Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Wartime Wednesday: License Plates during WWII

Wartime Wednesday: License Plates During WWII

Author Photo
Do you give your license plate much thought? Do you have a “vanity tag?” In the early days of automobiles, registration wasn’t required. Finally, in 1901 New York became the first state to require license plates, interestingly made by the individual owners, rather than being issued by state agencies. Typically handcrafted on leather or iron, they featured the owner’s initials. Two years later, Massachusetts distributed the first state-issued plates. Reporting the very first plate issued to Frederick Tudor, a worker with the highway commission, featured the number “1.” One of his relatives reportedly still owns the plate, and to this day in Massachusetts having a low-numbered plate is highly desired.

The earliest American license plates were made from porcelain baked onto iron or ceramic, but they
Author Photo
were fragile and most didn’t last. By the 1930s plates were made of metal, and a new plate was issued each year upon renewal. However, in 1942, that practice came to a screeching halt with the advent of World War II. Metal was needed for the war effort, and many automobile factories were converted to munitions or other war-oriented purposes. In an effort to conserve metal, many states stopped issuing front plates and revalidated the plate with a small metal tab indicating the year. Other states, such as Wisconsin reduced the size of their plates. Eventually, some states issued stickers to affix to the windshield.

Other states experimented with alternate materials for license plates such as a soybean-based fiberboard. The method of production is similar to today’s medium-density fiberboard (MDF). Heat and pressure bind layers of material into a flat, usable shape, with soy fibers and glue or soy flour as a binder.

Interestingly, Illinois and Michigan had the most success with soy-based materials, partly because of the efforts of carmaker Henry Ford, who for many years prior to the war had touted soybeans as a renewable material that could be used to create a wide range of plastics, especially within the automotive industry. In 1941, he had unveiled a plastic-bodied car constructed of panels made of “soybean fiber in a phenolic resin with formaldehyde used in the impregnation.” The plastic had been developed in his Greenfield Village Soybean Laboratory.

A downside to the use of soybean plates was their attraction to animals. One website told a story about a goat that was “reputed to have eaten an Illinois license plate in 1943.” An article in the Great Falls Tribune (Illinois) reported about an incident with a turkey, and a story in the Helena paper warned citizens of the likelihood of pigs being attracted to the plates.

Fortunately, with plates made of metal again, being pilfered by animals is no longer an issue!


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:

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Talkshow Thursday: Meet Becky Van Vleet

Talkshow Thursday: 
Meet Becky Van Vleet

LM: Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your debut novel Unintended Hero. For those people who haven’t visited your website, please share your inspiration for the story.

Becky: Thank you, Linda, for inviting me to your blog. My website is all about telling our stories. I believe we all have stories to tell and they are transformational and powerful, revealing our roots, cultures, and family traditions. And I feel it’s especially important for baby boomers, like myself, to pass along stories from our parents, the Greatest Generation, as Tom Brokaw referred to them. The more we preserve stories from this generation, the more firsthand stories our younger people will have and be able to enjoy and learn from those who’ve gone before them. So the one story I really wanted to preserve and share with others is about my father’s experiences in WWII.

LM: You’ve also published three children’s books. How was writing adult fiction different? The same? Did the fact the story is historical make the process more challenging?

Becky: Honestly, adult fiction is not that different from children’s books. Both genres include settings,
Pixabay/Michelle Raponi
developing the characters, an arc, a conflict, resolution, and takeaways. Obviously, an adult book takes longer to write, but these elements are included in both. Unintended Hero is a historical novel with a setting in the South Pacific in WWII. There is so much information about this war that I felt like I was running into a big author playground! Not really a challenge at all. So much was laid out for me.

LM: What research did you have to do for the story and was there a particularly intriguing bit?

Becky: My biggest and most important resource was a 1990 recording I made of my father sharing his experiences in WWII aboard his ship, the USS Denver. At the time, I wanted to preserve his firsthand account for our children, like a keepsake. But 30 years later, and I’m locked down in Covid, I set out to write a book, enjoying the treasure I had saved on two little cassettes. For other research, I read all the USS Denver deck logs, and I traveled to San Diego and Buffalo, NY where I could tour WWII ships. The most intriguing research was stepping foot on these ships, actually walking through the hatches, touching the hundreds of conduit lines that lined the entire interior, and seeing the racks the sailors slept upon with my own eyes. Those flimsy mattresses were only an inch thick!

LM: Tell us about your road to publication.

Becky: Elk Lake Publishing Inc had already published two of my three children’s picture books, so when I submitted a proposal for Unintended Hero, I already had a foot in the door, a true blessing. My grandson, age nine at the time, was visiting me when I got the email Elk Lake would publish this book. We went outside and we danced on our driveway! And yes, I think he was a little embarrassed. But he knew his Nana was very excited!

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

Pixabay/Jim Black
Becky: I’m in the senior years of my life, but I still have many things on my bucket list. At the top of my list is to visit Israel and walk where Jesus walked. And if all goes well, my husband and I will be touring Israel in March of 1923.

LM: What is your advice to fledgling writers?

Becky: My main advice is to keep writing, and don’t give up when you receive rejections. Christ was rejected by his own people, but He never gave up. That’s His example for us to apply in our everyday lives and certainly to our writing endeavors.

LM: What is your next project?

Becky: My work in progress is a devotional book. And yes, this is my third genre—children’s picture books, an adult historical fiction, and now a devotion book. I’ve heard it said to be careful about genre hopping as it can affect your branding. But all three of these genres I’ve written in have been blessed so far, and I’m thankful God has been leading me.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

Amazon Author Page:

Unintended Hero:

How Can You Be a Hero When Everything Inside Says You Can’t?

