Meet Jennie Hamilton from All That Is Hidden  by Laura DeNooyer-Moore

Welcome, Jennie. I’m so glad you could join us today for an interview.

Jennie: The pleasure’s all mine. Granny sakes alive, I’m glad to be taking a break from a hot day of weeding in the garden, snapping beans, and watering my azaleas and buttercups. There’s always a slew of chores awaiting, but I love it. The kids and I dug up dandelion roots for coffee. We wash and peel them, then roast and grind them. We’re fixing to scrub sassafras bark, then peel and boil it for tea. And add a right heap of sugar, of course.

Sounds like you keep quite busy.

Jennie: As busy as a one-armed wallpaper hanger with the seven-year itch. If not the garden, it’s the cooking and cleaning and other chores around the farm. Today I’ve a hankering for pork stew, beans with bacon, and hushpuppies—my husband Drew’s favorite meal. And I reckon I should practice our clogging routine for the town’s Fourth of July Festival. 

I’ve heard that you favor doing things the traditional way. 

Jennie: Perhaps to my detriment. I’ll blame my mother for that. She says I do her proud because I still cling to the old ways, the home remedies, and spring tonic that cures whatever ails you. I take it over to the neighbors, too, every week. The kids and I string beans for leather breeches, and I fancy an old fashioned potato hole for winter storage. I still plant by the signs, too. And in 1968, that’s saying something.

Seems like Nick and Tina help out a lot, too.

Jennie: Nick’s eleven, and he’s a right smart helper when he’s not wearing out his arm trying to master the fastball with his friend Todd. And Tina, well, she’s ten and not given to much hard work yet. She preferslollygagging. But kids need a lavish of play time. As her Uncle Ross says, he does more work by accident than Tina ever does on purpose. Sometimes she claims she doesn’t hear us at chore time. Things rose to such a pitch last week, her daddy took her to the doctor to have her ears checked. That cured her. 

No doubt it did. 

Jennie: Truth be told, I kinda hope she’s deaf to all the goings-on around here. I mean all the talk about the proposed theme park. Folks are buzzing like bees in a tar tub about Phil Kepler and his new-fangled ideas.

Who’s Phil Kepler?

Jennie: He’s a northerner, from New York City, the getting-aroundest man I know. He’s been living down here for a spell but has all those connections up north. The trouble is, Phil Kepler could talk a fellow into buying a heater for the desert. Why, last year he convinced me to ignore the signs and plant my beans on the new of the moon. The few beans that did grow plumb rotted and specked. Did you ever hear tell of that? That’s the last time I’ll abide such an addlepated notion.

Why, there’s Tina now, traipsing in the back door. Two hours late for chores like usual, and probably wants a molasses cookie to boot. Tina, come on over and talk to the nice lady while I check on those squawking chickens. I’ll be right back.

Hello, Tina. You seem out of breath. Where are you coming from in such a hurry?

Tina: I just rode my bike home from the sandlot, down the road apiece. I’m the only girl on the team ’cause they were one short. The boys tease me, especially that bully Stan Randall.

Sounds rough, all that teasing. What do like about being on the team?

Tina: I love baseball, and I’m a good hitter. And not everybody’s mean. Todd’s gonna owe Nick an ice cream sundae at Simpson’s Ice Cream Parlor come autumn if Denny McLean gets thirty wins this season. He’s a Detroit Tiger, in case you don’t know. Oh, man, I gotta sit down. I’m all tuckered out.

Baseball and bicycling will do that to a body.

Tina: It’s not just the bicycling . . . it’s . . . well, since Mom left the room, I’ll tell you. Don’t go telling nobody, but Nick and I, we’re all wore out from visiting Ole Joe yonder on the mountain. We got up in the middle of the night to swipe the neighbor’s vegetables and deliver them to Ole Joe in a wheelbarrow. It’s our secret, and we’ll be in big trouble if anyone finds out. We didn’t get home till six in the morning. 

Why do you do that?

Tina: We don’t rightly have a choice. No telling what Ole Joe will do if we refuse. He’s good to us, though. He tells us stories and he’s gonna—never mind. I can’t tell you that part. Nick and I swore not to tell anybody. But we have mighty fine visits with him.

So long as Mom and Dad don’t find out, we’ll be okay. It beats getting caught after that egg pitching contest in the chicken coop last summer. That was Nick’s idea, not mine. Oh—never mind. Mom’s back. I’m going outside now. 

Jennie: I’m back! And off she goes. That girl . . . she’s always flitting about, like she knows I’m gonna get after her for missing chores. 

Glad you could return, Jennie. Are you worried about the proposed theme park?

Jennie: Just a smidgeon. Drew’s on town council, and he’s given out to be the best one for talking sense into folks. Some say Phil doesn’t have a chance, like a bug arguing with a chicken. 

How would this park affect the small town of Currie Hill?

Jennie: The park would swallow us up, like a fox after chickens. Phil says the experts  studied on the situation and found this area to be best suited for such a park. Plus, good for the economy and all. Providing much-needed jobs. But that would be the end of Currie Hill as we know it. And most folks don’t want such drastic change. Fortunately, Drew’s been serving this town for twelve years now. Folks listen to him.

Twelve years? That’s about as long as he’s been back from New York, right? What do folks think about his time up north?

Jennie: Nowadays, nary a soul makes mention of it anymore. But back then, folks didn’t know what in the Sam Hill to make of him. It took a powerful long time to win back their trust. Nobody here confidences someone who’s spent time in the big city, and he was gone a coon’s age. Fifteen years, to be exact. Four years serving in the Army, then eleven more attending school and working as an architect.

What did people say when he got back home?

