A Chat With Grace Walker from War-Torn Heart by Allison Wells

Tell us something about where you live: 

  • I live in a tiny South Caroline town you’ve never heard of, but we’ve right at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and we’re very close to Clemson College. 

Is there anything special about your name? Why do you think you were given that name? 

  • When I was born right before the turn of the century, my father named me Grace because he was certain I would be full of it, and because he thought I’d be full of the Lord’s abundant grace. I try to live up to my name.

Do you have an occupation? What do you like or dislike about your work? 

  • I’m a momma to several blessings. I love every minute. That doesn’t mean it’s not hard, it surely us, but our reward is in heaven.

Who are the special people in your life?  

  • My husband, Nathan, and our children – Peter, Abigail, Rebecca, Elizabeth, Jacob, and Gabriel. Oh, and Michael, God rest him. I’m also close to my sisters and our extended family.

What is your heart’s deepest desire?   

  • For my children to grow up knowing the Lord.

What are you most afraid of? 

  • Losing my children. After we lost Michael, I didn’t think I would recover, but God brought my heart through it.

Do you have a cherished possession? 

  • I have a music box that had been my own grandmother’s, brought over from Scotland. I’ll pass it along to Abby, and hopefully on and on. 

What do you expect the future will hold for you?  

  • I won’t even pretend to guess. It’s in God’s hands. But I do hope for grandchildren one day. 

What have you learned about yourself in the course of your story?  

  • My story is for the Father to write. He is the creator and perfector.

Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you? 

I have tried to raise my children to be strong, resilient, believing people. I think Nathan and I have done a good job. Abby’s a little headstrong, but then, what teenage girl isn’t. I’m sure Eliza and Jake will give me a run for my money, too. They run with the wind, those children.

Allison Wells is a wife, mother, and sweet tea addict. Allison writes in two genres – Christian Women’s FIction and Sweet Romance. She writes what she calls “gritty Christian fiction,” books that show the hard truths of life but ultimately are stories of redemption in the end. Her sweet romances are clean and fun with a dose of laughter (the best medicine). She loves to bring a word of hope to readers worldwide. Her motto is, “Life is short, eat the Oreos.” Visit her website at www.whatallisonwrote.com.




Introducing Grace Mockingbird from Cindy Morgan’s The Year of Jubilee

book cover image

My guest today for Novel PASTtimes is an exceptional young lady named Grace Mockingbird. Grace, thank you for agreeing to talk with me today.

You’re welcome.

Wow, Grace, don’t knock me over with enthusiasm (wink wink).

Oh, I’m sorry. I guess the truth is, I don’t always feel comfortable talking about myself.

Well, I think that’s perfectly understandable. Even though the teen years are way back in the rearview mirror for me, I remember it being a tricky time. 

Yes, you can say that again.

(Interviewer pauses for a sip of water… thinking, This is gonna be tougher than I thought.

So Grace, tell me a little bit about yourself—your interests, where you live.

Okay, well, I just turned fourteen. I live in Eastern Kentucky in a place called Jubilee. It’s a coal-mining town, but believe it or not, we have a nice little downtown area with a movie theater, a diner, and some nice shops on Main Street. I like to ride my bike downtown sometimes. As for my interests, I like to read fiction and sometimes poetry. I also like to journal and write poetry. 

Oh, I also love to read, Grace! Something we have in common. And how wonderful that you’re a writer! I know that lots of people who are creative find that writing can be a very therapeutic exercise for dealing with difficult experiences in life. I understand that this has been a tough summer for you and your family?

Yes, a very sad year. We lost my younger brother, Isaac.

I’m so sorry, Grace. I can’t imagine how difficult that must be.

Yes. Sometimes it’s surreal to think that he’s no longer here and that I can’t play with him in the backyard anymore. He had a pet rooster name Rojo that he loved. I can tell Rojo really misses him too. 

How old was Issac when he passed? 

Seven, almost eight. 

So young. (Interviewer pauses and takes a deep breath to calm her emotions) Grace, I practice a tradition of keeping the memories of those we have lost alive by sharing things about them that were special. Would you mind sharing the thing that you remember most about your brother? 

That’s a cool tradition. I think I remember his curiosity the most. He was extremely intelligent. Genius IQ actually. He read constantly. Anything he could get his hands on. He loved to learn. I really miss the conversations we used to have. Even though he was young, he was so wise for his age.