When the first bomb drops on Pearl Harbor, December 7th, 1941, Walter Troyan is a skinny seventeen-year-old California kid chock full of fear. But down deep he knows he must join the fight, so he drops out of high school and enlists.

Almost overnight, Walter is submerged into a brutal training regime and schedule. He’s homesick. Outmatched by all the other newbies. Knows he’ll never live up to his heroic brothers. And his soul shudders every time an officer shouts, “What are you made of!” Because Walter knows. But then? Hope. He performs well on an aptitude test which sends him to Gunner’s Mate School. Upon graduation, Walter is sent to the USS Denver, docked in Philadelphia. He makes friends, gains a shred of courage.

Then his ship enters the Pacific Theater and Walter enters the crucible of his life. His body, spirit, and soul are forced to fight against emotions and circumstances he’s never encountered, and he’s faced with choices that will bring life or death to men he’s come to love as brothers.

Don’t miss this epic tale—inspired by a true story—of a boy facing head on, the courage it takes to become a man.

Purchase Link:  

Friday, November 18, 2022

Fiction Friday: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving

Fiction Friday: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving

Pixabay/Julie Rothe
Holidays can create myriad emotions depending on one’s experiences. For me, Thanksgiving brings many cherished memories. Despite living several hours away from family, my mother and father packed us four kids into the car and made the trek to Maryland every year to see my maternal grandparents. Countless aunts, uncles, and cousins would join us, and food was plentiful. As an adult, I look back and wonder how many days it took my grandmother and great-aunt to prepare everything for that many people. Fortunately, after the meal, they were able to put up their feet while we kids took care of clean up (without the help of a dishwashing machine – horror!).

Because of my love of the holiday, I also enjoy Thanksgiving stories (books or films), so I was pleased
Project Gutenberg
to recently discover Louisa May Alcott’s short story, “An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving,” published 140 years ago in 1882 as part of Aunt Jo’s Scrap Bag. An added bonus is that the story is set in the “New Hampshire hills.”

The plot line is simple, and tells the story of Farmer and Mrs. Bassett and their eight children who are“poor in money, but rich in land and love.” It is the day before Thanksgiving, and Mrs. Bassett and her girls are busy inside the house while her husband and the boys are “chorin’ away outside.” A man arrives from Keene with the announcement that Mrs. Bassett’s mother is “failin’ fast, and she’d better come today.” With a few instructions and a wave to the kids, Mr. and Mrs. Basset jump into the wagon to see about Gran’ma.

Project Gutenberg
Lots of description immerses the reader into the sights, sounds, and smells of the foibles and successes of the children in handling the tasks of keeping the homestead going and preparing for Thanksgiving despite having never made a turkey with stuffing or cooking plum pudding. In the midst of everything, a bear arrives, which means he was late getting into his cave to hibernate, but perhaps Miss Alcott didn’t have the research materials available to authors today! The parents return having discovered that Mr. Chadwick being “deaf as an adder,” got the message wrong, and Gran’ma was “sittin’ up chirk as you please,” and not ill as previously surmised. The family enjoys their Thanksgiving dinner, although some of the dishes weren’t quite up to snuff.

A charming story that can be read in a few minutes, An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving, is the perfect escape for challenging and difficult times. You can read it complements of The Gutenberg Project here:


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:

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Paula Peckham

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Paula Peckham

LM: Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your recent release, A Father’s Gift (San Antonio series, book 2). What was your inspiration for the story? How is the story connected to the first book, Protected?

Paula: I was invited to participate in a Christmas anthology. By using the characters from Protected, I was already a jump ahead. I knew them, I knew the setting. It was easier to get started. So A Father’s Gift picks up two years later and continues the story of Abby and Manny, my main characters from Protected.

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

Paula: When I start writing, the main idea for the plot is already established, so I pick characteristics that make my protagonist fit the story. In Protected and A Father’s Gift, my characters are Abigail and Manny. Abby disguises herself as a boy for a while in Protected, so I needed a name that could be shortened to a boy’s name. She becomes Abner, or Ab. And Manny, short for Manuel, is Hispanic, so I chose a name from one of my friends in Mexico. Their story takes place in 1862, so I didn’t have as many job possibilities to choose from as I would have if I’d written a contemporary story. They live off the land. Farming is their job. Then, like happens with most authors I’ve spoken to, they reveal themselves to me as we go along.

LM: What research did you conduct for the novel and was there a particularly intriguing fact you decided to include?

Paula: I read a couple of Texas history books. I visited a friend who has several guns and practiced
Pixabay/David Mark
shooting different styles so I would know what it was like. I visited several museums to see first-hand the clothing, the furniture, etc., of the era. One museum was a “living museum” where the people came each day dressed in period clothing and worked as if the farm was their home. I learned a lot about farming from that. It was very interesting. My husband’s family is really interested in genealogy, and I found a diary from the late 1800s that gave me lots of little details about everyday life. Probably the most unexpected fact I learned was that Texas had an Underground Railroad to help enslaved people escape. They ran to Mexico instead of Canada, which outlawed slavery in the 1830s. I never learned that from school. That fact is an integral part of book three, Accepted, that I’m writing now.

LM: You were a high school math teacher, and you do mission work in Mexico. How do those activities impact/influence your writing?

