Thursday, April 11, 2024

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Susan Pope Sloan

Loving Lydia by Susan Pope Sloan

What was your inspiration for the story?


My book is based on an event that occurred in my home state during the Civil War. The event drew criticism from both the North and the South when it happened but soon faded into near obscurity. When a co-worker told me about it, I decided I wanted to develop a story around it. Unfortunately, it took me a couple of decades to get it done.

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

I was fortunate to find a book (at my local library) that gave great detail about the event. The author had done such excellent work that it became my primary resource. She gave several specific details that ended up in either this book or another in my series. Most of my research is done online or in the library, but I love to visit historical sites.

Tell us about your road to publication.

I come from a family of storytellers, so I started writing early. My high school offered a creative
Pixabay/Peter Olexa
writing class, which was my elective for two years. At 18, I had a few short pieces published by my denomination’s publishing house. That started my journey, which continued sporadically for several decades, during which I wrote articles for local newspapers and small-press magazines. Finding Christian writers' groups and conferences gave me the boost I needed to seriously pursue writing and publication. My debut novel came out just after my 72nd birthday.

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

My book is part of a series because I had too many characters in my original story. An editor suggested I break it into different books, featuring different main characters in each, so the original turned into three books.

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

I’m writing a couple of spin-off books now because I became enamored with one family in the series. Two more will be added to the series, and I also have a prequel that I’m thinking of adding. Sometimes the most unlikely secondary character demands his or her own story.

How do you come up with story lines?

Since I write about true events, part of my story line is already there. It’s fun to imagine how people responded to situations that greatly impacted their lives.

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

I suppose I’m drawn to the Civil War because of Gone with the Wind, which I read in high school. However, my first novel (still unpublished) was based on an Old Testament character. At that time, no publisher was interested in biblical fiction, so I set it aside. History in general fascinates me, so I would enjoy almost any time period.

Why do you write in your particular genre?

Public Domain
I grew up reading Grace Livingston Hill books, as well as Harlequin’s Love Inspired stories, so writing Christian romance was natural for me. Writing Christian historical romance allows me to indulge my love of history and happy endings.

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

I’m a pantser who’s trying to learn to plot an outline. My books are character-driven, so often my editor has to remind me to think about where the story is going. Although I’m a morning person, I write mostly in the evening after I’ve taken care of my daily obligations. My favorite part is writing dialogue. I usually get my dialogue going first, then go back and add action, setting, and imagery.

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

After twenty years as a lab technician and a half-dozen as a secretary, I finally landed a corporate writing job, which lasted twenty years. As a novelist, I had to discard a few hard-and-fast rules used in technical and corporate writing, but my jobs did teach me how to do research, how to express vague concepts, and how to be concise.

About Loving Lydia

Two Southerners thrown together by the Union army. He’s on a quest for vengeance. She’s determined to preserve her family.

Lydia Gibson’s life is overturned when the Union Army invades her hometown and burns down the cotton mill where she and her stepdaughter worked. Even worse, she and the other workers are arrested and sent to Marietta, where they wait for the army to send them north.

Confederate Sergeant Seth Morgan finally reaches Marietta to check on his family, but the last thing he expects is to meet a woman who sparks attraction he thought he’d never feel again. Unfortunately, she’s a Yankee prisoner and being sent north to Louisville, Kentucky.

Seth is forced to return to his unit in Virginia, and he never anticipated their next meeting would be when he’s taken to Louisville as a prisoner. While Seth searches the Confederate ranks for the man who murdered his wife, Lydia implores him to ask after her missing nephew. Neither one expects just how far the search will take them, or what they’ll discover along the way.

About Susan Pope Sloan

With a family heritage of singers, songwriters, and storytellers, Susan’s destiny as a writer was settled early on. Her articles have been published sporadically in Church of God magazines and her local newspapers over many years. Drawing on her experiences with Victorian caroling groups, she wrote and self-published three non-fiction books to help others who want to begin a similar group. Her love for history led to her current projects, fictional accounts of a certain event during the Civil War. For a change of pace, she occasionally enjoys writing children’s stories. Apart from writing, Susan is involved in Toastmasters and Word Weavers groups in her hometown of Columbus, Georgia. She is also a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Susan and husband Ricky have three adult children and five fabulous grandsons.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/stores/Susan-Pope-Sloan/author/B0CRLCXF8W
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/susanpsloan
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/susanpopesloan

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Traveling Tuesday: Escape Routes

Traveling Tuesday: Escape Routes


In Spies & Sweethearts, book 1 in my Sisters in Services series and celebrating its fourth birthday this month, my characters’ cover is blown, and they must escape from occupied France. Dozens of routes were in place all over Europe, and many were not for the faint of heart as they wound through deep forests, clung to the side of mountains, or snaked through heavily occupied cities and villages. Here are three of the most famous escape routes:

