Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Wartime Wednesday: A WWII Christmas

Wartime Wednesday: Christmas during WWII

For America, World War II didn’t begin until after the attack at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. At that point, Britain had been at war for more than two years. In an effort to maintain some feelings of hope and festivities singing songs continued at home and on the radio as well as the performance of plays. The BBC broadcast a special Christmas program in 1939 during which King Georg VI gave a speech. The event was so popular with listeners, the speech became an annual event that continues to this day by the British monarchy. (Listen here:

A year later, Christmas of 1940 occurred during the Blitz, but the British carried on, adjusting to
shortages and restrictions. Substitutions were made for tradition meals, such as “mock goose” which consisted of sliced layers of potatoes, apples, and grated cheese. Toys were often handcrafted and made from recycled materials. What toys could be purchased often had war themes, such as puzzles of war scenes, wooden trucks, tanks, and planes, and the like. Cards were smaller and printed on lightweight paper. By 1941, the Ministry of Supply mandated that “no retailer shall provide any paper for the packing or wrapping of goods excepting food stuffs or articles which the shopkeeper has agreed to deliver.” Instead, newspaper was often used to wrap gifts.

Creativity was also necessary for decorations. Old paper was used to make garland, “frost” was added to holly, ivy, and mistletoe with a solution of Epsom salts. A 1942 article in Britannia and Eve suggested dropping dried peas that had been colored red with melted sealing onto ivy and adding a red ribbon. The same issue gave instructions on creating a “realistic barrage balloon” table display. Hmmm. Not sure about that one.

As the war progressed, many children spent Christmas away from home as evacuees as part of Operation Pied Piper. Families relocated as a result of bombings or to avoid them. Shipment of cards and packaged became an issue as many postal workers were in the armed services. Transportation of troops and war matériel had priority so there was less room for mail. Despite the difficulties, most of the British managed to “keep a stiff upper lip” and “keep calm and carry on.”


War’s Unexpected Gift

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:

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Donna Wichelman!

Talkshow Thursday: 
Welcome Donna Wichelman!

From my days in grammar school, writing for the school newspaper, I loved telling stories. Also, because my Christian parents took road trips every summer to visit family in Washington State, we took various routes across the United States and Canada, and I learned the value of understanding history and geography. Those themes set the stage for the rest of my life.
In high school, a unique opportunity allowed me to attend the United World College of the Atlantic—an international high school. While most of the students lived in dormitories on the “hill,” I lived in a two-room, ten-girl dorm inside St. Donat’s Castle outside Llantwit Major, Wales, on the Bristol Channel. Though the castle has none of Hogwart’s magic, it does have a legendary ghost, Lady Anne, who roams the halls.

As one can imagine, the setting at Atlantic College provided much fodder for imagination. Also, since living in Wales enabled me to travel Europe, I became fascinated with history and culture. Focusing on English Literature, I discovered a desire to delve into concerns touching the soul and write plots showing how God’s love abounds in the profoundly difficult circumstances of our lives.

But, like many novice writers, it took time to tease out the genre that best fits me. Even the plots of my
Author Photo
indie-published books in the Waldensian Series—two contemporary Christian romantic suspense novels—unfolded because the Waldensians joined a movement of persecuted Protestants centuries earlier. Their story of faith and valor touched me, and I believed their story needed telling.

James Rubart’s branding course helped me understand what drives every story I write—what he calls the themes of your life—history and faith. I could finally verbalize my tagline: Weaving History and Faith into Tales of Intrigue and Redemption.

Tales throughout my travels have sparked the concepts for my stories. Researching history makes them come alive on the page. My Gilded Age historical romance, A Song of Deliverance, being released by Scrivenings Press on December 3, 2024, sprung to life during a family vacation in Ireland.
Dingle Peninsula
Standing on a crest overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, I imagined a poor woman in nineteenth-century Ireland destined to emigrate to America. Still, I needed to flesh out the story when I returned to Colorado—research nineteenth-century mining history in Georgetown, Colorado and understand the people who populated the town before Colorado became a state.

I wrote the logline after five drafts: When a poor Irish woman’s hopes for a better life in Colorado crumble after a mining disaster, she must find the faith and courage to create a new life for herself. As she does, Anna Sullivan helps the mine’s owner uncover the nefarious deeds of his nemesis and falls in love with the mining mogul.

