Book Review: Destiny of Heart by Catherine Brakefield

Destiny of Heart is the third book of Catherine Ulrich Brakefield’s saga of the McConnell family, the Destiny series. This novel sweeps around the country, covering events in Colorado, Michigan, and Kentucky.

While Collina battles fever and illness at Shushan, Ruby and Stephen must head to the prairies in hopes of bringing him back to health from his battle with a strange lung disease. Collina’s husband has left her and all that remains to fight for is what is left of a dwindling Shushan and her mustard seed of faith. Eventually, Ruby faces her own tragedy and returns to her family in Kentucky. Then Franklin Long, former rough-rider and Collina’s lost sweetheart, unexpectedly runs into their sister, Myra, in Detroit. This sets into effect a chain of events that will test the McConnell family even farther, into the days of the Great Depression.

Brakefield has done her research and goes to great lengths to interweave historic events into the novels she writes and this one is no different. Her characters battle not only the difficulties around them but also wrestle with relatable spiritual issues within that can be understood in today’s culture as much as in the past. Destiny of Heart is also sprinkled with bright spots, past love fulfilled, and hope in God for the future.

For readers left wondering at the end of Destiny’s Whirlwind they will find some satisfaction in this third installment of the McConnell family saga. An enjoyable and hopeful Christian fiction read!

Catherine Ulrich Brakefield is an ardent receiver of Christ’s rejuvenating love, as well as a hopeless romantic and patriot. She skillfully intertwines these elements into her writing as the author of Wilted Dandelions, published by CrossRiver Publishing, an inspirational historical romance, along with her first Christian Romance novel, “The Wind of Destiny“, and her other history books,  Images of America,The Lapeer Area and The Images of America, Eastern Lapeer County. published by Arcadia Publishing.

Her short stories have been published in Guidepost Books; Extraordinary Answers to PrayersUnexpected Answers and Desires of Your Heart; Baker Books, Revell, The Dog Next Door, and The Horse of my Heart; CrossRiver Publishing, The Benefit Package, and Abba’s Promise; and Bethany House, Jesus talked to me Today.

Catherine lives in Addison Township, MI., with her husband Edward of forty-four years, and her beautiful Arabian horses. She enjoys horseback riding, swimming, camping, and traveling the byroads across America. Her children are now grown and married with families of their own. Catherine and Edward are now the blessed recipients of two handsome grandsons and one preciously adorable granddaughter.

Introducing Ada from Ronald H. Balson’s The Girl From Berlin

Thank you for doing this.  It seems you have experienced a roller coaster ride of guilt, anger, fear, and redemption while having to deal with a treacherous Nazi regime. Because you and your family are Jewish you were deprived of careers/businesses, then property, basic rights, and ultimately, for many of them, their lives. I am sure many times you got a reprise from your music skills. 

Elise Cooper: Why did you want to become a violinist?

Ada Baumgarten:I think it was always a given.  My father was first chair for the Berlin Philharmonic.  On my fifth birthday, he gave me a bench made violin, crafted by a one of Germany’s finest violin makers.  My father taught me well and from then on, my dream was to play next to him in the orchestra.

EC: Do you harbor any hard feelings toward Wilhelm Furtwangler?

AB: None.  Maestro Furtwangler was badly misunderstood and received unjust criticism after the war because he chose to stay in Germany with his orchestra, which had the collateral effect of lending cultural prestige to Hitler and Nazi Germany.  But he was never a Nazi and he abhorred their policies. He stood up to Hitler and did his best to protect his Jewish players, including my father.  In defiance of Goebbels and Hitler, he continued to conduct music from Jewish composers and he featured Jewish soloists.  When my father was arrested during Kristallnacht, it was Furtwangler that contacted me and attempted to make arrangements for his rescue.

EC: What do you think of Rafael Schachter?

AB: He was a remarkable man.  With an old piano, he found in a damp basement, he brought music to prisoners in the Theresienstadt concentration camp.  He gave them pride and a purpose – a way to temporarily escape the dread of their confinement.  He assembled and taught 160 inmates to perform the technically difficult Verdi Requiem by rote memory.  

EC:  Can you tell us about Hitler’s plot?

AB: In June 1944, Hitler devised a fraudulent plot to fool the International Red Cross.  He boasted that Theresienstadt was a Jewish spa and invited them to inspect. The Nazis quickly beautified the camp and when the Red Cross came to inspect, Rafael’s chorus performed the Verdi Requiem.  The prisoners proudly and loudly sang to the Red Cross and the Nazis.  Their secret joy was that the Nazis didn’t understand the words that were sung in Latin.  The inmates were singing words that condemned the Nazis on Judgment Day: “Day of wrath, day of wrath, when the wicked shall be judged!”  Today we call that performance “The Defiant Requiem.”

EC: Did you ever fathom that the German people as a whole would turn their backs on the Jews who were their neighbors, friends, and business partners?

You were overheard saying “Perhaps the most hurtful and inimical result of the campaign as the pervasive acceptance of Nazi policies by German society…while the law did not require our non-Jewish friends to shun us, it became apparent they would no longer stand up for us.” 

AB:In the years preceding the war, there was a much smaller Jewish presence in Italy.  Forty thousand lived in Italy and five hundred thousand in Germany.  Jews were prominent in prewar Germany in several disciplines: the arts, science, finance, medicine.  Many middle-class Germans who had suffered during the severe depression years were resentful.  Most importantly, Germany had Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda, a master at controlling the media and public opinion.  As a result, the German people were manipulated into accepting, or ignoring their government’s policy of Jewish persecution.  The Italian people did not harbor such prejudice and hatred.

EC: Do you wish your family had the foresight to get out sooner?

AB:Of course, but it’s a mistake to think that the failure of Jews to leave Europe was a lack of foresight.  In many cases, they were trapped. Where could they go? Immigration visas were tight or non-existent.  Borders were closed.  And if we could leave, where do we resettle?  How do you pick up and leave everything you know?  No one anticipated extermination camps.  In my family’s case, we could have resettled in another city with a new orchestra, but my father was loyal to his conductor.

