An Interview with Thomas Bartlett from Sean Crose’s Novel Lexington

Question: It must be difficult to be a citizen of Boston in 1775.

Thomas: Everyone knows war is coming. The British government has shut down our port, troops are everywhere, and the Patriots essentially control the entire Massachusetts colony outside the city. 

Question: And who are these Patriots?

Thomas: They’re colonists who feel the government in Britain is treating its subjects here across the Atlantic unfairly. For instance, colonists can’t be represented by one of their own in Parliament. Why is that? Is it because the British government feels the colonists are second class citizens? I would argue it is.

Question:  Are you a Patriot yourself?

Thomas: No. My new wife, Mary – who I adore – is from a family loyal to the crown. She went against their wishes by marrying me, so to save her from further discomfort, I’ve promised I won’t take part in these dangerous events plaguing our time.

Question: That seems rather honorable, but you look uncomfortable discussing the matter.

Thomas: My brother, James, is a member of the Patriots. He lives outside of Boston, in the town of Lexington, where Patriots engage in military drills quite regularly. 

Question: And naturally you’re worried about him and feel somewhat disloyal.

Thomas: Very much so.

Question: What does James feel about you’re not joining his cause?

Thomas: He’d love for me to become a Patriot myself, of course, but James and I see the world differently.

Question: Could you explain?

Thomas: James is an angry man. Indeed, he’s long had a deep anger in him, why I don’t know. Perhaps it has something to do with our mother passing on at an early age from consumption. At any rate, I fear James sees these troubles before us as an outlet through which he can vent his rage through.

 Question: Have you addressed this matter with him?

Thomas: Most certainly…though I broach the subject gently and in offhanded ways. James must be dealt with delicately most times. For instance, if he finds himself angry at one of his sons – something he often does – I attempt to calm him down. He can be quite ferocious, James.

Question: Is he violent with his children?

Thomas: He’s not violent with anyone. At least not yet. What I mean by this is I suspect James will become physically cruel once war breaks out, that he’ll feel he has an acceptable outlet for his range. 

Question: That’s understandable. Some with anti-British settlements have been known to act in a violent and atrocious manner.

Thomas: Most certainly. And I fear James will soon engage in a violent and atrocious manner himself. There is honorable combat and there is wanton brutality. What will become of James if he acts brutally once war breaks out? What if he harms a prisoner, or worse, kills one? What will that say of his character? What will it say of his soul?

Question: You worry about his soul, then.

Thomas: I do.

Question: You’re a religious man?

Thomas:  A lifelong Congregationalist. 

Question: But not James?

Thomas: He feels he has no use for faith. In truth, it’s one of the reasons I keep nudging him to try to alter his ways, to not let his anger continue to consume him. I worry he’ll die in combat with his soul in an unclean state.

Question: That’s quite a heavy burden to carry around. 

Thomas: To be sure! My new wife, Mary, says that I’m now more concerned with James’ soul than I have any obligation to be.

Question: And why is that?

Thomas: Although my bookstore on Cornhill is, like all businesses in Boston, doing meagre business, Mary feels my place is there. She supports my going to see James, but feels I take such trips too frequently, and with no productive results to show for them. Plus, the colony is dangerous outside of Boston. Lastly, Mary simply feels like too much of my time and effort is focused on James rather than on matters at home. 

Question: Is she right?

Thomas: I shall be blunt. If James should die in the war without having changed his ways, I shall personally feel responsible.

Question: Does Mary know this?

Thomas: She seems to suspect. 

Question:  You say you’re a Congregationalist, yet your thinking concerning James doesn’t adhere to any Christian doctrine. James has free will, after all.

Thomas: As do I…and I’m willfully dedicating myself to saving James.

Question: Even at the expense of something as valuable to you as your new marriage? 

Thomas: …

Question: Do you feel that’s a righteous way to go about things, Thomas? 

Thomas: …

Question: Thomas?

Thomas: 


Sean Crose is the Writing/ESL Specialist for Post University, where he also teaches such subjects as literature, poetry, creative writing, and composition. On top of that, Crose is a Senior Writer for “Boxing Insider,” and a contributor to “The Berkshire Edge.” He lives in Connecticut with his wife, Jen, and Charlie the Cat.

Introducing René Lalique from Magician of Light by J. Fremont

Magician of Light touches on the truth of Lalique’s illustrious life, the people most important to him, and the anguish of some of those personal relationships, creating a unique view of his real life and a compelling storybook love story.

In your formative years, what inspired you to become a jeweler?

I loved to draw and paint, winning competitions early on. Louis Aucoc, a goldsmith, adopted me at age sixteen after my father suddenly died. He gave me an apprenticeship in his jewelry business and taught me the tricks of the trade. This introduced me to professional life as a jeweler and encouraged my passion for the decorative arts. I wanted to take my art from drawings to miniature jewelry paintings, creating sculptural forms from stones, gems, enamel and precious metals.

It’s a rarity when someone becomes an international success in one genre, but an anomaly when it happens in two different fields. What drove you to redirect your focus on glass in the second half of your career?

