at Register Five (Amy R Anguish) - Mack McDonald isn't happy about the Grocerease app coming to his grocery store. But he's committed to the sixty-day trial period, and braces himself to lose money. Kaitlyn Daniels loves how the Grocerease app helps her make ends meet so she can assist her mom, the reason she moved to small Sassafras, AR. Mack and Kaitlyn struggle to overcome differing opinions on the perks of the app. But if they don't, it could keep them from something even better. Where Love is Planted (Sarah Anne Crouch) - Ivy Aaronson is surrounded by family at their flower shop in West Texas-just the way she likes it. But she's given up hope on ever finding a man who understands her choices. When attorney Grant Keller orders flowers for his mother, Ivy wonders if maybe there are indeed some considerate men left in the world until she learns Grant's relationship with his parents is less than ideal. How can Ivy ever find love when every man she meets puts career over family? Sweet Delivery (Heather Greer) - After winning Cake That!, Will Forrester thinks his Pastry Perfect baking dreams have come true. The sweetness fades when a chain bakery moves to town, and Will must adjust his plans to keep his customers. Hiring Erica Gerard is one of those changes. As they work together, Erica challenges Will and offers new ideas to improve the bakery. Soon, Erica and Will start bringing out the best in each other. But Erica harbors a secret, and if it's discovered, Will might never be the same. The Mermaids, the Ex and USSS (Rachel Herod) - Braig Sanborn is the most loyal employee the United States Shipping Service has ever seen, which is why he agreed to transfer across the country with only a few weeks' notice. Ella Morrison is so busy planning a friend's wedding, she didn't expect to fall for the carrier who delivers packages to her house. When they both find themselves in too deep, will they agree the relationship was doomed from the start? (Contemporary Romance from Scrivenings Press)

Muskoka Hearts by Carolyn Miller -- Toni Wakefield may be a talented artist, but past choices means this single mother never feels the equal of those around her—especially her brother’s best friend, investment funds manager Matt. Matt long ago fell in love with his best friend’s younger sister, and try as he might, he just can’t fall out of it. And between his crazy working hours and the fact she's now settled two hours away in beautiful Muskoka it seems they never have any time together. How can he persuade her to consider to give him a chance, when she’s sworn the only man she can care about is her baby boy? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)


Never Find Another You
by Narelle Atkins -- Hannah Gilbertson has deep roots in her small East Washington home town, including a lake named after her family. Sporty and hard-working, she loves running the rowing club and supporting the town’s water recreation tourism. She’s determined to avoid dating and becoming entangled in her mother’s matchmaking schemes, and she wants to prove to her successful father that she’s worthy of carrying on his legacy. Joel Manning left behind his life in Sydney, Australia, and a broken heart, to start over in Trinity Lakes. A tiler by trade, he’s embarking on a year-long working vacation adventure, and he’s not looking for love. The handsome Aussie captures Hannah’s interest when she hires him to do repair work at her rowing club. Joel is drawn to the beautiful American, and values spending time with her. Their shared faith and love for kayaking lays the foundation for their friendship to become something more. A shocking secret combined with family upheaval leads to more questions than answers, and threatens to push Joel and Hannah apart to faraway shores. Can their love overcome the miles between them? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

General Contemporary:

Songs for a Sunday by Heather Norman Smith -- Two sets of sisters, generations apart―can one big sister’s sacrifice teach the other about love and forgiveness? 1963: Twenty-year-old Annie dreams of managing the dance studio where she has trained since childhood and of marrying her high-society boyfriend. But when her younger sister with special needs gets pregnant, Annie is forced to set her dreams aside for the sake of family. Present Day: Missy Robbins has always lived in her younger sister’s shadow. When given the opportunity, Missy steps out of her comfort zone as stay-at-home mom of four to prove she’s as good a singer as Erica. Missy’s new pursuit puts her on a path to self-discovery and reclaiming her discarded faith. Until she discovers her grandmother has a sixty-year-old secret. Will Missy conceal Grandma Annie’s deception or will she be forced to reveal the hidden truth. (General Contemporary from Iron Stream Fiction)

Historical Romance:

A Not So Persistent Suitor by Sandra Merville Hart -- He’s fighting for his career…She’s bent on achieving her own goals…Will their love survive a second chance at happily ever after? Cora Welch dreams of a future teaching kindergarten, which is in its infancy, and marriage to Ben Findlay, her beau and her twin brother’s best friend. But she returns to college from summer break to learn of Ben’s unwise choices in pursuit of his career—choices that destroy her trust in the man she thought she knew and loved. Ben is working hard toward his dream to become the best reporter in the city. He’s no stranger to fighting for a goal against all odds, ever since he was orphaned at age thirteen. Even though Cora has captured his heart, he makes the mistake of escorting the boss’s daughter to a fancy banquet to further his career—with far-reaching repercussions. Now he’s hurt Cora and botched his career goals. Winning Cora’s trust again proves harder than Ben expects, especially as they both face struggles of their own. When events spiral out of their control, catapulting them into hardship and even danger, only God can restore their dreams—though the outcome may look far different than either of them planned. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)

