Meet Cassie Barton from Tracie Peterson’s Under the Starry Skies

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My name is Cassandra Barton, but people just call me Cassie.  I live in San Marcial, New Mexico which is on the Rio Grande River.  It’s a hub for the Santa Fe Railroad beings it’s about half way between Topeka and Los Angeles.  I work as a seamstress with the bulk of my work coming in from the railroad men.  I like this kind of work because I am my own boss and can do as much or as little work as I need to do. This turns out to be a very good thing because right off the bat, I break my wrist in a little accident and can’t sew for six weeks.

Brandon Dubarko makes sure I don’t suffer too much. He was a good friend and co-worker of my father’s. He works for the Santa Fe Railroad (just like my father). Brandon is soft-spoken and a deep thinker.  He’s got a world of sorrows to deal with, but he never talks about it. I’m not at all sure what’s weighing him down. I know he really misses my father…and so do I. 

My father died earlier this year when his train derailed. Brandon thinks there was foul play and that someone actually caused the derailment, but I’m not sure that’s the case.  Trains have accidents all the time and it doesn’t take much to derail a train. But, if someone did cause the derailment, then they murdered my father and his fireman.

My father and I were really close, especially after Mother died and my sister Melissa moved to Denver. My deepest desire is that Melissa and I can be close again. After she moved off and married, we aren’t nearly as close as we used to be.  Of course, now she’s a mother and that is bound to take up a lot of her time. 

My future, once my wrist mends, is questionable. A part of me wants to stick around San Marcial, but another part thinks about going to Denver to be closer to Melissa. Of course, at my age (32) I would like to think there was still a chance for romance, but I’m not sure that’s true. It would be a dream come true however, if someone decided I was worth loving.  There was one man…a long time ago.  We were in love and planned to marry, but then my mother died and I needed to care for Melissa.  I don’t know but that it might have been my only chance for love.

I’ve always felt I had to be strong for my family, but now that Mother and Father are dead and Melissa’s married, it’s just me and I’m not real sure what I’m going to do. I know that God has a plan for me, however.  I’ve put my trust in Him since I was little, and I’m not about to stop now. My relationship with the Lord is the thing I value most in life.  He will always see me through.


Award-winning novelist, Tracie Peterson, has been praised for
her captivating historical fiction novels. While each novel weaves
a different tale, Peterson packs her signature elements of history,
action, and romance into each work while also offering
underlying life lessons. In her newest novel, Under the Starry Skies,
Peterson crafts a story about facing your past and learning to
forgive others and yourself.

Meet Nora Fenton from Stephenia H. McGee’s The Secrets of Emberwild

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Welcome to Novel PASTimes! We are pleased you stopped by today.

Hello and thank you for having me. I am Miss Nora Fenton, of Emberwild Horse Farm. 

Tell us something about where you live.

I live on the most beautiful farm in Mississippi. In the early mornings, when the sun first kisses the sky, the pastures stretch out in waves of green that beg for exploration. On those mornings, my colt Arrow and I get to be free. The pressures of life slip away as we soar, his hooves barely touching the ground. 

Do you have an occupation? 

I am a horse trainer. Now, before you point out that women are to keep to skirts and the kitchen, let me inform you that I am quite adept at my work. No matter what my father, uncle, or that sour stable master Roger has to say about it. 

I have been working with Arrow for his entire life, and he is the fastest colt I’ve ever seen. I’ll be training him for the harness this summer, and come time for the Neshoba County Fair, he will be ready to race. The hope of Emberwild rests on his back, but I know he won’t let us down.

You mentioned you’re training him to harness race. Can you tell us a little about that?

We raise trotting horses here at Emberwild. For a harness race, the horses are hooked up to a small cart called a sulky. The jockey sits in a single seat on the axel above two wheels with his feet propped on the rails. They are very light. The horses race at a trot. All trotters have to complete a time trial around the track in under two and a half minutes in order to make the breed registry.

I see here that there is a new trainer at Emberwild. How do you feel about that?

Mr. Silas Cavallero, yes. He is quite unneeded, I assure you. I am capable of handling Arrow on my own. Though I do have to admit, he’s quite unlike any of the other men who have tried to get Arrow under control. Arrow seems to like him. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Will you be racing Arrow at the fair this year?

For some unfathomable reason, women jockeys are frowned upon. But, we’ll just see about that, won’t we? 

Other than Arrow’s race, what other plans does Emberwild have for the future?

My father is very ill, and I’m afraid Mother and I will have to start thinking of our future without him. I’m confident that we will be able to run the farm on our own. Widows can own property, after all. I see no reason why we can’t continue on as two independent women. Once Arrow completes his runs, the buyers will flock to Emberwild to secure breeding rights and purchase our foals. 

We are so sorry to hear about your father, Miss Fenton. We wish you the best. One more question. Did you name your colt? Why Arrow?

I was there when Arrow was born. I shouldn’t have been, of course, and Mother was most displeased. Soon after he was born, he stood up on these long, spindly legs with the tiniest hooves. I told him he looked like he was trying to hold himself up on four little arrows. As he got older, I realized how perfectly the name fit. Not only does he have long, straight cannon bones, but Arrow can truly fly. You really should come watch him run. There’s nothing better.

That would be delightful. That’s all the time we have for today, Miss Fenton. Thank you for allowing us to get know you a little better!