I was interested in glass very early in my career, beginning with using enamel in my jewelry. My favorite enameling technique is called plique-à-jour. This is a style of enameling, where transparent enamels are fused into metal cells and then acid is used to remove the back of the cell, leaving just a metal filigree and the glass. This is an extremely difficult, time-consuming process, but it produces the most extraordinary effect suggestive of stained glass. One of my largest pieces ever created by employing this method was Femme Libellule, Dragonfly Woman, commissioned by mon bon ami, my good friend, Calouste Gulbenkian. Over time, I incorporated more glass into my jewelry designs before moving onto fabricating larger items, such as perfume bottles. Francois Coty, a perfumer, asked me to design flacons for his fragrances. These items were the impetus of my pursuit of strictly glassmaking. Everything grew from there: my production, the number of clients and employees, my factories and my works. At the end of my career, I focused a great deal on architectural glass projects.

Why has Lalique-designed art stood the test of time?

My art is my passion. Drawing inspiration from three of my favorite loves: flora, fauna, and women. Excellent craftsmanship is important to me and I strive to create distinguished works by using my imagination and my hands. Employing many methods, I sculpted extra dimension into my objets d’art. Utilizing the organic colors of nature, toying with unique materials and contemplating the interplay of light in transparency and opacity of atypical gemstones and glass, I attempted to create something never seen before. 

What advice would you give a young entrepreneurial-designer today?

Study nature, and bygone styles for sources of inspiration. Instead of mimicking, use the ideas and techniques of other eras and people to create your own unique brand. Use experimentation and reinvent aspects, qualities but combine them into new configurations. Create novel constructions from your perspective. Most of all, use your imagination and be true to your artful self.

Who were the people most influential on your success?

So many people were integral to my success. Foremost, my mother. She inspired me with her love, creativity and work ethic, but she also helped me financially by paying for my schooling in France and at the Sydenham College in the Crystal Palace in England. Artistic friends, including my father-in-law, Auguste Ledru, sculptor, and, of course, Francois Coty, all contributed to my eminence. My most influential promoter and patron was Sarah Bernhardt. She introduced me to many clients, including Calouste Gulbenkian, one of my most important clients.

Did building your company in France and Paris impact the Lalique brand?

I love my city, my country and would live nowhere else. The Lalique brand is luxury and style. Paris has been the fashion capital of the Western world since the seventeenth century. As a Frenchman, of course, my company could only be based in France.

Do you have professional and personal regrets when looking back on your life?

I succumbed to my passions and sometimes got consumed by them. Perhaps I was a workaholic and should have spent more time with my loved ones. 

You mentioned education at the Sydenham College. Why did you choose this institution? 

I wanted to travel and explore unknown places. Sydenham College focused on aspects of art and business that I wanted to master. William Morris, Japonisme, the aesthetic movement, were a few of the influences that I wanted to absorb and it was an excellent school for draughtsman to improve my illustration. The school also provided knowledge of modern engineering, improved manufacturing techniques, innovative industrial methods and exposure to British design reforms regarding the decorative arts. Plus, I wanted to improve my English. I also met a young lady, Mademoiselle Haliburton. Elle était belle à croquer, a beautiful, desirous woman.

You met a pretty woman, Miss Haliburton, in England. Can you tell us more about her and your relationship?

Non. Please read my story, Magician of Light, to find out that information.


Photo by Marc Glassman

J. Fremont is an author and veterinarian. For more than twenty-five years, she practiced small animal veterinary medicine in addition to serving as an adjunct professor at a local university and community college. The mother of two adult sons, she lives in Southern California with her husband of thirty years. Retired from veterinary medicine, J now spends her time developing her artistic side. In addition to writing, she is a passionate practitioner of the decorative arts, including jewelry making, glass fusing, sewing, and creating mixed media for fun. She enjoys photography, gardening, and posting on Instagram, as well as building gorgeous Pinterest boards. You can find her on her website: https://drjfremont.com/
Facebook: @jfremont | Instagram: @insidetheegg

Meet Calla from Ann H. Gabhart’s new novel, When the Meadow Blooms

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

I am so glad to be here to talk about what’s been happening in my life and that of my sister, Sienhttp://www.bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/when-the-meadow-blooms/399000/affiliatesna, and my mother, Rose. They said I should be the one to come talk to you since I’m the older sister at 15. Sienna is only nine. And too much talking sometimes is difficult for my mother, Rose, since she had tuberculosis.

So introduce yourself, dear. Is there anything special about your name? Why do you think you were given that name?

My name is Calla Rose Meadows, and yes, there is definitely something very special about my name. My second name is after my mother, Rose. Since her name is a flower, she wanted flower names for Sienna and me. She chose Calla for me because her mother loved calla lilies. She had some bulbs she dug up each fall and planted again in the spring. While I never saw them, Mama said the flowers were white and seemed to represent peace to her mother. When her mother died, Mama planted the bulbs on her grave. I like to imagine them still blooming there, but Mama says the bulbs wouldn’t have survived our cold Kentucky winters. But I can still imagine them there.

I’m so sorry to hear that your mother had tuberculosis. I’m sure that was a very difficult time for her and for you. Can you tell us about it?

Oh yes, it was terrible. Mama had to go to a sanitarium since the best treatment according to the doctors is fresh air, sunshine and good food. My father died during the flu epidemic in 1918 and we didn’t have any other family to take in Sienna and me while Mama was getting treatment there. I couldn’t take care of Sienna myself since I was only twelve when Mama got sick. So, Mama had to take us to an orphanage. She thought it would just be for a few weeks, maybe a couple of months, until she would be better and able to come back for us. But sadly, the treatment wasn’t that quick and we were at the Home for Girls for almost two years. That was very difficult for my sister. 

