Guest Post and GIVEAWAY — Joan C. Benson

Today I’m happy to welcome author Joan C. Benson as she shares about her writing. Read through to the end to find out how you can enter her giveaway.

My favorite part of writing is developing characters and creating their life outcomes. In real life, we don’t usually select what happens to us on our journeys, but as a writer, I control the destiny. That is exciting and quite fun to create.

My debut fiction novel is historical because it was based on a family event. However, my next novel is contemporary fiction. I give kudos to those who specialize in historical writing. I know how important, and time-consuming research is. It’s also important to deliver the period details in a natural, uncontrived manner.

I write because I believe I have something to tell, a way to encourage, a spiritual hand-up, so to speak. My new contemporary fiction story, in the draft stage, is based on life experiences in a volunteer counseling role. I want to share this story based on true grit, to help others find God in their journey. I hope to complete the draft in the summer of 2021.



Dreams Can Come True!

Brace yourself for a thrilling race through the twists and turns of a young woman determined to see her dream come true. On the cusp of the stock market crash of 1929, seventeen-year-old Molly has aspirations for a career in music after high school. With the passion of an athlete preparing for the Olympics, she trains relentlessly to become the best she can be. As her world collapses in unimaginable ways, she is left to find peace and purpose in the midst of her crisis. The message of His Gift is universal to anyone who has ever dared to dream in spite of uncontrollable circumstances. The reader will discover with Molly, the hope and peace in a life when yielded to the Giver of all gifts.

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Joan C Benson is a wife, mother, grandmother, and author/speaker. She has been writing professionally for over thirty years, in addition to her career as an educator, serving primarily as a reading specialist. Her debut historical fiction novel was released in 2020. She has been published in multiple Christian magazines including LifeWay’s “ParentLife,” and Regent University’s “The Christian Leader.” She has published devotional writings on Joan also wrote children’s ministry curriculum for LifeWay Publishing.



Blog: (WordPress, but also found on the website)

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First page of His Gift

Chapter 1—Ready or Not

The audition, the Audition, the AUDITION … October 12, 1929, was only two days away, but it had been penned in my diary for two years. With almost a thousand hours of practice behind me, I knew my destiny hung in the balance.

The bell rang. I scooped up my things and made a beeline to the door. The staff at the Music Conservatory frowned upon tardiness. Could I prove I was ready for Saturday?

“Molly Martin—a word, please.” Mr. Hill stepped into my path, blocking my exit from class. I glanced at the clock, but I didn’t need a reminder. I only had fifteen minutes.

“I have to run, Mr. Hill. Remember my permission for early-release on Mondays and Thursdays?”

Draping the lab coat over his arm, Mr. Hill looked aloof, yet stern. He towered above me with his tall, skinny frame. He ignored the students edging around us to get on to their classes. Some students called Mr. Hill ‘the teacher with no soul.’ I would add he had no heart if he made me late for my pre-audition at the Music Conservatory.

“I’m confused, Miss Martin. Why are you taking this chemistry class?” he said, as if to pique my defense.

Good question. Did he think I would admit my parents insisted? I held my tongue. My parents drilled respect into me from childhood.

The fleeing students glanced with curiosity as they brushed by.


February 2021 New Releases

February 2021 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website

Historical Romance:
The Paris Dressmaker
by Kristy Cambron — From fashion to desperation and haute couture to the perils of humanity, The Paris Dressmaker weaves a story of two worlds colliding years apart—where satin and lace stand between life and death in the brutal underbelly of a war-torn world. (Historical Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson and Zondervan))

A Change of Scenery by Davalynn Spencer — A motorcar accident on a rainy Chicago night steals Ella Canaday’s fiancé as well as her ability to ride. Clinging to the remnants of her independence, she cuts her hair and her ties with her wealthy father and takes a train west as the seamstress with a moving-picture company. Colorado offers the change of scenery she needs. But she doesn’t expect the bold cowboy who challenges her to reclaim both the loves she thought she’d lost forever. (Historical Romance from Wilson Creek Publishing)

A Dance in Donegal
by Jennifer Deibel — All of her life, Irish-American Moira Doherty has relished her mother’s descriptions of Ireland. When her mother dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1920, Moira decides to fulfill her mother’s wish that she become the teacher in Ballymann, her home village in Donegal, Ireland. (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Vanessa’s Replacement Valentine by Linda Shenton Matchett — Engaged to be married as part of a plan to regain the wealth her family lost during the War Between the States, Vanessa Randolph finds her fiancé in the arms of another woman weeks before the wedding. Money holds no allure for her, so rather than allow her parents to set her up with another rich bachelor she decides to become a mail-order bride. Life in Green Bay, Wisconsin seems to hold all the pieces of a fresh start until she discovers her prospective groom was a Union spy and targeted her parents during one of his investigations. Is her heart safe with any man? (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin — Evelyn Brand is an American foreign correspondent determined to prove her worth in a male-dominated profession and to expose the growing tyranny in Nazi Germany. To do so, she must walk a thin line. If she offends the government, she could be expelled from the country—or worse. If she does not report truthfully, she’ll betray the oppressed and fail to wake up the folks back home. (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)


The Orchard House by Heidi Chiavaroli — Two women, one living in present day Massachusetts and another in Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House soon after the Civil War, overcome their own personal demons and search for a place to belong. (General Contemporary from Tyndall House)

The Way it Should Be by Christina Suzann Nelson — Can there be healing after addiction takes its toll on a family? (General Contemporary from Bethany House (Baker) Publishing)

by Deborah Raney — Facing an empty nest for the first time since the death of her husband, Dan, three years ago, Tess Everett immerses herself in volunteer work for the Winterset public parks, home of the famous covered bridges of Madison County, Iowa. But when former resident J.W. McRae shows up at one of the bridges with paintbrushes and easel, sparks fly—because J.W. was once married to Tess’s late friend Char. Worse, J.W. was a deadbeat dad to Char’s son, Wynn—then a college student—who Tess and Dan took under their wings after his mom’s death. (Women’s Fiction, Independently Published)


Death and a Crocodile
by Lisa E. Betz — Sensible women don’t investigate murders, but Livia Aemilia might not have a choice.

