Author Archives: historythrutheages

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.

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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 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.






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. 

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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




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?

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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.

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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



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!




February 2018 New Releases!

February 2018 New Releases

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


A Passionate Hope, Hannah’s Story by Jill Eileen Smith — Hannah has spent her life trusting God, loving her husband, putting up with abuse from a second wife and still she has no child–until one day she discovers the secret to her own heart’s longings and rejoices in what will soon become God’s promised hope. (Biblical from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Contemporary Romance:

Focus On Love by Candee Fick — In the standalone sequel to Dance Over Me, photographer-turned-actress Liz meets a freelancer who has put his career on hold, but when Ryan shows her what true love is all about, her life may never be the same. (Contemporary Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Love by the Numbers by Laura V. Hilton — When false allegations by the bishop back home catch up with Lydia and threaten to ruin her reputation, can she clear her name and find lasting happiness? Or will her sunny disposition fade away into heartbreak? (Contemporary Romance from Whitaker House)

Historical Romance:

This Treacherous Journey by Misty M. Beller — Widowed and with child, Emma Malcom is fleeing arrest. Innocent of her husband’s crimes, she and her brother hope to make it through the Rockies to Canada for a clean start. When a city woman, heavy with child, appears on Simeon Grant’s doorstep with her injured brother, her presence resurrects memories he’s worked hard to forget. Widowed and childless because of his own bad choices, can he overcome the past that haunts him to give her the safety she needs? Will Emma break through the walls around Simeon’s heart before it’s too late, or will the dangers of these mountains be the end of them all? (Historical Romance, ACFW Qualified Independently Published)

The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron — Ellie Carver arrives at her grandmother’s bedside expecting to find her silently slipping away. Instead, the beloved woman speaks of a secret past and castle ruins. Of a hidden chapel that served as a rendezvous for the French Resistance in World War II. Of lost love and deep regret . . . But her grandmother suffers from Alzheimer’s, and Ellie must act fast if she wants to uncover the truth of her family’s history. Drawn by the mystery surrounding The Sleeping Beauty—a castle so named for Charles Perrault’s beloved fairy tale—Ellie embarks on a journey to France’s Loire Valley to unearth its secrets before time silences them forever. (Historical Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

The English Lieutenant’s Lady by Evelyn M. Hill — I’m not your enemy.” He held her gaze, willing her to believe the lie. It’s 1845. Britain and America both claim the Oregon Territory, and neither side is willing to back down. To survive, British Lieutenant Geoffrey Montgomery and American Lia Griggs both are pretending to be someone they’re not. The last thing either of them wants is to fall in love. And as the threat of war grows stronger, choosing to stay together could cost them everything they have. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

The Widow of Rose Hill by Michelle Shocklee — Widowed during the war, Southern slave owner Natalie Ellis strikes a bargain with a Union Colonel to save her plantation and her son’s inheritance: in exchange for use of her family’s property, the army will provide workers to bring in her cotton crop. Natalie Ellis is everything Colonel Levi Maish loathes: a Southern slave owner. But the plight of the beautiful Widow Ellis stirs to life his compassion and the heart he’d thought hardened by war. While the army camps on her land, Levi finds himself contemplating a future with Natalie and Samuel. But when he learns where her husband perished during the war, he knows a life with Natalie is impossible. How could she ever forgive him for what he’d done in battle on the banks of the Bull Run? (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin — As D-day approaches, an American naval officer and a British Wren work together on invasion plans. But if he succeeds, will he destroy what she loves most? (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Across the Blue by Carrie Turansky — A determined young aviator who strives to be the first to fly across the English Channel also longs to win the heart of an aspiring journalist who is secretly covering the race across the Channel. (Historical Romance from Waterbrook/Multnomah [Random House])

The Mail-Order Brides Collection by Megan Besing, Noelle Marchand, Donna Schlachter, Sherri Shackelford, Michelle Shocklee, Ann Shorey, Liz Tolsma, Jennifer Uhlarik, and Kathleen Y’Barbo — Nine advertisements for brides lead to inconvenient complications in romance. Traveling west alone on a promise of marriage, each woman has her reasons to accept a husband sight unseen. Some are fleeing poverty or abuse while others simply seek hope for a brighter future. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

High Treason by DiAnn Mills — CIA Operative Monica Alden and FBI Special Agent Kord Davidson face the challenge of their careers when a Saudi Prince’s life is threatened on American soil. (Romantic Suspense from Tyndale House)

Kill Shot by Susan Sleeman

As the ballistics and weapon’s expert for the FBI’s special task force nicknamed the White Knights, Rick Cannon has known the Department of Defense was developing self-steering bullets and feared their effects in the hands of the wrong people. Now his fear is coming true. The ammunition been stolen, and the Knights are called in to find the thief and stop the killings. When therapist Olivia Dobbs discovers one of her military clients moments after he is murdered, she becomes both the FBI’s prime witness, and suspect. But with a sniper now training his rifle on her, Rick must recall all the skills he learned as a Marine sniper to make sure the next bullet fired isn’t a kill shot that takes Olivia out. (Romantic Suspense from Faith Words [Hachette])