Pat O'Leary Line: Centered on the Mediterranean Coast, this route was used primarily to bring servicemen from the north of France to Marseille, over the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain. By crossing the mountains, official checkpoints were bypassed as well as contact with German patrols. The name of the route was taken from the alias of Belgium doctor Albert Guerisse who claimed to be French Canadian Pat O'Leary when he was picked up by the Vichy French Coast Guard during a 1941 mission. Ultimately taking over command of the escape route, Guerisse used the alias for the duration of the war. One report indicates that between 1940 and 1944, over 33,000 successful escapes were made along the Pyrenees (a mountain range over 300 miles long that reaches a height of over 11,000 feet)

The Comete Route: This line started in Brussels went through the south of France into Spain and then
Public Domain
to Gibraltar. Created by a young woman from Belgium named Andree de Jonghe, the line was officially sanctioned by British intelligence in 1940 after Andree showed up at the British consulate with a British soldier. When France came under direct Nazi rule, the line became dangerous to use, and by 1942 it had begun to crumble because of betrayals and arrests.

The Shelburne Route: Created in 1944, Wikipedia claims this route is the only escape line not infiltrated by the Nazis. Perhaps because of its short-lived usage, perhaps because it began so close to the end of the war. From Paris, escapees made their way to the beach at Anse Cochat near Plouha where they were shipped across the English Channel to Dartmouth. The use of this line was suspended when preparations for the D-Day invasion began.

Pixabay/Jacqueline Macou 

No matter which escape line was used individuals were given clothes, identity papers, and food before setting off on their journey. Guides took them to a location where the next guide would pick them up. Members who participated did so at great risk to themselves and their families. 

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Spies & Sweethearts

She wants to do her part. He’s just trying to stay out of the stockade. Will two agents deep behind enemy lines find capture… or love?


1942. Emily Strealer is tired of being told what she can’t do. Wanting to prove herself to her older sisters and do her part for the war effort, the high school French teacher joins the OSS and trains to become a covert operative. And when she completes her training, she finds herself parachuting into occupied France with her instructor to send radio signals to the Resistance.

Major Gerard Lucas has always been a rogue. Transferring to the so-called “Office of Dirty Tricks” to escape a court-martial, he poses as a husband to one of his trainees on a dangerous secret mission. But when their cover is blown after only three weeks, he has to flee with the young schoolteacher to avoid Nazi arrest.

Running for their lives, Emily clings to her mentor’s military experience during the harrowing three-hundred-mile trek to neutral Switzerland. And while Gerard can’t bear the thought of his partner falling into German hands, their forged papers might not be enough to get them over the border.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Fiction Friday: April's New Releases!

April 2024 New Releases

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

Contemporary Romance:


Love in Tandem by Becca Kinzer -- She’s perfectly content leading a quiet life in her small hometown. He’s an adventurer with unquenchable wanderlust. The two couldn’t be any more opposite if they tried. But a tandem bicycle and a 500-mile road trip just might change all that. (Contemporary Romance from Tyndale House)

Playing For Keeps by Deborah Raney -- The love story of Art and Maddie continues in Playing for Keeps. But their fledgling marriage faces challenges when expectations collide. When Maddie is offered a chance to take a research trip to Paris, it appears a short separation might help them both figure out what happily-ever-after looks like for them. Yet even the beautiful City of Lights is lonely without the man she loves with all her heart. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published [ACFW QIP])

Safe Haven Ranch by Louise M Gouge -- It should be easy for widow Olivia Ortiz to despise Will Mattson, the man keeping her from buying the ranchland she needs for herself and her daughter, Emily. But when Emily becomes instant friends with Will’s nephew, Jemmy, Olivia and Will find themselves growing closer as well. And as Olivia’s feelings for the handsome cowboy shift, competing for the property could be the start of something more… (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

General Contemporary and Women’s Fiction:



Cookies & Eggnog from Welcombe Bay by Kate Darroch -- The prequel to the first novel in the Sweets By the Sea series, "Thanksgiving in Welcombe Bay." In this Christmas novella we learn that Lily met her former husband Gary on her 18th birthday, and we see how Gary establishes his ascendancy over her. We watch God's love operating in her life through the actions of her grandparents and her vicar's wife, and learn why that ultimately leads Lily to a moment of truth when she must seek to reclaim her wavering faith. (General Contemporary, Independently Published [Ad Astra Press, Inc.])