Jennie: Everything you can think of. Speculations and assumptions flung all over the place, most of it slack talk for certain. Some say Drew was surely living high on the hog, or living a life of crime. Y’all know how the city corrupts. 

My parents cautioned me about courting him. “As fickle as the wind,” they said. “Taking up city ways and coming back here. Those who succeed in the city don’t belong to the mountains anymore. Those who fail don’t belong to either them or us.” 

But I latched onto Drew like a cocklebur in sheep’s wool. With no regrets. Loving him is as easy as falling off a log.

Folks aren’t bothered anymore by his previous absence?

Jennie: He’s proven he’s one of us. But—well, I have to admit . . . I fear there are folks on both sides of the fence. And sometimes his mother shakes her finger at him about those mysterious years of his as if he were still a little boy, as if it were as simple a matter as returning stolen cookies from the cookie jar. 

The thing is, he won’t talk about his time away, never did. It’s behind him now. That’s how it is. . . . We can only look forward. One day at a time. 

It’ll be a relief for certain after the town council votes in a few weeks. Then I reckon Phil Kepler and that park will hightail it out of town. For good.

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Author bio:

Laura DeNooyer thrives on creativity and encouraging it in others. She spotlights creatives of all kinds on her blog, Journey To Imagination, and highlights authors and their novels in her Standout Stories blog. A Calvin College graduate, Laura taught middle school and high school for nine years in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and currently teaches writing to home schooled students. Between those two jobs, she and her husband raised four children as she penned her first novel, All That Is Hidden. An award-winning author of heart-warming historical and contemporary fiction, she is president of her American Christian Fiction Writers chapter. When not writing, you’ll find her reading, walking, drinking tea with friends, or taking a road trip. Visit Laura at https://lauradenooyer-author.com or on Facebook, BookBub, and GoodReads.

Book Blurb:

Are secrets worth the price they cost to keep? 

Ten-year-old Tina Hamilton finds out the hard way. 

She always knew her father had a secret. But all of God’s earth to Tina are the streams for fishing, the fields for romping, a world snugly enclosed by the blue-misted Smokies. Nothing ever changed.

Until the summer of 1968. Trouble erupts when northern exploitation threatens her tiny southern Appalachian town. Some folks blame the trouble on progress, some blame the space race and men meddling with the moon’s cycles, and some blame Tina’s father. 

A past he has hidden catches up to him as his secret settles in like an unwelcome guest. The clash of progressive ideas and small town values escalates the collision of a father’s past and present.

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Website:

Standout Stories blog with author interviews and book reviews:

Book trailer:    www.All-That-Is-Hidden-book-trailer.com

Buy link:    https://amzn.to/2HF4UB9   

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Facebook, BookBub, & Goodreads links:

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Interview with Colleen Sullivan from Colleen’s Confession by Susan G. Mathis

Welcome, Colleen, we’re so happy to have you here at Novel PASTimes today. How did you come to work on Comfort Island? And where is that?

My aunt Gertie is the cook for the Clarks on Comfort Island and secured a position for me. I grew up in an orphanage, but just before I aged out, they found Aunt Gertie and contacted her, so Auntie had the Clarks hire me.

That was very kind of her.

Comfort Island is in the Thousand Islands in upstate New York in the St. Lawrence River. It’s a small island the Clark family owns, and there’s a beautiful cottage on the island that’s almost as big as the orphanage I grew up in.

Wow! I’ve heard the Thousand Islands area is very picturesque. Tell us about your job.

I’ve been doing laundry at the orphanage for nearly a decade, so that’s what I continue to do. I hate it.

Laundry isn’t my favorite thing to do either. Do you like your employers, the Clarks?

The Clark family are wonderful people. Mr. Clark is deceased, and Mrs. Clark is very nice. So is her son, Alson Skinner Clark, who is a famous Impressionist artist. He painted murals all over the cottage. I love to draw, so he helped me develop my skills.

To have mentorship from a famous artist is very fortunate for you!

I heard you were engaged. What became of your fiancé?

Goodness…poor Peter Byrne perished on his way to meet me when The Empress of Ireland sunk in the St. Lawrence. Aunt Gertie arranged a marriage between him and me with his mother, but I never met the man. 

I’m sorry for your loss. 

What or whom do you like least on Comfort Island?

That’s easy. The Ogre. Oh, I mean, Mrs. Marshall, my supervisor, who is a cruel taskmaster. 

Yikes, Colleen! She must be pretty awful to nickname her the Ogre!

I heard about a handsome groundskeeper from Austria. What can you tell us about him?

Jack Weiss is more than handsome. He’s become a trusted friend and confidant. Maybe more. 

Do you think you and he have a future together?

With World War I looming, Jack keeps talking about going back to Austria and fighting in the war. I hope he doesn’t. He’s the only friend I’ve ever known. To be honest, he’s more than that…

He sounds like a good man. I hope he won’t have to leave.

 I’ve heard you’re artistically talented. Tell us what and how you like to draw.

Awww…I love to sketch and draw anything and everything. It’s my way of sharing and experiencing the world more fully. Jack says I’m gifted. Mr. Alson does too. But I have so much to learn. 

Want to know the whole story? Susan G Mathis has put it all down in her book, Colleen’s Confession. Here’s a glimpse:

Summer 1914

Colleen Sullivan has secrets as she joins her aunt on Comfort Island to work in the laundry and await the arrival of her betrothed. She loves to draw and dreams of growing in the craft. But tragedy strikes when her fiancé perishes in the sinking of the ocean liner RMS Empress of Ireland on his way to meet her. With her orphan dreams of finally belonging and becoming a wife and an artist gone, what will her future hold?