EC: What was it like for you to have Hitler and Heydrich approach after your playing?

AB:I was young and conflicted.  They were the two most powerful men in Germany and well-known music lovers.  Heydrich was an accomplished violinist.  To receive praise for my artistry was flattering for a teenageer, but I also realized that the compliments were coming from detestable human beings.

EC: What are your feelings for Kurt, your childhood friend who stayed a friend?

AB:I always loved Kurt.  He was a good person.  He never bought into the Nazi ideology.  Like many boys growing up in Germany, he was forced to join the Hitler youth and ultimately the army.  When the chips were on the table, he proved his goodness.

EC: Are you haunted, bitter, and angry for a life stolen from you as well as loved ones?

AB: As I wrote in my memoir, I have no regrets.  I have led a rich and fortunate life.  I played music on the finest stages beside the most gifted musicians.  My family life was warm and satisfying.  I am sad for what happened to my loved ones, but my life was not stolen.

THANK YOU!!

Ronald H. Balson has also written Once We Were Brothers, Saving Sophie, Karolina’s Twins. As an attorney, the demands of his trial practice have taken him into courts across the United States and into international venues. During the early 2000s Ron spent time in Warsaw and southern Poland in connection with a complex telecommunications lawsuit. While in Poland Ron was profoundly moved by the scars and memorials of World War II, which inspired him to write Once We Were Brothers, his first novel. Inspiration for his other novels were provided by his extensive travels to Israel and the Middle East. He also has been inspired by talking with, and meeting Holocaust survivors. 

Meet Violet Lindstrom from Sarah Sundin’s The Sky Above Us

The Sky Above UsName: Violet Lindstrom

Siblings: Alma, Karl, and Nels

Places lived: I was born and raised in Salina, Kansas, but now I’m living on a US air base in Leiston, England. Quite a change for this homebody.

Jobs: I’m the director of the Red Cross Aeroclub at Leiston Army Airfield, home of the US 357th Fighter Group. I organize refreshments and activities for the men, and make sure the club is a homey refuge from the war.

Friends: My best friend is Kitty Kelly, my fellow Red Cross worker. I love her perkiness and high spirits. I’m trying to make friends with pilot Adler Paxton—I find him so intriguing, and I think he needs a friend.

Enemies: I can’t think of any, but Rufus Tate, my Red Cross field director, is making my life rather miserable.

Dating, marriage: I haven’t dated much since Dennis Reeves broke his promise to me and I broke our engagement. I’d love to marry someday. Adler Paxton certainly appeals to me—he’s so chivalrous and mysterious—but he keeps himself at a distance.

Children: Someday! I adore children. My favorite part of my job is arranging activities for our American airmen and the local British children—parties and crafts and baseball.

What person do you most admire? Without a doubt, my great-aunt Violet, my namesake. She’s a missionary in Kenya, and I long to follow in her footsteps.

What, if anything, would you like to change about your life? With World War II raging, I can’t become a missionary overseas as I’ve always planned. In the meantime, I’m doing the best I can and serving overseas with the Red Cross.

How are you viewed by others? I hope others see me as compassionate and hardworking. Some see me as a goody-goody, but I don’t mind.

Physical appearance: The first thing people notice about me is my height—I’m six feet tall.

Eyes: Blue

Hair: Blonde

Voice: Awful—we Lindstroms all sing off-key.

Right- or left-handed? Right

Strongest/weakest character traits: My greatest strengths are compassion, diligence, and loyalty. My weakest traits—I’m beginning to see I can be self-righteous and judgmental. I’m praying the Lord will help me with that.

How much self-control do you have? Very good.

Fears: My greatest fear is that I’ll fail the Lord. Deep down, I also fear I won’t like being a missionary. Being away from my family here in England has made me so homesick. How will I adjust to living overseas for life?

Collections, talents: I’m very athletic—I run fast and I’m good at baseball, but I’ve never pursued sports.

What people like best about you: They like my enthusiasm and dedication.

Food, drink: I’ve never been a fussy eater, but I do miss my mother’s cooking.

Books: I don’t tell many people, but I love Western novels, especially Zane Grey. One of my favorite parts of this job is running the library in the Aeroclub.

Best way to spend a weekend: Working on an air base in the middle of a war means no weekends. The flyboys work almost every day, and so do I. But I don’t mind. I’ve come to enjoy my work.

What would a great gift for you be? Adler Paxton gave me the best gift ever—he introduced me to a movie star from my favorite Westerns.

When are you happy? When I’m with my family and friends. When I’m doing good work that benefits people and serves the Lord.

What makes you angry? When people show disdain for what is good and right, and when they hurt others.

What makes you sad? When children are lonely or suffering.

What makes you laugh? Children, my family, my friends. The airmen can be very funny, and I’m learning to enjoy their company.

Hopes and dreams: I dream of becoming a missionary overseas, although I’m beginning to wonder if that’s the best choice for me—and even if it’s what the Lord actually wants. I do know I want to serve him somehow.

What’s the worst thing you have ever done to someone and why? I’m afraid it happens in this story. I hurt the man I love and see a horrible sin festering in my soul.

Greatest success: I’m so pleased with how the Aeroclub turned out. Kitty and I were in over our heads when we arrived, but we’ve managed to create a club that’s welcoming and fun.

Biggest trauma: When Dennis Reeves broke his promise to me and I had to end our engagement. The mission board refused to send me overseas as a single woman. It’s painful to find your lifelong dream destroyed.

What do you care about most in the world? Children. I loved my time teaching third grade, even though I was reeling from my lost dream. I love how children are so open-hearted, and I love helping them understand a new concept.

Do you have a secret? I’m so homesick in England, away from my family. For someone who’s always wanted to live overseas, this is quite unsettling.