You sound as if that was only difficult for her and not you. Why is that?

Sienna has always been a little different. Mama says she simply thinks about things in unique ways. Sienna loves anything to do with nature–flowers, birds, animals. She even loves spiders and snakes. I cannot understand that. Anyway, while I had no trouble following the many rules of behavior in the orphanage, Sienna’s mind would wander to those spiders and birds. She would forget about the rules and constantly get in trouble. I hated it when I knew she was going to be punished, but I could never seem to keep it from happening.

Poor child. I am so sorry.

Well, things are better now. 

What made things better for you? Did your mother get well?

Mama says she will never be as healthy as she was before the tuberculosis. She did get well enough to leave the sanitarium but her doctor said she wouldn’t be well enough to work making hats as she did before. Without that income, we couldn’t rent a place to live. Something, perhaps the Lord’s nudging, made me remember that my father had a brother. While my uncle had long lived a reclusive life and I had never met him, I took a chance and wrote him. I begged him to let us come to his farm, Meadowland. I was that sure a farm with lots of fresh air and sunshine would be the perfect place for Mama and for Sienna too. Don’t you think a place called Meadowland would be like that?

It does make one think of blue skies and fields of flowers. So did you get to go and was it as nice as you imagined?

Yes, Uncle Dirk didn’t just send for us. He came to the orphanage himself. And Meadowland was even more beautiful than I had imagined. Wide fields. Butterflies and flowers. A river flowing past it. I could not have wished a better place for Sienna.

But weren’t you a little nervous going to live with an uncle you had never met? One who had been, as you said earlier, a reclusive person?

Maybe a little at first because of the way he looked. The scars on his face and all. But Sienna wasn’t bothered at all. At first sight, she surprised him with a hug as though she’d known him forever.

Scars?  Oh my. I think you need to tell me more about your uncle. 

When he was a young man he was badly burned in a barn fire. Mama said he would have probably died if my father, only fourteen at the time, hadn’t pulled him out of the fire. Uncle Dirk was trying to save his one true love, Anneliese. He believed she was in the barn. Mama says nobody thought he would survive except his mother who sent up many prayers for him while nursing him back to health. But Uncle Dirk has many scars from that battle.

Did he save Anneliese? 

It turned out she wasn’t in the barn. It’s a long story and one better told by Uncle Dirk. While I’ve always been very curious about it, Mama forbade me to ask my uncle anything about Anneliese. Don’t you just love that name? Anyway, all I know is that she disappeared and Uncle Dirk could never find her. I think his broken heart even more than his scarred face is what caused him to hide away from people on his farm.   

That does sound like a story worth hearing. 

Perhaps you can get the full story from him someday. I do know she was beautiful and Uncle Dirk loved her very much.

All right. Let’s think about you and your sister again. Tell me about Sienna.

 Oh, that’s much easier to answer. I would do anything for Sienna. She is such a special girl. Mama says she’s a pure soul. I’m not sure what that means exactly, but Sienna does have a loving heart for any and all living creatures. She wanted to make friends with a mouse while we were still at the Home for Girls and couldn’t wait to get to the farm to meet some farm mice. It turns out that mice are shyer than she thought. So, she made friends with some crows first. She even named them, and those crows were amazing. Almost as amazing as my little sister. 

She does sound like someone we would all like to get to know better. While I’m intrigued by all your troubles and adventures, it’s time to wrap up our interview. What is something you have wanted more than anything? 

A forever home. Even before Mama got sick and Sienna and I had to go to the Home for Girls, we continually had to move to cheaper rooms because Mama couldn’t make enough money making her hats. And then we had no home at all while we were separated from Mama. So we, all of us, dreamed of having a forever home together. We hoped Meadowland might be that, but then something happened to upset Uncle Dirk. Something I did and I thought I had ruined it all. And then there was a storm and… But I can’t tell it all. You’ll just have to read our story to find out what happened. 

We certainly want to do that to find out more about your story. Thanks for coming to talk to us, Calla, and sharing about your family and Meadowland. 


After a tragic fire and the loss of his one true love, Dirk Meadows has lived a reclusive life,
but when his late brother’s family needs a place to stay, he opens up his home even as he
intends to keep his heart closed. Rose has known much loss in her life, but the hardest thing
she ever had to do was leave her daughters at an orphanage while she is treated at a
tuberculosis sanatorium. So she is happy to accept Dirk’s offer of shelter once she is well
enough to reclaim her children. Calla and Sienna have difficult experiences at the orphanage
but feel rescued when they go to Meadowland, their uncle’s farm. Sienna, nine, has a special
feel for animals and birds. Her friendship with a couple of crows, who bring her gifts, cause
a crisis threatening the happiness Rose and her daughters have found at Meadowland. But
then the crows’ gifts open a door to the past to help Dirk find healing as he faces the truth
of what happened years before. His nieces’ love breaks through the shield around his heart
and opens him up to love again.


Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of Along a Storied Trail,
An Appalachian Summer, River to Redemption, These Healing Hills, and
Angel Sister, along with several Shaker novels—The Refuge, The
Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed
, and The Gifted. She and
her husband live on a farm a mile from where she was born in
rural Kentucky. Ann enjoys discovering the everyday wonders of
nature while hiking in her farm’s fields and woods with her
grandchildren and her dogs, Frankie and Marley. Learn more at
www.annhgabhart.com.