Conterfeit Hope by Crystal Caudill -- When Secret Service operative Andrew Darlington is brought in to support a US Marshal case involving counterfeiters in rural Indiana, he thinks it's simply the next rung on his climb to the top of his career. But liars can only climb so high--and Andrew is keeping a dangerous secret he doesn't ever want to get out. When he clashes with the criminal family that took over the town of Landkreis and killed the Marshal he was sent to assist, his past life is in danger of being exposed. Widow "Lightning Lu" Thorne has only one goal: escape the clutches of the Thorne family with her son. Her decision to be an informant and testify against the Thornes looked like the perfect answer. Until the Marshal ended up dead. Now the tether keeping her tied to her felonious family is tightening, and a forced marriage to someone else in the Thornes' clutches threatens to kill any hope of escape. Andrew and Lu find themselves on the same team--unwillingly. They each believe the other to be the enemy to their future plans. And even if they could learn to work together, the secrets they hold could shatter all hopes and dreams. Despite the encouragement of the local preacher, they're not even sure God can be trusted--much less other humans. Can either of them escape their past--and the family that is willing to kill their own when they smell betrayal? (Historical Romance from Kregel Publications)

The Cairo Curse by Pepper D. Basham -- Clue meets Indiana Jones with a fiction-loving twist only Grace Percy can provide. Newlyweds Lord and Lady Astley have already experienced their fair-share of suspense within their young marriage, but nothing quite prepares them for Egypt. As a gift to his bride, Frederick takes their honeymoon on a detour to the land of Pharaohs where Frederick's cousins are involved in an archaeological expedition. But soon the trip turns more dangerous than even Grace with her fiction-loving mind could predict. From an assortment of untrustworthy adventure-seekers to a series of “suspicious deaths” to a newly discovered tomb with a murderous secret, Frederick and Grace must lean on each other to navigate their hazardous surroundings and even less predictable cast of characters. As the suspects mount in an antiquities’ heist of novel-worthy proportions, will Frederick and Grace’s attempts to solve the mystery lead to another death among the sands? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)


The Sound of Light by Sarah Sundin -- When the Germans march into Denmark, Baron Henrik Ahlefeldt exchanges his nobility for anonymity, assuming a new identity so he can secretly row messages for the Danish Resistance across the waters to Sweden. American physicist Dr. Else Jensen refuses to leave Copenhagen and abandon her research—her life’s dream—and makes a dangerous decision to print resistance newspapers. As Else hears rumors of the movement’s legendary Havmand—the merman—she also becomes intrigued by the mysterious and silent shipyard worker living in the same boardinghouse. Henrik makes every effort to conceal his noble upbringing, but he is torn between the façade he must maintain and the woman he is beginning to fall in love with. When the Occupation cracks down on the Danes, these two passionate people will discover if there is more power in speech . . . or in silence. (Historical Romance from Revell)

Thriller/Suspense:

Kill Shot by Angela L. Gold -- After Rory Rydell invites the world to accept Jesus as Savior while levitating above her execution platform, she is the natural choice to serve as one of the co-presidents of the new nation created by God’s miraculous defeat of the United World Order. But then the Kingdom Advisory Council selects Dawson Fortis—her former jailer under the Order—to serve beside her as co-president. Will the two be able to put their complicated past behind them and serve the needs of the country? Or will the council meetings descend into endless arguments? Although crippled, the Order in the Eastern and Central zones has survived. The Order’s supreme commanders are hotter than a solar flare over their defeat in the Western zone. They see Rory and the new nation as a threat to their very existence … one that must be eliminated. Rory trusts God for protection, even though she understands she is a target and is acutely aware that many of God’s devoted followers have been martyred over the ages, even Jesus. But she has made her choice—serving God is the one thing important enough to risk her life for. The question is, what will it ultimately cost her? (Thriller/Suspense, Independently Published)

Thriller/Suspense/Psychological:


A Cry in the Dark by Jessica R. Patch -- Led to an isolated Appalachian Mountain town by a trail of disturbing murders, FBI special agent Violet Rainwater’s determined to catch a serial killer with a twisted agenda. With locals refusing to reveal their secrets, Violet’s only ally is Detective John Orlando. But even John has an ulterior motive—he’s convinced this case is connected to his wife’s murder. As they dig deeper, Violet uncovers a link to her own unresolved past. For years she’s worked the cold case of her mother’s abduction, which had led to her birth. The need to look into the eyes of the sinful man who fathered her consumes Violet. Until she can, she’ll never have peace. Because she’s terrified she might be exactly like him. In this chilling novel, when the present collides with Violet’s mysterious past and John’s tragic loss, they must unravel the warped, sinuous connections before the killer strikes again. But solving the case might not be nearly as terrifying as the possibility that Violet’s finally found her roots… (Thriller/Suspense/Psychological from Love Inspired/Harlequin)

Thriller/Suspense/Romance:

Alaskan Avalanche Escape by Darlene L. Turner -- After surviving a sudden avalanche, mountain survival expert Jayla Hoyt and her search-and-rescue K-9 discover that it was no accident—someone deliberately triggered the mountain explosion. To uncover the culprit, she’ll have to partner with Alaska park ranger Bryson Clarke, a man she doesn’t trust. But when the investigators become targets, can they capture the criminal mastermind…before they’re buried alive? (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Love Inspired/Harlequin)


