Hobos During the Great Depression — Sheila Ingle

Today I’m happy to welcome author Sheila Ingle as she shares some of the history behind her latest story. Read through to the end to find out how to enter for a chance to win Tales of a Cosmic Possum.

It was the worst of times. President Franklin D. Roosevelt described America during the Great Depression as a nation “dying by inches.”

When the stock market crashed on Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, people lost everything. Not only their jobs and their money, but also their homes, cars, and peace of mind.

A hobo is a traveling vagabond who goes on and off trains looking for work. Hobos couldn’t buy tickets, so they sneaked onto trains. They would run beside the train, grab onto to it, and then climb in. Hence, the name riding the rails.

 In Union, South Carolina, there was a hobo camp/jungle where the Buffalo Railroad came into town. Because of the proximity to Annie Mae Bobo’s boarding house, those looking for work often stopped by. In the short story about Annie Mae in Tales of a Cosmic Possum, I included two vignettes about hobos, but learned so much more. I thought you might be interested in this time in our history.

Many families were forced off their farms and out of their hometowns during the Great Depression. They would hear about work and ride the rails illegally. Statistics say that more than two million men, 8,000 women, and 250,000 boys and girls became hobos. For safety, girls often disguised themselves as boys. Families often travelled together. Whatever the gender or age, being hungry, cold, and miserable was daily fare.

Finding food was a constant problem. Hoboes often begged at local homes. If the homeowner was generous, a hobo would mark the house as one where generous people lived. Sometimes this was life-saving communication.

Hobo signs from the Great Depression

An adult hobo told a teenager, “Put your pride in your pocket, your hat in your hand, and tell them like it is.”

In Colliers, West Virginia, a grandson remembered. “When grandpap saw the hobos coming to our house, he alerted mother who would start making egg sandwiches and packing bags with carrots, tomatoes, apples, and peaches from their garden. Grandpap always had something for the hobos to do. There would be wood to chop, cans to pick bugs and insects in his garden, buckets to fetch water from a spring. The hobos worked for about 20 minutes and then hopped back on the train with a good meal in hand.”

Hobo life was no respecter of a person’s background or his future; people who rode the rails include many who later became famous: Louis L’Amour, Art Linkletter, Eric Sevareid, Justice William Douglas, Jack London, and Carl Sandburg.

People don’t realize how easy they have it these days. Most kids have never known what it’s like to go without anything. They want something, they get it. If there isn’t enough money, they charge it. We never wanted anything because we never realized we could have anything. We never missed what we never had. Things were much simpler back then, and we were stronger for it. We worked together to keep the house in order, to put food on the table. We kept things going.”  Clara CannucciariClara’s Kitchen: Wisdom, Memories, and Recipes from the Great Depression

The hobo life and the Depression life were times of survival, and I admire those who survived without complaint. My grandparents and great grands endured by doing the next thing. What a legacy they lived!

Readers, leave a comment below for your chance to enter to win a free copy of Tales of a Cosmic Possum. (Contest is open to U.S. residents only)

About her book:



Tales of a Cosmic Possum is a group of short stories based on the history of eight women in my husband’s family who worked in the cotton mills of SC. They worked together in the mills, shared their gardens, attended church, and enjoyed the playing and singing of the songs from the Grand Ole Opry. When five of the brothers went off to war, those who couldn’t fight took care of their families. The Ingles stuck together, just like they were taught in the Appalachia.




About Sheila

Sheila Ingle is a native South Carolinian. She is a graduate of Converse College and chose teaching as her profession. At USC Upstate, she taught English and education courses. Her two grandmothers instilled in her a love of history and storytelling, which led her into membership in lineage societies. Professing to be a late bloomer, she now is an author and writes about her state’s history. “Courageous Kate,” “Fearless Martha,” “Brave Elizabeth,” and “Walking With Eliza” are her four books for young readers about SC heroines during the Revolutionary War. The SCDAR awarded “Kate” a Historical Preservation Award. She enjoys leading writing workshops and speaking. “Tales of a Cosmic Possum” was chosen as a 2017 fall SIBA Okra Pick. Louise Penny, John Hart, and Jan Karon are three of her many favorite authors.


Below is an excerpt from Tales of a Cosmic Possum that includes hobos that visited Annie Mae’s boarding house.

Annie Mae

Looking down the dirt road, she glimpsed two men slowly walking. Sensing they would be her first visitors of the day, she continued to steadily rock. Annie Mae knew that all the biscuits were eaten for breakfast, except for the two in the warmer, and wondered if the strangers would stop.

As the men ambled closer, she noted the shuffling gait of one and the loose bandages falling from the other’s arm. The shuffler needed a shave, and a film of dust and dirt covered his shirt and pants. Suspenders kept up the khakis that were too large for him. His traveling companion wore mended and torn overalls that were too short for his long legs. Large safety pins kept the galluses attached.