Meet Marion Davies as seen in the novel THE BLUE BUTTERFLY by Leslie Johansen Nack

Ann Leonard: Thank you for doing this. I know you don’t do many interviews. Your life has been iconic in so many ways. Will you look back with me and answer a few questions about William Randolph Hearst – or WR as you like to call him – and Norman Kerry and of course, Charlie Chaplin? And I hope we can talk about your daughter Patricia, and your sisters, and of course Orson Welles and Citizen Kane. 

Marion Davies: Thank you for having me. It’s nice to be able to talk openly about subjects that were taboo when I lived them. 

Ann Leonard: Well, then let’s dive in. When you think of WR now, what do you think of? 

MD: Love. His uncompromising devotion and love for me. WR adored me and though he had his ideas about how to show me and how to protect me, his love was like a big bear hug, it sometimes smothered me. 

AL: There were rumors about WR hiring private detectives to follow you so he could keep an eye on you. Is that true?

MD: It’s true. He started doing that while we were still in New York. He’d have to leave town for work or whatever he did when he wasn’t with me, and he wanted to know where I was every single minute. He was so jealous. It made me so mad but he would never stop it, no matter how much I begged. 

AL: Later it must have been hard, after you moved to Hollywood, and he hosted Millicent and his four sons at San Simeon while the Castle was being built. 

MD: Please don’t call it that. WR hated when people called it a Castle. Please call it the Ranch. Thank you. [She pauses and looks out the window.] Yes, it was hard to be hidden from sight when Millicent came to town. It broke my heart. I knew WR didn’t love her, but he had to be a father to his boys and they always travelled with her when they were young. Those were tough years after we moved west. 

AL: But isn’t that when you and Charlie Chaplin began your affair? 

MD: Charlie was a sweetheart. I loved him dearly and the chemistry we had was undeniable and incomprehensible to me. The air crackled when we were together. We enjoyed ourselves immensely during those early years. I know you have details that I won’t go into here. Suffice it to say I’ve read parts of the book coming out – THE BLUE BUTTERFLY – and I don’t object to anything. 

AL: That’s quite an endorsement Ms. Davies. I’m sure the world will love hearing that. Can we talk about your movies? Which one was your favorite?

MD: So many were my favorites. My first, Runaway Romany will always be my favorite even though it was a horrible little film. But I wrote the script, starred in it, and found financing myself at age 20. WR didn’t help me at all. Some of my other favorites are Buried Treasure, When Knighthood Was in Flower and Show People. It’s hard to pick favorites.

AL: Can we talk about Patricia? You and WR have denied that she’s your daughter for your entire life. Can you please answer once and for all, is Patricia Van Cleve Lake your daughter? 

MD: [She stares at her hands and folds them together, placing them on her lap and then looks up.] Yes, Patricia is our daughter. Why is the world so obsessed with this fact? Why does it matter? Yes, Patricia is my lovely daughter, and I am so proud of her and my grandchildren and Arthur of course. He was such a good father. Now, let me ask YOU this: what will you do with this knowledge? 

AL: Breaking the news of one of the best kept secrets in a hundred years will be wonderful. Finally we can lay it to rest. Can I ask about another rumor? Did WR kill Thomas Ince aboard his boat that fateful weekend? 

MD: Let’s get all the dirty laundry out, shall we? No! WR couldn’t kill a fly. He was jealous of Charlie and me and yes, Thomas and his girlfriend Margaret were aboard that weekend, but Thomas had a bleeding ulcer that an infection caused his demise – not WR! 

AL: Of all the theories about what happened that weekend, your explanation is the most boring of them all. 

MD: That’s how you know it’s true. WR was a lover of animals and a tender soul who wouldn’t hurt anything. I loved WR more than anything even though he bugged me so much. He lectured me and everybody about history, and about artifacts, and about doing the right thing, and being a good citizen. It made us all crazy. It bored me to tears sometimes, but I loved him more than I can explain. We were meant to be together, him and I. 

AL: Do you wish you had been able to marry?

MD: Of course I do. I wish we could have been like everybody else, instead of a circus show. But it wasn’t meant to be. Millicent refused to give WR a divorce, and when she did get close to agreeing to the divorce, she always had second thoughts and demanded some outrageous thing be added to the terms of the divorce. She was a greedy, small, and spiteful woman. And she won in the end. 

AL: I hate to end on such a sour note, but thank you for the interview. You are most gracious and kind. I thank you for telling the truth. 

MD: Of course, you are welcome. 


Leslie Johansen Nack’s debut, Fourteen, received five indie awards, including the 2016 Finalist in Memoir at the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Before she started writing, she raised two children, ran a mechanical engineering business with her husband, took care of her aging mother, and dreamed of retirement when she could write full-time. She did everything late in life, including getting her degree in English Literature from UCLA at age thirty-one, only two years after she married for the second time. If you want to know when her next book is coming out, please visit her website www.lesliejohansennack.com and sign up to receive an email when she has her next release. She lives in sunny San Diego and enjoys sailing, hiking and reading.

Interview with Calliope Jeffers from Donna Schlacter’s Calli

Welcome to Novel PASTimes, Calliope. What can you tell us about yourself?