Paula: After spending 19 years in the classroom, I believe I can write a fairly accurate portrayal of teenagers. I wrote a novella for a different Christmas anthology that was a contemporary story about a math teacher / swim coach (which I was). My mother called me and said, “I’m reading your autobiography.” It cracked me up. After all the research I went through for Protected and A Father’s Gift, it shocked me how easily I wrote In All Things Charity. It just flowed out, like I was writing an entry in my diary. As for my time spent in Mexico, I wanted to share with my readers a portrayal of the Mexican people that is different from the current political narrative. The Mexicans I know are not drug dealing rapists and murderers, despite what we read and hear on the news. They’re kind, loving families who want the same things we do—a good future for their children and to live happy lives. So Manny was Hispanic, and his grandmother, Yaideli, plays a huge part in his success.

LM: Tell us about your journey to publication. What would you do differently?

Paula: This is going to be a long answer. God guided every step of my writing journey. I retired from teaching in 2019. I’d been working on Protected for several years, but teachers don’t have a lot of free time. I’d get a lot done in the summers, but slowly my enthusiasm for it would trickle off as the daily grind and demand on my time took over once school started. In the summer of 2019, I dove into Twitter, trying to build a platform. On Twitter, I learned about PitMad, a pitch party where hopeful authors post pitches of their novels and editors and agents “like” them if they’re interested. I didn’t get much response. I posted a question asking if anyone had seen any agents or editors who were interested in Christian fiction. Someone replied that I should check out ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers).

I looked that up and saw they were hosting their annual conference in San Antonio in September. San Antonio is within driving distance for me, so I quickly joined ACFW and registered for the conference. I went by myself, knowing no one. I learned there was a DFW chapter that meets every month and joined them, too. At the first meeting, I met Lena Nelson Dooley, a multi-published Christian author who hosts a critique group. I asked her if I could join, and she graciously allowed me to. I started taking my chapters to crit group every Thursday night and realized how much I didn’t know. It was sad how unpolished my manuscript was. That group helped me tremendously.

Once COVID hit and we went into shutdown in March 2020, everything moved online to Zoom meetings. I attended a conference in Kentucky for the low price of $20.20. One of the classes I attended was presented by Deb Haggerty, editor-in-chief and owner of Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.

Fast forward to 2021, when I attended another virtual conference held by Mt. Zion Ridge Press. They
offered opportunities to authors who were ready to pitch. I chose one at random and was supposed to meet with her on Monday evening. However, on Friday, after the classes finished for the day, they left the Zoom room open for people to hang out and chat. Pitches were going on in breakout rooms. I had to leave for a bit to take a friend to the airport, and when I got home, there was an invitation on my screen asking me to go to a breakout room. I assumed they were like chat rooms, so I hopped in. I quickly realized I was in a pitch session, watching and listening to someone pitch their book. I recognized the person she was pitching to was Deb Haggerty. No one seemed to mind that I was there, so I hung out and watched, thinking I could pick up some tips for when I pitched on Monday. After the lady finished and left the breakout room, Deb asked me to tell her about my book. I confessed that I didn’t think I was supposed to be there and told her about the invitation that had popped up on my screen, sending me to her breakout room. She told me to tell her about my book, anyway. So I did. And about a month later, on Father’s Day, she sent me a contract for Protected. When I told her I had also written A Father’s Gift for the Christmas anthology, she asked me to send it, too. She sent me a contract for that one, as well.

So, quite by accident (or not!), I landed in front of Deb Haggerty at a virtual conference and ended up with my publisher relationship. I told her about book three, Accepted, and she said it sounded exactly like the kind of thing they like to publish and urged me to send it to her when I finish.

What would I do differently? Nothing. This plan was laid out by God, so I never second-guessed a thing. Every rejection I received in the beginning just made me think, “Okay, it’s not time yet. Moving on.”

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

Paula: Speak Spanish fluently.

LM: What is your advice to fledgling writers?

Paula: Find a critique group. Read everything about the craft of writing you can get your hands on, especially if it’s by James Scott Bell. Never stop learning. You’ll continue to improve as a writer, so be open to change.

LM: What is your next project?

Pixabay/Erika Wittlieb
Paula: I’m about 65% of the way through Accepted, book three in the San Antonio series. After that, I must do a TON of research for book four, which is about Native Americans, specifically Comanches. It is titled Pursued. I’m really eager to start because it has another surprising fact in it I can’t wait to share.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

Website: http://www.
Amazon author page:

A Father's Gift
Abby and Manny Blair anticipate the birth of their first child. Nausea plagues Abby every morning, and fears keep her awake at night. Orphaned at age eighteen, she prays daily for a safe delivery and a future with her child.
Now more than ever, Manny yearns for guidance from his own father. But you can’t share good news with a man who’s been dead for years. Sheriff Williams delivered the devastating news of Mark Blair’s death at the hands of an unscrupulous card shark when Manny was only five years old. His grandmother, Yaideli, raised him, doing her best to stand in the gap. She did well by him and taught him how to become an upstanding, caring man.
But the impending responsibility of fatherhood looms over Manny like a storm cloud. He fears he will fail his young family. So many questions surround his father’s death. The desire to know what happened, to understand why Mark left him behind, overwhelms Manny. It’s nearing Christmas and the babe’s birth. He sets out on an adventure of discovery and finds something completely unexpected. Abby and Manny receive a precious gift—learning about the love and sacrifice only a father can give.

Purchase Link:

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Wartime Wednesday: Mary Taylor Previte, Internee

Wartime Wednesday: Mary Taylor Previte, Internee

Photo courtesy
Would you jump from a low-flying airplane to rescue people you don’t know? Mary Taylor Previte (rhymes with brevity) asked herself that very question many times over her life.

