Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Traveling Tuesday: Boxing Day

Traveling Tuesday: Boxing Day

Old Farmer's Almanac
Happy Boxing Day! Never heard of it, you say? The origins of the holiday and its name are vague, but several websites I looked at indicate that it began in England sometime in the Middle Ages. In the countries (most of which are or were part of the UK) where it’s celebrated, it’s a “bank holiday” when banks, government offices, and the postal service are closed.

Some historians believe the holiday developed because servants were required to work on Christmas Day, but given the following day off and presented with gifts [boxes]. Others think it started because the alms boxes in churches were opened and the contents distributed to the poor. Regardless of how the day started, over the years it has developed into a time of charity, a time when service and tradespeople are typically given tips and bonuses for their work during the past year. The holiday has expanded to include giving to non-profit and needy organizations.

An episode of the TV show M*A*S*H explores Boxing Day. The 4077 staff treat a British regiment
that talks about the tradition of enlisted personnel and officers trading places on Boxing Day. During my research, I found only two references to this custom. The first was in a blog by a man who tells a story about his son’s army regiment participating in the tradition, and the other is an episode of The Nanny during which Mr. Sheffield refers to the custom and suggests that he and Niles switch roles.

The lack of evidence makes me wonder just how “traditional” this tradition is. What do you know about Boxing Day? Do you have traditions of your own?


War's Unexpected Gift (A Merry Heart anthology)

Love and war don’t mix. Or do they?

Eager to do even more for the war effort, nurse Gwen Milford puts in for a transfer from a convalescent hospital outside of London to an evac hospital headed across Europe. Leap-frogging from one location to the next, nothing goes as expected from stolen supplies to overwhelming numbers of casualties. Then, there’s the handsome doctor who seems to be assigned to her every shift. As another Christmas approaches without the war’s end, can she find room in her heart for love?

Purchase Link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CL5MC75Y

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Wartime Wednesday: Meals in a Time of War

 Wartime Wednesday: Meals in a Time of War

Much is made about rationing during World War II. If you think about it, we take food for granted until we can't have something, either because of choice (diet) or lack of availability. During World War II, America not only had to feed her citizens, but her troops, and lend aid to the other Allied nations. Sugar was the first item to be rationed, followed by coffee, then other foodstuffs. Many citizens located in rural already grew their own food, but additional acreage was turned into fields. Backyard gardens popped up in suburban areas and container gardens made a showing in cities where space was limited.

Everyone, from the government to newspaper and magazine publishers issued helpful hints and

recipes. Many periodicals accepted recipes from the general public to fill their pages with point- and money-saving meals. 

Cooks were encouraged to use "Alternate meats," a euphemism for organ meats, and a plethora of recipes were created to make these items palatable. (To the day she died, my mom, who was a child during the war, had little good to say about liver, tongue, or other "alternate meats.")

As someone who loves sweets, I would miss not being able to have desserts at every meal. I imagine that maple syrup and honey became highly popular during the war. Check out these recipes from Ontario, Canada's The Windsor Star.


War's Unexpected Gift (A Merry Heart anthology)

Love and war don’t mix. Or do they? 

Eager to do even more for the war effort, nurse Gwen Milford puts in for a transfer from a convalescent hospital outside of London to an evac hospital headed across Europe. Leap-frogging from one location to the next, nothing goes as expected from stolen supplies to overwhelming numbers of casualties. Then, there’s the handsome doctor who seems to be assigned to her every shift. As another Christmas approaches without the war’s end, can she find room in her heart for love?

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/47MO5Ms

Monday, December 18, 2023

Movie Monday: The Thin Man

 Movie Monday: The Thin Man

Hardly considered a Christmas movie, The Thin Man takes place at Christmas and culminates on New Year's Eve. I enjoy the original Dashiell Hammett books (as I do many of the "hard-boiled" stories published during the Golden Age of Detective Fiction), but the movies are among my absolute favorites. Granted, I watch any film featuring William Powell and/or Myrna Loy, but they are best together and in this series. 

Nick and Nora Charles are newlyweds in the first of these six movies. He was a successful private detective before marrying wealthy heiress Nora, but can't resist helping out the police when murders fall in his lap. Rather than referring to Nick, The Thin Man initially describes Charles Wynant, the man Nick is hired to find: "a thin man with white hair." Proven popular, the phrase is used as subsequent film titles.

The dialogue is snappy and delivered with perfect timing. The couple's on-screen chemistry caused many fans to think they were married in "real life." According to Loy in a 1988 interview, she thought they were "too much alike for romance" to ever be married. However, they remained good friends throughout their lives which translates onto the screen. 

As much as I like the movies and the fun of watching Nick and Nora solve the crimes, their

relationship is what keeps me coming back. Their friendship and enjoyment of being with each other are obvious. They have a great time, no matter what they're doing, and there is lots of kidding around. The Christmas scene is but one example. Nora is lying on the couch draped in a fur coat and diamonds, and Nick is in his PJs playing with a pop gun. He, of course, shoots out an ornament, then pretends he's asleep and didn't do it. She goes along with the charade.

But when danger arises, their care and concern for each other surfaces, sharp and immediate. Nick doesn't hesitate to throw himself in front of Nora to protect her. In one of the later films, she does the same. Their relief at each other's safety is palpable. A study in sacrifice.