Rome, 46 AD. When Livia’s father dies under suspicious circumstances, she sets out to find the killer before her innocent brother is convicted of murder. She may be an amateur when it comes to hunting dangerous criminals, but she’s determined, intelligent, and not afraid to break a convention or two in pursuit of the truth. (Historical Mystery from CrossLink Publishing)


Tides of Duplicity by Robin Patchen — Private investigator Fitz McCaffrey went to Belize on a case, bringing his teenage sister Shelby along with him. They have no good reason to leave the resort and hurry back to the harsh New England winter. They lost their parents, he lost his job as a cop, and they both need time to heal. Besides, when Fitz meets and spends time with the beautiful and charming Tabitha Eaton, he falls hard. But minutes after Tabby’s flight leaves, Fitz is summoned by a mobster who believes Tabby broke into the hotel safe the night before and made off with half a million dollars’ worth of jewels. The clock is ticking as Fitz scrambles to recover the jewels. If he succeeds, it’ll cost the woman he’s come to care for. If he fails, it’ll cost his sister’s life. (Thriller/Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Glimmer in the Darkness
by Robin Patchen — Cassidy Leblanc worked hard to shake off her tragic childhood. As a foster child with a mother in prison for murder, she was an outcast in her small New Hampshire town until she met James. But she and James’s sister, whom she was babysitting, were kidnapped. She escaped, but Hallie didn’t survive, and everybody assumed Cassidy killed her. Like mother, like daughter, after all. With public opinion and the authorities united against her, young Cassidy fled. Now, a decade later, another little girl has been kidnapped, and Cassidy may be the only person who can find her.  (Thriller/Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Obsession by Patricia Bradley — Natchez Trace Ranger and historian Emma Winters hoped never to see Sam Ryker again after she broke off her engagement to him. But when shots are fired at her at a historical landmark just off the Natchez Trace, she’s forced to work alongside Sam as the Natchez Trace law enforcement district ranger in the ensuing investigation. To complicate matters, Emma has acquired a delusional secret admirer who is determined to have her as his own. Sam is merely an obstruction, one which must be removed. (Thriller/Romantic Suspense from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Ben in Charge
by Luana Ehrlich — Operation Concerned Citizen will be Ben’s first assignment as the primary officer in charge of a mission. When Titus learns it’s a simple mission with a clear objective but requires a complicated plan, he questions whether Ben will be able to handle it. When he discovers there are underlying circumstances, he questions whether he’ll be able to let Ben handle it. When the simple mission proves difficult, Titus discovers he’s not the man he thought he was, and he’s not the man he wants to be. He’s a man learning to live out his faith while living in the shadows, and sometimes those shadows aren’t shadows at all.
(Thriller/Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Amish Romance:

The Heart Knows the Way Home by Christy Distler — Janna and Luke, a widower struggling to balance business and family responsibilities, reacquaint as Janna assists his grandmother and cares for his son. Her self-protective independence and his conservative principles put them at odds, but the difficulties they face draw them closer.
When long-lost friendship rekindles into unexpected love, will either be willing to make changes so they can be together? (Romance: Amish from Avodah Books)

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

Writing Home by Amy R. Anguish, As they grow closer through their written words, the miles between them seem to grow wider. Can love cross the distance and bring them home? (Contemporary Romance)

The Rancher’s Legacy by Susan Page Davis, Matt Anderson’s father and their neighbor devise a plan: Have their children marry and merge the two ranches. The only problem is, Rachel Maxwell has stated emphatically that will never happen. (Historical Romance)

A Heart’s Gift by Lena Nelson Dooley, Is a marriage of convenience the answer to their needs? (Historical Romance)

Daisy’s Decision by Hallee Bridgeman, She soon finds herself in a full-blown relationship with hearts on the line. She can’t keep her secret much longer. Daisy has a decision to make. (Contemporary Romance),

A New York Yankee on Stinking Creek by Carol McClain, Two women. Two problems. Each holds the key to the other’s freedom. (Contemporary)

The Amish Baker’s Rival by Marie E. Bast, Amish baker Mary Brenneman is furious when handsome Englischer Noah Miller opens up a bakery right across from hers. Now she must win a local baking contest just to stay in business—and beat know—it—all Noah. But somewhere along the way, Noah and Mary’s kitchen wars are quickly warming into something more. (Contemporary Romance/Amish)

Rekindled from Ashes by Cindy M. Amos, Based on the true story of the Starbuck fire of 2017 that ravaged western Kansas–and area ranchers who demonstrated vulnerable resiliency in its aftermath. Strength for the day…with eyes on the Almighty. (Contemporary Romance)

A Change of Scenery – Davalynn Spencer ( + Giveaway )

Today I’m happy to welcome author Davalynn Spencer as she shares about a book of her heart. Read through to the end to find out how you can enter her giveaway.

A Change of Scenery is one of those books-of-the-heart. A historical book I had to write, a story I had to tell even though six other titles have been published since I wrote this one.

It wouldn’t let go. Rather, I should say, the Hutton family wouldn’t let go. I first met them in The Cañon City Chronicles and worked my way through two generations, ending Book 3 with little twin boys named Hugh and Cale, the third generation comin’ on.

I’m sure you know who’s all grown up now in Book 4.

The century has turned and it’s 1911. Cars are taking over the roads and Nickelodeon flickers are all the rage. Hugh lost his wife when son number three came into the world, and Cale hasn’t found the right woman yet. The way he looks at it, he’d not settle for a mismatch in a horse, so he refuses to settle on a mismatch in a wife, no matter how many ranchers’ daughters try to turn his head.

And then a moving picture company comes to town. Selig Polyscope, to be exact, and the director offers to pay the Hutton brothers each five dollars a day plus more for the use of their cattle and horses if they allow the company to film on their ranch.

That’s a hard deal to turn down, what with an even harder winter last year and something picking off calves all spring. Either rustlers or a bear. Or both.

But that moving picture company has a wardrobe seamstress. Straight from Chicago, she is, with dark bobbed hair, a defiant little chin, and a hitch in her gait.

Cale Hutton doesn’t have a chance.

Neither did I. I had to write it.



A hidden fear. A daring challenge. A liberating love.

A motorcar accident on a rainy Chicago night steals Ella Canaday’s fiancé as well as her ability to ride. Clinging to the remnants of her independence, she cuts her hair and her ties with her wealthy father and takes a train west as the seamstress with a moving-picture company. Colorado offers the change of scenery she needs. But she doesn’t expect the bold cowboy who challenges her to reclaim both the loves she thought she’d lost forever.

Cale Hutton needs the money the moving-picture company is paying for use of his cattle and horses, but he’s not keen on some city gal gettin’ in the way at the ranch. Between the filming crew by day and a rogue cattle-killing bear by night, his attention snags on the little bob-haired seamstress. Something about her easy manner around his horse sets his mind to find out what she’s hiding and why she has such a pull on his heart.