Always Think of Me by Lori Keesey -- Tyrus Cal, TC for short, had no plans to leave his party boy life, but when he met Ginny at an outdoor music festival, he fell. Hard. When their budding relationship ends abruptly, TC moves on, assuming he won't get a second chance with the captivating Ginny. But then he does. Just not in the way he expected. (General Contemporary, Mascot Books)

Why the Mountains Stand by Ashlyn McKayla Ohm -- When skating coach Addisyn Miles becomes responsible for Kenzie, a turbulent new student, she's blindsided by the girl's troubling link to her own past. But when Kenzie rediscovers a local legend, more is at stake than either of them realized. Now, Addisyn must choose between allowing the secrets to destroy them both...or finally finding the purpose behind their shared pain. (Contemporary, Independently Published [ACFW QIP])

General Historical:


Secrets of the Wildflowers by Sarah Talbert -- After a tragic event involving the sacrifice of her brother, Miu escapes the stifling gods and patriarchal norms of ancient Ur, embarking on a transformative quest for freedom, like wildflowers in bloom; she grapples with control issues and learns to trust in Abraham's personal god, Yahweh, finding a community where she can live as she was created to be. (General Historical, Eternal Threads Publishing)

Historical Romance:


Earning the Mountain Man’s Trust by Misty M Beller -- Naomi Wyatt has finally given up on the man who once promised to love her for the rest of his life—then disappeared with no way to contact him. She’s now a single mother with a beautiful baby girl to provide for. When Jonah Coulter asks for her hand in marriage, she knows she would be hard-pressed to find a better husband and father. But when her first love rides onto the ranch property saying he’d been searching for her for months, her heart is shredded once again. Before she has time to catch her breath though, a new threat appears on the horizon. This time she has far more at stake than her heart, and only a Divine hand can turn this disaster for their good. (Historical Romance, Independently Published [ACFW QIP])

The Sleuth of Blackfriars Lane by Michelle Griep -- As co-owner of The Blackfriars Lane Enquiry Agency, Kit Forge fearlessly takes on a missing child case, only to find herself and her husband, Chief Inspector Jackson Forge, risking everything to save their own baby from the dangerous criminals involved. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

A Spring at The Greenbrier by Sandra Merville Hart -- Marilla has resigned herself to spinsterhood in order to help care for her sister but more than that obstacle stands in the way of courting the wealthy brother of her sister's best friend. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)

Dreams for Courage by Shanna Hatfield -- When a private investigator's trail leads her to an aloof rancher, will love give them the courage they need to face his past and dream of a future together? (Historical Romance from Wholesome Hearts Publishing)

Even in Death by Rebecca Hemlock -- Private Detective Trix Fredson wants her husband’s murder solved, and the couple responsible live in her old home. Her husband’s best friend, Ted Mcallister pulled some strings to get Trix the job at the detective agency. He promised to help her solve Ron’s murder, which would be difficult. But how can he do that and keep himself from revealing his true feelings for her? That was going to be even harder. (Historical Romance from Bluecap Publishing)

Mystery/Suspense/Thriller:


The Garden Girls by Jessica R Patch -- On a remote Outer Banks island, a serial killer collects his prized specimens. And to stop him, an FBI agent must confront his own twisted past. (Contemporary Psychological Suspense Thriller from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Romantic Suspense:


Lethal Danger by Jerusha Agen -- This K-9 team is trained to eliminate threats. This threat could eliminate them. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published [ACFW QIP])

One Good Time by Luana Ehrlich -- CIA covert operative Titus Ray is asked to do the unthinkable and allow a terrorist to enter the country illegally in order to stop an attack on the U. S., but as he tracks the terrorist to his destination, he suffers a devastating loss that threatens to derail the mission. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published [ACFW QIP])

Grave Consequences by Elle E. Kay -- Cate Garrison is working as a wildlife biologist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission and crosses paths with a mysterious park ranger whose dangerous past has caught up with him. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published [ACFW QIP])

Yukon Wilderness Evidence by Darlene L. Turner -- When skeletal remains are uncovered in the Yukon forest, forensic botanist Keeley Ash is called to the crime scene—and ends up abducted. She never expects her ex, paramedic Brett Ryerson, to come to her rescue, or her gathered evidence to be linked to a cold case. And when their son—who Brett never knew existed—is kidnapped, they’ll stop at nothing to save him and outrun the hunters determined to silence Keeley. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Speculative Fiction:



Never Forget the Truth by F.D. Adkins -- When the forces of darkness masquerade in the light, is your sword sharpened in TRUTH and wielded to fight? (Speculative Fiction, Independently Published [ACFW QIP])

Split-Time:

Braving Strange Waters by Sarah Hanks -- Stella Lindy is supposed to be soaking up the sunshine with her bridesmaids on a bachelorette cruise to Hawaii. But when she hits the wrong button on the elevator, the glamorous luxury of the modern ship is replaced with the Missouri River steamboat Arabia filled with strangers—and a mysterious doctor informs her it is 1856. Communicating through an antique mailbox, her friends on the cruise try to guide her back home before the steamboat sinks, but Stella finds herself caught in a tangled web between pro-slavery Border Ruffians and anti-slavery Jayhawkers. Standing up for what’s right in the face of peril and uncertainty might mean never making it home. (General/Split-Time, Independently Published [SonFlower Books])