Austrian immigrant, Jack Weiss, enjoys being the island’s groundskeeper and is smitten by the lovely Irish lass. But Colleen dismisses him at every turn, no matter how much he fancies her art, tries to keep her safe, and waters the blossoms of love. When Jack introduces her to the famous impressionist, Alson Skinner Clark, Colleen seems to find hope.

But rumors of war in Europe prod Jack to choose between joining his family’s Austrian army and staying safe in the Thousand Islands to make a life with Colleen. Will she finally embrace his love for her, or will Jack lose the battle and join the war? With the Thousand Islands’ summer ending, he hopes she will.

You can get it here at Amazon.

About Susan: 

Susan G Mathis is an international award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Susan has been published more than twenty times in full-length novels, novellas, and non-fiction books.

Her first two books of The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, Devyn’s Dilemma, and Katelyn’s Choice have each won multiple awards, and book three, Peyton’s Promise, comes out May 2022. Colleen’s Confession is her newest title, andRachel’s Reunion is coming soon. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family LegacyChristmas CharitySara’s Surpriseand Reagan’s Reward are also award winners. Susan’s book awards include two Illumination Book Awards, three American Fiction Awards, two Indie Excellence Book Awards, and two Literary Titan Book Awards. Reagan’s Reward is also a finalist in the Selah Awards. 

Susan is also a published author of two premarital books, two children’s picture books, stories in a dozen compilations, and hundreds of published articles. Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs and enjoys traveling around the world but returns each summer to the islands she loves. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com/fiction for more.

Social media links: Website |Author Central  Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Blog | Goodreads l Instagram  | CAN | 

Book Review: The Wish Book Christmas by Lynn Austin

Tyndale House, Sept. 2021

Best friends Audrey Barrett and Eve Dawson are looking forward to celebrating Christmas in postwar America, thrilled at the prospect of starting new traditions with their five-year-old sons. But when the 1951 Sears Christmas Wish Book arrives and the boys start obsessing over every toy in it, Audrey and Eve realize they must first teach them the true significance of the holiday. They begin by helping Bobby and Harry plan gifts of encouragement and service for those in their community, starting by walking an elderly neighbor’s yellow Lab—since a dog topped the boys’ wish list for Santa. In the charming tale that follows, Audrey and Eve are surprised to find their own hearts healing from the tragedies of war and opening to the possibility of forgiveness and new love.

If you’ve read Lynn Austin’s If I Were You (reviewed here) you’ll recognize the characters Audrey and Eve. You might even have wondered what happened to them. While this novella helps to answer that question, it’s also a wonderful nostalgic story. Who doesn’t remember looking at toy catalogs at Christmas time and circling the things you most wanted? Parents often struggle with how to balance their children’s wishes with what is most important about the season, and Audrey and Eve are no different. Having struggled through WWII in England, these characters now have children who have no experience to compare, and little understanding of what it’s like to go without. The lessons learned in this story, however, are not just for the kids. Audrey and Eve learn something as well.

Grab some hot cocoa and a Christmas cookie and snuggle down for this delightful read!


About the Author:

Lynn Austin has sold more than one and a half million copies of her books worldwide. A former teacher who now writes and speaks full- time, she has won eight Christy Awards for her historical fiction and was one of the first inductees into the Christy Award Hall of Fame. One of her novels, Hidden Places, was made into a Hallmark Channel Original Movie. Lynn and her husband have three grown children and make their home in western Michigan. Visit her online at lynnaustin.org.

A Candid Talk with Audrey Barrett and Eve Dawson from Lynn Austin’s The Wish Book Christmas

Welcome, ladies. Please tell us a little about yourselves.

Eve: I’ll go first. My name is Eve Dawson, I’m single, and I have a five-year-old son named Harry. We share a little bungalow with my best friend Audrey, who is a widow, and her son, Bobby. As you can probably tell from the way I talk, I’m originally from England. Audrey and I are fairly new to America. We both came over after the war, but we lived very different lives growing up. Mum and I were servants at Wellingford Hall, which is Audrey’s family’s manor house.

Audrey: That’s true—we are very different, but we’ve been friends since we were girls. And during the war, we enlisted in the women’s army together and learned how to drive ambulances.  My husband Robert died in a car accident when Bobby was still a baby. He just started kindergarten this past fall.

What about your Christmas celebrations in the past? What were they like for you?

Eve: Mum and I never had much, so I was grateful for a few simple gifts. I would hang my stocking on the bedpost for Father Christmas to fill, and I would find a doll or a toy or maybe an orange inside in the morning. The orange and maybe some candy were always real treats. I didn’t know it, but Mum saved for months to buy me those things. My granny Maud would always knit something for me, a new hat or maybe mittens. Mum had to work at Wellingford Hall on Christmas, but we always spent Boxing Day together.

Audrey: Our gardener would cut greens and holly branches from the estate grounds to make Wellingford Hall look and smell splendid. My brother, Alfie, and I would awaken on Christmas morning to see a huge tree in the main hall, beautifully decorated. He would be home from boarding school, and we would unwrap our presents together. Our governess likely chose them, not our parents.

Eve: During the war, we were grateful just to get through Christmas without being interrupted by air-raid sirens, right, Audrey?

Audrey: Right!

What are your thoughts about celebrating the season as Christmas approaches?

Eve: To be honest, I’ve a lot on my mind lately, and I haven’t felt much like celebrating. I have a full-time job as a typist and I’m pretty tired by the time I get home from work. I have a really huge debt that I’m trying to pay off, so money is always tight. I want Christmas to be lovely for Harry, but I’m worried that Santa Claus won’t be able to bring him much.

Audrey: I haven’t had time to think about the holiday, either. I’ve been taking a few courses with the hope of becoming a nurse, and my exams are coming up soon. Before my husband died, we talked about living a simple life and raising our son to value hard work, even though Robert and I both grew up in wealthy families. He would want me to keep Christmas simple and not spoil Bobby with mountains of expensive toys.

