Breathing New Life into the Pages of History — Jarm Del Boccio ( + GIVEAWAY )

Today I’m happy to welcome author Jarm Del Boccio as she shares insights into her writing. Read through to the end to find out how you can enter her giveaway.

My inspiration for writing is three-fold: I am passionate about travel, fascinated with history and amazed at the depth of God’s Word. So when my trip to Israel crossed an Old Testament story (which IS history), coupled with a hint of mystery (what would happen if. . .) my middle-grade historical fiction, “The Heart Changer” was born.

I have a soft-spot for the kids in the Bible who have no name or backstory, but have made a huge impact on people around them. One example is the boy who offered Jesus his lunch which miraculously fed thousands of hungry souls. I gave him a name —Toviah — and wrote his story as a chapter book. Although I have submitted “A Pouch Full of Miracles” to many agents and editors, to this day, it remains unpublished. Knowing a multitude of famous authors have been rejected 25 — 50 — and even 100 times gives me hope. If God wills, it will happen.

Another account in Scripture, this time from the Old Testament, caught my eye and made me ponder this girl’s backstory: how did she come to work for the wife of Naaman, the Commander of the Syrian army? And what emotions would she experience as she worked day by day in this foreign environment? And most importantly, how did she connect the prophet Elisha with her master, which resulted in a miracle? This is the story of “The Heart Changer”, which by the way, I formerly named “A Changing Heart” and then decided it sounded too much like a historical romance.

Since we know next to nothing about this girl (I named her Miriam), I felt free to fabricate this story, but only in context with the truths of God’s Word. If I changed anything, I mentioned it in the author’s notes.

I can’t remember all the details involved in the creation of Miriam’s story, but I do know it was written first as a chapter book, much like “A Pouch Full of Miracles”. Then, since middle- grade novels are so popular, I decided to lengthen it to its present state — around 100 pages.

My passion to “breathe new life into the pages of history” is reflected in my historical fiction, both in picture books and novels (all unpublished at this time). I want my readers to fall in love with history and the Bible. To see themselves in its pages. And realize these once living children had the same hopes and dreams as they do. I want my young readers to know they can be the heroes of their own stories, which takes patience, bravery and often a touch of humility.

I would love to connect with my readers! Come visit me at: and my Facebook Page:

Readers, leave a comment below to be entered in her giveaway for an e-book copy of “The Heart Changer”.



What is your favorite part of writing?

When I am on a roll, inspired by my characters, and words flow from my fingers to the keys of my iPad and into my story!

Tell me about your ideal reader:

They are 3rd through 6th graders (depending on reading level), fascinated with little known facts and people in history and love to be transported to another time in place, living vicariously through the characters.

What is your “go to” routine that helps you get in the mood to write?

I drink White Peony tea and burn a crystal candle as I type stories on an iPad in my Victorian sitting room!

About the Book:

Can an Israelite captive, wrenched from all she loves, serve the very man who destroyed her village?

Miriam is asked to do the impossible: serve the wife of Naaman, commander of the Syrian army. Clinging to treasured memories of home and faith, Miriam faces captivity with worry and bitterness. Little does she know the Heart Changer is wooing and preparing her for a greater mission far beyond what she could imagine.

This middle-grade historical novel reflects the heartache and angst of a young refugee in a foreign land where all hope seems lost.


About Jarm

Jarm (’J’ pronounced as a ‘Y’) Del Boccio loves to travel, is passionate about visiting new places and determined never visit the same location twice. Unfortunately, sometimes she has to break her own rule. Having journeyed to six out of seven continents, she’s slowly checking off destinations on her bucket list. Jarm’s next dream destination is a stay in a Mongolian yurt with plenty of yak milk to drink!

Jarm has a background in elementary and high school education, and served as school librarian. She spent two years in Papua New Guinea teaching three missionary children in an isolated bush village without modern conveniences.

Jarm Del Boccio is content with the journey God has placed her on, and lives with her husband, adult daughter and son (when he lands at home), in a tree-lined suburb of Chicago. Her debut middle-grade historical fiction, The Heart Changer releases with Ambassador International April 26th of 2019. You can pre-order it here:


CHAPTER ONE of The Heart Changer

“RUN! RUN, MY DAUGHTER! DON’T let them see you!” Miriam’s mother cried in alarm, shielding baby Zacchaeus in her long robes. She watched, helpless, as her precious child ran to escape the oncoming invasion.

Picking up her skirts, the young girl fled down the center of the Shunem town market, following the frantic path of others, terror- stricken by the billowing clouds of dust gathering in the distance. As the villagers ran for their lives, baskets of fruits and vegetables, nuts and spices were carelessly scattered on the parched ground. Carts of fish and goat’s cheese were upset, the sound of splintering and cracking adding to the mayhem as striped awnings ripped from their doorframes. Goats and sheep scattered, and those who could not be freed from their leads bleated in fear. Shouts of the Syrian army, and the sound of clomping horse’s hooves on the stone pavement signaled the enemy’s advance. Cries and screams escaped from the villagers as they dropped a trail of precious belongings in their flight. A keepsake and a fresh loaf of bread meant nothing. Only their lives mattered now.

Miriam eyed another overturned cart, its sweets scattered in the dust, and swiftly darted behind it to evade the soldiers’ haunting advances. She covered her face with the cloth from her head covering, tucking it in to hide her maturing face. Heart pounding, she took a deep breath, pressing her head against the rugged wood, praying no one had seen her. At twelve, who knew what the enemy would do if they caught her?


Experiencing God While Writing — Jennifer Uhlarik

Today I’m happy to welcome author Jennifer Uhlarik as she shares about her writing with God.

From the moment the idea for Sand Creek Serenade came to me, I knew it was a special one, but as I dug further into the history of the Sand Creek Massacre—the event which the story revolves around—I became all too aware of just how daunting this story would be to write. The subject matter needed to be handled delicately. How does one write a happily-ever-after romance when the main event the story focuses on is a massacre of hundreds of unsuspecting Native American women and children?

More than a year ago, God prompted me to begin praying over each of my stories (both written and unwritten) by name. I’ve done so sporadically, in part because I wasn’t quite sure how to focus my prayers. Well, while I wrote this story, I was also regularly attending an hour-long prayer service at my church each Wednesday. I had a publisher that was seriously interested in the story, but before they could contract it, I had to complete the manuscript. If it weren’t for the interest, I may not have pressed on. I have always shied away from writing about the very well-documented historical events, since some reviewers can be cruel if an author makes even the slightest mistake with the historical record. Each week at those Wednesday prayer meetings, I would focus my heart on God, and I would ask Him to help me write the story as He wanted it.

On one particular day at the prayer service, I heard a verse spoken. Psalm 2:8—Ask of Me and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. I’d read the same verse in my quiet time earlier that week. It lodged in my heart then—and I knew I was being prompted to pray this verse over my story. As I began to pray that verse in obedience, something else began to happen. I closed my eyes to sing and pray, and I began to see upcoming scenes from my story playing out like a movie in my mind. Oh, these “movies” were vivid. Detailed. In technicolor! Week after week, I would go to the prayer service, pray my verse, and leave with a “download” of what exactly to go home and write. Never in my life have I felt such a strong sense that God was directing the story. Nor have I ever felt such an excitement that He may use one of my stories to reach hurting hearts.