In the book, the relationship between Nick and Nora takes a back seat to solving the crime, but director W.S. Van Dyke allows that element to enhance the film. Powell and Loy would star in thirteen movies together, with her appearing in an uncredited cameo in a fourteenth film, the 1947 comedy The Senator was Indiscreet. 

Have you watched either of these talented actors or any of the "Thin Man" movies?


War's Unexpected Gift (A Merry Heart anthology)

Love and war don’t mix.
 Or do they? 

Eager to do even more for the war effort, nurse Gwen Milford puts in for a transfer from a convalescent hospital outside of London to an evac hospital headed across Europe. Leap-frogging from one location to the next, nothing goes as expected from stolen supplies to overwhelming numbers of casualties. Then, there’s the handsome doctor who seems to be assigned to her every shift. As another Christmas approaches without the war’s end, can she find room in her heart for love?

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/47MO5Ms

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome back, Kathleen Bailey!

Talkshow Thursday: 
Welcome back, Kathleen Bailey!

December marks the observed birth of my Savior (of course), my umpteenth appearance on this blog (thanks Linda!) and a couple of firsts: my first novel with Elk Lake Publishing and my first contemporary Christian Christmas romance. There’s a lot to celebrate. Here’s how the book came to be:

For many years our family enjoyed a Christmas festival in the next town over. It was unabashedly “Christmas,” not “Holiday” or “Jingle Bell” or “Winter Solstice.” Though a local church sponsored the event, the town joined in, providing security and allowing the festival to use the old library, old schoolhouse, and other town buildings. Any funds raised went into a separate festival account, and the church didn‘t receive a dime. It was a collaboration between church and state I never saw before or since.

“Lights on the Hill” fell victim to COVID-19 and a dearth of volunteers. But by then I had the germ of a story and a series. I asked the traditional writers’ questions, “What if” and “why not?”

WHAT IF…a small town held an annual Christmas festival that was more than the sum of its parts?
Pixabay/Michelle Rapponi
What if estranged children came back to their parents and to Christ during the event, what if warring couples reconciled? What if old hurts were banished over a bowl of soup or a sleigh ride?

The “what if” became the foundation for Hilltop, my small town series, and its slogan: “Welcome to Hilltop, the Town That Heals.”

But I still needed people for Hilltop to heal. WHAT IF…a young woman came home to Hilltop, to run the festival for her convalescing grandmother, even though she’d avoided Hilltop, and religion since she left town for college? WHAT IF…the new pastor, a California misfit in this snowy hamlet, decided to make her conversion his personal project? WHY NOT…throw them together on the festival planning, and have God and the festival do the rest?

I had so much fun with this one. The New Hampshire mountains are a treasure for anyone who lives here or wishes they did. I was able to incorporate the Kancamagus Highway, the spot where the Old Man of the Mountains stood, the town of Littleton and more. I wrote about places that have been special to me since childhood. And I was able to create my own quirky small town, with flinty, funny New England characters.

So this Christmas season, why not join me in Hilltop? Have a doughnut at the French Hens Bakery, attend the fish fry at the Limelighter Café, take a sleigh ride or toast a marshmallow or listen to the carols pealing from the carillon.

Welcome to Hilltop. We’re glad you’re here.

About A Hilltop Christmas

When Jane Archer comes home to tiny Hilltop, New Hampshire, her goal is to take care of her convalescing grandmother and get back to Boston as soon as possible. She doesn’t expect to be saddled with the direction of the Hilltop Christmas Festival, three days of activities exalting the birth of a God she no longer serves. But Gram asks her to take over the Festival this year, and she can’t say no to the woman who saved her life.

The Rev. Noah Hastings didn’t want to come to Hilltop in the first place. Too small, too cold for this California boy. And he has trouble figuring out these Yankees, with their “thin sharp faces and sharper wits.” It’s his first church, and his goal is to amass some “ministerial brownie points” and be out of there. But his early life with his father has left Noah with damaged confidence, and despite his call, he’s not sure he can handle a pastorate, let alone Jane Archer.

Though the people of Hilltop have never stopped loving her, coming home reawakens memories for Jane of a childhood no child should have to live through. She feels her carefully constructed world crumbling, even as she resists the pull of Christ on her life.

But when the integrity of the Festival is threatened, Noah must call on his Lord, and Jane on the God from whom she's drifted, to find justice and restore Hilltop to what it is.

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

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Traveling Tuesday: Belgium During WWII

Traveling Tuesday: Belgium During WWII

In War’s Unexpected Gift, nurse Gwen Milford transfers from the wards of a convalescent hospital in a requisition manor home outside London to the sands of Normandy, then into Belgium as the Allies pushed the Germans back from whence they came.

Known as one of the Low Countries (because of its location in the lowland region of Northwestern Europe), Belgium hearkens back to pre-medieval times. Intriguingly, the country has distinctive regions that include Flemish/Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north, French-speaking in the south, and a German-speaking community in the east.

Despite declaring its neutrality at the beginning of the war, Belgium was invaded by Germany on May 10, 1940. The country fell after eighteen days of fighting, and the occupation lasted until 1944. King Leopold III surrendered which caused much hostility at home and abroad. Leopold’s act was declared unconstitutional by Prime Minister Hubert Pierlot and his cabinet, who formed a government-in-exile in London. Leopold and his family were placed under house arrest.