What do you think of the Sears Wish Book?

Eve: I wish Audrey had tossed it into the rubbish bin the day it arrived! Harry has been circling every toy in the book and pinning his hopes on Santa bringing him everything he wants. I can’t afford even half of the toys on his list.

Audrey: I agree with Eve. The Wish Book is stirring up Bobby’s greed. He knows that Grandma and Grandpa Barrett can afford to buy every toy in the book, and they have been very good to us these past few years. But I wish Bobby wasn’t so obsessed with getting new things.

Eve: To make matters worse, the boys are also asking Santa to bring them a dog for Christmas!

Audrey: Yes, and fathers! All the other children in kindergarten have fathers, so they’ve decided they each want one, too.

Eve: Neither dogs nor fathers are for sale in the Wish Book.

Do either of you have someone special in your life?

Eve: No.

Audrey: What about Tom? I can tell that he cares for you, and I thought—

Eve: I can’t think about Tom or anyone else until my debts are paid.

Audrey: But that makes no sense—

Eve: Why don’t you answer the question, Audrey? Why isn’t there anyone special in your life?

Audrey: Let’s go on to the next question, please.

All right. What are your hopes for your family and for yourself this Christmas season?

Eve: I want Harry to have happy memories of Christmas, but most of all, I want him to understand the real meaning of Christmas

Audrey: I want that for my son, too. And I wish my in-laws would help in this regard. They don’t understand why I don’t want a life of wealth and privilege. Or why I want to become a nurse and work to support Bobby and myself.

Eve: We need to put our heads together, Audrey, and come up with a plan. We need to teach the boys that there’s more to Christmas than choosing every toy in the Wish Book.

Audrey: I agree. We need to show them that Christmas is about giving, not getting. Let’s give it some thought, Eve, and start doing something about it. Before it’s too late.

Come back tomorrow for Cindy Thomson’s review of The Christmas Wish Book!


The Wish Book Christmas

Lynn Austin

From the bestselling author of If I Were You comes a nostalgic and endearing holiday story that reminds us that sometimes the most meaningful gifts are the ones we least expect and don’t deserve.

Best friends Audrey Barrett and Eve Dawson are looking forward to celebrating Christmas in postwar America, thrilled at the prospect of starting new traditions with their five-year-old sons. But when the 1951 Sears Christmas Wish Book arrives and the boys start obsessing over every toy in it, Audrey and Eve realize they must first teach them the true significance of the holiday. They begin by helping Bobby and Harry plan gifts of encouragement and service for those in their community, starting by walking an elderly neighbor’s yellow Lab—since a dog topped the boys’ wish list for Santa. In the charming tale that follows, Audrey and Eve are surprised to find their own hearts healing from the tragedies of war and opening to the possibility of forgiveness and new love.


Lynn Austin has sold more than one and a half million copies of her books worldwide. A former teacher who now writes and speaks full-time, she has won eight Christy Awards for her historical fiction and was one of the first inductees into the Christy Award Hall of Fame. One of her novels, Hidden Places, was made into a Hallmark Channel Original Movie. Lynn and her husband have three grown children and make their home in western Michigan. Visit her online at lynnaustin.org.

Meet Annalee Spain from Patricia Raybon’s All That is Secret 

Tell us about yourself, Annalee Spain. Who are you? How would you describe yourself?

Thank you for asking—because that’s my biggest mystery. I was raised alone by my dad, and Joe Spain was a little rough around the edges. The neighbor ladies taught me “girl things” and how to be a “nice young lady.” But who am I? How do I answer that question? I’m on a journey to figure that out.

But you’ve accomplished a lot. You’re “the Colored Professor.” Doesn’t that say “you’ve made it” in the world?

I suppose it should. But the world doesn’t look kindly on folks like me. So I find myself asking God, Why not? His answer is to trust in Him—and that He loves me. For all of us, that’s a pretty good place to start.

What do you want most in life?

To make the world better—for everybody. Sounds crazy. But I want people to see each other with God’s eyes, reflecting on the real person who’s on the inside. Yesterday someone yelled a bad name at me from his Model T automobile. The word stung. Still, I wondered, who is that person—on the inside? Why is he trying to hurt me? As long as I’m asking that question, for me, I haven’t lost hope.

Are you a detective?

I’m learning how to be. I’m not Sherlock Holmes, even though I read and love all his adventures. Instead, I’m a daughter who misses her murdered daddy. The Bible says, “You shall not murder.” But Jesus says if you’re even angry with someone, to reconcile with that person.

So I’m trying to solve a murder but not hate the person who did it. To look for clues but not think the worst of suspects. Am I a detective? God knows I’m trying to be. But at the same time, I’m searching for my real self, too, and to feel okay with what I find. I suspect we all are.

What’s your most treasured possession?

My friends. They’re gold. They’re like gifts that I didn’t earn and don’t deserve. My landlady, Mrs. Stallworth, tests me at every turn and argues with me—even about how much milk to put in the corn bread. But she would lie down and die for me. So would young Eddie—a ragamuffin of a street kid, an orphan who also is white but could be my little brother or even my son. He would move mountains for me.

What have your friends taught you?

To look for the unexpected. Sometimes life sends us people or friends who don’t look as if they belong in our lives. But as I’ve learned, don’t be so quick to turn them away. They could be the gold you’ve been digging for and trying to find.

Have you ever been in love?

Do you know something that I don’t? In fact, I have met a young man and to know him feels like being in love. But I’m learning what that means, too. Can I leave it at that?

In the world, where would you most like to live?