It sounds like you had a very special relationship with him. Thank you for sharing that special memory you have of him. Grace, I also hear that there are some very special things going on in the town of Jubilee that you live in. Could you share some of those things?

Yes, 1963 is a strange time to be living in our part of the world, obviously, with all of the marches that Dr. King has been leading for equality and integration. Many Southerners are not in favor of this. To tell you the truth, I hadn’t really thought very much about it until my English teacher, Miss Adams, challenged me and my other classmates to think outside of the traditions that we have been raised in.

She sounds like a really special teacher. 

She definitely is. She’s very different from the other people in Jubilee. My dad also likes to hear Dr. King speak. My Aunt June loves his preaching. But a lot of people in Jubilee are afraid of the changes that it might bring. 

Yes, people often like for things to stay the same. Grace, I was going to ask you about your last name, it’s very unusual. Can you tell me about its origin?

Yes, Mockingbird is from my dad’s Native American heritage. He’s very proud of it. His dad was Rowdy Mockingbird. He’s kind of infamous in this area. 

Well, with a name like that, I’m not surprised. (Takes another sip of water) Do you have other siblings?

Yes, my sister, Sissy. She’s sixteen and very bossy.

Oh my! I had one of those too. What are her interests?


Ouch! I guess that’s a point for the little sis, eh? Grace, not to return you to a difficult topic, but how are your parents dealing with the loss of your brother?

I mean, that’s a pretty personal question for me to answer on my parents’ behalf, but I guess I think they’re trying to work through all of it the very best that they can. My aunt June says that beautiful things come from suffering. My mom cries a lot. She’s also creating a beautiful garden in his honor. She says she likes to have her hands in the dirt. She says something about it is healing.

Oh yes, I agree with that. 

My dad works a lot. There were so many hospital bills from Isaac’s treatment. Aunt June, she’s the bright spot. She tries to cheer us all up. We love having her around even though she’s a terrible cook.

Oh! Well, I’m not much of a chef myself. Grace, I’m glad Aunt June is there to encourage you. I also had a favorite aunt. Her name is Doris. She also lives in Kentucky.


Any last thoughts about what your family has been through? And speaking of Aunt June and the words of wisdom on beauty coming from suffering she shared with you, can you talk more about that?

Can I have a drink of your water first? My throat is so dry…

Oh, of course! (interviewer slides water glass across to Grace, who drinks every last drop of water)

Thanks! Okay…. I guess when I think about what my family has been through— losing Isaac has forced us to deal with things we had avoided for years. In some strange way it has brought us closer together. I also think it has given us more compassion for other people who are going through difficulties. 

Yes, Grace, if there is ever a silver lining in tragedy, it is that suffering can soften our hearts to be more sensitive to what other people are going through. 

Yes. Before, I only thought about myself, and my own worries and struggles. But now I think it’s easier for me to notice when other people are struggling too.

Grace, I want to thank you for being so transparent today and sharing these very special things with me and with our audience. I have a feeling we will be hearing more from you in the future. You keep reading those good books and writing poems in your journal. Maybe we’ll see one of them in print.

I certainly hope so. 

Thank you again, Grace Mockingbird, for sharing a little part of your journey with us today. 

The Mockingbird family has always lived peacefully in Jubilee, Kentucky, despite the divisions that mark their small town. Until the tense summer of 1963, when their youngest child, Isaac, falls gravely ill. Middle sister Grace, nearly fourteen, is determined to do whatever it takes to save her little brother. With her father and mother away at the hospital, Grace is left under the loving but inexperienced eye of her aunt June, with little to do but wait and worry. Inspired by a young teacher’s mission for change, she begins to flirt with danger—and with a gifted boy named Golden, who just might be the key to saving Isaac’s life. Then the unthinkable happens, and the world as she knows it shifts in ways she never could have imagined. Grace must decide what she believes amid the swirling, conflicting voices of those she loves the most.