Book link:



Bestselling author and winner of the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction, Davalynn Spencer is the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters and can’t stop #lovingthecowboy. When she’s not writing Western romance, she teaches writing workshops and wrangles Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. Connect with her at

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First page of A Change of Scenery


Cañon City, Colorado – June 5, 1911

The gun shot rooted Ella to the concrete sidewalk. Chest tight, unable to breathe, she clutched the folded shirt to herself until the truth twisted through her, loosening her muscles and her fear.

It wasn’t gunfire. Not in today’s civilized world of unlikely things moving on their own accord. Things like pictures and carriages.

Air squeezed from her lungs, and her lips parted to aid its escape.

The motorcar passed and she continued on, black leather low-cuts tapping an irregular beat from the Hotel Denton to the corner of Seventh and Main.

At the curb, she paused for another choking contraption in full complaint of its early morning errand. Here to stay, as much as she despised them, at least the automobiles were more easily observed than ridden in. Somewhat.

The dust and her apprehension settled a second time and, stepping into the intersection, she smoothed the recently mended shirt draped over her arm. She’d been early to work every morning since arriving in town three days ago, and she intended to maintain the habit.

Another backfire, another sudden stop.

A horse screamed in the next block. Frozen halfway across the street, Ella watched it rear in its traces. Break free. Bolt down the street with its buggy.

Grounded as surely as the hotel on the corner behind her, she stood unable to move. Someone yelled. Men rushed into the street, shouting and waving their arms. Wild-eyed and panicked, the horse charged straight for her.


C.C. Harrison’s Quick and Easy Way to Cook a Book

Today I’m happy to welcome author C.C. Harrison as she offers a fun way to create a book.

I’m fascinated by the writing process and have always been interested in knowing how authors develop their books. I wanted to know specifically, step by step, what did they do? Eventually I realized there was no one way to write a book, and over time I discovered a process that works for me – index cards. My critique partner at the time called them “cooking cards,” so here I’ll share with you my recipe for cooking a book.

PREPARATION TIME: Varies; days, weeks or months.

ASSEMBLE INGREDIENTS: Gather the following together in your mind or on paper

  • A story idea—Just a nugget will do, but more is better
  • Character names—Physical descriptions can come later, but you definitely need names
  • Setting—Geographic location, or specific city/town. It’s okay to make up a place name.
  • Type of journey—Someone seeking something, keeping something, or getting get rid of something. Story goals are many, choose whichever appeals to you.
  • A couple of major conflicts
  • Ending – Yes, you need a general idea of an ending so you know where you’re going and what the finished product looks like.


Combine all the above ingredients and stir gently in your head until the story begins to burst out of you.


Write a list of twenty (or more) events you want to happen in your story. This gets the creative juices flowing. Brainstorm! You may end up with many more than twenty.


Take a thick stack of 4” x 6” index cards and using a separate card for each jot down story events, plot points, turning points, scene ideas, bits of dialogue, critical and/or emotional character reactions and stumbling blocks. Leave plenty of white space on each card so you can add more later. You WILL want to add detail as the writing progresses. Use the back of card as needed.


When you have a stack of cooking cards one-half to three-quarter inches thick (AND NOT BEFORE, lay them all out in no particular order on your bed or your dining room table. Carefully read each one. Then and only then, pick up one card at a time in the general sequence you think the events should appear in your book. By now, you will instinctively have a feel for this. Don’t worry about getting this part wrong, it can always be fixed later by rearranging the cards, which is why when you have your cards stacked in a general order, you will number them in the upper right hand corner IN PENCIL.


Wrap a rubber band around your cooking cards, or use a giant pinchy clip. Use the information on these cards one at a time to write your book, and you will always know where you are going even if you don’t always know how to get there. Shovel in huge amounts of creativity, find a way to triumph over innumerable challenges, and you will have a book.

This method is flexible enough to insert new ideas during the writing while still staying on track and moving in the right general direction. I revise my manuscripts as I go, scene by scene, sometimes page by page, so when I reach the end, I have a nearly completed book requiring only minor revision and polishing, but little to no rewriting. I used this method to write all my books. Let me know if it works for you, too. You can contact me at I’d love to hear from you.


C. C. Harrison is an award winning author who knew she was going to write novels when she checked out her first beginning reader book from the library. Since then she has been honored regionally and nationally with writing awards for short stories, articles, essays and novels. “I like writing books set in small towns, the kind of small towns people run away to or hide out in. The secrets and misbehaviors there are so much more interesting. I know. I’ve lived in them.”

Her latest books reflect her diversity. SAGE CANE’S HOUSE OF GRACE AND FAVOR, a Western set in a Rocky Mountain mining town introduces the most unforgettable charmer since Scarlett O’Hara. DEATH BY G-STRING, a contemporary ukulele themed cozy mystery, is a Colorado Humanities Book Award Mystery Winner, an American Fiction Awards Finalist, a CIPA EVVY Finalist, and a New Mexico/Arizona Book Award Finalist.

A New Genre in a New Year! — Caryl McAdoo

Today I’m happy to welcome author Caryl McAdoo as she shares about her latest book and a change in genres. Read through to the end to find out how you can enter her giveaway!

Hey everyone! I’m so blessed for this opportunity to visit with you today! Thank you, Donna for inviting me!

Four days ago, DUPLICITY At The Lowell House launched, my first mystery and book one in a new Cross Timbers Mystery series! Cross Timbers like my Romance Family Saga because those beloved characters will be showing up all through the new mysteries!

Morgan and Charity O’Neal Lowell are my investigators—albeit not totally willing. They own the Lowell House hotel in downtown Dallas. They built it in the 1850s more than ten years before the murder as this story is set in 1866.

There’s a dead man in room three-thirteen, and Morgan and Charity have their heads together with Deputy Sheriff Tate McCarthy to try and figure out, “Who done it”! You know, I’ll admit I didn’t know if readers would recognize the story as a mystery. There’s always that enemy whispering in our ears, right? He wants us to doubt.

Can I write a good story that will prosper that isn’t a romance? Of my fifty-seven published titles, just under forty are historical romances . . . Another confession: I couldn’t stand it, I added a bit of romance! Tee hee hee. I mean the deputy has never been married, and Charity loves matchmaking!