Good morning, ma’am,” said the red-haired shuffler. “Nice day, isn’t it?”

He wore his newfound poverty like the heavy shield of one of King Arthur’s knights. Annie Mae recognized a man of education and former means in his voice and manners.

The two tentatively stepped closer to her property line next to the road, but stopped before walking forward. These strangers paid attention to the invisible Private Property sign in front of her house. They also noted the small handwritten sign in front of the porch that said, “Welcome to Bobo’s Boarding House.”

Howdy do, strangers. Hit’s a mighty fine day. Are ye’ headed fer town?” responded their prospective hostess. She spit over the rail, wiped her mouth with the hem of her patched apron, and sipped on her coffee.

Yes’m, lookin’ fer work. About any kind will do. I’se right handy with machines,” answered the wounded man. “Saw that thar smoke from the mill’s stack. Thought to talk to the super about a job or two.” Pushing back his blond hair as he took off his tattered straw hat, he continued, “Jist got off the CC&O, the Carolina, Clinchfield, and Ohio Railroad, that rolled in this mornin’.”

Sheepishly, they both looked at their shoes, as if examining the torn soles and battered uppers.


March 2018 New Releases!

March 2018 New Releases

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


Contemporary Romance:

Finally a Bride by Renee Andrews — Her dreams of love haven’t worked out, but veterinarian Haley Calhoun intends to grant an orphaned boy’s wish. She’ll heal Eli’s injured puppy—while resisting his charming counselor, Gavin Thomason, at the children’s home. Still mourning the loss of his wife and baby, Gavin believes he can’t commit again. But in losing their hearts to Eli, will Haley and Gavin discover they’ve found the family they need? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Love and Roses by Sally Bayless — Looking for a fresh start, former Manhattan lawyer Nate Redmond agrees to arrange the sale of the outdated Rose Park in small-town Missouri, not realizing it has deep sentimental value to his new neighbor, Abby Kincaid—a beautiful widow he’d like to impress. When their plans for the park clash, he learns he’s competing against the memory of her husband, a decorated war hero. With plenty of past mistakes hiding in the in the hedges, can Abby and Nate learn forgiveness and courage in time for love to grow? (Contemporary Romance from Kimberlin Belle Publishing)

Courting Her Amish Heart by Mary Davis — In this first book of the Prodigal Daughters series, Kathleen Yoder comes home after fourteen years in the Englisher world. Practicing medicine means sacrifice—no Amish man will want a doctor for a wife. Widowed Noah Lambright offers a cottage as her new clinic, seeing how much Kathleen’s skills can help their community. But as their friendship deepens, could love and family become more than a forbidden dream? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Amish Nanny’s Sweetheart by Jan Drexler — As nanny for her nephew, Judith Lapp is finally part of a vibrant, joyful Amish community instead of living on the outskirts looking in. But teaching her neighbors’ Englischer farm worker to read Pennsylvania Dutch wasn’t part of her plan. And the more time she spends with Guy Hoover, the more he sparks longings for a home and family of Judith’s own. Guy figured he would never be truly accepted by his Amish employers’ community – even though the Mast family treats him like a son. But Judith’s steadfast caring shows him that true belonging could be within his reach…if he and Judith can reconcile their very different hopes – and hearts. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Reluctant Groom by Kimberly Rose Johnson — When Ray O’Brien’s world is turned upside down, Katie Fairchild wants to help, but the personal cost is high. Neither desires a marriage of convenience, but when Katie blurts the first thing that comes to her mind Ray can’t dismiss her offer of marriage. It would solve all his problems except for one thing—they aren’t in love. Can these two friends team up for the greater good and perhaps find love along the way, or are their expectations impossible? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Anna’s Forgotten Fiance by Carrie Lighte — An accident leaves Anna Weaver with no memory of her Amish hometown’s newest arrival—her fiancé! After a whirlwind courtship, their wedding’s in six weeks…but how can she marry a man she can’t remember? Carpenter Fletcher Chupp takes her on a walk down memory lane, but there’s one thing he wants to keep hidden: a secret that might just lose him the woman he loves. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Grace Restored by Toni Shiloh — Michelle Thomas has it all. Beautiful and successful, she’s just opened her own law firm in Freedom Lake. What more could she want? When her old flame rolls back into Freedom Lake, she’s intent on ignoring him. But how can she give the widower and his precious twin girls the cold shoulder?
Still reeling from the death of his wife, Guy Pierre returns to Freedom Lake to take over as town sheriff and raise his twin daughters. Alone. Yet, life keeps throwing Michelle in his path and sparks of interest began to rise. Will old secrets tear them apart again or can they find the faith to let God’s grace restore what has been broken? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