Cold Light of Day by Elizabeth Goddard -- Police Chief Autumn Long is fighting to keep her job in the quiet Alaska town of Shadow Gap when an unexpected string of criminal activity leaves her with a wounded officer, unexplained murders, and even an attack on her own father. Despite her mistrust of outsiders, she turns to Grier Brenner, a newcomer who seems to have the skills and training Autumn needs to face this threat to her community. Grier is in Alaska for the same reason so many others are–to disappear–when Chief Long enlists his help. He emerges from the shadows and proves his mettle, but his presence in her life could be a deadly trap for them both. If his secret is exposed, all will be lost. And he’s not sure even Autumn could save him. As the stakes rise and the dangers increase, Autumn and Grier must rely on each other to extinguish the deadly threats. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Revell)

Courage in the Shadows by Robin Patchen -- Ever since she and thirteen other models were kidnapped years before, Summer Lake has fought to ensure that she can protect herself. But when her job as a bodyguard brings her into contact with a man she believes masterminded her kidnapping, her first urge is to run, terrified of being taken again. Instead, she follows the stranger, determined to bring him to justice. Bodyguard Grant Wright fell in love with Summer the instant he saw her, a fierce protector standing in front of the other endangered young women he'd come to rescue. Years later, Summer still sees him as barely more than a coworker. Grant bides his time, sticking close in an effort to keep her safe and hoping she'll eventually open her heart to him. When her life is threatened, he's not about to allow her to fight her enemies alone. He'll stay by her side whether she wants him or not. But Summer and Grant have an enemy whose global smuggling organization is so powerful, so pervasive, that it'll be a miracle if either of them emerges from this battle alive. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance, Independently Published)


Every Flower of the Field by Sara Davison -- Safe is the most dangerous feeling of all. For as long as she can remember, Rose Galway has been a captive, controlled by one man or another. To her, though, God is the one holding the keys, refusing to set her free despite the desperate pleas she has sent heavenward. Detective Laken Jones has known hardship too, including the daily trauma of racism. Still, nothing he has gone through compares to what Rose has endured. He wants nothing more than for her to experience hope and healing and maybe even happiness in her life. But first he has to find her. Laken is willing to risk everything to set Rose free. And to help her find her way to God. Even if that means letting go of her—and the future he envisions for the two of them—forever. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance, Independently Published)

Perilous Security Detail by Elizabeth Goddard -- With threats on all sides…Secrets can prove deadly. Narrowly surviving an intentional hit-and-run, Sawyer Blackwood hires his unexpected rescuer to guard his niece. Bodyguard Everly Honor will do anything to protect a child, even if it means working with her ex. But, as attacks escalate, how can she accomplish her mission to keep them safe when Sawyer is keeping secrets from her…and she’s concealing the truth about her own past? (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Love Inspired/Harlequin)

Western Romance:


Forged in Love by Mary Connealy -- When sparks begin to fly, can a friendship cast in iron be shaped into something more? Mariah Stover is left for dead and with no memory when the Deadeye Gang robs the stagecoach she's riding in, killing both her father and brother. As she takes over her father's blacksmith shop and tries to move forward, she soon finds herself in jeopardy and wondering--does someone know she witnessed the robbery and is still alive? Handsome and polished Clint Roberts escaped to western Wyoming, leaving his painful memories behind. Hoping for a fresh start, he opens a diner where he creates fine dishes, but is met with harsh resistance from the townsfolk, who prefer to stick to their old ways. Clint and Mariah are drawn together by the trials they face in town, and Clint is determined to protect Mariah at all costs when danger descends upon her home. As threats pursue them from every side, will they survive to build a life forged in love?. (Western Romance from Bethany House (Baker)br>
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

 
 
A Future and a HopeCaroline Susan Powers, How will they handle their unwanted attraction in circumstances they don’t control? (Contemporary Romance)

 
 
Ambush in AlaskaDarlene L. Turner, Can they rescue the other abducted children and bring down the gang…all while protecting a little boy and keeping themselves alive? (Thriller/Suspense/Romance)

 
 
FalloutCarrie Stuart Parks, Her carefully crafted life is about to be demolished. (Thriller/Suspense/Crime)

 
 
Rescuing RoseSusan Pope Sloan , Only their strong faith can help them find love in the midst of war. (General Historical)

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Denise Weimer!

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Denise Weimer!


I love Denise Weimer's books so I was thrilled when she signed up to talk about her latest release, A Winter at White Queen. Grab a "cuppa" and read on to learn more about her inspiration and writing journey.

What was your inspiration for the story?

A Winter at the White Queen was originally intended to become part of a collection that did not move forward. In the way that God has of not wasting anything, after it sat a while, it was selected to become novella #1 in Romance at the Gilded Age Resorts Series with Wild Heart Books. A different story will release every few months, written by a different author and set at a unique location in the United States. Please, hop on board our tour of Gilded Age resorts and enjoy the ride!

What sort of research did you do for your story, and was there an exceptionally interesting tidbit you knew you had to include?

Research included lots of online and book reading about the fashions and customs of the Gilded Age, tycoons and trendsetters of the time, and the Florida resorts created by Henry Plant. I also got to tour the boutique hotel that remains which was part of the Hotel Belleview, nicknamed “the White Queen on the Gulf”: https://www.opalcollection.com/belleview-inn/  The inventions that were part of the “Age of Wonder,” as I like to dub this time period, played a big part in White Queen, from the humorous to the fantastical.

Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym? Why or why not?