Clara Brown stands out in my research. As a formerly enslaved woman, her owner released her at his death before the Civil War. She came to Colorado in 1859, saved the earnings from her cooking, laundering, and birthing babies and invested in local mines. She became known as “Aunt” Clara for her Christian charity and philanthropy. Clara was inducted into the Colorado Business Hall of Fame on January 27, 2022, for being the first black woman entrepreneur in Colorado. Her character influenced the black woman I created in my book, Cecelia Richards, who became a wise Christian mentor for Anna.

I’m also working on a slip-time novel (dual timelines) set during World War II in France. It began with our trip to Southern France in 2023, and I returned later to Libourne to interview historians and people alive during the war.

Since discovering my tagline, I voraciously read historical fiction and time-slip authors—Tamera Alexander, Melanie Dobson, Francine Rivers, and Amanda Cabot, to name a few. Their books engage and help me hone my skills in the genre.

If you are a writer and would like more resources to help develop your craft and career, I invite you to visit my website at


About Donna: Weaving history and faith into stories of intrigue and redemption grew out of Donna’s
Pixabay/Thomas Ulrich
love of travel, history, and literature as a young adult while attending the United World College of the Atlantic—an international college in Wales, U.K. She enjoys exploring the cultures of the world and developing plots that show how God’s love abounds even in the profoundly difficult circumstances of our lives. Her stories reflect the hunger in all of us for love, belonging, and forgiveness in a world that often withholds second chances.

Donna received her master’s degree in mass communications/journalism from San Jose State University and became a communications professional before writing full-time. Her short stories and articles have appeared in inspirational publications. She has two indie-published Christian romantic suspense novels in her Waldensian Series, Light Out of Darkness, Book One and Undaunted Valor, Book Two and her Gilded Age historical romance, A Song of Deliverance, will be released in December 2024 Donna and her husband of forty years participate in ministry at their local church in Colorado. They love spending time with their grandchildren and bike, kayak and travel whenever possible.

Connect with Donna:
• Website:
• Facebook:
• Instagram:
• X:
• Goodreads:

Monday, July 15, 2024

Movie Monday: The Homecoming

Movie Monday: The Homecoming

In the years immediately after WWII, Hollywood continued to produce movies about the war, but more than a few were about returning GIs, and The Homecoming is one of those films. Based on a short story titled “The Homecoming of Ulysses,” the movie stars Clark Gable, Lana Turner, Anne Baxter, and her real-life husband John Hodiak. Similar to So Proudly We Hail covered in a recent post, The Homecoming is told in a series of flashbacks.

While sitting on the transport ship, Ulysses Johnson (Gable’s character) is asked by a reporter about his experiences during the war. Gable’s performance is so gripping throughout the film one wonders if he is reliving his own experiences. Johnson tells his story beginning in 1941 when he is a hospital chief surgeon, a man without emotional attachments to his patients. He joins the army, and before leaving holds a party during which a colleague (played by Hodiak) accuses him of being “unsentimental, a hypocrite, and joining the army out of purely selfish motives.” Things get heated, then the scene shifts to Johnson’s last night with his wife, Penny (Anne Baxter).

On the ship overseas, Johnson meets Lt. Jane “Snapshot” McCall (Lana Turner). The typical enemies
to love plot comes into play, and the two don’t get along, until they do. The pair discovers they have a lot in common and become friends. There are stressful moments, and the friendship is tested. Ultimately, they fall in love. Meanwhile, Johnson talks about McCall in his many letters home, and Penny begins to wonder if she has to worry about losing her husband.

War intervenes, and McCall is reassigned to a different unit. They reunited in Paris, but war again intervenes, and they must leave to rescue a division wounded during the Battle of the Bulge. Fast forward to the present, and we see Johnson’s/Gable’s war-weary self, “a ghost of his former self.” When he gets home, he admits to having fallen in love with McCall, but indicates she died as a result of shrapnel wounds. Before fading to black, the film leaves viewers assuming the husband and wife get past the events and get a second chance at a happily ever after.

Directed by Mervyn Leroy, The Homecoming is the third movie Gable made after the death of Carole Lombard, and his second “soldier in transition” film. (The first being The Hucksters with Deborah Kerr). Well worth a viewing.

War’s Unexpected Gift

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:

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Talkshow Thursday: A Guest Post by Darlene Corbett

Talkshow Thursday: 
A Guest Post by Darlene Corbett

What profession should I enter?

A question for my 18-year-old self, and by age 20, God answered me and whispered your calling is to serve others.