 About the Author

Singer/songwriter Cindy Morgan is a two-time Grammy nominee, a thirteen-time Dove winner, and a recipient of the prestigious Songwriter of the Year trophy. An East Tennessee native, her evocative melodies and lyrics have mined the depths of life and love both in her own recording and through songwriting for noteworthy artists around the globe, including Vince Gill, India.Arie, Rascal Flatts, Amy Grant, Sandra McCracken, and Glen Campbell. Cindy is the author of two works of adult nonfiction—the memoir How Could I Ask for More: Stories of Blessings, Battles and Beauty (Worthy Inspired, 2015) and Barefoot on Barbed Wire: A Journey Out of Fear into Freedom (Harvest House Publishers, 2001)—and of the children’s picture book Dance Me, Daddy (ZonderKidz, 2009). The Year of Jubilee is her debut novel. Cindy is a cocreator of the charitable Hymns for Hunger Tour, which has raised awareness and resources for hunger relief organizations across the globe. Cindy has two daughters and splits her time between a small town near Nashville and Holly Springs, North Carolina, with her husband, Jonathan. For more information visit cindymorganmusic.com. 

Helpful links: 

Cindy’s website

Her Facebook

Her Twitter

Her Instagram

To order The Year of Jubilee

A Chat with Mary Flynn from Mary’s Moment by Susan G. Mathis

.Welcome, Mary Flynn. Tell us something about where you live: 

I grew up in Watertown, NY, but my aunts have an adorable cottage in Thousand Island Park on Wellesley Island, in the heart of the Thousand Islands. The 1,864 islands are shared almost equally between New York state and Ontario, Canada. It’s where Lake Ontario narrows and becomes the St. Lawrence River. Here the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River intersect to become the world’s largest inland navigation system. Huge freighters pass by tiny islands along the main channel and share the waterway with all kinds of boats including kayaks and canoes.

Is there anything special about your name? 

I’m named after my great aunt Mary who came over from Ireland on an 1851 immigrant ship to the New World. She and her family settled on Wolfe Island, Canada, but she later moved to New York.

Who are the special people in your life?  

Since my papa died, I came to live with my two aunts and am spending my summer of 1912 as a telephone switchboard operator and telegrapher for the Thousand Island Park on Wellesley Island. My assistant switchboard operator, Charlotte, has become a dear friend.  

Fireman George Flannigan is a charming man and we’ve become good friends, too, but his son, Robbie, is the one who stole my heart. What a sweet boy! His father is a widow, and I’m not sure if he’s ready to move on with his life. I’m also a little worried about the danger of his job. Still, he’s the nicest man I’ve ever met.

Oh, and I can’t forget Gramps. He’s an eighty-year-old retired minister who is the local friend to anyone that crosses his path. He sits on the veranda of the Columbian Hotel ready to share wisdom, play chess, and love others. He’s a gift from God, that’s for sure. 

What is your heart’s deepest desire? 

That’s easy. To love and be loved. After losing both of my parents and being an only child, aloneness is a terrible place to be. And… I hope to be Robbie’s mom one day. Shhh…don’t tell George.

What are you most afraid of? 

Fire! It’s always been fearful, especially since our barn burned down when I was a child and Papa had a heart attack and nearly died trying to rescue the animals. Now, after surviving the terrible fires in Thousand Island Park, I’m even more terrified. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever gone through. I was grateful to be able to call for help all three times. I nearly died in the third and worst fire, but thanks to Fireman Flannigan, I survived. But it almost destroyed the Park. 

Do you have a cherished possession? 

My papa’s Scofield Bible. It was his most treasured possession, so it’s now mine. 

What do you expect the future will hold for you?  

Good things. Hope for a better future. Hope for healing. Hope for love, family, and bright tomorrows.

What have you learned about yourself in the course of your story?  

Fire is scary…for sure! But I’ve learned to trust in God and His plans for me. God can heal a broken heart and has helped me forgive those who hurt me. 

About Mary’s Moment:

Mathis’s attention to detail and rich history is classic Mathis, and no one does it better.—Margaret Brownley, N.Y. Times bestselling author

Summer 1912

Thousand Island Park’s switchboard operator ​Mary Flynn is christened the community heroine for her quick action that saves dozens of homes from a terrible fire. Less than a month later, when another disastrous fire rages through the Park, Mary loses her memory as she risks her life in a neighbor’s burning cottage. Will she remember the truth of who she is or be deceived by a treacherous scoundrel?

Widowed fireman George Flannigan is enamored by the brave raven-haired lass and takes every opportunity to connect with Mary. But he has hidden griefs of his own that cause him great heartache. When George can’t stop the destructive Columbian Hotel fire from eradicating more than a hundred businesses and homes, he is distraught. Yet George’s greater concern is Mary. Will she remember their budding relationship or be forever lost to him?      