Some place where the sun shines every day. But that’s where I live now. In Colorado, we get sunshine perpetually. Even when it snows, by the next morning—or sometimes the afternoon on the same day—the sun bursts through and the sky is a blinding blue.

Have you ever been to a place where it’s ice-cold, but your body and face are so warm in the sun that you’re pulling off your coat? That’s Colorado on a beautiful winter day. I love it here.

What’s your greatest fear?

Disappointing God. He has given me so much—an education, loving friends, important work, even the prospect of romance. But do I measure up? Do any of us? As a theologian, I know God doesn’t judge us in that way. He sees our hearts—and He loves us anyway. Still, I desire to live up to my potential in Him. Or maybe that’s not a fear but my greatest hope.

What’s your favorite thing to wear?

I don’t have many clothes—and the stores don’t let colored people try on clothes, even if I had enough money (and I don’t). I know women who are seamstresses, but I can’t pay them either. So perhaps my favorite thing to wear is my late daddy’s Stetson hat. It’s a bit worn and too big. But when I put it on, I recall his love and presence. That makes it a pretty good favorite, right?

What’s one fanciful thing you’d love to do?

To ride a bicycle! I love watching people riding them. I want to balance on two wheels and ride with confidence and joy. While wearing a new dress! Does God answer prayers like that? I actually believe He does.

Thank you for interviewing me!


Patricia Raybon is an award-winning author and essayist whose books include My First White Friend, a Christopher Award–winning memoir about racial forgiveness, and I Told the Mountain to Move, a prayer memoir that was a Christianity Today Book of the Year finalist. Patricia’s other books include The One Year God’s Great Blessings Devotional and Undivided: A Muslim Daughter, Her Christian Mother, Their Path to Peace, coauthored with her younger daughter, Alana Raybon. Patricia’s essays on faith, race, and grace have been published in the New York TimesNewsweekUSA TodayGuidepostsChristianity Today, andother national publications and blogs. She lives with her husband, Dan, in her beloved home state of Colorado. Her latest book, All That Is Secret, releases from Tyndale in October.

author Patricia Raybon

For more information about Patricia, visit her website and/or on FacebookTwitter and/or Instagram.

A Chat With Natalie from Jane Kirkpatrick’s The Healing of Natalie Curtis

Tell us something about where you live. That’s not an easy question to answer. I grew up in New York but I’ve spent the last years of my life traveling all over the Southwest and West. I lived in Old Orabi, a Hopi village in Arizona. And I stayed in Yuma, Arizona for a time. Then my work – well my passion really – took my brother and me and our horse drawn wagon all across the country with my Edison machine making recordings of Indian music I feared would be lost due to a law that forbid Indian people to sing or perform or speak their language. The West is my home. But I guess you could say now that my heart is in New Mexico. Santa Fe to be exact.

Do you have an occupation? What do you like or dislike about your work? Oddly, I guess you could say I formed a new occupation called “ethnomusicologist,” someone who studies the origin of music especially that of another culture. I love this work! Recording and writing down the notes of complex music of Indigenous people has consumed my life. I guess you could also say that I’m a writer since I worked on the book, which was published even though it was 575 pages long! It’s called The Indians’ Book. I don’t really feel like I “wrote” it. I was “but a pencil in the Indians’ hands.” The only thing I disliked was having to edit out anything!

Who are the special people in your life?  First of all, my brother George. I have five siblings but George is the one who helped save me. I had a breakdown when I was in my early twenties and it was George who lured me west to find healing. He thought my healing would come from the sunshine and desert air, but it came through the music of the Indian people I met like Mina, a Hopi child who stole my heart. There were others, my parents, of course, who encouraged my passion for preserving Indian music and Charlotte Mason, one of my benefactors. (I needed money to travel throughout the west).  And then there’s President Theodore Roosevelt who I enlisted in my efforts. He might not think he was special in my life but I sure think he is!

What is your heart’s deepest desire? To see Native Americans free to celebrate their music without fear of repercussions as they experienced in the late 1800s.

What are you most afraid of? Living a life without purpose and for me that means falling back into letting my parents take care of me in our lovely New York home. The West, with its beauty and its demands, gave me courage to try new things even as I walked into uncertainty. Also, I don’t like snakes.

Do you have a cherished possession? I do! It’s an Acoma Pueblo pot, beautifully crafted and painted with an aloe stem. It was a gift and part of what I love about it is the story the Acoma people tell about their pottery. Once the pots were shaped and fired, they were so fragile that they often broke. The shards would be taken to the desert and discarded but also offered as a gift back to the earth that had first given up the clay. One day, an old woman pounded the fired shards back into powder that was added to new clay. When those pots with the broken pieces and the new pieces were fired, the pots were not only beautiful but strong. I always liked that image of who we are: broken by tragedy and trial, fired by the challenges of life. But when we allow newness to come into our life, we become not only beautiful but strong. I’ve kept that metaphor all along my journey toward my personal healing.

What have you learned about yourself in the course of your story? Many things. I used to be very disciplined with my music, practicing for hours. I thought it would be my future. But when I had my breakdown, music no longer held its sway with me and I languished until my brother invited me West. Part of what I learned is that a passion can burn a person up. Guilt can take a person down but both purpose and regret can also fire new desires. I learned that I was stronger than I thought and that when I took on another’s cause, I had even more energy than when I was only thinking of myself. Giving myself to others, that’s what really brought on the healing.

Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you? As I’ve gotten older, I’ve kept learning and exploring. I have traveled by horseback to outlying Indian villages, where I recorded Morning Songs and lullabies. But, I’ve also been exploring how people treat each other. The Code of Offenses was a law passed in 1883 to force Indian people to give up their music, language and customs. I spent my life finding ways to break this code and learned that one small woman, when motivated by love, can make a difference in the lives of others. It’s a good lesson!

