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April 3, 1986 and the Pony Express — Darlene Franklin

Today I’m excited to welcome author Darlene Franklin as she connects the dots between April 3, 1860 and April 3, 1986.

For my Pony Express date-in-history, I chose April 3, 1986, the date the U.S. National debt hit $2 trillion dollars. $2 trillion doesn’t look all that bad. Let me spell that out with zeroes: $2,000,000,000,000.00.

In 2017, we’re used to the national debt climbing. We can go to a website like to find out what the national debit is at this second (over $19 trillion). However, the debt rose and fell during most of the 20th century. The 1980s were a period of growing debt, due to tax cuts and military spending.

The debt reached a low point in 1974, under Richard Nixon, but has increased steadily since then (except until Presidents Carter and Clinton.) The 2007-08 financial crisis led to the exponential growth in recent years.

I chose the unpleasant topic of debt because my heroine’s father ran away from a gambling debt—and kept running. He keeps hoping that the next game will enable him to return home with honor. The Gambler’s Daughter chronicles the end of that battle and the start of a new one—I won’t tell you more, to avoid giving away the story.


Best-selling author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. She lives in Oklahoma, near her son and his familyShe is an active member of Oklahoma City Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Christian Authors Network. She has written over fifty books and more than 250 devotionals.

Website and blog


Amazon author page

Twitter: @darlenefranklin



Give Yourself a Break — Bonnie Leon

Today I’m thrilled to welcome author Bonnie Leon with a timely message for all of us, whether we write, read, or both.


Through the years I’ve met and worked with many new writers. Common traits I’ve seen are—

  • Insecurity (that one seems to hang on for a while).
  • Passion for their work.
  • A driving need to be published.
  • Unrealistic expectations.
  • Lack of knowledge about the process to publication.
  • Hard workers, but often stunned by the many hours required to produce clean manuscripts.
  • Overwhelmed by first edit.

I’ve been writing and publishing for more than twenty years, and I still struggle with some of these. When I stepped into the writing life I was naïve, with little or no understanding of what it took to be a published writer. I had unrealistic expectations, and longed to write the “Great American Novel”. Writing was a newfound passion. Mornings and afternoons flew by while I lived out adventures in the pages of my books. But, I was soon to discover the blood, sweat and tears of being an author. This is not a profession for wimps.

I’ve been comforted by other writers and have also been the comforter. Writers are hard on themselves. This profession is difficult enough without our own inner voices tearing us down. Too many days have been wasted while berating our own hard work and doubting ourselves.

Certainly, we must do the labor, be prepared, listen to those who know and be willing to hear what they say. We need to keep our rear ends in the chair and put in the hours. And accept the truth that not everything we put down on the page is gold … no matter how much we may wish it so. There will be eviscerating edits. We will be required to write and rewrite. And to work harder than we ever thought possible. And there will be days when we’ll ask ourselves what were we thinking when we thought we could write. Even so, push on.

If writing is part of who you are or something you believe God called you to do, keep working and learning. Rest in Him. He will bring people to your side who will help and encourage. We authors help one another because we know what it means to be a writer.

If I were going to give one piece of advice it would be this—Give yourself a break. There’s a lot to learn … about writing, about the business of writing, and about what’s real and what’s not. And one of the realities is that only a small percentage of writers make the “big time”. Most of us work hard and create quality books that quietly touch lives. And that is good. We cannot judge our work on dollars earned or numbers reached, but rather on whether or not we did our best and did what God asked of us.  We will make mistakes. Not every story will be sterling. Not every sentence, paragraph, or chapter will shine. We cannot be perfect writers any more than we can be perfect human-beings. All we can do is our best.

So, quiet your hearts and have fun. Enjoy the gift given, the learning and growing, and treasure the people you meet along the way. Remember it’s about the story, not the punctuation. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be unique and wonderful.

Grace and peace to you from God.

Bonnie Leon

About Bonnie:

Bonnie Leon is the author of twenty-two novels, including the recently released Return to the Misty Shore, the popular Alaskan Skies and bestselling The Journey of Eleven Moons.

Bonnie’s books are being read internationally and she hears from readers in Australia, Europe, Poland, and even Africa.