What do you like best about the other main characters in your book? Adler Paxton intrigues me. He’s so chivalrous and energetic and bright, and we share a love of Westerns. His Texas accent certainly helps! He’s also so mysterious—I sense deep hurt in him that draws me. If only I could help him.

What do you like least about the other main characters in your book? Adler’s mysteriousness also means he pushes me away, as if he’s protecting that wound.

Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you: I was horrified when that awful Willard Riggs grabbed me and kissed me on the pier in New York when we were boarding the Queen Elizabethto sail to England. Thank goodness Adler, my cowboy hero, saved the day!

Burdened by his past, Lt. Adler Paxton ships to England with the US 357th Fighter Group. Determined to become an ace pilot, Adler battles the German Luftwaffe as the Allies struggle for control of the air before D-day. Violet Lindstrom wants to be a missionary, but for now she serves in the American Red Cross, where she arranges entertainment and refreshments for the men of the 357thin the Aeroclub. Drawn to the mysterious Adler, she enlists his help with her programs for local children. Adler finds his defenses crumbling. But D-day draws near. And secrets can’t stay buried forever.

Sarah Sundin is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical novels, including The Sky Above Usand The Sea Before Us. Her novels When Tides Turnand Through Waters Deepwere named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years.” A mother of three, Sarah lives in California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school. Please visit her at www.sarahsundin.com.

Spending time with Penelope Pottifer from Enduring Promises of the Heart by Valerie Loveless

EPOTH front coverNovel PASTimes: If you were sent to a deserted island, what three things would you take?

Penelope Pottifer:   I would take a large pocket knife, a large sun hat and John Buxton.   He is all I would really need to survive, but the other two things would come in very handy.  If it must be someone or something real, I would bring my best friend.

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

Penelope Pottifer:   Anything new and exciting.   A trip to Egypt, to explore the pyramids, a day sneaking around some palace grounds, an adventure on an old sail boat.  Anything slightly dangerous and entirely brand new.  But I need my best friend with me.  I can’t imagine having any adventures without my best friend.

Novel PASTimes: What is your favorite food?

Penelope Pottifer:   Anything that is served around Christmas time.  I love holiday foods.  Chocolate, mulled cider, candy canes, roast turkey and ham.  It’s all my favorite.

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

Penelope Pottifer:   I don’t write in a journal, I have no time with writing Enduring Promises of the Heart. Besides, I pour my whole soul out on every page, but if I did, I would write about my disappointments in myself, that I am not able to be as strong as my characters.  I would also write about my joys and heartaches, particularly about my relationships with family and friends.  Inevitably though, my mind would drift to a tomb near the Nile or a castle in England and I would write down story ideas before I forgot them.

Purchase Enduring Promises of the Heart on Amazon.

Valerie authorValerie loveless has a love for happy endings and bright comedy. A native to the California high desert, she now considers Utah her home, where she lives with her husband, three children, and two Chihuahuas. Growing up in a family of seven kids, Valerie learned to embrace her unique creativity and way of looking at the world and hope it will enrich the lives of others. In 2015, she published two children’s books, Singing Not So Sweetly and Anabelle Loves Babies. She believes writing is the ultimate end-all for creative pursuits because there are no limits to what you can create. You can learn more at http://www.valerieloveless.info.

If you would like more information about Valerie, visit her website at http://www.valerieloveless.info

Meet Lizbeth from Paullett Golden’s The Earl and the Enchantress

Thank you for doing this.  Because you lost your mother at a very young age and your father raised you to be self-sufficient you expect to be respected within any relationship. Valuing independence, there is the expectation of being treated as an equal. It appears you have basically given up on marriage. Then you met Sebastian Lancaster, the Earl of Roddam who has a lot in common with you.  Both of you are witty intellectuals who value a good conversation along with the passion. Even though the 1790s has strict courtship rules you and Sebastian seem to formulate your own guidelines.  I am intrigued by your headstrong personality and philosophies. 

Elise Cooper: How did you become such an independent woman?

Lizbeth Trethow:Am I? I wouldn’t consider myself independent, but I appreciate the sentiment and that you would view me as such a woman. Independence, to my understanding of your meaning, is a state of mind. I’ve freed myself from the chains of ignorance and the expectations of Society. While I don’t wish to be speak ill of my sex, I will say too many women readily accept their dependence. They depend on the views of others, the gossip mill, the supposed truths in the news columns, the mandates of family, the rules of tradition and propriety, and, oh, the list does go on. Whereas, I depend on no one but myself. I’ve made the choice to educate my mind, which has thus liberated my soul. I’m not so conceited as to call myself enlightened, but I do feel independence comes from being enlightened, and that is the very state of mind in which I would like to be. 

EC: People describe you as intelligent, poised, a teaser, opinionated, candid, headstrong, and a competitor.  Fair?

LT:Oh my! *laughs* Is that what they say? People do talk, don’t they? I’m not certain we can be so classified into neat and tidy little descriptors. I might consider myself an intelligent woman, but by whose standards? If I should be compared to Socrates, would I still be considered intelligent? I know nothing of farming, and yet the farmer works such miracles with his bare hands. Would he not be considered intelligent, and I ignorant in comparison? I am flattered by your depiction of me, but I’m not sure I would see myself in those same terms. 

EC: So, how would you describe yourself?

LT:I’m determined and decisive, but does that also imply I’m headstrong? I don’t care to be proven wrong. But, when I know I am right, does that imply I’m opinionated and competitive? I wonder, could someone be both candid and a tease? If this is how you see me, then I can’t argue with or alter your view because it’s your perception of me, and thus by your own standards, it’s true. I may see someone as crass while someone else sees the person as candid. Neither of us is wrong. We merely have different perceptions of the same person. I do thank you for thinking of me enough to form an opinion, and I am truly flattered. 

EC: What are your favourite books and why?