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


Jane Kirkpatrick is the New York Times and CBA bestselling and award-winning author of forty books, including Something Worth Doing, One More River to Cross, Everything She Didn’t Say, All Together in One Place, A Light in the Wilderness, The Memory Weaver, This Road We Traveled, and A Sweetness to the Soul, which won the prestigious Wrangler Award from the Western Heritage Center. Her works have won the WILLA Literary Award, the Carol Award for Historical Fiction, and
the 2016 Will Rogers Gold Medallion Award. Jane divides her time between Central Oregon and California with her husband, Jerry, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Caesar.

Learn more at www.jkbooks.com.

A Chat with Colonel Theodore Roosevelt as Depicted in Justin Teerlinck’s Squabble of the Titans

We decided to interview Mr. Roosevelt about his recent expedition to the Olympic Peninsula in search of the mythic “Saysquack” a.k.a. “Sasquatch.”

Can you explain the etymology of  “Saysquack” for our readers?

It comes from the Quilliniklat word literally meaning “He who says quack.” It’s the sound the creature is believed to make.

What do you hope to gain by hunting the Saysquack?

I want to be the first to find out just what he is, how he lives, and what his flavor profile may be. My aim is also to preserve some strapping specimens for the museums back east in order to aid conservation efforts. 

What if the Saysquack ends up being an ancestor of human beings, or an intelligent creature?

Well, I’ll do my best to sort all that out in the field. If the Saysquack can be reasoned with, then I will of course offer it the choice to recognize my authority and come with me willingly. Any Saysquack wishing to improve itself by learning our ways and becoming an American will have my full support, but let me give you my honest opinion: I don’t really think that’s likely or possible.

How did you come to realize that the Saysquack is really out there, is worth your time and energy hunting, and is not just a legend? Do you worry about lending your name and reputation to such a venture?

A prominent anthropologist, Professor Alfred Kroeber, has provided tantalizing evidence of its existence. However, we still need the definitive proof that only specimens and field study can provide. Many prominent members of society are willing to back my expedition, so it is not only my reputation on the line. This reduces the risk of embarrassment for all of us. 

There is believed to be another gentleman—a British doctor—also searching for the Saysquack in the Olympic Peninsula. He is reputed to be trying to find the Saysquack in order to civilize and educate them. What do you think of that?

I’d say that reminds me of people who dress up their dogs and mollycoddle them like children. In other words, it sounds like utter codswallop. Showing kindness is one thing, but you cannot turn one species into another. If this gentleman succeeds at his endeavor, I will gladly eat my hat.

What do you think the future holds for the Saysquack, assuming you find it?

With the help of my friend Gifford Pinchot, we will petition Congress to set aside the Olympic Peninsula to create Theodore Roosevelt—Saysquack National Park as a permanent home for our hirsute, temperate rainforest dwelling friends. There they may be skillfully managed by the Department of the Interior and frolic for many future generations to come. It is my hope that safari trips may be carefully arranged and regulated, so that even after the closing of this last frontier, future Americans may yet be able to obtain a taste of what real wilderness was like in its primordial state.


The year is 1911. The local people know him as Orca, an insatiably hungry monster who needs to kill and eat everything that moves. He is also known by another name: Theodore Roosevelt. He has come to the wild rainforest of the Olympic Peninsula desperately seeking the mythic Saysquack—or “Sasquatch”—so he can be the first to claim the glory of discovering its existence…and its flavor profile. But something stands in the old Bull Moose’s way. A mad utopian British doctor has already arrived a year earlier with plans to find and reform the creature—along with the rest of society—by badgering everyone into singing hymns and learning to ride bicycles. It’s anyone’s guess whose values will come to dominate the cultural landscape in this…squabble of the titans.


Justin Teerlinck pens odd and beguiling books that combine humor, imagination and sometimes strange critters. He has a keen eye for the surreal and magical in ordinary situations. A lifelong anglophile, he loves 19th century Brit lit, doomed polar expeditions, last stands, and incompetence in the face of chaos. If you don’t find him hiking out of the desert after his truck broke down you may find him studying mushrooms in the fern-bedecked wilds of the Pacific Northwest. He is also a mental health occupational therapist who founded therapy departments at two psychiatric hospitals in Washington State. He is currently in private practice.

Author website + blog: https://www.dashfirediaries.net/

Squabble of the Titans: https://www.amazon.com/Squabble-Titans-Recollections-Roosevelt-Rainforest/dp/B097X4R4LN/ref=sr_1_2?crid=29R1LS6XBQTLK&dchild=1&keywords=squabble+of+the+titans

A Chat with Kathryn from Jennifer L. Wright’s If It Rains

Welcome to Novel PASTimes. Today we’re joined by Miss Kathryn Marie Baile—

Kathryn: It’s just Kathryn. You ain’t gotta be all fancy.

Alright. Kathryn it is. Well . . . welcome, Kathryn. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Kathryn: Like what?

How about we start with the basics? Your age? Where you’re from?

Kathryn: I’m fourteen and a half. Don’t forget the half. It’s very important. And I’m from the greatest state in the Union—Oklahoma. People call me an Okie like it’s a bad thing, but what they don’t understand is that folks from Oklahoma are some of the best folks in the world. Like in Boise City—where I’m from—us Okies created a whole doggone town outta nothing. It wasn’t even forty years ago that a couple of swindlers sold off a bunch of property in No Man’s Land—that’s what they call the little strip of Oklahoma sandwiched in between Texas, Kansas, and Colorado—promising settlers a fancy, tree-lined city with homes and stores and a railroad, only for those poor suckers to show up and find out they’d been duped. There wasn’t no town. There wasn’t no anything. But instead of heading back east with their tails between their legs, most of those folks decided to stay and build a town anyway. And that’s exactly what they did (after throwing those crooks in prison first, of course). And my pa was one of ’em.