Three years later, I entered Graduate School, young, determined, and naïve. Because I wanted to help people, I forgot it involved more than my desire to achieve this worthy goal. As a lover of learning, academic courses on human behavior didn’t frighten me. I couldn’t wait to learn, but the “process,” the word used for the unfolding therapeutic phenomenon, created a greater challenge. The therapist’s development involves an abstract journey, and it takes time to comprehend the intricacies and, with any skill, years to refine.

At the beginning of my adventure, I stumbled into a big hole after an advisor informed me I faltered in my understanding of the process. Many mentors and peers encouraged me to take heart. They promised me that comprehension of this strange unfolding would happen. But me, being me, worried and became ill. My dream? Temporarily shattered.

After problem-solving my way out, I dug my fingers into the walls of the hole, climbed up, brushed off my doubts, and let the wounds heal.

When I returned for the second semester, my supervisor told me she thought I wouldn’t return after observing my devastation. I shook my head because I never considered surrender.

As I worked diligently to hone my craft, things clicked, and at age thirty-one, I ventured into private
practice, but not without impostor syndrome. A few years later, the syndrome submerged when clients expressed gratitude for my help and warm demeanor.

Who knew? I didn’t, and every so often, my impostor condition appeared.

Fast forward several decades. I wanted to write, so I penned my first adult article in 2011. Anxiety slithered around me, but positive feedback encouraged me to write more, and my nonfiction book came to publication in 2018.

A few years ago, God nudged me again. Time for fiction, so I dipped my toe into writing short stories. As I read them now, I see what I didn’t know. So much.

The first manuscript of my novel couldn’t have been more flawed. I paid for a Developmental Editor, whose thoughtful recommendations galvanized me to continue writing but rectify.

I rewrote, studied the craft, took courses, and attended conferences. A few manuscripts later, I submitted my first five pages to the ACFW contest. The feedback? Direct and correct. One judge pointed out how arrogant the therapist, my protagonist, sounded. I gasped when I read that critique. Never my intention. But reading over my description of the therapist, I concluded the judge was right.

What did I do next? Studied and rewrote.

Then I attired myself in courage and entered another contest. Not a finalist, but much higher scores.

I revised again and pitched to some small presses. One lovely acquisition editor told me she wouldn’t offer a contract. Although she labeled my writing as excellent, my manuscript revealed telling versus showing. She suggested I incorporate more dialogue. Being a therapist, I should’ve known. A therapy session involves talking. Sometimes, you don’t see what’s in front of you, so I clicked on the light switch and changed narrative to dialogue.

Last July, my publisher offered me a contract. Thus, my novel took its first public breath in May, and I continue to drench myself in knowledge.

God inspired my younger journey as a therapist and my older voyage as a novelist. He whispers, keep writing, with my husband nodding and smiling from afar.

Connect with me!


About Visible

What happens when Rachel Karem, a psychotherapist, runs a ten-week group for five wounded millennials and discovers the need to examine her own unresolved issues?

Widowed, childless, and estranged from family, Rachel wonders if she’ll ever have a second chance at love. When her own therapist suggests she get back in the game, she enrolls in dance classes to learn the Tango. Romantic, intense, sensual, dramatic, the Tango embodies everything missing in Rachel’s life.

Her clients make gains but not without struggles, and Rachel becomes entwined with a handsome dance partner but not without fear.

Can Rachel help her clients heal from the wounds of the past? Can she help herself?

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Traveling Tuesday: Yorkshire

Traveling Tuesday: Yorkshire, England

War’s Unexpected Gift
takes place during World War II on a fictional estate located in Yorkshire, England. In “real life” during the war the area was filled with air bases including those in Elvington, Pocklington, Driffield, and Linton-on-Ouse. In Clifton the airfield was requisition and became a major aircraft repair depot. Like other cities and towns in the United Kingdom and in the United States, the cities adapted by converting manufacturing plants to the production of war matériel. The cream department at York’s confectioner produced munitions, dried egg, and rye crisp crackers while the gum department manufactured fuses. Another company, F. Hills & Sons built propeller blades.

In anticipation of bombing raids, thousands of Anderson shelters were shipped in. According to one site Betty’s Café became a “haunt for foreign airmen stationed at the bases around York, and many etched their name in the café’s mirror.” 