My pleasure, truly. I must and get back inside and out of these men’s trousers before Mother sees me. Feel free to come visit Emberwild any time!


Stephenia H. McGee is the award-winning author of many stories
of faith, hope, and healing set in the Deep South. When she’s not
reading or sipping sweet tea on the front porch, she’s a writer,
dreamer, husband spoiler, and busy mom of two rambunctious boys.
Learn more at www.stepheniamcgee.com.

A Friendly Chat with Dianna DeWalt from Dianna’s Dilemma – by Donna Schlacter

Welcome to Novel PASTimes! We are pleased you stopped by today, Dianna.

And thanks for hosting me. I’m excited—and nervous—to be here. Not sure why you even want to talk to me. I’m simply Dianna DeWalt, living in a small town. And it’s 1881—not like it was 1876, the Centennial. Now, that was a year. The stories I could tell you about that—but wait. You’re going to ask the questions, aren’t you? Or else I’ll keep you here all day.

Tell us something about where you live: 

Colorado Springs, in Colorado, is a pretty city. Lots of trees, grand homes, and the mountains are so close. 

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

I don’t think there is anything special about my name. I never thought to ask my mother. Perhaps it has something to do with Diana, goddess of the hunt. I always seem to be sneaking around, trying to catch a good newspaper story. And my father said I was so quiet I should be wearing a bell, like a cat.

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

I am a newspaper reporter at the Colorado Springs Weekly Gazette. Well, I want to be a reporter. I love researching interesting articles and exposing wrongdoing in local and state government. Maybe someday there will be an actual title for that. Maybe a journalist investigator. In the meantime, I keep the editor happy by reporting on social events, such as weddings, engagements, the travel of the rich and famous. Thank goodness I’ve moved up from birth and death announcements. 

I like writing stories, but I wish my editor would trust me more. I’m sure it’s because I’m a woman, because the male reporters are always assigned the juicy articles.

Who are the special people in your life?  

I don’t really have anybody. My best friend, Alice, works in the newsroom with me. She writes the obituaries, poor girl.

What is your heart’s deepest desire?   

To find and write a really important story, one that blows somebody’s world sky high.

What are you most afraid of? 

Of working here on social events until I die.

Do you have a cherished possession? 

My favorite hat. It’s tall, with a grand feather and a satin ribbon. Took me six months of eating one meal a day to save for it.

What do you expect the future will hold for you?  

SIGH. I don’t know. But I do know the One who knows, so I guess I’ll keep going, listen for His voice, and pray for the best.

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

I learned that what I thought was a small story was huge. And significant. I can’t believe that I went to La Junta Colorado to cover the inauguration of the town and ended up neck-deep in a mystery. Almost got killed twice. Found a missing man. Saved another man wrongfully charged with murder. And—well, for the rest, you’ll need to read the book.

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

Some people think I’m pushy. And bossy. And brusque. But I’m really not. It’s how I have to act to get along in a man’s world of newspapers. I love kittens. And puppies. And someday, when I’m good and ready, I’d like to have a husband and family—when I’m ready.

Thanks for allowing us to get know you a little better!

Thank you! This has been fun. And not nearly so difficult as I thought. I worried that I should have studied, or something like that. Thanks for the chance to share with readers.


A hybrid author, Donna Schlacter, writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 50 times in books; is a member of several writer’s groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both, and is an avid oil painter. 

www.DonnaSchlachter.com Stay connected so you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!

Donna’s blog

Check out previous blog posts at www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com and www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com

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Interview with Julia Schultz from A Gem of Truth – by Kimberley Woodhouse

Welcome to Novel PASTimes! We are pleased you stopped by today.

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Tell us something about where you live.

I just moved to the Grand Canyon, and I think it’s the most beautiful place on earth. There’s so much to explore here, I think I could spend a lifetime hiking around and not see the entire thing.

Where did you grow up?

Mostly Texas.

Texas is a large state… I’ve been through Dallas. What was your favorite part of growing up there?

There were a lot of cattle. There’s not a lot of cattle here. Some people think of the Grand Canyon as dry and desert like, but there’s so much life and beauty here. I like this much more than Texas.

I can tell you really love your new location. What brought you there?

I’ve been a Harvey Girl for a while now and have always wanted to work at the magnificent El Tovar Hotel. You could say it’s been a dream of mine. When I received word of my transfer, I was ecstatic.

Sounds like a dream come true. But isn’t it difficult to start over again in a new place?

Not as hard as you might think. I actually am enjoying this fresh start. New people, new job. I might even be up for a promotion which is very exciting.

That is very exciting. You must have a lot of experience as a Harvey Girl.

I do. I’ve met some of the most fascinating people doing what I do.

Tell us about someone fascinating that you’ve met. 

Oh, there’s so many! But I did meet the richest man in the world. 

You don’t say. You’ve met Mr. Rockefeller?

Yes! And he gave me this coin. It’s actually a wonderful story… but… I should save that for another time.

All right. Who are the special people in your life? You must miss them a lot.

My parents have been gone for a while. So it’s just me. 

Do you hope to meet someone special someday?

By the twinkle in your eye, I can see that you are quite the romantic. Like the other girls, I’m always hopeful. But I’m content to relish all the interesting people I meet until then. In fact, the other day, I met a man named Chris—he’s a jeweler by trade. I’ve also met some of the Hopi people. They are incredibly talented and showcase their skills and wares at the Hopi House. 