General & Women’s Fiction:

Justice by Emily Conrad — Jake thought he was meant to marry Brooklyn, but now she’s pregnant, and he had nothing to do with it. Brooklyn can’t bring herself to name the father as she wrestles with questions about what her pregnancy means and how it will affect her relationship with Jake. If Harold Keen, the man who owns the bookstore across from Jake’s coffee shop, has anything to do with it, the baby will ruin them both. (General from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel — When her heart donor’s parents give Megan Jacobs their teenage daughter’s journal—complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. (General from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Sweet Meets by Deborah Raney — From short stories to novellas, from contemporary to historical, all of award-winning author Deborah Raney’s short works have been gathered into one great collection for one low price.
Includes the following novellas and short stories: Going Once, Special Delivery, Haiti’s Song, Prairie Lessons, Finally Home, Circle of Blessings. (Women’s Fiction from Raney Day Press)

Historical Romance:

Seven Brides for Seven Texas Ranchers Romance Collection by Amanda Barratt, Susan Page Davis, Vickie McDonough, Gabrielle Meyer, Lorna Seilstad, Erica Vetsch, and Kathleen Y’Barbo — Join seven Texas Rangers on the hunt for a menacing gang, who run straight into romances with women who foil their plans for both the job and their futures. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

A Chance at Forever by Melissa Jagears — In early 1900s Kansas, Mercy McClain serves on the schoolboard, determined to protect Teaville’s children from the bullying she experienced as a child. When Aaron Firebrook, the classmate who bothered her more than any other, petitions the board for a teaching position, she’s dead set against him getting the job. Aaron has returned to his hometown a changed man and is seeking to earn forgiveness of those he wronged. He sets out to prove to Mercy he now has the best interests of the children at heart. Will resentment and old wounds hold them back, or can Mercy and Aaron put the past behind them in time to face the unexpected threats to everything they’re working for? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Ain’t Misbehavin’ by Jennifer Lamont Leo — In Jazz Age Chicago, Dot Rodgers sells hats at Marshall Field while struggling to get her singing career off the ground. Independent and feisty, she’s the life of the party. But underneath the glitter, she doesn’t believe she’s worth the love of a good man. Small-town businessman Charlie Corrigan carries scars from the Great War. After all he’s been through, he wants nothing more than to marry and start a family. But the woman he loves is a flamboyant flapper, used to a more glamorous life than he can offer. As his fortunes climb with the stock market, it seems he’s finally going to win her love. But what happens when it all comes crashing down? (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

A Most Noble Heir by Susan Anne Mason — A young man suddenly thrust into nobility is torn between the servant girl he hopes to marry and the father he’s always longed for. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Safe Refuge by Pamela S. Meyers — Wealthy Chicagoan, Anna Hartwell, is about to wed a man she loathes. The Great Chicago Fire erupts, postponing the wedding. After escaping to Wisconsin with her family she realizes she loves Irish immigrant, Rory Quinn, and prepares to break the wedding plans, which are still on. Then she learns a dark family secret that changes her life forever. (Historical Romance from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Husband by Arrangement by Angel Moore — Abandoned by her secret fiancé, the mayor’s pregnant daughter marries the sheriff. Can she overcome her past and help him save the town from corruption? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Beneath A Prairie Moon by Kim Vogel Sawyer — Abigail Brantley grew up in affluence, but when she is cast from the social registers due to her father’s illegal dealings, she finds herself forced into a role she never imagined: tutoring rough Kansas ranchers in manners and morals so they can “marry up” with their mail-order brides. Mack Cleveland, whose father was swindled by a mail-order bride, wants no part of the scheme to bring Eastern women to Spiveyville, Kansas, and he’s put off by the snooty airs of the “little city gal” in their midst. But as time goes by, his heart goes out to the teacher who tries so diligently to smooth the rough edges from the grooms-to-be. How can he teach her that perfection won’t bring happiness? (Historical Romance from Waterbrook/Multnomah [Random House])

Romantic Suspense:

Beneath the Surface by Lynn H. Blackburn — After a harrowing experience with an obsessed patient, oncology nurse practitioner Leigh Weston moves home to Carrington, North Carolina to leave behind her troubled past. But when someone tampers with her brakes, she fears the past has chased her into the present. Leigh reaches out for help from her high school friend and volunteer underwater investigator, Ryan Parker. But when Ryan finds the body of a wealthy businessman in Lake Porter, the investigation uncovers a possible serial killer—one with a terrifying connection to Leigh and deadly implications for them all. (Romantic Suspense from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing)