LT:Choosing a favourite book is not unlike choosing a favourite child. They’re each so different but equally loved. I do enjoy social commentary with a creative flair. A book that pulls me in with a clever story while also reflecting on the world at large is what I would prefer to read over something strictly academic or purely fictionalized for the sake of entertainment. For example, Gulliver’s Travelsperfectly marries both academic observation and speculation with entertainment. Swift is a keen observer and sceptic. I certainly don’t agree with all his observations, but he does make me think while tickling my humour. Have you heard of Blake? His poems embody that very marriage I mentioned. His words are akin to music, yet he verses about harsh realities. I do hope he gains notoriety soon for people need to hear what he has to say. As a final note, should you have the time and wish to understand me, you should, perhaps, consider reading Condorcet. I’ll nudge you in his direction and allow you to make your own judgments. 

EC:  Thanks, when I get the time I will look into it.  Let’s go off in another direction. Do you think it is wishful thinking to want a marriage based on love, respect, and admiration?  

LT:Some may believe it is highly improbable, not to mention unrealistic, but I’ll settle for nothing less. I’ve seen how a marriage based on love, respect, and admiration can be, and should others see that, as well, they would change their perspective. It is difficult for people to understand what they’ve not experienced. So many children are raised by wet nurses, nannies, and then governesses, seeing their sires on the rare occasion. They grow up knowing nothing but hierarchy and isolation. Why should they, then, expect or even want love, respect, and admiration? 

EC:  It sounds like you have someone in mind?

LT:My parents were outliers in this world. They married for love, they respected each other as equals, and they admired each other’s individuality. I’ve seen how harmonious this is. I’ve also seen how such love can destroy, for the loss of my mother nearly destroyed my father. Does that suggest he shouldn’t have loved so deeply? If he had married for duty alone, someone of his own class rather than a tin mine owner’s daughter, he wouldn’t have suffered such depths of despair at my mother’s death, but would he be better for it? I believe the time they had together was worth every minute, and that is a love worth living for, despite the consequences. I don’t think it realistic we all find our soul’s counterpart, so we must be prepared to hold strong and not settle or sacrifice our self-worth in the absence of that counterpart.  

EC:  So, you are willing to be a spinster?

LT:The word has such negative connotations. One looks at a spinster like an old shoe with a broken heel. I prefer to think of myself as a free agent. I answer to no one. How freeing is that? There is nothing wrong or damning about being free. Is it the unmarried who consider themselves spinsters or those who are married? Yes, you have it, the ones who are already married look to the unmarried and point a finger—you there, you’re an aging spinster. They take the position of superiority as though having a spouse lifts them to some grand throne. Does it? What have they gained? They are, more of them than not, unhappy. Perhaps they point to the unmarried with disparaging remarks because they are envious of the freedom but don’t want anyone to catch on. I’m proud to be a free agent! This is not a position of shame. 

EC:  You were overheard saying that you will never be married if it means you will be controlled by a husband?

LT:I did say that, yes, though you’re naughty for eavesdropping. There is no denying women are the property of their husbands. It is the written law, after all. A husband who now has control over her person, her mind, and all legal rights. Should he wish to punish her with his hand, he may do so, by law. Should he wish to lock her in a room and starve her of food, he may do so, by law. Should he wish to starve her of affection, he may do so, by law. How is this not control? Women are no different than slaves. They are purchased for the purpose of breeding. I generalize, for not all marriages are such as this, but the tone of the marriage is determined by the husband. Suppose he loves the wife at the beginning but then bores of her? He also controls the tone of the relationship. Marriage is nothing more than a binding contract unless there is passion, respect, love, and equality. 

EC: How would you describe Sebastian? Do you know him better than himself?

LT:I wouldn’t flatter myself to know him better than he knows himself, but often it takes someone else looking in to see the larger context. We can’t always see our own faults or our strengths so well as someone else can see them. Sebastian struggles with understanding himself. He’s been told for so long that he’s unlovable and monstrous that he’s accepted that identity. It is no different than a girl being told her entire life that she’s too plain. Why should she ever suspect herself to be anything but plain, much less beautiful? I see Sebastian as a compassionate, driven, and clever man. There is no problem he can’t solve. There is no trench he can’t dig. If he sets his mind to it, nothing will stop him. He has a fathoms deep capacity for love. If only he could love himself. 

EC: Do you think Sebastian is overly influenced by King Arthur?

LT:Nonsense. Sebastian has a great many interests and influencing figures. He studies legends, myths, and histories to gain a sense of how to become a better person. His interest in Greek and Roman mythology is nearly as strong in his interest of England’s former kings. Most young boys have an older brother they can idolize or a father they can learn from, but Sebastian had neither. He saw King Arthur not only as a father-figure, but also as a person to emulate. When he needed direction in life, he turned to someone he could respect, and who better than a king? Let us be happy he chose King Arthur instead of Gaius Caligula. 

EC: What do you see as the important qualities in a relationship?

LT:The important qualities would vary from person to person. My sister, for instance, wouldn’t value the same qualities as I would. She would never suit with an intellectual, much less a recluse. I, however, neither enjoy the company of Society nor the company of a dull wit. I value those from whom I can learn. It would never be any fun if we agreed with each other all the time, but it would be arduous if we were too contentious. I want to learn from someone as much as I’d hope they could learn from me. If we both bring something to the relationship, we meet as equals. The qualities important to me for any kind of relationship, be it friendship or beyond, are communication, respect, conversation, intellect, and equality. 

EC:  Are you looking for a kindred spirit?

LT:I wouldn’t admit to looking for anyone, but I would expect, for there to be a successful and happy marriage with someone, the person would need to understand me on a far deeper level than anyone else could. This understanding is more than recognizing what my interests are. It’s the realization of why those interests are important to me. Should the person intuitively know what I would like or dislike, enjoy or not enjoy, value or not value, that is a true and deep understanding, and that is the only relationship that would work for me. Nothing surface level will work. 