Time will tell if my hopes become reality that this may reach a huge audience with hope and healing, but if nothing else, this was a thrilling exercise in surrendering my fears to God and seeing Him walk me through the tough stuff of writing a story I often felt was too daunting. And I hope as I work on other upcoming stories, I can find a similar “sweet spot” with God as we write together.

About the Book:

Dr. Sadie Hoppner is no stranger to adversity. She’s fought to be taken seriously since childhood, when her father began training her in the healing arts. Finding acceptance and respect proves especially difficult at Fort Lyon, where she’s come to practice medicine under her brother’s watchful eye.

Cheyenne brave Five Kills wouldn’t knowingly jeopardize the peace treaty recently negotiated between his people and the Army. But a chance encounter with the female doctor ignites memories of his upbringing among the whites. Too intrigued to stay away, tension erupts with the soldiers, and Five Kills is injured.

As he recuperates under the tender care of the pretty healer, an unlikely bond forms. However, their fledgling love is put to the test when each realizes that a much greater danger awaits—a danger they are wholly unable to stop, and one which neither may survive.


Buy Link:

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 finaled and won in numerous writing competitions, and been on the ECPA best-seller list numerous times. 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.







What I’ve Learned — Pat Jeanne Davis

Today I’m happy to welcome author Pat Jeanne Davis as she shares some encouragement for those pursuing their dreams.

What I’ve learned while on the path to publication:

All aspects of my life are to be placed before a loving Heavenly Father who holds me and His promises are sure. He withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly. I remind myself that I’m a work in progress. This writing experience is also part of my walk of faith and that, too, requires patience, perseverance and prayer. That with God’s help and guidance it’s never too late to follow your dream.

Do you, too, yearn to obtain a heartfelt goal? Do you cherish a life-long dream—one that you’re convinced God placed in your heart—that seems impossible?

Be Patient.

If that dream is to be an author, the journey toward publication may take a long time. I know first hand the disappointment when a positive answer you hoped to get on your work is not the one you receive. When the goal you’ve set for yourself seem unobtainable. Remember our chief goal is to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. We’re in sync with God’s perfect timing when we ask Him to direct our path.

Be Persistent

I’ve been listening to a book on Louis Pasteur, a believing scientist and the founder of modern medicine. He never gave up in his quest to discover what caused food and wine to spoil. If he had, we would not be benefiting from his discovery of what has come to be called pasteurization. How many lives have been spared and other lives made more bearable through the dogged persistence of scientists and inventors. Is there an author whose words have impacted your life? As a writer, your words can broaden your reader’s horizons or they may touch your reader’s heart and mind and greatly impact their life for good.

Be Purposeful

In When Valleys Bloom Again, my heroine, Abby, speaks with a stammer. She loves children and dreams of becoming a teacher. She does exercises to overcome her speech impediment and attends college to receive the instruction necessary to qualify as a teacher. Whether we want to be a scientist, a teacher or a writer, we need training. A new writer must learn the craft through taking courses, studying the work of other writers, attending conferences, getting feedback from writing contests, having her work critiqued and through critiquing the work of others. While waiting for “the call” from an agent or editor, work on another novel, or write an article or short stories.

Be Prepared

When an opportunity to submit your writing comes your way, be ready. And be prepared to face rejection of your work and not become discouraged and continue to submit elsewhere. I’ve come to appreciate even more the wisdom in not having high expectations but to keep the feeling of anticipation nonetheless.

Be Participating

Work with an editor and take direction when given. You may cringe when told to rework a paragraph or get rid of a sentence or scene. Your editor is only helping your work to shine and you to become a better writer. I’m thankful for the numerous critiques from editors and other writers. Wherever possible try to reciprocate.

Be Praying

When your dreams are yet unrealized and you’re tempted to despair, pray for patient perseverance while you wait on His perfect timing. Share you dream with close family and friends and let them cheer you on. In my novel, Abby confides in her beloved Uncle Will when she begins to doubt. He reassures her, “You’ll make a fine teacher. Remember that determination is half the battle.” He patted her hand. “The other half is jolly hard work.”

Be Praising

We should praise Him for His unfailing promises. When we believe in God we have the certainty that what He has promised is true, has occurred, and will happen in accordance with His Word. We also can praise God for His plan, purpose, protection, power and His peace.

My prayer is that after you have done all that is required to achieve your dream, you may experience a renewed perspective and that you keep anticipation alive.


About the Book:

As war approaches in 1939 Abby Stapleton’s safety is under threat. Her father, a British diplomat, insists she go back to America until the danger passes. Abby vows to return to her home in London—but where is home? With her family facing mortal danger so far away and feeling herself isolated, she finds it hard to pray or read the Bible. Did she leave God behind in war-torn London too? Abby becomes friendly with Jim, a gardener on her uncle’s estate.

Jim can’t get Abby out of his mind. Did she have a sweetheart in England? Was it foolish to think she’d consider him? He curses his poverty and the disgrace of his father’s desertion and drunkenness haunts him. Can he learn to believe in love for a lifetime and to hope for a happy marriage?

Abby couldn’t know the war would last a long time, nor that she would fall in love with Jim—soon to be drafted by the U.S. Army—or that she’d have to confront Henri, a rejected suitor, determined by his lies to ruin her reputation and destroy her faith in God’s providence. Will she discover the true meaning of home and find happiness with Jim?


About Pat:

PAT JEANNE DAVIS lives in Philadelphia, Pa with her British-born husband, John. They have two grown sons. She enjoys flower gardening, genealogy research and traveling with her husband. She is a volunteer in the nursery at the church she attends and at the local chapter of MOP’s.

Pat published essays, short stories and articles online and in print. She has a keen interest in mid-twentieth-century American and British history, particularly the period of World War II. Pat’s father-in-law served in the British Eighth Army during the war. When Valleys Bloom Again is her debut historical romance set in that era. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and the Historical Novel Society. Pat loves to hear from her readers. Subscribe to her newsletter here


When Valleys Bloom Again can be purchased here;


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March 2019 New Releases!

March 2019 New Releases

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


The Case of the Missing Firehouse Dog by Daphne Self — Majesty, the firehouse dog, is missing. Willie and Jax are on the case to discover who is the dognapping culprit. Could it be their neighbor, Mr. Applebee? Or maybe it is Ms. Thornton? Join the Pintail Duo, Wilhelmina van der Coup and Jackson Barnaby, as they follow the clues to rescue Majesty in The Case of the Missing Firehouse Dog. (Children’s from Ambassador International)

Contemporary Romance:

When He Found Me by Victoria Bylin — With his career and faith in tatters, a disillusioned baseball player falls for an optimistic single mom secretly battling cervical cancer. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

