Interview With Callie Jennings from A Musket in My Hands by Sandy M. Hart

MusketCover (002)Callie, just where is Cageville, Tennessee? What is your home like?

The town of Cageville is in western Tennessee. It was named for Licurgus Cage, one of our first merchants. The town became known as Alamo in 1869. They renamed it as a memorial to folks who died at Battle of the Alamo—and to Davy Crockett.

Our farm is about a mile outside of town. We don’t have any close neighbors, just lots of trees near our cleared fields. Empty now, except for an acre plot that I planted to keep us from starving. I hope it’s too small for the Yankees to notice it much.

The biggest city nearby that you might have heard of is Jackson. I’ve never been there, but Louisa—my sister—and I told our comrades that we came from a place outside of Jackson. We didn’t want the other soldiers to find out where we were from and tell our pa where to find us.

What are the living conditions like where you are at this point in the war?

Oh, things are bad. After the Yankees took our crops, Pa stopped planting. Said he wasn’t going to plow and plant just so the Yankees could steal it from us.

Louisa works at the mercantile. They pay her in food so that helps. I planted a garden, hoping the Federal soldiers that ride by our farm don’t take notice of it. It’s not much, but that food should keep us alive this winter.

Other folks in town are doing about the same as us.

 I hear your pa is a Confederate ranger. What are he and the Confederate soldiers fighting for? And has it been worth the toll it’s taken?

Yep, Pa is too old for soldiering, but he found a way to fight for his country. He and his friend, Ezra Culpepper, joined a cavalry guerrilla group. They go out on missions and then come home, pretending to be nothing more than average citizens while in town.

I know the South needs all the help they can get to win this war, but I hate what being a ranger has done to my pa. He never used to drink like this. I think he drinks to forget about those missions.

Are you really engaged to your pa’s friend? Rumor has it that your heart belongs to someone else!

No! I’m not going to marry a man thirty years my senior, no matter what Pa agreed to on my behalf. Pa’s mind is made up so I have to figure out something.

I love Zachariah Pearson. Zach never courted me before the war and now the fighting is about all he thinks of. But I’m the only girl in town he writes to—I know because I asked all the other single ladies. That makes me special, doesn’t it?

 Tell us something about your true beau, Zach?

Oh, what I could tell you about Zach. We’ve been friends since his aunt and uncle took him in after his parents drowned. That was when he was fourteen, eight years ago. It was a tough time for him. He and his cousin, Nate McClary, grew as close as brothers.

Zach is a handsome man, especially in his Confederate gray. I love his green eyes and the way his brown hair curls right before it gets cut. I always thought he might court me … and then the war started. He trained at Camp Trenton in September of 1861. I’ve only seen him on his furloughs since then.

 How would you describe yourself?

Oh, I’m not much to look at. Louisa takes after Ma. With her blue eyes and blonde hair, she’s the real beauty of the family. She knows it, too.

I got my auburn hair from Pa. His brown eyes, too. My hair is curly so I have to keep it pinned in a bun on top of my head. Wish I was pretty, though. Maybe Zach would notice me.

How do you plan to avoid marriage to your pa’s friend and how does your sister, Louisa, fit into all this?

Oh, Louisa’s got a plan. She’s the adventurous one. She’s been reading newspaper reports about women disguising themselves as Confederate soldiers. She’s been after me to muster into the army to avoid marrying Mr. Culpepper.

But Louisa has her own reasons for joining the army. She’s heard reports that her fiancé, Nate McClary, has been flirting with other women. I don’t want to think badly of him … but I’m afraid the reports are true.

Aren’t you worried your disguises might be found out? What will you do if that happens?

Louisa and I have done our best to disguise ourselves as men so we can muster into the army. I’ve sewn trousers, coats, and blouses for both of us. Louisa sewed padding onto our underclothing to hide our shapes. Our blouses and coats fit loosely so that should help.

We’ve practiced walking like men, talking like men.

I hope we’re ready.