Secret Service Setup by Jessica R. Patch — Secret Service agent Evan Novak becomes the target of multiple hit men when someone puts a two-million-dollar bounty on his head. Is it the gunrunner he’s tracking…or a traitorous agent? Framed and wanted, Evan reluctantly accepts protection from bodyguard Jody Gallagher, his former love who lost her Agency career because of him. But then the bounty is raised to include Jody… (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Fugitive Spy by Jordyn Redwood — A spy with amnesia—and a mission he can’t remember. When Casper English lands in her ER with amnesia, Dr. Ashley Drager learns he has a picture of her…and the same tattoo as her long-missing father. With a dangerous man after Casper, and his memories possibly holding the key to finding Ashley’s father, she secretly whisks him away from the hospital. But can she keep him alive long enough to help him regain his memories? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

100 Steps to Freedom — Tamera Lynn Kraft

Today I’m happy to welcome author Tamera Lynn Kraft as she shares some of the history behind her latest story.

Before the Civil War, Ohio had the largest Underground Railroad of any state in the Union. It is believed that every county in Ohio had a route. Many slaves would escape over the Ohio River and through Ohio on their way to Canada. This was a dangerous undertaking because, even though Ohio was a free state, the Fugitive Slave Law made it so anyone helping escaped slaves could be fined and jailed.

One small town, Ripley, Ohio, is believed to have helped more slaves escape than any town in Ohio. Ripley is located on the banks of the Ohio River across from Mason County, Kentucky.

One man who helped slaves escape was a freed black man named John Parker. Parker was educated by his master in Virginia and eventually bought his freedom. He traveled to Ohio and opened a foundry on Front Street facing the Ohio River. He was the first black man to earn a patent for one of the inventions he used in his foundry. At night, he would search the Ohio River looking for escaped slaves and helping them find their way to an Underground Railroad Station.

Rev. John Rankin, a Presbyterian minister, owned a house on top of a hill in Ripley. He built one hundred steps to the house that could be seen on the other side of the river. At night, he would light a lantern and hang it from the porch to signal slaves that it was safe to cross. It is estimated that over 2,000 slaves escaped through the Rankin House. None of them were ever recaptured.

Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote her famous novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, about the escape of the slave, Eliza, after hearing the story from Rev. Rankin. I also added John Rankin’s house in my new novel, Red Sky Over America. The story takes place on the Ohio River where all these exciting events happened.

About her book:

Red Sky Over America
Ladies of Oberlin Book 1

William and America confront evil, but will it costs them everything?

In 1857, America, the daughter of a slave owner, is an abolitionist and a student at Oberlin College, a school known for its radical ideas. America goes home to Kentucky during school break to confront her father about freeing his slaves.

America’s classmate, William, goes to Kentucky to preach abolition to churches that condone slavery. America and William find themselves in the center of the approaching storm sweeping the nation and may not make it home to Ohio or live through the struggle.

Red Sky Over America tackles the most turbulent time in history with thorough research and fascinating characters. Tamera Lynn Kraft has woven a tale about the evils of slavery that should never be forgotten. — Mary Ellis, author of The Quaker and the Rebel, The Lady and the Officer, and The Last Heiress.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B079GQQ9KY/ref=x_gr_w_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B079GQQ9KY&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/red-sky-over-america-tamera-lynn-kraft/1127910586;jsessionid=E0109718A797B90BAA4E67707F16623E.prodny_store01-atgap04?ean=2940155392231&st=AFF&2sid=Goodreads,%20Inc_2227948_NA&sourceId=AFFGoodreads,%20IncM000004

About Tamera

Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures. She loves to write historical fiction set in the United States because there are so many stories in American history. There are strong elements of faith, romance, suspense and adventure in her stories. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and is a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest and has other novels and novellas in print. She’s been married for 39 years to the love of her life, Rick, and has two married adult children and three grandchildren. 

Tamera has been a children’s pastor for over 20 years. She is the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire for Kids where she mentors other children’s leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist and has written children’s church curriculum. She is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry.

You can contact Tamera online at these sites.

Website: http://tameralynnkraft.net

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/cdybpb

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7334438.Tamera_Lynn_Kraft

Word Sharpeners Blog: http://tameralynnkraft.com

Facebook: http://facebook.com/tameralynnkraft

Twitter: http://twitter.com/tamerakraft

Making Mistakes: Takeaway from “The Mail Order Mistake” — Kathleen Y’Barbo

Today I’m happy to welcome author Kathleen Y’Barbo as she shares about her story in the Mail Order Brides Collection.

Have you heard the joke about the guy who thought he made a mistake? Well, turns out he was wrong.

We laugh at that joke, but the truth of it is sobering. We’ve all made mistakes, whether we acknowledge that fact or not. Maybe you put your trust in the wrong person. Or perhaps you made a choice that you were certain would fix all your problems only to have the situation end in disaster.