His Secret Daughter by Lisa Carter — He just found out he’s a father… But is he ready to be a dad? When veteran Jake McAbee learns he has a daughter, he’s determined to raise the adorable toddler. But Maisie’s foster mom, Callie Jackson, insists Jake stay at her orchard until he’s prepared for fatherhood. While Jake and Maisie bond, the trio begins to feel like family. Could the best home for Maisie be the one Jake and Callie create together? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Finding Love on Whidbey Island, Washington by Annette M. Irby — Liberty Winfield lives with loss every day. She’d rather leave her history behind her, but when faced with moving back to her hometown, the past becomes unavoidable. She takes a job at the florist shop owned by her ex-boyfriend’s family from a decade ago. Now he’s unavoidable. Clay Garrison knows the pain of ruing his mistakes. Most of his regrets center around Liberty. If he could undo his poor choices, he would. Liberty is back. He has one more chance to make things right. She doesn’t believe anyone could love her unconditionally, so he sets out to prove her wrong. He must also try to right the biggest wrong of their past, knowing that in doing so, he could lose her forever. (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Whatever is True by Pamela S. Meyers — Bullfighter and ranch hand Clint Palmer yearns for a family of his own and desires a relationship with barrel racer Lacy Roberts, a fellow ranch employee. But what would she want in a guy who was abandoned by his father and has a mother who is an alcoholic? If he’s ever going to be seen in a different light by Lacy, he needs greater financial security than what a ranch-hand position provides. Lacy’s parents have scorned her ever since she opted for ranch life rather than pursuing a business career. She’s attracted to Clint, who has shown enough interest in her that she reveals a secret about her past—only to be rejected by him. She’s about to move on when Clint learns a secret related to his own life that changes everything. (Contemporary Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Her Colorado Cowboy by Mindy Obenhaus — Lily Davis agrees to take her children riding…despite her fear of horses. But now widowed cowboy Noah Stephens is determined to help her get comfortable in the saddle. And, at her children’s insistence, Lily finds herself promoting his rodeo school. As Noah and Lily work together, will Noah continue to shield his heart…or can they discover a love that conquers both their fears? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Her Last Chance Cowboy by Tina Radcliffe — When pregnant single mother Hannah Vincent shows up professing to be the half sister of the Maxwells of Big Heart Ranch, horse trainer Tripp Walker is wary. Wounded before, he doesn’t trust easily. If only Hannah and her feisty five-year-old daughter weren’t so impossible to resist. Now, despite his doubts, joining this little family is quickly becoming the cautious cowboy’s greatest wish. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Buried Mountain Secrets by Terri Reed — Desperate to find her missing teenage brother, Maya Gallo ventures into the Colorado Rockies expecting rough terrain–not deadly treasure hunters. But when she’s caught in their crosshairs, rudely handsome mounted patrolman Alex Trevino come to her aid. The deputy sheriff knows what these bandits are capable of, so getting Maya–and her brother–home safely may be his hardest mission yet. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Cozy Mystery:

Like a Tree by Danny & Wanda Pelfrey — The movie making industry spreading across Georgia has finally made its way to the little foothill village of Adairsville. Bookseller and police chaplain Davis Morgan along with a young female clerk discover the body of a member of the movie company on a historic site at the foot of a large oak tree. Davis despite his promise to his wife cannot resist investigating the mystery. He and his young friend, policeman Charley Nelson, quietly dig into the case even though it is officially under the jurisdiction of the county sheriff. There is no shortage of suspects: the mysterious red headed man, sister of the victim, the fiancée and others. During the investigation an already troubled Charley is framed for a drug crime, and Davis receives word that an old enemy is on his way to Georgia after escaping from prison to make good a threat against him. Late one afternoon it comes to an astounding conclusion beneath the same sprawling oak where it all started. (Cozy Mystery from CrossLink)

General Contemporary:

Within This Circle by Deborah Raney — After a tumultuous courtship, John and Julia Brighton have a second chance at happiness! With tragedy behind them and their children grown, they’re looking forward to a new and promising era in their lives. Only, such a promise is never guaranteed. And life can change in a moment. The Brightons’ lives are turned upside down when John’s daughter Jana abandons her husband, Mark, and three-year-old daughter. John and Julia reach out to young Ellie, to give the young couple time to heal, but how can they help this child, so confused and longing for Mommy? And how much sorrow and stress can both fledgling marriages endure? (General Contemporary from Raney Day Press)

Grace & Lavender by Heather Norman Smith — Recently retired Colleen Hill is always busy, constantly on a quest to make life more interesting. When the ladies’ group at her church partners with the local children’s home, Colleen jumps in as usual, volunteering to share her passion for cooking with a troubled teenager named Grace. Colleen must balance the new project with her pursuit of becoming a contestant on a television game show, along with all the other ideas her brain continually spins out. Colleen’s daughter Melody is quite different. She lives a calm, simple life and is content with who she is. That is, until an unexpected opportunity to work with Grace, too, pushes her to reevaluate life and dare to take on bigger dreams. The path starts with a newly-found interest in soap-making and leads her to responsibilities she didn’t even know she wanted. (General Contemporary from Ambassador International)

Historical Romance:

The Erie Canal Brides Collection by Johnnie Alexander, Lauralee Bliss, Ramona K. Cecil, Rita Gerlach, Sherri Wilson Johnson, Rose Allen McCauley, Christina Miller — Completed in 1825, the Erie Canal connected the Great Lakes to the Hudson River, and soon other states like Ohio created canals linking Lake Erie to the Ohio River. Suddenly the Midwest was open to migration, the harvesting of resources, and even tourism. Join seven couples who live through the rise of the canals and the problems the waterways brought to each community, including land grabs, disease, tourists, racism, and competition. Can these couples hang on to their faith and develop love during times of intense change? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

This Daring Journey by Misty M. Beller — The only hope to keep her newborn baby alive is to reach the safety of her Indian people… This mountain man is the last person she should trust to get her there. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

The Far Side of the Sea by Kate Breslin — In spring of 1918, Lieutenant Colin Mabry, a British soldier working with MI8 after suffering injuries at the front, receives an unexpected message by carrier pigeon: it is an urgent summons from Jewel Reyer, the woman he once loved and who saved his life—a woman he believed to be dead. Leaving Britain’s shores to return into war-torn France, he hopes his reunion with her will ease his guilt and this mission restore the courage he lost on the battlefield. Colin is stunned when he arrives in Paris to discover the message came not from Jewel, but from a stranger who claims to be her half sister, Johanna. Johanna works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence; having found Jewel’s diary, she believes her sister is alive and in the custody of a German agent. With spies everywhere, Colin is at first skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust begins to grow between them. When their pursuit leads them straight into the midst of a treacherous plot, however, that trust is at stake, as danger and deception turn their search for answers into a battle for their lives. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

A Tender Hope by Amanda Cabot — As far as Thea Michener is concerned, it’s time for a change. Her husband murdered and her much-anticipated baby stillborn, there is nothing left for her in Ladreville. Having accepted a position as Cimarron Creek’s midwife, she has no intention of remarrying and trying for another child. So when a handsome Texas Ranger appears on her doorstep with an abandoned baby, Thea isn’t sure her heart can take it. Ranger Jackson Guthrie isn’t concerned only with the baby’s welfare. He’s been looking for Thea, convinced that her late husband was part of the gang that killed his brother. But it soon becomes clear that the situation is far more complicated than he anticipated — and that he’ll need Thea’s help if he’s ever to find the justice he seeks. (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

The Unexpected Champion by Mary Connealy — City dweller John McCall never expected to be out in the High Sierras of 1868 on a wild-goose chase to find the Chiltons’ supposedly lost grandson. But now that he’s out here, things have gotten even more complicated, mostly due to wildcat Penny Scott. She’s not like any woman he’s ever met–comfortable in the woods, with a horse, and with a gun. When Penny and John are taken against their will by a shadowy figure looking for evidence they don’t have, both realize they’ve stumbled into something dangerous and complicated. With their friends and family desperately searching for them, Penny and John must make a daring escape. When they emerge back into the real world, they are confronted with a kidnapper who just won’t stop. They must bring a powerful, ruthless man to justice, even as this city man and country woman fight a very inconvenient attraction to each other. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

