Thursday, January 26, 2023

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back, Lorri Dudley!

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back, Lorri Dudley

What was your inspiration for the story?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How are your characters like you? Different?

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

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

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

How has your book changed since your first draft?

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

Why do you write in your particular genre?

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

What is one thing you wish you could do?

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

What is your advice to fledgling writers?

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

What is your next project?

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

About The Heir's Predicament

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

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

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

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

Purchase Link:

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

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Wartime Wednesday: Pillow Talk

Wartime Wednesday: Pillow Talk

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

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

Because silk was required in the manufacture of parachutes, the covers were initially made of rayon, a
Author Photo

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

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

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

Have you ever seen a sweetheart pillow?


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, January 24, 2023

Traveling Tuesday: They Came, They Sawed, They Left

Traveling Tuesday: They Came, They Sawed, They Left

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pixabay/James DeMers

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

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

Think you could have done the work?


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:

Friday, January 20, 2023

Fiction Friday: Proxy Brides


Fiction Friday: Do I Know You?

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

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

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

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

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


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

Here are my contributions to the series:

A Bride for Seamus:

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

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

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

Purchase Link:

A Bride for Keegan 

The past clashes with the present to jeopardize their future. 

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

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

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Thursday, January 19, 2023

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Patrick E. Craig

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Patrick E. Craig

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

What was your inspiration for the story?

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

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

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

Tell us about your road to publication.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why do you write in your particular genre?

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

What is your advice to fledgling writers?

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

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

What is your next project?

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

About The Quilt That Knew 

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

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

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

Find Patrick on the Web:

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Thursday, January 12, 2023

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Stacey Haynes

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Stacey Haynes

A warm welcome to award-winning novelist Stacey Haynes whose most recent publication is part of multi-author Suffrage Spinster series.

LM: What was your inspiration for the story? 

Stacey: The inspiration for my story is finding love during The Women’s Movement in the 1800s.

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

Stacey: I read articles about the Women’s Movement and watched a movie on Netflix to see how Hollywood portrayed it.

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

Stacey: I haven’t considered writing under a pseudonym only because I’m not ashamed of what I’m writing. But since I co-author a few series with my sister, Marie Higgins, and we are trying to step outside of the Amazon window for publishing, we have decided to pick a couple of names to use, one will be for contemporary romances and the other will be for historical romances. Remember, though, it’s not because we are ashamed of what we write, because we are not. It’s because other publishing agencies may not accept multiple authors for who wrote the book.

LM: Did you set out to write a series? Why did you decide to write a series?

Stacey: Charity’s Challenge is a part of a MAP group for a series called The Suffrage Spinsters. At
first, when I wrote this story, I didn’t think of writing another in the series. But the hero of my book has a sister who is friends with my heroine. By the time I finished writing it, I figured she needed to have a story, too.

LM: How do you come up with storylines? 

Stacey: Before I begin writing, I need to figure out why I’m writing the story. I need a plot and a direction to go. Once that pathway is set, I will then put myself into my character’s shoes and pretend like this is my story and what would I say or do in that moment.

LM: What draws you to the time period about which you write? 

Stacey: To be honest, historical westerns are not my go-to time period. It takes a lot of research to find out how they lived back then. I find it difficult to write historical. I prefer contemporary. But, in this instance, what draws me to the time period would be the challenge of writing it.

LM: Why do you write in your particular genre?

Stacey: I’ve always considered myself a hopeless romantic. I want everyone to have a happily-ever-after. I love romance songs, movies, and stories. But I do love to toss in some different struggles to make the story exciting. I do enjoy writing time-travel romances as well as contemporary and historical romances.

LM: 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? 

Stacey: My process for writing is mostly plotting. I have a Word document where I put my notes or research items on. I then think of what needs to happen in the book, figure out the problems, the trials, the villain, and then how to resolve it. It will take many brainstorming sessions with either my sister, or those in my writing support group that I’ve created. My favorite part of the process is finding the Ah-ha moment when you see it all make sense.