Located in Northern England, the southwest region has always been somewhat densely populated and
includes the cities of Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford and Wakefield. The city of York from with the county gets its name is located near the center. Bordered by the North Sea on the East, the Yorkshire Dales in the Northwest, Pennines on the West, and Vale of York in the South, the county has diverse geography and topography. Yorkshire’s history goes back to ancient times, and as a result of invasions, wars, immigration, and famine, the ethnicities of its residents are also diverse.

One site touts the “eight astounding things that the county has given the world:”
  • Yorkshire puddings
  • Cricket legends
  • Stainless Steel
  • The Bronte Sisters
  • The first commercial steam train
  • Wensleydale cheese
  • Marks & Spencer (a retailer)
  • The first ever football club

A typical Yorkshire breakfast is said to consist of: grilled streaky bacon, black pudding, pork sausage, grilled tomato, flat mushroom, sourdough toast, baked beans, and free-range eggs. Sounds filling!

The original “industries” of coal mining, steel production, and textiles (primarily wool) declined toward the end of the 20th century with service organizations, and engineering and electronics companies taking their place. However, interspersed with these new structures is a wealth of historic architecture from parish churches and monasteries to castles.


War's Unexpected Gift

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:

Friday, July 5, 2024

Fiction Friday: New Releases for July

June 2024 New Releases
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website

Contemporary Romance:

Renee by Sandra Ardoin -- A bake-off competition can change widow Renee Burnette’s life and mend a frayed friendship. As the bake-off competition intensifies, Renee’s office relationships are strained, her sweet son becomes unruly, and the rift with her old friend widens. Can a decades-old cookbook help Renee restore the bonds every woman needs? (Romance from Corner Room Books)

Pointe, Shoots, and Scores by Carolyn Miller -- When Bailey Donovan’s dance studio faces the risk of closure, she takes a God-given miracle of a gig training a complete non-dancer for a TV show. Only problem is, he’s a real grump, and for an athlete, seems to be lacking all the moves. Luc Blanchard loves hockey, God, and his family, with no time for more, until an unexpected promotion forces him to swallow his pride for the sake of his team. Sparks soon fly as these two opposites spend time together, and TV ratings push for their onscreen partnership to make a fake relationship real. But as they discover a certain magic under the spotlight, will issues from the past ever let them truly soar? (Contemporary Romance Independently Published [ACFW QIP])

Their Unlikely Protector by Meghann Whistler -- The last person Valerie Williams expects to rescue her and her toddler twin brothers from a fiery blaze is Brett Richardson, her high school nemesis. But with her house burned down, Valerie is forced to stay at the same inn as Brett and work with him on the town festival. Now Brett has the chance to make things right, but can Valerie let go of the past to make way for a future together? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Muldoon’s Misfortunes by E.V. Sparrow -- A poor widower who suffers from scoliosis loses his second family in Ireland from a typhus epidemic, and his sister convinces him to emigrate to the land of plenty, America. (Historical from Celebrate Lit Publishing)

Historical Romance:

Into the Starlight by Amanda Cabot -- Who would have guessed that a spinster’s desire to visit her fiancé’s grave would change the course of a young doctor and a lovely pianist’s lives and resolve a decades-old mystery? (Historical Romance from Revell)

War’s Unexpected Gift by Linda Shenton Matchett -- 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? (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

Libby’s Lighthouse by Susan G Mathis -- When a lighthouse keeper’s daughter finds a mysterious sailor with amnesia, the secrets she uncovers may change her life forever. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)

The Highlander’s Charity by Z Peabody -- From the halls of the royal palace of Oge-chukwukama, to the lush oasis of Shushara, Sani and Teagan will travel the golden dunes to their destinies together. (Historical Romance from Z Peabody Publishing LLC)

Romantic Suspense:

Four Doubt: A Silas McKay Suspense by Luana Ehrlich -- Silas investigates the murder of a cybersecurity executive. Was it a random shooting or a targeted killing? (Independently Published [ACFW QIP])

When Secrets Come Calling by Felicia Ferguson -- Two ex’s once headed to the altar are reunited by a cold case robbery and murder. His dad is the accused, and she’s the investigator. Will the case’s fallout bury their love forever or rekindle a life they only dreamed of? (Romantic Suspense from Salt & Light Publishing)

Sunset Over Swaziland by Shirley E. Gould -- A former military hero rescues a beautiful grant writer when riots erupt in a third-world country and becomes her bodyguard as she completes her assignment losing his heart to her as they work to save orphans being trafficked. (Romantic Suspense from Scrivenings Press)