About the Author: 

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Award-winning and Amazon bestselling author Sandra Merville Hart loves to uncover fascinating historical facts for her stories. Her debut Civil War Romance, A Stranger on My Land, was IRCA Finalist 2015. A Rebel in My House, set during the historic Battle of Gettysburg, won the 2018 Silver Illumination Award and second place in 2018 FHL Readers’ Choice Award. A Musket in My Hands, where two sisters join the Confederate army with the men they love, released November 8th. Her novella, Surprised by Love in “From the Lake to the River” released in September of 2018. Trail’s End, in “Smitten Novella Collection: The Cowboys” releases in August of 2019.

Find her on her blog, https://sandramervillehart.wordpress.com/.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Heather Stewart of A Heart for Freedom by Janet S. Grunst

 

Heather, tell me something about Stewarts’ Green, the ordinary you and your husband run.  How does it compare to your previous home?

 Up until about four years ago, Matthew, his children, Mary and Mark, and I lived in the small cottage on the farm he and his late wife, Elizabeth, established in the Virginia countryside. We built Stewarts’ Green and live in part of it. Our tenant farmer and his family live in our old cottage. Stewarts’ Green is near a thoroughfare between Alexandria and the western settlements, and close to the Potomac River where a ferry provides transportation between Virginia and Maryland, so it seemed like a perfect spot for weary travelers to eat and get rest.

It certainly sounds like it! How would you describe yourself?

I’m thirty-four and a very happily married to Matthew Stewart. We have his two children, Mary and Mark, and our son, Douglas. We lost a child but are happily expecting another. I do have a tendency to worry with all the friction taking place between the colonies and Britain.

Your worry is certainly understandable. I’m sorry for your loss.

I heard you were once indentured. Is this true? How were you freed from that?

 I came over from Scotland in 1770 as an indentured servant, rather impulsively. My family were fabric merchants and my father had just passed. With little resources, I needed to escape a brewing scandal. I expected to start a new life at the end of my seven-year indenture in the Virginia colony, but life took an unexpected turn.I’ve shared that amazing story of God’s provision in A Heart Set Free.

Oooh, I am intrigued! I’m also glad to learn that you were able to be truly freed from your indenture.

 Would you please tell me about the unrest in the British-American colonies?

Ever since the fighting in Massachusetts, arguments have broken out between families, friends, and neighbors. Some people are loyal to the crown and others are talking about taking up arms against England. Our colonies are not equipped to go up against the most powerful army and navy in the world.

Has anyone close to you gotten involved in the rebellion against the crown?

Aye! Several of our friend’s sons have joined the militia or the Continental Army.

 If war breaks out are you concerned your husband, Matthew, might enlist?

More than once he has mentioned that the time is coming when all of us will have to align ourselves with the Loyalists or Patriots. Fortunately, he has not yet mentioned anything about joining either cause.

 Is there anything concerning you about your relationship with Matthew?

Matthew is a devoted husband and father, but lately he has seemed unusually preoccupied. I’m sure he is worried about the future and our safety during these troubled times.

 Do you feel your family is safe at this time?  

We live out in the country where the political bickering is not as widespread. I’m concerned though because Mary and Mark are traveling to Philadelphia where they will spend the summer with their mother’s parents. The Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia, so I’m certain it will be a contentious place and time.

 Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Please pray that the resolves or petitions between the colonies and England can settle this matter so that we can live in peace.  Having spent my first twenty-nine years in Scotland, I am well acquainted with the enduring consequences of war with England.

Of course, thank you for your time, Heather. It’s been nice getting to know you.

More about A Heart for Freedom:

He longs for freedom, but he won’t risk those he loves.

Matthew Stewart wants only to farm, manage his inn, and protect his family. But tension between the Loyalists and Patriots is mounting. When he’s asked to help the Patriots and assured his family will be safe, he agrees.

She’s seen the cost of fighting England, and she wants no part of it.

In Scotland, Heather Stewart witnessed the devastation and political consequences of opposing England. She wants only to avoid war and protect the family and peace she finally found in Virginia. But the war drums can be heard even from home in the countryside, and she has no power to stop the approaching danger.

The consequences are deadly.