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

Stacey: My job really hasn’t prepared me for being a novelist. When I was in high school, I took a creative writing class and dug into poetry after I got married. I currently work full-time as an accounting and payroll specialist at my work in the aerospace industry. I’ve been there for 32 years. If anything, studying the people I work with helps me create some character profiles. Since I am in payroll, I’ve looked at everyone’s names and have tried to use a combination of names to help come up with characters for my stories.

LM: What is your next project? 

Stacey: My work in progress is writing book 7 of Gems of the West series, called Opals and Orphans. My sister and I are also working on another series, a time travel one, called A Timeless Castle. We have two of the books almost complete for the 3 book series. I also plan on writing a sequel to one of my first stories.

About Stacey:

Stacey Haynes is an award-winning and best-selling author. She has always enjoyed reading and writing romance stories beginning with her first story in 6th grade. Her dream has always been to have one of her books published, and now has several, including a poem about her most disliked food, Peas! She won her first writing contest when she and her sister, Marie, entered their story The Magic of a Billionaire into an online writing contest on – and their story won 1st place!
She considers herself a hopeless romantic and tries to find the best in others. She loves to write in her spare time to relax after a hard day at work.

Stacey lives in Utah with her wonderful husband and three adorable children. She hopes to have more books published in her lifetime. You can follow her adventures on

Facebook –
Author Page -
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Bookbub –
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About Charity's Challenge:

Charity Burke wishes she could speak her mind, especially when it comes to the roles of women. Many men have asked for her hand in marriage, but she has refused, leaving her father—the mayor—very upset. She wants to be a schoolteacher, but a woman schoolteacher is unheard of. By attending the Suffrage meetings, she would meet other women in her predicament, but she hesitates to cause problems with her father.

Detective Nick Young is hot on the trail of a group that plans to overturn the government in Rochester, New York. Instead, Mayor Burke sends him on another assignment—to spy on his wayward daughter. When Nick sees Charity with his sister, Ellie, he knows he must keep them safe while attending the annoying Suffrage meetings. But being around Charity makes him understand women and their changing roles in the world. Can Nick give his heart to an opinionated woman and go against the other men in Rochester?

Purchase Link:

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Wartime Wednesday: Let Me Call You Sweetheart

Wartime Wednesday: Let Me Call You Sweetheart

Author Photo

The “Great War” or “The War to End All Wars,” sent young men across the globe to fight. In addition to letters, many of the soldiers sent keepsakes home to families and girlfriends. Dubbed “sweetheart jewelry,” the items were often handcrafted while in the trenches. Twenty years later, the world was again at war, and the custom of sending these pieces flourished. By this time, most of the items were machine-made and sold to U.S. soldiers.

Despite the moniker, sweetheart jewelry wasn’t just given to girlfriends. Mothers and sisters also received items from sons and brothers. Brooches, pendants, and bracelets were the most popular pieces, but with metal being tightly rationed, the jewelry was manufactured with Bakelite (a resin), celluloid, wood, mother-of-pearl, shell, ivory, rhinestones, enamel, and sometimes wire. Rarer pieces were made with platinum, sterling silver, silverplate, brass, gold plate, gold-filled, and even solid gold.

Patriotism was the prevalent theme of the jewelry, with the American flag and eagle most often
Author Photo
depicted. Hearts were also used on a large percentage of the pieces, as were the nation’s colors of red, white, and blue. During the war, V is for Victory became a catchphrase, and manufacturers began to use Victory as a marketing tool on everything from Victory Wax Paper to Victory Fly Swatters. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that the V made its way into the jewelry industry. In addition to signifying the region of the world where the soldier or sailor was serving, sweetheart jewelry often featured a V, with wings being another symbol widely used.

Heart-shaped lockets, bracelets, earrings, and rings were most often sent to girlfriends and wives. Another popular item was a sweetheart compact. Also heart-shaped, the compact could also be found in other shapes such as oval, square, rectangular, or even in the shape of an officer’s hat.

Author Photo
The women who received these items wore or used them with pride, and perhaps created a connection with their loved ones thousands of miles away. Having received a charm bracelet from my husband while we were dating and adding charms associated with an event as the years have passed, I understand how valuable sweetheart jewelry was to the recipients (although I cannot relate to the worry they must have felt). Whenever I visit the sweetheart jewelry display at the Wright Museum, I wonder about the stories and relationships behind each piece.