To Win Her Heart by Candee Fick — Despite Emma Richards’ fanciful dreams growing up in the shadow of King Arthur’s castle and the manor on the cliff, the orphan is now trapped inland serving her wealthy cousins with no hope for her own future. Sir Grayson Wentworth spent his years at Cambridge dreaming of the Cornwall coast and wishing he could return to the happy days of his youth. Called home to his father’s deathbed, the young baron soon learns he has inherited a title, a neglected estate, and a betrothal agreement he knew nothing about. When the new Lord Danvers travels to execute the last matters of his father’s will, he finds himself promised to one woman and falling for another. Can he keep his vow to find a wife and win her heart? Or will honor be sacrificed in the name of love? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

The White City by Grace Hitchcock — While attending the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, Winnifred Wylde believes she witnessed a woman being kidnapped. She tries to convince her father, an inspector with the Chicago police, to look into reports of mysterious disappearances around the White City. Inspector Wylde tries to dismiss her claims as exaggeration of an overactive imagination, but he eventually concedes to letting her go undercover as secretary to the man in question—if she takes her pistol for protection and Ian Thorpe, a policeman, for bodyguard. Will she be able to expose H. H. Holmes’s illicit activity, or will Winnifred become his next victim? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Highest of Hopes by Susan Anne Mason — After her beloved grandfather’s death, Emmaline Moore is shocked to discover that her “deceased” father is actually living in Canada. Having no other family, Emma decides she must find him, and so embarks on a journey across the ocean, accompanied by her best friend, Jonathan. Unfortunately, Randall Moore and his well-to-do family aren’t thrilled by her arrival, fearing her sudden appearance will hinder his chance at becoming mayor of Toronto in 1919. Despite everything, Emma remains determined to earn their affection. Jonathan Rowe has secretly loved Emma for years and hopes that during their trip he can win her heart. Concerned that Randall might reject her, Jonathan is ready to console Emma and bring her home. When she informs him that she has no intention of returning to England, Jonathan begins to despair. Can he convince Emma to find value within herself rather than seeking it from a virtual stranger? And will she ever come to see that Jonathan is her true home? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Katelyn’s Choice by Susan G Mathis — Katelyn Kavanagh serves the famous George Pullman and President Grant in the enchanting Thousand Islands. Yet the transition proves anything but easy when she falls in love and can’t tame her gossiping tongue. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

A Hero for Miss Hatherleigh by Carolyn Miller — Can a very proper young lady of noble birth find love with a mysterious, fossil-hunting scientist in the smuggler-plagued coasts of Devon, England? (Historical Romance from Kregel Publications)

Sand Creek Serenade by Jennifer Uhlarik — Dr. Sadie Hoppner is called upon to nurse the gunshot wound of Cheyenne brave Five Kills after tensions erupt between the braves and the soldiers at Fort Lyon. Even as Sadie and Five Kills form an unlikely bond, danger threatens the fragile treaty that ensures peace for both their people…and their hearts. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

The Bridge Between Us — Sherri Wilson Johnson

Today I’m happy to welcome author Sherri Wilson Johnson as she shares some of the history behind her latest story in The Erie Canal Brides Collection.

In The Bridge Between Us, Susannah Higley is waiting to find out if her wax flowers have won a ribbon in the Orleans County Fair. If they win, they will go to New York City for the state competition. Winning the prize money in the state competition would not only allow Susannah the opportunity to sell her flowers in Manhattan businesses, but it would also help her Pa’s struggling lumberyard.

Wax flowers have been popular for generations. In fact, Queen Victoria loved them, and it is said that between 10,000 and 15,000 wax flowers were crafted for her wedding on February 10, 1840.

Susannah Higley’s mother taught her how to make wax flowers when she was a little girl, and after Mother passed, Susannah continued making them to relieve her grief and to keep her mother close to her heart.

Susannah’s wax flower kit was an ornate black metal box. Inside were patterns, brushes, tints and wax. While she enjoyed making red roses and yellow geraniums, her favorite flower was the violet.

One must have not only talent, but patience to make wax flowers. To make a violet or any flower or fruit, the first step was to melt the wax. Then the fashioning began. Taking a wooden plunger, Susannah would dip it into a small container filled with soapy water then into the melted wax and then back into the soapy water. The thin wax could then be peeled off the plunger and spread onto the flower form. Susannah would wait until the wax was set and then she would brush the purple and white tint onto the wax violet petal. She would continue to do this until she had all the petals she desired. She would make the leaves in the same fashion. Once everything was set, she would attach the petals and leaves to wires and create bouquets. To preserve her arrangements, she placed them under a glass dome and displayed them in her home, her church and at the state fair!

And now she waits to see if she has successfully caught the attention of merchants in New York City, a city she dreams of visiting one day.

Here’s a link to see some flowers and a modeling kit:

READERS, Have you ever visited the Erie Canal and what city did you visit?


About the Book:

The Erie Canal Brides Collection

Seven romance stories take you back to the building of the Erie Canal and the opening of the Midwest to greater development.

Completed in 1825, the Erie Canal connected the Great Lakes to the Hudson River, and soon other states like Ohio created canals linking Lake Erie to the Ohio River. Suddenly the Midwest was open to migration, the harvesting of resources, and even tourism. Join seven couples who live through the rise of the canals and the problems the waterways brought to each community, including land grabs, disease, tourists, racism, and competition. Can these couples hang on to their faith and develop love during times of intense change?

About Sherri:

Sherri lives in Georgia with her husband and her spoiled dog Sawyer. She loves spending time with her adult children and friends or curling up with a good book or her current work-in-progress. Sherri enjoys doing jigsaw puzzles in the winter and counts the days every year until she can take another trip to the beach. You can find Sherri on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Click here to enter the drawing for a FREE print copy of the book:


Amazon Author Page








First page of the book:

September 28, 1859
Albion, New York

The aroma of boiled peanuts and fried dough traveled along the crisp
September breeze and tickled Susannah Higley’s nose as exhilaration
over the day’s events delighted her heart. She had never experienced a
Wednesday like this in all her twenty-three years. Waiting for the results of the
wax flower contest and hoping a blue ribbon and prize money would be hers,
she stood on the three-arched, iron Main Street bridge with hundreds of other
townsfolk ready for the tightrope artist from Brockport to walk across the Erie

Susannah adjusted her white crepe bonnet and stuffed in a few unruly curls
then sighed. The fearless young man would do on this fall day what she could
never imagine mustering the courage to do.

For months, she had lived under the shadow of abandonment. Richard had
declared his love for her, but when she had refused to go to California on a quest
for gold, he hopped on a train and broke her heart. Although she longed for
unforgettable experiences, eloping and leaving behind her widowed father was
not among them. She should have known entertaining the idea of love with a
drifter who had worked his way to Albion on boats traveling the canal would
not be wise.

Since Richard’s departure, Susannah had devoted her time to Pa’s sawmill
as the bookkeeper, a position Mama held before her passing. Once she balanced
the ledgers and completed the household chores each day, Susannah fashioned
flowers from wax and dreamed of one day sharing her creations with merchants
in New York City.

The black metal box containing her patterns, brushes, tints, and wax was the
last gift Mama gave her. Every time she formed the red roses, yellow geraniums,
and purple and white violets from wax Mama had loved so much, she felt her

Winning a ribbon at the Orleans County Fair not only increased her chances
of someone discovering her but would also confirm to her this pastime brought
as much joy to others as it did to her. The long-awaited day was finally here.