She enjoys speaking for women’s groups and teaching at writing seminars and conventions and especially delights in mentoring young authors. These days, her time is filled with writing, being a grandmother and relishing precious time with her aged mother.

Bonnie and her husband, Greg, live in Southern Oregon. They have three grown children and eight grandchildren.


You can find Bonnie at



About her book:

In the spring of 1885, Luba Engstrom meets Nicholas Matroona, a strong, brooding Native from the island of Unalaska. Against her parents’ wishes, she elopes, believing love will be enough to bridge the gap between the civilized world of Juneau and the primitive culture of Nicholas’s small village. After all, before Luba was born, her mother lived on a wild Alaskan island until she was forced to leave when a tsunami destroyed her people. But from the moment Luba arrives at Nicholas’s home, she struggles to adapt and learn the village ways.
Will the conflict between her husband’s belief in ancient gods and her faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer destroy Luba and Nicholas’s relationship?

Return to the Misty Shore—the third book in the Northern Lights series.




Jaydine Rendall — Author Spotlight

Today I’m excited to welcome author Jaydine Rendall as she lets us get to know her a little better. Jaydine is welcoming you all to her book launch — watch for details — and will give a free ebook to one lucky winner who leaves a comment. So settle back and enjoy getting to know Jaydine.

Like many authors, I started first as a voracious reader. I grew up devouring Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey novels. My love of reading led me to a degree in English, various jobs as a non-fiction freelance writer, and teaching teenagers to read and write. To keep up with my students, I learned to read about werewolves, vampires, zombies, fairies, witches, and superheroes. But, given a choice, I’d choose historical fiction any time!

Also, like many authors, I dreamed of someday writing a book of my own. Of course, it would be historical fiction set in the Wild West. But, sitting down to actually write a book is daunting, and there are so many other aspects to life that come first. Until, one day, in the solitude of the Colorado mountains, an opportunity presented itself that nibbled and nagged at me: the potential to be the Writer in Residence for the High Plains Library District. I decided to apply for two reasons. One, it required a writing sample which would force me to paint words on a page, and two, if I were accepted, I’d actually have to write the entire novel that had been kicking around in my head for years.

It’s been nearly a year since that fateful moment when I was chosen as the first Writer in Residence for Weld County, Colorado. Since then, I’ve written not one, but two young reader historical fiction novels. The first, High Plains Heroes: Josiah, is now available in paperback and e-versions at all the usual outlets. The sequel, High Plains Heroes: Laughing Wolf, will be out in the fall. And, the third book in the series, Bethy, has been thoroughly researched and is well underway.  Spring of 2018 should see that one on the shelves.


The books are meticulously researched and full of fascinating facts about northern Colorado and Wyoming. Josiah Sullivan is a 13-year-old boy who thinks being in Colorado Territory in 1862 is quite an adventure. His older sister, Bethy, isn’t so sure. The isolation of their homestead in the newly created Weld County isn’t exactly the life a teenage girl dreams of.  When Josiah meets a young Arapaho boy, he can’t quite decide if the Native American is a friend or foe. But, they work together to save Bethy from the clutches of three violent outlaws. The Sullivan family is very real to me. I hope that you have young readers in your life who would enjoy a fast-paced tale of friendship and survival. Josiah is Lexiled at 670 and is appropriate for readers in the third to seventh grades.

I welcome you to join me along the dusty roads of the American West. Join the conversation here and be entered into a drawing to win an electronic version of Josiah.  Even better, come see me! The Greeley History Museum is hosting the book launch event for Josiah on May 20 from 12:30 to 4:00 p.m. I’ll be giving a short program and signing books. Thanks to the generosity of the High Plains Library District, admission to the museum is FREE if you’re visiting for the book launch. The Greeley History Museum is located at 714 8th Street in downtown Greeley.

For all the latest information on the High Plains Heroes, please follow me on my website:

Read the first page of her latest book:


Choosing Character Names — Darlene Franklin

Today I am thrilled to welcome my friend Darlene Franklin as she answers some tough questions, shares about how to choose character names, and offers a giveaway. Darlene was the first writer I met when I visited a certain writer’s group many years ago. She was actually writing and submitting, while everybody else in the group talked about writing. She encouraged me to submit–because I was writing–just so I could share the Kudos spotlight with her. Read all the way through to the end, because Darlene is offering a giveaway.