Young Adult:



Protector by Megan Schaulis -- Nanotech, royal romance, and biblical themes combine in this YA dystopian retelling of Esther—perfect for fans of The Selection or The Hunger Games. (Young Adult from WhiteCrown Publishing)

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

Deep Trouble by Mary Connealy -- When an aimless wanderer and fearless female determined to find a city of gold are forced to work together and set out to find the treasure, trouble is hot on their trail. (Historical (Western) Romance)

His Unexpected Grandchild by Myra Johnson -- This toddler will steal his heart...Just in time to open it… (Contemporary Romance)

An Unlikely Arrangement by Cindy Patterson -- Abigail stands to lose all if Garrett Barringer sees past her physical beauty and uncovers the ugliness of her imperfect past. Will Abigail continue on the condemned path she’s fashioned for herself, or trust that God wants a future for her she never believed possible? (Historical Romance)

Phooey Kerflooey by Kristen Joy Wilks -- Through a raucous tornado of personal growth, the boys and Phooey work together to save the day. But when the dust (and squirrel poo) settles, can they convince Dad and Mom to let them keep their puppy princess? (Middle-grade Chapter book)

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome back, Donna Schlachter!

Hearts of Midway – by Donna Schlachter


Coming up with another romantic mystery set along the Pony Express Trail has been a lot of fun, because every story requires research—and maybe a road trip. I love visiting places I write about. There is nothing like standing, in this case, in the middle of a field of prairie grass, listening to the Red Wing Blackbirds call to each other. Trip over the wagon wheel ruts. Imagine what this patch of land looked like a hundred and fifty-plus years ago. Before the train, that splits this vast acreage in two came through. Before the road carrying thousands of passengers at unimagined speeds for the time. Before the telephone and electric lines were there.

If you look on a map of Nebraska, you won’t find Midway Station. That’s because it is not, and has never been, a hamlet, village, town, or city. Midway Station was one of the stops along the Pony Express route, which ran—and still exists in many areas—from St. Joseph, Missouri to San Francisco, California.

However, if you’ve ever passed near or through Gothenburg, Nebraska, you might well have seen the
Photo: Pixabay/Mike
cabin called Midway Station. It is one of the few original stations that remains at its original location. Much more famous, perhaps, is the Sam Machette station in the city of Gothenburg, which was moved in 1931 and turned into a museum in the mid-1950s which attracts more than thirty thousand visitors each year.

If you’ve read anything about the Pony Express, you know that a series of stations were set up to service the riders. Some legs of the route between stations were less than ten miles, particularly if the landscape was tough to traverse. A rider would leave his home station, riding all day and sometimes late into the night, changing horses and gathering mail at each station, until he reached the next home station, usually around a hundred and fifty miles away.

Midway Station, near the town of Gothenburg, Nebraska, wasn’t a home station, but it offered the riders and townsfolk the opportunity to meet and mingle at times. The next romantic mystery, which is set at this station and the surrounding area, will include missing horses, a missing Pony Express rider, a sheriff’s daughter with a nose for mystery and a penchant for wearing trousers, and a Pony Express rider with a secret. You won’t want to miss it. 

The book releases in August, but is available for pre-order here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CYXRF4WF and you can check out the rest of the series at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B098WRMTM3

About Donna:

A hybrid author, Donna writes squeaky-clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 60 times in books; is a member of several writers' groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both, and is an avid oil painter. She is taking all the information she’s learned along the way about the writing and publishing process, and is coaching committed career writers. Learn more at https://www.donnaschlachter.com/the-purpose-full-writer-coaching-programs. Check out her coaching group on FB: https://www.facebook.com/groups/604220861766651

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Thursday, March 28, 2024

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Amy Anguish

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Amy Anguish

What was your inspiration for the story?


Believe it or not, a news story on social media years ago. I can’t even remember who shared it or where. But the premise stuck with me. Basically, a man and woman were considering divorce and their family and friends refused to let it happen. And because of that, they helped the couple save their marriage. The very idea just made me so happy and I wanted to explore it ever since.

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

When I start contemplating the situation I want to write about, the characters start forming in my head. I play with names until one finally just “fits,” and then I stick with it. For their vocations, it depends. I draw on some I’ve had through the years, or some I’ve been able to witness enough to know how they work. Or sometimes, I pick one that fits my character’s personality and the flexibility they need. For instance, if a character needs to be able to take time during the day to help another character, their job needs to be one he can work when he/she wants to instead of one with set hours. That sometimes limits me, but sometimes it’s fun too.

How are your characters like you? Different?