It’s so funny that men often think they don’t need a woman. God Himself looked around and saw that there was no suitable mate for His beloved son Adam created in his own image. He knew Adam needed Eve. Yes, she was later deceived, and yes, she gave that forbidden fruit to her husband to eat, but she bore him sons and daughters so that the world would keep turning, go on, and be populated. He needed her. I do love a good romance.

But! This story is a mystery, a historical mystery. And the early reviews coming in have been excellent. I feel like Mikey’s big brothers. Remember that Life cereal commercial where they feed their little brother the cereal that they’re afraid to try? Mikey eats it with gusto, and the older boys both holler, “He likes it! He likes it!”

That’s how I feel about my readers. 😊 “They like it! They like it!”

I always breathe a sigh of relief whenever a new book comes out. Some I have so much fun writing (with my husband—we write everything together) that I’m pretty confident my readers will love it, and don’t have pre-launch flutter-bies. (think butterflies). But here I am with a totally new genre to me.

OoooWeee, as I wrote that . . . Holy Spirit spoke to my spirit saying, “That’s being anxious, Caryl. You don’t need to be anxious for anything.” Which is true, of course!

So now I will choose never to be anxious again over debuts. God gives me every story, so that I can bring Him glory! I choose to trust Him in this area as I do in all the other areas—that I know about! Isn’t it funny how we aren’t even aware until He reveals such to us? Even that is an answer to prayer!

I will never have the pre-launch jitters again! I’ll refuse them, like I do all fear and worry! That is so cool how He does that!

I’m so blessed to be a Christian author with awesome like-focused readers! And I want to say I believe you’ll just love DUPLICITY At The Lowell House!

Please try it! You’ll like it! 😊




GIVEAWAY: I’d like to send a copy of QUINCY & PRISCILLA At The Lowell House to one commenter who’ll answer, what’s a fun way God has spoken to you to help you choose to be more like Jesus? (Like in the middle of writing a blog) 😊






Award-winning, Christian author Caryl McAdoo prays her story brings God glory. Of her best-selling novels, readers love her historical Christian romance family sagas most, but she also writes Christian contemporary romance, Mystery, Biblical fiction, and for young adults and mid-grade booklovers. A far majority of reviewers give her stories five-stars and praise Caryl’s characters as relatable, complex and real.

The prolific writer loves singing the new songs God gives her almost as much as penning tales—hear a few at YouTube! Married to Ron over fifty years, she shares four children and soon-twenty-one grandsugars with her high school sweetheart. The McAdoos live in the woods south of Clarksville, seat of Red River County in far Northeast Texas, waiting expectantly for God to open the next door.








Blog, The Word & the Music


January 2021 New Releases!

January 2021 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website


A Future for His Twins
by Susanne Dietze — Will these children get their greatest wish? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

For the Love of Joy
by Janet W. Ferguson — When she’s suddenly injured with not a soul to help her or her son, Joy is forced to rely on the man who has the most reasons to hate her. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

An Unexpected Arrangement by Heidi McCahan — He needed a fresh start, but twin babies weren’t part of the plan… (Contemporary Romance, Love Inspired [Harlequin])

An Unlikely Proposal
by Toni Shiloh — For these two best friends, marriage could be their greatest test yet. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


All Through the Night
by Tara Johnson — When Joshua and Cadence unearth the workings of a secret society so vile, the course of their lives, and the war, could be altered forever. If they fight an enemy they cannot see, will the One who sees all show them the way in the darkest night? (Historical Romance from Tyndale House)

Books Afloat
by Delores Topliff — Blaming herself for her childhood role in the Oklahoma farm truck accident that cost her grandfather’s life, Anne Mettles is determined to make her life count. Will she go it alone? Or will she team with the unlikely but (mostly) lovable characters? One is a saboteur, one an unlikely hero, and one, she discovers, is the man of her dreams. (Historical from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Night Bird Calling
by Cathy Gohlke — With war brewing for the nation and for her newfound community, Lilliana must overcome a hard truth voiced by her young friend Celia: Wishing comes easy. Change don’t. (Historical from Tyndale House)


One for the Road
by Mary Ellis — Staying at an estranged relative’s B&B, Jill’s plan to uncover what makes the state’s bourbon tours so popular goes awry when she discovers a body at one of the distilleries and quickly becomes a suspect in a brutal murder. Can she navigate high-stakes bourbon rivalries, centuries-old family feuds and ill-fated romance to catch a killer?
(Cozy Mystery from Severn House)

Romantic Suspense:

Texas Witness Threat by Cate Nolan — What do you do when you know you witnessed a crime and no one believes you, but the killers are still coming for you? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Every Good Plan
by Urcelia Teixeira — Good fortune was always his best friend. Until it became his enemy! Adam Cross is back in another gripping Christian Suspense that will have you strapped to your favorite reading chair until you turn the very last page! (Thriller/Suspense, Independently published)

Young Adult:

Heart of the Crown
by Hannah Currie — The last place Lady Wenderley Davis ever expected to find herself after swearing off princes forever was living in a palace with two of them. Even if it is only temporary. And she did agree to it. Kind of. Against her better judgement. (Young Adult from WhiteFire Publishing)

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

Penelope Pumpernickel: Precocious Problem-Solver by MaryAnn Diorio – In this first of the delightful Penelope Pumpernickel Series of chapters books for six-to-ten-year-old children, Penelope Pympernickel learns that no matter how big a problem you face, there is always a way to solve it with God’s help. (Children’s)

The Inn at Cranberry Cove by June Foster – Can two people allow the majestic northwest and fragrant coastal air heal their wounded hearts? Will they discover the secret of The Inn at Cranberry Cove? (Contemporary Romance)

The Rancher’s Family Secret by Myra Johnson – Despite their family feud, Spencer Navarro is determined to help his neighbor, Lindsey McClement, when she comes home to save her family ranch. And Lindsey returns the favor by allowing him to house his foster rescue horses in her empty barn stalls. But when the generations-long strife threatens their forbidden friendship, Spencer must choose between a new love and his family. (Contemporary Romance)

William’s Cry, An Enid Gilchrist Mystery by Sylvia Anne Nash – When genealogist Enid Gilchrist is asked to unravel the family mystery surrounding a seventy-year-old baby blanket, she is intrigued. She expects the project to be a short one that will in no wise interfere with her long-awaited marriage to Chief of Police Patrick Mulhaney. When her short project unravels more threads than expected, both project and wedding plans run amuck as someone makes every effort to stop her investigation. (Cozy Mystery)

A Holiday Heart by Denise Weimer – When Ashlyn arrives at White Falls Lodge armed with cosmetic bags and designer shoes, little is she prepared to be stranded by a snow storm, irritated by the handsome resort owner who seems determined to peel away her facade, and redirected by a God Ashlyn wants to forget, through Mamie Lou’s real gift … the secret story of her grandmother’s past. (Contemporary Romance)

A Midwife’s Tale by Donna Schlachter

Frantic pounding on the door downstairs woke me. In the dim light from the full moon outside, I squinted at my husband. He grunted and turned over, pulling the itchy wool blanket with him.