Have you ever received a piece of jewelry of great significance?


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?

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Friday, January 6, 2023

Fiction Friday: New Releases in Christian Fiction

January 2023 New Releases

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

Contemporary Romance:

Where Faith Belongs by Heidi Chiavaroli -- Amie Martin has never been more ready to trade in her quaint seaside Maine hometown for a life of studying art in New York. But when old flame August Colton returns to Camden and proclaims his undying love, Amie is torn between her future plans and forgiving August’s secret past. Fresh out of college, August is intent on helping the family business as an architect. He’s finally earned the respect of his brother and grandfather and he’s finally glimpsing a way out from beneath his past. But when August’s grandfather suffers a health crisis and the woman he loves shows interest in a wandering artist staying at the bed and breakfast, August wonders if he won’t be paying for his past mistakes for the rest of his life. Can Amie and August find faith in each other again? More importantly, can they find a faith that heals the broken parts of their past? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

General Historical:

Truth and Honor (Light in the Empire) by Carol Ashby -- Is truth worth the price if it costs you everything? For Tribune Glabrio, descended from three consuls of Rome and determined to be the fourth, commanding the troops policing Carthago appears ideal for hastening his political rise. Arriving from Rome with the secretly Christian Sartorus as his aide, Glabrio discovers the man he was to replace has vanished without a trace. Was the missing tribune too close to finding the counterfeiters Glabrio is now hunting? But no matter the cost, duty and honor require him to enforce Roman law. Orphaned as a child and taken to live with her pagan grandfather, Martina met Jesus through her step-grandmother. Their faith was a well-kept secret, even from most of their family. With both grandparents now dead, her uncle helps Martina hide the faith he doesn’t share. But after a single dinner at her uncle’s, the new tribune is determined to get to know her. No matter what she does to discourage Glabrio, he won’t leave her alone. But if he discovers her faith, will it mean her death? (General Historical from Cerrillo Press)

Historical Romance:

A Winter at the White Queen by Denise Weimer -- Ellie Hastings is tired of playing social gatekeeper-and poor-relation companion-to her Gibson Girl of a cousin. But her aunt insists Ellie lift her nose out of her detective novel long enough to help gauge the eligibility of bachelors during the winter social season at Florida's Hotel Belleview. She finds plenty that's mysterious about the suave, aloof Philadelphia inventor, Lewis Thornton. Why does he keep sneaking around the hotel? Does he have a secret sweetheart? And what is his connection to the evasive Mr. Gaspachi, slated to perform at Washington's Birthday Ball? Ellie's comical sleuthing ought to put Lewis out, but the diffident way her family treats her smashes a hole in his normal reserve. When Florence Hastings's diamond necklace goes missing, Ellie's keen mind threatens to uncover not only Lewis's secrets, but give him back hope for love. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)

Redemption’s Trail by Betty Woods -- Newly widowed with her second child due in a few months, Lily Johnson has nowhere to go until Toby Grimes, her late husband's boss, asks her to stay on as housekeeper at his ranch. Remaining in the house Mr. Grimes built for her and her husband is an answered prayer. But malicious gossips see her godsend job as a ruse for a sinful dalliance since her employer is a nice-looking single man. God and a lot others turned their backs on Toby during the war, so he returns the favor by keeping to himself. Yet the need to care for and protect Lily overwhelms him. The way she tugs at his heart scares him more than going into a losing battle. Unwilling to allow anyone to destroy a fine woman's reputation, he proposes a marriage of convenience. After much prayer, Lily accepts. Her first marriage was a love match made in heaven. The second leads down a trail only God knows the end to. (Historical Romance from Scrivenings Press)