That’s very interesting and certainly not an easy feat, especially not in that part of the country. Your pa must be an extraordinary man.

Kathryn: Oh, he’s the best man in the world. He works from sunrise to sunset, plowing and planting and tending his crops. Even these past few years, since the rains stopped and dusters started rolling in, he still goes out every day, doing what he can to coax wheat from soil that’s bound and determined to float away on the wind. He ain’t never giving up. Not like all those other quitters headin’ off to California and the like. We’re staying put.

So it’s just you and your pa then?

Kathryn: Nah, there’s me and Pa and my sister, Melissa. She’s older than me, prettier than me, nicer than me—

Aw, don’t sell yourself short, Kathryn.

Kathryn: No, it’s true. And it’s not just me. Everybody thinks so. I don’t remember my mother. She died giving birth to me. But everyone says Melissa is the spittin’ image of her in both looks and spirit. She practically raised me. Looked after me while Pa was out working, taught me to read, sew, cook, all that. And she never treated me any different because of . . . well, you know.

I wasn’t going to bring it up, but since you did . . . would you like to talk about your foot?

Kathryn: Not really, but I know you were staring.

I wasn’t.

Kathryn: It’s alright. Everyone does. I was born with a clubfoot. Don’t know why it’s called that. I don’t think my foot looks like a club at all, but that’s what the docs say it is. My foot turns, see? It ain’t straight like yours. So I have to wear this brace and special shoe to help me walk better, though it still ain’t normal like other people’s. Melissa, though? She never let me use it as an excuse. “Get up and do your chores, Kathryn!” she used to say. “Those cows don’t care about your clubfoot.” I wasn’t crippled, she said. I was special. I didn’t believe it, of course, but it was still nice to hear her say it. Golly, I’m going to miss her.

Miss her? Is she going somewhere?

Kathryn: She’s getting married. To Henry Mayfield of all people.

Is there something wrong with Henry Mayfield?

Kathryn: You ain’t from round here, are you? Everything is wrong with Henry Mayfield. The whole Mayfield family, actually. They own practically all of Cimarron County. Pretty much the only ones in town with indoor plumbing and a house that isn’t made of sod. They may live in Oklahoma, but they ain’t Okies, that’s for sure. And now Melissa is joining them.

That must be very hard for you, losing your sister like that. Not to mention the extra strain of having only two people now to work the farm.

Kathryn: It isn’t just the two of us.

Oh? Is there someone else in your family?

Kathryn: Helen.

You say that like it tastes bad. Who is Helen?

Kathryn: She married my pa. A few years ago.

So she’s your stepmother?

Kathryn: You could call her that. But I wouldn’t. And neither would she.

Can you tell me a little—?

Kathryn: I don’t want to talk about Helen.

Er, um. Okay. Well . . . uh, what would you like to talk about?

Kathryn: Do you like books?

Yes, I do.

Kathryn: What’s your favorite book?

Well, this interview isn’t really about—

Kathryn: Wanna know mine? It’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. You ever read it?

I—

Kathryn: It’s about this girl, Dorothy. She gets sucked up into this twister and lands in a magical world called Oz. She meets a Scarecrow and a Tin Woodman and a Cowardly Lion, and they follow this road of yellow bricks to get to the City of Emeralds, which is where the Wizard lives. He’s supposed to be able to help Dorothy get home. But along the way, there’s all these troubles, like field mice and Winged Monkeys and a Wicked Witch. Melissa used to read it to me all the time. It was my mother’s book—my real mother’s—but she left it for me. Maybe that’s why I like it so much. Or maybe it’s just because it’s a great story.

It is a great story. One of my favorites, too.

Kathryn: I’d like to visit Oz, if I could. But I think, if I ever did, I’d be a lot like Dorothy—I’d still be fighting to get home. Because no matter how great the rest of the world is, there isn’t anywhere else I’d rather be than Oklahoma. Dust or no dust.

I agree. There truly is no place like home.

Kathryn: And if you don’t mind, I’d like to be getting back to mine. I got a broken fence to repair and a hayloft to clean out. Pa heard there was a chance of rain tonight. Ain’t likely, but we’ll keep living our lives as if it might. That’s all we can do.

Of course. Well, thank you for your time, Kathryn. Good luck with your chores. And I really do hope it rains soon.

Kathryn: It will. One of these days, it will.

About the Author

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

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Meet Cora from Ane Mulligan’s On Sugar Hill

I’m a little confused. You seem to have two names. Which is right?

My name is Cora Fitzgerald, but my stage name is Dixie Lynn.

You’re in vaudeville, then?

Yea, and I’ve worked hard to establish myself, and I finally made the best circuit in vaudeville. I’m a ventriloquist and voice thrower. Voice throwers are rare. I’m even rarer, being a woman. And I’m one of the best.

Tell us about your childhood. 

It was lonely. My father, the senator, never liked me. I wasn’t beautiful like Mama. I was plain. He had no time for me and made sure Mama’s time was tied up in Atlanta’s high society. I later learned about their arranged marriage, which benefitted him. Mama got the short end of that stick.

How did you learn to be a ventriloquist?

Nobody knows for sure where my strange “talent” came from, but by the time I was four years old, I could make my dolls talk. By six, I could throw my voice across the room. That’s how I entertained myself and the servants. But the senator beat me because it embarrassed him.

You said your childhood was lonely. Didn’t you have school friends?

 Oh, yes. When I started school, I met Martha Anne, Glenice Jo, Trudie and Millie. Our mamas were friends, and they were delighted when we became best friends too. They heled protect me when the senator’s temper raged against me. Mama would make a telephone call and Millie’s or Martha Anne’s mama would come pick me up for an overnight.