What then? Do you wonder where God was and how He allowed that to happen? To those of us who believe He controls everything, such a mistake can cause us to ask hard questions of Him.

When May Conrad moved in with her kindly neighbor after fire destroyed her home, she certainly didn’t expect to be throw into the center of a Pinkerton investigation and be considered a prime suspect in a string of mail fraud crimes involving mail order brides. After all, she felt God was taking care of her. But was He? May certainly doesn’t think so when an infuriating Pinkerton detective insists her next choice is between helping him capture that kindly neighbor or be tossed into jail.

Can you think of a time when you were forced into a situation where none of the options were good? Maybe you had an idea of what your life was going to be like, and then God came in and did something totally different. Something unexpected. Something uncomfortable. I know I’ve been there. And while you’re in the middle of that something unexpected and uncomfortable, you might be wondering where God is and why He’s allowing this to happen. You may even wonder if God has turned away and forgotten about you.

Good news! He hasn’t forgotten. In fact, He is absolutely and certainly using this unexpected and uncomfortable thing. What’s He using it for? Sometimes looking back that answer is obvious. Other times there may never be an answer this side of heaven as to why He has allowed something into your life.

Through it all, there is one thing that never changes and is always true: God never makes mistakes. He’s never wrong. And he never leaves you when you do. If you get nothing else from The Mail Order Mistake, please do not miss that.

I know May didn’t. I hope you won’t.

About her book: (Included in the Mail Order Brides Collection)

The Mail-Order Mistake by Kathleen Y’Barbo.

1855, Texas
Pinkerton detective Jeremiah Bingham is investigating a mail-order bride scam bankrupting potential grooms. When unsuspecting orphan May Conrad answers his false ad, she becomes the prime suspect in the case.

Purchase from your local bookseller or online at:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mail-Order-Brides-Collection-Historical-Marriage/dp/1683224442/ref=pd_ybh_a_3?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=WT6X9D0B6ETRDGH42MHS

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-mail-order-brides-collection-megan-besing/1126627885?ean=9781683224440#/

Books-A-Million: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Mail-Order-Brides-Collection/Megan-Besing/9781683224440?id=6797742722867#ReviewHeader

Christian Book Distributors: https://www.christianbook.com/brides-collection-historical-stories-marriage-precedes/megan-besing/9781683224440/pd/224442?product_redirect=1&Ntt=224442&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP

About Kathleen:

Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee with than ninety novels, novellas, and nonfiction books to her credit, and over two million copies of these books in print in the US and abroad. A tenth-generation Texan and certified paralegal, she is the winner of the Inspirational Romance of the Year by Romantic Times magazine and a number of Reader’s Choice awards as well as a nominee for an RT Career Achievement Award. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Novelists Inc. Kathleen loves interacting with her fans and with book clubs. To connect with her through social media or send her an email, check out the links on her website at www.kathleenybarbo.com. And don’t miss signing up for her newsletter so you’ll be the first to know about new books. She’s got five coming out in 2018!


Today I’m happy to welcome author Marilyn Meredith as she shares insights into her researching for her latest novel.

Much of what I did to write Two Was West was the same as writing a story from my mother’s side of the genealogy: the research, making the account read like fiction, weaving in historical facts, family legends and research—and of course, adding a sprinkling of imagination. The big difference was when I wrote this one, there were still some old-timers around who had done their own research and had heard all the family legends and willingly shared.

This account is about two families, the Osborns and the Crabtrees, who traveled west for different reasons and taking much different routes.

My biggest motivation when I knew I wanted to write about these ancestors of mine, was to find out what motivated these families to travel so far from home. Both braved many dangers, and traveled in different ways to get to California.

The Crabtree family lived in Brownsville, Texas on two different occasions and when I contacted the Brownsville Historical Society about what I planned to do, they loaned me a marvelous book all about the history of the town which certainly helped me figure out what happened with my family during those time periods.

My sister and I, along with our spouses and our mom and dad traveled to Grass Valley, where the Osborns lived for some time. We also made several trips to Springville where both families ended up. We visited the graveyard where many of the people from both families are buried. My father was born in the area and now this is where I make my home.

Writing Two Ways West changed my life. I had no plans to move from where our family had lived for more than twenty-years until I began doing the research and writing this story. Moving to where these ancestors of mine lived seemed like the perfect destination for us.


About the book:

The Osborns traveled by wagon train along the Mormon trail to California. The Crabtrees journeyed by burro and horse through Mexico to finally reach the same destination. This is the story of these two families, of their hopes and dreams, triumphs and tragedies. Narrated in vivid detail, Two Ways West is a chronicle of human beings who rise to the challenge of life and conquer their fears and shortcomings to achieve greatness.