But first, the tough questions:

  • Please describe yourself with three words.

A consensus from what my loyal street team had to say: compassionate creative, overcomer, friendly

  • What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

Talk about them—to your friends, family, at work, wherever you see people reading books. Ask your library/bookstore to carry the book. Leave reviews on your website (if you do that), on Amazon, on Goodreads.


  • What is your “go to” routine that helps you get in the mood to write? Special beverage? Music? Etc.

I usually color an adult coloring page for about 5 minutes. Sometimes I’ll cheat and take a short (five minute) nap, too.

  • Tell us about your next book & when is it being published? Why do you write the kind of books you do?

2017 is a busy year for me. I’ve got novellas scheduled for every month from April – October!

In May I’ll publish Cinderella’s Boot, a comparatively rare contemporary romance; and in June my story Sunshine in His Heart will appear in Seven Mail Order Husbands for Seven Brides as well as a novella celebrating Acadia National Park in Maine. (Not titled yet).



In the process of writing 48 books with heroes, heroines, families, and other minor characters, I’ve had to name hundreds of characters. It can become a chore. Sometimes I’m not pleased with my choice. Other times I fall into just the right name for the character. What are some techniques I use?


At first, I pulled names out of thin air. I quickly discovered I favored certain names like Sam, Joe, and Michelle; for some reason, I liked Gallagher as a last name. My best accidental name was “Lucy Ames”—a sharpshooter. I honestly didn’t make the connection between “Ames” and “aims” until after I had written the story.


For a short period, I matched character traits and ethnicity to the names. However, that created some of my less favorite monikers. How about Audwin “Audie” Howe and Hamish “Ham” Ferguson (from my Dressed for Death series)? The same process came up with some good names: Fabrizio Ricci in Dressed in Scarlet and especially Cecelia “Cici” Wilde, the heroine in Dressed for Death.


Most recently I check the name of the first lady at the time the story takes place. That lead to Julia in Tobogganing for Two and Lucretia for my next story. Lucretia is a rather cumbersome name—but perfect for a rich debutante who is spending the summer in Maine’s Acadia region.


A quick look online will uncover several lists of popular names by decade. Women’s names vary widely, but the most popular men’s names have remained stable. John, Michael, and William are perennially popular. In naming, I look at the decade my hero was likely born and choose a number: sometimes the date of the month, sometimes the number book I’m writing—and choose the name I like the best from the cluster of names around that number.


The number process resulted in “Elissa” for To Riches Again. It suits her background as a rich flapper who had never had to work a day in her life. The hero was supposed to be Dale; but I couldn’t picture a farmer named Dale—so I returned to one of the tried-and-true names, Bill.


Lucretia’s match in my upcoming novella turned out to be Eddie, or, in French, Edouard. He’s the poor local boy. Opposites attract, after all.


For last names, I will sometimes look at ethnicity (Eddie Borgoine). Otherwise I find I lean toward English names. I rely on a list of most common surnames in the United States.


For secondary characters, I don’t worry so much about names. Avoid names that start with the same letter. Charlene and Cheryl sound very different, but the reader’s eye may confuse them. The names might even confuse the author. Those families with children all starting with the same letter? A nightmare!


For contemporary books, readers love to have their names featured in my books. I choose the hero and heroine’s names by my usual methods, then let my friends appear as often as they want. It’s a great way to garner interest.


Names do matter. Gone With the Wind wouldn’t be the same if Rhett and Scarlett were named Dick and Jane.

About Darlene:

Best-selling hybrid author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. This year she expects to reach fifty unique titles in print and she’s also contributed to more than twenty nonfiction titles. Her column, “The View Through my Door,” appears monthly in Book fun Magazine. Her most recent titles are The Pony Express Romance Collection, Love’s Compass, and To Riches Again.


And now for the giveaway…drum roll please!

Giveaway: Answer the following question to enter to win an ebook copy of To Riches Again.

Elyssa lost a fortune and moved across country to work on a Kansas farm. What have been some life-changing events in your life?