Calli: Thanks so much. I’m glad to be here. Let me introduce myself. My name is Calliope Jeffers, but everybody calls me Calli. I guess you’d call me the heroine of the story, although that makes me sound so brave, and I’m anything but. You could call me the love interest, but that would be telling the end before the beginning. I’m a recent widow, my husband having died suddenly on duty here where we live in Fort Bridger, Wyoming Territory. I’m stepping out in baby steps, figuring out what comes next.

Novel PASTimes: Okay, Calli. Please tell us something about where you live.

Calli: As I said, Fort Bridger, Wyoming Territory. It’s an exciting time, 1870. There are still wagon trains heading west. Not so many as there used to be, I’m told. The fort is a popular stopping point for supplies, medical care, a blacksmith, and the town itself has several saloons, although I’ve not seen them personally. There are more than a hundred men stationed here, plus a good many civilian employees and military wives. Even a few children.

Novel PASTimes: Do you have a cherished possession?  

Calli: The Bible my parents gave me. When my husband was stationed in Fort Bridger, he said I could bring one suitcase. Can you imagine? How to choose amongst my beautiful dresses, coats, hats, and shoes? But, as he reminded me, we would have nowhere to wear such fripperies, and so there was no point in bringing them. So instead, I filled my suitcase with medical books. And my Bible. It’s the only thing I have from them. I still had room for two dresses, a pair of boots, underclothing (which I won’t mention here), and essentials such as a hairbrush and hair pins.

Novel PASTimes: How do you feel about your occupation? 

Calli:  I love being a nurse. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to help people. Of course, back then, boys grew up to be doctors, and girls grew up to be nurses. Perhaps one day, that won’t be true. I do almost all the same things Doc Wheldon would do if he were there, which he often isn’t. And while I can, I still like the personal care of the patient, listening to them, talking to them, writing letters home for them. Most of my patients are soldiers and their wives, both of whom have made a huge sacrifice to serve their country. We should keep them in our prayers.

Novel PASTimes: What is your deepest, most closely held secret? 

Calli:  I struggle with the fact that I loved my husband so deeply that in simply looking at another man, I’m doing both a disservice. Yes, I understand marriage is “til death do us part”, but every time I see Bradley Wilson, I think of my husband. The only thing I can do is trust that God has a plan, and if Mr. Wilson is part of that, then love will come again. How lucky a woman could I be, to love deeply and eternally twice in this life!

Novel PASTimes: Do you have a personal relationship with the Lord? 

Calli:  I thought I did. I mean, I prayed. Read my Bible. Went to church. But when my husband died, I was angry with Him. He could have saved him, couldn’t He? So why wasn’t he worth saving? That’s what I wanted to know. And the platitudes from the women at the fort didn’t help. God needed another angel. Then why didn’t He simply make another like He did with the first of creation? I was certain my husband died because I didn’t have enough faith.

Novel PASTimes: Has it changed? Why? 

Calli:  When I had that tiny baby depending on me, seeing the way she needed me for food, changing her diaper, keeping her safe, I saw what God wanted to have with me. When I didn’t have what she needed, I felt so helpless. I couldn’t depend on somebody else to save us—I had to turn back to God. Knowing I’m a daughter of the King of kings has changed my life.

Novel PASTimes: That makes a big difference, I agree! What do you expect the future will hold for you?  

Calli:  I’m told I shouldn’t give away the end of the story but suffice it to say that now that my relationship with God has deepened, I know He will be with me all the way. Currently, there are several bright opportunities on the horizon, placed there by God, planned by Him especially for me, so whatever happens, it is well with my soul. Hmm. That sounds like another great hymn in the making.

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

Calli:  I’ve learned that the only One I can truly trust in is God. I’m an independent woman, secure in my profession, able to earn a living for myself. When my husband died, I thought, “Well, this is just another chapter in my life. I must move on and do what I need.” But I couldn’t forget my husband. He seemed in my thoughts every day. And when I met Mr. Wilson, I found myself comparing him to my husband. And always falling short. I realized that unless I had a deep and meaningful relationship with God, unless I trusted in His Son Jesus, I would always fall short in God’s eyes, too. So please, if you haven’t surrendered your life to God and your heart to Jesus, do so. It’s simple. Here’s a short prayer: Dear God, I know I’ve ignored You for a long time. But I give my life to You. Do with it what you will. And Jesus, I know you paid the price for my sin. Please forgive me. I will strive to follow you all the days of my life. Amen. Next, tell somebody of your decision, then find a Bible-believing church. If you’d like to share with me, you can contact me at donna AT livebytheword DOT com

***

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Calli works as a nurse with the US Army at Fort Bridger, Wyoming in 1880. When a wagon train full of discouraged emigrants passes through on its way east, a pregnant widow delivers her baby then dies. Bradley Wilson, leading this train, has few options. He asks Calli to travel with them until they find a relative to take the child in St. Joe, Missouri. Calli, drawn to both this dark and quiet man and the child, resists. But when she disappears, he wonders if she’s run away or been kidnapped. Can these two put their pasts behind them and move into a new future together? Or will Calli insist on having things her own way?

BUY CALLI HERE.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A hybrid author, Donna Schlachter writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 50 times in books; is a member of several writers groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both. 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 at my website!

Donna’s Blog

Previous blog posts at: History Through the Ages and All Bets Are Off.