I’ve wanted to visit the Hopi House, I hear it’s very unique.

It was designed by a woman. Did you know that? Ms. Mary Colter. Another amazing story.

You do have so many interesting stories, don’t you? For my last question, I’m sure our readers would like to know if you have any dreams for the future?

There are so many! But I really want to find people who care about me for me. People have always been fascinated with my stories, but I wish they would find me fascinating. I long to be somebody. I don’t know how I’ll accomplish that, but I can always dream. 

Thanks for allowing us to get know you a little better!


Kimberley Woodhouse has won multiple awards for her
historical novels, which are filled with adventure and romance.
In A Gem of Truth, book two in the SECRETS OF THE CANYON
series, Woodhouse plunges readers deep into the recesses of the
Grand Canyon in search of a legendary treasure. Themes of
honesty, love, and one’s worth regardless of their past are
intricately woven together in this captivating historical narrative.

Sally Carpenter Interviews Noelle McNabb of the Psychedelic Spy Mystery Series

Welcome to Novel PASTimes. We’re glad you dropped by. What’s special about your name?

Hi, I’m Noelle McNabb, 25 years old. My parents named me Noelle—the feminine version of Noel—because I was born on Christmas Day. Rather appropriate, because my town is Christmas-crazy.

What’s unique about where you live?

I reside on Ornament Lane in the small rural town of Yuletide, in the southwest corner of Indiana. The biggest industry in town, besides the electronics plant, is the Christmas Cozy Family Fun theme park, which draws visitors from across the country. Our town mayor plays Santa Claus because he looks the part, with his white beard and chubby belly.

The school kids work at the park as well, loading the rides and singing in the shows. The park has rides, carnival games, a petting zoo, music, fun house and naturally, tykes can talk with Santa all year round. Artists and craftsmen sell their wares. Of course, all of the merchandise is Christmas-related.

What’s special about the time you live in?

It’s 1967, and the times, they are a changin’. I love rock music, new movies, pop art, hair styles, the big shopping mall and the groovy miniskirts. But my parents are a drag, ‘cause they’re stuck in the 1950s. Mom wants me to get married and raise kids like she did. Maybe someday, but not now—I have big career plans. My parents and I have what they call the “generation gap.” My parents also frown when I hang out with the hippies, Rambler and Moonbaby, who are pretty far out once you look past the tie-dye and their counterculture lifestyle.

But beneath our quiet, small-town life, it’s a volatile era: war protests, draft dodgers, women’s liberation, space race, Cold War and the civil rights movement.

I heard that you have an avocation along with your regular job

I work as an actress at the theme park, which means I play the Winter Witch—complete with long black robe and green makeup—in a silly musical revue. During the school year when the park is only open weekends, I supplement my income with a few weekday shifts at the Groovy Vinyl record shop.

I have another job, if you can call it that, but I can’t talk about it because it’s a secret. I can’t even tell my family and friends, which drives me crazy because I share everything with mom. All right, I’ll tell if you promise not to spread it around: I do occasional undercover work with a super-secret spy agency. Not even the CIA knows about SIAMESE (Special Intelligence Apparatus for Midwest Enemy Surveillance and Espionage). They have a fantastic underground headquarters, but don’t ask me where it is because whenever I go there, I’m driven in a car with tinted windows.

Who are the people you work with at SIAMESE?

Dash Hanover is the senior control operative in charge of everything. He knows his stuff, but he’s demanding and unyielding. I was shocked to discover he and I are related, although I’m not supposed to know that. His mother is an aunt I’ve never met and never knew existed. I want to find her, but Dash doesn’t—he feels my aunt’s safety would be compromised if the enemies of SIAMESE find her.

My spy partner is Destiny King, a fab gear black operative. She grew up in a rough neighborhood of Chicago. She’s had some hard knocks, but she’s super to work with. I’m still getting to know her, as she refuses to open up and share her feelings.

Can you tell us about your missions?

Sorry, that’s classified information. All I can say is my first mission concerned missing microdots and the second was tracking down an enemy spy. I can say no more.

I’ve heard you’ve also solved a couple of murders

That’s right. My friends at SIAMESE helped as well, but I was the one who put the clues together. Yuletide is a sleepy town, and we usually don’t get crimes like murder, so the (overweight and lazy) police chief was out of his league and needed all the help he could get. 

Did anyone aid you in your crime solving?

Trevor Spellman is a reporter with the Yuletide Herald, the local newspaper. He’s great at finding information and just being there for support. We’ve known each other since high school, but we’re just good friends.

Since you’re unmarried and childless, do you have any siblings? Pets?

Yeah, a brother and a sister. They’re twins. They’re much younger than I am (they were an unexpected “oops!”). I babysit them when mom and dad go out, which can be a bummer when I’m needed on a spy mission. Dolly and Donny are 8 years old, so I can’t pal around with them, and they can be bratty.

I have a big fat black cat, Ceebee, which is short for car burglar. He likes to steal things and hide them under my sofa. I have to clean out his “treasures” periodically. I have a little cottage in the country, and Ceebee is good at keeping the mice cleaned out of the woods.

Ceebee helped out on my second mission. SIAMESE fitted him with an ear implant and a microphone in a collar. He slipped up on some spies, and Destiny and I could hear the conversation transmitted through the collar from a safe distance away.