April Inspirational Releases

April 2017 New Releases

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

Contemporary Romance:

Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon — When a police chief and an ex-con join forces to keep a young man from falling into a life of crime, sparks fly. Given their backgrounds, it’s not a promising match—but in Hope Harbor, anything is possible. (Contemporary Romance from Revell [Baker])


Oh Baby by Delia Latham — Dawni Manors seeks peace in Angel Falls, Texas. What she finds is a cowboy, an abandoned infant, and emotional chaos. If the Heart’s Haven angels really are there, what in the world are they thinking? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])


A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti — Where does a relationship expert turn when his wife leaves him and carries a tiny heartbeat with her? (General from Abingdon Press)


Waiting for Butterflies by Karen Sargent — When tragedy strikes, Maggie discovers a mother’s love never ends–not even when her life does. Longing for her family after her sudden death, she becomes a lingering spirit and returns home where she helplessly witnesses her family’s downward spiral in the aftermath of her passing. Her husband is haunted by past mistakes and struggles to redeem himself. Her teenage daughter silently drowns in her own guilt, secretly believing she caused her mother’s death. Only her five-year-old, full of innocence, can sense her presence. Although limited by her family’s grief and lack of faith, Maggie is determined to keep a sacred promise and save her family before her second chance runs out. (General from Walrus Publishing [Amphorae Publishing Group])


sunset-in-old-savannahSunset in Old Savannah by Mary Ellis — When a philandering husband turns up dead, two crack detectives find more suspects than moss-draped oaks in charming old Savannah, including a scheming business partner, a resentful mistress, and a ne’er-do-well brother. (Mystery from Harvest House Publishers)


Above Rubies by Keely Brooke Keith — In 1863, young teacher Olivia Owens establishes the first school in the remote settlement of Good Springs while finding love. (Historical, Independently Published)

Historical Romance:


A Rose So Fair by Myra Johnson — Caleb Wieland would give anything to win farm girl Rose Linwood’s heart, but Rose’s stubborn independence is proving as thorny as the flower for which she’s named. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Under the Same Sky by Cynthia Roemer — In 1854 Illinois, Becky Hollister wants nothing more than to live out her days on the prairie, building a life for herself alongside her future husband. But when a tornado rips through her parents’ farm, killing her mother and sister, she must leave the only home she’s ever known and the man she’s begun to love to accompany her injured father to St. Louis.
Catapulted into a world of unknowns, Becky finds solace in corresponding with Matthew Brody, the handsome pastor back home. But when word comes that he is all but engaged to someone else, she must call upon her faith to decipher her future. (Historical Romance from Mantle Rock Publishing)

The Pony Express Romance Collection by Barbara Tifft Blakey, Mary Davis, Darlene Franklin, Cynthia Hickey, Maureen Lang, Debby Lee, Donna Schlachter, Connie Stevens and Pegg Thomas — Nine historical romances revive the brief era of the Pony Express. Join the race from Missouri, across the plains and mountains to California and back again as brave Pony Express riders and their supporters along the route work to get mail across country in just ten days. It is an outstanding task in the years 1860 to 1861, and only a few are up to the job. Faced with challenges of terrain, weather, hostile natives, sickness, and more, can these adventurous pioneers hold fast, and can they also find lasting love in the midst of daily trials? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:
plain-targetPlain Target by Dana R. Lynn — Horse trainer Jess McGrath only wants to clear her disgraced brother’s name, but enemies keep coming out of the woodwork and danger only gets closer. Jess soon learns that no place is safe—and no one can be trusted…except for the last white knight she’d ever expect to ride to her rescue. Paramedic Seth Travis was the boy behind her high school humiliation, but he’s also the man keeping her alive. When they find sanctuary in the Amish community, can they uncover answers in time to stop a killer—and resolve their past in time to build a future together? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Dangerous Testimony by Dana Mentink — Four weeks before she’s set to testify at a gang murder trial, someone is determined to make sure that Candace Gallagher Andrews never takes the stand. When nowhere is safe for the private investigator or her little girl, Candace turns to the only person she can trust—longtime friend and former navy SEAL Marco Quidel. For Marco, protecting Candace is not just another duty. As the trial date nears and the killer stalks ever closer, Marco knows fear for the first time—the fear of losing Candace and her daughter. But while Marco begins seeing Candace as more than just a friend, her late husband’s memory is never far from her mind. So he must keep Candace alive—and not get emotionally involved—long enough to put away a killer. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

deep-extractionDeep Extraction by DiAnn Mills — Special Agent Tori Templeton is determined to find who killed her best friend’s husband. Tori finds an unexpected ally in the newest member of the task force, recently reinstated Deputy US Marshal Cole Jeffers. As Tori and Cole dig deeper into Nathan’s personal and business affairs, they uncover more than they bargained for. And the closer they get to finding the real killer?and to each other?the more intent someone is on silencing them for good. (Romantic Suspense from Tyndale House)


Final Verdict by Jessica R. Patch — When Aurora Daniels becomes the target of someone seeking their own twisted justice, Sheriff Beckett Marsh is the only one who can rescue her. As a public defender, Aurora has angered plenty of people in town—and in her past. And while Beckett constantly clashes with the feisty lawyer professionally, it’s his duty to protect and serve. Guarding her 24/7 is now his sole assignment. He may not have been able to save his fiancée from a dangerous felon, but he’ll do whatever it takes to keep Aurora alive. Even if working with her to catch and convict this ruthless killer puts his heart in the crosshairs. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Guardian by Terri Reed — When a fellow FBI agent is kidnapped and a protected witness vanishes, Leo Gallagher will stop at nothing to find them both. So when he discovers a link between the case and a single mother in Wyoming, Leo and his trusty K-9 partner rush to question Alicia Duncan. Could she be the key to locating the missing persons? Not if a killer has anything to say about it. Someone is determined to keep Alicia from talking, so Leo and his chocolate Lab must keep her and her little boy safe on their family ranch. With danger lurking around every corner, Leo must work overtime to not lose another person who’s important to him. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Witch by Denise Weimer — Having restored Michael Johnson’s ancestors’ house and apothecary shop and begun applying the lessons of family and forgiveness unearthed from the past, Jennifer Rushmore expects to complete her first preservation job with the simple relocation of a log home. But as her crew reconstructs the 1787 cabin, home to the first Dunham doctor, attacks on those involved throw suspicion on neighbors and friends alike. And while Jennifer has trusted God and Michael with the pain of her past, it appears Michael’s been keeping his own secrets. Will she use a dream job offer from Savannah as an escape, or will a haunting tale from a Colonial diary convince her to rely on the faithfulness of his love? (Romantic Suspense from Canterbury House Publishing)

Speculative Romance/Fantasy:

The Fairetellings Series (Books 1 through 3) by Kristen Reed — Discover a trio of enchanting novellas inspired by three beloved fairy tales: Cinderella, Snow White, and Beauty and the Beast. (Speculative Romance/Fantasy, Independently Published)

On this Day — April 3, 1966 — by Debby Lee

Today I am thrilled to welcome author Debby Lee as she shares how April 3rd, 1860 and April 3rd, 1966 connect — through the Pony Express, that iconic piece of Americana that is so dear to our hearts.

On April 3, 1860, a wiry fellow working for Russell, Majors, and Waddell, jumped on a horse in St. Joseph Missouri and with a whoop and a holler carried a mail pouch east. Cheers erupted from a crowd of spectators. Ten days later that mail reached San Francisco, and thus the Pony Express rode into history.

One hundred and six years later, on April, 3 1966, the day I was born, a different kind of noise reverberated across America. The number 1 song on the pop music charts was My Soul and Inspiration by The Righteous Brothers. On the country charts, I Want to Go to You by Eddy Arnold held the number 1 spot.

At the movies, the musical, Frankie and Johnny, graced theater marquis from St. Joseph to San Francisco. Elvis Presley and Donna Douglas starred in this show. Records were available from the movies sound track, and contained songs like Please Don’t Stop Loving Me and Down by the Riverside. Donna Douglas by the way, starred in The Beverly Hillbillies. Now who doesn’t remember that opening theme song?

The Dodge Charger rolled off conveyor belts and proceeded to cruise along roads all across the country. Technically, this car came out in 1964 but was only for show. It wasn’t available to the public until 1966. Although it probably made much more noise than the average pony, it could get you from St. Joseph to San Francisco a lot faster.

News of the Vietnam War occupied airwaves and newspaper columns, as protesters, took to the streets and chanted for peace. Flower Power was the slogan of the day, but demonstrations rose in volume and intensity before it was all over.

No matter what kind of noise was made in 1860, 1966, or even today, one thing remains the same. The Pony Express makes us think of thundering hoof beats, brave riders facing dangerous circumstances, and a special kind of romance that comes along for the ride.



About “Ride Into My Heart”

Kimimela, a member of the Sioux tribe, works at a Pony Express station where she struggles to cope with the death of her sister. When she’s kidnapped by gun smugglers, can her Cherokee friend, Pony Express rider Gabe, rescue her before it’s too late?

About Debby

Debby Lee was raised in the cozy town of Toledo, Washington. The American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America are two organizations Debby enjoys being a part of. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steven Laube Literary Agency. As a self proclaimed nature lover and avid listener of 1960’s folk music, Debby can’t help but feel like a hippie child who wasn’t born soon enough to attend Woodstock.

Debby loves connecting with her readers on Facebook and via her website at  About

HEARTS AFIRE by Katheryn Maddox Haddad

Today we’re happy to welcome back author Katheryn Maddox Haddad as she spotlights the third book in her series.

Take it away, Katheryn.

Do you worry that, if you give too much of your business to doing good, you will go broke? Zebedee, whose fishing business was doing very bad, gave his two partners, his two sons.

Are you proactive in government affairs, marching and writing letters and protesting all the time? Simon the Zealot was that way, then decided to use those energies for Jesus.

Do you have so many problems, you wonder if going to church is helping at all?  There were demon-possessed people who fought their demons this way.

Are you handicapped or disfigured in some way? Lepers were both. But Jesus touched them. Let Jesus touch you.

Do you cling to bitterness over a tragedy and are paralyzed by it? Jesus forgave the paralyzed man so he would let lose of his bitterness.

Did you get rich by cheating people? Matthew did, then dedicated his life to Jesus.

Do you know a hypocrite in the church that shouldn’t be there? Jesus gave Judas a chance.

Do church leaders make you feel intimidated because they are always up front and getting attention. Jesus kept quietly doing his work and the people loved him for it.

Are you on a committee or in a family of people so different you doubt they can ever accomplish anything together? That’s what Jesus twelve apostles were like.

Have you lost all your loved ones and feel so very lonely? Jesus raised the widow’s son back to life?


This series of eight novels—THEY MET JESUS—is dedicated to everyone who has ever doubted. It shows people who met Jesus in their stark humanness and curiosity, sometimes loving him, sometimes hating him, but never left the same. I was very careful about adding words of Jesus that are not in the Bible. At the end of each chapter are “Life Application Questions” for individual readers or book clubs, and ancient historical sources such as Josephus. At the end of each book are suggested readings for special occasions. COME, MEET JESUS ALL OVER AGAIN.


Katheryn began writing at age ten, and was “published” that same year in her local newspaper. She grew up in the cold north and now lives in Arizona where she do not have to shovel sunshine. She basks in 100-degree weather along with my palm trees, cacti, and a computer with most of the letters worn off.

With a bachelor’s degree in English, Bible and social science from Harding University and part of a master’s degree in Bible, including Greek, from the Harding Graduate School of Theology, she also has a master’s degree in management and human relations from Abilene University.

Her newspaper column appeared for several years in newspapers in Texas and North Carolina ~ Little Known Facts About the Bible ~ and she has written for numerous Christian publications.

She spends half her day writing, and the other half teaching English over the internet worldwide using the Bible as text book.  She is a member of Christian Writers of the West and is also an energetic public speaker.


Monthly Newsletter:




RIDER COMING IN!!! By Mary Davis

Today I’m thrilled to welcome author Mary Davis as she shares about the humble beginnings of the Pony Express, and shares the first page of her story.

On April 3, 1860 two horseback riders raced across the West, one westbound from St. Joseph, Missouri and the other eastbound from Sacramento, California. And the PONY EXPRESS was born, filling a much needed gap until the telegraph line could be completed. The telegraph was finished on October 24, 1861, rendering the Pony Express obsolete.


As a rider would approach a station, a lookout called, “RIDER COMING IN!” A special “bare bones” saddle was strapped onto a fresh horse and stood ready. The incoming rider would jump down, the four-pocket, leather mochila transferred to the waiting horse, the timecard marked, and the same rider or a new one would leap up and race off. The exchange took about two minutes.


Pony Express stations were set up 10-15 miles apart with fresh horses. A rider typically rode 75-100 miles. Bob Haslam is reported to have once ridden 380 miles in 36 hours. Buffalo Bill Cody claims the longest ride by four miles.


Though postage cost $10 an ounce at the start and $2 by the end, the Pony Express grossed only $90,000 and lost as much as $200,000.


The Pony Express was mostly used by the military as the Civil War approached and began. Because of the high cost, ordinary folks almost never used the Pony Express.


“The story of the Pony Express is one of the most romanticized events in the history of the United States. In some ways, the Pony Express could be considered one of the most famous financial failures about which little is truly known, but much is told.” (Here Comes the Pony! By William E. Hill)





In An Unlikely Hero, BethAnn, along with her little sister, are running from a mistake and find security at a Pony Express station and love in the quiet affection of a shy Pony Express rider known as the “Fox.”








Award-winning novelist MARY DAVIS has over two dozen titles in both historical and contemporary themes. She is a member of ACFW and active in two critique groups.

Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of over thirty years and two cats. She has three adult children and one grandchild.

Web Site:

FB links: (profile)  & (page)

 Amazon Link

Barbour Link 

 Barnes & Noble Link



Chapter One

June 1861

No one would likely be following them tonight. BethAnn White tightened her hold around her twelve-year-old sister as the eastbound stagecoach came to a lurching stop.

The driver called out, “Head of Echo Canyon Stagecoach and Pony Express Station.”

BethAnn accepted the offered hand and stepped down from the stage, then turned to help Molly. She gazed in the direction they’d come from. The sun was just dipping behind the western ridge.

She heard rapidly approaching hoofbeats but couldn’t tell which direction they were coming from in the dimming evening light. The sound bounced off the canyon walls, making the sound appear to be coming from everywhere.

“Rider coming in!” someone yelled. That, too, bounced around and came from everywhere.

This could be exciting to see a Pony Express rider exchange. She searched the area around her. Where was Molly?

The hoofbeats grew louder, and station personnel scurried around.

Molly would not want to miss this. Where was she? BethAnn stepped out in front of the stagecoach team and saw the outline of the rider racing in from the east.

Then she saw her.

Her baby sister.

Her only family.

In the path of a several-hundred-pound charging animal.

Norman Rockwell and the Pony Express — Barbara Tifft Blakey

Today we continue exploring how the history of our country is connected–even in an obscure way–with the Pony Express as we welcome author Barbara Tifft Blakey.


April 3, 1993:  Norman Rockwell Museum opens at its new site in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Art has been a part of civilization for thousands of years if cave drawings are any indication. And, like other cultural elements such as music and dance, art has developed over the centuries. One of the favorite American artists was Norman Rockwell. He spent the last twenty-five years of his life in Stockbridge, Massachusetts and donated his studio to the city for a museum. The studio is kept in its original state, although it has been moved to the thirty+ acre site that the museum now occupies. Visitors are treated not just to original Rockwell paintings, but to many of his sketches and drawings as well.

People are attracted to Rockwell’s work because of the connection they feel to his subjects. He captured small town America and his pictures tell stories. His most famous are a series of four “freedom” pictures:  freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from fear and freedom from want.

In my contribution to the Pony Express Collection, A Place to Belong, Abigail has neither studio nor paints, but draws the Express riders and scenes around the ranch. She treasures her mother’s sketchbook, with its own story, believing one of the images is of the home left behind before her parents were killed when she was six years old. Now, at nineteen, the sketchbook has become a connection to her mother and feeds her dream to return to the house in the book, much like Rockwell’s artwork feeds our nostalgia for a by-gone era.

Barbara Tifft Blakey is the developer of Total Language Plus, a literature-inspired language arts program used by private Christian schools and homeschoolers for over twenty years. She writes inspirational historical fiction from her tree-surrounded home in the Pacific Northwest.


How Classic Movies from the 1940s Made Their Way in My Latest Novel — Tamera Lynn Kraft

Today I’m excited to welcome back author Tamera Lynn Kraft as she shares about how classic movies impacted her latest book. 


One thing I loved about writing my post World War Two novel was my main character’s passion for movies. Alice Brighton and her late husband loved to go to movies on Friday nights. Now, even after the war made her a widow, Alice still loves movies and compares everyone she meets to a movie character.


Of course for Alice, all these wonderful classic movies and movie stars and a part of her culture, but for me, it was so much fun because I love classic movies. In the novel, Alice compares her landlord to Cary Grant. Cary Grant is one of my favorites. After starring in movies like Suspicion, Arsenic and Old Lace, and Notorious, Grant was one of the biggest stars around in 1946 when Alice’s Notions takes place. My favorite Cary Grant movie wouldn’t be made until a few years later. An Affair to Remember, released 1957, with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr is one of my all-time favorites.

At one point in the novel, Alice thinks back to when her late husband always said she reminded him of Judy Garland. Garland would have been twenty-four at the time, just a bit younger than Alice, but she became a big star in her teens. She began acting at two years old when she debuted as Baby Francis and sang Jingle Bells. After playing in various roles including a few movies with Mickey Rooney, Garland had her big break in The Wizard of Oz. She went on to star in a ton of movies and had a thriving singing career until she committed suicide in the 1960s. One of my favorite Judy Garland movies released in 1945 during the war was The Clock. The Clock was about a woman who met and fell in love with a GI on leave. Their romance was intensified because they only had the weekend before he was shipped out again for the remainder of the war. This movie must have been in Alice’s mind since she had lost her husband shortly after the movie came out.


During Alice’s Notions, Alice goes on a date to see the movie, The Postman Always Rings Twice, starring Lana Turner and John Garfield. It was released in 1946 and was considered scandalous at the time because the two main characters have an affair and murder her husband. The main theme of the movie is you can’t get away with your sin. The truth will be revealed. In Alice’s Notions, the truth being revealed is also a main theme.

The Postman Always Rings Twice

So you may be wondering what classic movie Alice’s Notions reminds me of. Charade with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn was released in 1963. In that movie, Hepburn is being pursued and doesn’t know who she can trust. The movie has light hearted intrigue, suspense, and romance just like Alice’s Notions. Alice, also, doesn’t know who she can trust.


What genre do you write in and why?

I write Christian historicals because I get my stories from wondering what it was like for the people living through the events in American history.

What is your favorite part of writing?

My favorite part of writing other than writing itself is the historical research that goes into it. I love history and enjoy learning more about the history in my novels.

What is your “go to” routine that helps you get in the mood to write? Special beverage? Music? Etc.

I have an ITunes playlist for each of my novels. I turn on my essential oil diffuser and diffuser YL Brain Power, and blast my playlist of music to get me into the story world I’m writing about. A cup of Teavana Tea also helps as a mood enhancer.


About Alice’s Notions:


In this quaint mountain town, things aren’t always what they seem.


World War 2 widow Alice Brighton returns to the safety of her home town to open a fabric shop. She decides to start a barn quilt tour to bring business to the shop and the town, but what she doesn’t know is sinister forces are using the tour for their own nefarious reasons


Between her mysterious landlord, her German immigrant employee, her neighbors who are acting strange, and a dreamboat security expert who is trying to romance her, Alice doesn’t know who she can trust.


About Tamera:

Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures. She loves to write historical fiction set in the United States because there are so many stories in American history. There are strong elements of faith, romance, suspense and adventure in her stories. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and is a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest and has other novellas in print. She’s been married for 38 years to the love of her life, Rick, and has two married adult children and two grandchildren. Tamera has two novellas in print: A Christmas Promise and Resurrection of Hope. Her first full length novel, Alice’s Notions, is due to be released in April.


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

You can contact Tamera on her website at


You can contact Tamera online at these sites.


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