Available on Amazon for Kindle and in trade paperback.



First page of Two Ways West:

Dear God.” Rebecca prayed while kneeling beside her bed in the attic of the cabin that was her home. “Please keep John safe and bring him home soon. And make him fall-in love with me like I love him. I promise I’ll take care of him and do whatever he wants, and go wherever he wants to go. Oh, please, God, please, please. Amen.”

It was the same prayer twelve-year-old Rebecca Wilkerson had repeated every single night since John Crabtree had been called to join the army to fight against the British down in New Orleans.

Before John left, Rebecca’s prayer had only been for her nineteen-year-old neighbor to take notice of her as someone more than a pal to tramp through the woods with and to bait his hooks and clean his fish—chores she found distasteful. But she would have done anything to be by John’s side.

Poking her head out of the open window, she stared at the sky filled with the same stars she knew sparkled above John. She wondered if he might be looking up at them too, and the thought pleased her. Rebecca closed her eyes and immediately, John’s angular, clean-shaven face came to view.

The vision of his nearly black hair rumpled, with a lock spilling over his tanned forehead, the twinkle, which always appeared in his brown eyes when he teased her, the straight nose, and his lips lifted in a mischievous smile made her yearn for him even more. A tear slid down her cheek.

On bare feet, she padded across the rough boards of the floor. Her voluminous nightdress covered her body, a body undergoing changes, changes which had begun even before John left. The straight angles of childhood now altered to a surprising softness. Her long golden hair seemed silkier, more lustrous, her skin smoother. She knew she’d stepped over the threshold into womanhood.

Rebecca’s last thought before falling asleep was, Will John notice the difference?


About Marilyn:

Marilyn Meredith is a fourth generation native Californian. The story of her remarkable ancestors is part of family legends. She is the author of many other published novels including the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries, and writing as F. M. Meredith, the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series. She lives with her husband on property which was once part of the Crabtree family’s land grant.

Webpage: https://fictionforyou.com

Blog: https://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MarilynMeredithbooks/



Secondary Characters — Noelle Marchand

Today I’m happy to welcome author Noelle Marchand as she shares about her story in the Mail Order Brides Collection.

Imagine the sound of a single cello playing a melody—deep, rich, vibrant. Now, imagine two violins and a viola joining in. Suddenly, what was once simple becomes complex with each instrument bringing out a new quality in the others. This is exactly what secondary characters do for main characters. I always try to create well-rounded characters to interact with hero and heroine.

However, in writing The Outlaw’s Inconvenient Bride, I gained a better understanding of the importance of secondary characters within a novel. Never before had I tasked these characters with so much responsibility. With a huge portion of the story taking place in an outlaw gang’s secluded hideout, the six outlaws who lived there needed to provide external conflict, help set the tone of the story, and make the time period seem believable.

It was also paramount, due to the short nature of a novella, that these characters be immediately distinct from each other. I ensured this by researching accounts of real outlaws who lived during the old west. Inspired, my imagination went into overdrive. I created six characters complete with a list of their past crimes, endowed with a weapon of choice, unique character traits, motives for mayhem, and outlaw monikers. Meet all six members of the Renegade gang in The Outlaw’s Inconvenient Bride.

About her book: (Included in the Mail Order Brides Collection)

The Outlaw’s Inconvenient Bride by Noelle Marchand.

After a gang of outlaws uses a mail-order bride advertisement to trick an innocent woman into servitude, an undercover lawman must claim the bride—even if it puts his mission in jeopardy. 

Purchase from your local bookseller or online at:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mail-Order-Brides-Collection-Historical-Marriage/dp/1683224442/ref=pd_ybh_a_3?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=WT6X9D0B6ETRDGH42MHS

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-mail-order-brides-collection-megan-besing/1126627885?ean=9781683224440#/

Books-A-Million: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Mail-Order-Brides-Collection/Megan-Besing/9781683224440?id=6797742722867#ReviewHeader

Christian Book Distributors: https://www.christianbook.com/brides-collection-historical-stories-marriage-precedes/megan-besing/9781683224440/pd/224442?product_redirect=1&Ntt=224442&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP

About Noelle:

Noelle Marchand is an award-winning author and a proud Texas-native. She enjoys spending time with family, dancing, and going on daytrips.

Learn more at http://www.noellemarchand.com/books




Novella Research — Liz Tolsma

Today I’m happy to welcome author Liz Tolsma as she shares about her story in the Mail Order Brides Collection.

My story, A Fairy-Tale Bride, is set just after the Civil War in the make-believe town of Cuento, Texas. Nora, the main character, is a Southern war widow who has lost her husband, her home, and her land. She is impoverished and has no means to support herself. The only respectable option she has is to become a mail-order bride.