I have, indeed! “Weimer” is a difficult last name to pronounce. You can’t imagine all the things I have been called, especially living in the South with a last name more common in the North…and originally from Germany. However, I ruled it out because I decided it would make publicity and taxes more complicated.

How do you come up with storylines?

I tend to look for something in real history to spur an idea or dictate a storyline. This could involve a
Henry B. Plant
WikiImages
unique setting, such as was true for White Queen, or a little-known event. From there, I imagine how that place or event would have impacted the people involved. The most unique things that happen in my stories are often true-to-life.

Why do you write in your particular genre?

My parents were avid history lovers, and as a child, we traveled to historic locations. My active imagination kicked in, and before long, I was writing stories in spiral-bound notebooks. I absolutely love the notion of bringing history alive with all five senses and making the reader feel as though they have been transported to another time. What is your process for writing? (do you outline, have a special place or time of day you write, etc.) What is your favorite part of the process? For my historicals, I always start with research. I’ll plug maps and photos into a timeline of facts. Usually, online research leads to ordering books which leads to a research trip. Seeing a location in person if I haven’t been there before is so vital to accurately depicting things like the lay of the land, the flora and fauna, and the social customs of a region. I weave my fictional story among the framework of that timeline.

I work in my home office where it’s quiet (or with low music on, often from the time period), and I try to write in the mornings when I’m the most fresh and creative. My favorite part of the process is when the research has percolated in my head enough to produce a scene that just flows organically.

How does/did your job prepare you for being a novelist?

Pixabay/Dariusz Sankowski
For many years, my main job was staying home with my girls. Gradually, I added in my writing and then was trained as an editor. I’ve worked in both a freelance capacity and for smaller publishing houses. That experience has definitely honed my writing, enabling me to know how I want to put things and to do so more accurately the first time around. A neat sideline…when I was growing up, I convinced my parents to take me to re-enactments and living history events to help inspire my writing. As a young adult, I led a vintage dance group for quite some time. Now, I often combine my book promotion with historical events. Sometimes, I get to do so in historical costume. It’s neat how God worked everything together, including my hobbies.

What is your next project?

I’m currently working on the Scouts of the Georgia Frontier Series for Wild Heart Books. Book One, A Counterfeit Betrothal, will release this September. This series features fictional scouts or Georgia Rangers who patrolled the boundaries of my home state starting in 1814 and moving back to 1765. I find myself drawn to the bravery and fortitude of the early settlers in America, and I love to unearth unique history set in and around Georgia. My backcountry heroes and heroines will face espionage, attacks by Cherokees and British Loyalists, challenges from nature, and, of course, heart-stopping romance.

About A Winter at the White Queen: 

In the world of the wealthy, things are never quite as they appear.


Ellie Hastings is tired of playing social gatekeeper—and poor-relation companion—to her Gibson Girl of a cousin. But her aunt insists Ellie lift her nose out of her detective novel long enough to help gauge the eligibility of bachelors during the winter social season at Florida’s Hotel Belleview. She finds plenty that’s mysterious about the suave, aloof Philadelphia inventor, Lewis Thornton. Why does he keep sneaking around the hotel? Does he have a secret sweetheart? And what is his connection to the evasive Mr. Gaspachi, slated to perform at Washington’s Birthday Ball?

Ellie’s comical sleuthing ought to put Lewis out, but the diffident way her family treats her smashes a hole in his normal reserve. When Florence Hastings’s diamond necklace goes missing, Ellie’s keen mind threatens to uncover not only Lewis’s secrets, but give him back hope for love.

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/3YhFHjd

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back, Lorri Dudley!

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back, Lorri Dudley

What was your inspiration for the story?

The Heir’s Predicament is the last installment of the Leeward Island Series, and I had so many readers who loved the feral little girl character from The Captain’s Quest that I wrote Maggie’s story. It was fun to ponder how a child who survived alone on an island would act after being molded into proper English society and the added change of returning to the Leeward Islands as an adult to trace her roots.

How do you develop your characters? (e.g. decide on their vocation, names, etc.)?

When I plot my books and develop my characters, I start with the inciting incident and then figure out their motivations, fears, strengths, weaknesses, and personalities. Does walking through that door-of-no-return excite or scare them, and why? What’s holding them back or pressing them forward? Maggie’s motivation is to discover her lineage to determine a life path. In 19th century England, impeccable bloodlines were a requirement for members of the Quality. Although adopted into an upper-crust family, Maggie’s unknown lineage meant her blood could be tainted, leaving her unmarriageable within her class. “Heaven forbid,” Mrs. Trembley states, “Her papa could have been a rat catcher or a slop seller! We’ll not risk tainting the Trembley blood with the likes of her.”

What sort of research did you do for your story, and was there an exceptionally interesting tidbit you knew you had to include?

One fun element about writing the Leeward Island Series was that I could island hop. The Heir’s
Pixabay/Nici Keil
Predicament
is set on the island of Antigua, the largest of the Leeward Islands, which boasts of coastlines with white and pink sand beaches and numerous peninsulas, cays, and bays with crystal blue waters. However, due to the arid climate, the sugar crop waned in Antigua earlier than the other Leeward Islands, which posed an issue for the hero whose return to England was contingent upon him restoring his father’s sugar plantation’s profits. Another interesting tidbit that caused the hero and antihero to butt heads was that Antigua was the first of the Leeward Islands to emancipate all of its slaves, doing so on the earliest date mandated by England.

Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym? Why or why not?

Technically, Lorri Dudley is my nickname, but it’s what I’ve always been called. I was named after my grandmothers, and my real name is Frances Lorraine Dudley. I figured adding one more name as a pseudonym would really confuse me since, as it was, I used to get marked absent on occasion at school for forgetting to raise my hand when the teacher called out, “Frances.”

How are your characters like you? Different?

I sat in on a class where the instructor said that if you told him your favorite movies, he could tell you about your characters and your writing. My top movies are Cinderella, Star Wars Return of the Jedi, and Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark. I figured I’d have him stumped because, really, what do those movies have in common? He certainly showed me. All three have main characters trying to balance two worlds—who they were and who they are becoming. You see this same element in my characters. Maggie must balance her survivalist, scrappy old self with the refined and proper woman she’s tried to become. I’m similar in that I try to balance my introverted self with the extrovert I’ve learned to portray out of necessity from moving as a child and due to my highly extroverted husband. I had to laugh when the instructor pointed out how these aspects work their way into our writing.

If your book is part of a series: Did you set out to write a series? Why did you decide to write a series?

The first book of the Leeward Island Series, The Duke’s Refuge, actually started as part of a different sequence that mostly took place in England. My publisher liked the idea of the tropical setting and pushed me to do a three-book series in the Leeward Islands, and I’m so glad that she did. The first few books sold well, and so my publisher extended my contract to an additional three for a six-book set.

How has your book changed since your first draft?

I rewrote the black moment all the way to the ending of The Heir’s Predicament four different times. In one of the versions I’d written, the end, and then realized I had created the cliché of “The butler did it.” I had Samuel wrongfully arrested and thrown in jail, but that ending seemed too similar to book four. I can’t mention the others because I don’t want to give the book away, but I wrote the current ending while at a marriage retreat with my husband. Inspiration struck in the middle of the night, and to not wake my sleepy hubby, I grabbed my laptop, crawled into a (dry) bathtub, and finished in the wee morning hours.

Why do you write in your particular genre?

I’ve been reading historical romances since the third grade. I’ll never forget my first romance book, titled, Susannah, about a Virginian woman who falls in love with a Union soldier. I was hooked, and it wasn’t long after that I stumbled upon Regency romance and fell in love with the era. The complex societal rules and etiquette make for great conflict and plot lines, but what leaves me all woozy is how a gentleman is taught to respect and protect a lady at all costs.

What is one thing you wish you could do?

It has always been on my bucket list to visit all of the islands named in the Beach Boy’s song "Kokomo." If you’re not familiar with the song, here’s a video with lyrics: Kokomo. I’ve had a good start on my quest, but I might have to write a Windward Island series as an excuse to visit more of the Caribbean.

What is your advice to fledgling writers?

Learning how to be a better writer and getting published takes grit. One must constantly seek feedback, critiques, and criticism. It’s how we improve, but the process can be brutal. At first, I shed a lot of tears, but over time, I’ve learned to shake off the hurt and appreciate different perspectives. I’ve also worked on creatively finding solutions. Writing is much easier when it’s a passion. If no one purchased my books, I would still write. It’s my creative outlet where I get to play pretend as a grown-up. The catharsis I gain from writing has helped me not to give up when in the valleys of the writing/publishing cycle.

What is your next project?

Currently, I’m in the process of writing a four-book Agents of Espionage series that takes place in the Cotswolds of England. I’m enjoying combining Regency romance with secrets, spies, and clandestine surveillance. The first book Revealing the Truth releases this May, and I’ve also been invited to be part of a Wild Heart Books authors novella series that takes place during America’s Gilded age. I’m excited to be researching Newport, RI, and have found the era is similar to a subset of England’s Regency elite.

About The Heir's Predicament

He controls the answers to her past and future, but she threatens his inheritance and his heart.


Maggie Prescott may not know her real name, the circumstances of her birth, or her father’s identity, but based on a song her shipwrecked birthmother taught her before she died, Maggie’s certain the answers lie on the island of Antigua. Unbeknownst to her beloved adopted family, she sends her maid to finishing school in her stead and convinces her uncle, Captain Anthony Middleton, to sail her to the Leeward Islands. Time is of the essence to discover her heritage before the next family gathering exposes her duplicity.

Lord Samuel Fredrick Harcourt Granville was groomed to inherit the Cardon title and lands, but the possession of his father’s temper has put Samuel’s future in jeopardy. After discovering his fiancée cavorting with his so-called friend, the ensuing altercation lands Samuel in court before the House of Lords. As an example for all aristocratic sons to quell their hedonistic living, the House of Lords banishes Samuel to the island of Antigua until he can prove he’s worthy of his privileged birth.

On the island, Samuel works to rein in his temper and revive a dying sugar plantation. Still, his return to England and all his efforts are threatened when a mysterious woman breaks into his island home, claiming to be the true heiress of the sugar plantation. Guilt, resentment, and fresh yearnings sizzle under the island sun as Maggie’s search uncovers a much greater treasure than either of them expected.