EC: Do you think you are alike or different from your younger sister Charlotte?

LT:Oh, vastly different! It is a wonder we’re related at all when one examines our personalities. Charlotte is orderly, while I’m quite messy. Charlotte enjoys socials and tea parties, while I enjoy solitude and reading. Charlotte would prefer to dance, while I would rather run. Charlotte cares far too much about Society’s opinion and wants to be seen as the perfect lady, while I couldn’t give a fig for what anyone thinks of me. That isn’t to say we don’t have common traits, as well, and we do share a sisterly affection stronger than I believe most do, but we’ve never shared opinions or interests. She is far too much like our aunt, and I am far too much like our mother. We would, as sisters should, do anything for each other. I would lay down my life for her, as she would do for me, for we share a familial bond nothing can sever. That doesn’t stop us from bickering daily as we’re wont to do!

EC: How did the death of your mother affect you?

LT:To be honest, it took years to sink it. I felt the loss at once, but I had no time in which to examine it. She was my best friend. Yet, before I could understand the impact, my family fell apart. Papa couldn’t handle the loss, and my sister hadn’t a mother. I knew if I didn’t swallow my heartbreak and do something, I would lose more than my mother. I look back and think how silly it was for me to think I had any impact at all, for I was only a little girl, but at the time, I didn’t feel so little, no one treated me as though I were little, and I shouldered weights far heftier than a little girl could or should carry. I was a little woman in the body of a young girl, and I was so focused on caring for my family I had no time in which to mourn. By the time I could mourn, it was as though looking back from the eyes of a different person. I believe it was for the best. However much I didn’t understand the concept of death at that age, I do know if I’d stopped to think for too long how hurt I was not to see Mama ever again, I might have been as lost as Papa. She was a vibrant woman whose smile lit an entire room. How does a child cope with that loss? I didn’t. I pushed it down until I could look on it objectively. 

EC: Were you attracted to Sebastian because you have that in common with him?

LT:I hadn’t thought of that. Hmm. I wouldn’t say his losing his mother was something that made him attractive. Our commonalities are numerous, and it is something we share, but I believe it only helps us to understand each other. It is the understanding of each other that is attractive, not necessarily the cause of the understanding. When I heard of his loss, I will say I wanted to wrap my arms around him and hold him, not as a lover or a friend, but as a mother. I wanted to rest his head on my shoulder and hold him so he would know he was protected and loved, just as my mother did for me. My heart went out to the little boy inside of him who had lost his only friend. For me, I lost my best friend, but not my only friend. He lost his only friend.

EC: Do you think Sebastian is able to understand the importance of family and how to love?

LT:I believe he knows what he wants and has always wanted, but I do think he’s afraid he won’t know how. He admitted as much to me. He’s afraid he’ll become his father. There’s no shame in such fear, but as he becomes more himself, he’ll let it go. He only holds onto such a fear because he’s still learning who he is outside of what others have told him. As I mentioned earlier in this conversation, he has such a deep capacity for love and is so compassionate, I know in my heart he will be the best father and husband a woman could ever ask for, but I don’t think he yet knows that about himself. He will. Give him time. 

EC: Do the best relationships start out as friendships?

LT:I believe I loved Sebastian before I saw him as a friend, but who can say which emotion came first. I respected him, and that was the basis on which we built a future. If you cannot befriend a spouse, before or after seeing them as a partner, then what remains when passion fades or times are rough? Not all friendships should be relationships, but all relationships should be friendships. At least from my estimation. If you cannot respect them as a friend, how can you possibly love them? 

EC: Can a man and a woman ever be just friends?

LT:They are more likely to be friends than anything else. Passion and love are rare. Passion, especially, is so often fleeting, and love must be there to sustain when passion runs its course. I’ve seen many friendships, but I’ve only rarely seen passion. Friendship does not guarantee a good match, nor does it guarantee love or passion, but it should be the foundation of the relationship. It may, in most cases, simply be friendship. I have many close friends, some of which are male, and none of which I’ve felt remotely attracted to beyond friendship. Take my cousin Walter as an example. We are good friends, and I enjoy time with him and conversation. I would go to great lengths to help him if he needed me, but I’ve never harboured romantic feelings for him. I do love him, but as family, nothing more. 

EC: Why do you love the sea so much?

LT:There’s a raw power to the sea that is underestimated, as well as a magic that is misunderstood. I remember one time when I was little, standing at the edge of the water with Mama, thinking how big the world was and how small I was. My personal world consisted only of a few miles, yet when I stood at the water’s edge, I could see on to forever nothing but blue water. It was humbling but awe-inspiring. The ocean seemed to me the largest and most powerful element on earth. It had the power to wreck ships, carry pirates, and drown swimmers, but it harvests life and beauty. When I let the water lap over my feet that day, I felt connected. Where had those same droplets been that were now touching my feet? Where would they go next, carrying the essence of me? 

EC: What do you like doing for fun?

LT:Oh, there are a great many diversions I enjoy! Learning and reading, of course, so that I might live vicariously through the minds of scientists, adventurers, and philosophers. I love the outdoors, the warmth of the sun, the whisper of the wind, the smell of nature. Wilderness walks are a favourite pastime of mine, especially walks that turn into explorations. I would never turn down a swim, be it in a pond or ocean. I may not like a crowd or socializing, but I do enjoy good company, so calling on friends is always pleasant. Sebastian has promised to teach me about the stars and how to use his telescope, so in time, perhaps that will be a new interest of mine. 

EC: What are your hopes and dreams?

LT:I share Sebastian’s desire for a large family. I want to be the kind of mother I remember my own Mama being. I envision sharing with Sebastian his dreams, as well, for he has such grand plans for his lands, and I want to do what I can to help. I do hope to become good friends with his sister Lilith, and if I have my druthers, she’ll move in with us before long. Befriending the tenantry and laborers is important to me, and I hope to strengthen the connections for all his properties by creating a familial relationship with everyone in our care. I don’t like to be idle and always want a sense of purpose, a sense of utility and usefulness. I want always to be helping someone or achieving something. I do believe the land will keep us busy as we rebuild and build out, creating more homes, larger towns, more positions.