Most of my characters have a bit of a snarky sense of humor. A deep faith in God, though it can
Pixabay/Uwe Baumann
sometimes be shaken. And quite a few of them have some artistic talent too. Because I love being crafty and dabbling in other arts besides writing and it comes through in my characters.

How has your book changed since your first draft?

When I first wrote it, I had it written solely in my heroine’s point of view. After letting it sit a while, I knew I needed to add in the hero’s as well. After all, it’s too skewed when you only get one point of view. Especially in a book that starts with the woman demanding a divorce. I needed him to tell his side of the story, too, and it’s so much stronger now.

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

Honestly, I rarely do spin-off stories, but if I did, I always tend to lean toward the “bad” character. Not that all of my stories have one of those, but this one definitely does. There’s just something satisfying about redeeming a character in his or her own story.

How do you come up with storylines?

Everywhere! I have come up with ideas listening to conversations. Reading articles. From real life (though by the time I’m done with it, you can’t tell which part is from my real life and which is fiction). Sometimes, a simple phrase or situation will inspire me. Mostly by asking, “What if?”

Why do you write in your particular genre?

I love a happy ending! Writing romance ensures I get one each and every time. I read to relax so I don’t want to have to worry too much about whether or not things will end well for my characters. And when I write, I feel the same way.

Pixabay/Pexels
What is your process for writing? (do you outline, have a special place or time of day you write, etc.) What is your favorite part of the process?


I don’t outline much. I am more of a “pantser,” where I basically start with an idea, a few scenes in my head, and just write to see what happens. I can do this because my stories are character-driven, meaning my characters develop and then take over, sometimes telling me what to write instead of the other way around. My favorite part of the writing process is the writing part. It’s so satisfying to see the story come together on a page. And I tend to write more in the afternoons and evenings right now. With several jobs and two elementary-aged kids, I have to steal moments when I can.

What is your next project?

I am writing a novella set at Valentine’s Day in a Kindergarten classroom. And there happens to be a hamster who comes to school, unexpectedly. And an uncle. It’s set to release next February. Then, I hope to tackle a Snow White retelling.

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About For Better or For Granted

Divorce was never in the plans for Genevieve Stewart. Only four years into marriage, and everything has gone wrong. Why stay where she’s never going to be happy? If only she could find her way back to the way things were before Scott’s job took all his time and energy, leaving nothing for her.

Scott Stewart achieved his goal of becoming a high school principal younger than most in the state. Everything in life seems to be going exactly as planned until Genevieve threatens to leave. Suddenly, his dreams aren’t as clear as they once were. He desperately wants to stay married, but he can’t let down his school, either.

Their friends and family remind them of their lifetime promises and urge them not to give up. But the way back to love isn’t easy when you’ve grown used to taking each other for granted.

About Amy
Amy R Anguish grew up a preacher's kid, and in spite of having lived in seven different states that are all south of the Mason-Dixon line, she is not a football fan. Currently, she resides in Tennessee with her husband, daughter, and son, and usually a bossy cat or two. Amy has an English degree from Freed-Hardeman University that she intends to use to glorify God, and she wants her stories to show that while Christians face real struggles, it can still work out for good.

Follow her at http://abitofanguish.weebly.com or http://www.facebook.com/amyanguishauthor
Or https://twitter.com/amy_r_anguish

Learn more about her books at https://www.pinterest.com/msguish/my-books/

And check out the YouTube channel she does with two other authors, Once Upon a Page (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEiu-jq-KE-VMIjbtmGLbJA)

Monday, March 25, 2024

Movie Monday: Mrs. Miniver

Movie Monday: Mrs. Miniver

Based on the 1939 Jan Struther book that had begun as a series of newspaper columns, Mrs. Miniver was the highest-grossing film of 1942 (and second highest of the decade behind Gone With the Wind) and won six of its twelve Oscar nominations, including Outstanding Motion Picture, Best Actress (Greer Garson), Best Director (William Wyler), Best Supporting Actress (Teresa Wright), and Best Screenplay.

Four years later, Wyler would win another Best Director Oscar for The Best Years of Our Lives, a film that told the story of American GIs adjusting to post-war life. According to one source, Mrs. Miniver was the first film centered on WWII to win Best Picture. Produced and distributed by MGM, the film was selected for preservation in the US National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

The film received notice around the globe with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill calling the
movie, “more powerful to the war effort than the combined work of six military divisions” in boosting US support for his weary nation. Hitler’s Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels gave the movie grudging praise: [Mrs. Miniver] shows the destiny of a family during the current war, and its refined powerful propagandistic tendency was up to now only been dreamed of. There is not a single angry word spoken against Germany; nevertheless, the anti-German tendency is perfectly accomplished.” President Franklin Roosevelt would later order the film’s final sermon to be broadcast over the Voice of America radio network, and leaflets printed with the speech air-dropped over Europe.