Vengeance in Vienna by Sara L. Jameson -- A moonlight sail, a sniper on the shore, and a terrorist financier determined to kill Interpol agent Jacob Coulter and everyone he holds dear. (Romantic Suspense from Scrivenings Press)

Chasing Amanda: Expanded Edition by Robin Patchen -- Now with a brand-new bonus epilogue… In the tense months following 9/11, a chance encounter sparks an unlikely connection between two strangers—a young college student and a marine on his way to Afghanistan, but once he says goodbye, there’ll be nobody there to protect her from the stalker with sinister intentions… (Romantic Suspense from Independently Published [ACFW QIP])

Speculative Fiction (Time Travel):

The Root of the Matter by Lynne Basham Tagawa -- Geneva Fielding, an archivist in the Department of Applied History, is sent back in time with a colleague, Peter Donatelli, to investigate John Winthrop and Roger Williams in New England of the 1630s. (Speculative Fiction from Independently Published [ACFW QIP])

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

The Way Back by Heidi Chiavaroli -- When her mother's vindictive fans threaten her grandmother's livelihood and the lighthouse Laney has come to love, she turns to the century-old words of a young lighthouse keeper to help her find the courage to move forward. But once truths from the past come to light and old love finds new beginnings, will Laney discover that forgiveness is the only way toward true healing? (Literary Contemporary)

Her Part to Play by Jenny Erlingsson -- When a last minute change in his team brings John face to face with the feisty and alluring Adanne, will the flash of bright lights be stronger than the pull of their hearts? (Contemporary Romance)

Running from the Past by Melanie D Snitker -- They must face their fears or risk losing everything. The investigation leads them right back to the scene of the crime. If they have any hope of identifying the killers, they'll have to set aside their differences or risk facing their greatest fear: losing each other. (Romantic Suspense)

Thursday, July 4, 2024

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Matthew Elliott!

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Matthew Elliott!

I'm pleased to welcome Matthew to my blog today. Grab your favorite beverage, draw up a chair, and get to know this fascinating guy!

What was your inspiration for the story?

As a child, I loved to create stories about Superheroes and Starship Captains but I always struggled to understand what I was trying to write down. I grew up with a stutter and still to this day deal with virtual dyslexia. Despite my inability to comprehend things, my mother continually encouraged me through her struggles to do the same and often told me, “Son, my prayer is that you will do better than me. God has blessed you with a huge imagination.” These words became my inspiration. I lost sight of that for a while, but God brought me back to it. When I released my first book, Ahavah Writings for the Journey, as a devotional in 2015, it was to honor her.

How do you develop your characters?

Honestly, I develop my characters through my own life experiences or those of the people who have impacted my life in some way. Since I write Biblical Fiction, I can also use what I glean from scriptures and historical documents that capture the personalities of my characters in some way. On a deeper level though, I almost become each of my characters as I develop my stories. Have you ever heard of Method Actors? Well, I consider myself a Method Writer in a lot of ways.

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

Oh goodness, research is probably the most chaotic thing for me. I love it, and that is only because my professors in college cultivated this in most of my directed study classes. To pass each one, I had to learn how to find the connections others do not. It is not a rarity to see me with seven or eight different historical resources out on the living room table all at once. Most of the time I will also have my phone in one hand and my computer in the other while I’m reading all the resources I have searching for the possibilities. I love bringing real-life events or locations into my stories because it reminds me, and my readers, of the foundation my stories are built upon.

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

I love connecting the missing pieces in history, especially biblical history. It was this passion that led me to Oklahoma Wesleyan University as a young adult. At first, I thought I was meant to be a pastor, but as I gathered ministry experiences, I realized that the reason I changed my major from Pastoral Ministry to Biblical Studies, was focused on the fact that there were just too many questions I could not find the answers to in scripture. With that in mind, I naturally turned from a pastoral focus to biblical history. The reason I write Biblical fiction is honestly because I am obsessed with figuring out how to connect those dots in scripture with proven history.

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

It is… The Series is called ‘The World of Kedoshim’ and it is explained in three or four blog posts on my website. The basic idea came from a character I created for a letter I had to write in one of my religion courses in college. The project required us to become a New Testament Character and write a letter to the early church. That developed into something bigger in 2015 when I developed and outlined the first story. That work has become the concluding trilogy in The World of Kedoshim but is still a work in progress. The legacy of this word will be at least 16 stories.