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Etsy online shop of Donna’s original artwork..

Interview with Grace Tonquin from Melanie Dobson’s The Winter Rose

Novel PASTimes: Thank you for joining us, Grace. You’ve had quite a journey in your life.

Grace: I’m grateful for both the ups and downs.

Novel PASTimes: You’re grateful for the downs?

Grace: Those are the times, I think, when I’ve felt God’s presence the most. In the dark seasons while I served in France and then during the even darker years that followed.

Novel PASTimes: You’ve quoted Psalm 27 quite often along the way.

Grace: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” That reminder gave me courage to continue on.

Novel PASTimes: How many children did you and Roland care for in France?

Grace: I’m not certain. The American Friends Service Committee kept the numbers. I was focused on the daily needs of the refugee kids until we realized that we had to get those who remained with us out of France.

Novel PASTimes: How many children did you escort across the mountains?

Grace: Twelve . . . at least we started with twelve. One had to turn back.

Novel PASTimes: I don’t suppose you could tell us who . . .

Grace: That’s not my story to tell.

Novel PASTimes: You are a hero to every one of those kids.

Grace: A servant, my friend. Answering when our Lord calls.

Novel PASTimes: Can you tell us what happened to Charlie?

Grace: His life was a miracle, but I don’t want to spoil the ending of the book.

Novel PASTimes: Fair enough. Could you tell us instead the significance of the winter rose?

Grace: A winter rose can grow wild in the mountains, in the most rugged terrain. It looks fragile but it’s very strong, defying the winds and cold weather with its strength. A winter rose shows beauty and strength, I think, in the hardest of circumstances.

Novel PASTimes: Thank you for not giving up on the children in France.

Grace: My husband and I have been blessed beyond what we could have ever imagined in our years together. It’s an honor to share our story.

* * *

ABOUT THE BOOK:

The Winter Rose

In this gripping WWII time-slip novel from the author whose books have been called “propulsive” and a “must-read” (Publishers Weekly), Grace Tonquin is an American Quaker who works tirelessly in Vichy France to rescue Jewish children from the Nazis. After crossing the treacherous Pyrénées, Grace returns home to Oregon with a brother and sister whose parents were lost during the war. Though Grace and her husband love Élias and Marguerite as their own, echoes of Grace’s past and trauma from the Holocaust tear the Tonquin family apart.

More than fifty years after they disappear, Addie Hoult arrives at Tonquin Lake, hoping to find the Tonquin family. For Addie, the mystery is a matter of life and death for her beloved mentor Charlie, who is battling a genetic disease. Though Charlie refuses to discuss his ties to the elusive Tonquins, finding them is the only way to save his life and mend the wounds from his broken past.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of more than twenty historical romance, suspense, and time-slip novels, including her latest, The Winter Rose. Five of her novels have won Carol Awards; Catching the Wind and Memories of Glass were nominated for a Christy Award in the historical fiction category; Catching the Wind won an Audie Award in the inspirational fiction category; and The Black Cloister won the Foreword magazine Religious Fiction Book of the Year. Melanie is the former corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family and owner of the publicity firm Dobson Media Group. When she isn’t writing, Melanie enjoys teaching both writing and public relations classes. Melanie and her husband, Jon, have two daughters and live near Portland, Oregon. Visit Melanie online at melaniedobson.com.

Book Review: Bluebird by Genevieve Graham

 Simon & Schuster (April 5, 2022)

This novel opens in WWI with Adele Savard, a nurse from Canada, who is treating injured soldiers. She meets Corporal Jeremiah Bailey of the 1st Canadian Tunnelling Company and they make an immediate connection. They are both from the same town. Adele and her fellow nursing sisters are nicknamed Bluebirds from the color of their uniforms, thus the title of the book. Jerry goes back to the front and they aren’t sure they’ll see each other again, but they hope to. After the war Jerry and his brother return home to discover their parents have died from Spanish Flu. It’s Prohibition and everyone in town, including Jerry’s late father, have been making money rumrunning. Adele works for a local doctor and she and Jerry reunite after he saves her from his devious rival, a man he has a history with since childhood.

Their romance is tender and sweet, and best of all in my opinion, it is not rushed. They form a friendship that blooms with time.

The story contains a present day thread in which a young woman named Cassie is a historian who used to live in the Bailey House but lost her mother there in an accident. When the current owner finds bottles of whiskey hidden in the walls of the house, the two work to unfold the mystery, which is part of Cassie’s family history. I love family history connections!

I found the modern thread to be brief and while interesting, not too well developed. However, the story of Adele and Jerry is compelling and I love a book that teaches me history I wasn’t aware of. The rumrunning in Windsor, Canada was linked to the US due to its proximity to the border across the Detroit River and the fact that Prohibition ended in Canada long before it did in the US. (The author’s note at the end is not to be missed!)

The story is gritty at times, but just enough to draw you into the story. It involves two bloody periods in history after all. The ending is quite intense, but the conclusion unveils hope and illustrates how those who lived it endured and continued to live their lives. Those who love history, like all of our readers on this blog, will enjoy this one.

I received an advance copy from the publisher for the purpose of review and all opinions are my own.

Reviewed by Cindy Thomson

www.cindyswriting.com

Laila Ibrahim interviews her characters from Scarlet Carnation

Laila: I’m so glad we get to continue our conversation from Women Writers, Women’s Books.