Born in Alsace, which at the time of his birth was part of the German empire, William Wyler was eventually sent by his parents to America to work with his cousin Carl Laemmle (founder of Universal Pictures). He started out as a member of the “swing gang,” employees responsible for cleaning the stages, moving sets, and other unskilled labor-type tasks. Filming for Mrs. Miniver began in November 1941, before Pearl Harbor was attacked.

When asked about the movie in an interview years later, Wyler commented, “I was a warmonger. I was concerned about Americans being isolationists. Mrs. Miniver was obviously a propaganda film.” Seven months later when it was released isolationism was a moot point, and the US was at war. Wyler entered the US Army Air Corps in England and made three documentaries about the bomber groups to which his was attached. During his service, he lost the hearing in one ear during a bombing run over Italy and was awarded a Medal of Valor.

Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon play a middle-class English couple whose family and village face difficulties and destruction during the early days of World War II. The film begins somewhat lightheartedly with Kay Miniver discussing inconsequential things such as the extravagance of a new hat, and a new breed of roses for the annual flower show. As the movie progresses, the plot darkens with Mr. Miniver helping with the Dunkirk evacuation, an air raid, a crashed German Pilot, and two of the characters trapped in a car during enemy fire.

Mrs. Miniver ends in the village’s bombed church with the vicar providing encouragement to his frightened congregation. As they sing "Onward, Christian Soldiers," the camera pans to the hole in the roof where RAF fighters in a “V for Victory” formation depart (ostensibly to face the enemy).

Have you seen this classic or its sequel The Miniver Story?

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A Love Not Forgotten

Allison White should be thrilled about her upcoming wedding. The problem? She's still in love with her fiance, Chaz, who was declared dead after being shot down over Germany in 1944. Can she put the past behind her and settle down to married life with the kindhearted man who loves her?

It's been nearly two years since Charles "Chaz" Powell was shot down over enemy territory. The war is officially over, but not for him. He has amnesia as a result of injuries sustained in the crash, and the only clue to his identity is a love letter with no return address. Will he ever regain his memories and discover who he is, or will he have to forge a new life with no connections to the past?

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome Back, Terri Wangard!

Welcome Back, Terri Wangard!

I'm pleased to welcome Terri Wangard back to my blog. I just finished Seashells in My Pocket, and it is a fantastic story. Grab a "cuppa," draw up a chair, and learn a bit about the book and Terri herself.

What was your inspiration for the story?

Gail Halvorsen was a Berlin Airlift pilot (the Candy bomber) who was based in Natal, Brazil, during WWII. I knew about the Brazil Expeditionary Force that fought in Italy, but what were Americans doing in Brazil during the war? I had to learn more.

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

Researching Brazil is hard. Very few sources exist. It was nothing like researching the air war in Europe for my B-17 series. I picked up little tidbits here and there. I found a navy photographer’s book of photos that proved to be invaluable.

One tidbit I had to use came from a Gail Halvorsen interview. He talked about Dauntless dive bombers available for the pilots’ recreational use. That proved to be a big part in my story and I nearly had to take it out.

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

My surname isn’t common, so there was no need to. I do know of a Robert Wangard who wrote legal thrillers. He was probably a shirttail relative and is now deceased. Not likely to cause confusion.

How are your characters like you? Different?

I live vicariously through my heroines. They’re everything I’m not. They know multiple languages, are excellent seamstresses, artists, mathletes. I haven’t had a musician yet; I’ll have to keep that in mind. Many of them travel, which I used to do. Of course, I traveled during peacetime.

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


This is book one of Unsung Stories of WWII. My original idea was war brides from unexpected
Pixabay/Stocksnap
places. In other words, not England or France. While I’m not emphasizing the war bride aspect so much, the first two books followed that idea. The third story fell apart before I started writing and no longer has a foreign bride.

How has your book changed since your first draft?

The biggest change came in the final edit. Remember those Dauntless dive bombers? The hero and his pals took some bombs to do a little hunting. My editor questioned whether bombs would be available for recreational flights. Um, probably not. I had to scramble for a plausible solution because that scene is pivotal for future events in the story.

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

The series is based on three friends who enter the service as pilots of very different aircraft. Daniel mentions his friends Stefan and John. Stefan stars in book two and John in book three. While their names come up in each other’s books, their paths don’t cross in the novels.

How do you come up with storylines?

Pixabay/Bob Williams
With the men, it was easy. They’re military pilots in a war. For the women, I needed realistic reasons for them to meet the men. With Seashells, a Brazilian woman gets a job on the air base. Her German ancestry raises havoc. Daniel is a return character from my WWI book, The Storm Breaks Forth, where he was the main character’s baby nephew. His cousin Gloria returns in book three. I find it fun to revisit my characters.