As I researched the story I wanted to write for this collection, I found it was very common for war widows, especially those from the South, to enter into such marriages of convenience. Most of them had lost everything during the conflict. Some of the surviving Confederate soldiers left the Southeast to begin new lives in the cotton fields of Texas. This air of familiarity helped with their transition back into civilian life.

The Texas cotton industry boomed around this time. With their former homes and crops razed and slaves gone, many men turned to Texas as a place to start fresh. The land was fertile, crops were good, and they were able to tap into the now-freed slaves as a work force familiar with growing cotton. Texas quickly became one of the leading producers of cotton in the nation. With the new plantation owners thriving, it was natural for the Southern war widows to go to Texas to enter into new marriages and to start new families.

While I considered not having the sharecroppers appear in the story because of the oftentimes unsavory aspects of the institution, in the end, I decided to show them because sharecropping was a way of life in the South after the war. The hero and his friend would not have been able to sustain their large plantations without this means of getting workers. Neither of the characters is unkind to the sharecroppers, and I don’t dwell on it because the characters wouldn’t have. It was part of daily life.

As I researched this book, I learned so much about what life was like for some Southerners following the Civil War. When you read it, I hope you learn a little something too.


About Liz:

Passionate might best describe Liz Tolsma. She loves writing, research, and editing. Her passion shone through in her first novel which was a double award finalist. On any given day, you might find her pulling weeds in her perennial garden, walking her hyperactive dog, or curled up with a good book. Nothing means more to her than her family. She’s married her high-school sweetheart twenty-eight years ago. Get her talking about international adoption, and you might never get her to stop. She and her husband adopted three children, including a son who is a U.S. Marine, and two daughters.





Story Inspiration — Jennifer Uhlarik

Today I’m happy to welcome author Jennifer Uhlarik as she shares about her story in the Mail Order Brides Collection.

Hi all! Jennifer Uhlarik here. I’m so excited to share with you the story behind the story on The Brigand and The Bride, my selection from The Mail-Order Brides Collection. So…where did the idea for this story come from? As I pondered the idea of a mail-order bride story, I knew it needed to be different than a previous mail-order bride story I’d done (Wedded to Honor from The Convenient Bride Collection). I began thinking of different scenarios and quickly struck on the idea of a woman marrying a stranger to escape her outlaw family. Probably not the most original of ideas—but then, every story’s been told a million times already. It’s the fun twists you add that makes a story unique. So as I pondered the heroine that was taking shape in my mind, I saw a scene begin to unfold.

The heroine hurries through town, anxious about being caught by her brother. Rather than heading straight to the church, she stops in the seamstress’ shop to pick up a suit for her mail-order groom—something they’d pre-arranged through their letters. Suit in hand, she goes to the church, lays out the clothes and grooming supplies for him, then waits in the sanctuary. A bit later, the hero rushes in, shaves and cuts his hair, dons the suit, and steps out of the room, where the pastor’s wife shoves him down the aisle, scolding him for his lateness.

The scene played so vividly in my mind’s eye that I knew I had to write it and find out how the rest turned out. From the couple’s first awkward face-to-face meeting to the “quickie” wedding that ensues, I was giggling and grinning ear-to-ear. I sure hope you’ll read The Brigand and The Bride to find out why!

About her book: (Included in the Mail Order Brides Collection)

The Brigand and the Bride by Jennifer Uhlarik
1876, Arizona 
Jolie Hilliard weds a stranger to flee her outlaw family but discovers her groom is an escaped prisoner. Will she ever find happiness on the right side of the law?

Purchase from your local bookseller or online at:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mail-Order-Brides-Collection-Historical-Marriage/dp/1683224442/ref=pd_ybh_a_3?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=WT6X9D0B6ETRDGH42MHS

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-mail-order-brides-collection-megan-besing/1126627885?ean=9781683224440#/

Books-A-Million: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Mail-Order-Brides-Collection/Megan-Besing/9781683224440?id=6797742722867#ReviewHeader

Christian Book Distributors: https://www.christianbook.com/brides-collection-historical-stories-marriage-precedes/megan-besing/9781683224440/pd/224442?product_redirect=1&Ntt=224442&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP

About Jennifer:

Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen, when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has won and finaled in numerous writing competitions. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children.




Lies Characters Believe — Megan Besing

Today I’m happy to welcome author Megan Besing as she shares about her story in the Mail Order Brides Collection.

As we all know, lies are a part of everyday life—and every good book. Whether it’s one we tell ourselves for years or one someone else makes up, lies consume our time. In my story, Perfect for the Preacher, lies, gossip, and assumptions nearly become main characters themselves.