What’s the religious life like in your town?

People go to church. It’s what we do, along with going to work or to school. You’d have to go to Riverbend, the big town a few miles away, to find a synagogue. My family and I attend Bethlehem Community Church, the largest Protestant church in town. Holy Nativity is the Catholic parish, and they hold folk Masses.

On Sunday morning I go to Sunday School and the service along with my friends. On Wednesday nights, the church hosts a potluck dinner followed by different activities. The kids have crafts and games. The teens sing the new “Jesus music” and rap. My parents attend the couples class, and I go to the social issues discussion. 

My faith sometimes clashes with my spy work. I refuse to carry a gun. I won’t kill. It’s wrong. My spy partner, however, had killed and feels no remorse. She said it was either the other guy’s life or hers.

Spies also lie a lot. I have trouble with that, as I was raised to always speak the truth. Destiny has the moral line that “the means justify the end.” I’m not comfortable with that if it conflicts with my ethics.

What are your dreams for the future?

I want to move to Hollywood and star in movies or TV, although working with SIAMESE has given me plenty of real-life drama. Do I want to work in spy craft full time? I couldn’t handle the endless danger, secrecy and deception. But sometimes, performing in a TV sitcom seems trivial compared to the life and death stakes in spy work. I can make a difference in the world whenever I stop evil men and bring murderers to justice.

Thanks for letting us get to know you better, Noelle. Good luck with your future missions!


Sally Carpenter writes two clean read, cozy mystery series: Sandy Fairfax (five books) and the Psychedelic Spy (two books). She also pens the Roots of Faith column for a community newspaper. Her first book, “The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper,” was a finalist for the 2012 Eureka! Award for best first mystery novel. She also has short stories published in three anthologies. She holds a master’s degree in theater and a Master of Divinity. She’s previously worked as an actress, movie studio tour guide and college composition instructor. Sally grew up in Indiana but now lives in California. Her website is sandyfairfaxauthor.com.  

A Chat with Olive Alexander from Come Down Somewhere by Jennifer L. Wright

Welcome to NovelPASTimes! Today we’re joined by Miss Olive Alexander of Alamogordo, New Mexico—

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Olive: I’m not from Alamogordo.

I’m sorry?

Olive: I’m not from Alamogordo. I’m living there with my grandma—for now—but I’m not from there. I’m from my family’s ranch on the Jornada, near the Chupadera Mesa.

I beg your pardon. Sorry about that.

Olive: It’s alright.

Well, how about we start with you telling us a little about yourself?

Olive: Okay. Well, I’m fifteen years old. Lived in New Mexico all my life on the ranch built by my grandfather after he emigrated from Russia. My dad died a few years ago, so my uncle Hershel—his brother—moved in to help out. Not that I’d call what he does “help.” He mainly drinks and sulks, complaining about how the world is going to pot. My mom and I ignore him for the most part, and so did my brother, Avery. But now . . . I don’t know . . . Avery follows him around like some kind of puppy.

Why do you think that is?

Olive: I don’t know. Maybe it’s got something to do with the war? Avery tried to enlist but couldn’t on account of color blindness. I think that put a chip on his shoulder. Made him feel like less of a man somehow or like he didn’t matter. Maybe joining in on Hershel’s blustering and ranting makes Avery feel important again.

You say “the war” like it puts a bad taste in your mouth. Why is that?

Olive: Now look, I’m not anti-war. I think Hitler’s evil, and there weren’t no excuse for what the Japanese did at Pearl Harbor. I’m behind our troops 110 percent. Don’t get the wrong idea. I’m just . . . well, I guess frustrated is the right word. Everyone keeps telling us that we need to do our part for the war effort but what is my part? Seems like nobody nowhere had need of me. Not even here at home.

What do you mean?

Olive: You said it yourself right there at the beginning of the interview. Sayin’ I was from Alamogordo and all. Why did you believe I was from Alamogordo?

Because that’s what your information sheet said. Your address was listed as a house on Delaware Avenue, Alamogordo, New Mexico.

Olive: Exactly. I’m not from Alamogordo but I’m living there now because my mom shipped me off. Wouldn’t let me live on the ranch anymore, even though Avery’s leaving and they need the help. They don’t need my help anymore. 

What do you mean she wouldn’t let you live on the ranch anymore?

Olive: Well, on accounts of the Army moving in.

The Army?

Olive: Yeah, the Army. They enacted something called “eminent domain,” which gave them the right to take over our ranch for the war effort. There’s some sort of project they’re working on nearby, and they need the space to house construction workers. It’s top secret. Hush-hush. 

The Army is working on a top secret military project here? In the middle of nowhere?

Olive: Why you gotta say it like that? Is there something wrong with southern New Mexico?

Not at all. It’s just so . . . isolated. And desolate.

Olive: I know. I like it that way. But I sure don’t understand why the Army picked this place out of the entire United States to do . . . well, whatever it is they’re doing. Especially since it means I’ve been kicked out of my home. And with it being so top secret, no one can even really tell me why.

Well, can’t you just view this as your part of the war effort? Everyone is sacrificing, right? This is just your particular brand of sacrificing.

Olive: I don’t mind sacrificing for the war effort. We’ve been rationing and going without plenty of things, just like everyone else. What’s hard about sacrificing my home is that, out of my entire family, I’m the only one doing it. Avery’s leaving—finally got accepted into the Army after all—but both Ma and Uncle Hershel get to stay on the ranch. I’m the only one who has to leave. Why is that?