Supernatural Thriller:

The Man He Never Was by James L. Rubart — In this fresh take on the classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, James L. Rubart explores the war between the good and evil within each of us—and one man’s only chance to overcome the greatest divide of the soul. (Supernatural Thriller from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)


Cheyenne Sunrise by Janalyn Voigt — Can a woman with no faith in men learn to trust the half-Cheyenne trail guide determined to protect her? (Western by Mountain Brook Ink)





Why Washington Territory? — Ann Shorey

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

Some of my readers know that I’ve often used my family’s history as a source for inspiration in writing my novels. For instance, The Edge of Light uses many details from the life of one of my great-great aunts. In The Promise of Morning, I went to my great-great grandparents’ lives for the storyline. The rest of my novels all contain tiny bits of family lore as well.

The takeaway here for new writers goes beyond “write what you know” to “write what you can find out.” What I know isn’t always a whole lot, but with an inquiring mind and a willingness to dig a little, I’ve learned that there is a world of story material out there, waiting to be pressed into a manuscript.

So, moving forward to my most recent publication, The Mail-Order Brides Collection from Barbour Publishing— here’s a bit of background for my contribution, “Miss-Delivered Mail.”

As far as I know there are no mail-order brides in my family history, so that part is fiction. But in “Miss-Delivered Mail,” the main character finds herself in Washington Territory in the 1880’s, where she meets the Halliday family. I chose this setting because the “Hallidays” in this novella are my great-grandparents. They are not the main characters, but they play an important role in the story. In real life, they homesteaded in eastern Washington in the 1880’s, settling there in the Coulee breaks long before the Grand Coulee Dam was ever imagined. Many of the descriptions of their lives and surroundings come straight from my grandfather’s memoirs.

So, now that you’re armed with insider information, I wish you happy reading! I hope you’ll enjoy “Miss-Delivered Mail,” as well as the other eight excellent novellas in The Mail-Order Brides Collection.

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

“Miss-Delivered Mail” by Ann Shorey

Helena Erickson impulsively decides to take advantage of her brother’s deception and travels to Washington Territory in response to a proposal of marriage intended for someone else.

The Mail-Order Brides Collection can be purchased from your local bookstore, or online at the following sites:


About Ann:

ANN SHOREY is the author of the At Home in Beldon Grove and Sisters at Heart series. She also has novellas included in the Sincerely Yours and The Oregon Trail Romance collections. Ann and her husband make their home in southwestern Oregon.

She may be contacted through her website,, or find her on Facebook at



The Characters Among Us — Georgia Ruth Wilson

Today I’m happy to welcome author Georgia Ruth Wilson as she shares insights into her writing inspiration.

At a December wedding in Ft. Lauderdale last month, a stranger came up to me and said, “I hear you’re a writer. Have you ever written something that took you totally out of your comfort zone?” I proceeded to give him a synopsis of an unpublished short story about a granny witch in the Appalachians. His mouth dropped open. He said, “That’s not the answer I expected,” and beat a hasty retreat.

What did he expect? I am a writer.

In retrospect, I think he was fishing for a repeat of my experience in writing Lost Legend of Vahilele, a vision I had shared with a new relative at this wedding. And she passed it on! What did I expect? It’s a great story! But Vahilele was not out of my comfort zone. On the contrary, I feel very connected to this island. Vahilele is the ancient name for the Fijian island of Vatulele, my favorite place I have never visited but know instinctively. I’ll let my website page tell you about my journey in writing this book, about my vision of a Polynesian native who consumed my imagination.

I have been writing fiction for more than ten years and several of my stories have been published since moving to the foothills of the North Carolina mountains. In fact, I find my new neighbors inspirational. They have a deep connection with basic values, not with political correctness. They will “tell me true.” I was asked by one friend to record the stories of her brother who was at home in hospice care, and I posted them on my blog. I wrote about another neighbor’s long lineage back to Wales where an ancestral castle still stands. I am blessed to be invited to their family reunion every year.

Last year I was asked to write the biography of a local man who had spent his 88 years on the same intersection of two main roads. Highway 70 used to be a bustling east-west corridor past his house, and his father built a restaurant and the area’s first motel, stone cottages that now are sadly deteriorated. The interstate in the 60s changed the commerce of the entire county. He shared his history, including the frequent restaurant patronage of Billy Graham and his family. I felt honored to tell the Pete Gibbs story in The Bear Hunter’s Son.

