Monday, December 17, 2012

New York Civil War history guest post, plus giveaways!

Wedded to War Historic Sites of New York City-- a guest post by JOCELYN GREEN Monday, April 22, 1861 New York City
When Charlotte and Alice told their mother they were taking the omnibus down Broadway, they weren’t lying. They just didn’t tell her where they would be getting off. There was simply no time for an argument today. So begins  Wedded to War on one of the most famous and historic avenues in the world. In fact, many scenes in Wedded to War are set in locations you can still visit today. If you love history, this blog post highlighting some of them is for you. (Future blog posts will feature historic sites in Washington and Virginia, the other two “stages” for the dramas in Wedded to War.) 1) Broadway Since the book begins on Broadway, let’s start there on our virtual tour, too.
Broadway 1860 Today, Broadway looks nothing like the above photo, but it did have a few things in common: dirt, noise and crowds. The avenue throbbed with life, like an artery coursing down the island of Manhattan. Ten days into the war, recruiting offices for the Union army had already cropped up along the avenue, their entrances clogged with eager young men. Between Canal Street and Houston, the street teemed with gentlemen in spats and ladies in silks, their musk colognes and lavender perfumes cloying on the warm breeze. The white marble facade of St. Nicholas Hotel between Broome and Spring Streets dominated the west side of Broadway. In front of The Marble Palace facing Canal Street, porters in their brass-buttoned, blue uniforms opened carriage doors and escorted their elite customers inside, where they would no doubt spend staggering sums on the latest Parisian fashions. ~Wedded to War Five Points
A few blocks south and east of all this opulence was the world’s most notorious slum–Five Points.  see map of area here The street names have changed in the last 150 years, and there is no discernible sign of the former poverty that marked this area. I don’t really recommend making a special trip to see it. The illustration at right was made in the 1850s, and the one below, which was in Frank Leslie’s Illustrate Newspaper, was published after the Civil War. Both are very similar to what the characters in Wedded to War saw and experienced. If Broadway was Manhattan’s artery, Five Points was its abscess: swollen with people, infected with pestilence, inflamed with vice and crime. Groggeries, brothels, and dance halls put private sin on public display. Although the neighborhood seemed fairly self-contained, more fortunate New Yorkers were terrified of Five Points erupting, spreading its contagion to the rest of them. This was where the Waverly sisters got off. ~Wedded to War
2) St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral When we first meet the character Ruby O’Flannery, she is outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Mott Street, searching the Irish 69th Regiment for a glimpse of her husband Matthew. Here is what that scene may have looked like, below.
We also see Ruby revisit the cathedral later in the novel, but stay outside the fence for reasons I will not divulge here. Visitors to New York City can still visit this cathedral, which is now referred to as Old St. Patrick’s, since there is a more recently constructed cathedral by the same name. This is what it looks like today (below).
St. Patrick's Old Cathedral
Check out the history of St Patrick's Old Cathedral. Find directions to Old St. Patrick’s.
After Ruby’s visit to the cathedral, she returns to her tenement in the 14th Ward. If you’re interested in tenement living, do check out the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. It chronicles the lives of residents over several generations, beginning in 1863, and looks fascinating! If I get back to the city, I will definitely go there myself! Find directions to the Tenement Museum.
Tenement Museum 3) Bellevue Hospital He offered her a cup of lemonade as if seeing each other again were the most natural thing in the world. As if a decade of silence between them made no difference whatsoever. “I’m just in town for some lectures on anesthesia at Bellevue Hospital this week. Two of the other doctors at Bellevue were invited to attend the ball this evening but one of them had to bow out when a patient began bleeding after surgery. . .” ~Wedded to War Bellevue Hospital was a mere mention in the early part of Wedded to War, but without that lecture Dr. Caleb Lansing attended there, he and Charlotte would never have met at that ball just after the start of the Civil War. The hospital itself is America’s oldest public hospital, and a magnificent piece of architecture. Take a look at what Dr. Lansing would have seen:
In order to serve more patients, the building was expanded in 2005, but the original facade of the old Administration Building wasn’t torn down. Instead, it is preserved in a glass atrium. You can see it in the photo below behind the glass front.

Now here’s a photo, below, from inside that glass structure.
For better photos, including some which showcase the hospital’s impressive Christmas decorating, I highly recommend that you visit this blog post, from a New York movie location scout. He also tells us that inside the main entrance there is a neat exhibit on the hospital, which dates back to the 1700s, and a pamphlet you can take with you. (If you go, will you grab an extra one and mail it to me? Please?) Find maps, parking info and directions here.