The Heir’s Predicament
by Lorri Dudley -- Maggie Prescott may not know her real name, the circumstances of her birth, or her father’s identity, but based on a song her shipwrecked birthmother taught her before she died, Maggie’s certain the answers lie on the island of Antigua. Unbeknownst to her beloved adopted family, she sends her maid to finishing school in her stead and convinces her uncle, Captain Anthony Middleton, to sail her to the Leeward Islands. Time is of the essence to discover her heritage before the next family gathering exposes her duplicity. Lord Samuel Fredrick Harcourt Granville was groomed to inherit the Cardon title and lands, but the possession of his father’s temper has put Samuel’s future in jeopardy. After discovering his fiancée cavorting with his so-called friend, the ensuing altercation lands Samuel in court before of the House of Lords. As an example, for all aristocratic sons to quell their hedonistic living, the House of Lords banishes Samuel to the island of Antigua until he can prove he’s worthy of his privileged birth. On the island, Samuel works to rein in his temper and revive a dying sugar plantation. Still, his return to England and all his efforts are threatened when a mysterious woman breaks into his island home, claiming to be the true heiress of the sugar plantation. Guilt, resentment, and fresh yearnings sizzle under the island sun as Maggie’s search uncovers a much greater treasure than either of them expected. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)

The Highlander’s Loving Heart by Z. Peabody -- Cillian Pherson is the Duke of Blackridge and chieftain to the legendary Pherson Clan, one of Scotland’s oldest and fiercest. A strong leader with an honest warrior’s loving heart, Cillian prefers settling clan wars and making sure Scotland maintains independence to sitting in the Grand Hall, listening to his father regale old stories. Cillian also has no thoughts of settling down to beget heirs, as his father constantly reminds him he must, until the night he gets a glimpse of his future. Upon returning home after months away serving his king, Cillian brings back good news about the war, along with unpleasant news about his future. After an argument with his father, Cillian storms out of the castle and takes to the mountainous paths of his Scottish lands, only to witness a ship crashing against the rocks below the cliffs. But even with Aoife’s best intentions to help her good friend, Aoife finds the call of adventure too hard to resist. She soon finds out that adventure is closer than she thinks, and right where she never would have thought she wanted to be. Now, Cillian must find a treasure that is missing from the wreckage—one the crew claims is the most-valued jewel aboard, and one he only caught a glimpse of. (Historical Romance from Zpeabody Publishing)

Romance: Amish:

The Amish Bachelor’s Bride by Pamela Desmond Wright -- Marrying in name only…Could lead to more than they expected. Single mother Lavinia Simmons’s world is turned upside down when she discovers her late husband gambled away their home. A quick marriage of convenience to bachelor Noem Witzel in return for caring for his niece and nephew is the solution both Lavinia and Noem need. Neither of them is looking for romance. But what if these perfect strangers have other ideas? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired/Harlequin)

Speculative Fiction:

Penny’s Journal: Fortune Lost by Gina Detwiler -- Grace and Jared have inexplicably disappeared. For the next decade, their friend Penny keeps a prayer journal, detailing her personal struggles in a society slowly unraveling from pandemics, natural disasters, famine, crime, and war. When all seems lost, a new leader arrives on the scene who claims he will save the world—but who is he really? (Speculative Fiction from Vinspire)


Edge of the Storm: Two Novellas by Tanya Stowe & Heather Woodhaven -- Wilderness Sabotage by Heather Woodhaven: Investigating sabotage on a construction site, journalist Jackie Dutton stumbles on a murder—and barely escapes when she flees and falls off a cliff. Only quick thinking from law enforcement ranger Shawn Burkett, her ex-boyfriend, saves her. Now facing a massive blizzard and relentless pursuers together, they must rely on their fragile trust and wilderness skills to get out alive…

Vanished in the Mountains by Tanya Stowe: When domestic violence counselor Dulcie Parker uncovers evidence of a human trafficking ring in the Four Corners area, she’s determined to stop it or die trying. With corruption all around her and killers on her trail, Deputy Sheriff Austin Turner’s the one person she can trust. But can they work together to expose the crime ring before she becomes the next victim? (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Love Inspired Suspense/Harlequin)