When Matthew leaves for a short journey and doesn’t return, Heather faces the biggest trial of her life. Will she give up hope of seeing him again? Will he survive the trials and make his way home? What will be the consequences of his heart for freedom?

About the Author:

Janet is a wife, mother of two sons, and grandmother of eight who lives in the historic triangle of Virginia (Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown) with her husband. Her debut novel, A Heart Set Freewas the 2016 Selah Award winner for Historical Romance. A lifelong student of history, her love of writing fiction grew out of a desire to share stories that communicate the truths of the Christian faith, as well as entertain, bring inspiration, healing, and hope to the reader.

Questions for Jake Marcum from Secrets and Charades by Cindy Ervin Huff

S & C coverJake, where is your ranch located? How much land do you own?

My ranch is in Northwest Texas and covers about 1,000 acres. The ranch used ta be bigger. But Ben Mitchell, the previous owner, gave up some acreage so a town could be built. It was named after his late brother Charelton.

How long have you been a rancher? And how would you describe yourself?

I been ranching since my Pa settled near Ben Mitchell when I was ten. He taught my Pa and us boys all about ranching.

My Ma called me a man of few words. But, I’ve learned its necessary to use a few more when you’re dealing with ranch hands. And according to Cookie, my right- hand man, I need quite a few more when talking to women.

After I come home from the Civil War I was not in a good place. The woman I thought had promised her heart to me married my brother. I was carryin’ on in ways I ain’t proud of and going to work as Ben Mitchell’s foreman made a big difference in the man I am today. My pa wasn’t very religious, but Ben Mitchell had been a missionary before he came to ranchin’. I found faith and a new life working for him.  I married his daughter, but she died of consumption a few months later. I inherited the ranch because all his sons died in the war. It’s been big shoes to fill. I got me some good men and that makes all the difference.

I appreciate your honesty, Jake. I heard that you are having a bit of a time with your niece, Juliet. What’s going on?

Juliet came to live with me when she was six. That was the same year my sister-in-law died in childbirth and my brother died from falling off a horse. I’d just inherited the ranch. She was a healing thing for me. We’re very close. Juliet’s a bit of a tomboy. Shoot she’s a lot of tomboy. And lacks the education her ma would have wanted for her.  I don’t want to send her off to boarding school and I don’t have the time to teach her much myself. She can read and write and cypher some. She’d rather ride the range then sew a seam. She needs more genteel ways. The gal is growing up too fast.

It does sound like you need some help for sure. What made you decide to try finding a wife by getting a mail-order bride?

Cookie kinda talked me into it. There weren’t no one around here that suited. They was either too young, too old, or a soiled dove. And none of them had much education either. I wrote Miss Evangeline for over a year. All the other gals wanted to come right away. I at least wanted to feel like she wasn’t a complete stranger.

Can you share something about the process with the readers?

Well, land sakes, you women ask a passel of questions. There’s a paper called the Matrimonial Times. It can be had all over the country. I placed an ad there. As I said I got a heap of responses. Enough to make me want to change my mind. Cookie helped me sort through ‘em. Evangeline offered to write awhile. That suited me fine.

Well, I don’t mean to be nosey, Jake, but we don’t hear about mail-order brides every day and I find the subject rather fascinating. 

What do you think of Evangeline Olson? Is she the kind of women you’re looking for?

I hope so. She sent me a picture of her with her niece. She’s a beauty and it surprises me she’s still unattached. She was a nurse in the Civil War and from her letters she seems to have had a good education. She don’t need to know how to cook and such cause I got a housekeeper. But the other ladylike things are what I hope she’ll teach Juliet.

What are your hopes for the future of your relationship?

Cookie was right. I need to find a few more words to talk to a woman. Well, Kathy, I would hope we’d get along. I’d like us to come to love each other. I hope she’s of a kind nature. But then again she ain’t never married. So, I worry a mite. I pray she comes to love my home as much as I do. Mostly, I hope she and Juliet get close and Miss Evangeline helps her become a lady. I want the girl to find a good man someday who’ll take over the ranch when I’m gone.  If love grows betwixt Evangeline and I maybe we’ll have a son to inherit the Double M.