A military administration was set up, and thousands of Belgian soldiers were taken as prisoners of war.
The Belgian civil service assisted the administration, ostensibly feeling that limited cooperation with the occupiers would result in the least amount of damage to the country and its interests. Reports indicate that Fascist parties had been established in Flanders and Wallonia before the war and collaborated more actively with the administration.

Food and fuel were tightly rationed; the Belgians allowed about two-thirds of that to German citizens. Monthly allotments per resident included 8.8 ounces of butter, 2 pounds of sugar, 2 pounds of meat, and 33 pounds of potatoes. Many survived by fishing and growing their own produce. Unsurprisingly, a black market emerged

All news was censored. In 1942, the occupation became more repressive as those with Jewish heritage were persecuted, then deported to concentration camps. In addition, Belgian civilians were sent to work in German factories. Wages remained at pre-war levels, but the authorities tripled the amount of money in circulation creating rampant inflation. In addition, the Germans heavily taxed the Belgians to cover the cost of the occupation as well as “external occupation costs.” Estimates are that this amounted to almost two-thirds of Belgium’s national income.

In June 1941, the Germans arrested a large number of Communists as well as politicians who had opposed the Nazis before the war. Some were deported to Germany and Polish concentration camps, while others were sent to a former fort at Breendonk that had been converted to a prison camp. By all reports, the camp had extremely poor conditions and a high death rate.

The Belgians resisted, but their work was fragmented a localized. Nonetheless, these brave men and women made a difference. Downed Allied airmen were led to safety, and sabotage was used against military and economic assets with railway lines and bridges being popular targets.

Belgium was liberated in September 1944 by Allied forces that included British, American, and Canadian armies. Tragically, more than 40,000 Belgian citizens were killed during the occupation, over half of them Jews.


War’s Unexpected Gift (A Merry Heart Anthology)

Love and war don’t mix. Or do they?

Eager to do even more for the war effort, nurse Gwen Milford puts in for a transfer from a convalescent hospital outside of London to an evac hospital headed across Europe. Leap-frogging from one location to the next, nothing goes as expected from stolen supplies to overwhelming numbers of casualties. Then, there’s the handsome doctor who seems to be assigned to her every shift. As another Christmas approaches without the war’s end, can she find room in her heart for love?

Purchase Link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CL5MC75Y

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome back, Aubrey Taylor!

Talkshow Thursday: 
A Guest Post by Aubrey Taylor

Almost from the beginning, fatherhood emerged as a central theme in my writing. In all four of my published works, there are young men who have grown up with a father who was either absent or abusive. I wonder if that has grown out of a perceived need for strong, godly men in our world today. How can a man grow up to be strong and solid when he has lacked that role model in his life?

As an author of historical fiction, of course, I am well aware that in every generation, there have been men (and women) who have had to face life without a strong father figure.

My Gott Mit Uns Series is a saga of a German and German-American family set during the first half of the 20th Century. In the first book in the series, Sani: The German Medic, we meet American-born Frederick Smith, whose father left to fight in the Great War and never came home. Frederick’s mother didn’t remarry until long after he had grown up and was himself caught up in another war.

The German branch of the family experienced something vastly different. Along with the political
Photo Credit: Pixabay
turmoil that plagued his homeland, Ernst Schmidt grew up alongside two older brothers who were heirs to the family name and tradition, while he was rejected by a philandering father and a resentful mother. By the time he came to understand the reason for their closed hearts, he had already passed the family legacy on to his son Jakob.

Jakob “Helmuth” Schmidt was raised by a doting grandmother. Still, he could not step out of the shadows cast onto his life by his father and grandfather. When finally he begins to bond with another relative who treats him with dignity and respect, that man deserts him as well, confirming to young, impressionable Jake that all Schmidt men are prone to avoiding their problems and abandoning those they love.

Jakob is not simply facing life without a father figure. He is coming of age at the beginning of the darkest years of German history. With other young adults, the once-shy piano prodigy rides high on the emotional tidal wave drummed up at Hitler Youth rallies, and he begins to realize that he can be someone different—someone with pride, prestige, and power. He basks in the status given him by his uniform, but underneath, he is falling into despair, alcoholism, and psychosis, carrying with him a deep hatred toward all the men in his life. The violence demanded by his career cannot satiate his need for catharsis or revenge.

The “sins of the fathers” is a thread woven through many family stories, and ultimately, it was woven into our stories as far back as Adam and Eve. That is why we are each ultimately responsible for our own sin: we all have it, regardless of its magnitude or visibility in our lives.

Pixabay/Gerd Altmann
Only one Person has ever held the power to break the chain of destruction, and that is why I could not leave Jake Schmidt without hope. In a moment that ties the entire Gott Mit Uns Series together, Jakob is reminded of the greatness of God’s love and mercy. He no longer attempts to justify his behavior by blaming others or faulting God for allowing evil into his life, but acknowledges his own sin and rebellion before God. When asked if he still believes Jesus is his Savior, he humbly acknowledges in repentance, “If He’ll have me.” The promise of Jesus is that, through His blood, God will always receive a truly repentant sinner.


About Sani: The German Medic

Can a soldier stand for his country without bowing his knee to evil?

American-born Frederick Smith has left everything he’s ever known to return to his German homeland. While he tries to remain uninvolved in the terror that surrounds him, his thirst for adventure and camaraderie draw him into the army of the Third Reich.