Naomi: Us too!

Laila: Many readers have noticed that the time you lived in parallels current times because there was such an upheaval during World War 1, and the 1918 flu pandemic.

May:  Oh, dear! Did you say World War 1? Does that mean there are more?

Laila: Oh my goodness! I’m so sorry to give away information about your future. Yes, there is another great war that impacts so much of the world; the second one included Asia, North Africa and what we now call Oceana and you called Australia.

Naomi: Will we never learn how to live as one people in peace and with justice?

Laila: My understanding is that fewer people die from warfare, hunger, and disease than ever before in human history. So in some ways we have learned to live with more peace and more justice. But we are far from a goal to have 100% peace and 100% justice.

May: Until this moment I thought I’d like to know about the future, to better prepare, but suddenly I see the disadvantage.

Naomi: If we are honest with ourselves we always know there will be difficult times ahead. Whether those challenges are personal or societal, to be human we must face change, loss and uncertainty.

Laila: Do either of you have any wisdom about adapting?

May: I can pass on the best wisdom from my grandmother. She said we humans are all more like the wizard behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz, pretending we know what we are doing. She always told me to take the time to listen to my still small voice—she says it’s the spirit of God. 

Naomi: Be kind. To yourself and to everyone around you. Kindness does not cost you anything. If you can’t be kind, take a nap.

Laila: Sometimes I fear that I come across as too serious or only focusing on the painful. What do you do to be in touch with the joy of life?

Naomi:  Being with a baby or little one always raises my spirits. It’s hard to believe this life isn’t a blessing when you are around the wonder and joy of a small child.

May: Each day I look for something beautiful to be grateful for: a flower, my children, the delicious taste of a peach. This life really is a wonder.

Laila: Now you have given away the future…you have more than one child?

May: Yes I do. But I won’t share more than that. You might just have to write another book to find out what happens to us.

Laila: I think you are right about that.

About the book:

In an early twentieth-century America roiling with racial injustice, class divides, and WWI, two women fight for their dreams in a galvanizing novel by the bestselling author of Golden Poppies.

 May and Naomi are extended family, their grandmothers’ lives inseparably entwined on a Virginia plantation in the volatile time leading up to the Civil War. For both women, the twentieth century promises social transformation and equal opportunity.

May, a young white woman, is on the brink of achieving the independent life she’s dreamed of since childhood. Naomi, a nurse, mother, and leader of the NAACP, has fulfilled her own dearest desire: buying a home for her family. But they both are about to learn that dreams can be destroyed in an instant. May’s future is upended, and she is forced to rely once again on her mother. Meanwhile, the white-majority neighborhood into which Naomi has moved is organizing against her while her sons are away fighting for their country.

 In the tumult of a changing nation, these two women―whose grandmothers survived the Civil War―support each other’s quest for liberation and dignity. Both find the strength to confront injustice and the faith to thrive on their chosen paths.

 


Author information:

Laila Ibrahim is the bestselling author of Golden Poppies, Paper Wife, Mustard Seed, and Yellow Crocus. She spent much of her career as a preschool director, a birth doula, and a religious educator. That work, coupled with her education in developmental psychology and attachment theory, provided ample fodder for her novels.

She’s a devout Unitarian Universalist, determined to do her part to add a little more love and justice to our beautiful and painful world. She lives with her wonderful wife, Rinda, and two other families in a small cohousing community in Berkeley, California. Her young adult children are her pride and joy.

Laila is blessed to be working full-time as a novelist. When she isn’t writing, she likes to take walks with friends, do jigsaw puzzles, play games, work in the garden, travel, cook, and eat all kinds of delicious food. Visit the author at www.lailaibrahim.com.

Book Review: Count the Nights by Stars by Michelle Shocklee

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Tyndale House Publishers

978-1-4964-5993-0

This is a very engaging dual-time period novel set in 1897 and 1961. I love historicals I can learn from and this one revealed a lot of Nashville’s history from both time periods. The story revolves around the Maxwell House Hotel. (Yes, like the coffee. I enjoyed this historical tidbit!) The earlier time period is set during the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, which is an interesting historical event to learn about. The later time period looks back to that event through the scrapbook of a resident of the hotel during the decline of the hotel. Both Priscilla from 1897 and Audrey from 1961 learn to step out of their comfort zones to help those in need. The plight of immigrants and the exploitation of young girls who are either desolate or too innocent is one of those needs. Civil rights and the education of special needs kids is another. These things could overwhelm a novel but instead Shocklee explores how her characters choose to respond to the people in peril. The title comes from a proverb one of the characters tells Priscilla.

I won’t share any spoilers but this is a book that I’m glad I read and highly recommend.

Read the first chapter here.

Reviewed by Cindy Thomson

I was given a digital copy (via NetGalley) from the publisher for the purpose of review, but no review was required. This is my honest opinion.

Meet Priscilla and Audrey from Michelle Shocklee’s Count the Nights by Stars

Hello, ladies! Please tell our readers a little about yourselves.

Priscilla: I was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, seven years after the War between the States ended. My father is in the railroad industry and Mother keeps herself occupied with a full social schedule. They are ever hopeful I’ll marry well and settle down, but I know it will take a very special man to capture my heart. 