Purchase Link: https://books2read.com/u/3R0VKj

For more information about Lorri Dudley and her books go to:

http://www.LorriDudley.com or https://www.wildheartbooks.org/lorri-dudley.html

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Wartime Wednesday: Pillow Talk

Wartime Wednesday: Pillow Talk

Author Photo
Unlike “sweetheart jewelry” that got its start during World War I, the giving of sweetheart pillow covers or shams seems to have started during the War of 1812. In a letter from Private Abner McDonough of Wilmington, Delaware to his mother, he says, “some of us fellows took ahold {sic} of a good idea, Sunday week, which has led us to make special remembrances for our loved ones back home. We was wondering what to do with the sacks the feed for the mules comes in, and they’re {sic} being a lull in the fighting hereabouts and us having some free time for a chance, we got us some needles and colored threads and sewed words of true sentiment, and designs too, on the sacks, then stuffing them with pine needles and sewing up the ends…”

The Civil War also saw soldiers and sailors send home pillow covers, but by the Spanish American War, “Mother” pillows were massed produced by commercial companies and sold on military bases. Some were also sent home from members of the Civilian Conservation Corps. According to one source, “it was America’s entry into World War I that opened the floodgates to the manufacture and sale of Mother pillows.” Statistics from the Federation of American Retailers of Felt Products and Novelties, more than twelve million pillows were sold between 1917 and 1920. World War II would see almost that many sold. One site indicates the cost was approximately $7.00.

Because silk was required in the manufacture of parachutes, the covers were initially made of rayon, a
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fiber generally derived from wood pulp. Eucalyptus trees are the primary source, but bamboo, soy, and cotton may also be used. With the invention of nylon in 1938 by DuPont, many covers from the mid- to end of the war were of this fabric – often touted as helping the Allies win the war.

Rarely used to cover pillows, the shams were often framed and hung on the wall, or stashed in a cedar chest for safekeeping. The majority of the covers denoted the military base, and many included poems or sentiments. Some just indicated Mother, Wife, Sister, or Sweetheart. Scenes and unit or branch insignias were often embedded among ivy or flowers. More often than not, fringe edged the covers.

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The Wright Museum is the proud recipient of a collection of nearly two hundred covers and associated items from author Patricia Cummings, whose book Sweetheart & Mother Pillows: 1917-1945 is considered a landmark study. The covers were featured in the museum’s 2021 exhibit Shaped by Conflict.

Have you ever seen a sweetheart pillow?



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Estelle's Endeavor

Will a world at war destroy a second chance at love?


Estelle Johnson promised to wait for Aubry DeLuca, but then she receives word of his debilitating injuries. Does she have the strength to stand by him in his hour of need?

Aubry DeLuca storms the beaches at Normandy, then wakes up in the hospital, his eyes bandaged. Will he regain his sight? Will the only woman he’s ever loved welcome him home or is he destined to go through life blind and alone?

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/3vf1lbi

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Traveling Tuesday: They Came, They Sawed, They Left

Traveling Tuesday: They Came, They Sawed, They Left

Pixabay/David Mark
Eighty-five years ago, known as the Long Island Express, one of the most destructive storms to strike Long Island, New York and New England caused approximately $306 million ($4.7 billion in 2017 dollars) in damage and property loss and killed 682 people. Starting out near the coast of Africa, it swelled to a Category 5, then hit land as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane (sources differ) rivaling such storms as Hugo, Harvey, Frederic, and Grace. Unfortunately for residents in the hurricane’s path, forecasters weren’t convinced the storm would amount to much more than rain and “heavy winds” so gave no warnings.

New England forests were decimated with more than 2.7 billion board feet falling which created an extreme fire hazard. In addition, without being salvaged the timber would rot and become worthless. Called upon to handle the destruction, the US Forest Service created the Northeastern Timber Salvage Administration. The Administration secured a loan from the Disaster Loan Corporation in the amount of $16,269,300.

Doing no logging itself, the NETSA paid owners after they delivered salvaged material. In an effort to prevent problems in the timber market, the Forest Service established log grades and prices, purchased and stored logs, sawed or contracted for sawing, and channeled the lumber into the market. Employees of the Civilian Conservations Corps and the Works Projects Administration took care of the hazard reduction work.

In the outskirts of Concord, New Hampshire, the Turkey Pond Sawmill was run by the Durant Family.
Pixabay/
Robert Gabriel
Located near much of the forest damage, the sawmill became a storage site for the downed timber – almost twelve million board feet of white pine logs. By now, it was 1941, and labor was difficult to come by as a result of America’s entry into World War II. As a result, the Forest Service did the unthinkable: they opened a sawmill on the northern end of Turkey Pond and hired women to do the work.

And work they did. According to one Forest Service manager, “Snow, rain, or sub-zero weather never slowed them up.” NETSA director John Campbell reported in 1942, “The female mill at Turkey Pond is going along nicely. It’s most surprising and gratifying to see the way those gals take hold of the job. In addition to the jobs we anticipated women could handle, we have found them capable of rolling logs on the deck, running the edger and for ‘show purposes’ even running the head saw.”

The mill operated for two years with a starting wage of $4.00 a day (significant when a waitress made about $1.40 a day and retail clerks earned about $1.80). Also, significant is that the wage was the equivalent of men’s wages.

Pixabay/James DeMers

Florence Drouin Blake was 15 years old when she went to work at Turkey Pond. “For me, it was about being all grown up and working with a bunch of women that were older than I was. They were all good gals. They helped me, and I helped them.” Despite being one of the youngest girls in the group, she had experience. She’d been cutting wood since age thirteen when her father gave her an ax for Christmas.