I sighed. It seemed I would be the one to be roused from my bed to answer the call.

My name is Hannah, and I am a midwife in Bethlehem, I was accustomed to being called out at all hours to help women through their labor, to deliver babies into a world ruled by cruel overseers from Rome. Sometimes it was too late by the time I got there, and all I could do was usher the mother or child, often both, into the hereafter.

No matter how long I did this work, it was never easy to be dragged from my bed in the dark of night. Why did it seem babies always waited until the wee hours to make their appearance? It was almost as if they held on as long as they could — perhaps these little Jewish babies knew where they were best off.

I pulled my day shift on and tied my head wrap around my hair as I trudged down the steps to answer the door. Pausing at the table in the eating area, I lit a small oil lamp that just a few hours before my children had sat around, practicing their letters for school the next day. Grabbing the rough wooden handle of the solid door, I winced at the stab of a splinter in my palm. Pulling my hand to my mouth, I sucked at the spot where the sliver of wood had stuck me. Spitting out the intruding wood, I watched as a drop of blood oozed out, shining nearly black in the dark. Amazing how much that small spike could hurt.

The pounding on the door started again, pulling me from my contemplation of my pain. I wrenched open the door, several sharp words ready on my tongue.

They fell to the ground like dust at the sight of the man on my doorstep.

A hooded figure faced me, clothes dusty, beard slightly unkempt. In the flickering flame of the lamp, I could just barely make out his eyes and mouth. Worry and hard work had lined his face, and the weave of his cloak suggested he was not from Bethlehem.

He clasped his hands together in front of his chest, bowed his head, and fell to one knee. “I most humbly beg your pardon, but are you the midwife?”

Sarcasm and criticism boiled to the top again, threatening to spill over. Anyone who lived in Bethlehem knew I was not only a midwife, but one of the best.

I pointed to the small sign next to the portal. “Can’t you read?” The words “Midwife for hire” had been painstakingly carved into a flat piece of olive wood by my oldest son as a practice piece. The letters may have been crooked, and the last word cramped together as evidence he needed more work on his spacing, but they were clear enough.

The stranger didn’t raise his head. He didn’t answer my question, either. Instead, he reached one hand into a money pouch hanging around his neck and withdrew a small silver coin. “Is this enough?” He held it to me in the palm of his hand.

Enough? A hundred times that was not enough for being roused from your sleep in the dead chill of night. And if it was a difficult birth, a thousand times would not cover my time and energy. But if it ended badly, I would not take even this small morsel.

Still, the unspoken creed of a midwife is, “God gives life freely, and the midwife merely does His will.” As such, I was honor bound to delivery any child, no matter how small the thank offering was.

I pushed his hand away. “We will not defile the labor bed with talk of money. Children are not bought like slaves, even if it will likely live as one.” I pulled the door closed behind me. “Come, let us go. You can express your gratitude to me after the birth” I snatched my supply satchel from the hook near the door, and slipped my cloak over my shoulders.

He turned on his heel and hurried up the narrow path to the main street. Pausing occasionally to look over his shoulder to make sure I was keeping up, he continued along the cobbled walk.

I wrapped my cloak closer around me to ward off the chill night air. After several blocks, he paused and looked around, confusion evident on his face.

I stopped beside him. “Which way?” my breath blew a white cloud in the dark.

I’m not sure.”

Not sure? How can you not be sure?”

I am not from Bethlehem.”

Ah, my earlier observation had been confirmed, and my earlier criticism evaporated. “Where are you staying?”

Near the inn in the market square.”

This way.” I grabbed the sleeve of his cloak and turned to the left. “The inn is just over here.” Another turn at the next corner, and we were outside the inn.

Are you here for the census?”

He nodded.

You were lucky to find a room.”

I did not find a room.”

Then where are you staying?” Horror filled my heart at the thought of delivering a baby out in the open.

Now it was his turn to direct me, past the inn, down a dark alley, into a small courtyard behind. He pointed to a small hole carved in the wall.

My heart leaped in my throat. This was worse than I had feared. “In the stable?” Animals, dirt, mold — this was not a fit place for any child to be born.

He nodded, eyes downcast, embarrassment evident.

If you are here for the census, you have family.Why not stay with them?”

We were detained on the road because my wife could not travel quickly. When we got here yesterday, there was no room for us anywhere.”

I nodded. The city was filled to overflowing. Even my own small house, tight quarters for me, my husband, and my four children ordinarily, now housed two extra families in response to the decree for everyone in Judea to return to the city of their forefathers and be counted. More than likely a new tax would be implemented as a result. I might be a simple Jew, but I wasn’t stupid. I knew how this evil and oppressive government operated.

The man reached the entrance to the small cavelike structure and stopped. He called softly, almost a whisper. “Mary, it is me, Joseph. I have brought the midwife.”

He stooped over and disappeared inside. I waited a moment, then followed him.

The first thing that struck me was how quiet it was in this small structure. THE man had lit a small lamp, and the shadows danced in the corners. The strong smell of hay tickled my nose, and the dust stirred up by my feet danced on beams of light. In the far corner a ewe hovered over its lamb, their eyes reflecting amber in the dim light.

In the center of the small shed lay the woman. Her traveling cloak was rolled under her head, offering the small comfort of a pillow. Her face was white, and perspiration glowed on her forehead and upper lip.

A low moan escaped her lips, and my eye caught a restless movement in the corner. The lamb stood and pressed closer to its mother. The ewe nuzzled the infant, and it settled to its knees again in the hay.

The young woman moaned again, and my training took over. I knelt beside the woman and laid my hand on her forehead. Good. Her forehead was cool, although damp with the effort of her labors.

I looked to her husband. “Wait outside.” He cast an anxious look at his wife. She nodded at him, then turned to face me again.

Tell me what to do.” Her dark eyes were filled with worry.

Is this your first child?” I set my satchel beside her head and loosened the strings.

She nodded.

Have you ever assisted at a birth?” I pulled a small sheet from the bag.