A lot of women suffer with low self-esteem. Do you?

I do. Mama told me stories about the plain garden faerie named Sugar Pie who lived in our yard. She told me, “When the Michaelmas Daisies bloomed, the Sugar Pie became beautiful, just as you will. You aren’t plain, Cora. You simply haven’t bloomed yet.” After she told me that story, she began to call me Sugar-pie, to reinforce her words. Unfortunately, the senator’s harsh criticism obliterated Mama’s. 

Did that affect your relationship with men?

Well, that and my parents’ marriage. I don’t trust men. They’ll break your heart sure as sunrise. They always want something. My father wanted my mother’s good name. He used her to rise in state politics. I always say a dating is fine, just don’t let it bloom into romance.

Hear Cora’s Story:

On Sugar Hill

She traded Sugar Hill for Vaudeville. Now she’s back.

The day Cora Fitzgerald turned sixteen, she fled Sugar Hill for the bright lights of Vaudeville, leaving behind her senator-father’s verbal abuse. But just as her career takes off, she’s summoned back home. And everything changes. 

The stock market crashes. The senator is dead. Her mother is delusional, and her mute Aunt Clara pens novels that have people talking. Then there’s Boone Robertson, who never knew she was alive back in high school, but now manages to be around whenever she needs help. 

Will the people of her past keep her from a brilliant future?            


Ane Mulligan has been a voracious reader ever since her mom instilled within her a love of reading at age three, escaping into worlds otherwise unknown. But when Ane saw PETER PAN on stage, she was struck with a fever from which she never recovered—stage fever. She submerged herself in drama through high school and college. One day, her two loves collided, and a bestselling, award-winning novelist emerged. She lives in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a rascally Rottweiler. Find Ane on her websiteAmazon Author pageFacebookBookBubGoodreadsPinterest,Twitter, and The Write Conversation

Introducing Archie Jackson, an Indianapolis resident who lives within the pages of Valerie Banfield’s Making Up Time

I realize we’re still settling into the past, dear readers, but after traveling one hundred years in the space of three hundred-some pages, it’s time for our appointment. I suppose the ginger-haired dandy standing near the finish line is the fella I want to interview. Why don’t you all take a front-row seat in the stands?

Good morning. Are you Archie Jackson?

Yes, I am. I’m pleased to meet you, but confess I didn’t expect you to bring a crowd.

Don’t mind them. Like me, they’re curious time travelers. Can I start off by asking why you wanted to meet at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?

Anyone who knows anything about this city would want an interview at either the track or the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. They’re our most notable landmarks. Since I’m more madcap than solemn, I picked the speedway.

For a moment, I thought you might be a race car driver.

No, not me, although I wouldn’t mind taking a lap or two in one of the local Marmon cars, or maybe a Stutz. The country’s most prestigious racing event happens on these bricks. Can you imagine what it’s like for those crackerjacks? Last year Howdy Wilcox set the record at eighty-eight miles per hour. It’s unfathomable.

I’m sure. Is everyone who lives here a fan?

Everyone except Emmett Sterling. He’s one of my two best friends, but he’s a peculiar duck.

You have two best friends?

For now.

Do you plan to add more or lose one?

Neither. I’m working up the nerve to ask the female part of our threesome to transition from friend to mate.

As in wife?

Absotively.

Pardon?

As in absolutely and positively. I am absotively stuck on Sally.

I see. Does she know how you feel?

When the three of us go out, she doesn’t show favoritism between Emmett and me, but recently she and I have enjoyed some private time that suggests we might have a future together. 

Good for you.

True, but not so good for Emmett. He’s got the same notion as I have. I keep trying to dissuade him, but he insists that Sally is the doll for him. 

What does she think about having two suitors?

She doesn’t know about the second one. You need to understand that Emmett is practical, dependable, and bent on living a well-ordered life, and while those are admirable traits, he’s about as exciting as a chewing gum wrapper. Regardless, he figures that he has the means to fill her every need. 

You don’t sound like you believe that.

I’m here to tell you, the man is all wet. Frugality and routine are overrated. Every woman needs adventure and romance, dancing and—heavens to hooch—a sip of moonshine now and again.

What about Prohibition?

I’m not saying I imbibe, and I’m not confessing to being acquainted with any local hoodlums. I’m just trying to make a point. I’m the spontaneous one of the group, the one who makes the others laugh, the one who instigates memories.

I can see you have that potential.

I take that as a compliment.

Do you worry you’ll lose your friendship with Emmett?

Well, since we’re standing on the speedway bricks, maybe I can respond accordingly. Seated next to every race car driver is his riding mechanic, the man who pumps oil into the engine as they tear around the track, and who warns the driver of the goings on beside and behind him. My friendship with Emmett is like that, both of us working together to bring out the best outcome. The way things stand, we might have to sacrifice that camaraderie if either of us has a chance to take the trophy.

Trophy? As in Sally?

That’s the crux of it.

Oh dear.

I think I have the winning entry, but I’m biding my time until Emmett sees he needs to withdraw from the race. That way, we can remain a threesome. Why don’t you climb on up in the stands with the friends you brought along, and I’ll expound a bit. Wander through the Making Up Time prologue, turn the next page, and see what happens when Indianapolis and Archie Jackson roar.


Valerie Banfield is a talespinner to the lost, the loved, and the found. She is the author of thirteen novels, co-author of three West Virginia‑themed tales, and recipient of the Cascade Award for Historical Fiction. When she’s not writing or reading, she’s probably weaving a basket, counting the stars, or chasing fireflies. Visit her online at valeriebanfield.com.

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