EC: If you have a crystal ball what would your life be like in five years?

LT:Oh, what a blasphemous question! Crystal balls indeed. I do believe I like how you think, Elise. May I call you Elise? How presumptuous of me. I feel we’ve become such good friends during this conversation. If given the opportunity to look into a crystal ball, I would look away, for I want the adventure and the surprise! It’s no fun knowing what will happen. And should I make plans, would I then be disappointed if they didn’t come true? I will be happy with whatever life brings me. I would imagine, given my current direction, that in five years, we will have expanded the towns of all his properties, have at least three children, be rich as Croesus, and be as happy as larks. I won’t be disappointed if we’re poor as paupers and childless, as long as we’re together, but wouldn’t it be lovely to think the best? 

THANK YOU!!

Paullett Golden is a lover of the fairy tale historical romance and has launched herself into a writing career. She’s been writing historical romances since an early age and has been a professor of writing for two decades. She divides her time between Texas and Northumberland, England.

Let’s Welcome Winifred (Freddie) Guilford from Freddie-Guilford Crossing Brides by Margaret Tanner

Freddie front coverHer background:

Parents: Sam Guilford (father) Mother dead

Siblings: Billy (brother). Sisters: Alfreda (Alfie) and Alexandra (Alex)

Places lived: Guilford Crossing – Texas

Jobs: Riding shotgun on a freight wagon for my father.

Friends: Lily and Matt Brayshaw.

Enemies: Outlaw gang

Let’s Get into some questions now. What, if anything, would you like to change about your life? I would like to be treated as a female and not as a male.

How are you viewed by others? As a female doing the work of a man.

How would you describe yourself? Hardworking, compassionate and fearless.

How much self-control do you have? Not much, I am hot tempered.

Any talents? Excellent shot.

What would a great gift for you be? A pretty gown.

What makes you sad? Seeing my brother the way he is.

Hopes and dreams? To have a husband and children.

What’s the worst thing you have ever done to someone and why? I killed a man

Biggest trauma: Being attacked and left for dead by outlaws.

What do you like best about the other main characters in your book? Their courage.

What do you like least about the other main characters in your book? My father is a bully.

Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you: Having the hero, Nick, taking off my ripped, blood stained clothes to treat my injuries.

FREDDIE – GUILFORD CROSSING BRIDES – BOOK 2: A catastrophic event delivers Winifred (Freddie) Guilford, into the arms of reclusive rancher Nicholas Brown. Brought up by a tyrannical father, Freddie and her sisters dress and work like men. Nicholas is a suspicious loner who shuns people. Will their chance of finding happiness together be ruined by events from the past?

Purchase it now on Amazon or read it for free in KU.

margaret authorMargaret Tanner is an award winning, multi-published Australian author, who writes Contemporary Romance, Historical Romance, and Western Romance with a small dose of sizzle.

She loves delving into the pages of history as she carries out research for her historical novels. No book is too old or tattered for her to trawl through, no museum too dusty, or website too hard to navigate. Many of her novels have been inspired by true events, with one being written around the hardships and triumphs of her pioneering ancestors in frontier Australia. She once spent a couple of hours in an old goal cell so she could feel the chilling cold and fear

With the encouragement of friend and Western Romance author, Susan Horsnell, she has now fallen in love with writing Western Historical novellas, and found it an easy transition. Frontier Australia and frontier America, have many similarities –  isolated communities living in a harsh, unforgiving environment, a large single male population, and a lack of marriageable women.

Her stories are drama laden. Her heroes hide behind a rough exterior. They are tough men who are prepared to face danger and overwhelming odds for the women they love. Her heroines are brave, resourceful women willing to endure hardship and danger in an untamed land, if it means they can win the heart of the men they love.

Margaret is married and has three grown up sons, and two gorgeous little granddaughters. Outside of her family and friends, writing is her passion.

Web Page: http://www.margarettanner.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/margaret.tanner.399

Follow Margaret on Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/margaret-tanner

 

 

Interview with Adam from Promised to a Soldier and Courted by a Soldier by Jenna Brandt

preorderNovel 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 Rockwood Springs.

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 Rockwood Springs.

Get Promised by a Soldier on Amazon: Before America entered the Great War, Clara and Adam were set to be married but everything was put on hold when Adam was conscripted to join the military. Clara, along with her family, wait in Rockwood Springs, Texas, for the safe return of the soldier they all love. After being forced to return to a life Adam tried to leave behind, he is taken prisoner. What keeps him alive is the thought of returning to his true love, Clara. Though miraculously rescued, Adam must come to terms with what happened to him while captive. After his return, the couple must face new obstacles to find their happily-ever-after

Get Courted by a Soldier on Amazon: Elizabeth Reed is best friends with Clara Webber and has grown up around her brother Garrett. Recently, an attraction has surfaced between the friends, but as the new relationship starts to form, problems caused by the Great War and its aftermath, have reached a boiling point for the Reed family, leaving little room for Elizabeth to focus on love. Garrett wants to be a soldier and fight in the Great War, but his family is against him joining the military. The only thing he wants more that serving with honor is to marry Elizabeth Reed, but their relationship can’t progress with her father refusing to let them be together. Frustrated, Garrett makes a hasty decision that will change all their lives forever. Will the Great War destroy the future the couple hopes to plan together?

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

Check her out on Bookbub https://www.bookbub.com/profile/jenna-brandt

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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.

 

 

Talking with Isaiah Hayes from Lawfully Promised by Elle E. Kay

51mz1EQJzBLIf you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do? I would spend my free day outside. I might visit the local hot springs, or if the weather was warm, I might go fishing and wade in the creek. I love the water.

