Like Iron Sharpening Iron — Cynthia Roemer

Today I’m happy to welcome author Cynthia Roemer as she shares about her new release, Under Prairie Skies.

One of my favorite aspects of writing is creating and developing characters. I love watching them change and grow as the story deepens. It’s one of the main reasons I write, hoping readers, as well as I, will grow along with my characters.

Charlotte Stanton, the heroine in my new release, Under Prairie Skies, is a strong-willed, feisty red-head who cares more about herself than others. Readers first met Charlotte in Book One in my Prairie Sky Series, Under This Same Sky. It’s Charlotte’s jealous nature that helped spur her cousin, Becky, to stow away on her father’s wagon headed for St. Louis that began her heartfelt journey back to God.

In this second book, Charlotte meets her match in Chad Avery, a would-be cattleman who has a way of exposing Charlotte’s weaknesses and igniting her anger. It’s Chad’s uncanny ability to get to the heart of a matter that becomes a catalyst for change within Charlotte, causing her to look beyond herself to the needs of others. But Chad isn’t without his own troubles and soon finds himself on the opposite end of things when Charlotte turns the tables to expose his hidden fears regarding his past.

The theme verse, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another,” (Proverbs 27:17) is woven throughout the pages as both Chad and Charlotte battle their inner spirits to move past their failings and become the people God longs for them to be. While Becky’s story was more her journey back to God and finding love in unexpected places, Chad and Charlotte’s journey is one of relationship and how the Lord used them to shape and mold each other’s character…and fall in love in the process.

About her book:

~ Beyond shattered dreams lies a realm of possibilities ~

Illinois prairie ~1855

Unsettled by the news that her estranged cousin and uncle are returning home after a year away, Charlotte Stanton goes to ready their cabin and finds a handsome stranger has taken up residence. Convinced he’s a squatter, she throws him off the property before learning his full identity. Little does she know, their paths are destined to cross again.

Quiet and ruggedly handsome, Chad Avery’s uncanny ability to see through Charlotte’s feisty exterior and expose her inner weaknesses both infuriates and intrigues her. When a tragic accident incites her family to move east, Charlotte stays behind in hopes of becoming better acquainted with the elusive cattleman. Yet Chad’s unwillingness to divulge his hidden past, along with his vow not to love again, threatens to keep them apart forever.


About Cynthia

Cynthia Roemer is an award-winning inspirational writer with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the lives of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the 1800s prairie. She writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband and their two college-aged sons. Under Prairie Skies is Book Two in her Prairie Sky Series.

Cynthia Roemer can be contacted at:





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April 2018 New Releases!

April 2018 New Releases

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


Contemporary Romance:

Pelican Point by Irene Hannon — After inheriting a crumbling lighthouse, ex-Army doctor Ben Garrison wants to sell it. But Hope Harbor Herald editor Marci Weber is determined to save the town landmark. Can these two romance-wary souls finds a meeting of the minds…and hearts? (Contemporary Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing)


An Amish Heirloom by Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller, Kelly Irvin, and Beth Wiseman — From bestselling Amish authors come four novellas about the meaning and tradition found behind every family heirloom. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Historical Romance:

This Wilderness Journey by Misty Beller — He’s been sent to retrieve the new missionary… But she’s not at all who he expects to find. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)



The Accidental Guardian by Mary Connealy — Deborah and her sister and two little children survive a wagon train massacre. Trace finds them and takes them home. He finds himself their accidental guardian. He must protect them all and gain justice. When he does, all these friendly visitors–especially Deborah–will leave him forever. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])


First Love Forever Romance Collection by Susanne Dietze, Marcia Gruver, Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancette Pagels, Martha Rogers, Lorna Seilstad, Connie Stevens, Erica Vetsch, and Jennifer Uhlarik — Coming face to face with a lost love can be awkward when the heartstrings are still holding on to the “what ifs.” In settings from 1865 to 1910, nine couples are thrown back on the same path by life’s changes and challenges. Can love rekindle despite the separation of time and space? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)


All Things Beautiful by Keely Brooke Keith — It’s 1868 in the settlement of Good Springs, and Hannah Vestal is passionate about writing fiction and keeping her stories to herself. When her father asks to read her work, she decides to have it printed secretly for his 50th birthday. Hannah tries to arrange the printing with the settlement’s pressman, but the witty and dapper Henry Roberts has better things to do with his ink. In order to secure settlement support for his printing press, the elder council says Henry must print an error-free copy of the New Testament before the settlement’s 8th anniversary celebration. He is determined to meet their challenge, but when the enigmatic Hannah proves to be a beguiling distraction, Henry longs for something more than a life at the letterpress. (Historical Romance from Edenbrooke Press)

Adoration by Olivia Rae — Sir Darrin de Longue is desperate to get his lands back from Lady Faith de Sainte-Marie, the woman who betrayed him and may have had a hand in his father’s murder. But King Richard discloses on his deathbed that Lady Faith is the king’s daughter and then issues an ultimatum Darrin must obey. In order to reclaim his lands, he must marry Lady Faith and get her with child in a year’s time. Lady Faith has loved the rowdy and bold Sir Darrin since childhood, but cannot be a true wife to the bitter, angry man whom she has wed. In order to gain his trust and love, she vows to find the truth about his father’s murder. But when she stumbles upon deadly secrets, will she be able to prove her innocence–and his–to erase the past and win Darrin’s heart? (Historical Romance from HopeKnight Press)

Under Prairie Skies by Cynthia Roemer — Illinois prairie, 1855. Unsettled by the news that her estranged cousin and uncle are returning home after a year away, Charlotte Stanton goes to ready their cabin and finds a handsome stranger has taken up residence. Convinced he’s a squatter, she throws him off the property before learning his full identity. Little does she know, their paths are destined to cross again. Quiet and ruggedly handsome, Chad Avery’s uncanny ability to see through Charlotte’s feisty exterior and expose her inner weaknesses both infuriates and intrigues her. When a tragic accident incites her family to move east, Charlotte stays behind in hopes of becoming better acquainted with the elusive cattleman. Yet Chad’s unwillingness to divulge his hidden past, along with his vow not to love again, threatens to keep them apart forever. (Historical Romance from Mantle Rock Publishing)


The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo — The last time New Orleans attorney Jean-Luc Valmont saw Maribel Cordoba, a Spanish nobleman’s daughter, she was an eleven-year-old orphan perched in the riggings of his privateering vessel proving herself as the best lookout on his crew. Until the day his infamy caught up with them all and innocent lives were lost. Unsure why he survived but vowing to make something of the chance he was given, Jean-Luc has buried his past life so deep that no living person will ever find it—until a very much alive and very grown up Maribel Cordoba arrives on his doorstep and threatens all he now holds dear. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

General Contemporary:

Shadows of Hope by Georgiana Daniels — Crisis pregnancy worker Marissa Moreau suspects her husband is cheating, but little does she know how close to home her husband’s infidelity hits. College student Kaitlyn Farrows is floundering after a relationship with her professor leaves her pregnant. Soon she lands a job and a support system at the local pregnancy resource center and things seem to be turning around. But when Marissa and Kaitlyn become friends, neither one knows they share a connection—Colin, Marissa’s husband and Kaitlyn’s former professor. When their private lives collide, the two women must face the ultimate test of their faith and choose how to move forward as they live in the shadows of hope. (General Contemporary from Barbour Publishing)


Romantic Suspense:

Secret Past by Sharee Stover — With gunmen at her doorstep, Katie Tribani learns her true identity. She’s been in witness protection since childhood, and now her crime-lord father has found her. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Young Adult:

Chase by Glenn Haggerty — Tyler, a middle school newbie, shadows drug runners to rat out the methamphetamine dealer before his friend turns into a brain-dead druggie. (Young Adult, Independently Published)

Nathan Maki — Author Spotlight

Today I’m happy to welcome author Nathan Maki for an author spotlight. Read through to the end to find out how you can enter to win the giveaway.

— Where did you get the idea for the Keeper’s Crown?

I’ve always been intrigued by the way the Book of Acts ends so abruptly, leaving so many unanswered questions. Acts 28:16 says,

“And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.”

What happened next?

For some reason Luke never tells us. The story of Paul’s final years and last days comes to us in glimpses. A joyful letter to the Philippians telling of converts within Caesar’s household and Praetorian Guard, a plea to Timothy to bring him his cloak and parchments, the heartbroken report that Demas had forsaken him, the sincere plea for a runaway slave to an old friend named Philemon.

And who was this soldier that kept Paul? What would it have been like to be chained to the Apostle of the Gentiles for the last years of his life? The Keeper’s Crown grew from the seed of these questions.

— What kind of research did you have to do?

The Apostle Paul is a towering hero of faith. He looms so large that I’ll confess I was intimidated to even begin portraying his character. What if I got it wrong? What if he didn’t ring true? What if I didn’t do him justice?

To overcome these fears, I delved deep into research. My wife and I took a trip to Rome and walked the streets Paul walked on (ostensibly as a tenth anniversary trip, mind you!) I read the Book of Acts account and all of Paul’s epistles, as well as four different histories of his life and ministry.

Slowly I began to piece together a picture of a man who was bold, zealous, stubborn, fallible, anointed, eloquent, disabled yet determined. A man who overcame unbelievable obstacles to carry the message of Christ across nearly 20,000 miles of sea and land and right into Emperor Nero’s courtroom.

Paul is an incredible, challenging character, and someday I hope to meet him in Heaven and ask him whether I even came close to getting it right.

— How much of your life is in the book?

My son, Alexander is eight now. I gave him the first copy of The Keeper’s Crown ever printed, and he just started reading it. Every now and then he looks over and says, “Dad, is Quintus really me? He is isn’t he?” He’s thrilled by the thought. And it’s true, Quintus at the outset of the novel is seven, the same age as Xander was when I was writing the book. And some of the things, like Quintus saying, “Dad, pick me up! Let me sit on your head!” are straight out of Xander’s mouth. I couldn’t make up any more precocious kid if I tried.

For my part, The Keeper’s Crown grew out of my quest to define godly success. What does success look like for a husband, father, pastor, author, business owner, Christian? Some would view Paul as an utter failure, at least by world standards. In terms of godly success, of course, he is a wild success. What is godly success? By the time I wrote “The End” I had my answer.

Success is doing God’s will, regardless of the result. That’s comforting and challenging all at once. I hope and pray this book will be the same.

Readers, leave a comment below for a chance to win either a signed paperback or ebook copy (winner’s choice) of The Keeper’s Crown. (For US and Canadian residents — *ebook only to Canada*)

Nathan is also having a Facebook party today between 11 and 3 EST, including a pictorial tour of Rome from his visit there, Q and A, trivia and games, virtual snacks (non-fattening 😉), hourly e-book giveaways, and two grand prizes of signed Proof copies of his book (of only 5 ever printed.) The address is


ABOUT THE BOOK: The Keeper’s Crown


As a boy, he dared to fight Nero. Worse, he won.

Stripped of his family, the love of his life, and his self-respect, he sets out on a quest to win a victor’s crown, rescue his parents, and restore his family’s honor. But his path to glory in the restless province of Judaea is threatened by the corrupt governor Felix, the murderous priest Melechi, and most of all by the rabble-rousing Paul of Tarsus.

When Quintus finds himself in Rome chained to Paul all hope of a crown seems lost, but Paul’s example makes him question the true meaning of success. And why does Jael, the mysterious young Jewess who once saved his life, now respond with barely restrained flashes of hate?


The Romans took her father and her brother from her.

Now Jael vows to fight for her father’s faith, fulfill her brother’s oath, and avenge their deaths. But the further she travels with Paul and Quintus the more she feels torn. Can she follow her heart and still keep her vow?


He turned the world upside down.

Paul never expected to end his ministry in chains, but even still, he is determined to carry the gospel to Rome and the Emperor Nero himself. But what if those who need the gospel most are those closest to him? As the Great Fire strikes Rome, fanning Nero’s persecution of the Christians to a white-hot fury, murderous secrets, impossible choices, and steadfast faith will lead to tragedy and triumph.



A life-long love for historical fiction and a passion to create high-intensity, realistic novels from a Christian world view has propelled Nathan into his writing career. He is the author of the War Within series of novels set in Ancient Rome, and most recently The Keeper’s Crown, a novel of the Apostle Paul.

A recent trip to Rome to walk the ancient streets, explore the Catacombs, and stand in the Coliseum plunged Nathan even deeper into the ancient world he brings to life for his readers.

Nathan’s novels combine the faith and romance of Francine Rivers’s Mark of the Lion trilogy with the action and adventure of Bernard Cornwell or Conn Iggulden.

Nathan lives in Ontario, Canada, with his wife, son, and three very spoiled dogs. He pastors a church and manages his own business in addition to his writing. Sometimes he even sleeps.

Nathan Fun Facts

Like most true Canadians Nathan has a fake tooth thanks to hockey (and his high-sticking brother!)

In 2016 Nathan and his wife Rachel celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary with a trip to Rome (Which Nathan calls “My Happy Place.”)

Nathan, Rachel, and their son Alexander have two pugs, Pandy and Portia, whose idea of a good life is waking up, eating, napping, eating, napping, potty, and bed. A recent addition is Oliver, the Boston Terror…er…Terrier.

Nathan spent 13 years in a program called Bible Quizzing and memorized over 6000 scriptures. His team took 2nd place in North America one year.
Nathan graduated  from Carleton University with highest honors in Journalism and History only to become a landscaper, author, and pastor. Go figure! 🙂

Nathan has ridden horses in Texas and Arizona, studied fencing and saber dueling, and considers skiing, skating, and tobogganing a great way to spend his free time in the winter. (When he’s not reading or writing historical fiction.)

Connect with Nathan
Twitter: @NathanDMaki

Excerpt from the Book

The prisoner looked over his bare shoulder at Quintus. “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?” His voice was steady and calm, as if he were asking a newcomer to a bathhouse about the weather outside.

A Roman! Quintus froze. If this man’s claim was true, by law they should not even have fettered him. They certainly could not scourge him.

“Hold,” he told the inquisitor. “Don’t touch him until I return.”

Quintus sprinted the stairs three at a time. He found Lysias nursing a cup of wine and staring blank-faced at the milling crowd in the Temple courts below. Lysias turned and cocked an eyebrow. “Has he broken already? I had him made of sterner stuff.”

“Watch what you’re doing with this one,” Quintus said. “This man is a Roman.”

The tribune set down his cup so abruptly its contents sloshed over his hand. He didn’t seem to notice. “Take me there.”

When they reached the dungeon, the prisoner was still bound as Quintus had left him. His arched back and lean, outstretched arms reminded Quintus of a juniper clinging to a wind-lashed crag. If he felt discomfort from the strained position he gave no sign of it.

Lysias paced around to face him. The man’s eyes were closed, and his lips moved without a sound. “Tell me,” the tribune demanded, “are you a Roman?”

The bound man looked up and met the tribune’s eyes with a frank gaze. “I am.”

“Hmm.” Lysias ran a knuckle back and forth across his lips as he slowly shook his head. “With a great price I obtained this citizenship.”

“But I was born free.” The prisoner’s eyes gleamed an inner light. “My name is Paul.”

Paperback link:

Can You Really Turn a Tide? — Edith Maxwell

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

Actually, I don’t think it’s possible to turn an oceanic tide. It’s not a little boat. It’s not even a giant ocean liner or tanker. Our earth’s ocean tides are mighty gravitation-powered forces. They come around more or less twice a day, with two high tides and two lows. The moon influences them. The weather influences them. The moon influences them even more. We little humanoidss have no effect on the tides, unless on a grand climate-change scale.

So why would I name a book Turning the Tide if turning a tide isn’t even possible?

This third installment of the Quaker Midwife Mysteries opens at a meeting of the Amesbury Woman Suffrage Association a few days before election day in November 1888. We now know this was more than thirty years before women got the vote by the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the US constitution in 1920. But that didn’t mean women weren’t already protesting and lobbying for the right to express their opinions at the ballot box.

Gradually, inexorably, women were turning the tide of opinion toward allowing half the adult population to vote. In the same way as with the movement to legally enfranchise African-American men, Quakers were in the forefront of the women’s rights movement, from Lucretia Mott to Charlotte Woodward to Susan B. Anthony to Alice Paul. When women in the US were granted the vote in 1920, only one of the sixty-four women who had signed the Seneca Falls Declaration had lived long enough to cast her ballot:  the Quaker, Charlotte Woodward, who in 1848 had been a young worker in a glove factory.

Midwife Rose Carroll joins forces with other Amesbury suffragists to protest their enfranchisement during the presidential election in 1888. Her mother – a well-known activist for the cause – comes to town to stand in solidarity across from the polls on Election Day, as does Elizabeth Cady Stanton herself. But when Rose finds the body of the local association’s leader the next morning, and Rose’s own life is threatened more than once, she’s drawn into delivering not only babies but also a murderer.

I’m so excited that this book will reach the reading public in nine days! If you haven’t read books one and two, don’t worry. I write each to be able to stand alone. I’ll give one print copy away to a (US only) commenter here today – but you’ll have to wait until after April 8.

Readers: Do you vote? If not, why not? What do you think of when you exercise your right, not even a century old, to mark that ballot or pull that lever, whether in a local election or to name the next leader of the country?

(A version of this post first appeared on the Inkspot blog earlier this year.)

About her book:


Turning the Tide, the third book in the series, will be out in 2018, and is available for pre-order wherever books are sold. Excitement runs high during Presidential election week in 1888. The Woman Suffrage Association plans a demonstration and Quaker midwife Rose Carroll resolves to join the protest. When she finds the body of the association’s leader the next morning, she’s drawn into delivering more than babies. Rose’s own life is threatened more than once as she sorts out killer from innocent.




About Edith

Agatha- and Macavity-nominated author Edith Maxwell writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries, the Local Foods Mysteries, and award-winning short crime fiction. As Maddie Day she writes the popular Country Store Mysteries and the new Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. 

She is president of Sisters in Crime New England and lives north of Boston with her beau, two elderly cats, and an impressive array of garden statuary. She blogs at,, and Under Cover of Midnight. Read about all Maxwell’s personalities and her work at



First page

Rowena Felch stood tall and graceful on the podium in the Free Will Baptist Church hall. “In this election season of 1888, we must work with ever more diligence to gain women the vote!” She sliced the air with her fervor. “We must convince our Massachusetts lawmakers to act. It is past time.”

The Saturday night meeting of the Amesbury Woman Suffrage Association was jam-full. I’d arrived a bit late with my friend Bertie Winslow, and we’d found places to sit near the side of the hall. I could see easily, being at least as tall as the speaker, but petite Bertie craned her neck to catch a glimpse of the speaker. It was my first suffrage meeting, although not hers, and I’d met Rowena only once before, at Bertie’s house. The full room was warm with female bodies and smelled of women: floral aromas, breast milk, and yeasty hints of sweat, scents integral to my world of midwifery. The gas lamps on all the walls gave a welcoming aura and highlighted Rowena’s face glowing with fervor.

Do not lose heart, ladies,” Rowena went on. “We shall gather on Tuesday across from the main polling place in the new Armory. Frannie will hand you each a sash on your way out tonight.” She gestured toward the back of the room. “Please wear them proudly on Election Day.”

I turned to look. Frannie Eisenman, the grandmother of a baby girl I’d delivered just last week, held a sunflower-yellow sash in the air and waved it for all to see.

Does anyone have a question?” Rowena asked.

An older woman with hair the color of iron stood. It was Ruby Bracken, a member of the same Friends Meeting as me. “What is our plan if we’re met with opposition from the gentleman, as we surely will be?”

A teenage girl with curly black tresses sat next to Ruby. The girl’s eyes widened as if in fear at the thought of opposition, but I was glad to see females of all ages at the meeting. An older lady with a comfortable corset-free figure and soft white sausage curls framing her face emerged from a side door at the front of the hall and walked to the podium. Rowena took a pace back, beaming at the newcomer.

If this comes to pass, we shall link arms and stand tall,” the woman proclaimed, her flat black lace headdress falling like a veil and accentuating her snowy-white hair. 

Bertie’s mouth fell open. “That’s Mrs. Stanton!”

The Mrs. Stanton?” I asked, shifting on the hard wooden chair.


Character Interview — Anne Baxter Campbell

Today I’m happy to welcome author Anne Baxter Campbell as she shares an interview with a character from her book, Blessed by Time. Read through to the end to see how you can enter to win the giveaway.

Me: I chose Tammy, a three-year-old, to interview. Given her age and preference to going to play with Orphah, I was happy she agreed to answer two or three questions before running off.

Me: Good morning, Tammy. How are you feeling today?

Tammy: Hi, author lady. I’m happy today. It’s my birfday, and Papa made me a dolly with real hair. I think he cut some off his beard to put on her ‘cause it’s curly. I’m going to call her Abby. She’s pretty, don’t you think? I didn’t have her in the before. In the before, I had another dolly, but I gave her to the little girl with the bad burns in the hospital. So it’s fun to have another one. Can I go now? Orphah said she’s having a party because it’s her dolly’s birfday too.

Me: Could you answer another question for me, Tammy? What’s the before?

Tammy: Oh, you know. The before on the other side of the windy web. Do you know about the windy web? It feels a little stringy and sticky, like that spider web on the side of our house in the before. But Jesus knows how to get through it. He must have hidden the windy web after we went through, though, because I can’t find it anymore. The before is where we had other clothes, not like these long dresses. I used to wear shorts and t-shirts, but they don’t have any here. My grandma’s in the before, too. I can’t go see her anymore. But Papa and Mama are here, so it’s okay. Are we done yet?

Me: Not quite. I guess you used to live in Wickenburg, Arizona, but where are you now?

Tammy: That’s a silly question. You couldn’t talk to me if you weren’t here too. Don’t you know? Here is called Tyre, didn’t you know that? Not like the tires on cars. I know ‘cause I asked. Mama looked at me funny when I asked her that. So did Papa.

Me: You sure talk a lot for such a little girl. You mentioned Jesus, right? So who is He?

Tammy: [exasperated sigh] Nobody here knows Him. I don’t know why. He brought me here, but nobody saw Him but me. He’s the bestest person I know. He’s even betterer than my Mama and Papa. He hugs really good and makes me feel all warm. Sometimes He’s in my dreams, and He tells me things. Now can I go?

Me: Oh, all right. I guess you’d lots rather go play with Orphah, huh?

Tammy: Yup. Bye, author lady.

Leave a comment below to enter for a chance to win Blessed by Time, either in ebook format or signed paperback―winner’s choice. Limited to the US, please.

About Anne

Anne Baxter Campbell is a loving mom, grandma, and great-grandma who writes not for a living but to please God―hopefully, anyway. She cherishes family and friends and quiet time to write. Anne lives in Northern California with a small brown overly-friendly dog (Meggie Wigglesworth) and a big black cat (Cleo Campbell) who’s friendly to anyone who will feed her.

Twitter: @anne_baxter_c


Buy link:


First page of Blessed by Time:

Prologue―October AD 2007

Sarah Johnson stood alone at one side of three-year-old Tamara’s hospital bed, gently wiping her little one’s face with a cool, damp cloth. Her husband, Paul, and his mother, Halena, hovered on the other side. Tammy’s body shook with increasing violence and frequency, and the chills racking her small frame rattled the bed between seizures. Sweat soaked the child’s hospital gown and the sheets.

The hospice staff tried; they’d done all they could to make her more comfortable. The tumor crowding her brain wasn’t operable, and she couldn’t tolerate any more chemo or radiation. As the cancer spread, her body had begun to shut down. The morphine, dripping through the intravenous tube, kept the pain at bay, but nothing could halt the monster in her head. That morning, the doctors had warned the family they shouldn’t expect Tamara to live through another night.

Sarah’s mind kept rerunning events from the past weeks in the hospital. Tamara had asked for her favorite toys, and then, one by one, handed them to other children. She was doing what she loved to do—give. Now their sweet child lay dying, her skin so hot it felt like a July sidewalk in downtown Phoenix. Life just wasn’t fair. Sarah stroked the regrowing downy blonde fuzz on her baby’s head, terrified of that moment when Tamara would be gone forever.

Tammy opened her eyes a smidgen. She looked at her family through lackluster eyes, and her lips tilted up in a weak greeting before moving her gaze toward something or someone at the foot of her bed. Sarah glanced in that direction but saw nothing. A soft voice murmured something unintelligible nearby, and a faint floral scent drifted through the room, briefly masking the antiseptic smells. A visitor with fresh perfume walking past, maybe.

A look of delight widened Tammy’s eyes and smile, and she lifted one hand maybe a half inch before it dropped back. Her eyes closed, her last breath soft on the sheet under her chin, the smile still on her lips.

“Oh, no,” moaned Sarah. “Please, Tammy, stay. Don’t go.”

Paul and his mother cried out in unison, and they turned to each other’s shoulders to weep in ragged sobs. Tears blinded Sarah as she bent down to gather Tamara’s limp form into her arms and rock her one last time.


Hobos During the Great Depression — Sheila Ingle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hobo signs from the Great Depression

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

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

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

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

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

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

About her book:



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




About Sheila

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


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

Annie Mae

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 2018 New Releases!

March 2018 New Releases

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


Contemporary Romance:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

General & Women’s Fiction:

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

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

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

Historical Romance:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romantic Suspense:

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

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

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

100 Steps to Freedom — Tamera Lynn Kraft

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

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

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

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

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

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

About her book:

Red Sky Over America
Ladies of Oberlin Book 1

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

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

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

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


Barnes and Noble:;jsessionid=E0109718A797B90BAA4E67707F16623E.prodny_store01-atgap04?ean=2940155392231&st=AFF&2sid=Goodreads,%20Inc_2227948_NA&sourceId=AFFGoodreads,%20IncM000004

About Tamera

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

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

You can contact Tamera online at these sites.




Word Sharpeners Blog:



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I know May didn’t. I hope you won’t.

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

The Mail-Order Mistake by Kathleen Y’Barbo.

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

Purchase from your local bookseller or online at:


Barnes & Noble:


Christian Book Distributors:

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.