How has your book changed since your first draft?

I will use the episodic series I released in 2023, Finding Philemon, to answer this question. I mentioned earlier that I originally wrote content with a pastoral focus. Well, Finding Philemon was originally written as a devotional curriculum I wanted to send out to churches. The idea was to tell a fictional story that had a workbook with devotional highlights and thoughts at the end. When the publisher fell through, I took my five-year hiatus from writing. Early 2023, I was sitting in my living room listening to music while watching the fireplace and that story was reborn as the Biblical Fiction Series it is today. It is what convinced me to pick up my pen and write again. The changes from what Finding Philemon used to be and what it is now are significant and bringing that story back to life brought a lot of healing to my writer's heart. Based on some suggestions from my following, I actually released a paperback version of that whole series on Amazon. It went live on 7/4/24.

What is your advice to fledgling writers?

Life is filled with uncertainties. It is congested with defeats and we will never get away from the sad reality that we live in a fallen world. However, we cannot let that keep us from embracing the hope that things can, and will, get better. Each one of us will endure trials as writers. I know I have struggled with embracing my identity as a writer for several years and the one thing I always come to conclude is that the term writer is not exclusive to publishing a book or becoming rich/famous through our stories. Our identity as writers comes from the calling that has been placed upon our hearts. We all have stories to tell and should not be afraid to write them down if we feel like that is something we should do.

What books are on your nightstand right now?

There are a lot of books on my nightstand both digitally and physically. While I’ve always preferred physical books, I have been enjoying the ability to read digital books. I think there are around ten that could technically be considered ‘on my nightstand’. Here are a few though.

  • The Practice of the Presence of God- Brother Lawrence (it never leaves)
  • The Silas Diary- Gene Edwards (research)
  • The Scribe- Francine Rivers (research)
  • The Believers Legacy Books- DM Griffin (entertainment)
  • When Jesus Wept- Bodie and Brock Thoene (entertainment)

What is your next project?

Currently, I’m working on another episodic series based on the time Paul spent in Ephesus during the third missionary journey. It is a continuation of John Mark’s journey but will end up being a shorter series that brings the riots that took place during that time to life in The World of Kedoshim. I do not have a release date as of yet but would like to release it digitally by Christmas 2024. There is still a lot of research and writing going into the series.

What is one thing you wish you could do?

One of my life dreams has been to open a bed and breakfast inside a lighthouse. The second part of that idea is to open up a tea and bookstore in the tower itself. I’ve always had a fascination with books, tea, and lighthouses so combining them all into one entity seemed like a great idea. That will likely never happen, but it's nice to dream.

One of the more realistic dreams I have is to write full-time from home so I can spend more time with my wife and children. There are so many things I will miss because I have to work a ‘daytime job’.

Here is the description of my most recent book in The World of Kedoshim, The Cyprus Journal.

One Young Man. His Significant Story. A Witness of the Early Church.

The Cyprus Journal is a first-hand account of the ministry on the Island of Cyprus, through the eyes of John Mark as he documents his life's calling as a memento to those who fear failure. His Purpose? To remind those who have fallen away from the faith, that they are not alone in their failures. To foster growth and to encourage them to Come Home!

Many knew him as the young cousin to Barnabas the Encourager, the son of Mary who offered her home to honor the Savior and those who followed Him, or even the man who abandoned Paul on his First Missionary Journey, but there is more to his story. His story is one of new beginnings, a promise fulfilled, and a man who overcame fear of the unknown.

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Release Day!

Release Day: War's Unexpected Gift!

Grab your copy today!

Signed Paperback:

Gwen Milford is a secondary character, in my Christmas story, A Doctor in the House. I decided she needed her own story. Rather than put her into another requisitioned country manor, I sent her to the trenches - literally. I wanted to explore what it was like for medical professionals, especially nurses, who were stationed close to the front. I hope her story honors these brave individuals in some small way.

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?

Thursday, June 27, 2024

The Challenges of Writing a Trilogy by Amanda Cabot

The Challenges of Writing a Trilogy
By Amanda Cabot

I love writing trilogies, and judging from readers’ reactions, they love reading them. There’s something very satisfying about returning to a town and reconnecting with characters who’ve become as real as your own friends. But, speaking as an author, there are also challenges. Although there are many challenges, for me, three stand out.