  4) Cooper Union Charlotte sat on the edge of her chair at the association’s Cooper Union headquarters, spine straight and feet flat on the floor, as if perfect posture even now might have a favorable bearing on her fate. ~Wedded to War Cooper Union was the headquarters of the Women’s Central Association of Relief, which grew into the U.S. Sanitary Commission, so this is where we find Charlotte Waverly in the excerpt above, waiting her turn to be examined by the medical committee about her suitability to become a nurse. Cooper Union, the tall building on the left in the illustration below, is an extremely historic building. To read more about its significance, visit this web page.

Cooper Union above

The illustration below depicts the first meeting of the Women’s Central Association of Relief inside Cooper Union. More than 4000 of New York City’s women gathered here to organize volunteer efforts to aid the Union army. Out of this meeting, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell gained support for her idea to train women nurses–a revolutionary idea at the time. What an incredible moment in history! I would have loved to have been there.
By the way, Dr. Blackwell’s New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children is now New York Downtown Hospital. Not really worth a sightseeing visit, but if you’re interested in the history, check out this bio on Dr. Blackwell. who plays a major role in my novel. Here’s the timeline of the hospital.

But back to Cooper Union. Below you’ll see it as it stands today. Find a map of building here
5) Central Park Central Park, the first public landscaped park in America, is important in Wedded to War. Completed in the 1850s, it’s Charlotte Waverly’s favorite spot in New York City. Irish immigrant Ruby O’Flannery has a different attitude toward the park since she and her family were evicted from their neighborhood (Seneca Village), a community of African American and immigrant citizens, so the land could be appropriated for Central Park. Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted became the executive secretary of the U.S. Sanitary Commission for the first two years of the Civil War, proving his administrative genius and saving thousands of lives. The historical figure Olmsted plays a major role in Wedded to War. Click the image below to see Olmsted’s map of Central Park much larger.
The image below is a Currier & Ives hand-colored lithograph called “Central Park, The Drive,” painted in 1862.

This is the Central Park scene Charlotte Waverly much preferred over a Broadway promenade.
Present Day Central Park

The image below shows Central Park today. Visit the Web site of Central Park, which has maps, events, and other information. They also have a page to show you the Site of Seneca Village.
This concludes the Wedded to War Historic Sites of New York City tour! If I find more, I’ll add them. But my next project will be the Wedded to War Historic Sites of Washington! Wondering what Wedded to War is all about? Click here for an overview and book trailer.

Jocelyn has graciously agreed to a terrific giveaway to one lucky winner: -signed copy of Wedded to War, plus:
- Historic Maps and Views of New York:
-Bricks and Brownstones: The New York Row House

To enter, please leave a comment for Jocelyn about either her book or anything New York City related, with your email addy. For extra entries, you may follow this blog, tweet this post, share on facebook, or follow Jocelyn's blog at
Winner selected Dec 21 7 PM Eastern

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Colonial Quills Holiday Anthology including a chapter by me!

I am thrilled to be taking a part in Colonial Quills' Holiday Anthology. We are offering a holiday gift to our readers over at Through mid-January we have NINE authors contributing to a serial anthology of Christian historical fiction! FREE! Three of the chapters have already gone live--Carrie Fancett Pagels's, Susan F. Craft's and Carla Olson Gade's contributions. Here is the schedule: Part 1 - Inside Fort Providence by Carrie Fancett Pagels (Nov. 5) Part 2 - A Providential Proposal by Susan Craft (Nov. 12) Part 3 - Landlocked by Carla Olson Gade (Nov. 19) Part 4 - Preserve my Life From Fear by Elaine Marie Cooper (Nov. 26) Part 5 - A Gift from Buckskin Samson by (yours truly) Kathleen Maher (Dec. 3) Part 6 - Narrow Passage by Pat Iacuzzi (Dec. 10) Part 7 - Through the Storm by Lynn Squire (Dec. 17) Part 8 - Christmastide by Carrie Fancett Pagels (Dec. 24) Part 9 - Amish Snow by Kelly Long (Dec. 31) Part 10 - Epiphany by Dina Sleiman (January 7)
There is a giveaway associated with EACH serial post. Leave a comment on each one to be entered for a book by Laura Frantz, Susan Craft, and/or Carla Olson Gade. Tomorrow, on Black Friday, we are having a Tea Party on Colonial Quills to celebrate publications by Kelly Long, Dina Sleiman,
and Gina Welborn. We will be announcing the giveaways from the first three serials and also giving away THREE books: copies of a book by Kelly Long, Dina's ebook, and a novella by Gina. We will also have a colonial gift basket for one winner who comes "in character" which always makes things so fun!!! Come on by!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cherish This Christmas by Paula Davis giveaway contest