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

My debut novel was inspired by a batch of letters written in the immediate postwar years by distant cousins in Germany who received care packages from the American family branches. I didn’t intend to write more WWII, but an editor said I’d probably need a series to be offered a contract. I took time out for my Lusitania/WWI books, but came back to WWII because there are aspects that haven’t been touched.

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

I was a librarian. I love books. I love research. I always have a book at hand. Writing my own books flowed out of that.

What was your favorite childhood book and why?

The Flicka, Ricka, Dicka series by Maj Lindman. Three little sisters have all kinds of adventures. I like series and revisiting beloved characters.

About Seashells in My Pocket

German-Brazilian Isabel Neumann delights in creating seashell art, but it’s her mathematical ability that lands her a job at the American air base in Natal, northern Brazil during World War II. She doesn’t need a calculator to determine the correct weights and balances for the Air Transport Command’s cargo planes.

Daniel Lambert, an American transport pilot based at Natal, endures the taunts of combat pilots that he is “allergic to combat.” His flying skills win him respect, however, and his friendship with Isabel deepens, even as a new source of trouble looms.

Isabel is caught in the crosshairs of a German saboteur who is obsessed with her. He insists that she belongs with him, and demands that she help him sabotage the Allied base. Her growing relationship with Daniel angers the Nazi, who will do anything to get of rid him. What will happen to Isabel if the madman captures her?

Social Media Links/Website:

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Website: http://www.terriwangard.com

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Traveling Tuesday: The White House During WWII

 Traveling Tuesday: The White House During WWII

Courtesy: whitehouse.gov
Having lived in Maryland and then Northern Virginia for nearly thirty years, I often visited Washington, DC, and never tired of seeing the monuments and various government buildings scattered throughout the city. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the White House has been the official residence and workplace of every U.S. president since John Adams in 1800 when the nation's capital was moved from Philadelphia. A competition was held to determine who the designer would be, and Irish-born James Hoban won. Other structures he designed include The Octagon House in Washington, DC, and the Charleston County Courthouse.

When President Franklin Roosevelt arrived in January 1933, repairs from the 1929 fire in the White House had long been completed. However, several changes and additions were made after he moved in:

  • Air conditioning was added to the second-floor private quarters
  • An indoor pool was installed featuring water circulation and therapy for his polio
  • Broadcasting equipment was moved into the Diplomatic Reception Room for his fireside chats
  • The electrical system was rewired
  • The large and small kitchens were remodeled to include hotel-sized ranges and ovens, refrigerators and warming ovens, and electric dumbwaiters.
  • After the war in Europe began, National Geographic provided special wall-mounted map cabinets that held maps on rollers that were organized by hemisphere, region, and theater of operation.
Visitors were not uncommon, and one of the first to arrive after the onset of WWII was British Prime
Public Domain
Photo
Minister Winston Churchill. He arrived on December 22, 1941, and his meetings with FDR were code-named the Arcadia Conference.  Staff were not told who was coming, but according to former White House usher J.B. West, they were prohibited from being in the corridors on the day. "It didn't take long for the cigar smoke to announce his {Churchill's} presence." That would be his first of five journeys to the U.S. to meet with FDR, staying at the White House four times, as well as Camp David (formerly Camp Shangri-La).

Even First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was kept in the dark, recounting later in The Atlantic that she was told "we would be having some guests visit us" and that she "could not know who was coming, nor how many, but must be prepared for them to stay over for Christmas. He added as an afterthought that I must see to it that we had good champagne and brandy in the house and plenty of whiskey."

Courtesy White House
Historical Association
When Churchill would visit, the Monroe Room would be converted to a map room to display troop and ship movements. The prime minister's secretaries would work out of the Lincoln Study. During one visit in September 1943, FDR had to go to Hyde Park and according to General Hastings Ismay told Churchill, "please treat the White House as your home. Invite anyone you like to any meals, and do not hesitate to summon any of my advisors with whom you wish to confer at any time you wish." Ismay went on to comment that Churchill's decision to conduct business at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue without the president in residence is striking. I would have to agree.

___________________

A Love Not Forgotten

He can't remember. She can never forget.

Allison White should be thrilled about her upcoming wedding. The problem? She's still in love with her fiance, Chaz, who was declared dead after being shot down over Germany in 1944. Can she put the past behind her and settle down to married life with the kindhearted man who loves her?

It's been nearly two years since Charles "Chaz" Powell was shot down over enemy territory. The war is officially over, but not for him. He has amnesia as a result of injuries sustained in the crash, and the only clue to his identity is a love letter with no return address. Will he ever regain his memories and discover who he is, or will he have to forge a new life with no connections to the past?

A Love Not Forgotten was formerly published in the Let Love Spring collection that is no longer in print.