Maintain consistency from book to book. Readers are intelligent. They’ll remember that Susie had green eyes in Book One, and if those suddenly change to brown in Book Two, unless you mention that she’s wearing colored contacts, your reader will be disappointed in you. To avoid this problem, I keep a chart with all characters’ ages, hair and eye colors, and other dominant characteristics.

If you’re using the same location from book to book, I highly recommend having a map that shows where houses, rivers, and other landmarks are located. Once again, readers will notice if you change the street names between books. Even if you’re using a real town, it’s important to know where the characters live so that you’re consistent. Maps are my friends!

Create each book as a stand-alone. I know, I know. We’re talking about books in a series, so why am I
suggesting that each one be a stand-alone? For me, there’s nothing more frustrating than picking up the second book in a trilogy and feeling as if I’m a stranger at a party where everyone else knows each other. They’re all talking about people and events that are unfamiliar to me. If you write each book with the idea that it can stand alone, you’ll make readers happy. The key is to ensure that each reference to a prior book has a brief explanation, bringing the reader “up to speed.” The challenge, of course, is to not give away key plot points from previous books. Is it easy? Of course not. That’s why it’s a challenge.

Make each book as compelling as the previous one. For me, this is the most difficult challenge of all. I’ve read so many trilogies, including some written by New York Times bestselling authors, where the first and third books were excellent, but the middle one fell short that I started asking why. Was this an extreme case of the sagging middles that we’re all told to avoid? Was it like sophomore slump? I suspect part of the problem is that, as authors, we’re excited about the first book, but when we get to the second, we’re anxious to finish the series, and the second book suffers. Don’t let that happen.

I wish I could give you concrete advice on how to avoid the middle book doldrums. All I can say is to be aware that this is a potential problem and one that afflicts even bestselling authors. If you have critique partners, ask them whether this book is as good as the previous one, and if the answer isn’t the one you wanted, ask yourself what you can do to improve it. Your readers expect excellence. Don’t disappoint them.

For me, although there are undeniable challenges involved, writing trilogies is great fun. I love the challenge of creating a town and peopling it with interesting characters, then returning to it a second and third time. I love introducing characters in one book, then following them into a second book. I love every aspect of it except one: saying good-bye.

Writing trilogies can be a fulfilling experience. If you’re at all intrigued by the idea, I encourage you to try it.

Into the Starlight

Neither of their lives has turned out the way they planned—and they certainly never planned on each other

After more than a year in Europe, Joanna Vaughn returns to Sweetwater Crossing, her dreams of becoming a concert pianist shattered. As if that wasn’t enough, her husband, whom she married after a whirlwind courtship, has died. The only thing sustaining her on the journey back to Texas is the thought of her childhood home. But to Joanna’s dismay, the place she once loved no longer feels like home.

When personal and professional crises throw his entire future into question, Dr. Burke Finley believes it’s time for a change. A quick trip to Sweetwater Crossing with his almost-aunt Della Samuels turns into an extended stay to discover what happened to his uncle and her would-be husband. But the beautiful and musical Joanna makes it more than bearable.

As the two join forces to help Della, there is no denying the attraction felt on both sides. But ghosts from the past are coming to call—and threatening to destroy any chance at happily-ever-after.

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of more than forty books and a variety of novellas. Her books have been honored with starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal and have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Award, the HOLT Medallion, and the Booksellers’ Best.

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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome back, Mary Dodge Allen!

“Hunt for a Hometown” Series: 
Love, Loss and Faith Journeys,
Romantic Mystery/Suspense Meets Historical Romance

By Mary Dodge Allen

I am happy to be here today on the History, Hope, and Happily Ever After blog. Many thanks to Linda for inviting me to share about Book 2 of my “Hunt” series, Hunt for a Hometown Kidnapper, to be available in late 2024.

I began my writing career later in life, beginning with short inspirational stories published in traditional Christian anthologies. I am now writing novels - “Fast-paced Adventure with Humor and Heart.” My experience as a social worker, teacher and counselor helps me as I write compelling stories about quirky, flawed characters who are facing real-life struggles and looking for answers.

In Book 1: Hunt for a Hometown Killer – my award-winning Romantic Mystery/Suspense - main character Roxy has endured a series of tragic losses during her life; losing both parents as a child... multiple miscarriages... her husband’s murder. Based in Florida, the first scene describes Roxy’s shock when she witnesses a sinkhole forming. As it deepens, it exposes the long-buried hiding place of the car used in her husband’s unsolved hit-and-run murder, years earlier. Through the twists and turns of the murder investigation, Roxy develops a close relationship with Kyle, the small town’s detective. Working together, they identify her husband’s killer.