Are we done here? I got a lot of work to do before day’s end. You have a good day, ma’am.

Why, thank you for your time, Jake. I won’t keep you any longer. I’ve learned a lot and I think you had just the right amount of words. You have a good day as well!

cindy 2016

About the Author

Cindy Ervin Huff is a multi-published writer and her debut novel Secrets and Charades won the Editor’s Choice Award in 2014 and placed third in the Maxwell Awards in 2017 and first place Serious Writer Medal 2018. Her contemporary romance New Duetreleased in May 2018. She has been featured in numerous periodicals over the last thirty years. Cindy is a member of ACFW, Mentor for Word Weavers. founding member of the Aurora, Illinois chapter of Word Weavers and Christian Writer’s Guild alumni. Although she has been creating stories in her head since childhood it wasn’t until high school those imaginary characters began appearing on paper. After raising her family, she began her novel writing adventures. Cindy loves to encourage new writers on their journey. She and her husband make their home in Aurora, Illinois. They have five children and six grandchildren. Visit Cindy on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cindyehuff,follow her on twitter @CindyErvinHuff, or check out her blog at www.jubileewriter.wordpress.com.

 

Interview with Reverend Benjamin David from To Claim Her Heart by Jodie Wolfe

Benjamin, where are you from? And what has brought you to the Cherokee Strip to claim a piece of property?

I’m originally from Hennessey in Oklahoma Territory. My fiancée and I had planned to come here, to build a church, and to find our own Promised Land. After my beloved died, I decided to still come and fulfill what we’d hoped to do together.

Just what is the Cherokee Strip? And what did you have to do to make a claim?

The US government resettled Indian tribes and during that process, part of the northern portion of Oklahoma Territory was given by treaty to the Cherokee Nation. Officially, it’s called the Cherokee Outlet, but most call it the Cherokee Strip. It’s only sixty miles wide and about 225 miles long, just south of the Kansas border.

The president opened the land for settlement. The sections were marked ahead of time. On September 16 at noon, nine different starting places along the Kansas and Oklahoma Territory border will provide the opportunity for people to race to claim a piece of property. Once you find your property, you need to go to a claim office to make it official. You have five years to improve on your claim before the land is truly yours.

How would you describe yourself?

A man who longs to do the Lord’s will. My ma would say I have blond curls and hazel eyes.

Rumor has it that someone else laid claim to the same piece of land. Can you tell me something about her?

She’s the most frustrating woman I know and she’s stubborn. Don’t let her long blonde wavy waist-length hair and blue eyes fool you.

How are things going between you and this Elsie Smith?

To be honest, it’s been rough. We have different ideas of what’s best for the land, and she gets uptight about the smallest things. I honestly don’t know why the Lord put her as an obstacle on my path to serving Him.

It’s worse than I thought, then. I hope you two will eventually learn to get along.

What is your plan for resolving this land claim you both made on the same piece of property?

Sigh. For now, we’ve decide to both live on the land until the courts decide who is awarded ownership. I tell you, that time can’t come soon enough for me.

Who do you think will wind up gaining the claim?

 I’m sure it will be me. I felt a peace in my heart when I saw this land, and I know God wants me to build a church and serve here.

After what you’ve told me about Elsie, I wonder what she would say about that!

 What are your hopes and dreams for the future? For your new congregation?

I eventually want a helpmeet to serve along with me as we minister to this little community. I pray the Lord will bring someone when I’m ready. I desire for my congregation to grow and develop a deeper knowledge of being in Christ.

Thank you, Reverend David. For your own sake, I hope you can work things out with that stubborn Elsie Smith. I hear she isn’t planning on leaving the land any time soon!

 The 125th anniversary of the settlement of the Cherokee Outlet was on September 16thand To Claim Her Heart is based on a true story which took place at the time of that event. If you’d like to learn more, here’s something about To Claim Her Heart and its author:

 Back Cover Blurb for To Claim Her Heart

 In 1893, on the eve of the great race for land, Benjamin David prays for God to guide him to his ‘Promised Land. Finding property and preaching to the lost are his only ways of honoring his deceased fiancée. He hasn’t counted on Elmer (Elsie) Smith claiming the same plot and refusing to leave. Not only is she a burr in his side, but she is full of the homesteading know-how he is sadly lacking.