I . . . I don’t know.

Olive: Exactly.

Well, even if it’s not your preferred location, surely there must be something good about living in Alamogordo. Something that perhaps eases your burden a little bit?

Olive: Well, my grandma’s here. Out on the ranch, I don’t get to see her much, so it’s nice to be able to get to know her a little better, even with all her silly notions about God and church and all. And I like the soda fountains downtown. Can’t get that out in the country. But the best thing?

Go on.

Olive: *smiles sheepishly* I don’t want to talk about it.

You’re smiling though. It must be something really good if you’re smiling. It’s the first one I’ve seen all day.

Olive: Oh, it is good. A tall, dark-haired, blue-eyed kind of good. But I still don’t want to talk about it.

*Grins* Fair enough. Well, thank you for talking to me, Olive. I wish you the best of luck in Alamogordo and pray this war ends quickly so you can get back home as soon as possible.

Olive: You sound like my grandma. You can keep your prayers, but I thank you all the same.


Jennifer L. Wright has been writing since middle school, eventually earning a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University. However, it took only a few short months of covering the local news to realize that writing fiction is much better for the soul and definitely way more fun. A born and bred Hoosier, she was plucked from the Heartland after being swept off her feet by an Air Force pilot and has spent the past decade traveling the world and, every few years, attempting to make old curtains fit in the windows of a new home.

She currently resides in New Mexico with her husband, two children, one grumpy old dachshund, and her newest obsession—a guinea pig named Peanut Butter Cup.

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Introducing Mollie Sheehan Ronan from Jane Kirkpatrick’s Beneath the Bending Skies

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Welcome to Novel PASTimes! We are pleased you stopped by today.

Can you please introduce yourself and tell us more about your talents and what you love to do? 

Thank you for the invitation to tell you about myself, Mollie Sheehan Ronan. I’m a shy person though some would dispute that because I do love to recite moving pieces like Chief Black Hawk’s 1832 surrender speech or a Shakespeare sonnet. When a piano is around, I can play it – and the organ too – and I love to sing. But recitation is my favorite. I’d do that after supper at our establishment that my step-mother ran while my dear father worked as a freighter in the Montana mines and was sometimes gone for a year at a time. I suppose I enjoyed the praise and the compliments about my very long auburn hair, so long I could sit on it. Best was getting to see stage performances that my father would take me to. Such plays were a great pastime in the mining camps when winter snows kept miners from panning or sluicing for gold. I loved reading fairy tales from Ireland especially and dreamed of falling in love with my own prince charming. And I did!  

You mentioned that you met your prince charming. What happened?

Sadly, my father didn’t approve even though my fiancé had been my father’s best friend! My father was so adamant that we break off our engagement, that he moved our entire family (step-mother, sister Kate and brother Jimmy) out of Montana to San Juan Capistrano in California. Quite a different landscape, I can tell you. Beautiful, bougainvillea blooming, eternal summer, but I did miss the mountains. I thought my life with Peter would be no more. I considered joining the convent in Los Angeles but one of the Sisters counseled me that service to God was not to be an escape from the world but a way to enter more deeply into service to all God’s children. Well, God had other things in store and through a series of twists and turns, Peter and I found each other again. I think you’ll like that story, but I won’t go into it here. My life then did become a kind of fairy tale, living happily ever after with my husband who was involved in the newspaper industry, mining, politics and, of course, he was very active with our growing family.

You mentioned that “Family is everything” to you. But going against your father’s will led to some conflicts within your own family. 

Family is indeed everything to me and I hated hurting my father, who still didn’t approve of my husband despite his being a fine provider and loving husband and father, one who encouraged rather than controlled his children. He felt Peter being 10 years older than me was too old but I don’t think my father would ever have approved of anyone who might fall in love with his “little girl.”

How did your language skills and your desire to make everyone feel welcome aid you in being the wife of the Indian Agent among the Flathead People? 

Peter and I had some disappointments but then when we were the most discouraged, a new door opened and I entered a world of the Flathead People, — the Salish, Kootenai, and Pend D’Oreille tribes in Montana. We lived among them for the next seventeen years. Every day I learned that the way I saw the world was not the only way to see it. My best friend after Peter is a Salish woman, Shows No Anger. How I love her! I learned so much from her about the land and family and that honoring one’s father meant listening to my heart and focusing on my own family. I do love words and kept a journal and wrote my memoir. One word I especially love is hearth. It comes from the second century and can be translated as focus.The hearth was the center of the home. It’s where people were fed, stories told, comfort offered. It was where the heat was. The farther one moves from the heat, the more easily one can lose focus. I focused on the hearth of my family and always had an open door to strangers too. Imagine a table that could seat sixteen. My husband sat across from me in the middle, never at the ends. We always wanted to keep the focus on our guests and family to be sure they were well fed. And thus, we were well fed too, with family, friends and faith. 

I hope you like my story of living Beneath the Bending Skies.  


About the Book:

Bestselling and award-winning author Jane Kirkpatrick has brought
the West to life in her inspiring novels based upon true events. Each
tale looks at the hidden lives of women whose universal struggles,
bravery, indominable spirit, and ingenuity helped form the American
West. In Beneath the Bending Skies, Kirkpatrick uses her signature style
to delve into the life of Mollie Sheehan, who had to forgo her father’s
blessing in order to seek her happily ever after. Her life-altering
decision became the catalyst for her movement to aid the Nez Perce
tribe during the mid-1800s.