What Happens Next by Christina Suzann Nelson -- Popular podcaster and ex-reporter Faith Byrne has made a name for herself telling stories of greatness after tragedy--but her real life does not mirror the stories she tells. While her daughters spend the summer in Hawaii with her ex-husband and his new wife, she must manage life on her own. But all that changes when she's asked to spotlight her childhood best friend's missing person case on her podcast. Dora Crane has never accepted that her younger daughter could be dead, keeping her home looking the same as when her daughter disappeared. But when her husband leaves her, and her older daughter intervenes, she agrees to counseling and to pack up her missing daughter's belongings under one condition: Faith Byrne comes to Deep Valley and sheds light on the cold case. As the investigation moves forward, the two women uncover desperate secrets, and Faith and Dora must face the long-hidden truth before they can begin to move forward. (Thriller/Suspense/Contemporary from Bethany House)

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

Doxxi No MoreRoger E. Bruner, What part will a book-length homework assignment play in solving Richard’s problems? (Contemporary Romance)

Framing the Marshal Sharee Stover , Proving his innocence may cost him his life… (Thriller/Suspense/Romance)

Rebecca’s AnchorPatricia Reece, Will Brother Jack keep his promise to Starlyn? (General Historical)

RunawayJennifer Heeren , A novel memoir that dreams of a time where all people are equal. (General Historical)

The Masterpiece Beneath Lisa Buffaloe, As Veronika’s secrets come to light, will they destroy those she loves or reveal God’s masterpiece beneath? (General Contemporary)

The Return of a CowboyElsie Davis, Will they realize the greatest gift is theirs for the taking…the gift of love? (Contemporary Romance)

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Marisa Masterson

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Marisa Masterson 
The Story Behind the Story

Strangely, a question inspired part of my sweet Christian romance about the suffragist movement. Why did a loving God forget to provide a way out for an abused wife? No matter how an author fights to keep her story fictional, parts of her life appear in print. I was wrestling with this question in 2022. Someone very dear to me was torn over leaving her abuser. She wanted to honor the Lord.

Her commitment to live according to God’s word wrenched my heart. Why would God leave her in that situation? Didn’t He want the best for His child?

This drew me to the book of Ephesians, especially the fifth chapter. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. (Ephesians 5:25) I focused on that for the dear one close to me who was struggling. This was a husband who wasn’t loving his wife. He wasn’t upholding the biblical instructions, though he claimed to be a believer.

Leaving a marriage is a sticky subject. You can be sure I prayed a great deal about how to advise her.

That struggle is reflected in my novel. The heroine isn’t an abused wife, but she’s struggling with the idea of joining the suffragist movement. To her, it seems unbiblical. A caring pastor mentors both her and her new husband about the issue.

Here’s an excerpt from the book. You can see how the idea I wrestled with found its way into the book.

“What do you think about the push for women to vote?” There. She’d started with the hardest of her questions first.

“It’s sad.” The minister shook his head. “Married women should already have a voice in how the head of their household votes. That is, if they want a say.”

He surprised Sylvia. She was sure he would be like every other minister in Boulder and condemn the suffragettes. “What do you mean?”

“We’re told in Ephesians, ‘Love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it.’ That tells me much, since we are thinking beings who Jesus wants to hear from. In that same way, husbands should be listening to their wives and guiding them. Condemnation bears no part in it.”

“But how does that connect to the vote?” She twisted her mouth into a confused grimace.

“I believe that women will need to be given the vote because many husbands do not love them enough to talk through the process with their wives. They aren’t giving women any voice in choosing candidates. It’s only right, in that case, that females who are of age and possess a sound mind are allowed to vote.” He shook his head. “I’m afraid it’s a part of the sin condition that fills this world.”

And the dear one I mentioned, did she leave? After seeking wise counsel, she did. Not long after that, proof of her husband’s infidelity came to light. Sadly, this was a marriage that couldn’t be saved. I pray to God that her husband will still find his way to Christ.

Sylvia's Secret

Sylvia wants to be free to make her own choices. Ernest hopes she’ll choose him. When a threat sends them running, it forces them into marrying. Will love follow?

Sylvia makes up her mind to no longer be the "good daughter". Not when Chinese children couldn’t attend school. Besides, she's nearly thirty-years-old, already a spinster! She was old enough to make decisions.

Her secret teaching leads her into danger. That danger sends her running for safety. Dodging into a hall to escape her pursuer, she finds that safety at a suffragette meeting.