The daughter of third-generation missionaries to China, Mary was nine years old when armed men arrived at her boarding school and announced the property now belonged to the “Great Emperor of Japan.” For that first year, life remained the same. Then the Japanese needed the school for another purpose, and soldiers loaded the residents onto a boat, then a train, then trucks to transport them to Weihsien, a “Civilian Assembly Center” near the city of Weifang, Shandong, China.

When she arrived, the camp was already filled with internees: businesspeople, entertainers, doctors, Protestant ministers, and Catholic priests and nuns. Considered enemy aliens, the inhabitants were British, American, Belgian, Scandinavian, Canadian, and Australian.

Conditions were squalid, with little food to go around. Blankets were scarce, and residents spent all
winter shivering. Barbed wire and booby traps surrounded the camps with soldiers watching from guard towers or patrolling the grounds with dogs. Prisoners were required to wear their prisoner numbers at all times, and roll calls occurred daily. The children learned to count in Japanese so they could count themselves off. Dignitaries often visited.

Of the nearly 2,000 inmates, about 360 were children. Fortunately, the adults did all they could to create “normalcy” in the camp. Mrs. Previte remembers one teacher often saying, “School will go on. We will win this war, and when we do, you will compete with boys and girls who have been going to school all this time, and so school will go on.”

A Brownie troop was started, and concerts, classes, and lectures were given. Both children and adults would perform plays. The Salvation Army band was created, and they created an anthem that was a mix of the Canadian, British, and American national anthems – a victory medley, as it was called.

Difficulties were turned into games. In an interview shortly before her death, Mrs. Previte said, “Saturday was the Battle of the Bedbugs. We’d hold rat-catching competitions. My little brother John was the winner of the fly-killing championship.” She went on to share that despite their constant hunger, “we never lost our humanity or even our manners. You might be eating boiled animal brains out of a soap dish, and a teacher would come up behind you and say: Mary Taylor, sit up straight! They were right. People who gave up those normal routines got sick.”

According to Mary, the August day the camp was liberated was so hot, one couldn’t walk barefoot on the dirt. The war had ended, but the inmates had no idea. Soldiers parachuted to the ground and stormed the gates, receiving no resistance from the guards. During the hysteria and joy, the band began to play their “victory medley.”

In 1997, Mary decided to track down her liberators so she could thank them personally. She would find all (or their widows) but one. Eighteen years would pass before she was able to locate the Chinese interpreter, “Eddie” Cheng-Han Wang.

Mary passed away three years ago today as a result of injuries she sustained after being struck by a car while on her morning walk. She was 87.


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:

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Traveling Tuesday: Camp David

Traveling Tuesday: Camp David

Everyone needs a vacation, even a nation’s leader. So, where does the president of the United States go when he needs a break? Since 1942…a 125-acre compound located about sixty miles from Washington, DC near the towns of Thurmont and Emmitsburg in the beautiful Catoctin Mountains of Maryland. Catoctin Mountain Park (a National Park) doesn’t show the location of Camp David on park maps for privacy and security reasons, but it can be seen on publicly accessible satellite images. The helicopter ride takes approximately thirty minutes from the White House.

Built as a camp for federal employees and their families, the project was completed in 1938 through the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the New Deal. Originally named Hi-Catoctin, it was renamed Shangri-La by President Franklin Roosevelt (after the fictional Himalayan paradise in James Hilton’s 1933 novel Lost Horizon. President Eisenhower renamed it Camp David in honor of his father and grandson. The move angered some members of the Democratic party, and Representative Michael Kirwan of Ohio stating that renaming the camp “was the only thing the Eisenhower Administration accomplished without Democratic help.” After Eisenhower left office, there was talk of reverting the name to Shangri-La, but President Kennedy vetoed the idea, and Camp David it remained. Officially, however, it is the Naval Support Facility Thurmont.

If not for World War II, Camp David may not have become a presidential getaway. President Roosevelt typically used the presidential yacht, the USS Potomac, for relaxation. But when the U.S. entered the war, military and Secret Service leadership were concerned about FDR’s safety on the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean because of threats of German U-boats. As a result, the president asked the National Park Service to suggest possible sites within one hundred miles of Washington. There are no reports as to whether Hi-Catoctin was the only recommendation or if it was chosen after visiting numerous sites.

The President’s cabin, which sits on top of a hill, features several bedrooms, a small office, a kitchen, several fireplaces, and a large outdoor flagstone patio. There is also a swimming pool, hot tub, and single golf hole with multiple tees. (Eisenhower added a 250-yard driving range near the helicopter pad.

Paths wind through the property connecting the twelve guest cottages. Laurel Lodge is the main cabin
where meals are served and meetings are conducted. There are three conference rooms and a presidential office. Hickory Lodge holds a bowling alley, movie theater, restaurant/bar, game room, library, and gift shop. Tennis courts, horseshoe pits, a fitness room, and a skeet range are supplemented with nearby fishing and horseback riding. Trails are perfect for walking, biking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing. The hills are used for sledding and snowmobiling. Evergreen Chapel is a non-denominational place of worship. Golf carts are used as the primary means of transportation.

Because it is technically a military installation, staffing is primarily provided by the Seabees, Civil Engineer Corps, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Marines. Renovations are handled by naval construction battalions.