Purchase Link: https://books2read.com/u/mv9xEJ

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Welcome back, Sherri Stewart!

Talkshow Thursday: 
Welcome Back, Sherri Stewart!

What was your inspiration for the story? 

Secrets Deep and Dark has been on my mind to write from way before I wrote my first book. Twenty years ago, the idea for the book came to me while I was sitting in a hotel room in Phoenix, where my husband was attending a conference. A few weeks later, I mentioned my idea to a senior-high student in my journalism class. She told me the book had already been written by Francine Rivers. Great! I set the story aside until 2023. It was time to write my story.

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

My main character, Maddie Caldecott is a weekend anchor on the local news station, but I had no idea what an anchor or a reporter’s day-to-day work schedule was like. My only knowledge came from old Lou Grant episodes. So, I interviewed the morning anchor of the news in our town, and he was full of information for me. I like to visit the places in my books, so my son and I traveled to Zürich, stayed at the hotel Adler, where Brody stayed, walked the hill to Lindenhof Park, which is featured a lot in the book, attended the opera where Maddie’s grandmother worked, and of course, I ate wonderful Swiss food, such as raclette, cheese fondue, and rösti.

How are your characters like you? Different?

We authors write what we know, so Maddie and I share many experiences. In a way, writing is cathartic, so many of things Maddie dealt with, I’ve dealt with firsthand or have vicariously dealt with through close friends and relatives. Like Maddie, when I was in high school, something happened that I blocked. I still don’t remember what it is, but it was so bad that I told my parents I would not return to the same school again. By the next Monday, I was living with my grandparents in a different town. Unlike Maddie, I was never raped, but I have close friends who were, and they told me exactly what they went through. What Maddie experienced was what my friends experienced.

How do you come up with storylines?

I believe God gives me storylines. Something within compels me to write a story. Normally, I have a general idea what I’m going to write, but God takes me in directions I never could have conceived of on my own. That’s why I let Him lead me where He wants to.

Why do you write in your particular genre?

My favorite genre is romantic suspense. I like the fast pace of suspense, where a character is faced
Photo: Pixabay
with issues they’re ill-equipped to deal with. My characters always have some flaw that adds to the suspense because it impedes their ability to deal with the problem that besets them. They have to draw on the Lord’s help to make wise decisions. In Secrets, Maddie hates to share her private life with the public. She only trusts two people in the world: her grandmother and her best friend, both of whom live outside of the United States. Maddie learns to trust one other person—Police Officer Brody Messner, and later she overcomes her fear of sharing her private life with the public in the most surprising way.

What is your process for writing?

I’m a pantser, which means I don’t write an outline, but I have a general idea where the story is going. I write 500 words a day five times a week. Pantsers always have to spend more time revising than Plotters—those who do outlines. I spend at least a month or two revising and editing before I send my book to a professional editor. I’m also an editor, but no one can edit their own book. I’ve learned that the hard way.

What is your advice to fledgling writers?

Let the words flow every day. Don’t worry about the final product. Join a writers’ group. Word Weavers is a good one. That way new writers will learn the conventions of fiction that are not taught in school—things like point of view and show v. tell. Also, every writer should attend a writers’ conference.

What is your next project?

Right now, I’m writing a Christmas historical romance that occurs on an ocean liner in 1910. Later this year, I’ll write the third and final book of my series of World War II books. The series hasn’t been named yet, but the first books are A Song for her Enemies (2021) and What Hides behind the Walls (2022). The last book will also take place on an ocean liner, so I’ll be sailing across the Atlantic in May.

Secrets Dark and Deep

TV anchor, Maddie Caldecott, has a secret so deeply buried within that she doesn’t remember it. But the man called Absalom knows her secret, and his threats to exact his revenge are becoming more and more intrusive. As an investigative reporter, Maddie can dig out the truth of any story, but she can’t unearth the secret she’s blocked until it’s too late.

Police Detective, Brody Messner, is at his wits end. How can he protect Maddie if she resists his every suggestion? His need to protect her has become personal. From Orlando to Zürich, he follows her, trying to stay one step ahead of her assailant—all of his notes to her, and that song. https://bit.ly/49hKUNS

Bio

Sherri Stewart is woman of faith who loves all things foreign—whether it’s food, culture, or language. A former French teacher, her passion is traveling to the settings of her books, sampling the food, and visiting the sites. She savored boterkoeken in Amsterdam for A Song for Her Enemies, and crème brûlée in Paris for its sequel, What Hides beyond the Walls, and raclette in Zürich for Secrets Dark and Deep. A widow, Sherri lives in the Orlando area with her dog, Lily, and her son, Joshua, who always has to fix her computer. As an author, editor, blogger, speaker, and Bible teacher, she hopes her books will entertain and challenge readers to live large and connect with their Savior. Join, chat, and share with her on social media: