Interview with Duncan McKnapp from With This Peace

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We’re so happy to have Duncan McKnapp take a break from his travels of wild Florida to visit with Novel PASTimes.

Novel PASTimes: Duncan, welcome to Novel PASTimes! Can you tell me where you come from and where you live now?

 Duncan: Thank you for letting me be part of Novel PASTimes! I never thought anyone would be interested in anything I have to say. My brothers always thought I was beyond help. Ha! Well … where did I come from? I was born in the rolling mountains above Dahlonega, Georgia. The place is called, Beckler’s Cove. It sure is beautiful there. I miss it. Right now, I call central Florida my home. Kinda wish I didn’t claim this swamp as a home. Seems like I’m either sweating, swatting bugs, tripping over alligators, or tramping through snake-filled, warm water.

 Novel PASTimes: I don’t think that sounds like much fun!

I heard you father passed away. I’m so sorry for your loss. How are you coping with your grief right now?

 Duncan: Yeah, he passed on to his reward. He was a good man. How am I coping with his death? Not very good for a tough woodsman. Staying in the swamps or hiding in the woods, refraining from contact with other humans is how I can heal. When he died, I barely made it home in time to be at his mountain funeral. There was so much I should have said to him, while I had the chance—in earlier years. I guess I was always at odds with my father. But I loved him. Loved and respected him. Know what I mean?

 Novel PASTimes: Which of your Dahlonega, Georgia brothers is your favorite and why?

Duncan: Ahh, I don’t have a favorite! That wouldn’t be nice! Jim always kept me “in line”. He could be tough. Samuel had a gentle spirit about him. Phillip was too young for me to connect with. I guess Jim would be my favorite, that’s because we were closest in age, and he sure could make me feel remorse for my sins. I miss Jim. I can’t sit and talk with him, no more. But I feel his presence with me in the woods, and I hear his chiding when I do stupid things.

 Novel PASTimes: I hear you are friends with Ella Dessa. Are you sweet on her? Or are you interested in another girl?

Duncan:  When I was too young to be smart, I was in love with a girl named Fern—like the feathery, green plant you’d find in the mountains. I wanted to be with her all the time. I hurt her. Messed it up. I didn’t open my mouth and say the words, “I love you!” Ella Dessa is a sweetheart. I don’t think any man alive wouldn’t fall in love with her. She makes a man long to have a wife just like her. She has a soul of gold. But I always knew she wasn’t for me, but I once tried to catch her attention.

Novel PASTimes: What made you decide to leave the farm?

Duncan: Ahh, I hated farm work. Who wants to milk cows all their life? I like being a free man. I like beautiful women and exploring new land. Florida has always pulled at my heartstrings … if there’s such a thing in me. I’m amazed at the white beaches and rolling waves on the shores. I like the natives. I like warm weather, and I don’t mind huge alligators. They make a man watch where he steps or wades, but keeps a man on his toes. You see, I tend to go barefooted a lot. And by living in Florida, not many people are goin’ to go searching for me. It’s too wet, too hot, too muggy, too wild, and too dangerous. I can let my wooly, red hair grow long, and no woman demands I cut it off.

 Novel PASTimes: You sound very independent, but despite that, do you still miss your family? Why or why not?

 Duncan: Let’s keep this question to ourselves. Yes, I miss them more than ever, as the years roll on. Miss my mother the most. She held our family together. I miss my father, because he taught us boys how to be a good man—even though I didn’t follow his teachings all that well. I miss my brothers and my sisters, because I counted on them to keep me straight. They were the homemade glue that cemented me to my past and who I was supposed to become. But a man makes his own way in life. Sometimes he lets go of the things most important … like family.

 Novel PASTimes: What would you like to do for the rest of your life? Do you have any goals?

 Duncan: Goals … hmm. Most people who know me would say, “He ain’t got no goals. Duncan has left the good life behind. He’s left the mountains, left his home, and chased away the love of his life.” But they don’t know the future. There’s one young woman I’m going to track down. I need to ask her forgiveness for something in the past. And … I’ll let you know one thing. This thing I tell you is between you and me … not for the world to know. I think I know where that one young woman ran off to. In the future, I may see if I can find her. I need to see how her life has turned out. And if there are second chances in this world, I just might change my ways, in order to let her know how much I’ve always loved her.

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Karen Campbell Prough’s love of the 1900’s fuels her stories of a bygone era. She is the author of short stories as well as a series of three books,
which include: The Girl Called Ella Dessa, Within the Candle’s Glow, and With This Peace. She and her husband live in Florida, near the beautiful Peace River–
the setting for With This Peace.

William Seward, Secretary of State

Known for his purchase of Alaska, an unpopular event in its time, William Seward was also a major player behind the scenes during the Civil War.

Thought to be the leading contender for the presidency in 1860, his anti-slavery speeches caused many in his party to view him as a radical, and so they backed his competition, Abraham Lincoln.

It seems surprising in this day and age of political infighting that President Lincoln would appoint his rival to be Secretary of State, but he did on January 10, 1861.

Like so many of Lincoln’s unconventional moves, this one proved beneficial to the Union. The relationship between Lincoln and Seward was never warm, but they worked well together. The move Lincoln does an excellent job of portraying their relationship and is worth watching for that alone.

The big-picture complexity of the Civil War and the balance of powers internationally is something that doesn’t get a lot of attention in the history books, but Seward was a bulwark in the administration who helped keep foreign powers out of our internal struggles. The outcome of the war could have been much different without him at Secretary of State.

If you enjoy reading Civil War historical fiction, Smitten Historical Romance has A Rebel in My House by Sandra Merville Hart and The Planter’s Daughter by Michelle Shocklee. And look for Michelle’s post Civil War-era novel, The Widow of Rose Hill, releasing in February!

Pegg Thomas – Writing History with a Touch of Humor

Managing Editor for Smitten Historical Romance, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Find Pegg on Facebook and Amazon

  

Interview With Lady Deborah Almonbury, The New Viscountess Braybridge

Viscounts Wife EbookNovel PASTimes: If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

Debbey: I would love to go horseback riding. I’m quite good at it, growing up in the American frontier.

Novel PASTimes: What impression do you make on people when they first meet you?

Debbey: Oh, my, I suppose they think I’m bubbly and nice. Or at least when I was at home in West Linn. Probably now that I am in England, I feel out of place so I’m quiet.

Novel PASTimes: What’s your idea of a good marriage?

Debbey: Two people who love each other and love God.

Novel PASTimes: What are you most proud of about your life?

Debbey: I’m proud of my relationship with God and how I treat others.

Novel PASTimes: What are you most ashamed of in your life?

Debbey: That I didn’t trust Lucy when I first met her. I judged her and didn’t think she was good enough for my brother.

Novel PASTimes: Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t done?

Debbey: Have children.

Novel PASTimes: Tell me about your best friend.

Debbey: My best friend is Amelie Leclaire back in West Linn, Oregon. I had to leave her behind when my husband’s father and brother got sick and we had to travel to England to help with the family affairs. I miss her dearly.

Novel PASTimes: What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

Debbey: She was a good and kind wife, mother, and friend.

Novel PASTimes: Describe your ideal mate.

Debbey: Have you met Lord William Almonbury, the new Viscount Braybridge? *She giggles* I’m still not use to calling my husband that. He’s tall, blond hair, blue-eyed, funny and a strong Christian. I adore him.

Novel PASTimes: What are you most afraid of?

Debbey: William thinking I can’t fit into his world.

 

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Jenna Brandt is a Christian historical fiction author and her books span from theVictorian to Western to WWI eras with elements of romance, suspense and faith. Her debut book, The English Proposal, released in May 2017 and it is the first book in her series, The Window to the Heart Saga. She has 6 other books in the series, the newest book in the series, The Viscount’s Wife, is releasing on January 29th, 2018. She also has a WWI trilogy in the FSC kindle world.

She has been an avid reader since she could hold a book and started writing stories almost as early. She has been published in several newspapers as well as edited for multiple papers. She graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in English from Bethany College and was the Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper while there. She’s an on-going contributor for The Mighty Website and her first blog was published on Yahoo Parenting and The Grief Toolbox as well as featured on the ABC News and Good Morning America websites.

Writing is her passion, but she also enjoys cooking, watching movies, reading, engaging in social media and spending time with her three young daughters and husband where they live in the Central Valley of California. She is also active in her local church where she volunteers on their first impressions team as well as writes for the church’s creative team.

She is offering the first two chapters of each of her books along with the short story, The White Wedding, for free on Wattpad.

To find out more about Jenna, to sign-up for her newsletter, or to purchase her books, visit her website at http://www.jennabrandt.com

Her street team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/273698996371454/

Her books on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Jenna-Brandt/e/B0711MSFXW/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1497269877&sr=8-1

Like her on Facebook www.facebook.com/JennaBrandtAuthor

Follow her on Twitter www.twitter.com/JennaDBrandt

Stalk her on Instagram www.instagram.com/jennnathewriter/

Pin her on Pinterest www.pinterest.com/jennnathewriter

Look her up on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16847426.Jenna_Brandt

WWI – Battle of the Falkland Islands

World War I has become a popular era for historical fiction novels. Smitten Historical Romance has one releasing in June titled Among the Poppies by J’nell Ciesielski. Watch for it!

WWI – The Great War – saw many changes in the way wars were fought with the introduction of airplanes, submarines, and the use of underwater mines. But on December 8, 1914, in the waters around the Falkland Islands off the tip of South America, the last old-fashioned naval battle was waged.

The Germans, fresh off an unexpected naval victory off the coast of Chile where the British fleet received its first defeat in more than a century, approached the Falkland Islands intent on destroying the radio tower there to knock out Brittian’s communication in the South Atlantic.

What they didn’t know was that British reinforcements had arrived before them, re-coaled their ships, and were ready for battle. Instead of a few large, slow British Dreadnoughts, the Germans faced the HMS Inflexible and HMS Invincible,  two swift battlecruisers.

In this final naval battle of just ship against ship, sailor against sailor, the Germans lost four warships and 2,000 sailors. The British lost only 10 sailors and saved their radio communication capability.

Pegg Thomas – Writing History with a Touch of Humor

Managing Editor for Smitten Historical Romance, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Find Pegg on Facebook and Amazon

  

Interview with Kate Issacs from A Purpose True

APT squareNovel PASTimes: If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

Kate: I would read the day away, preferably with my best friend Addie to discuss what we learned. We love having philosophical talks about the meaning of things.

Now that I’ve spent time on Domingo’s idyllic family homestead, if I couldn’t have Addie for company, I’d enjoy being with the sheep out in the pasture, and with le Chien, the dog.

Novel PASTimes: What impression do you make on people when they first meet you?

Kate: Hmm…they probably think I’m flighty. But they have no idea how thoroughly I think things through—then when it comes time to act, I’m pretty decisive.

Novel PASTimes: What’s your idea of a good marriage?

Kate: Being friends before you become romantically involved, so you really know each other well from the outset. To be honest, Alexandre and I never really spent much time together, even after we were married. Our love stayed strong when he deployed with the RAF, but we had not lived together even a year. I think our marriage would have lasted, but sometimes think we might have had a stronger foundation.

Traipsing all over the mountains together, sweating together, and experiencing the same very real dangers created a bond between Domingo and me. He’d seen me in rag-tag clothes and unkempt hair, exhausted and fearful. I knew what he was like—really like—when he feared for his mother and brother’s life.

So I’d say being REAL together is vital, and going through some rough times before you say “I do.”

Novel PASTimes: What are you most proud of about your life?

Kate: I gleaned from others, like my Aunt Alvina and Mrs. Tenney and Domingo’s mother, what it meant to have a home. But it’s another thing to make a home for your own family.

Since I grew up as an only child with just my Aunt, I wanted to become the best wife and mother possible, but lacked role models. Still, the way things have turned out, I think I did fairly well with out three children.

Novel PASTimes: What do you believe about God?

Kate: I could go on and on. Through thick and then, I’ve experienced God watching over me. I’ve done some stupid things in my time, and still enjoyed safety and protection. Then when the war took me to Southern France, my trust grew through facing a whole lot more danger from the Gestapo, and from random people who might be connected with them.

It was hard to know whom to trust, and I felt very alone at times. But I can’t believe meeting Domingo was a coincidence, nor was spending so much time with his parish priest. Even though I experienced betrayal, the kindness of many strangers nurtured me through my clandestine work—I see this all as the hand of God upon my life.

I made some deep friendships during the war—and even discovered someone I wanted to marry. For some time after Alexandre’s death, I thought I’d never want that again, but getting to know Domingo changed my perspective. For this, I’ll always give credit to our Creator.

Novel PASTimes: What’s the worst thing that’s happened in your life?

Kate: That would be becoming an orphan when I was very young. This circumstance left me with never-ending questions about my moorings. Often I feel adrift and restless, and wonder what it would be like to have a real home, with a nuclear family you’d always interacted with, parents there every time you needed them.

Novel PASTimes: Tell me about your best friend.

Kate: Addie is the purest soul I’ve ever known. She’s true to her word, loyal to a fault, and humble—sometimes too humble. By that I mean she puts others before herself, even when she ends up getting hurt. I’ve always encouraged her to stand up for herself and believe she deserves the best treatment.
In this final book of the series, readers discover a brighter phase of Addie’s life, after all she went through with her husband Harold. I was so glad to hear about her relationship with Charles when I returned to London—nothing makes me happier than to know she was enjoying life.
Novel PASTimes: What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done to someone? Why?

Kate: Oh, this is easy. When I was young and in love with Alexandre, an exciting Canadian who came to Iowa to visit us, I eventually eloped with him. At the time, it seemed so right, of course! We really were in love, and both knew the war would tear us apart soon enough.

But I have yet to forgive myself for how much that action must have hurt my dear aunt Alvina, who had provided a wonderful home for me after my parents were killed. She’d put up with a lot from my independent nature, already.

But to make matters worse, I also skipped out on my high school graduation. I can’t imagine how disappointed she must’ve been when she realized I had left town. She’d have worried, and then, when she found my note, I picture her dropping on my bed and wiping away tears. Why, when she’d offered to send me to college, would I do such an impetuous thing?

Novel PASTimes: What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

Kate: During World War II, we talked about “doing our bit” for the war effort. She Did Her Bit would work just fine. But in a broader sense I might rather have my tombstone say, “Forgiven.” What a powerful word! My treks through the wild back country of

Southern France taught me a lot about what it means to be forgiven—and to forgive.

When Eugene, the radio operator of the first circuit I worked with, betrayed us all to the Gestapo, I don’t think forgiveness came to anybody’s mind. Who knows how many suffered—even died—because of his treachery? You can imagine that as the years have passed, I’ve never forgotten him, and often wondered if he understood the amount of pain he caused.

Novel PASTimes: What are you most afraid of?

Kate: I’m afraid of disappointing people. When I say I’ll do something, I want to keep my word to the last letter. I don’t want to have it said that my link in the chain is the weakest one.

emailGail_3185 1When Gail Kittleson’s not steeped in World War II research, drafting scenes, or deep in an edit, she does a limited amount of editing for other authors. She also facilitates writing and creativity workshops, both in Iowa and Arizona, where she and her husband spend part of the winter in the amazing Ponderosa pine forest under the Mogollon Rim. Favorites: walking, reading, meeting new people, hearing from readers who fall in love with her characters.

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Purchase link on Amazon

 

Interview with Ness of the Catuvellauni

woman in traditional roman clothing posing in temple

Novel PASTimes: Ness, tell us about your people, the Catuvellauni. I’ve never heard of them!

Ness: The Catuvellauni are a Celtic tribe in Britannia. The Romans conquered us decades ago. We are farmers not warriors now. For the most part, we live at peace with the Romans, but Britannia’s new legate, Vocula, is an overweening tyrant. He raised taxes again. My village is suffering.

 Novel PASTimes: How did you meet the Tribune Aquilus?

Ness: I didn’t really. He was just there. It all happened so quickly. Must we speak about this? I used up every last ligula of patience I have with him months ago. Ecce the man could make Zeno, father of stoicism, lose all stoic calm. Also, if I ever meet Zeno, I’d like to ring the man’s neck.

Oh, you’ve never heard about stoicism. Let me explain the Stoic philosophy. Let’s say you’re in a difficult situation, perhaps your horse fell in a ditch, or you left your wife for months on end without so much as writing a letter, or you made a life-altering decision about your son without even asking your wife’s opinion. Stoicism prompts a person to think, what would a normal, empathetic human being do in this situation? Very well, let’s make sure we never do that. Can I just paint on some wode and scream like a berserker right now? If you haven’t guessed, Aquilus is a stoic.

Novel PASTimes: What made you decide to marry him?

Ness: Not my finest moment. How about we talk about my horse, such a beautiful creature, or the sheep farm I’m planning, or really anything in the empire besides why I married that man. Have I no wits?

 Novel PASTimes: Can you tell us about where you and Aquilus live?

Ness: People mill everywhere, bumping against each other, sending up a stench, helping the Italian sun overheat the capital of the known world, Rome. The people here are spiteful. The women hate me. They pass judgment on me because I’m a Celt and label me as a savage barbarian. I miss Britannia. I miss my sister and my best friend.

 Novel PASTimes: How is marriage to a man from a different people, with different values going for you?

Ness: I’m getting a divorce. Does that answer your questioon? 

Novel PASTimes: So, ah, not going so well. Do you love Aquilus? What do you think your marriage holds in store? Is there any hope?

Ness: I thought I did, I mean . . . I’m starting to cry now. I never do this. I don’t cry. It’s like he doesn’t even care I exist. Why doesn’t he care? I had so many dreams for him and me. It was all supposed to be, well, different. Does that make sense?

I mean, who on their wedding day plans for divorce? I tried very hard to make things work. He hates me. In truth, he does. Nothing I ever do pleases him and he’s obsessed with the glory of Rome.

If he does hate me though, then why doesn’t the stulte man just sign the divorce papers I’ve been thrusting at him? He refuses to. In Rome with confereatio usus marriage, the husband has to give the wife permission to divorce him. That’s the most woman-hating law I know. Celts do things much differently, I’ll have you know. Anyway, Aquilus refuses to sign the divorce papers and I cannot comprehend why.

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Why won’t he? Could he still love me?

I’m done contorting my wits over this. Self-reflection is not my strong point. I don’t know why you’d want to read my story really. It’s a catastrophe, maybe I’m a catastrophe too. Personally, though I think it’s probably Aquilus who is the most a catastrophe. Or, I don’t know, just read my story if you care to. Romance novels always have a happy ending, they say, but I don’t see how that could possibly work out in my story. Maybe if I marry Cedric.

Novel PASTimes: Hmm . . . I guess we’ll leave it there, Ness. Thanks for taking the time for the interview with us.

 Bio: Anne Garboczi Evans is a military spouse, mental health counselor, and mama to an opinionated little boy named “Joe-Joe” and a very dramatic baby named “Chip.”
Connect with Anne on:

Interview with Adam from Love’s Mending Embrace

Love's mending embrace final finalNovel PASTimes: If you were sent to a deserted island what three things would you take?

Adam: My Bible, a pocket knife, and a letter from Karen.

Novel PASTimes: Do you have a hidden talent?

Adam: I’m great at blending in and getting people to trust me. I guess it comes with the territory, being a former spy.

Novel PASTimes: Do you have a habit you wish you could break?

Adam: Not trusting people. Because of my training, I tend to always suspect people have hidden motives for their actions.

Novel PASTimes: What features do you like the most about yourself?

Adam: I’m loyal and I’ll do whatever it takes to protect the people I love.

Novel PASTimes: What feature do you dislike the most about yourself?

Adam: *averts his eyes* I wish I could change my choices when I was young. I let people manipulate me into doing their bidding even though I should have objected to what they wanted me to do.

Novel PASTimes: Do you have a hobby?

Adam: I like to work with my hands. I built an entire farmhouse for Karen and I to live in once we were married.

Novel PASTimes: What is your biggest pet peeve?

Adam: I hate when people get involved in a situation which is none of their business.

Novel PASTimes: What is your favorite food?

Adam: I’m partial to anything Karen cooks or bakes. *a giant grin forms on his mouth* I especially love her “Apple Brown Betty.”

Novel PASTimes: Tell me something no one else knows about you?

Adam: I was a spy and was trained to infiltrate and deceive. I hurt a lot of people in the line of duty and I wish I could take it back. I try to make up for what I did every day by being a good person and helping others in Sweet Grove.

Novel PASTimes: If I asked you to write an entry in your journal what would it be about?

Adam: I’ve been trained not to write anything down. I keep everything up here. *taps the side of head* 

Novel PASTimes: What is your idea of a perfect day?

Adam: I love picnicking with the Webber Family in the surrounding meadows in Sweet Grove.

Jenna Brandt’s website: www.jennabrandt.com

Her books on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Jenna-Brandt/e/B0711MSFXW/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1497269877&sr=8-1

Like her on Facebook www.facebook.com/JennaBrandtAuthor

Follow her on Twitter www.twitter.com/JennaDBrandt

Stalk her on Instagram www.instagram.com/jennnathewriter/

Pin her on Pinterest www.pinterest.com/jennnathewriter/books-blogs-and-writers/

Look her up on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16847426.Jenna_Brandt

Get the first two chapters of her books on Wattpad for free https://www.wattpad.com/user/JennaBrandtAuthor

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Jenna Brandt is a Christian historical fiction author and her books span from the Victorian to Western to WWI eras with elements of romance, suspense and faith. Her debut book, The English Proposal, released in May 2017 and it is the first book in her series, The Window to the Heart Saga. Book 2, The French Encounter released in June 2017, the third in the series, The American Conquest, released in July 2017, the fourth book, The Oregon Pursuit, released in October 2017 and her novella, The Christmas Bride, from the same series, is set to release in the Christmas anthology, Under the Mistletoe.

She has been an avid reader since she could hold a book and started writing stories almost as early. She has been published in several newspapers as well as edited for multiple papers. She graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in English from Bethany College and was the Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper while there. She’s an on-going contributor for The Mighty Website and her first blog was published on Yahoo Parenting and The Grief Toolbox as well as featured on the ABC News and Good Morning America websites.

Writing is her passion, but she also enjoys cooking, watching movies, reading, engaging in social media and spending time with her three young daughters and husband where they live in the Central Valley of California. She is also active in her local church where she volunteers on their first impressions team as well as writes for the church’s creative team.

 

 

Book Review: Swept Into Destiny

Swept Into Destiny by Catherine Ulrich Brakefield

Released May 24, 2017 from CrossRiver Media Group

Book Description from Amazon:

One brave decision leads to serious consequences. Maggie is secretly educating the slaves at Spirit Wind Manor. But the manor’s serenity is soon threatened by abolitionist John Brown. A new republic looms on the horizon and with Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, her countrymen’s anger escalates as secession spreads across the southern states. With the fires of civil war glowing on the horizon, Maggie is swept into its embers realizing she is in love with the manor’s hardworking, handsome Irishman Ben McConnell. Ben joins the Union Army and Maggie is forced to call him her enemy. An unexpected chain of events leads her into choosing where her loyalties lie. Conscience and consequence—did she care more for Ben or for her beloved South? As the battle between North and South rages, Maggie is torn. Was Ben right? Had this Irish immigrant perceived the truth of what God had predestined for America?

My Review:

Catherine Ulrich Brakefield’s flowing descriptions pull you into Swept Into Destiny and keep you immersed in the world of the Antebellum south and beyond. This isn’t just a world of beaus, belles, and balls, but of moral ambiguity and searches for truth. As much as the readers are shown the beauty of Spirit Wind Manor, deep struggles are also revealed.

Maggie Gatlin secretly teaches the slave children to read and cares for them in real ways. The kindness she and her mother show to the slaves wins them more enemies than friends amidst the southern economy.

Enter Irish immigrant, Ben McConnell, who values freedom and principle above wealth and ease. Treated like dirt by those who hire him, his father, and friends for menial labor, such as clearing the swamp, he readily identifies with the plight of those enslaved.

As Maggie and Ben become attracted to one another, the war separates them as Ben fights for the Union Army. Maggie struggles with the questions of unity versus secession; all the while clinging to the Savior they share. Will the war separate Ben and Maggie forever?

Brakefield has researched the era well and adds details to evoke the reality of suffering at the time of the Civil War, bringing actual historical events and people into play through much of the novel. With a romance as tumultuous as the war that divides Maggie and Ben, Brakefield doesn’t leave any loose ends. Fans of historical fiction with a strong faith message will greatly enjoy Swept Into Destiny.

Meet Charles McIntyre, hero of Heather Blanton’s Romance in the Rockies Series

 

romance in the rockies

Please, tell us a little bit about your story.

My name is Charles McIntyre and I used to be a bit of a scoundrel. Used to be? Does a man who has hoed the rows I have, ever really let go of his dark-side? I built the lawless, godless mining town of Defiance practically with my bare hands, using some pretty unsavory methods. A past like mine does not stay buried.

During the war, I spent five years covered in blood and guts for my beloved South, only to walk away from everything in the end. I don’t mean just my family plantation, our wealth, our culture. I walked away from civility, from the ideals of honor, chivalry, and simple decency. Demoralized by the brutal conflict, I told myself there would be no more lost causes. Going forward, I would rule in hell rather than serve in heaven. I hacked Defiance out of the Colorado wilderness and allowed in only those souls willing to accept this was my town. I was king. I was the law.

And I was lost.

A few years into my reign over Defiance, three good, Christian sisters showed up at my doorstep. I allowed them to stay because I wanted a spur line. Unless some civility was restored to this godless-free-for-all, the rail road, however, would never agree to it. I could not have guessed how three women could impact the town. How one could turn me into a new man. Was it Shakespeare who said, “And though she be small, she is fierce?” The bard knew women and their earth-shaking influence over us.

Where did your Author come up with this idea?

Well, now, that is an interesting tail. The whole Defiance concept was born of Miss Heather’s love of three things: westerns, old movies, and her sister Susan. Miss Heather is the youngest of three sisters and when her sweet middle sister died in 1999, she found herself pondering the loving relationship they had all shared. These reflections gave way to daydreaming (which writers are known to do) and that led to a story of three good, Christian sisters stranded in a very bad town run by one very handsome, but hard, ambitious scoundrel.

I am an anti-hero. I am the best and the worst of men like Rhett Butler, Quirt Evans, Wyatt Earp, and yes, Han Solo.

Do you feel like she portrayed you well?

Generally speakin’, yes. My fan mail attests to the popularity of a bad man trying to be strong and tender, firm but gentle, a follower of Christ, but the Lord of one mean town. I would like to see more of my background story thrown into Book 4. I often speak lovingly of my mother, yet it is never relayed to the reader how, when, or where she died. I have expressed my great displeasure with Miss Heather over this deficiency and she has promised to alleviate my concerns in the next novel.

Do you have any hobbies?

Prior to the sisters’ arrival in Defiance, my hobby was building my kingdom and making money. I owned every gold stake, cathouse, saloon, and mercantile in Defiance. My priorities began to change not long after, of course, and now I find myself trying to figure the ins-and-outs of building a family. Recently I went fishing with my son, an activity I have not engaged in since I was boy in Savannah.

Who is your enemy and why?

Ah, Miss Heather knows me so well. Perhaps better than I know myself. In all three books, she has provided me with a nemesis of profound depth and darkness. However, she has woven the real truth throughout all the stories—I am my greatest enemy. My personal demons turn and fight more often than I have them retreating. And, yet, somehow, Miss Heather manages to provide me with a happy, if not ideal, ending in each book.

Who do you most trust?

Naomi Miller McIntyre. I will never have the words to express my gratitude at the salvation she has afforded me, both through her tenacious love and her fearless expression of the gospel. She has never once expected me to be perfect, merely willing to believe both she and the Lord care about me, no matter what I have done. In my past, I have committed the darkest, the most profane acts. Nothing was sacred to me. Nothing. Or so I thought, until I realized I would do anything to save Naomi. Surrendering myself for another person revealed an amazing truth to me: True love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. Not even at the door of my worst failure.

What annoys you?

I suppose it is my pride that bedevils me here, but I hold great disdain for men who think they can ignore a direct request from me. Regardless of my personal journey to faith, the fact remains Defiance is my town. I run it now to the benefit of others, as opposed to simply garnering personal gain. That said, the rowdies, the belligerents, the trouble-makers are not welcome and they will only get so many warnings.

Will you be in another story?

I believe there would be a small riot if Miss Heather chose to right a Defiance novel without me. In fact, nearly ALL the correspondence that has come in since the release of Book 3 has been kind but clear—the ladies want more of Charles McIntyre. She has promised she will oblige.

Thanks for joining us today on Novel PASTimes, Charles!

heatherI write Christian Historical Western Romance. Yes, that often entails the use of firearms in a threatening manner. Sometimes there are fistfights. There may even be politically incorrect but historically accurate language. But also, there is always an inspirational message and strong allusions (at least) to the gospel. A former journalist, I am an avid researcher and endeavor to skillfully weave truth in among fictional story lines. I love exploring the American West, especially ghost towns and museums. I have walked parts of the Oregon Trail, ridden horses through the Rockies, climbed to the top of Independence Rock, and even held an outlaw’s note in my hand. I grew up in the mountains of Western North Carolina on a steady diet of Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and John Wayne Westerns. My most fond childhood memory is of sitting next to my daddy, munching on popcorn, and watching Lucas McCain unload that Winchester! My daddy also taught me to shoot and, trust me, I can sew buttons on with my rifle.
“Heather Blanton is blessed with a natural storytelling ability, an “old soul” wisdom, and wide expansive heart. Her characters are vividly drawn, and in the western settings where life can be hard, over quickly, and seemingly without meaning, she reveals Larger Hands holding everyone and everything together.” MARK RICHARD, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, AMC’S HELL ON WHEELS, and PEN/ERNEST HEMINGWAY AWARD WINNER
 
Contact:

Spending time with Abigail Harrington from Abby and Joshua

abbyjoshua.pngNovel PASTimes: Can you tell me about your parents?

Abby: Dead

Novel PASTimes: Do you have siblings?

Abby: Dead, as far as I know, or worse

Novel PASTimes: How would you describe yourself?

Abby: I’m nobody special. I’m too pale, almost sickly looking, compared to that young nanny the Babbitts hired. I’m someone who’s been knocked about by life, but I’m still standing, crooked though I might be.

Novel PASTimes: What are your fears?

Abby: Children are a blessing from God, but after being with child six times in nine years, I’m plumb worn out. My body can’t handle another one.

Novel PASTimes: What do people like best about you?

Abby: I’m a good cook, nothing fancy, just plain, hearty food.

Novel PASTimes: What’s your favorite food and drink?

Abby: Well, who doesn’t love fried chicken, dumplings, dressing, and butterbeans, with biscuits fresh from the oven? Biscuits are probably my favorite, cooked in an iron skillet. Take a hot one off the plate, slather it with freshly churned butter, and add a little apple jelly, and there ain’t nothing better.

Fried apple tarts are a close second. Why, they’re just biscuit dough filled with apples and fried up — almost like that biscuit with jelly.

For drink, I reckon a fresh glass of buttermilk.

Novel PASTimes: Do you read books?

Abby: I never had much time for reading, not with all the work I’ve had to do — cleaning house, doing laundry, taking care of babies. Being pregnant six times in nine years took a toll on me. With young’ns around all the time, pulling on my apron strings, I never found much time to read.

Novel PASTimes: What would a great gift for you be?

Abby: Well, Joshua gave me the perfect gift. After my husband ran off, and the doc wanted me off my feet for the last month of my confinement, I figured I could at least do a little sewing. Joshua bought me a sewing basket. Not only the basket but all colors of thread and lots of needles and thimbles — he overdid it, but it about made my heart burst wide open.

Novel PASTimes: When are you happy?

Abby: I’ve had a rough life but there’s been some happy moments. My husband didn’t like crying children, and I often walked down to the pasture where the horses are kept. Funny thing, those horses quieted down my children, and somehow, quieted my spirit, too.

Novel PASTimes: What’s the worst thing you have ever done to someone and why?

Abby: I swung a frying pan upside a fella’s head. He deserved it, but I didn’t kill him.

Novel PASTimes: Do you have a secret?

Abby: Yes, no one knows what happened to me ’cause I ain’t ready to talk about it yet.

Novel PASTimes: Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you.

Abby: My husband ran off with the Babbitts housekeeper. You know how folks are. I heard their whispers, blaming me for not keep my husband happy at home, all except for Joshua and his family. They’ve been dear friends to me.

You can purchase Abby and Joshua on Amazon.

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Excerpt from Abby and Joshua

Mrs. Franklin entered her room with a young lady. “I’d brought Miss Williams by to meet you.”

Abby’s heart sank. Miss Williams couldn’t have been more than twenty and had a vibrant beauty. Her aqua-colored eyes contrasted with her dark, glossy hair, mostly pulled sedately back in a bun. Sprigs of curly hair framed her perfect face. Rosy cheeks and naturally pink lips made her a picture of health and vitality. Abby touched her own lips, remembering how pale they’d appeared only a minute before when she’d seen herself in the mirror.

She became aware the two ladies awaited her response. “How do you do, Miss Williams? Please let me know if my children do not attend properly to their lessons.”

“Oh, I’ve met your children! They’ll do fine, I’m sure. And such beautiful children! Your daughter looks so much like you.”

“Thank you,” she said automatically. She wasn’t sure Miss Williams spoke the truth. Susie looked a lot like George as did Tait. Wade favored her the most.

“I’m so sorry you’re confined to bed. I’ll come back to visit when I can,” Miss Williams said.

Abby smiled and nodded. “Your company would be a pleasure.”

“I must hurry back to the children now. We begin our first lesson today. It was so nice to meet you, Mrs. Harrington.” Miss Williams gave a smile, revealing straight white teeth and hurried away.

Mrs. Franklin fetched the breakfast tray and set it across Abby’s knees. “Now, what would you like to talk about?”

“Are you from around here?” Abby asked.

“About ten miles south, as the crow flies. My husband and I had a small place, big enough for the two of us. God never blessed us with children. My husband passed last year, and I moved into town. When I saw this place needed a cook, I knew the Lord truly answers prayer. So, here I am!” She beamed at Abby and without prompting continued. “When I heard children lived here and a baby, with another on the way, my joy could not be contained. I love the wee ones so!”

A nod and smile was all that was needed for Mrs. Franklin to prattle on. Abby ate her breakfast, one of the best meals she’d ever tasted, and thought of Joshua. Miss Williams would be perfect for him. She was beautiful and young, and most importantly, not encumbered with a bushel of children. Why would Abby even think for a moment he’d be interested in her?

Any attention he’d shown was simple pity. Her husband had run off with the housekeeper, and gossip was rampant on the ranch. He’d merely felt sorry for her and tried to be kind. Obviously, he was a God-fearing man.

Anyway, if she did like him, as she admitted she did, she’d only want his happiness at heart. Miss Williams would make him far happier than she ever could. And once he got a look at her, he’d never give Abby a second glance.

sheila

About the Author: At the age of ten, Sheila Hollinghead discovered a treasure trove of books hiding in the furnace room of her family’s house. These books, westerns, mysteries, fantasy, and the classics, opened her mind to the power of story.

Being the daughter of a soldier, she lived many places, none home until she returned to south Alabama. She lives with her husband, three dogs, and two cats near the farms where her ancestors lived and loved.

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