Pressing On, Perseverance, Separatists and Canals — Rose Allen McCauley

Today I’m happy to welcome author Rose Allen McCauley as she shares some of the history behind her latest story.

You’ve probably read books or articles about asking God to help you find the perfect word for the New Year. I have done it a few times, but not every year. This past year my words found me through the Bible verses I used for the theme of my latest historical novella, Pressing On, published by Barbour Publishing in The Erie Canal Brides Collection.

“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3:14 kjv

But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
Romans 8:25 NKJV

People of the early 19th century certainly had to “press on” and persevere! Today I want to tell you about a group of people I had never heard of before starting my research for this collection. My husband and I even travelled to Zoar, Ohio last year so I could see it for myself and do more research.

A couple years ago I read an interesting article in a secular magazine about building the canals, so suggested a book about love along the canals to Rebecca Germany of Barbour. She liked the idea since it was close to Uhrichsville, Ohio where Barbour Publishing is located.

The Separatists who settled in Zoar, Ohio needed to leave Germany because they were under religious persecution (almost sounds like current events!) The Quakers in America heard about their plight and offered to pay their ship passage from the Old World to the New, and even loaned them money to buy the land for them to farm. When the Separatists came over from Germany, their leaders proposed having everything in common, and the people agreed. They went through a period of years (while the canals were being built) where the men and women lived in separate housing and were forbidden to marry so the women could help the men build the canal on their portion of land to help speed up the process. Some of the women even had patches of baldness on their heads from carrying dirt in heavy baskets. They agreed to do this to help pay off the land price to the Quakers.

Several years later they were again allowed to marry within the group, but they still had everything in common and still were controlled by the trustees. For their work, they were given food and shelter, although many had to share homes.

The original Separatists were very kind and giving, but they they did have strict rules and had to follow the trustees. As they went through the civil war and as the town built a hotel and the people saw how others lived with more freedom and in charge of their own money, the younger people voted to sell the property and divide up the money and land.

The group formed in 1819 and disbanded in 1898 so they lasted less than eighty years. There are descendants of the Separatists still living in Zoar, Ohio, and we met several of them on our trip. Like their predecessors, they were all very kind and giving people.

Here’s a short for my story:

As a child, Amanda Mack loved her life in Zoar, Ohio where she was born to Separatists who had helped build the canal. Now an adult (1857), she starts to chafe at its many restrictions. After meeting riverboat captain Daniel Jeremiah, they both must make decisions about their futures.

And the blurb for the whole collection:

Seven romance stories take you back to the building of the Erie Canal and the opening of the Midwest to greater development.

Completed in 1825, the Erie Canal connected the Great Lakes to the Hudson River, and soon other states like Ohio created canals linking Lake Erie to the Ohio River. Suddenly the Midwest was open to migration, the harvesting of resources, and even tourism. Join seven couples who live through the rise of the canals and the problems the waterways brought to each community, including land grabs, disease, tourists, racism, and competition. Can these couples hang on to their faith and develop love during times of intense change?

About Rose:

Rose Allen McCauley has been writing since she retired from teaching school and joined American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). She is thrilled for this to be her third collection with Barbour and her seventh published work. She and her spouse just celebrated their golden anniversary with their three children and their spouses and now six grandchildren! She loves to hear from her readers.


Amazon Author Page






February 2019 New Releases!

February 2019 New Releases

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

Amish Romance:

Convenient Amish Proposal by Jan Drexler — When Bethany Zook’s childhood friend returns to Indiana Amish country a widower, with an adorable little girl in tow, she’s willing to aid him in any way. But there’s just one thing Andrew Yoder needs – a mother for little Mari. And he seems convinced Bethany is the answer, just as she’s sure any union between them would be one strictly of convenience… Andrew thought Bethany had married another. Now, determined to keep Mari despite his mother-in-law’s interference, he offers Bethany marriage in name only. But she’s quickly becoming more than a housekeeper and a mamm. Can he leave the past behind to claim a family of the heart? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Contemporary Romance:

Ocean’s Edge by Cindy M. Amos — Tired of Kansas, Wynn Yardley places her wish to touch the ocean into Dreams Come True Director Teague Montgomery’s hands, and then launches into an adventure to the seashore with him to discover the tidal zone–and affections for her companion. (Contemporary Romance from Winged Publications)

Home Another Way by Brenda S. Anderson — Can a senator’s daughter and convict’s son overcome their differences and learn what it really means to love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Love, Lies, and Homemade Pie by Sally Bayless — Cara Smith has a whole new life planned in Abundance, Missouri. If she can just avoid questions from that intriguing guy at the newspaper, no one will ever find out about her past. Will Hamlin, local editor, desperately needs a big story to keep his newspaper afloat, and Cara Smith is clearly hiding something. But after Will’s initial inquiries fail to turn up anything, he grows less interested in Cara’s past and more interested in winning her heart with slices of pie and stolen kisses. When a crime is uncovered at city hall just as Will unearths Cara’s dark secret, the repercussions shatter their romance. Has Cara really left her past behind? Can Will finally find a way to save the paper? And can they each place their trust in God and together find freedom in the truth and overcome the obstacles to their love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Their Family Blessing by Lorraine Beatty — She owns the lodge but he owns the land. When single mom Carly Hughes the Longleaf Lodge, she gains a heap of trouble – her teenage crush Deputy MacKenzie Bridges. Her father left Mack the land around the lodge. While Carly wants to sell for her daughter’s sake. Mack wants to stay for his niece’s. and if they can’t work together, they’ll both lose everything… including the renewed spark between them. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Courting Calla by Hallee Bridgeman — Calla Vaughn is trying to get her life in order so she can go back to culinary school. No matter how hard she works, though, she feels like she is just treading water and can’t see any way out of the hole dug for her by a con artist who stole her identity. When flowers she sends to her best friend with a dinner invitation accidentally get delivered to Ian Jones, she decides to cook him the best meal he’s ever had. By the time she admits that the flowers were never for him, he is as convinced as she is that God orchestrated the mistake in the first place. All that’s left is to tell him the dark secret about her father’s widow. She waits a little too long, though, and is carted off to jail for questioning on felony charges before she gets a chance. Will Ian understand her situation, or will the deception surrounding Calla destroy any trust he has in her? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

A Different Season by Jennifer Heeren — How do you go on when your heart is broken? Twenty-two-year-old Lisette Carter is grief-stricken over her husband’s death—which occurred before she knew she was pregnant. Now in her last trimester, she meets David Baranski, who has a tragic past of his own. He seems to care for Lisette, but she’s not sure she can trust him. Besides, her sorrow and survivor guilt are all she can handle. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

One Thing I Know by Kara Isaac — Rachel Somers, ghost writer for America’s #1 relationship expert, is running out of ideas, but it’s keep up the charade or lose the income required to care for her father. The last thing she needs is her boss’s publicist concocting a scheme to pair her with some radio star in hopes it will spark the next book idea. Lucas Grant didn’t expect his fame on a late-night sports show to come with constant calls from women wanting relationship advice. Which means he has to waste hours on the phone with an expert like Dr. Donna Somerville talking about feelings when he’d rather be talking about his first love: football. Then a deal opens up with a big-time producer who suspects Dr. Somerville isn’t what she seems, and he wants Lucas to discover her secret. To do that, he needs to win over her tight-lipped assistant who holds the key to his success and—he begins to suspect—his heart. Can love find a way through the lies that force them apart? (Contemporary Romance from Howard [Simon & Schuster])