What impression do you make on people when they first meet you? I can come across as intense. I’ve also been accused of ‘playing God’ by trying to fix other people’s problems.

What’s your idea of a good marriage? A good marriage is what my parents had: two people who loved each other so much that their struggles seemed minor compared to their feelings for each other.

What are you most proud of about your life? I’m proud of joining the Texas Rangers. It was a big risk to come to an unfamiliar state and settle here, but a bigger risk to join the Rangers knowing how dangerous the job was. I decided that the risk was worth it to help save others.

What are you most ashamed of in your life? Envy. I was always envious of my older brother, Nate. An exceptional bounty-hunter, he made a name for himself before I moved away. I was jealous and wanted to be like him, but in a way that was what drove me to move away and join the rangers, so although I regret the negative feelings, I’m glad I made the choices I did.

What do you believe about God? I believe that God is good. He has plans to help me thrive, but sometimes I thwart His plans, by asserting my own will where His belongs.

Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t done? I’ve always wanted to see the ocean. Now that I live in Austin, I’m only 200 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, so maybe someday soon I’ll get to visit.

What’s the worst thing that’s happened in your life? What did you learn from it? My mother dying. I learned that grief is a hard thing and it consumed my father for a long time before he accepted it. We knew that my mother was with Jesus and that helped all of us deal with her death, but living without her was a huge challenge. Our housekeeper, Rosa, helped us all through our grief. She was like a second mother.

Tell me about your best friend. My best-friend died recently. He was murdered by outlaws while investigating an incident that happened at Olive Ranch. Bose was a good man. Taught me a great deal of what I know. He was a deputy-sheriff in Lee County.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done to someone? Why? Killed them. It’s hard to take a life when you don’t think their soul is going to rest in peace. It’s a somber thing to have to do, but sometimes there is no better option.

What would you like it to say on your tombstone? I hope it will say I was a husband and father who lived my life for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Describe your ideal mate. She’ll be kind and gentle. If I’m extra lucky, she’ll be a good cook. If I’m truly blessed, she’ll love God as much as I do.

What are you most afraid of? Death. Not my own, but the death of my loved ones. I’ve lost my mother and my best friend, and I got through it, but I hope I don’t lose anyone else close to me any time soon.

What do you like best about yourself? Least? They sort of go together. What is best about me in some situations can be the worst in others. I’ll do anything for a friend, and usually that’s good, but sometimes it can be thing I like least since I sometimes allow others to take advantage of me.

What do you like best and least about the other characters in your book? Well, I like Ella’s kind heart and sweet disposition, but I hate her fear. I wish I could take it away. Her father sounds like he was good when she was younger, but I can’t see past my hatred of what he’s done to her to understand her love for him.

As for the sheriff, he’s a good man, but he overlooks the flaws in his new deputies. I find that aggravating.

And Clara, well, I have nothing but good things to say about her. I couldn’t ask for a better a friend.

Lawfully Promised: When Ella Jamison’s father gets in trouble with the law, he offers up his only daughter to get the Texas ranger on his trail to look the other way. Fear over what might become of her father if arrested obligates Ella to go along with his plan.
Isaiah Hayes doesn’t accept bribes, but his concern for Miss Jamison, should he leave her to Mr. Jamison’s abuse, compels Isaiah to accept the offer. While investigating the Christmas Eve hangings and Christmas Day Massacre, Isaiah tries to make Ella comfortable in his meager dwelling. Ella battles her fears as she tries to adjust to a new home with a man she fears, almost as much as the father who gave her away. Promises are made to broken, aren’t they? Purchase Lawfully Promised on Amazon or read it for free in KU. 

81d1BxMwkXL._US230_Elle E. Kay lives in the Back Mountain area of Pennsylvania. She loves life in the country on her little farmette. She lives with her loving husband, Joe; her only son, Ian; her dog, Sammy; her goats, sheep, rabbits, chickens, turkey, pheasants and guineas.

Elle is a born-again christian with a deep faith and love for the Lord Jesus Christ. She desires to learn how to live for Him and to put Him first. She writes children’s books under the name Ellie Mae Kay.

Visit Elle on her website: https://www.elleekay.com

Elle on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElleEKay7/

Elle on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ElleEKay7

Elle’s books on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Elle-E.-Kay/e/B01C0TI9J2%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

All About Lark MacDougall from Laura Frantz’s A Bound Heart

Frant_A Bound Heart_Cover

Name: Lark MacDougall

Parents: Deceased

Siblings: None

Places lived: Isle of Kerrera, Scotland & Colonial Virginia

Jobs: Stillroom mistress and beekeeper

Friends: Magnus MacLeish, childhood friend and laird of Kerrera Castle

Enemies: Though I hate to say it, I’m not fond of the laird’s wife, Lady Isla, or her maid

Dating, marriage: I seem to be doing things a wee bit tapsalteerie as we Scots say, with a baby first, then a courtship…

Children: An adopted son, Larkin. “She took the infant, going wide-eyed at his weight. A ruadh-headed handful he was. He gave a chortle of delight, and the knot of women looked relieved, spared of his fretfulness. His dimpled hand brushed Lark’s flushed cheek, his bright eyes on her face.”