Also last year, I collected four of my short stories in It Could Have Happened Like This, historical fiction highlighting major events in McDowell County. Two of them were based on local legends, and two highlighted catastrophic influences on past generations. The devastating flood of 1916 is the background story for a previously published murder mystery, “Dead Man Hanging.” I took the liberty of using an historical character as a fictional detective. Sergeant Daniel Kanipe was one of two survivors of the Little Big Horn. He lived in my little bitty town, Marion, NC. For real. Another event that received national attention was the deadly textile strike of 1929, a labor dispute that echoes in today’s violence of conflicting opinions. I told this sad story through the eyes of a young adult in “Summer of Dynamite.”

This year I am continuing work on a ten-year project that will now be a trilogy, if not a series, because the characters are all clamoring for a spotlight. My first setting is a fictional jewelry store in Knoxville, TN, and my first main character is a widow with a biracial four-year-old son. I was in the jewelry industry for fifteen years, at four different companies. Before that, I managed my family’s restaurant. Like my vision of the Polynesian native, many complex characters and intriguing experiences have crossed my path.

Nothing gives me more pleasure than sitting in my recliner with computer, in total silence, looking out the loft windows at Grandfather Mountain, remaking old stories and creating new ones. Stop by and say hello. I’ll post a photo of a Fiji scene if you have one to share from your visit there.

My works are available at and 


Lost Legend of Vahilele

By G.R. Wilson


1950: The Storyteller

As evening shadows gather on the island of Vahilele, so do barefoot children eager to listen to this aged wise woman with piercing gaze and unruly silver-spun hair. My bronze arm stretches forward to stir the embers in the center of our circle. My tales stretch backward, the oral history of my tribe. Our future depends upon the lessons of the past.

Deep within the long ago passage of man’s turbulent Dark Ages, the gods conspired to bring two worlds together. One world would end. We must never forget this story. It is our past and our present. Listen carefully, my little ones.”

They quiet in my presence, watching a tiny flame erupt as I ignite a beacon to guide them back to a crossroads in our history. “While war was waged in faraway lands, Muslims against Persians, Greeks against Romans, Saxons against Welsh, our little Fiji yanuyanu was isolated and unconcerned with worldly events.

Our ancestors from Vanuatu in the west had braved unknown seas and settled on Vahilele with a desire to live in harmony, but they could not escape the tentacles of other societies that threatened to suffocate our independent culture. Royalty was held in high esteem because these leaders were thought to have direct contact with the tribal gods that brought the forces of nature together for good.

Hundreds of years ago in Na Koro, the central village on our island back then, many huts of palm branches and bamboo clustered around a grassy clearing worn down to sand and clay by generations of brown feet imprinting a legacy.

One day, a trading canoe returned from a neighboring Fiji island. The crew was very weak, and reported that many on nearby Viti Levu were sick and dying. They were thankful to get home. But they had brought smallpox back with them, and within a few weeks, hundreds of their tribe perished, including the king and queen of Vahilele.

Their daughter Lapita was known for her beauty and gentle spirit. Her marriage to the High Priest had been broadly celebrated, and the birth of their son was a beacon of nui taka, the future. But the people were resentful that the power of royalty could not convince the gods to spare them in this attack by an unseen foe. They lost faith and hope. Many directed their anger and frustration at their remaining leaders, Lapita and her brother Tavale.”

Carefully considering my words, I sip my yaqona, our Fijian coffee, nectar of the gods. I wait for a latecomer to get settled, and then I continue. “One day a worse peril came to our shore. There was a conflict of wisdom. Our island vosa flowed naturally like air and water because we were a peaceable people. Other languages had many words for trouble.”

Through dusk and into darkness the youngsters absorb The Story. I weave a tapestry of oral tradition with my words and gestures, striving to vividly portray the personalities of the makawa, the ancient ones. As their mothers and fathers did before them, every child internalizes his own vision. Each one hears the same words but imagines different faces performing in their own minds, as I change my voice for each character. The story never ceases to mesmerize and inspire its listeners. The Story is borne on the wind. Forever.

Back to 650 A.D.


A deathly stillness surrounded young Siga as she walked the path to the Bure Kalou, the island’s temple. No island breeze stirred the fragrant hibiscus nor the elegant palm branches. She could not even smell the smoke from the great funeral pyre on the beach. It was as though the gods ceased to breathe upon Vahilele.

The royal family had not the power to save themselves. They had been afflicted with the pox one by one, as had hundreds of others. If the gods showed them no mercy, what chance did her mother have? Yet she had whispered that Siga must take water and comfort to Princess Lapita.

Her son is the last of the royal family. She must be strong to care for him.” Nana struggled with her words, and Siga did not want to cause her mother more anguish. Although she did not understand why a small prince deserved her care when she could be helping her mother whose blood also ran from ancient veins, Siga obeyed.