Season of Hope by Lisa Jordan — His dreams can all come true…but only if his ex-wife will agree! Jake Holland’s peaceful dairy farm is a sanctuary—one he wants to share with other worn and weary veterans. He just needs one more piece of land to start his program…and it belongs to Tori Lerner, his ex-wife. A collaboration could benefit them both, but with a past full of secrets between them, is there any hope for renewed love? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Carolina Grace by Regina Rudd Merrick — She knows about God’s grace for her life, but pushes it away. He hasn’t experienced it, but finds grace in a way he never expected. First-year Special Education teacher Charly Livingston demonstrates God’s love on the outside, but is resentful that God allowed back-to-back tragedies in her family. Rance Butler is a top-notch medical intern. He’s on his way to the top, and when he meets Charly, he knows things will only get better. When he discovers family secrets and a dying father he never knew, his easy, carefree life seems to disintegrate. Even in the idyllic ocean breezes and South Carolina sunshine, contentment turns to bitterness and confusion except for God’s amazing grace. (Contemporary Romance from Mantle Rock Publishing)

The Street Singer by Kathleen Neely — While planning her own wedding, a law student works to help her favorite recording artist who has fallen on hard times. She finds an attorney who will work pro bono, but will her growing friendship with him come between her and her fiancé? (Contemporary Romance from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

Historical Romance:

A Love Most Worthy by Sandra Ardoin — During the Nome, Alaska gold rush of 1900, a merchant sends for a serious-minded bride to help him raise his young nephews but welcomes a cheery and adventuresome woman who tests his determination to hold her at arm’s length. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

When Valleys Bloom Again by Pat Jeanne Davis — After fleeing impending war in England, nineteen-year-old Abby Stapleton works to correct her stammer and to become a teacher in America, only to discover this conflict has no boundaries and that a rejected suitor is intent on destroying her name, fiancé, and fragile faith. (Historical Romance from Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.)

Ladies of Intrigue by Michelle GriepThe Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady, Cornish Coast, 1815: When a prim and proper governess returns to England from abroad, she expects to comfort her dying father—not fall in love with a smuggler. Will Helen Fletcher keep Isaac Seaton’s unusual secret? The Doctor’s Woman (A Carol Award Winner) Dakota Territory, 1862: Emmy Nelson, daughter of a missionary doctor, and Dr. James Clark, city doctor aspiring to teach, find themselves working side by side at Fort Snelling during the Dakota Uprising. That is when the real clash of ideals begins. A House of Secrets, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1890: Ladies Aide Chairman, Amanda Carston resolves to clean up St. Paul’s ramshackle housing, starting with the worst of the worst: a “haunted” house that’s secretly owned by her beau—a home that’s his only means of helping brothel girls escape from the hands of the city’s most infamous madam. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Love’s Rescue by Linda Shenton Matchett — Sold by her parents to settle a debt, Rolande Bisset is forced into prostitution. Years later, shunned by her family and most of society, it’s the only way she knows how to subsist. When the Germans overrun Paris, she decides she’s had enough of evil men controlling her life and uses her wiles to obtain information for the Allied forces. Branded a collaborator, her life hangs in the balance. Then an American spy stumbles onto her doorstep. Is redemption within her grasp? Simon Harlow is one of an elite corps of American soldiers. Regularly chosen for dangerous covert missions, he is tasked with infiltrating Paris to ascertain the Axis’s defenses. Nearly caught by German forces moments after arriving, he owes his life to the beautiful prostitute who claims she’s been waiting for the Allies to arrive. Her lifestyle goes against everything he believes in, but will she steal his heart during his quest to liberate her city? Inspired by the biblical story of Rahab, Love’s Rescue is a tale of faith and hope during one of history’s darkest periods. (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin — Numbed by grief and harboring shameful secrets, Lt. Adler Paxton ships to England with the US 357th Fighter Group in late 1943. Determined to become an ace pilot, Adler battles the German Luftwaffe in treacherous dogfights over France as the Allies struggle for control of the air before the D-day invasion. Violet Lindstrom wants to be a missionary, but for now she serves in the American Red Cross, where she arranges entertainment and refreshments for the men of the 357th in the base Aeroclub and sets up programs for local children. Drawn to the mysterious Adler, she enlists his help with her work and urges him to reconnect with his family after a long estrangement. Despite himself, Adler finds his defenses crumbling when it comes to Violet. But D-day draws near. And secrets can’t stay buried forever. (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])


The Watch On the Fencepost by Kay DiBianca — In a deserted park on a cold winter day, twenty-seven-year-old Kathryn Frasier discovers a gold watch on a fencepost, and she has an ominous sense that it was deliberately left for her to find. But when she identifies the owner of the watch, she uncovers a dark family secret and a suspicion that her parents’ recent deaths may not have been an accident. (Cozy Mystery from CrossLink Christian Publishing)

Coffee Club Mysteries by Darlene Franklin, Cynthia Hickey, Elizabeth Ludwig, Dana Mentink, Candice Prentice, and Janice Thompson — The coffee shop on the corner of First and Main in Oak Grove, Kansas, seems to attract a series of mysterious events. Or perhaps it is the six women who frequent the shop for book club who are the magnets for trouble. . . . Morgan Butler, owner of the Coffee Perk, finds a project worker hanged at her shop. Evelyn Kliff discovers a church meal organizer dead. Harper Daggett is being stalked for an antique jade owl she bought. Baker Jeanine Gransbury’s charity event money goes missing. Jo Anderson shares hazelnut coffee creamer, sending a man into anaphylaxis shock. Penny Parson finds a gun in one of her beehives. Join them as they unravel six unexplained events that have the potential to ruin business and spoil friendships if not handled with care. (Cozy Mystery from Barbour Publishing)

The Sleuth’s Dilemma by Kimberly Rose Johnson — A high school English teacher’s life is turned upside down when she becomes the object of someone’s anger. (Romantic Mystery from Mountain Brook Ink)

Romantic Suspense:

Restoration of the Heart by June Foster — Leaving his beautiful fiancé’s world of alcohol, parties, and nights at her apartment, Luke Chamberlain returns to his Christian values, rededicates his life to the Lord, and vows never to fall into the lifestyle again. When the state of Idaho’s Tourism Department offers his construction company the contract to renovate Silver Cliff, an 1890’s silver mining ghost town, he accepts. Janie Littleton, project historian at the restoration of Silver Cliff, Idaho–an 1890’s silver mining ghost town–believes no man would find her attractive, with her extra pounds, eye glasses, and mousy brown hair. So when contractor Luke Chamberlain shows an interest in her, she doubts his sincerity. But strange turns to worse when someone claiming to be the miner who founded Silver Cliff in 1890 intimidates her with frightening midnight visits. Can Luke convince Janie he’s in love with the godly woman she is? Can Janie hold onto her faith as she’s harassed by frightening appearances of old Ezra Barclay who died a hundred years ago? (Romantic Suspense from Forget Me Not Romance)

Innocence Denied by Mike Garrett — Derrick Walton, to atone for past sins, helps an Arizona socialite hide out in Alabama while a nation-wide manhunt ensues. Can he help Larissa see the need for her soul’s salvation in time? (Romantic Suspense from CrossLink Publishing)