What person do you most admire? The laird of Kerrera Castle

Overall outlook on life: Life is hard, but God is faithful

Do you like yourself? Somedays

What, if anything, would you like to change about your life? I would see justice served

How are you viewed by others? Capable

Physical appearance: Tall and spare

Eyes: Blue

Hair: the hue of a maple leaf in autumn

Voice: A bit low for a woman

Right- or left-handed? Right

How would you describe yourself? Full of flaws but trying to be better

Characteristics: Fortitude, Kindness, Compassion

Strongest/weakest character traits: Endurance/nostalgia

How much self-control do you have? Enough to not run after the laird 😉

Fears: Leaving my beloved island

Collections, talents: Mistress of the bees and stillroom

What people like best about you: My compassion

Interests and favorites: A hankering for books and a bit o’ jewelry

Food, drink: My granny’s bannocks and a cup o’ tea

Books: The Bible and Watt’s Hymnal

Best way to spend a weekend: Baking scones and drinking tea

What would a great gift for you be? Seeing someone else made happy

When are you happy? When I’m with the folks I love

What makes you angry? Injustice

What makes you sad? Slavery, poverty, disease

What makes you laugh? Wee ones

Hopes and dreams: Returning to Kerrera Castle

What’s the worst thing you have ever done to someone and why? I snitched a sweet from the castle kitchen

Greatest success: Marrying my love

Biggest trauma: Being condemned of a crime

What do you care about most in the world? Faith

Do you have a secret? Nay

What do you like best about the other main characters in your book? I adore the laird and Larkin

What do you like least about the other main characters in your book? Lady Isla and her maid are/were a thorn to me

If you could do one thing and succeed at it, what would it be: Overturn the corrupt court system and see justice reign

Most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you: Being on trial after being in gaol (jail)

Thanks for introducing yourself to us, Lark!

Laura Frantz is a Christy Award finalist and the ECPA bestselling author of severalFrantz_Laura books, including The Frontiersman’s Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, The Colonel’s Lady, and The Lacemaker. She lives and writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky. Learn more at www.laurafrantz.net.

Meet Elizabeth from We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels

Today we welcome Elizabeth Balsam who answered a few questions for curious readers!

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Parents: Bruce and Marjorie

Siblings: Grace

Places lived: Detroit, Michigan

Jobs: Journalist at the Detroit Free Press

Friends: Desiree? She’s the closest thing I have to a friend at the moment, busy as I am with work.

Enemies: Anyone who gets in the way of me getting the story. Often, that takes the form of one Roger Bristol, my own personal nemesis at the Free Presswho is always trying to undermine me and steal my stories.

Dating, marriage: I’m far too busy for such things.

Children: none

What person do you most admire? Nellie Bly, the great investigative journalist of the late 19thcentury, who went undercover as an inmate at an insane asylum for an exposé for Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World. She also circumnavigated the globe in 72 days to be the first person, man or woman, to turn the fiction of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Daysinto fact.

Overall outlook on life: My time as a journalist has me believing that we’re all just trying to survive as best we can in a corrupt and chaotic world.

Do you like yourself? I guess I like myself as well as anyone. But because I am always pushing toward the next goal, I can’t help but feel like I’m always falling a little short of my expectations of myself.

What, if anything, would you like to change about your life? Honestly, I wouldn’t mind being able to step back and take a breather once in a while, but if I did, who would pick up the slack?

How are you viewed by others? Driven, focused, go-getter.

Physical appearance: I’m a professional and I’m serious about being taken seriously. And that means slacks, blouses, and sensible shoes.

Eyes: Blue

Hair: Brown

Voice: Gets the job done.

Right- or left-handed? Right-handed.

How would you describe yourself? I’m a public servant. I’m passionate about my work and I feel that every article I turn in has the potential to improve the lives of my fellow Detroiters because I am exposing corruption, neglect, and injustice.

Strongest/weakest character traits: My greatest strength is my dogged determination to get the story. My greatest weakness is that I actively avoid creating personal connections with people, leaving me too often alone and lonely.

How much self-control do you have? My family prides itself on having mastery over our emotions, so the few times I haven’t succeeded in that are a source of embarrassment to me.

Fears: My greatest fear is being inconsequential.

Collections, talents: The only thing I collect is bylines. My talent is writing about the truth I’ve dug up.

What people like best about you: I think my readers appreciate the fact that I don’t hold back and that no one is off-limits when it comes to exposing injustice or corruption.

Interests and favorites: I’m always in the mood to watch All the President’s Men, The Post, or Spotlight.

Food, drink: Detroit style coney dogs, please and thank you

Books: I read a lot of nonfiction, looking for historical facts and connections to what’s going on in today’s world. Anything to build my knowledge base.

Best way to spend a weekend: In the library, digging up evidence.

What would a great gift for you be? A new laptop because I beat mine up so badly schlepping it around town.

When are you happy? Every time I see my name on the front page.

What makes you angry? When I interview people that have been taken advantage of or failed by the system.

What makes you sad? The fact that I can’t do more to help the people in my city.

What makes you laugh? Seeing the bad guys get what’s coming to them, which unfortunately seems to happen more in movies than in real life.

Hopes and dreams: Someday, I want to win a Pulitzer for my investigative journalism.

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

Greatest success: Raising enough awareness and outrage through my writing that Detroiters were able to pressure city officials to take action on 11,000 untested rape kits, leading to the identification and arrests of hundreds of serial rapists in Detroit.

Biggest trauma: My parents leaving Detroit to go back to the mission field in Brazil. Oh, and getting fired from my job…

What does you care about most in the world? Justice being done.

Do you have a secret? Outwardly I put on a good show of being self-sufficient, but inside I am starved for family and love.

If you could do one thing and succeed at it, what would it be: Right now, all of my energy is focused on getting the goods on Judge Ryan Sharpe’s time in the National Guard during the Detroit Riots of 1967. If I can prove his involvement in a particular shootout, I’ll be able to complete my investigative series on the riot and establish myself as the top investigative journalist at the Free Press. Oh, and being able to rub it in Roger Bristol’s face wouldn’t be half bad either.

Thank you, Elizabeth! It was great to meet you!

***

Erin Bartels has been a publishing professional for more than fifteen years. Her short story “This Elegant Ruin” was a finalist in the Saturday Evening Post 2014 Great American Fiction Contest. A freelance writer and editor, she is a member of Capital City Writers and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and is former features editor of WFWA’s Write On! magazine. She lives in Lansing, Michigan, with her husband, Zachary, and their son, Calvin, and can be found online at www.erinbartels.com. We Hope for Better Things is her first novel.Bartels_Erin