Audrey: My family and I live in the Maxwell House Hotel in downtown Nashville where my father is manager. It may sound strange, but I really enjoy living in the old hotel. Did you know it was built before the Civil War? Even though that was over one hundred years ago, it’s still a beautiful place. We’re getting ready for Christmas now, with decorations, cookies, and the Maxwell’s world-famous Christmas Day dinner.

You’ve both spent considerable time at the Maxwell House. If you had to choose one favorite thing about the hotel, what would it be?

Audrey: The lobby. My brother and I used to play hide-and-seek in it while Mom worked the guest services desk. From the lobby, you can also see the grand staircase, which leads to the beautiful mezzanine overlooking the main floor. I’ve often imagined belles in gorgeous ballgowns gliding up and down the marble stairs on their way to the ballroom or out on the town with a handsome escort. 

Priscilla (chuckles): I must admit my favorite thing about the Maxwell has nothing to do with its lovely architecture. My favorite place is the confectionary off the lobby. They have the most delicious peaches and cream. 

I understand the famous Maxwell House coffee is named after the hotel. How did that come about?

Audrey: With my father as manager of the historic hotel, I’ve heard the story dozens of times. Back in the late 1880s, two fellows—Joel Cheek and Roger Nolley Smith—developed a special blend of coffee beans. Cheek gave twenty pounds of the coffee to the food buyer at the Maxwell House Hotel, who agreed to serve it to the guests. When the coffee ran out, the hotel went back to serving their regular blend, but the guests complained. They wanted Cheek’s coffee. The coffee became so popular at the hotel that Cheek and Smith eventually gained permission to name it Maxwell House Coffee. An unverified rumor says President Theodore Roosevelt took a sip of the brew while visiting Nashville and declared it “good to the last drop.” I may be a little biased, but I think it is too.  

Priscilla, what brought you and your family to Nashville?

Priscilla: We came to attend the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. People from all over the world are here to celebrate the state’s 100th birthday. Papa is most proud of the Railway Exhibit, which he declares the best on the fairgrounds. I might have to argue that point, because there are so many fascinating buildings and exhibits. I’m especially fond of the wildly amusing sights of Vanity Fair.

Audrey: Did you ride the giant seesaw and the chute?

Priscilla: I did indeed ride the seesaw, which was thrilling. From the top, you can see well over two miles. But the chute is a water ride that tends to leave everyone rather damp. I decided to save my ten cents and spend it on an Italian gondola ride on Lake Watauga.

Audrey: I wish I could travel back in time to the exposition. I’ve recently visited the Parthenon in Centennial Park and found it utterly fascinating. It must have been quite the sight back in 1897. 

Priscilla: It truly is. The Parthenon and other buildings are so well built, you’d never guess they’re meant to be temporary—built to only last the duration of the exposition. My father says most of them will be torn down once the expo ends in October, so I’m glad to know the Parthenon still stands for visitors to enjoy. 

Audrey: Yes, they rebuilt it with permanent materials in the 1920s. There’s a museum inside. 

What is something each of you would like to accomplish?

Priscilla: I appreciate your question, because I’ve been pondering this very thing for some time now. Although I love my parents and the upbringing they’ve provided me, I want more out of life than dinner parties and keeping a well-appointed house. There are so many people beyond the scope of my sheltered corner of the world that need someone to care about them. I’m just now beginning to discover that we all play a role in offering a helping hand to those in need. To truly see someone for the unique human being they are, created by a loving Father. I’m not entirely certain how to go about fulfilling my part in this whole thing, but I’m eager to begin trying. 

Audrey: I love your answer. That’s exactly how I feel too. I’ve been far too self-centered in the past, and I truly want to become the woman God created me to be, using the gifts he’s given me to serve people. I would especially like to work with children like my brother. Emmett is a very special young man, but sometimes the world doesn’t see him and others like him the way my father and I do. I’d like to change that.

Thank you, ladies! We look forward to reading Count the Nights by Stars and seeing how your stories unfold.


About the book:

Count the Nights by Stars

Count your nights by stars, not shadows. Count your life with smiles, not tears.

1961. After a longtime resident at Nashville’s historic Maxwell House Hotel suffers a debilitating stroke, Audrey Whitfield is tasked with cleaning out the reclusive woman’s rooms. There, she discovers an elaborate scrapbook filled with memorabilia from the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Love notes on the backs of unmailed postcards inside capture Audrey’s imagination with hints of a forbidden romance . . . and troubling revelations about the disappearance of young women at the exposition. Audrey enlists the help of a handsome hotel guest as she tracks down clues and information about the mysterious “Peaches” and her regrets over one fateful day, nearly sixty-five years earlier.

1897. Outspoken and forward-thinking, Priscilla Nichols isn’t willing to settle for just any man. She’s still holding out hope for love when she meets Luca Moretti on the eve of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Charmed by the Italian immigrant’s boldness, Priscilla spends time exploring the wonderous sights of the expo with Luca—until a darkness overshadows the monthslong event. Haunted by a terrible truth, Priscilla and Luca are sent down separate paths as the night’s stars fade into dawn.


Michelle Shocklee is the author of several historical novels including Under the Tulip Tree, a Christy Award finalist. Her work has been included in numerous Chicken Soup for the Soul books, magazines, and blogs. Married to her college sweetheart and the mother of two grown sons, she makes her home in Tennessee, not far from the historical sites she writes about. Visit her online at michelleshocklee.com.