The Soul Searcher by Erin R. Howard — Elnora’s parents gave her one rule: Stay hidden away at all costs. Elnora Scott is used to her survival depending on the decisions of others. Locked away in her safe house, it is easy to follow her parents’ dying wishes until an angel, demon, and seer show up on her doorstep. Now, waking up in a dirty cell, she wishes she would have gone with them when she had the chance, because the very ones who unknowingly ushered the kidnapper to her location may be the only ones who can save her now. When Thea learns that Elnora may be in danger, she doesn’t hesitate to go find her. Thea thought stepping through the portal would be her greatest obstacle, but it only reveals a more sinister threat. (Urban Fantasy from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Women’s Fiction:

A Vow to Cherish by Deborah Raney — When his precious wife receives a devastating diagnosis, John Brighton feels his world has fallen apart. As Ellen slips away from him day by day, their love is tested as never before. Desperately needing someone to confide in, John meets Julia Sinclair, a young widow who seems to understand his pain as no one else can. Torn between doing what he knows to be right and what his heart tells him surely can’t be wrong, John soon discovers that the heart cannot be trusted where true love is concerned. (Women’s Fiction from Raney Day Press)

Young Adult:

You’re Amazing by Julie Arduini and Hannah Arduini – Middle schooler Jazmin’s a natural at dance until a series of changes make her wonder if she should even keep up with her favorite hobby. Lena’s a mom with young children overwhelmed with her schedule when a woman remarks that what Lena does isn’t even important. Both Jazmin and Lena belong to Linked, a mentoring ministry where all ages encourage each other and build friendships. Can these two surrender the lies they are believing and realize they are amazing? (Young Adult from Surrendered Scribe Media)

Deep Calling Deep — Carole Towriss

Today I’m happy to welcome author Carole Towriss as she shares about her book, Deep Calling Deep.

Last year about this time I was asked to join two other authors in The Psalm Series. Each book in this series is a fictional story inspired by a different Psalm and written by a different author. Included with the books are detailed Bible studies of the psalms covered, and an in-depth explanation of the author’s approach to the Scriptural text.

I decided to write about Paul while he was under house arrest in Rome. I searched the psalms looking for one that would fit the time period I’m writing in. As soon as I read Psalm 42, I knew I had found it. The up and down feelings of the psalmist seemed to perfectly represent what I imagine Paul and Timothy would experience during this turbulent time. When I discovered Sextus Burrus, I knew I had my story.

Sextus Afranius Burrus was a real man, the Prefect of the Praetorian Guard from 54 to 62 AD. By all accounts, he was a good man, honest and upright. Not much else is known about him.

The story is told from the points of view of Sextus and Timothy. Sextus, as he wrestles with the violence of Rome and the uselessness of the Roman gods, and Timothy as he smuggles with why God would allow Paul to suffer in this way.


About the Book

Praetorian Prefect Sextus Burrus has spent his life fighting for the glory of Rome, but that glory has lost its shine. As both his health and his career crumble, he is drawn toward the seemingly inexhaustible peace of one of his Jewish prisoners, the Apostle Paul. The moment Timothy hears his mentor and surrogate father Paul has been arrested, he rushes to Rome. Under the looming threat of execution, Timothy struggles to make sense of what is happening. Finally, an unexpected crisis requires him to reexamine everything, and places their hope for Paul’s freedom on the shoulders of Praetorian Prefect Sextus Burrus. 

ALL three Psalm Series books will be on sale Feb. 6-12 for .99 cents.


About the Author:

An unapologetic Californian, Carole Towriss now lives just north of Washington, DC. She loves her husband, her four children, the beach, and tacos, though not always in that order. In addition to writing, she binge watches British crime dramas and does the dishes four times in one day.
Twitter: @CaroleTowriss
Amazon Author page:


Chapter One
And when we came to Rome,
the centurion delivered the prisoners to the praetorian prefect,
but Paul was allowed to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.
—Acts 28:16, JUB

Rome, seventh month, September, 61 AD

Praetorian Prefect Sextus Afranius Burrus had imagined the scene spread out before him, but his worst nightmares weren’t even close.

Lucius Secundus, the former city prefect, had been murdered by one of his slaves. Following an ancient law, the senators had called for the execution of all four hundred of the slaves who had worked for him.

The Praetorian Guards had been called out to quell the resulting riot.

The new city prefect and his cohortes urbanae were an astounding picture of Roman efficiency. All three cohorts, five hundred men each, gleefully took part in the bloody vengeance. Some of the urban guards pounded stakes into the ground along the Appian Way just outside the city’s walls. Others guarded the remaining slaves, and still others confiscated wood from anywhere they could find it.

Sextus had seen teams of soldiers leaving the Secundus estate. Apparently, they’d razed the slaves’ quarters, tearing down doorways and roof supports.

The all too familiar metallic scent of blood permeated the air. Sextus wiped sweat from his brow as he walked along the oldest of Rome’s wide stone and cement roads. Crosses of all shapes lined the highway on his right and left—crossbars at the top, the middle, wherever. The victims’ feet hung only a cubit or so above the ground, their anguished faces easier to see, their tormented cries easier to hear.

The Guards had started with the men. Obviously wanting to eliminate as much resistance as possible, the youngest and strongest were first to be nailed to the posts, staked at regular intervals along the Via Appia. Most of those had already been crucified by the time Sextus arrived.
The clanging of hammer against nail clashed with the screams of women watching husbands and sons writhe in agony. The noise grew so loud, Sextus’s ears hurt. He rolled his shoulders, trying to dull the pain as he trudged south.

The condemned waited in a loose grouping on the east side of the Via surrounded by armed and angry guards.

At the end of the seemingly endless line of limp bodies, Sextus halted. With his good hand, he shaded his eyes against the brutal midsummer sun, gazing south toward the nearby Alban Hills. The via continued all the way to Capua, rarely veering to left or right. Even when hills, rivers, or cities stood in the proposed path, Rome’s engineers barreled straight through.

Ancient pine trees lining the highway stretched toward the few wispy clouds above him, as if trying to rise above the slaughter. In the distance, family vineyards and peaceful villages dotted the landscape. If he kept walking, maybe he could reach one and forget this nightmare had never happened.

But he had responsibilities.

He clenched his fists and spun around to trudge back toward the city’s center, trying to shut out the detestable images, only to have them replaced with pictures even more gruesome.

A boy not old enough to shave trying to stop the guards from dragging his little sister away.

A mother desperately clinging to her newborn as one of Secundus’s avengers ripped him from her arms.

A toddler squirming so violently, the soldier trying to pin him to the wood gave up and unsheathed his dagger. Sextus tried to avert his eyes, but the horror compelled him to watch as the soldier nailed the lifeless body to the upright.

He was already dead, so what was the point?

To incite fear. Abject dread. To remind any who dared to go against the world dominating power that was Rome, that she would always win.

Back inside the walls, Sextus ensured his men had the desperate crowd firmly under control. Held back by Praetorians, both citizens and slaves lined the street leading from the Capena Arch to the city center; he avoided meeting their accusing eyes. His stomach roiled. His heart pounded. If he stayed inside the walls, maybe the angry cries from the crowd would drown out the shrieks from beyond them.

He’d seen more death than all the senators combined. So why was he the only one who seemed to be bothered by today’s slaughter? He’d served in the army since he was seventeen years old. More than forty years had passed since he’d first tasted combat. He’d been part of the deadliest battles, left entire villages bloody and burned, all in the name of the glory of Rome.