 In addition to using the facility for R&R, presidents have hosted foreign dignitaries such as British prime minister Sir Winston Churchill, Russian premier Nikita Khrushchev, Australian prime minister Harold Holt, Canadian prime minister Lester Pearson, Indonesian president Suharto, French president Charles De Gaulle, Mexican president Lopez Mateos, Columbian president Alberto Lleras, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, and British prime minister Margaret Thatcher.

Camp David’s use as a casual meeting place for world leaders is noteworthy, but the facility is most appreciated by presidents for its ability to provide escape from the daily pressures. Said President Reagan, “As president, the days I hated most were those of nonstop meetings, one after another, with no time in between to collect my thoughts…the days I liked best were those Fridays when I could break away a little early, about three or three-thirty, and take off for Camp David.


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:

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Edwina Kiernan

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Edwina Kiernan!

LM: Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your recent release The Letter. What was your inspiration for the story?

Edwina: I’ve always loved two-word titles that begin with “The”, and I love old letters, books and paper. As I was trying to form the story in my head, I knew I wanted both of those elements to play a part, but I also wanted to explore a few of the barriers that would make it really difficult to love someone. The first story question that came to mind was: What if the person you fell in love with was pretending to be someone else? Everything developed from there, really.

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

Edwina: I usually like to choose names that would have been around at the time, and have meanings that connect in some way to the character or the story. Also, for this novel, I ran a contest for my newsletter subscribers to help me choose a name for the character of Miss Withers (there were two winners, who each received a prize!).

LM: A historical novel, the story revolves around the use of chloroform in medicine before it was a regular practice. What sort of research did you do? 

Edwina: I read a lot of scientific journal articles from 1847 and 1848, as well as a book on chloroform and how it came into use. I also researched early chloroform cases that went wrong, and the letters and opinions of the doctors who pioneered its use. It was all quite fascinating to learn about.

LM: Your Gems of Grace series takes place during the Regency era, and The Letter is set during the
Pixabay/Michal Jarmoluk
Victorian age. What made you decide to switch time periods, and which do you prefer? 

Edwina: The Victorian era has always been my absolute favourite time period. I really enjoyed writing the Regency series, but I knew that for my next series I wanted to explore the Victorian era further and bring it to life in a fictional country town.

LM: What is your process for writing? (do you outline, have a special place or time of day you write, etc.)

Edwina: Once I've got a Bible verse in my heart for a story, I'll start coming up with plot ideas. Then, some research to make sure that the ideas would actually work in the historical era, then more plotting and outlining, alongside the ongoing research of the era in general. Then, I start the first draft. Once that’s done, I'll read through it and do a self-edit, plus check any notes I made along the way about things that I want to double-check in terms of research or continuity. Once that has morphed into the second draft, I send it to my editor for a developmental edit. Upon return, I revise and edit, taking her suggestions and comments into account, and this becomes the third draft. Then, I send it back to my editor for a line edit. After going through her comments, I'll revise the manuscript as I comb through it again, then it's almost ready. A final proof-read, then it's on to formatting and preparing for launch. A lot of work, but I love every bit of it!

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

Edwina: There are a few dreams in my heart regarding my writing career but, ultimately, I wish to honour Jesus with everything I write, and encourage others to praise and follow Him.

LM: What is your advice to fledgling writers?

Edwina: Read a lot of well-written fiction. You can learn so much about the craft of writing by examining how successful writers write. Also, keep practicing and writing and honing. Work with a professional editor — you will learn as much (if not more) than you would if you were doing a degree in the subject. And if you know that you have been created to write, never ever listen to the people who will try to stop you. Write. Keep writing. Then write some more.

LM: What is your next project?

Edwina: I am in the planning stage for Book 2 in the Victorian Virtues series, The Lamp, which is based upon the theme of “joy” (though the characters will traverse some circumstances that are anything but joyful!). Lord-willing, it will be released in November 2023. Also, my very first historical mystery (part of the Ever After Mysteries series by Celebrate Lit Publishing) is written, and is close to being fully edited. Lord-willing, it will be released in March 2023. It’s set in 1940s Hollywood and is entitled The Vanishing Act.

LM: Where can folks find you on the web?

Edwina: Besides my website at, I’m on Amazon, BookBub, Goodreads and Twitter, but the best place for people to get to know me is on my email list, where I share behind the scenes updates, book recommendations, freebies and weekly giveaways. Sign up at:

The Letter

She wants a new life. He’s in danger of losing his. Will love solve everything — or immerse them in even worse peril?

England, 1848.

Restless and ready for a change, Grace Stratton gladly accepts the opportunity to leave her remote parsonage home to serve as a wealthy spinster’s companion in the idyllic country town of Lindenfell. Its warm atmosphere and friendly inhabitants soothe Grace’s lonely heart. But when a mysterious stranger arrives, she soon discovers things aren’t always what they seem. 

Convinced chloroform will revolutionise the medical world, Dr. David Carbury frequently administers it to his London patients — until one of them dies. Facing a grave trial to prove his innocence and defend a drug most people view as poisonous, he makes hasty plans to buy time to bolster his case. But he wasn’t expecting to face an even deadlier challenge. As attraction sparks not long after they meet, Grace soon suspects he’s hiding something, and David knows he can’t run from the truth forever. But neither of them could imagine the sinister threat lurking just around the corner…

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Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Wartime Wednesday: The Army-Navy E Award

Wartime Wednesday: The Army-Navy E Award

Author Photo
“Victory depends in large measure on the increased war production we are able to get from our factories and arsenals…this is a total war. We are all under fire…soldiers and civilians alike-no one is a spectator. To win we must fight and to fight we must produce.” So said, President Franklin D. Roosevelt during one of his fireside chats.