She shook her head, eyes closed. A tear ran down her cheek.

I forced a smile I didn’t feel. “Fear will steal your joy. Don’t be afraid. You are in good hands. I am one of the best midwives in Bethlehem.”

She opened her eyes and smiled at me. “I don’t know you, but I trust God, and I trust Joseph, and so I will trust you.”

I laid a hand on her protruding belly. Deep inside I could feel the contractions that would soon increase to push this baby into the world. Leaning my head to her stomach, I listened. Her heart beat regularly, and there — I could hear the baby’s heart beat, strong and sure.

Sitting back on my heels, I patted her hand. “Everything sounds fine. Now, let’s get you in position to deliver this baby.”

Over the next half hour we worked together, this scared young woman and I, to get her in the delivery position. I went over the stages of labor she could expect, and how long each might be expected to last. As scared as she was, I left out the description of what could go wrong. She had enough on her mind right now not to deal with that.

When she was as comfortable as she was going to get in this dark damp cave, we sat together, two women alone in the dark, as Joseph paced outside and the sheep in the corner nodded.

And so we did what women do, what they have done for eons. We talked.

I learned that Mary was a newly married maiden, married only six months before. My eyebrows raised at that, let me tell you. And when she told me the story of the baby she was carrying, about an angel of the Lord, in a dream, and the Messiah, well, I thought she was just trying to cover her indiscretion.

Joseph poked his head in through the doorway, and Mary smiled at him. “She doesn’t believe about our baby, Joseph. Tell her about your dream.”

And so Joseph began relating the details of a most extraordinary dream he’d had, of God confirming Mary’s story about the child in her womb being conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Okay, so I really wasn’t in any position to contradict their story. I wasn’t there. And, I had a cousin who swore she was still a virgin after she had her first baby, even though we all knew better. Who was I to limit God?

The thing that really convinced me was their complete and unshakeable belief that God not only could but would work through them. Joseph was a carpenter, not an educated man filled with prophecy from the prophets, or able to argue the scriptures to prove his point. His hands were toughened by many hours of hard work. His strong fingers bore the marks of chisels and planes.

All he knew was what he believed God had told him in his dream. And he believed Mary when she told him about the visit by the angel.

This was the first time I had seen anyone risk their entire being for their belief in God. I was humbled by their faith.

After about an hour of minor contractions, Mary’s labor began in earnest. I ushered Joseph out into the dark. “Pray that God will ease her pain and make this child come soon.”

Joseph’s wan smile filled my heart. “God is already here, in this child. Nothing will go wrong.”

His simple words of faith and his complete trust in God pricked at my conscience. Here I was, a woman whose faith was none too evident in her life, a woman confident of her career, secure in her marriage, successful and comfortable, feeling a little envious of the uncomplicated faith of a carpenter and his wife in a stable in Bethlehem.

I wanted what they had.

Within a short time, Mary had put every ounce of strength she had into pushing a tiny baby boy into the world. His full head of dark hair heralded his coming, and his strong cry soon filled the stable. Joseph came into the cave at the first cry, the worry lines erased from his face. Kneeling beside his wife and new son, tears streamed down his face. He reached for the child, and Mary passed the infant gently to its father.

Joseph stared into the child’s face for several moments as Mary and I watched. The infant reached a tiny hand to his father’s beard, grasping it between his miniature fingers.

Joseph smiled, then raised the child over his head. He closed his eyes and looked toward heaven. “Thank You for entrusting us with this gift from You, Yahweh. You have favored us with Your presence in the form of this child. We will raise him and train him to hear You. He is Emmanuel, and He will save His people.”

I was spellbound with this dedication of the child to God. I knelt before them, my heart full and my eyes overflowing with tears. I may not know much about the ways of God, but at that moment I knew I was in His presence as never before. And for perhaps the first time in my life, I was speechless.

I don’t know how long I knelt there, praising God in my heart. All I know for sure is that when I finally stirred, the sun was peeking over the eastern gate.

I rose stiffly, knees protesting the hours spent on the floor. Mary and Joseph slept side by side on the hay, and the infant lay in a manger, wrapped in some old cloths Joseph had found tucked in a small box. When he’d first pulled out the lengths of rough cloth, I’d been appalled that he would be content to wrap his child in cloths used to rub down newborn lambs. I’d even offered to go to my house and bring back some proper baby clothes.

Joseph shook his head. “Scripture says Emmanuel will come like a lamb to save His people. It seems fitting He should be wrapped in lamb’s cloths.”

A child sent as a lamb? It didn’t make any sense to me. Lambs were used as sacrifices and Jews don’t sacrifice their children, so I knew he didn’t mean that. “How can this child be like a lamb of God?”

All I know is what God has told us. This child will save His people.”

Outside the stable, I heard the sound of footsteps. I walked toward the opening of the cave and peered out.

Several men dressed in shepherd’s garb paused outside the stable. They looked into the dawn sky and then back to the stable.

The oldest one spoke. “Is this where the Christ child can be found?”

Christ child? I knew about the Christ child. The one promised who would set the Jews free, who would operate in the anointing of God.

What do you know of this child?”

One of the shepherds stepped forward. “An angel appeared to us while we were standing watch over our sheep. He told us to come here to see the Christ.” He gestured to his fellow shepherds. “Then more angels sang the child’s praises.”

More angels. This couldn’t be any ordinary baby. I looked into the night sky. A large star shone upon the stable. “Is that how you came to be here?”

The youngest nodded. “The angel told us to look for a bright star that would point us to the child, and that He would be wrapped up like a lamb.”

Lamb’s rags. I pointed to the baby inside. “He is in there.”

I wandered out into the courtyard area, listening to the sounds of the city coming awake for another day. I felt sorry for the people. I was pretty sure they had missed a miracle.

Don’t get me wrong. As a midwife, I know every birth is a miracle. As a Jew, I believe the scriptures that say we are created by God, formed by His hand, known from our mother’s womb.

No, the miracle I’m talking about is that God would come to his people in the form of a tiny child, a lamb, to set His people free.

I know a big part of me was set free that night.

I’m going to keep an eye on this Christ-child. I think He is destined to something bigger than His parents, these shepherds, even I can imagine.

And I want to be there when that happens.

December 2020 New Releases!