But no matter how hard he tried, today he found no glory in the death of innocents.

Guest Post — Ethyl Smith

Today I’m happy to welcome author Ethyl Smith as she shares some Scottish history.

At speaking events I find people know little about Scottish history but want to know more. Hopefully this might intrigue you.

17th century Scotland was full of political intrigue. It still is. One review says of my series … ‘this reminds us that the past is neither as distant nor as complete as we might think.’

My writing is based on fact, covering 1679-89 because my main character John Steel was on the run from the law this long but never caught.

Extensive research, visits, etc help understanding the full picture.
An unexpected bonus has been contact from Steel descendants here and abroad.

It begins with the Stuart kings who believe in the Divine Right of Kings which gives them the right to preside over all matters civil and temporal. Scottish Presbyterians believe in a direct line to God with no need for an intermediary. Such opposing views cause trouble …

Armed rebellion fails. The crown reacts, demanding allegiance or be declared a traitor.
Many refuse. Terrible repercussions follow.
Charles 11 dies in 1684. His brother James, a Roman Catholic, is now king. More protests. There is another rebellion which fails.
James offers Scotland religious freedom provided individuals swear allegiance. This is impossible for any Presbyterian.
English nobles are alarmed when James’ wife produces a Catholic heir to the throne.
They offer crown to Protestant prince William of Orange, who is married to James’ eldest daughter. William lands at Torbay with troops. James flees to France then asks his main supporter John Graham to rally Scotland for his cause.
Graham tries but fails.
William of Orange restores Presbyterianism to Scotland.
Is Scotland now a happier place? Not really.
I hope this gives you some idea of the twist and turns and proves that ‘naethin ivver chainges.’

Books available from Amazon (paperback& kindle)
Blackwells Edinburgh
Independent bookshops

About the Author:

I have always liked stories, always admired a good storyteller, longed to become one. As a child I told stories through pictures. Later as an illustrator I interpreted the words of others before daring to link my own words with my own pictures. Gradually the words took over. Now I only illustrate my bookcovers.

In my ‘Times’ series I have worked to portray the images of turbulent 17th century Scottish lives in words, and give them their voice.
twitter @ethylsmith

D.A. Glasgow School of Art
A.D.F School of Advanced Studies Manchester College of Art
Graduate University of Srathclyde Novel Writing Course
Stirling University M.Litt Creative Writing
Range of publication, mostly short stories in magazines


Guest Post — Catherine Brakefield ( + Giveaway )

Today I’m happy to welcome author Catherine Brakefield as she discusses historical romance. Read through to the end to find out how to enter her giveaway.

“There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.” Harry S. Truman

What is your favorite part about faith-based historical romance? Is it the humanistic facts or the immemorial story of true love?

Wilted Dandelions begins in 1837; my Destiny four book series begins with the antebellum era in 1857 and climaxes through to World War II in 1944.

I soon learned I couldn’t rely on the internet for my research, nor modern-day history books, movies, or Hollywood films. I felt like I had one foot in modern pop culture and one foot in a watered-down version of the past.

My Grandmother and my Amish friends were instrumental in helping me to feel the history.

Through my experiences, I learned that the mind-set, emotions, and needs of the populace of the 1800 and 1900s versus modern-day people of 2000s were polar opposites!

What my Grandmother knew to be true and I what I now know about her generation was dissimilar. I understand that this century’s generation is ‘the enlightened generation’ but I want my readers to experience a feeling of entering a time capsule. I decided not to watch any show or read any books dated from the 1960s forward.

History books published before 1959 gave me insight, as did old newspaper clippings, and interviews. I felt the nostalgia of our forebears as I leafed through these books and newspaper clippings.

Vivid words and pictures of the southern plantation life, and Rough Riders on their faithful steeds encouraged my imagination. The cavalry of the Great War, the silent films of the Roaring 20s burned into my imagination. Glenn Miller’s rise to fame and the exploits of our determined World War II infantry inspired me.

The typical American did not cherish modern conveniences. Their family, however, was a vital part of their existence. When I wrote history books for Arcadia, I learned that the first settlers that came to Lapeer County in Michigan came for their Christian values. They built schools because they wanted their children to learn how to read The Holy Bible!

Scripture verses were as common as everyday language in the 1800s and on up through the 1940s. Families recorded their marriages, births, baptisms, and deaths within their Holy Bible.

Below is a short synopsis of each novel:

Wilted Dandelions (a stand-alone). The story unfolds during the Second Great Awakening in 1837. High-spirited Rachael Rothburn doesn’t need a husband. She wants to travel out west as a missionary to the Native Americans. Jonathan Wheaton desires the same. They agree on a marriage of convenience. In the process of co-existing, they discover God doesn’t create coincidences—He designs possibilities.

Wilted Dandelions

Book 1: Swept into Destiny. Maggie Gatlan is a Southern belle who’s a rebel disguised in frilly clothes. She is secretly educating the slaves. Ben McConnell is a proud Irish immigrant who is hired to dredge out the Gatlan’s snake-infested swampland. An unexpected chain of events leads Maggie into choosing where her loyalties lie when Civil War erupts—did she care more for Ben or for her beloved South?

Amazon: Swept into Destiny

Book 2, Destiny’s Whirlwind, Collina McConnell promises her father that his legacy for Shushan will continue. Dashing Rough Rider Franklin Long offers his help, and Collina’s heart has a will of its own. War calls Franklin to the shores of Cuba. She finds herself tangled in a web of deception and greed when a vindictive lawyer places the family in peril. Will Franklin return in time?

Amazon: Destiny’s Whirlwind

Here is a link to a special bonus chapter that ties Swept into Destiny and Destiny’s Whirlwind together!

Book 3, Destiny of Heart As 1917 arrives, Ruby McConnell Muir leaves her kindred for the prairies of Colorado with her husband and child. Back home, Ruby’s sister, Collina, battles to save not only Shushan, but her own life as well. The Great War and the Great Depression change not only the nation’s borders, but theirs. Each yearns for contentment. Will their legacy of their mustard seed of faith see them through?

Book 4, Waltz with Destiny releasing summer, 2019. The offspring of the Great Depression awaken into the Big Band Era of eloquent ballrooms and frivolous gaiety. Across the ocean Hitler is awakening his youth to the idea of a “Master Race.” Esther Meir can’t halt America from entering World War II, but love was different… That is until Eric Erhardt waltzes into her life. What starts as a frolic ends in a battle for survival, heaven or hell, a heartbeat away.

I will give away a book of your choice, either an e-book or a print. (Please note: for readers outside of the United States, I can only do an e-book.)

What is your favorite part about faith-based historical romance?

About the Author:

Catherine is the award-winning author of the faith-based historical romance Wilted Dandelions. Her new Destiny series begins with Swept into Destiny. The second of her four-book Destiny series is Destiny’s Whirlwind, followed by, Destiny of Heart. The fourth book, Waltz into Destiny, will release this summer. She has written two pictorial history books: Images of America: The Lapeer Area, and Images of America: Eastern Lapeer County.

Her short stories have been published in Guidepost Books; Baker Books, Revell; CrossRiver Publishers; and Bethany House.

She enjoys swimming and horseback riding. She lives in Addison Township, Michigan, with her husband and their Arabian horses. Her children grown and married, she and Edward are the blessed recipients of two handsome grandsons and two beautiful granddaughters!

Blog: Hopes, Hearts, & Hoofbeats:

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