Spurred by the friendship of the Battalion Chaplain and a newfound faith, Freddie begins to find a new meaning in the words Gott Mit Uns (God with us). But as tide of the war turns, his closest comrades begin to fall. Will he live to serve Germany?

Whether you love resistance fiction or war stories, you won’t want to miss this story from behind German lines!

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/3t1Nw2p  


About the Series: The words Gott Mit Uns (God With Us) were used as a slogan of the German military for nearly 100 years. In this fictional family saga, you are invited to follow the Schmidt boys and the women who love them, as they try desperately to hold on to each other, to their faith, and to their love for Germany during the nation’s volatile 20th Century.

Website: www.aubreytaylorbooks.com
Blog: www.aubreytaylorbooks.com/blog
Newsletter: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/o3k4f2
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/aubreytaylorbooks
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/aubreytaylorbooks/
X: https://www.twitter.com/aubtaybooks
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/aubrey-taylor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21846520.Aubrey_Taylor
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/stores/Aubrey-Taylor/author/B0973KWXV8

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Wartime Wednesday: Remember Pearl Harbor

Wartime Wednesday: Remember Pearl Harbor!

More than two years had passed since the war began in Europe when the Japanese bombers arrived in the skies above Pearl Harbor at 7:48 AM local time. An hour earlier the Wickes-class destroyer USS Ward attacked and sank a midget submarine near the entrance of the harbor. The sub’s periscope had been spotted above the water by the minesweeper Condor which alerted the crew on the Ward. The sub’s unconscious pilot, Kazuo Sakamaki, would later surface and be taken prisoner, spending the remainder of the war as a POW. Unfortunately, the incident would fail to put the base on full alert.

Japan depended on supplies from the United States, namely oil, to support their naval forces, but the Tokyo government began to look elsewhere and targeted Southeast Asia which is rich in minerals and oil. America’s foreign policy in the Pacific centered on support for China against the aggression of Japan, thus creating potential conflict. The U.S. extended a loan to China in 1938. The following year, America terminated the 1911 Treaty of Commerce and Navigation with Japan. Twelve months later, the export of materials “useful in war” to Japan was restricted. After Japan occupied Indochina and entered into an alliance with the Axis powers of Germany and Italy, the U.S. severed all commercial and financial relations with Japan, froze Japanese assets, and declared an embargo on shipments of petroleum and other war materials.

Meanwhile, the argument between isolationists and interventionists continued about the war in Europe.
In January 1940, 88% of U.S. citizens opposed the idea of getting involved in Europe. However, in September of that year, 52% felt America should risk war to help the British. By April 1941, the number had risen to 68%. Both ideologies became moot on December 7, 1941.

Unmoored from its berth in Battleship Row, the USS Nevada attempted to thwart the attack by heading to the harbor entrance. Repeatedly hit by bombs and torpedoes, the ship beached itself on Hospital Point, however, gunners managed to shoot down three of the Japanese Zeros. A few Army P-40 and P-36 pursuit planes were able to get airborne, some from the untargeted airfield at Haleiwa on Oahu’s northern coast. It is thought they managed to take down almost a dozen enemy aircraft.

By the end of the attack, forty-two of the one-hundred-twenty-six planes on the ground were destroyed, forty-one were damaged, and forty-three remained fit for service. More than one hundred eighty aircraft were destroyed. Within thirty days of the attack, 134,000 Americans enlisted in the military.

Printed on matchbooks, war bonds, license plate toppers, signs, plates, handkerchiefs, games, playing cards, flags, posters, buttons, cardboard shields, envelopes, and more, “Remember Pearl Harbor” became a rallying cry. During the week following the attack, Sammy Kaye and Don Reid penned the march, “Remember Pearl Harbor.” A few days later, the song was recorded, then released on January 17, 1942. Within two weeks, the song was number seven in sales and peaked at number three on the Billboard singles chart. By January 1942, Kaye had donated $4,000 from the song’s royalties to Navy relief funds.


War’s Unexpected Gift (A Merry Heart Anthology)

Love and war don’t mix. Or do they?

Eager to do even more for the war effort, nurse Gwen Milford puts in for a transfer from a convalescent hospital outside of London to an evac hospital headed across Europe. Leap-frogging from one location to the next, nothing goes as expected from stolen supplies to overwhelming numbers of casualties. Then, there’s the handsome doctor who seems to be assigned to her every shift. As another Christmas approaches without the war’s end, can she find room in her heart for love?

Purchase Link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CL5MC75Y

Friday, December 1, 2023

Fiction Friday: New Releases in Christian Fiction

December 2023 New Releases

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

Contemporary Romance:

Bidding on a Second Chance by Emily Conrad -- His bid for a second chance this Christmas might lead to her most disastrous fall yet. Police officer Graham Lockhart’s life is dangerous enough without accident-prone Piper Wells tripping around in it—at least that’s what she claimed when she declined his marriage proposal two years ago. But he can’t help but wonder if there is more to her refusal. Piper always cared for Graham, but she is incapable of giving him the one thing he wants more than anything—family. All her orphaned self knows about that is how much it hurts to lose. She’s better off focusing on caring for her nephew and running her business. Secondhand furniture doesn’t break hearts. When an injury sidelines Piper leading into the holidays, Graham steps up to help her keep her commitment to a Christmastime auction benefiting a local family. Can they overcome the hurdles between them, or will the past and their warring hopes and fears trip them up for good?? (Contemporary Romance from Hope Anchor LLC)