Book 2: Hunt for a Hometown Kidnapper continues Roxy’s story in the small fictional town of Riverside Bay, Florida. It is a Romantic Mystery/Suspense with a WWII Historical Romance woven into the story, through diaries and flashbacks of Roxy’s Grandpa Leo.

My Uncle Gordon, who lived to be 97 years old, flew 35 missions as co-pilot of a B-17 bomber, as part
of the U.S. Mighty Eighth Air Force, during WWII. He is my inspiration for Roxy’s beloved Grandpa Leo.

Of the more than 200 airfields used by the U.S. Air Force in England, only one airfield remains intact – the airfield in Rattlesden, England where my Uncle Gordon was based! My husband and I visited that airfield, which is now used by private glider pilots. It’s hard to express the depth of emotion I felt as I stood on the control tower walkway, looking out at the runways. I thought about all the B-17 crewmen based there during WWII. Many of them never returned.

In the photo, clockwise from top left: Rattlesden’s Control Tower; Vintage photo of a Control Tower during WWII; Uncle Gordon’s WWII B-17 bombing crew (He is tallest one standing, on the left); Me, standing on Rattlesden’s Control Tower walkway.

In Book 2: Hunt for a Hometown Kidnapper, Roxy and Kyle plan to be married. Days before their wedding, Roxy is reunited with the teenage daughter she gave up for adoption at birth. Roxy is looking forward to spending more time getting to know her daughter, Dani, after she and Kyle return from their honeymoon. But on the day they return, Dani goes missing. They realize she’s been kidnapped, and she doesn’t have the asthma inhaler she depends on. The clock is ticking as Roxy and Kyle begin a frantic search for Dani. Who has taken her... and why? Roxy’s faith is shaken. After so many years of praying to be reunited with her daughter, will she lose her now?

As Roxy struggles with facing another potential loss in her life, Grandpa Leo shares his own faith journey of love and loss, recorded in his private war diaries. They describe how his B-17 was shot down over France... his love for Anna, the French Resistance worker who saved and sheltered him... and her capture by the Gestapo.

Hunt for a Hometown Kidnapper should be available in late 2024.

If you are interested in reading Book 1: Hunt for a Hometown Killer, I invite you to click on the link below:

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Monday, June 17, 2024

Movie Monday: So Proudly We Hail

Movie Monday: So Proudly We Hail

Today’s movie, So Proudly We Hail, was based on nurse Lt. Colonel Juanita Hipps’s book, “I Served on Bataan” about her experiences in the Philippines. Assigned to Bataan and Corregidor in 1939 she was one of seven nurses who managed to get out before the Japanese occupation. The book became a best-seller in 1943, and the U.S. government saw it as an opportunity. The result of the partnership between the War Department and Paramount Pictures became a propaganda success with the film receiving four Oscar nominations.

Starring Claudette Colbert, Veronica Lake, Paulette Goddard, Barbara Britton, George Reeves, and the lesser-known Sonny Tufts, So Proudly We Hail is not your typical Hollywood “chick-flick.” Yes, there is romance woven throughout the story, but the film is a realistic rendition of the ugliness of war and the difficult and sometimes overwhelming work done by the nurses who served.

Despite being a “post-code” movie, there are a surprising number of graphic scenes including aerial
bombings, an ambulance being blown up while nurses scramble out of the way, and a couple of death scenes (which in this era typically occurred “off stage”). When the film came out in 1943, the world was still on tenterhooks as to how the war would end. The fall of the Philippines was viewed as a major US defeat.
The film is told in a series of flashbacks when the nurses are on their way home by ship, and the story begins with the women in California as they prepare for their assignment. By the time they reach Hawaii, the US is at war and the ship is rerouted to the Philippines. During the journey, the convoy comes under attack and one of the ships is sunk. They eventually make it to Manila which has been declared an open city (unfortified, undefended), so they head to Bataan instead. They set up and do their best to take care of patients, but then word comes that the Japanese are advancing. They move to a “jungle” hospital where they are subjected to bombing raids. Things get worse, and it’s obvious the area is going to fall to the enemy. As mentioned, there is a romance thread, and the movie ends with a happily-ever-after.


War’s Unexpected Gift

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?

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