December 2020 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

A Prayer Quilt Christmas by Nancy J. Farrier — Meg’s ex-husband took her boys away for the holidays, and she’s lost her heart to celebrate, but Wade is determined to make this Christmas special for her. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

His Holiday Prayer by Tina Radcliffe — After receiving an unexpected job offer in Texas, widower Tucker Rainbolt decides he and his twins need a fresh start. But moving on means leaving his best friend, Jena Harper, and their vet clinic behind. For the first time, Tucker sees Jena as more than a buddy. What if leaving isn’t the answer? Maybe what he’s been missing has been right beside him the whole time… (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Christmas on Ocracoke by Christina Sinisi — Reeling from the upheaval of a failed marriage, Annie Hanahan is desperate for a new start—and when she inherits a cottage on Ocracoke Island, she may finally get it. Without a second thought, she packs up and leaves everything behind: her first name, her job, and her ex-husband. But when she arrives in the Outer Banks, she finds the island—and her promised refuge—ravaged by Hurricane Dorian. As a contractor who has given so much of his time to helping Ocracoke recover, it surprises no one when Trey Kingsley offers to help the beautiful newcomer, but something is holding her back. Life keeps throwing them together, though, or perhaps God’s hand is giving them a nudge. Will a little bit of divine intervention be enough for a Merry Christmas on Ocracoke? (Contemporary Romance, Anaiah Press)

A Holiday Heart by Denise Weimer — Atlanta film makeup artist Ashlyn Jennings is willed a mysterious box containing a key from her grandmother’s estate. Mamie Lou, the former Hollywood B-lister who inspired Ashlyn’s path in life, always demonstrated a flair for the dramatic. But did Mamie Lou really expect her to put everything on hold to clean out a mountain cabin no one even knew about? And right at Christmas? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)


Season of Hope by Brenda S. Anderson — Life is good for Ronnie Coborn. She’s newly married to a man who loves her and dotes on her daughter. A man handpicked by Ronnie’s father, a popular pastor at a megachurch who’s been married to her mother for forty years. Yes, life is good. Until a shocking revelation exposes the fact that everything in her idyllic life—her marriage, family, and faith—is based on a lie. (Contemporary, Independently Published)


Hope’s Reward by Carol Ashby — When a gladiator slave becomes a Christian and runs away from his life of killing to join other believers, his rescue of a Roman woman makes him her escort on a dangerous journey that opens unexpected futures for both of them. (Historical from Cerrillo Press)

The Mulberry Leaf Whispers by Linda Thompson — A WWII Japanese naval officer. The teenage daughter of a legendary Christian samurai. Three centuries separate them, but a crucial question binds their destinies together. Which lives have value? (Historical from Mountain Brook Ink)

Historical Romance:

For the Love of Emma by Starr Ayers — A rose-covered grave, seventy-nine letters, and a scribbled note unearth buried emotions and the timeless beauty of first love. Inspired by actual letters found in her mother’s trunk, Starr pens a poignant love story set in the throes of the Great Depression and portrays a young couple’s quest to keep their love alive, regardless of events that threaten to tear them apart. (Historical Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Depending on You by Melissa Jagears — Can the joy and hope of Christmas restore their love before it’s too late? Leah Whitsett’s life was ideal until the disastrous day she nearly died because of her husband’s deceit. When he returns home weeks before Christmas, she knows the best gift she can give him is forgiveness, but how can she relinquish her hard-won independence knowing he plans to turn their family’s life upside down again? Bryant has always known his wife was a gift he’d never deserved, but how can he provide for her in a town that no longer wants anything to do with him? He longs to atone for the misery he’s put his loved ones through, but when he brings a family member home for the holidays, he and Leah may end up even further apart. With emotions high and their marriage at stake, will the season bring the hope they need…or are their rifts too large to mend? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Legacy of Love by Linda Shenton Matchett — Escaping Boston to avoid a marriage of convenience aimed at garnering society’s respect for her family name in the shadow of her father’s war profiteering, Meg Underwood settles in Spruce Hill, Oregon. Despite leaving behind the comforts of wealth, she’s happy. Then the handsome Pinkerton agent, Reuben Jessop, arrives with news that she’s inherited her aunt’s significant estate, and she must return home to claim the bequest. Meg refuses to make the trip. Unwilling to fail at his mission, Reuben gives her until Christmas to prove why she should remain in Spruce Hill and give up the opportunity to become a woman of means. When he seems to want more than friendship, she wonders if her new-found wealth is the basis of his attraction. (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)
Romantic Suspense:

Deadly Amish Reunion by Dana R. Lynn — Jennie Beiler’s husband was supposed to be dead, so she’s shocked when he rescues her from an attacker. Although Luke has no memories of his Englisch wife, it’s up to him to protect her from someone who won’t stop until she’s dead. Can the peaceful Amish community he returned to after losing his memory shelter them and their son this Christmas when danger strikes again? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Christmas Protection Detail by Terri Reed — When a call from a friend in trouble leads Nick Delaney and Deputy Kaitlyn Lanz to a car crash that killed a single mother, they become the baby’s protectors. Now figuring out why someone is after the child is the only way to save her. But they must find answers soon…or this baby’s first Christmas might just be Nick’s and Kaitlyn’s last. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Dawn of Vengeance by Ronie Kendig — Haunted by a prophecy that promises pain and war, bounty hunter Marco Dusan forges alliances to protect the primitive world against Symmachia’s devastating influence. But one truth becomes painfully clear: the biggest threat to their world may be much, much closer to home. (Speculative Fiction from Enclave Publications)

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

A Question of Survival by Alice K. Arenz – A victim of domestic violence searches for hope after her recent miscarriage. (Women’s Fiction)

Ask Lolita by Roger E. Bruner – Not only does the Town Curmudgeon’s pet hen Lolita learn to use the computer and get her own newspaper column, she helps the lifelong bachelor survive the challenges of old age and find true love in the process. (Contemporary Fantasy)

The Mistletoe Contract by Jennifer Chastain – He needs a wife to inherit the family business, she needs money for her mother’s medical treatment, but is their convenient marriage a blessing or a disaster waiting to happen? (Contemporary Romance)

Dreaming of Tomorrow by Michelle De Bruin – Love leads them to a lifetime of commitment where the dreams they have held onto for so long start to come true. (Historical Romance)

Grumpy the Gator by Melissa Henderson – In Grumpy the Gator, we are reminded to be careful around alligators. Always tell an adult when we see a gator. (Children’s)

Lessons Learned in Love by Milla Holt – The boss’s daughter is off-limits. Especially when she steals the job that should have been his. (Contemporary Romance)

Fractures by Jason C. Joyner – A group of teens with superpowers must navigate high school, parents, and the enemies that want to destroy them. (Young Adult)