Christmas is coming! Do these words fill you with joyful anticipation…or dread at the thought of approaching chaos and clutter? On December 31st do you wonder what happened instead of wondering at Christ’s birth? I invite you to cherish Christmas as never before. Journey back in time as you get to know those who were there, and bring new meaning to your own holiday. Cherish This Christmas helps each of us discover our unique role during this precious time of year as we get to know the One whom we celebrate differently…maybe a little better. This year let’s cut through the chaos and choose to... Cherish This Christmas! This collection of daily devotions will take you back to the days of Jesus' birth and help bring more meaning to the chaotic days of December. Through scriptural insight and personal reflection, Paula will help you to Cherish This Christmas. You can purchase the book here at Amazon, the Kindle edition here, or at Paula's CreateSpace store. About the Author: Paula Davis’ writing encourages her readers to apply God’s Word to everyday life. When years of searching for “Mr. Right” left her heart empty, she turned to God for comfort and found so much more. Paula now knows firsthand that completeness and contentment is only found when her eyes are focused on Jesus. She wants others to know this truth as well. Paula loves to share with others what she’s learning about the depth of God’s Love. At Christmas time, you'll find her in Central New York reading, baking or cuddling her little dog, Lucy, while sipping a good cup of coffee. You can follow her blog at The Giveaway To jubilate the release of her debut book, Paula is celebrating and you're invited to join along with her giveaway!

One lucky winner will receive:
  • Two copies of Cherish this Christmas, one to keep and one to give to a friend
  • A $25 Amazon Gift Card
Enter today by heading over to Paula's blog and jumping on the Rafflecopter. But hurry, the giveaway ends on December 15th. Winner will be announced at Paula's website, December 16, 2012.
The author sent me the above book for review purposes. She will allow me to keep the book. I have no other connection to and have received no other compensation from Paula A. Davis.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Grace Greene shares her writing and research process, plus giveaway of 2 ebooks, Nov 10-Nov 17

KATHY: Hi, Grace! Welcome back to History Repeats Itself. I am so excited about your new release. Thank you for your generous giveaway this week, and for sharing a little about your writing process.

GRACE: I’m a history lover, even though my novels are set in contemporary times. Still, I can’t resist incorporating my love of history in different ways.
How do I add in history? What about setting?
Agecroft Hall in Richmond, Virginia was brought over from Lancashire, England about 1925 - a five-hundred-year-old Tudor estate that, like Wynnedower (as in A Stranger in Wynnedower), was shipped across the Atlantic to its new home where it was reconstructed. Near Agecroft Hall is Virginia House, also brought over from England at about the same time. Both Agecroft Hall and the Virginia House are transplanted houses, crated and shipped and reformed on this side of the Atlantic. A lot like Wynnedower.
The Agecroft Hall estate is on the James River, but the water isn’t easily seen. I corrected that in Wynnedower. Wynnedower’s not Tudor, either, but instead, made of gray stone—that soft mellow stone of the Cotswold houses. It’s fictitious. I don’t have to worry about cost and practicality. That’s the joy of world building.
History in a contemporary novel.... What about story props?
I searched the Web and found an Edwardian peach-colored tea gown and a peacock shawl that absolutely had to be in that trunk in the attic for Rachel to find. And when she couldn’t resist, and draped that shawl around her shoulders, she looked into the mirror and saw someone else, mysterious and intriguing. Someone she might like to be. Add in skeleton keys and antique furniture and old paintings...and, wow, did I have a blast writing A Stranger in Wynnedower.
Contemporary novels don’t always have historical elements, but it’s fun when they do.