Obtaining a claim in the Cherokee Strip Land Run is Elsie Smith’s only hope for survival, and not just any plot, she has a specific one in mind. The land’s not only a way to honor her pa and his life, but also to provide a livelihood for herself. She’s willing to put in whatever it takes to get that piece of property, and Elsie’s determined to keep it.

Her bitterness is what protects her, and she has no intentions of allowing that preacher to lay claim to her land . . . or her heart.

About the Author:

Jodie Wolfe creates novels where hope and quirky meet. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA) and has been a semi-finalist and finalist in various writing contests. A former columnist for Home School Enrichment magazine, her articles can be found online at: Crosswalk, Christian Devotions, and Heirloom Audio. She’s a contributor and co-founder of Stitches Thru Time blog. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her husband in Pennsylvania, reading, walking, and being a Grammie. Learn more at http://www.jodiewolfe.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

From Amazon:

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In the opening pages of Jamie Ford’s stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.

This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry’s world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While “scholarshipping” at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship–and innocent love–that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.

Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel’s dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family’s belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice–words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.

Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart.

My Review:

Henry Lee is so young when he is estranged from his father—right at the kitchen table. Mr. Lee is proud of his Chinese heritage, yet ambitious for his son to assimilate into American society. So much so that he won’t allow Henry to speak anything but English at home, even though he and Henry’s mother only know their native Mandarin.

At the prestigious Rainier Elementary in the 1940’s most of the local children only see Henry’s Asian complexion and almond eyes. The bullies are happy to lump him together with the “enemy” Japanese, even though he wears a button saying he isn’t. Things are about to change. When Keiko begins to attend Rainier they strike up an alliance since they are both falsely accused and bullied. As they become friends, an even deeper bond is formed. The loneliness resulting from the limited communication with his parents is ironically one of the very things which compels the young boy to look for companionship where it’s unexpected.

Despite his father’s prejudice against the Japanese who had killed his family in China, Henry learns that you can’t tell a book by its cover. Keiko is more American than Japanese. Since they live in separate neighborhoods, with separate cultures they might as well be a world apart. When the U.S. government moves Japanese American citizens to internment camps Henry and Keiko don’t allow the prejudices of others to separate them in heart. A sweet young love develops that cannot be completely torn apart by distance or time.

While the story begins decades later as Henry is reminded of the past, after he has been widowed, the poignancy of a first love shines through and unfolds beautifully through the telling of the story. The ongoing struggle between generations is illustrated in not only Henry’s relationship with his father but also his own son. Henry must learn from the past to move into his future.

I enjoyed the depth of the characters, the rich description of Seattle’s China Town, Japan Town, and even its jazz culture. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet brings to life the different kinds of battles fought on the home front during World War II through the eyes of a young Chinese American boy in a very touching way. Highly recommended!

Book Review: To Claim Her Heart by Jodie Wolfe

 

Back Cover Copy:

In 1893, on the eve of the great race for land, Benjamin David prays for God to guide him to his ‘Promised Land. Finding property and preaching to the lost are his only ways of honoring his deceased fiancée. He hasn’t counted on Elmer (Elsie) Smith claiming the same plot and refusing to leave. Not only is she a burr in his side, but she is full of the homesteading know-how he is sadly lacking.

Obtaining a claim in the Cherokee Strip Land Run is Elsie Smith’s only hope for survival, and not just any plot, she has a specific one in mind. The land’s not only a way to honor her pa and his life, but also to provide a livelihood for herself. She’s willing to put in whatever it takes to get that piece of property, and Elsie’s determined to keep it.

Her bitterness is what protects her, and she has no intentions of allowing that preacher to lay claim to her land . . . or her heart.

My Review of To Claim Her Heart

Jodie Wolfe has created a lovely chemistry of opposites between Elsie Smith and Benjamin David as they each bring their dreams to the Cherokee Strip and fight for their right to the same piece of land. To Claim Her Heart is a beautiful story of perseverance, hope deferred, and reconciliation with God and fellow man. Wolfe draws the reader into the world of frontier settlers with impressive historical detail, revealing their daily struggles and battles against nature with realism. Her spirited characters, Elsie and Benjamin, have stayed with me long beyond closing the last page of the book. I highly recommend To Claim Her Heart to fans of inspirational historical romance!

A delightful read! Five stars!

As a side note, Ms. Wolfe precedes each chapter of To Claim Her Heart with a quote on etiquette for young ladies from Mrs. Wigglesworth. The author has compiled one hundred of Mrs. Wiggleworth’s 19th-century admonitions on how to behave in the presence of young men and suggestions for deportment to publish Mrs. Wigglesworth’s Essential Guide to Proper Etiquette and Manners of Refined Society. While I haven’t read this book yet, I’m sure it would make an enjoyable companion to this novel judging from the quotes in Ms. Wolfe’s novel.

 

Kathleen Rouser is the award-winning author of Rumors and Promises, her first novel about the people of fictional Stone Creek, Michigan, and its sequel, Secrets and Wishes. Kathleen wanted to be a writer before she could even read. She lives in Michigan with her hero and husband, Jack, and the sassy tailless cat who found a home in their empty nest. Connect with Kathleen on her website at kathleenrouser.com, on Twitter @KathleenRouser. and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kathleenerouser/.

 

 

Review: In a Pirate’s Debt by Elva Cobb Martin

In a Pirate’s Debt

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When confronted with a forced marriage, Travay Allston flees her stepfather’s Jamaica plantation and dives into the sea. Death would be preferable to life with Sir Roger Poole, a drinking, gambling, scoundrel whose advances make her skin crawl.

Lucas sails the high seas as the dreaded Captain Bloodstone. He is on a quest to find his mother, a woman last seen clapped in irons by the Spanish. As his ship slips past Jamaica, he spies a young woman plunge into the sea. A prize of such beauty must be saved and Lucas dives in to rescue her. The last thing Lucas needs is to get involved with Travay, a childhood friend who caused him nothing but trouble. Especially now that she’s become a stubborn, alluring young woman.

Lucas delivers Travay to her aunt in Charles Town and washes his hands of the affair. Or so he thinks. But when Sir Roger shows up demanding that Travay marry him or face the wrath of Charles Town’s newest council member, Lucas feels that familiar boyhood tug on his heart. Will this wanted pirate of the crown risk his life to save Travay a second time? Betrothed to a man she hates, will Travay repay her debt to a pirate by marrying Sir Roger in exchange for his promise to pardon Lucas? And if she does, will such a rascal keep his word? Falling in love with the pirate was never part of her plan …

My Review:

Travay Allston literally falls into the hands of Captain Bloodstone as she does her best to escape from marriage to the scoundrel, Sir Roger Poole, by diving off the edge of a cliff on her horse.

She doesn’t know that the young and handsome pirate, Captain Bloodstone, is Lucas, someone she knew and cared about as a child. He has been her protector before and will learn that to be Travay’s protector is no easy task. After all, he is busy seeking recompense from the Spanish and on a quest to find his mother, whom they captured. He doesn’t have time to become involved with the beautiful and haughty Travay any more than she is interested in romance with a pirate. Their voyage to romance is filled with troubles at every turn!

While Lucas is a fairly new believer and works hard to live a godly life, Travay wonders where God is. There is a strong faith thread as both hero and heroine wrestle with their questions of faith and life. Even though pirate stories aren’t my usual read, I highly enjoyed Elva Cobb Martin’s In a Pirate’s Debt. Her characters come to life in their detailed historical settings. More than just a romance, it’s a page-turner filled with adventure on the high seas. I highly recommend this enjoyable read!

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Elva Cobb Martin is president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers (2014-2017). Her first two inspirational novels, a romantic suspense, Summer of Deception, and an historical romance, In a Pirate’s Debt, released by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, have both spent time on Amazon’s 100 Best Sellers List for Women’s Religious Fiction. Elva is represented by Jim Hart, of Hartline Literary.

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.

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.

updated profile pic

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:

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.