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.

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.  

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.

Meet Rolin Bose from Lonesome Flight by Dipak K. Gupta

Tell us something about where you live: 

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Hello! My name is Rolin Bose, the son of a rich business executive. I go by the nickname “Kokil” and live in the most fashionable part of Calcutta. My story is set in the turbulent mid-1960s when the entire world was pulsating with riots, student protests, political assassinations, and an overarching fear of global annihilation resulting from a nuclear exchange between the Superpowers. The Vietnam War raged on adding fuel to the fire of discontent. Violence touched all major cities of the world, including my hometown, Calcutta (now Kolkata).

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

I am glad you asked me that. Yes, I hated the name Kokil. 

It means a cuckoo in Bengali; an ugly black bird with a long-drawn forlorn call. There is something comical about the bird. It was a cruel gift from my father. I still recall him introducing me to my classmates on my first day at school. I fervently hoped that I would outgrow it someday, but no such luck. The name stuck like an ugly wart in front of my nose for everyone to see and make fun of.

I’m so sorry to hear that. Do you have an occupation? What do you like or dislike about your work?  

I am an undergraduate student of science at an elite college in Calcutta, run by the Jesuits. I love everything about my carefree life. What I don’t like is attending useless lectures, such as reading Shakespeare’s The Tempest in English literature class. Why do we have to study this medieval play, when there are so many exciting new authors from all over the world, talking about things that are relevant to the rapidly changing time? 

I don’t think I’ll try to answer that. Who are the special people in your life?  

I love my mother. She is my best friend. But I have fallen in love with Riza, a smart, beautiful, passionate, and a bit headstrong Muslim girl from an extremely wealthy family. Being a teenager, I was prone to falling in love with a different girl every other week. Most of the time, like a sniffle, it lasted only a few days, without my love interests even becoming aware of my affliction. But Riza causes my heart to palpitate whenever I am with her. I hope our love will endure.

What is your heart’s deepest desire?   

I love my life; my golf game, spending time with my friends and eating my favorite food prepared by my family cook. But my biggest desire is to spend alone time with Riza. May I tell you that I experienced my first kiss with her? It jolted every nerve ending in my body.

How wonderful! What are you most afraid of? 

I hate the fact that my father is so cruel to my mother and me. I am not sure how to handle it.  

I am also deeply concerned about the world around us; street protests are everywhere; burning and looting are becoming an everyday affair. I made a new friend in Ari, a brilliant boy from the “other side of the track.” He is so different from the affluent kids with whom I grew up. Ari took me inside the slums of Calcutta. There, I came to know people like Didi, a resolute woman who tries to earn money for her family, despite the torturous relationship with her abusive husband; a master pickpocket, who loves his son; an erudite call girl; a slum don; a street fighter. I am also worried that the new political movement, inspired by the Maoist communists, known as the Naxalites, would plunge my world into violence and mayhem. With Ari, I join the movement to organize the poor against the oppressive society. I go to a remote tribal village in the vast forest area of India to start a revolutionary base. As I come to know the members of my host family, the village money lender, the old shaman, and an alluring young woman, my confusion deepens. I want to change their society, but do they want to change? 

What do you expect the future will hold for you?  

I am deeply conflicted about my future. My mother wants me to go abroad for higher studies. I know I can start a new life with Riza. But I feel guilty about leaving my new friends to their miserable lives. Dispossessed and marginalized, their daily sufferings trouble me. How can I build my own fortune in the United States ignoring their plight? I want to join the Naxalite movement and help usher in a new just and verdant society. At the same time, I fear, if we are successful in bringing about a revolution, will we have the wisdom to create such a world? What if, like the story of the Animal Farm, I morph into Napoleon the pig and start cannibalizing the hapless multitude? 

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

Throughout my privileged life, I felt like a boat without a radar, floating aimlessly down the river of time, pushed by the vagaries of wind and tide. However, at the end of my story, when I lose everything – faith in politics, love, and even my own identity – on my lonesome flight to a new world, in an epiphany I find a strange feeling of inner strength. Like the German philosopher Nietzsche’s “Super Man,” I want to write my own story, shape my own destiny, and create my own identity on a clean slate.  

Why should I care about your story?

You would be right to ask, why should you read a story about a teenager getting involved in an obscure rebellion, in a faraway place, more than half a century ago? Since the dawn of humanity, men and women have sacrificed everything to recreate their societies according to their own belief in a perfect order. While we have come a long way in terms of technological progress, we still fight along our sectarian, racial, religious, and ideological divides. From this perspective, my story is never ending and remains as relevant today as it was when I was a young man.


Dipak K. Gupta is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Political Science at San Diego State University. He served as the Founding Director of the undergraduate program in International Security and Conflict Resolution (ISCOR). In 1997, he was awarded Albert W. Johnson Distinguished Lecturer, the highest research award for the university, and was the “Professor of the Year” in 1994. His primary research interest involves the causes of terrorism, ethnic conflict, and the impact of political instability on national economic development. For 11 years, Gupta served as the Fred J. Hansen Professor of World Peace at SDSU.

