An Interview with Etta Collier of Mail-Order Misfire by Davalynn Spencer

Nice to meet you, Etta. What is one important thing you’d like us to know about you?

I desperately wanted children and long wondered why the Lord didn’t share that blessing with my husband and me. After a while, I stopped begging and simply accepted the situation for what it was. Yet later, I realized how difficult it would have been to provide for even one child once I was on my own.

What did you like about your job as a dressmaker?

I loved the smiles of women and girls when they tried on what I crafted for them and I saw that oh-I-feel-beautiful look in their eyes. That’s how I knew I’d given them exactly what they wanted.

That is a special talent, Etta. That must have given you much satisfaction!

I hear you were recently widowed. I’m so sorry for your loss. What were your greatest fears when you found yourself alone?

Many fears run through a woman’s mind when she finds herself suddenly alone. Not that loneliness hadn’t been creeping into my heart with William’s distractedness over his debts and failures at erasing them. But when one’s husband is shot in a brawl it is somehow a more devastating loss than an illness or accident. It is more of a theft. A blatant robbery of one’s hopes and dreams. Add to that the inappropriate advances of the banker who held the note on our home, and I wasn’t quite sure which I feared more—the man’s insinuations of how I could pay that debt off or the temptation to lace his tea with strychnine the next time he darkened my door.

What an awful situation to be in! I heard you received a letter from a little girl, Gracie, who wanted you to be a mail-order bride for her widowed father. It’s kind of a crazy idea. How did you feel about it before you left?

You are right. It was absolutely a crazy idea. Crazier still when my own pastor suggested I be the one to answer the child’s letter. However, I was about to lose my home because my dress-making was not earning any more than what it took to keep body and soul together. If I answered Gracie’s letter, I could relocate away from the repugnant banker, find at least a temporary home, make a fresh start, and help ease a little girl’s loneliness. With my agreement to merely visit the family I was free to leave if her father were a rogue or ruffian. If not, well, that was a chance I was willing to take.

 What do you think of Sheriff Bern Stidham since you’ve met him?

The man has the most unusual gray-blue eyes—oh, pardon me, you didn’t ask about his appearance.  Well, he is all man. What I mean is, um, he does the best he can where keeping house is concerned. I’ve never seen such dust. But he loves Gracie more than life. He cares also for the townspeople, some of whom attend Sunday morning where he fills in as interim pastor for a small congregation. I enjoy his sermons, for he makes God sound approachable. Reachable. And, well, if I were quite honest, I can see myself as more than just his cook and housekeeper and Gracie’s nanny. I can see … Ah, dreams again. One must not get ahead of one’s self in that matter.

 Do you think there is a future for the three of you as a family?

 I truly hope so, but I’ve not been completely open with Bern about my past—fairly fleeing from Independence, leaving my home behind, and defaulting on my debts. I should have told him at the very beginning of our arrangement. But I’ve learned that should have doesn’t do anyone any good at all. I’m afraid I’ve fallen hopelessly in love with Gracie—the little girl I always wanted. And, well, her handsome father is so strong yet gentle. At times stern and ill-tempered, but always kind. Yes, I admit, my dreams are spinning in a family direction.

Then I wish you the best of luck, Etta! Sounds like it would be the right fit for all three of you.

About the author:

Davalynn Spencer can’t stop #lovingthecowboy. As the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, she writes romance for those who enjoy a Western tale with a rugged hero, both historical and contemporary. She holds the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction, teaches writing workshops, and plays the keyboard on her church worship team. When she’s not writing, teaching, or playing, she’s wrangling Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. Connect with Davalynn athttps://davalynnspencer.com. and at Facebook, Twitter,and Pinterest.

Dr. Elizabeth Carlisle from Diagnosis Love by Martha Rogers

Dr. Carlisle, would you prefer I call you “Doctor” or something else?

Oh, I’m Dr. Carlisle in the office, but I’m Libby to my friends, and Cactus Creek is so friendly that I have a number of friends after only a week.

If you don’t mind, I will call you Libby then. Libby, what made you decide to leave your father’s thriving practice in Indiana?

My father is a well-known physician in Muncy, Indiana, and when I tried going into practice with him like he wanted, most of the patients preferred a man and asked for my father. Then my mother decided I should be married and have a family instead of trying to be like my father. She even had an older friend of the family picked out for me to marry. When I saw the ad in our city newspaper, I hopped all over it like the frogs in our garden pond. I wanted to prove to my parents that I am a good doctor and can make it on my own.

 How was your journey?

I came by train and had to stop over for several hours in St. Louis. The trip gave me the opportunity to meet people and see parts of the country I’d never see otherwise. Even though I traveled in the middle of July, and it took me nearly five days, I loved every minute of the adventure. My clothes suffered a little as did my energy, but I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.