On November 23, 1943, the last logs were sawed, five years after being delivered.

Think you could have done the work?

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Estelle's Endeavor

Will a world at war destroy a second chance at love?


Estelle Johnson promised to wait for Aubry DeLuca, but then she receives word of his debilitating injuries. Does she have the strength to stand by him in his hour of need?

Aubry DeLuca storms the beaches at Normandy, then wakes up in the hospital, his eyes bandaged. Will he regain his sight? Will the only woman he’s ever loved welcome him home or is he destined to go through life blind and alone?

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/3PW0q95

Friday, January 20, 2023

Fiction Friday: Proxy Brides

 


Fiction Friday: Do I Know You?


Pixabay/Stocksnap
The concept of proxy brides began almost one thousand years ago when marriages among royal and noble families were more about contracts and treaties and maintaining a dynasty than falling in love. As one site put it, the marriages “were designed to cement alliances or provide a balance against regional political problems. Often, the intended bride and groom were not in the same place (or country!). Sometimes, they were too young, and proxies acted on their behalf.

Making these arrangements often happened when the intended couple were children, but also infants or newborns. Twelve was the legal minimum age for marriage, but most proxy weddings didn’t occur until the bride was fourteen or fifteen. The ceremony was exactly the same as a “regular” ceremony, but with a stand-in for the groom, either a close family or a highborn nobleman from his country or region. Legally binding between the bride and real groom (not the proxy), the marriage would then be celebrated with banquets and festivities before sending the bride to her new home.

Although not necessary, a second ceremony would occur with the real groom, kicking off more
Pixabay/Pexels
festivities and celebrations, which gave the groom’s family a chance to show off the new bride to their people. Few brides and grooms married by proxy saw each other prior to the wedding, although they may have corresponded while growing up, if they’d been betrothed as children.

If the unthinkable happened, and the groom or his family disliked the bride, the legally-binding proxy wedding prevented them from sending her home. The wedding could be annulled, but that involved a lengthy process of appeal with the Pope.

WikiImages
Some of the more well-known proxy marriages included Prince Arthur and Catherine of Aragon, James IV to Margaret Tudor, Mary Tudor and Louis XII, and Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. Today, proxy marriages in the US are only available to military couples in Montana, California, Texas, and Colorado.

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The Proxy Brides series is a multi-author collection of happily-ever-after novellas. Grab one or grab them all!

Here are my contributions to the series:

A Bride for Seamus:

Can two people set aside resumptions, prejudices, and pain to find love?


When her father dies after a lengthy illness, Madeline Winthrop is horrified to discover his will bequeaths their home to his business partner, a cruel and dishonest man, leaving her destitute. With no job or marriage prospects, she seeks help from her pastor who suggests she considers becoming a mail-order bride. There’s just one catch. She’s to marry the man by proxy before ever meeting him.

After three mail-order brides refuse to stay and marry Seamus Fitzpatrick because of his brother’s mental health issues and two rambunctious children, Seamus decides a proxy marriage is the only way he’s going to secure a wife. When the Boston-bred socialite arrives with few practical skills, he wonders if he’s made the biggest mistake of his life.

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/3I7BGsV

A Bride for Keegan 

The past clashes with the present to jeopardize their future. 

Fiona Quigley’s parents came to America for a better life, but illness and the Civil War took them from her. Now, she’s barely scraping by as a seamstress to Boston’s elite. A chance for a new start arises in the form of being a mail-order bride, but to her dismay, she must marry the man by proxy. Once they’re wed, there will be no turning back. 

After being jailed one too many times for protesting against the Unionists in Ireland, Keegan O’Rourke heads for America—land of the free. He takes advantage of the Homestead Act to create a farm in his new country, but he has no one to share his success, so he advertises for a mail-order bride. They wed by proxy, but after she arrives, he discovers his Irish lass hails from the northern reaches of the Emerald isle—the very area he fled.

Purchase Link:  https://amzn.to/3YIGY3T

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Patrick E. Craig

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Patrick E. Craig

Let's give a warm welcome to multi-genre, award-winning author Patrick E. Craig who took a few minutes to sit down with us today and chat about his recent release The Quilt That Knew.

What was your inspiration for the story?

The main character in The Quilt That Knew is an Amish woman named Jenny Hershberger. I started writing about Jenny twelve years ago in my Apple Creek Dreams series. Then she was prominent in my Paradise Chronicles series. So, I’ve known Jenny for a long time. Recently I started reading some Agatha Christie mysteries and it occurred to me that Jenny would make a great Amish Miss Marple. In the preceding books Jenny had written a column for a local newspaper called “Ask Jenny” where people sent in questions about the Amish community, including inquiries about unsolved crimes. It’s a natural progression for Jenny to move into a new season in her life as a sleuth. And that’s how The Quilt That Knew was born and with it, The Porch Swing Mysteries series.

How do you develop your characters? (e.g. decide on their vocation, names, etc.)?

I have been an avid reader since I was very young. I am also a historian and some people say I have a photographic memory. So, I have a literal library of names, jobs, historical events, life occurrences, fictional personalities, and other information in my head. My characters are born out of that filing cabinet. Often, they seem to spring into existence fully formed. Jenny Hershberger was one of those characters.