In an effort to encourage the production of materials in America’s factories, the army created the Army-Navy “E” Award, an honor presented to companies whose facilities achieved “Excellence in Production (“E”) of war equipment. Also known as the Army-Navy Production Award, it was created in July 1942 by the War Department who merged the Navy “E,” Army “A,” and Army-Navy Munitions Board “Star” into a single, service-wide award.

Of the 85,000 companies involved in producing materials for the military effort, approximately five
percent earned this prestigious award, and about half of those were bestowed on plants having less than 500 employees, considered “smaller war plants.” All factories engaged in production were eligible, as well as government facilities and contractors. Interestingly, although it was an industry award, Iowa State University received recognition for its contribution to the production of uranium for the Manhattan Project, and Dr. Harley A. Wilhelm received the award for inventing the “Ames Process” for the extraction, purification, and mass production of uranium for the Manhattan Project.

Facilities were nominated by district procurement officers, chiefs of supply services, agencies concerned with production, and the commanding officers for the Materiel Commands. Reasons for the nomination were included, and an award board reviewed the information before making a final decision. Ceremonies were conducted with an Army officer and Navy officer who presented the management team with a pennant and employees with pins. Plants that maintained an outstanding record or performance for six months after receiving their original award were given a star award, which a white star added to their pennant.

Criteria for the award included excellence in quality and quantity of production as well:

  • Overcoming production obstacles
  • Low rates of absenteeism
  • Avoidance of work stoppages
  • Maintenance of fair labor standards
  • Training of additional labor forces
  • Effective management
  • Good record-keeping on accidents, health, sanitation, and plant protection
The award was terminated three months after the end of World War II, on December 5, 1945.


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?

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Friday, November 4, 2022

Fiction Friday: New Releases in Christian Fiction!

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

Contemporary Romance:

Authentically, Izzy by Pepper Basham -- Dear Reader, My name is Isabelle Louisa Edgewood—Izzy, for short. I live by blue-tinted mountains, where I find contentment in fresh air and books. Oh, and coffee and tea, of course. And occasionally in being accosted by the love of my family. (You’ll understand my verb choice in the phrase later.) I dream of opening my own bookstore, but my life, particularly my romantic history, has not been the stuff of fairy tales. Which is probably why my pregnant, misled, matchmaking cousin—who, really, is more like my sister—signed me up for an online dating community. But I’ve played it safe for a long time. Maybe it’s time for me to be as brave as my favorite literary heroines. Maybe it’s time to take the adventures from the page to real life. Wish me luck. (Contemporary Romance from Harper Collins Christian Publishing/Thomas Nelson and Zondervan)

Her Christmas Redemption by Toni Shiloh -- Can she find a second chance…on a town’s holiday wish list? Organizing her church’s Christmas Wishes program is the perfect start to Vivian Dupre’s new life—one without the shame of her recent mistakes. But as she grows closer to co-coordinator Michael Wood, she’s even more determined to keep her past hidden. Together they can give joy to their small town. But when Michael discovers her secret, will he be willing to grant Vivian’s holiday wish—forgiveness? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired/Harlequin)

Like the Wind by Robin Lee Hatcher -- Olivia Ward arrived in Bethlehem Springs alone—with no job, no home, and no money—after her manipulative ex-husband used his power and wealth to destroy everything. Six years later, the peaceful life she rebuilt is once again turned upside down when she learns that her fifteen-year-old daughter, Emma, will be coming to live with her. The reunion should be a dream come true, but years of deception have driven a wedge between them. And Emma seems more interested in an old diary she discovered than reconciliation with her mother. In this latest novel from award-winning author Robin Lee Hatcher, an antique diary, a family-fueled investigation, and unexpected feelings collide to create a promise that’s worth fighting for. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing/Thomas Nelson and Zondervan)

Muskoka Christmas by Carolyn Miller -- Staci Everton is a multi-published author of historical romances, whose Christmas Eve deadline for a new book sees her leave her Chicago home to go write while staying with her grandmother in the beautiful small town of Muskoka Shores, Canada. Staci is determined to finish her manuscript, despite the small town's Christmas charm - and Muskoka Shores most eligible bachelor. Dr. James Wells is on enforced leave from working in Africa, after nearly burning out. He's here to spend time with family, not spend time with a workaholic whose focus on fiction is very different from the harsh realities he's faced. But Christmas is a time of second chances, family and faith. Maybe they'll find magic under the mistletoe, and a future after all. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Waiting on the Tides by Tabitha Bouldin -- People are more than the sum of their mistakes. After a life lived in her older brother’s shadow, Abby Solomon is ready to take on the world—or at least a teaching position that puts her face to face with the one guy who thinks she's nothing more than an immature nuisance. When his daughter's mother abandoned them, Christian Johnson swore off women and the trouble they bring. No wife—no drama. Just how he likes it. But as Christian struggles to juggle his job as a cop with raising his daughter and tracking down a runaway teen, he's forced to ask the one woman who reminds him of his wife for help. Abby is thrilled with the opportunity to show Christian that there’s more to her than what he thinks. But just as Christian begins to trust Abby, she makes a colossal mistake that threatens to ruin everything. She just wanted to be accepted. He wanted to be left alone. It’ll take a runaway teen to show them that love is not measured by a single mistake. (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit Publishing)

General Contemporary:

Outside of Grace by Anne Daugherty -- Ava Sanford longs to be known as more than the pastor’s kid. When the opportunity arises to study abroad in Scotland, she jumps at the chance to leave the Texas coast and the pressures of Grace Church behind. But she never meant to leave God too. Her roommate’s partying lifestyle promises the fun Ava has been missing out on—until a traumatic assault leaves her faith and pride in ruins. As her life in Scotland begins to crumble, rumors race back home, threatening her relationships with her family and friends, including Jack Shields. A former athlete, Jack keeps his head down, working through college and coasting through life. After losing both his mother and his scholarships, he knows the things you love can disappear at any moment. But when his best friend seems to be next, the nonchalance and security he carefully guards are broken. Fighting for Ava will mean risking it all, and he can’t do it alone. Only God can show them both how far grace can go. (General Contemporary from Black Rose Writing)

Shining Stars and Mason Jars by Jann Franklin -- The Town of Graisseville, Louisiana is in crisis, and the mayor needs Jen Guidry’s help! Jen has finally embraced small town life with open arms, but now she’s facing new challenges that test her faith. She struggles to balance family and her desire to help, but her husband Mike prefers she leave well enough alone. While working with the mayor to save the town from financial crisis, she discovers others who also need her help. With Jen’s hilarious enthusiasm for navigating her career, friendships, and matchmaking schemes, she nearly loses sight of God’s blessings for her family. Follow the plucky adventures of a small-town wife, mother and friend, as she discovers how to embrace God’s plan for her life. (General Contemporary from Rougarou Press)

General Historical:

A Life Reclaimed by Olivia Rae -- A Scoundrel, A Spy, and A Secret. Will She Ever Learn the Truth? Desperate to avoid a second loveless marriage, Anne Howell hides out in a cave on the Welsh coast. If she can get to England, she should be safe from her stepfather’s long-reaching hand. She thinks her prayers are answered when she rescues a shipwrecked sailor, Thomas Armstrong, who agrees to help her, claiming he has ties to Queen Elizabeth I. Though she fears he may be an accomplished liar, she has no choice but to trust him, especially when a secret from her past puts spies on her trail and threatens to destroy her future. Years ago, Thomas Armstrong learned his real mother was executed in place of a dethroned queen. Determined to avenge her death, he sets out to find the cowardly monarch. But when his ship goes down in a storm leaving him broke and in debt, he fears his quest is finished – until he discovers that the woman who rescued him, Anne Howell, has a price on her head. All he has to do is turn her in and he’ll have the money he needs. But in helping Anne, he’s begun to lose his heart, and now he faces a devastating choice – avenge the past for his mother or follow his feelings to an uncertain future with Anne. (General Historical from HopeKnight Press)

Strong Currents by Delores Topliff -- Is any price too great to pay for love and freedom? Strong Currents surge in the river and in the hearts of men. Josh Vengeance survives Midway but may never fight again. Erica Hofer escapes Nazi Germany for America to show the world that German Christians resist their nation's madman, but instead of being accepted, she is suspected and attacked. Will Josh's love and courage be enough to win the fight to safeguard America and keep them both safe from the evil that stalks her? (General Historical from Scrivenings Press)

Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams by Jennifer Lamont Leo -- Hollywood, California, 1933. Selling perfume in a department store is far from the life Helen Corrigan envisioned when she headed for Hollywood with stars in her eyes. Beneath the glittering fa├žade, things in Tinsel Town are seldom what they seem, and Helen fights to maintain her moral scruples amid trials and temptations. However, she’s not about to give up on her dream. All she needs is a lucky break. But what if the only “break” involves her heart? Screenwriter Rusty Noble has one goal in mind: to make moving pictures that uplift and inspire their audiences. But his thankless job at Cooperman Studios keeps him toiling away on B-grade movies. Worse, box-office sensation Cynthia Starling—beloved by audiences and detested by those who actually know her—won’t let Rusty out of her talons. The idea of breaking away and starting fresh with his own studio seems a sketchy pipe dream at best, a career-ending fiasco at worst. (General Historical from Mountain Majesty Media)

Historical - Biblical:

Daughter of the King by Carlene Havel -- I Samuel 18:20 “And Michal Saul's daughter loved David…” Threatened by David’s popularity, mad King Saul devises a clever plan. He gives his daughter Michal to the brave young giant-killer, commanding her to remain loyal to her father above all others. When the princess is forced to choose between David and King Saul, she risks everything for her husband—and pays a terrible price. (Historical – Biblical, Independently Published)

Historical Romance:

A Daughter’s Courage by Misty M. Beller -- Her quest to repair what's been broken leads to imminent danger--and soon it's more than her own life on the line. After accidentally destroying the intricately carved chalice her people have treasured for over a hundred years, Charlotte Durand sets out in search of a skilled artisan who can repair the damage. What she expected to be a two-day trek becomes much more daunting when a treacherous snowstorm sets in. Searching for solitude and respite from his troubling past, the last thing Damien Levette needs in the middle of a mountain blizzard is to tend to another person, but he can't leave behind the mysterious woman he finds half frozen at the edge of a mountain lake. As they battle both the elements and their distrust of each other, Charlotte and Damien must work together to survive the peril of the mountains--or it could be the downfall of them both. (Historical Romance from Bethany House/Baker Publishing)