Readers of Christian historical romance will enjoy this exciting tale set in 1912 Thousand Island Park, NY.


Susan G Mathis is an international award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Susan has been published more than twenty-five times in full-length novels, novellas, and non-fiction books. She has ten in her fiction line including, The Fabric of Hope, Christmas Charity, Katelyn’s Choice, Devyn’s Dilemma, Peyton’s Promise, Sara’s Surprise, Reagan’s Reward, Colleen’s Confession, Rachel’s Reunion, and Mary’s Moment. Her book awards include two Illumination Book Awards, three American Fiction Awards, two Indie Excellence Book Awards, and four Literary Titan Book Awards. Reagan’s Reward is a Selah Awards finalist. Susan is also a published author of two premarital books, two children’s picture books, stories in a dozen compilations, and hundreds of published articles. Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs and enjoys traveling around the world but returns each summer to enjoy the Thousand Islands. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com/fiction for more. 

Buy links: Amazon | Barnes&Nobles | Walmart

Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rm3oK-79Rdo  

Social media links: Website |Author Central |  Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Blog | Goodreads l InstagramBook Bub

Introducing Lillian from The Swindler’s Daughter by Stephenia H. McGee

Welcome! Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself?

Hello everyone! My name is Lillian, and I am the reluctant heroine of the story The Swindler’s Daughter. You see, I always believed my mother to be a widow and my father long dead. Turns out, that isn’t quite the case.

That sounds troubling! What else can you tell us about your story?

I’ve lived my entire life with a mother who wants nothing more than to achieve high-society status. Up until a few days ago, I thought my father had died a long time ago. But then news arrived that my estranged father only recently passed away—in jail. He left a business and all of his possessions to me, but…well, he’s made me a rather unusual heiress.

Then on top of all of that, when I went to take possession of my father’s house in a backwoods Georgia town, the dilapidated structure was already occupied by another woman who claims it was promised to her son! It’s quite the mess.

How has this revelation affected you?

It’s caused quite the topsy-turvy in my life, let me tell you. Mother and I already had a strain on our relationship—what with her wanting to marry me off to the highest bidder and all—and the revelation of my new inheritance hasn’t helped matters.

Now that you are an heiress, will your plans change?

Everything has changed. My father left me little more than a mystery and house without answers. There’s a lot I need to do to settle the estate—a challenge that has become even more difficult since there are other people trying to lay claim to my father’s home. Jonah insists that the house should go to his family, but my father’s will left it to me.

Tell us more about Jonah. Who is he?

He is the stubborn cowboy who has apparently taken it upon himself to make everything more difficult for me. It seems my father’s family prematurely gave the house to Jonah’s mother, and Jonah is determined to make sure his mother and sisters aren’t tossed out. As if I would do such a thing! 

So what are you going to do now?

To discover the truth and take hold of the independence I’ve secretly always dreamed of, I’ll have to figure out the truth about what my father left behind. It’s a mess for certain, but there has to be something good at the end of this tangle of secrets. Right?

We certainly hope so! Thank you for letting us get to know you a little better. One final question to leave our readers with. If there was one thing you could tell someone reading your story, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to reach for your dreams. The best things in life often come on the other side of difficulty. It might be hard to face your calling or take a leap of faith, but it’s a risk worth taking!

Pre-order the novel here:

*40% off paperback preorder with free shipping at Baker Book House: https://bakerbookhouse.com/products/492093

Christian Book: https://www.christianbook.com/the-swindlers-daughter/9780800740245/pd/0740245?

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Swindlers-Daughter-Stephenia-H-McGee/dp/0800740246/

Barns & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-swindlers-daughter-stephenia-h-mcgee/1142260742?

Stephenia H. McGee is a multi-published author of stories of faith, hope, and healing set in the Deep South. She lives in Mississippi, where she is a mom of two rambunctious boys, writer, dreamer, and husband spoiler. Her novel The Cedar Key was a 2021 Faith, Hope, and Love Readers’ Choice award winner. A member of the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution), she loves all things books and history. Stephenia also loves connecting with readers and can often be found having fun with her Faithful Readers Team on Facebook. For more on books and upcoming events and to connect with Stephenia, visit her at www.StepheniaMcGee.com.