Despite his age, Pastor Amos Lowry believes he’s the man to fill the pulpit at Hilltop Chapel. He’s certain he’s qualified and longs to be hired. Wouldn’t a congregation with such generosity be a preacher’s ideal church? At least that’s what he tells himself.

Those on the council assume Pastor Lowry is too young and immature, and they believe marriage for Amos could be the answer to all their problems. Except no one asked for a mail-order bride with a sketchy past to apply as Amos’s wife. After all, won’t an ex-saloon girl ruin Hilltop Chapel’s reputation?

Sophie Ross was told she could be a pastor’s wife. Except when gossip mixes with the dreadful experiences from her past, Sophie fights the doubt in her head. If a man of God can’t love and accept her, what kind of future does that leave?

Behind every deception, whether in real life or story form, is the truth waiting to save the day and set us free. I hope you discover and enjoy the truths buried in the lies of Amos and Sophie’s happily-ever-after. What starts off as an unlikely match might just become a marriage built on unconditional love and a ministry for a renewed congregation. Lies may win a battle, but like the characters of Perfect for the Preacher, let’s not allow evil to claim victory of our lives.

About her book: (Included in the Mail Order Brides Collection)

Perfect for the Preacher by Megan Besing

1897, Indiana

Fresh from seminary, Amos Lowry believes marriage will prove to his skeptical congregation that he’s mature. If only his mail-order bride wasn’t an ex-saloon girl, and worse, pregnant.

Purchase from your local bookseller or online at:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mail-Order-Brides-Collection-Historical-Marriage/dp/1683224442/ref=pd_ybh_a_3?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=WT6X9D0B6ETRDGH42MHS

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-mail-order-brides-collection-megan-besing/1126627885?ean=9781683224440#/

Books-A-Million: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Mail-Order-Brides-Collection/Megan-Besing/9781683224440?id=6797742722867#ReviewHeader

Christian Book Distributors: https://www.christianbook.com/brides-collection-historical-stories-marriage-precedes/megan-besing/9781683224440/pd/224442?product_redirect=1&Ntt=224442&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP



About Megan:

Megan Besing adores reading, writing, and reviewing stories with happily-ever-afters. Her own writings have received many awards, including being a multi-category finalist in ACFW’s Genesis and a winner of MCRW’s Melody of Love contest. Her debut Perfect for the Preacher releases February 1, 2018 in Barbour’s Mail-Order Brides Novella Collection.

She lives in Indiana with her husband and their children where she dreams of the beach and drinks way too many Vanilla Cokes. Connect with Megan on Facebook and at www.meganbesing.com.



Villains — Sherri Shackelford

Today I’m happy to welcome author Sherri Shackelford as she shares about her story in the Mail Order Brides Collection.

The most important thing to remember when creating a villain, is that villains don’t know they’re villains. In my story, Mail-Order Proxy, the heroine is interviewing a notorious outlaw for her local newspaper. And why does this outlaw agree to the interview? He craves fame and attention, of course, but he also wants people to understand him. He want’s people to know his motivation.

Generally, most villains are sociopaths. They lack a conscious. While most sociopaths do not become predators, most predators are sociopaths. They may not feel guilty for hurting someone, but they are aware of the consequences of their actions. They are aware of how they are perceived in society.

As an author, when I’m creating a villain, I use a regular person as inspiration, and embellish their flaws and weaknesses.

Villains shouldn’t simply be twirling their mustaches while lashing the heroine to the railroad tracks. The outlaw in my story does some bad things, but he feels completely justified in doing these things: Why should the banks have all the money when he’s just a poor, working stiff trying to get ahead?

There should always be a reason for the villain’s actions. In Mail-Order Proxy, the outlaw is perfectly cordial to the heroine until she stands in the way of what he wants. That’s when she sees the darker side of his personality. Most folks aren’t entirely good or entirely evil. A well-written villain has human foibles and weaknesses.

It’s also important to remember that villains are often very charming and engaging individuals. The outlaw in my novella, “Mail-Order Proxy”, has convinced the heroine of his sincerity. Part of her growth is learning to discern the difference between a charming villain and a cantankerous hero. As the old proverb states, ‘The lion is most handsome when looking for food.’

I hope you enjoy my story, “Mail-Order Proxy!”

About Sherri:

Sherri Shackelford is an award-winning author of inspirational, Christian romance novels for Harlequin/HarperCollins Publishers.

A wife and mother of three, Sherri’s hobbies include collecting mismatched socks, discovering new ways to avoid cleaning, and standing in the middle of the room while thinking, “Why did I just come in here?” A reformed pessimist and recent hopeful romantic, Sherri has a passion for writing. She doesn’t live on the prairie, but she can see the plains from her house. Her books are fun and fast-paced, with plenty of heart and soul. Look for her exciting new romantic suspense novel this fall!