What an odd place to fall instantly in love! Who would expect to meet a handsome man at a women’s rally?

A quick marriage and threats to her new husband’s life make Sylvia realize that some secrets have to come out into the open.

If you enjoy sweet romance with a historical flavor, then sink into a chair and start reading Sylvia's Secret.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Seneca Falls: Women’s Suffrage Meets It’s a Wonderful Life

Seneca Falls: 
Women's Suffrage Meets It's a Wonderful Life

Located approximately an hour’s drive from Buffalo, the town of Seneca Falls, New York is in the northern part of the Finger Lakes Region. Lake Ontario is a forty-five-minute drive north. First populated by the Cayuga tribe, the Native American villages were decimated during the Revolutionary War. Upon the conclusion of the conflict, the region became part of a tract reserved for veterans. By 1818, a canal was completed that allowed transport between Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake. Ten years later, the canal would be connected to the Erie Canal.

The Bayard Land Company held all the real estate on both sides of the Seneca River, but did minimal development, concerned that multiple mills couldn’t be supported (despite reports that the force of the falls could handle approximately one hundred and fifty millstones.) By 1825, the company was in financial straits, so the tract was divided and sold. The now-accessible water power was snapped up, and mills and factories sprang up. Within six years, five sawmills, five flour mills, two textile factories, and three tin and sheet-iron plants dotted the landscape.

In 1831, Seneca Falls was incorporated as a village with Ansel Bascom elected as the first mayor. Bascom would eventually become a congressman for the district with anti-slavery measures being his focus. With the completion of the Rochester-Auburn railroad system in 1841, the town could now reach world markets for its locally produced goods. The trains also brought an influx of settlers, many of whom were proponents of women’s rights and the abolition of slavery, with the town becoming a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Thus, it is unsurprising that in July of 1848 the town became the site of the first meeting to be held for
the strict purpose of discussing “social, civil, and religious conditions and the rights of women.” Considered by most scholars to be the birthplace of the fight for women’s rights, the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention was attended by over three hundred people. Speakers included such luminaries in the cause as Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Frederick Douglass, and “A Declaration of Sentiments” was adopted. Seneca Falls is now home to the National Women’s Hall of Fame built in 1969.

Today, more than one hundred years later, Seneca Falls celebrates its claim to be the inspiration for Frank Capra’s film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” An annual festival is held the second week in December, with dozens of activities each day. This year’s guests included actress Karolyn Grimes (Zuzu Bailey), Jimmy Hawkins (Tommy Bailey), Donald and Ronald Collins (Young Pete), and Michael Chapin (Young George’s Friend). Also on hand were Donna Reed’s daughter Mary Owens and Frank Capra’s granddaughter Monica Capra Hodges.

Courtesy IAWL Museum
Open year-round, Seneca Falls It’s a Wonderful Life Museum opened December 10, 2010 with one display case and a wall of quotes from Frank Capra. Since then, a wide range of items have been added such as call sheets, an original program from the film’s premiere at New York’s Globe Theater, and earrings owned and worn by Gloria Graham as Violet Bick. Handprints of Jimmy Stewart, Karolyn Grimes, Carol Coombs, Jimmy Hawkins, and Jeanine Roose are also on display, along with many pieces from the personal collections of some of the actors. Funds are now being raised to expand the museum. (

A visit to this intriguing town is now on my bucket list. Have you heard of this tiny hamlet?


Maeve’s Pledge – available soon for preorder

Pledges can’t be broken, can they?

Finally out from under her father’s tyrannical thumb, Maeve Wycliffe can live life on her terms. So what if everyone sees her as a spinster to be pitied. She’ll funnel her energies into what matters most: helping the less fortunate and getting women the right to vote. When she’s forced to team up with the local newspaper editor to further the cause, will her pledge to remain single get cropped?

Widower Gus Deighton sees no reason to tempt fate that he can find happiness a second time around. Well past his prime, who would want him anyway? He’ll continue to run his newspaper and cover Philadelphia’s upcoming centennial celebration. But when the local women’s suffrage group agrees that the wealthy, attractive, and very single Maeve act as their liaison, he finds it difficult to remain objective.