Tell us about your road to publication.

I’ve always wanted to write. But for years after college I was a professional musician and then I left
the music business, went to Bible college, and became a pastor. In 2007 I retired from church ministry. I started attending the Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference and met Nick Harrison, Senior Editor for Harvest House Publications. Nick invited me to submit a one-sheet to him. He mentioned that he liked Amish stories and quilting stories.

So I sent him an idea for an Amish quilting story— in which God forces a young Amish woman, a master quilter, to make a life-or-death decision concerning her masterpiece quilt. To my surprise, Harvest House bought the story, upgraded it to a novel, and asked for two more. There I was, contracted to write three full-length Amish books, and completely unencumbered by any knowledge of either the Amish of quilting! Thank goodness for Google! After those three books I started publishing under my own imprint, sold some books to different publishers, and here I am, eighteen books later.

Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym? Why or why not?

I have considered writing under a pseudonym for this reason. I have been thinking a lot about the general market lately and the millions of readers who won’t read an overtly Christian book, but desperately need a saving relationship with Christ. I recently did a workshop for the Creative Christian Symposium where I spoke about writing for the General market. Here are a couple of points:

  • Reading good literature teaches empathy. Great books invite us to see the world from the perspective of someone who seems quite different from us and to realize that we are nevertheless, connected to them.
  • Many great authors weave transcendent themes into their writing—themes like redemption, faith, sacrifice, love, kindness, perseverance, faithfulness—and if you mix those themes into enthralling stories filled with action, adventure, desperate situations and heart-touching resolution, you provide pathways to understanding the human dilemma in every life arena.  But there has been a struggle in wanting to move in this new direction. If I write general market fiction, do I write under my own name and risk alienating my Christian base, or do I use a pseudonym and start a whole new brand. A tricky question indeed.

If your book is part of a series: Did you set out to write a series? Why did you decide to write a series?

Pixabay/Pexels
The Quilt That Knew
is book one in The Porch Swing Mysteries series. I love a good series and yes, I wrote the book with a series in mind. (I’m working on book two now.) As an independent publisher, I discovered that my readers are not satisfied with just one story about a specific character. I have written a few standalones, but most of my books are serial. This gives me a lot more room to tell the story, develop the characters, and attract more readers. And, if you are promoting your own books, it is easier to promote a series on Facebook, Amazon, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Why do you write in your particular genre?

I don’t have an exclusive genre I write in. I consider myself a storyteller, and not a brand writer, so I write in many genres. I have written Amish, western, WWII, Civil War, historical fiction, Literary anthologies, and even YA paranormal. I have over sixty story ideas on my computer I hope to turn into books. When I told my agent that I was branching out from Amish, he did his best to dissuade me, but there are just too many stories banging around in my head to stop. 

What is your advice to fledgling writers?

  • First, write well. Readers choose what to do with a book (read it or put it down) because it is either good fiction or bad fiction. The story is inspiring or forgettable. The characters are compelling or stale. Your book won’t go anywhere if it is not top-drawer.
  • Secondly, write to answer specific questions. Shake readers up by depicting present-day issues. Issues that are down to earth and every-day. Issues they’ll encounter if they turn on the news, or log in to Facebook, or watch the neighbor’s kids arguing in the yard. Plant inescapable questions and doubts in their head. Give them desperate situations that only God can fix.
  • Lastly avoid Christian clichés. If you use them, a large majority of your readers will dismiss your book out-of-hand. You must circumvent their defenses. You must be original. You must show, and test, your faith in your characters’ actions and decisions. Actions speak louder than words.
What books are on your nightstand right now?

The Samson Option by Seymour Hersh, Say Goodbye to The River by Patrick E. Craig, and The Lone Star Ranger by Zane Grey

What is your next project?

Murray Pura and I are writing the second book in our Western series, The Honor Trail, and a Brad Thor-type thriller, The Samson Protocol. I am also starting book two of The Porch Swing Mysteries, The Boy in Blue Denim, and a memoir from my days in the music business, The Resurrection of Whitey Fuzzwah.
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About The Quilt That Knew 

A young girl buried in the woods for forty years…
A desperate killer loose in the village…
A mysterious Amish quilt and a golden ring…

Amish writer Jenny Hershberger returns to Apple Creek, Ohio, the village where she grew up. But this is not a happy homecoming. She’s been called upon to solve a horrible crime, but will the killer find her first?



Best-selling author, Patrick E. Craig, has published books with Harvest House Publishers, Harlequin Books, and Elk Lake Publishers, as well as his own imprints, P&J Publishing and Islands Publishing. He has written eleven novels including the CIBA Award-winning Islands series and two best-selling Amish series, Apple Creek Dreams and The Paradise Chronicles. He and his co-writer, Murray Pura won a finalist award in the prestigious Word Guild of Canada competition for Contemporary Short Fiction. He has penned two novellas and an award-winning book of contemporary fiction short stories as well as two Young Adult paranormal books. His work is included in two anthologies of Amish stories from Elk Lake Publishers. He lives in Idaho with his wife, Judy.

Find Patrick on the Web:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PatrickECraig/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/PatrickECraig
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/patricke.craig/
Linked in: https://www.linkedin.com/in/patrickecraig/
Website: http://www.Patrickecraig.com
Email: pec@patrickecraig.com