Home from the Storm by Laurel M. Blount -- After a senseless loss, hotheaded Caleb Hochstedler left his Amish faith and his young wife to seek justice. Two years later, he tracks his parents’ killer back home to Johns Mill, where he’s astonished to learn he’s the father of twins. Now he's determined to protect his children and the woman he still loves—if she’ll let him. Her new husband’s abandonment broke Rhoda Lambright’s heart and proved her father, the bishop, right. Such a stubborn man could never be happy among the peaceful Amish. When Caleb unexpectedly returns, Rhoda is caught between her rock of a husband and a very hard place. Her church forbids divorce and requires forgiveness, so Rhoda lets Caleb back into their home. But can she ever let him back into her heart? One thing’s for certain sure. This second chance will take all the faith they can find. (Contemporary Romance from Berkley)

The Care of a Cowboy by Elsie Davis -- In the sprawling landscape of Crossroads Creek, where the Texan sun paints golden dreams, Max Turner suddenly finds his dream of reclaiming his family’s lost ranch put on hold. To avoid draining his savings account, Max is desperately searching for a new job and a place to live, except ranch foreman jobs weren’t easy to come by. As the scorching summer unfolds, Max's path crosses with that of Lucy Carrington, a determined young woman whose dreams clash with the expectations of her traditional rancher father. When her father hires Max to secretly oversee the ranch because he doesn’t trust his daughter to handle a man’s job, Max is caught in a web of deceit. As Max and Lucy navigate the complexities of their new roles, including the surprise news that Max is guardian to Crystal…a twelve-year-old niece he never knew existed, they discover the power of love and resilience, and the true meaning of family. (Contemporary Romance from Sweet Romance Publishing)

General Contemporary:

Chokecherry Valley Comfort by Jean Rezab -- One accident. Two devastated families. Paul Richmond's life changed in an instant when his wife and seven-year-old daughter die in a car accident. He struggles to move forward with this huge change. As his two-year sobriety anniversary approaches, he knows he's on the edge of a relapse. He takes a sabbatical from his work as a doctor and heads to his in-law's farm to get perspective and try to come to terms with his new life. Tyler Garvey is the only survivor of the two-vehicle accident in which his younger brother dies. He feels guilty because he should have been driving. His parents don’t blame him, but he blames himself, and so does Paul. Both families try to put their lives back together. It’s going to take time, a great deal of comfort, and forgiveness on all sides. (General Contemporary from Mary Schmitz)

Chokecherry Valley Joy by Jean Rezab -- Abby feels like everything is wrong with her life. She’s never dealt with the grief of losing her twin sister, Samantha, and niece, Amy, in an accident. Her marriage to Mark has fallen into the routine of his long hours of work and her erratic schedule as a nurse in a busy Houston hospital. Their failed attempt to have a child puts further strain on their relationship. Unhappy in her current job, she needs a break. She travels to Chokecherry Valley to spend two weeks with her parents at their farm. Mark plans to join her after he finishes his current work project, and she hopes to reconnect with him and discuss their future. (General Contemporary from Mary Schmitz)

The Year of Goodbyes and Hellos
by Kelly S. Irvin -- Determined to save Sherri’s life, Kristen drops everything to guide her sister on the harrowing cancer treatment journey. When she’s unable to balance the strain of caring for her patients, being a wife and mother, and her frantic efforts to save her sister, Kristen’s carefully balanced life crumbles, starting with her marriage. Desperate to regain her footing, she vows to rebuild her broken relationships . . . as soon she’s sure Sherri will beat the odds stacked against her. Unlike her sister, Sherri Reynolds has worked to cultivate balance in her life. Her children, her job as a teacher, and her strong faith keep her grounded—until her diagnosis sends her spiraling into the scary world of what-ifs and unknown outcomes. Sherri faces the agonizing realization that family history may be about to repeat itself. With the clock ticking, she’s determined to use whatever time she has left to heal old wounds and restore relationships. Together, the sisters are forced to reexamine their priorities, address the still tender wounds of their childhood, and delve more deeply to discover what it means to live each day to its fullest.? (General Contemporary from Harper Collins/Thomas Nelson)

Historical Romance:

When Love Comes by Penny Zeller -- A woman with a broken heart. A man struggling with the loss of his brother and the subsequent care of his young niece. And two silly aunts who discover it's never too late for true love. When Charlotte's and Tobias's paths cross in Prune Creek, Wyoming, can they put aside their preconceived disdain for each other? Does God have a plan for them and for a young girl in search of someone to take the place of the parents she lost? (Historical Romance from Maplebrook Publishing)


Deadly Burden by Janet Sketchly -- Obey the police and stay safe, or follow her heart and help unmask a killer? Landon Smith solved the last murder by accident—and nearly became the next victim. When a shocking death strikes her close-knit circle, can this amateur sleuth discover who wanted the town busybody dead? The dead woman knew too much about too many people. Was she silenced to protect a secret? Or because of one she wouldn’t tell? And how can a dyslexic trauma survivor find clues the professionals miss? Landon can’t afford to be sidetracked by a vindictive guest at the inn or by unexpected family drama. Or by falling for the geeky writer next door—now that he’s over her. With a storm closing in and no leads in sight, Landon’s first Christmas at the Green Dory Inn is shaping up to be anything but merry and bright. (Mystery/Cozy, Independently Published)


Buried Grave Secrets by Darlene L. Turner -- Standing guard…with threats on all sides. When bones are found at an unmarked grave site—and then shots are fired—forensic anthropologist Jordyn Miller knows someone wants old secrets to remain buried. She’ll do anything to uncover the truth about these suspicious deaths, including accepting the protection of her ex-boyfriend, Constable Colt Peters, and his K-9. But with targets on their backs, can Jordyn stay alive long enough to bring a serial killer to justice?? (Thriller/Suspense/Romantic from Love Inspired Suspense/Harlequin)

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

A Courageous Betrothal Denise Weimer, A wounded lieutenant, a woman fierce enough to protect her family, and an American Revolution with everything at stake. (Historical Romance)

Another Outer Banks Christmas Christina Sinisi, She’s a role model for everything good, and he comes from a rough and broken home. (Contemporary Romance)

An Unexpected Christmas Gift Janetta Fudge Messmer, Will the mortal enemies find a way to work things out before her B&B closes? Or will they die trying? (Cozy Mystery)

Finding Baby Jesus Lynn Weathington, Will Baby Jesus find his way back into the nativity in time for Christmas? (Contemporary Romance)

Hilltop Christmas Kathleen D. Bailey, When the integrity of the Festival is threatened, Noah must call on his Lord, and Jane on the God from whom she's drifted, to find justice and restore Hilltop to what it is. (Romance)

Her Christmas HealingMindy Obenhaus, With love, faith, a support dog and some Christmas spirit, maybe it’s not too late after all… (Contemporary Romance)

For Love or Money Susan Page Davis , When he learns where the money probably came from, will it keep their two families apart? (Western)

Hope’s Hills Ruth Kyser, Will they remain good friends, or has God got other plans for their futures? (Contemporary Romance)

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Patti Shene!

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Patti Shene!

I'm thrilled to welcome Patti Shene to my blog today. She has generously hosted me several times over the years. Grab a cup of your favorite beverage and learn about this interesting lady and her books.

What was your inspiration for the story?

I never had any interest in writing a Christmas story, but when I was invited into a MAP (multi author project), I decided to accept the challenge.

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

Those of us in the multi-author Christmas Ridge Romance series project agreed to choose different age groups for our characters. Since I am a widow, I wanted to create older characters and share a message of hope for those who struggle with the Christmas season while grieving a loss.

Cathy works as a church secretary, and although I never held that position, I prepared and printed our church bulletins every week for a few years. As David’s character shaped up in my mind, I could picture him as a retired math teacher who enjoys home repair projects and keeps physically fit.

When I shared the original name I chose for my male character with my sister, she informed me it was the most unromantic name ever! That led me to a google search of common first names from the decade in which my characters were born.

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

I do write under a pseudonym, more or less. My real name is Pat Gonzales, but I write under the name Patti Shene. The main reason is that my married last name is very common, especially in this part of the country, but my maiden name is not. I published Cathy’s Christmas Confession under the name Patti Shene Gonzales.

How are your characters like you? Different?

Funny you should ask! A friend told me after reading my novella that Cathy reminded her of me. They say your first published work is somewhat autobiographical.

I am a widow, and I also tend to be short on common sense like Cathy at times. I put simple things off
Pixabay/Scott Donald
that should be done, which can get me into trouble. Cathy’s failure to change the battery in her garage door opener leads to problems that might have been avoided. That is so me.

Cathy and I are not alike in that I have not met my David Martin! After seven years of widowhood, I doubt I will, but only God knows the answer to that!

If you were to write a spin-off book about one of your secondary characters, which one would you choose and why?

I would write about Officer Greenwald, the police officer who appears briefly near the beginning of the book. He is surly with no compassion and certainly no sense of humor whatsoever. He is hiding a deep wound and I’d love to match him up with someone who would love him and make him aware of how much God loves him too.

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?

I wish I could say I create wonderful outlines that direct me step by step, but I just don’t. I start out with a basic idea and I know how the story is going to end. It’s getting there that requires a lot of trial and error, deleting and rewriting.

My favorite time to write is in the evening, when I feel I have accomplished whatever tasks needed to be done that day. Then I can relax and enjoy writing, but I sometimes get carried away and end up staying up way too late!

My favorite part of the process is putting sentences together to paint a vivid picture for my reader. I like to create dialogue that expresses emotion and brings my characters to life.

What is your advice to fledgling writers?

Study the craft. Attend writers' conferences and learn all you can from other authors. Join a critique group. Don’t let rejection discourage you. If you have a passion in your heart for a certain theme, subject, or message, God has probably put it there for a reason. It may take a while to get published, but His timing is always perfect! Above all, write for God’s glory.

What writers or books have influenced you?

The Oregon Encyclopedia
I have been a fan of westerns, both on the old TV shows and in books since I was young. My great aunt and uncle had a collection of Zane Grey books, and when I would go visit in the summer, I’d spend hours reading those books. In fact, when my aunt said, “tell me what you want from this house after I’m gone so I can be sure you receive it,” I told her I wanted her Zane Grey books! My folks brought them out here to Colorado over forty years ago when they visited from New York. They have been on my bookshelf ever since. Every few years, I get on a Zane Grey binge and read four or five of his books in a row.

What is your next project?

I enjoyed writing Cathy’s Christmas Confession, but as you may have guessed from my previous answer, my true passion lies with the western genre! I have a completed novel now in the process of editing, with the help of my excellent and supportive critique group. I plan to send it out for professional editing before submitting to a couple of publishing houses that have expressed interest.

First page peek:

Cathy Fischer chiseled at the thick ice encasing the windshield of her gunmetal gray Dodge Ram. Snow blew in her face, slithered down her neck, and crunched under her feet.

Why spend time today on what could be put off until tomorrow? Or the next day. Six decades of this philosophy that had caused her grief more than once was playing havoc again.

Ice wouldn’t have formed under a foot of snow blanketing her truck if a dead garage door battery hadn’t prevented her from putting the vehicle in the garage. That’s where it belonged during an overnight Colorado winter storm. She’d intended to replace the battery days ago.

By the time she cleared the windows, the defroster had left a peephole in the windshield.

Snow covered the roof. Should she stand on the running board and clear it?


That frozen icing would stay right where it was on this metal cupcake.

She backed down the driveway and waited as a black SUV crept up the road. The white stuff fell in a heavy curtain, reducing visibility to less than a quarter of a mile. Wind whipped the shards of icy precipitation against her windshield. She kept a safe distance from the vehicle ahead and tested her brake.

Just in case.

Sure enough.

Slick pavement.

About Cathy’s Christmas Confession:

Christmas is not a time of joy for the hurting.

During a snowstorm, widow Cathy Fischer creams a stop sign on her way to work at the Christmas Ridge Community Church. Acquaintance David Martin stops to help. Cathy sees signs of deep grief in David, a recent widower. She reaches out with support to help David through this most difficult first Christmas without his beloved wife.

David Martin struggles with grief over the death of his wife. He blames God for her rapid demise after her cancer diagnosis. Cathy reaches out to him with compassion and support and soon enlists him in her mission to bring joy to others at Christmas. Will their joint quest restore David’s faith? David needs to turn loose of the past and embrace his future. Cathy has a confession to make to the entire community that may give David a different perspective of who she really is. Will her confession set her free?

Does God have plans in mind for the two of them they did not anticipate?

Social media links:

Website: http://www.www.pattishene.com
(sign up for my two blogs, Patti's Porch and The Over 50 Writer and podcast Step Into the Light or just one of the three or any combination as you prefer)
Facebook Step Into the Light: https://www.facebook.com/pattishene
Facebook personal: https://www.facebook.com/gunsmokefan/
Twitter: @pattishene
Linkedin: @Patti Shene
Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/pattishene/
Amazon Author Page
BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/patti-shene-gonzales 

BIO: Patti Shene Gonzales hosts Step Into the Light, a weekly interview-style podcast, where guests share their journey out of darkness or ways they lead others out of darkness. She hosts writers on her two blogs, Patti’s Porch and The Over 50 Writer. Patti enjoyed a thirty-year career as a psychiatric nurse and has always harbored a desire to write. Cathy’s Christmas Confession released in November 2022 and is her first full-length published work. Patti enjoys writing, reading, critiquing, and spending time with family and friends. She lives in Colorado with her devoted feline companion, Duncan.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Wartime Wednesday: Nurses in the Army and Navy Medical Corps

Wartime Wednesday: 
Nurses in the Army and Navy Medical Corps

Fewer than 1,000 nurses comprised the Army Nurse Corps when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. The Navy Nurse Corps had only 800. Both corps had been created in the early 20th century as auxiliaries to established branches, but were not officially part of the armed forces, nor were their ranks equal to those held by men in service.

To serve in the Army Nurse Corps, women had to be 21-40 years old (later in the war this would be raised to aged 45), unmarried (married nurses were accepted beginning in October 1942), a high school graduate, a graduate of a 3-year nursing training program, licensed in at least one state, and a U.S. citizen or citizen of an Allied country. Interestingly, there were height requirements, and nurses could only be 5’0” to 6’0” tall. Applicants must also have a physician’s certificate of health. And as with many of the women’s organizations during the war, the individuals had to provide a letter testifying to moral and professional excellence.

The Cadet Nurse Corps was created during the summer of 1943 and allowed women ages 17-35 to
Wiki Image
receive free nursing education, room and board, and uniforms. Applicants had to hold at least a high school diploma. The program’s accelerated curriculum aimed to get nurses into hospitals to fill the shortage in public facilities as well as army and navy facilities. The program lasted from July 1943 to December 1948 and trained nearly 125,000 nurses.

Army and Navy nurses served in all types of hospitals from field stations to evacuation and convalescent hospitals as well as on ships, trains, and aircraft. They also served in every theater of the war, some of whom were taken prisoner, such as those in the Philippines and Guam.

It was not until the summer of 1942 that nurses in both the Army and Navy Medical Corps received full military service recognition. A Congressional act gave them pay and allowances equal to that of male officers. Additionally, Congress authorized the promotion of nurses to relative ranks of Major and Lt. Colonel (previous advancement was limited to Captain). Two years later, on June 22, 1944, nurses were granted full officer status which included full retirement privileges, dependents’ allowances, and equal pay.

National Women's
History Museum
Unfortunately, discrimination played a large role in the Corps. Male nurses were not allowed in the Army National Corps, and only a small quota of African-American nurses was admitted. Fewer than five hundred were allowed to service, and then only to care for black patients or POWs. The quota was lifted in July 1944.

More than 59,000 women served in the Army Nurse Corps and 11,000 in the Navy Nurse Corps. Through their diligence, the mortality rate for Americans wounded in action was less than four percent. With the Army-Navy Nurses Act, the Army Nurse Corps was made a full branch of the regular U.S. Army, and the Navy Nurse Corps a full branch of the Navy on April 16, 1947.


War’s Unexpected Gift (part of A Merry Heart anthology)

Love and war don’t mix. Or do they?

Eager to do even more for the war effort, nurse Gwen Milford puts in for a transfer from a convalescent hospital outside of London to an evac hospital headed across Europe. Leap-frogging from one location to the next, nothing goes as expected from stolen supplies to overwhelming numbers of casualties. Then, there’s the handsome doctor who seems to be assigned to her every shift. As another Christmas approaches without the war’s end, can she find room in her heart for love?

Purchase link: https://amzn.to/3MOZPpl

Friday, November 24, 2023

Fiction Friday: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving

Fiction Friday: 
An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving

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
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.

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: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/27567/27567-h/27567-h.htm


Francine's Foibles

She's given up hope. He never had any. Will they find it together?

World War II is finally over, and America is extra grateful as the country approaches this year’s Thanksgiving. But for Francine life hasn’t changed. Despite working at Fort Meade processing the paperwork for the thousands of men who have returned home, she’s still lonely and very single. Is she destined for spinsterhood?

Grateful that his parents anglicized the family surname after emigrating to the United States after the Great War, first-generation German-American Ray Fisher has done all he can to hide his heritage. He managed to make it through this second “war to end all wars,” but what American woman would want to marry into a German family. Must he leave the country to find wedded bliss?

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/40PzQEk

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Traveling Tuesday: Medical Treatment During WWII

Traveling Tuesday: 
Medical Treatment During WWII

With war comes the need for medical facilities. The main character in War’s Unexpected Gift, is Gwen Milford, a nurse in an Evacuation Hospital that starts out in Belgium, then moves into Germany as the Allies gain ground in Europe (loosely based on the 96th Evac Hospital). During my research, I learned about the U.S. system of care and the intricate logistics that ensured efficient and effective patient treatment.

Casualties were given emergency treatment at a series of medical installations. Clearing Stations, Field Hospitals, Evacuation Hospitals, Convalescent Hospitals, and Surgical Hospitals were established in combat zones. General Hospitals, Station Hospitals, Hospital Centers, and Convalescent Camps and Centers were set up in what was referred to as the Zone of Interior and the Communication Zones.

Clearing Stations (AKA Dressing Stations) are located just beyond the front lines and perform triage and immediate care to stabilize the individual.

Field Hospitals: are usually located from three to eight miles from the front line, depending upon enemy range of fire, the roads, fuel, water, the presence of buildings, and the location of Evacuation Hospitals. Whenever possible, they were grouped in a village or at an intersection of roads for the convenience of ambulances and movement of patients.

Evacuation Hospitals: are mobile units designed to provide facilities for major medical and surgical
treatments as well as the beginning of a definite treatment for the individual, the sorting of casualties, the return of men fit for duty sooner rather than later, and for extended evacuation of certain patients to General Hospitals. There were two types of evac hospitals: 400-bed semi-mobile and 750-bed mobile.

Surgical Hospitals: were also mobile units as far forward as practicable that provided major surgical procedures for serious injury cases. They occasionally served as substitutes for evac hospitals in the case of emergency.

General Hospitals: were facilities located in the rear of the theatre with a capacity of up to 2,000 patients, although half that was the norm. Once situated, a General Hospital remained in that location and performed the most difficult and specialized procedures.

Station Hospitals: were typically located at posts, camps, and stations for hospitalization of local personnel. Housed in buildings their bed capacities ranged from 25-900.

Drawn by Pfc. Don J. Anders in 1945
Map of the route taken by the 96th Evac
Hospital Centers: were comprised of a headquarters and service company, central laboratory, and convalescent camp. All were housed in permanent or temporary buildings if in the Zone of Interior, and in tents with concrete floors in Communication Zones.

During the early months of 1942, many hospital units were sent overseas from Australia to the Central Pacific and from Northern Ireland and England to Iceland. By March of 1943, 140 stations, 27 general hospitals, 14 field hospitals, 2 convalescent hospitals, 3 surgical hospitals, and 23 evacuation hospitals were overseas. By 1945, there were and additional 189 general hospitals, 74 field hospitals, 61 station hospitals, 35 field hospitals, and 8 station hospitals creating a peak of 335,000 foxed beds and about 87,000 mobile beds in all theaters.


War’s Unexpected Gift (Part of A Merry Heart Anthology)

Love and war don’t mix. Or do they?

Eager to do even more for the war effort, nurse Gwen Milford puts in for a transfer from a convalescent hospital outside of London to an evac hospital headed across Europe. Leap-frogging from one location to the next, nothing goes as expected from stolen supplies to overwhelming numbers of casualties. Then, there’s the handsome doctor who seems to be assigned to her every shift. As another Christmas approaches without the war’s end, can she find room in her heart for love?

Experience the magic of Christmas in this heartwarming anthology featuring ten talented authors, as they weave enchanting tales of clean and Christian romance. Delight in the spirit of the season, where love, faith, and miracles come together to create unforgettable holiday moments. 

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/3QJjlF8