Jane Kirkpatrick is the New York Times and CBA bestselling and award-
winning author of 40 books, including The Healing of Natalie Curtis,

Something Worth Doing, One More River to Cross, Everything She Didn’t Say,
All Together in One Place, A Light in the Wilderness, The Memory Weaver,
This Road We Traveled, and A Sweetness to the Soul, which won the
prestigious Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Center. Her
works have won the WILLA Literary Award, the Carol Award for
Historical Fiction, and the 2016 Will Rogers Gold Medallion Award.
Jane divides her time between Central Oregon and California with her
husband, Jerry, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Caesar. Learn more
at www.jkbooks.com.

Meet Ittai the Gittite from Barbara M. Britton’s Defending David: Ittai’s Journey

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Ittai, why are you traveling so fast, I can barely keep up?

We have no time to waste on our trek to Jerusalem. My warriors and I must seek King David and receive a grant of exile in Israel. We cannot return to Philistia, or King Achish will end our lives. We would not bow down to his idols.

You know that they only serve one God in Israel, right?

The One True God. I know of Him because of King David’s teachings. I was a boy when King David found refuge in Ziklag. I heard hhttps://amzn.to/3AkE8GKim speak about his God. That is why I wouldn’t bow down to the King of Philistia or an idol. I was ready to face death, but God spared the lives of me and my men. It would have been an epic battle had the king of Philistia tried to take our lives. Exile was the easiest option.

Life should be easier in Israel for you?

Hah! I saw Prince Absalom in his chariot as I was traveling to Jerusalem. He set my skin to prickling. Why does a son of David need to honor a vow in Hebron when Jerusalem is a fine city with a tabernacle and priests? I think the prince has other things on his mind besides a vow.

I did not like the way the prince looked at Rimona. She is an orphaned young woman, and the prince has a wife. I feel something is brewing.

Brewing, like a stew of camel meat and squash?

No, like a rebellion. King David is not a brash, virile warrior anymore. He has aged as have I. But in my thirties, I am still able to fight a battle. The king, not as much. Time has slowed his steps. The king is sixty years old, maybe older. Can he unsheathe a sword in seconds? I think not. I will lay down my life for David. He took pity on me as a boy and gave me food. My mother and I would have perished without David’s generosity.

It sounds like you are ready to fight for King David?

The six-hundred warriors that I have with me will follow me into battle for David. If Absalom is seeking his father’s throne, then he will not take it by foul means. The Lord has given us safe passage through Israel, and he watches over us even now. Excuse me. I must go straightaway to the king.

Where can you find Ittai the Gittite in Scripture?

His arrival and allegiance to David can be found in II Samuel 15:15-22

Ittai is placed over one-third of the Israelite army. This is a BIG deal. II Samuel 18:2.

The story covers II Samuel, chapters 15-19:8.


“Defending David” book blurb:

When a quiet journey to Jerusalem turns tragic, newly orphaned Rimona must flee a kinsman set on selling her as a slave. Racing into the rocky hills outside of Hebron, Rimona is rescued by a Philistine commander journeying to Jerusalem with six-hundred warriors.

Exiled commander, Ittai the Gittite, is seeking refuge in the City of David. Protecting a frantic Hebrew woman is not in his leadership plan. Although, having a nobleman’s niece in his caravan might prove useful for finding shelter in a foreign land.

Rimona and Ittai arrive in Jerusalem on the eve of a rebellion. In the chaos of an heir’s betrayal, will they be separated forever, or can they defend King David and help the aging monarch control his rebellious son?


Barbara M. Britton lives in Southeast, Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. She writes Christian Fiction from Bible Times to present day USA. Her Tribes of Israel series brings little-known Bible characters to light. Her novel “Christmas at Whispering Creek,” is a compelling, yet fun story, shining a light on breast cancer. Barbara has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. You can find out more about Barbara and her books on her website www.barbarambritton.com.

You can find “Defending David” wherever books are sold. Libraries can order the book, too.

Amazon and B&N Links.

Meet Verna from Yesterday’s Gone by Cindy & Erin Woodsmall

For this character interview, you’ll hear from Verna Bontrager Ebersol, a minor character in Yesterday’s Gone with an important role in the story. She is the great-aunt to main characters Eliza and Ruth. Verna left the Amish in the 1950s after a devastating turn of events that caused serious issues in her marriage. Ruth hadn’t met her great-aunt until recently, but she hopes to write down Verna’s oral history. 

I steady my hands as I walk from the stove to my kitchen table and set a cup of hot tea in front of my great-niece. “You want to interview me?” Butterflies flutter in my chest, a clear reminder how comfortable I am staying in the shadows, even though I run the well-known Phoebe’s House. 

Ruth nods while twirling an ink pen in her fingers. Oh, how I love when she comes for a visit. But an interview? Despite that I’m in my mid-eighties and she’s in her early twenties, we have a lot in common, and I find that a little scary. Ruth interviews Amish folks for her local Amish paper, but she could get in a lot of trouble if someone from her community found out about her coming to see me. Her rebellious streak is part of what we have in common. Still, since she learned of my existence a year ago, she’s hired a driver from time to time and traveled the three hours to come to my neck of the woods. 