His to Keep by Sherrinda Ketchersid – He’s fighting for his inheritance – she’s marrying her sworn enemy. (Historical Romance)

Making Memories by Ruth Kyser – When her life is changed by a car accident, Kelly finds hope again through faith and an old friend from high school, Michael. (Contemporary Romance)

Reagan’s Reward by Susan G. Mathis – As trouble brews, Daniel sees another side of Reagan, the woman he’s come to love. (Historical Romance)

Georgia Ann, English Rose by Elva Cobb Martin – The lure of the legendary Spice Trail beckons, but he may never find a spice more precious than the treasure he left in Charles Town. (Historical Romance)

Giving Grace by Jennifer Pierce – Nothing is more embarrassing than Grace Dixon’s dog peeing on the new mailman. Except maybe when she thinks she’s hit the handsome man with her SUV. When he’s assigned to cover an injured co-worker’s route, Evan McDonald assumes it will be like any other mail route he’s done. But then he meets Grace Dixon, and he’s thrust into total Christmas chaos. (Contemporary Romance)

The Snowbound Bride by Davalynn Spencer – On the run from a heartless uncle, Arabella Taube hides in Nate Horne’s farm wagon just as a harsh winter storm sweeps into Colorado. Despite Ara’s mysterious background, Nate’s mother thinks she is the answer to a prayer and the hope for his future. (Historical Romance)

More than Jewish Shabbat — Susan G. Mathis

Today I’m happy to welcome author Susan G. Mathis as she shares an excerpt from her Christmas novella.

Have you ever experienced a Jewish Shabbat? I have, and it’s amazing, especially when you overlay the Christian symbolism. In my latest Christmas novella, Reagan, a Gentile experiences it with a Jewish family. Here’s an excerpt:

I’d like to understand Shabbat better. The prayers. The symbolism. It’s so beautiful.”

Jacob started. “Me first. The candles show us when God created light. The wine gives us joy.”

And we wash our hands before we lift them up to God,” Joseph added.

Daniel interjected. “Very good. And what of the bread?”

The Challah? It’s braided like this.” Joseph folded his arms. “When your arms are folded, you can’t work, and the Shabbat is a day for resting.”

And there are two loaves ’cuz God gave a double portion of manna on Fridays, and the lacy covers are the dew that the Israelites saw before the manna appeared.” Jacob grinned.

Really? That’s so amazing. Thank you.” Reagan smiled at the boys before turning to Daniel. “We worship the Light of the World and the Bread of Life.”

Goodness! Such beautiful ways to remember God. Thank you, boys. I shall forever remember that you were the ones who enlightened me.”

I can’t help but see Jesus in all of it. He said He was the light of the world and the Bread of Life. He took the cup of wine and said, ‘this is My blood of the covenant’. His body was even wrapped with spices like in the little box the boys talked about. Can you not see how Jesus fulfills all this?”

Daniel gazed at the sparkling river. “We Jews have been waiting for the Messiah for so long.”

But He’s already come. Jesus came and fulfilled it all.” Reagan touched his forearm giving it a soft pat before returning her hand to her lap.


In my sixth Gilded Age story, Reagan’s Reward, it’s 1912, and Reagan Kennedy assumes the position of governess to the Bernheim family’s twin nephews, and her life at Cherry Island’s Casa Blanca becomes frustratingly complicated. Service to a Jewish family when she is a Gentile and tending to eight-year-old, mischievous boys yields challenges galore.

Daniel Lovitz serves as the island’s caretaker and boatman. He tries to help the alluring Reagan make sense of her new world, but she calls into question his own faith background and forces him to face the hurts of his past. Then there’s the jealous lady’s maid who seems intent on wedging herself between them. Can he and Reagan ever find common ground on such a small island?


Susan G Mathis is an award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Her first two books of The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, Devyn’s Dilemma and Katelyn’s Choice are available now, and she’s working on book three. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise are also available. Susan’s books have won numerous awards, including the Illumination Book Award, the American Fiction Award and the Indie Excellence Book Award. Visit for more.







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Pirate and Traveler Game — Susan G. Mathis

Today I’m happy to welcome author Susan G. Mathis as she shares about an interesting piece of history and how she weaves it into her stories.

A popular board game of the 1910s was called “Pirate and Traveler.” Board games hit their peak of popularity during the Gilded Age, so 1870-1920 is called “The Golden Age of Board Games.” Because I write during this period, each of my stories include a famous board game of its day.

Here’s an excerpt from Reagan’s Reward when twin nine-year-old boys receive the game for their birthday:

Wanna play with us, Mr. Daniel?” Jacob hollered at Daniel, who was walking toward Casa Blanca, hedge clippers in hand. He gave a wave and joined them on the veranda.

We got a new game for our birthday!” Joseph picked it up and shook the box.

Happy birthday, boys.” Daniel sat where Mrs. Bernheim had. He nodded Reagan’s way and gifted her with a handsome smile. “Miss Reagan.”

Daniel reached for the game and showed it to Reagan. On the cover, colorful artwork of a smiling pirate, a ship on an angry ocean, and a treasure chest was accompanied by the words, “Pirate and Traveler, Amusement and Instruction for the Greatest of all Games.”

Daniel chuckled. “How can I say no to the greatest of all games?” He handed the game to Joseph who opened the box to find a map of the world, travel cards, a spinner, pawns, and instructions. Once they read the rules, they played the game…twice, but soon it was nearly time for the noon meal.


In my sixth Gilded Age story, Reagan’s Reward, it’s 1912, and Reagan Kennedy assumes the position of governess to the Bernheim family’s twin nephews, and her life at Cherry Island’s Casa Blanca becomes frustratingly complicated. Service to a Jewish family when she is a Gentile and tending to eight-year-old, mischievous boys yields challenges galore.

Daniel Lovitz serves as the island’s caretaker and boatman. He tries to help the alluring Reagan make sense of her new world, but she calls into question his own faith background and forces him to face the hurts of his past. Then there’s the jealous lady’s maid who seems intent on wedging herself between them. Can he and Reagan ever find common ground on such a small island?


Susan G Mathis is an award-winning, multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Her first two books of The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, Devyn’s Dilemma and Katelyn’s Choice are available now, and she’s working on book three. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise are also available. Susan’s books have won numerous awards, including the Illumination Book Award, the American Fiction Award and the Indie Excellence Book Award. Visit for more.







Amazon: Susan G Mathis author