His Delightful Lady Delia by Grace Hitchcock -- Delia Vittoria's mother has lost her voice at last. After five years of being her diva mother's understudy, it is time for Delia to assume her place as the lead soprano on stage behind the Academy of Music's faded velvet curtain. And she is all that stands between the Academy and its greatest threat--the nouveaux riche's lavish new Metropolitan Opera House. Kit Quincy never misses opening night, but when his sister begs him to help get her husband out of an Italian opera star's arms, Kit confronts the wrong Lady Vittoria. When he happens upon the stunning young diva again at Mrs. Astor's dinner the following night, he attempts to make amends and is instead pulled into a plot to win the great opera war. To draw attention to Delia Vittoria as the new soprano star, Kit is convinced to act as both Delia's patron and the enigmatic phantom who once haunted the Academy years ago. But when a second phantom appears, more than Delia's rising career is threatened. (Historical Romance from Bethany House/Baker Publishing)

The Hidden Prince by Tessa Afshar -- The beloved daughter of Jewish captives in Babylon, Keren is sold into Daniel’s household to help her family survive. She becomes Daniel’s most trusted scribe, while taking lessons and swordsmanship training alongside Daniel’s sons and their best friend, Jared. After a tragic accident changes the course of her life, Keren finds herself in a foreign country, charged with a mysterious task; teaching a shepherd boy how to become a lord. When she overhears whispers that hint at his true identity, she realizes she must protect him from the schemes of a bloodthirsty king. Jared cannot forgive Keren. Still, he finds himself traveling over mountains to fetch her back to the safety of home. When he discovers the secret identity of Keren’s pupil, Jared knows he must help protect him. Love battles bitterness as they flee from the king’s agents, trying to save the boy who could one day deliver their people from captivity. (Historical Romance from Tyndale House)

The Letter by Edwina Kiernan -- Restless and ready for a change, Grace Stratton gladly accepts the opportunity to leave her remote parsonage home to serve as a wealthy spinster’s companion in the idyllic country town of Lindenfell. Its warm atmosphere and friendly inhabitants soothe Grace’s lonely heart. But when a mysterious stranger arrives, she soon discovers things aren’t always what they seem. Convinced chloroform will revolutionise the medical world, Dr. David Carbury frequently administers it to his London patients — until one of them dies. Facing a grave trial to prove his innocence and defend a drug most people view as poisonous, he makes hasty plans to buy time to bolster his case. But he wasn’t expecting to face an even deadlier challenge. As attraction sparks not long after they meet, Grace soon suspects he’s hiding something, and David knows he can’t run from the truth forever. But neither of them could imagine the sinister threat lurking just around the corner…. (Historical Romance from Moliant Publishing)


The Gold Doubloons by Suzanne J. Hatcher -- When Coronado marched through the Verde Valley in 1542 looking for the Seven Cities of Gold, Yavapai scouts took him to a mine near present-day Jerome. Coronado didn’t find what he was looking for, but a persistent legend says he left behind a bag of gold doubloons. Now, almost five hundred years later, Reed Harper, Paul and Marty Russell's foster son, needs those precious coins to finance the future he dreams of. But Reed isn't the only one determined to find the gold doubloons. As the search intensifies in the caves around Jerome and extends to the ancient cliff dwelling called Montezuma Castle, a young Yavapai woman dies. Was Mina Tewa’s fall from a cliff that borders Montezuma Well an accident—or was it murder? When a second fall from the same cliff puts Reed in a coma, the sheriff arrests him for Mina‘s murder. But Scott Russell knows his foster brother is innocent. Convinced a ruthless killer is after Reed, Scott rushes to protect him. Will Paul and Marty find the teens in time to rescue them, or will the murderer claim another victim? (Mystery from Scrivenings Press)

Speculative Fiction/YA:

Collapse: The Death of Independence by Angela D. Shelton -- If malnutrition doesn’t kill seventeen-year-old Olivia, her search for security just might. Basic survival is the goal for most after the apocalypse strikes. So, when Olivia’s father abandons her with relatives who can barely feed themselves, the resentment is obvious. Hungry for something more than just scraps of food, Olivia meets the connected, suave, and handsome Nick, who offers her just what she’s after. Nick seems to help many local women. But there’s something about him that Olivia can’t quite put her finger on. She wonders why he makes so many promises and what he’s going to expect in return. Will the lure of security make Olivia fall for Nick and lose more than she bargained for? Or can she stand to survive on her own? (Speculative Fiction/YA from Two Oaks Publishing LLC)

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

A Haunting of RevengeJann Franklin, et. al.., Can these sleuths overcome their fears, and solve the case? (Cozy Mystery)

A Hill Country Christmas Gail Kittleson, et. al , Eighteen holiday stories from every corner of the Texas Hill Country. (General Historical)

Five Days Lost: A Mylas Grey Mystery Luana Ehrlich, Mylas Grey agrees to investigate a personal matter for Senator Davis Allen. (General Historical)

Hope is Built Davalynn Spencer., She’s running from a planned future. He’s hiding from a broken life. (Historical Romance)

Restoring Miss Hastings Edwina Kiernan, When outside forces threaten their burgeoning fondness, each will be compelled to re-examine what they really believe about one another. (Historical Romance)

The Glass Road Alyssa Schwartz, One unexpected secret could have the power to unravel it all. (Contemporary Romance)

The Merchant’s Curse Antony B. Kolenc, Does the disfigured woman in the marketplace really have power over life and death? Will Nigel stop his dealings with a known traitor? (Mystery: YA)
The Misadventures of Itchy Izzy N.Y. Dunlap , Is Isabelle Chevalier’s obsession with the Spirit of God residing in Peter Stephens or just the man himself? (Contemporary Romance)

To Steal Maggie’s Heart Ronda Simpson, Will these men become grooms for any of the ladies of Garfield, or cause more havoc than harmony? (Historical Romance)