“Verna, written words hold the power to linger, long after we’re gone.” 

I run my fingers over the edge of the hand-sewn cushion I’m sitting on as sunlight dances on the small table. I’ve made improvements to the kitchen during my years of living here, but it’s still simple. Part of me will always be Amish, even though I left so long ago. I’ll always be most comfortable with simple, even though I use colorful decorations now.

I sit in a chair across from her and take a sip of my tea. “Ruth . . . honey. Don’t get yourself in trouble on my account over some fervent desire to tell my side of the story.”  

“Ach, I’m so sorry. It’s not that kind of an interview. I forget sometimes you don’t know me like my family and community does.” 

Relief eases across my achy shoulders, and I take another sip of my tea. “What kind of interview it is?” 

“For years, I’ve interviewed Amish, mostly family, and I write down their oral history as a way to archive important stories for our family. I mean, I could do an interview for the local Amish paper if—” 

“No, dear. I’d rather not do that. I prefer to keep my life’s story a quiet one, at least until I pass away. Then you can do as you wish.” 

I study Ruth. Such a smart, pretty young woman. She and her sister Eliza are Amish from deep within their core beliefs. Oh, they stand their ground and push back as needed, but they believe in the Amish way. As a young woman, I was much the same until I dabbled in what some call an answer to prayer and others call a curse. Now . . . and for what seems like a lifetime . . . I’m not Amish anymore, but if the interview were posted in a newspaper, even a small Amish one, it could stir a lot of questions and bring fresh pain to people I love—Amish and Englisch. 

“What is your first question, Ruth?” 

“In your own words, what is Phoebe’s House? How did you come up with its name?” 

I chuckle. “I started Phoebe’s House over thirty years ago. It’s a welcoming place for people who are down on their luck. They can stay for weeks—longer if need be—at no charge. It’s a place to wash their clothes, get haircuts, and find leads on jobs. Years ago, as a young Amish woman, I found myself in need of such a place and couldn’t find one. But even though I’d been gone from the Amish a long time by then, I used a name no one would recognize. I came up with the name Phoebe. My initials are VB for Verna Bontrager, and that sounded like Phoebe to me.”  

Ruth’s pen flits over the paper. “Let’s talk about something more personal to you. When was the first time you fell in love?”

I eye her. She blinks, looking innocent. Her question makes me feel nostalgic and grateful, although love seems to give as much pain as it does joy. 

“Omar Ebersol. Omar and I were from two families in Calico Creek in the Appalachian Mountains where we grew up. You have to remember that back in my day, in the 1940s and 50s, some people in the Appalachians were very superstitious. There was a spoken and unspoken rule in Calico Creek: No one from the Ebersol and Bontrager families were to date, certainly never, ever to marry. Well, some with those who had those surnames could marry. The taboo was very specific: Any Ebersols or Bontragers who were direct descendants from the original families who crossed the ocean on the same ship and settled in the Appalachian Mountains in the 1740s . . . those were forbidden to marry.”

“Since I live in Calico Creek, I know some still believe strongly in that curse. For those who will read this journal later, can you elaborate on what curse means?”

“Hoo, boy. I’ve mulled that over a lot during my many years of life. I think when people hear the word curse, they often think of evil, scary things. But the Word makes it clearer. It means that a person or family isn’t under the full blessings of God. Looked at that way, I think a curse seems like a very common occurrence for mankind. Isn’t that what the Bible is all about—how to be under His blessings?” Was her great-niece trying to understand the curse as it was told to her coming down through the generations—the one Ruth had been told she and her sister Eliza were under? Verna had no desire to speak of that out loud. 

“The community, your family, everyone wanted you and Omar to stay away from each other. What drew you to him despite what everyone warned?”

“His smile. His humor.” I think of my goofy husband, now bald as a cue ball. He still brings me flowers from the farmer’s market in town, hiding them behind his back until he gets through the door. He brings roses when he can get them, sunflowers, and daisies. After so much separation from him in life, I take no days with him for granted, not after all we went through to get back together. 

“Ruth, how about your sister? She married a forbidden Ebersol too. What drew Eliza to Jesse?”

Ruth laughs. “I’m the one interviewing you! And Eliza’d be embarrassed. But, off the record, she was drawn to his imagination. Jesse and Eliza would sit by the river and dream of building their future cabin. His imagination is what led him to start his business—what brought money to our poor community and gave people jobs when they would’ve been working at that awful feed mill factory.”

I nod. That factory had ruined so many people’s health and lives.

“Back to you, Verna.” She winks. “Why did you leave the Amish?”

“Well, that answer is very sad. Omar and I had messed up everything, including our marriage. I divorced that wonderful, funny man.” It was simple enough, but I couldn’t allow it to be written anywhere. “While aiming to make things better, Omar and I used the quilt that had crossed the ocean in the 1700s to change time, and in using it, we broke our relationship apart, along with the rest of our lives. We both had so many regrets, and I’d hoped that no one else in my family would use the quilt, but I was wrong on that front. Eliza . . .”

“I can see that you’re getting tired. One last question: What are your hopes for the future?”

“Well, in my eyes, the future is now. Every day brings beauty, and I’m thankful for every single moment, even the trying ones. I have my Omar in my life again. We picked up the pieces of our brokenness and began anew. My hope would be that young people like you and Andrew and Jesse and Eliza can learn to live in the day and appreciate the moment and give back to others wherever you can.” 