 Well, I must say, I’m glad you arrived safely at your destination after such a trip. What do you think of Cactus Creek and its people?

 At first the town utterly dismayed me by its size, but the hills in distance and the groves of trees gave it a beautiful backdrop. I had to laugh because the good people of Cactus Creek called them mountains, but they were nothing like the mountains I’d ever seen. I expected a lot of cactus and dry land with that name, but very few cactus plants grow anywhere. I learned that the people who settled here came expecting a desert and lots of cacti. That’s the name they decided to give it. My hometown isn’t that large, but we have electricity and motor cars, and many more people, so I’m adjusting to small town life, and I think I like it.

 Cactus Creek is a prickly sounding name for sure. I think I would definitely miss electricity and motor cars if I were in your shoes. How have you settled in there? 

 After the wonderful people of the town helped me clean up the clinic and get it ready, I moved into the upstairs rooms where the former doctor lived. I will say this. Dr. Forrest must have been an excellent doctor because the equipment left behind after he died is some of the best I’ve seen. He was up to date with everything. I thought I might have a little problem with the town accepting me as both the new doctor and a woman, but it hasn’t been like that. They all wanted a doctor after being without one for five months.

That must have been a relief for you!

 You seem like an eligible young lady. Are you looking for a husband any time soon? Why? Or why not?

I didn’t come to Texas to get married. I came to be a doctor, and until I find a man who is willing to let me be both a wife and a doctor, I prefer to remain single. Of course, I would love a home and a family, but I see that as far down the line in my future.

 I heard that Deputy Sheriff Garrett Lofton may have taken a shine to you. How do you feel about that?   

Oh mercy, my cheeks are getting warm. That is the most handsome man I’ve ever met, but he’s a little ornery and stubborn, and he teases me something terrible. However, he’s been very nice and showed me the way out to some of the people who live on ranches and farms outside the town. He even arranged for me to have a buggy available at the livery for when I needed to make those trips. I suppose if I were looking for a man right now, Garrett Lofton might be the one to interest me.  I fooled him one time. He thought he was going to teach me to ride, but I already knew how. I took lessons when I was a young girl and rode with my father a lot. I learned side saddle, but it didn’t take long for me to catch onto riding astride, and I must say I do love it.

About the Author:

Martha Rogers is a multi-published author and writes a weekly devotional for ACFW. Martha and her husband Rex live in Houston, Texas where they are active members of First Baptist Church. They are the parents of three sons and grandparents to eleven grandchildren and great-grandparents to five. Martha is a retired teacher with twenty-eight years teaching Home Economics and English at the secondary level and eight years at the college level supervising student teachers and teaching freshman English. She is the Director of the Texas Christian Writers Conference held in Houston in August each year, a member of ACFW, ACFW WOTS chapter in Houston, and a member of the writers’ group, Inspirational Writers Alive.

Find Martha at:  www.marthawrogers.com, http://www.hhhistory.com                           Twitter:  @martharogers2                             Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MarthaRogersAuthor

 

Interview with Nessie MacDonald from Recipe for a Husband by Anne Greene

Welcome to Novel PASTimes, Nessie. What is something important about yourself you would like to share?

 I have New England grit, and do what must be done. I decide against needing love in marriage. I must be pragmatic. Since my father’s recent death, I need a man to do the heavy work maintaining the lighthouse, especially since this is 1940, and the government tasked lighthouse keepers to patrol our Bar Harbor, Maine shores for German spies secretly landing.

 I hear you’re in quite a predicament and I’m so sorry for the loss of your father. What are you going to do to find extra help at the lighthouse this year?

With the eligible men my age signing up to join the war effort, and myself overwhelmed with work, I felt I had only one option. I advertised for a husband in the local Bar Harbor paper. I plan to prepare a special meal for each man who answers my ad. I realize most men my age have either been drafted or have enlisted to serve in the war effort. Of those men left, I shall choose the strongest one with the least drawbacks.

Tell us about the strange heirloom cookbook you found. What is the most interesting thing about it?

I’ve lived in the house attached to the lighthouse all my life. But one day, while cleaning the lighthouse windows—there are one hundred stairs to the light at the top and each bend in the circular staircase has a window—I discovered a leather-bound cookbook. I’ve cleaned those windows many times and never seen this lovely heirloom, Lady Jane’s New England Cookbook. Besides being filled with delightful, authentic New England recipes, this cookbook contains a sage saying and a Bible verse that relates to each recipe. I discover how amazing that each saying and Bible verse relates to each man for whom I make the recipe. For instance, one talks about a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The ulterior motive for each man wanting to marry me.

That sounds like some cookbook! I heard you have a “guest,” an injured and stranded sailor. Who is he and what is he like?