Born in India, Gupta received master’s degrees in Economics from Visva Bharati University, Santiniketan, India, and the University of Pittsburgh. He earned his Ph.D. in the area of Economic and Social Development from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. He has been a visiting scholar at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University, El Colegio de Mexico in Mexico City, Leiden University in the Netherlands, Fudan University in Shanghai, China, and the Terrorism Prevention Branch at the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention in Vienna, Austria. He was also awarded a summer fellowship in the International Studies Program at the Hoover Institution for War, Peace, and Revolution, at Stanford University. He received a post-doctoral fellowship at the Institute for International Politics and Economics in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. In 2010 Gupta received a Fulbright Expert Fellowship at Bilgi University, Istanbul, Turkey.

Professor Gupta has authored ten academic books and over 150 articles in scholarly journals, research monographs, chapters in edited volumes, and newspapers. Gupta is a regular contributor to San Diego Union Tribune’s Opinion section. He has been a frequent guest at the local National Public Radio station and contributed on foreign policy and terrorism matters in numerous newspapers and television stations.

Gupta has been invited to talk about the causes of terrorism from all over the world. In 2005, he was invited to a terrorism conference convened by the King of Spain in Madrid. He has also been invited by the Prime Minister of Norway, the foreign ministry of Sweden, and the Turkish Ministry of Interior. In 2021, he was a keynote speaker at the 32nd International Congress of Psychology in Prague.

Gupta is also an artist. He shows his art at San Dieguito Art Guild in Encinitas. 

Lonesome Flight is his debut novel.  Visit him online at: https://dipakgupta.com

Meet Isabella Garcia from Tracie Peterson’s Beyond the Desert Sands

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

Tell us something about where you live. 

I live in the high desert area of the San Mateo Mountains south of Albuquerque, when I’m not sharing a home with my great aunt in California. That’s where I really want to be more than any other place. I grew up in California before my father forced us to move to New Mexico.

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

My author tells me that my name was given as a reward to one of her faithful readers whose name is Isabella Garcia Bailey.

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

Oh, dear no. I am the daughter of wealthy landowners. My family can be traced back to the old families of Spain, so I do not hold an occupation, but rather have learned to manage a rancho.

Who are the special people in your life? 

Until recently my Aunt Josephina (my father’s sister) was the focus of my life, along with Diego Morales whom I plan to marry. However, that irritating Aaron Bailey won’t seem to let well enough alone.  My mother and father are of course dear to me, but they do not understand my desires for life.

What is your heart’s deepest desire?  

To live in California on the family’s rancho and throw wonderful parties as we did in the old days. I want to step back in time to have what we once had.

What are you most afraid of?  

That my heart’s desire will never be available to me.

Do you have a cherished possession?  

 I once had a horse I cherished. However, I’ve learned over the years that things are temporal and the land is what remains. 

What do you expect the future will hold for you?  

I hope to be married to Diego Morales and have a family together in California.  But again, that pesky Aaron Bailey doesn’t think Diego is an honest man.  He thinks it’s his place to guard and protect me from Diego.  Foolish man.

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

That I’m quite opinionated and headstrong. I’m a woman of means and intelligence and I know that I can figure out all the answers if I’m given a chance. This makes some people believe me to be uncaring or harsh, but that isn’t the truth. I care very much about seeing the world set in a way that will make sense to me and bring happiness to those around me.

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

Well, I don’t know that I want people to know that I’m also a very broken woman—girl really. There has been a lot of pain in my life, and now as I learn the secrets that have taken me beyond the desert sands, I realize that more heart break is headed my way.  Aaron says that only God will get me through. My mother says the same.  I wish I knew for sure that was true. I suppose in time I will.

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


Twenty-five-year-old Isabella Garcia has spent the last seven years
living in opulence at her aunt’s California home. The last thing she
wants to do is celebrate Christmas with her parents in the small
silver-mining town of Silver Veil. Not only will she have to leave
her handsome beau, Diego Morales, but she has to travel with her
old rival, Aaron Bailey—a Santa Fe Railroad businessman who
considers her both childish and selfish.

When Isabella finally arrives in Silver Veil, she is surprised by how
much the town has grown in her absence. But she is also shocked to
see how much her father’s health has declined. When Diego shows
up unexpectedly with news of her aunt’s death, Isabella is faced
with some-life changing decisions. But trouble is brewing.
Isabella must determine who she can truly rely on as well as
reconcile who she’s become with who she’s meant to be—even if it
costs her everything.


Tracie Peterson is the award-winning author of over 100 novels, both historical and contemporary. Her avid research resonates in her many bestselling series. Tracie and her family make their home in
Montana. Visit traciepeterson.com to learn more.

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.

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.