Thoughts of Eliza cling to me. Young people easily think the grass is greener, and they rip apart everything that matters to get to it, only to then realize the grass on the other side isn’t even green. I know that all too well. All too well.   

Ruth reaches across the table and squeezes my hand. “Denki, Verna.” 

My eyes well with tears over things I can’t voice. “God be with you and your sister, Ruth.” 


CINDY WOODSMALL is a New York Times and CBA bestselling author of twenty-five works of fiction and one nonfiction book. Coverage of Cindy’s writing has been featured on ABC’s Nightline and the front page of the Wall Street Journal. She lives in the foothills of the north Georgia mountains with her husband, just a short distance from two of her three sons and her six grandchildren.
ERIN WOODSMALL is a writer, musician, wife, and mom of four. She has edited, brainstormed, and researched books with Cindy for almost a decade. More recently she and Cindy have coauthored five books, one of which was a winner of the prestigious Christy Award.

Meet Rosaleen Bonnard from Roll Back the Clouds by Terri Vanguard

Our guest today is Rosaleen Bonnard, a survivor of the tragic sinking of the Lusitania last May. She was traveling with her husband, Geoff, who was badly injured in the disaster. Tell us, Mrs. Bonnard, how is he doing?

He is so much better, thank you. Every day we walk, sometimes for as long as an hour. We’re frequently interrupted though. Since Geoff collaborated with our neighbor Peter Bloch, a reporter for the Sentinel, he’s well recognized and folks seem to think that having touched the war, he’s now an expert on the fighting in Europe and they’re always asking for his insights.

How did you meet your husband?

We were classmates at school and he invited me to attend an ice cream social at church. When I told my mother he’d asked, she quizzed me about him. I told her it was just ice cream, and she said, “Yes, and your father and I met at a church ice cream social.” After that night, I knew I would marry him.

The Cunard Line upgraded you from second class to first, is that right? [Rosaleen nods.] What was that like for you?

At first, I was thrilled. We had a beautiful stateroom with a window. Oh, excuse me, a porthole. That was special. And we had access to the Saloon Writing Room and Library and the Saloon Lounge and Music Room. They were exquisite. The two-tiered first-class dining room was a gorgeous setting to eat in, but I must admit, I would have been more at ease in second class. I didn’t feel comfortable with the first-class passengers. Even the food was unfamiliar. I had two new dresses for the journey, all so pretty, but I definitely didn’t have the elegant wardrobe possessed by the other first-class ladies.

Did you go shopping specifically for your voyage?

Oh, yes. My oldest and youngest sisters went shopping with me at Gimbels. I found two beautiful gowns. My grandmother gave me $10, and that made it possible to buy both fancy dresses. Plus a traveling outfit, a couple of new skirts and blouses, shoes, hats. Had I known we’d be in first class, goodness, I don’t know what I would have done. The ladies in first class wear a different gown to dinner every night. I couldn’t have afforded so many gowns. And now my lovely new wardrobe is on the bottom of the ocean.

Did you note much panic after the ship was torpedoed?

At first, everyone was stunned. After hearing all week about the likelihood of being attacked, when it actually happened, it was hard to believe. The sudden listing to starboard was alarming. It made walking difficult, especially on the stairs. When the power failed and people were trapped in the fancy grillwork elevator, they started screaming. We knew they’d drown. The scene at the lifeboats was so chaotic, watching some spill out their passengers or drop down on other lifeboats. It was scary. The ship sank in eighteen minutes, less time than it takes to bake a cake. So many people were still aboard when it sank. I suspect they thought they’d have more time, or that help would come from Ireland. We could see Ireland; it was that close.

What was it like in the lifeboat?

Numbing. We sat on hard wooden benches. The emergency rations were inadequate and too old. We dearly wanted more water, fresh water. We pulled in as many survivors from the sea as possible, and they were so cold. This happened in May, you know. Here daffodils and tulips are blooming; the days are warming. But in Milwaukee, of course, it’s cooler by the lake. There, we were out on the ocean. It was cold. Many people, if they hadn’t drowned, died from hypothermia. We saw them lose their grip on whatever they clung to and slip under the water. And all this time, I didn’t know what had happened to Geoff.

You didn’t make it to England, but Ireland. With an Irish mother, wasn’t that a treat?

Definitely. Mum’s family lived not far from Queenstown. I traveled by train to meet them. My grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins. I couldn’t keep all the names straight. I thought about Mum the whole time, how she would love to be there. Two cousins took me to see the Cliffs of Moher. And then, Granda decided he and Nana would come visit after the war. I couldn’t wait to tell Mum.

As 1916 dawns, what are you looking forward to?

The war continues in what seems like a stalemate. We hope it doesn’t pull in the United States. Geoff and I both have brothers who would be affected. In our own home, we’re busy decorating a nursery.

Congratulations! And thank you for joining us today.


Terri Wangard grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, during the Lombardi Glory Years. Her first Girl Scout badge was the Writer. These days she is writing historical fiction, and won the 2013 historical First Impressions, as well as being a 2012 Genesis finalist. Holder of a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in library science, she lives in Wisconsin. For twenty years, she globe-trotted during annual vacations to four continents. Her day job is with Classic Boating Magazine, a family business since 1984.