 What can I say about Kyle? I, at the risk of my own life, dragged the ship-wrecked Australian from the sea with a broken leg. He became the torment of my life.

He lies in my small kitchen as I cook and serve dinners to the prospective husbands who answer my ads. He refuses to keep his mouth shut about each man who applies. He points out their flaws. He prods me to realize that any man who answers an ad like mine islooking for a sugar-mama and an easy life. He uses Lady Jane’s New England Cookbook to point out why each man is unsuitable to become my husband.

I do trust Lady Jane’s advice. The mysterious cookbook seems to know exactly what each applicant wants.

 Do you think he would be right for the job of husband by Thanksgiving? Why or why not?

With his undeniable great appearance, his sense of humor, and his being the first Christian man I’ve ever met, he is way too attractive for a woman looking for a husband. He’s strong enough to do any job on and around the lighthouse.

If he were not responsible for his parents and the upkeep and production of his Sheep Station in Perth, Australia, he would make the perfect husband. But I had to cross him off my prospective husband list immediately. So, he lies in my kitchen and jokes about each man who applies to be the future lighthouse keeper.

How do the two of you get along?

 If Kyle would stop baiting the men who come to my dinners, we would do well together. But he does torment me with how much more suited he would be as a husband than all the men who answer my ads. I can’t help comparing what I image his kisses might be with the few actual kisses I receive. And the idea of being snuggled in his arms sends me into a heat wave. Yes, we get along. I enjoy his company, his banter, and what help he can give while confined to his cot with his broken leg in my kitchen.

What will you do if your scheme to find a husband doesn’t work out?

My scheme must work. There is no plan B.

Well, then I hope it works out for you, Nessie. Thank you for being my guest.

About the Author: 

Anne Greene loves writing about alpha heroes who aren’t afraid to fall on their knees in prayer, and about gutsy heroines. Her Women of Courage series spotlights heroic women of World War II, first book, ANGEL WITH STEEL WINGSHer Holly Garden private investigating serie sblasts off with RED IS FOR ROOKIE. Enjoy her award-winning Scottish historical romances, MASQUERADE MARRIAGEand MARRIAGE BY ARRANGEMENT. Anne hopes her stories transport you to awesome new worlds and touch your heart.

Her home is in the quaint antiquing town of McKinney, Texas, just a few miles north of Dallas. Her husband is a retired Colonel, Army Special Forces. Her little gold and white Shih Tzu, Lily Valentine, shares her writing space, curled at her feet. She has four beautiful, talented children, and eight grandchildren who keep her on her toes and running.

Connect with her here:

Website

Facebook

Anne’s Writing Updates

Anne’s Amazon Page

Twitter

 

 

Book Review: Waltz With Destiny by Catherine Ulrich Brakefield

51teoT5RTyLAs Hitler and his Nazis march across Europe…

The splendors of Detroit’s ballrooms spin Esther (McConnell) Meir around like a princess in a fairy tale Here she meets junior engineer Eric Erhardt. But will Eric abandon his playboy ways for Esther?

When war comes to America’s shores, Esther questions whether she has the grit to carry on the McConnell legacy. Meanwhile, Eric comes face to face with death when he’s drafted into the Army and shipped to fight in Italy.

Once again, war separates a McConnell woman from the man she loves as the Destiny saga reaches a page-turning conclusion.

Award-winning historical fiction author Catherine Ulrich Brakefield weaves fiction with real-life events to create this inspirational fourth book of the Destiny series.

My Review:

Catherine Ulrich Brakefield’s Waltz with Destiny is the crown jewel of the Destiny series!
Brakefield brings 1940s Detroit to life, along with the WWII battlefields of Italy.

Esther Meier, daughter of Ruby (McConnell) Meier, has a legacy of faith to live up to and an unsure future with war looming and her annoying attraction to a man who seems to flirt with every girl who glances sideways at him.

Eric Erhardt is studying to be an engineer but also wants to win his father’s approval. Handsome and talented, he can’t see it in himself. When he meets Esther at the Vanity Ballroom, he finds there’s something different about her with her faith and the way she conducts herself. She captures his heart like no other girl. Though love grows between them, both are afraid to admit it and commit themselves to the relationship, especially with the war in full swing.

Brakefield has outdone herself in bringing to life battles of WWII as seen through Eric’s eyes: the angst, fear, deprivation, bravery, death, and injury that surrounded the men of the United States Army. It’s a good read to remind us of the sacrifices of those that have gone before us that have maintained our freedom at sobering cost, along with God’s grace and answered prayer.

Yet Esther is never far from Eric’s thoughts while he is away. And while she is faithful to write encouraging words to him she wonders … should she wait for him? It’s worth reading to find out! You won’t want to put this one down!

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.

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: 

SandraMervilleHart_Headshot2

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:

51eNxTSY3aL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

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!