Story summary for A Stranger in Wynnedower:
Love and suspense with a dash of Southern Gothic...
Rachel Sevier travels to Wynnedower Mansion in Virginia to find her younger brother who has stopped returning her calls. Instead, she finds Jack Wynne, the mansion’s bad-tempered owner. He isn’t happy to meet her. When her brother took off without notice, he left Jack in a lurch.
Jack has his own plans. He’s tired of being responsible for everyone and everything. He wants to shake those obligations, including the old mansion. The last thing he needs is another complication, but he allows Rachel to stay while she waits for her brother to return.
At Wynnedower, Rachel becomes curious about the house and its owner. If rumors are true, the means to save Wynnedower Mansion from demolition are hidden within its walls, but the other inhabitants of Wynnedower have agendas, too. Not only may Wynnedower’s treasure be stolen, but also the life of its arrogant master.
In letting go of what she has struggled to control and hold onto, will Rachel gain more than she could have dreamed? Or will she lose everything and everyone she cares about?

BIO: Grace Greene writes fiction with romance, suspense and inspiration ~ always with a strong heroine at its heart. She is also an artist and photographer. When she's writing, all of these interests show up on the page.

BEACH RENTAL is her debut release. Her second novel, KINCAID'S HOPE, released in January 2012. A STRANGER IN WYNNEDOWER has only just been released. Grace lives in central Virginia.

Grace has generously agreed to give away an ecopy of her new book, A Stranger in Wynnedower to two lucky commenters. Here's what you need to do: Leave Grace a question or comment, and be sure to include your email addy. For more chances to win, "like" Grace's book on amazon, follow her on twitter or facebook, or follow this blog, and share this blogpost on your fb or twitter. That gives you a total of 7 possible entries. Good luck!
The winners will be drawn by on Nov 17th at noon ET.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Interview with Katt Anderson with giveaway of Callie's Mountain, ends Nov 12

Welcome, Katt Anderson! Congratulations on your new book, Callie’s Mountain. We are so happy to have you here this week, and that you have agreed to share a bit about yourself.
Q: brownies, broccoli, tofu (gack!) or strawberries?
Broccoli! Love broccoli. Can’t eat strawberries and brownies makes my middle larger. I’ve never tasted tofu. Broccoli is safe.

Q: When did you first know you were a writer?
Probably in elementary school. I’ve always had an imagination. Definitely in high school.

Q: How do your roles of mother, wife, hobbyist, daughter of Christ, resident of Kentucky, play into your writing?
Everything I do spills into my writing. In Callie’s Mountain, I have a death scene. I took so much of it from my daughter’s death. I had to dig deep into my soul and remember the way I felt when they told us she had passed away. I knew I had to do it for therapy and for the book. Christianity plays a big role in this book. I don’t think I could not write a book and not show Christ’s love for mankind. This book is about a lot of difficulties of a different race, and how people treated them because they were different.
My hobbies are so widespread. I knit, sew, paint, and just about anything I can think of to do. I’ve narrowed it down a lot lately. One thing my husband and I love to do is go back to the old ways, the way our forefather’s did something. We make apple butter every year like our grandparents did. Outside in a brass kettle. It takes all day, but it is so much fun. We have several couples who help us, and it is so good when it’s finished. My grandchildren have all participated in it.
I’ve put a picture and description on my blog, My website is

Q: You love history and literature, as do I. If you could sit down and interview any author from any time, who would that be and what is the first question you would ask?
I would have to interview the Apostle Paul. My first question, “What is your thorn in the flesh?”

Q: Who have been your mentors, and how did they help you most?
Several authors have inspired and encouraged me. Back when I first started, DiAnn Mills and Mindy Starns Clark encouraged me to tell my story, because it needed to be told. Right now, I depend on Sandi Rog and Susan Paige Davis. They have helped me so much during the writing process. Not only have then encouraged me with my story, but taught me writing skills. They are both wonderful authors and wonderful friends.

Q:  What do you hope your readers will take away from your book?
I like to write about the person who is looked down upon. The person who has faults and failures, but doesn’t understand why they can’t be treated equal. I want people to realize that God made us all different, but we all have a purpose. The next book in the Melungeon Series will be more about the Melungeon people and their problems. It’s pronounced Me-lung-eon. The third one includes the Melungeons and the Trail of Tears. I wept when I visited the Trail of Tears monuments in Hopkinsville, KY. It is a very moving experience and the Cherokee Indians were treated so unfairly.

Q: Do you have a question you would like our blog readers to answer?
Of course, my first question would be: Have you bought my book? The second would be: Did you like it? I would like to invite your readers to ask me questions about the Melungeons or any other question they might have. I love talking to people, or writing to them.
Thanks Kathy for inviting me to be a guest on your blog. I will be giving away a book, and I wish everyone could receive one. It’s been a pleasure.

Katt, it is my pleasure to have you here and to get to know a little more about you. Thank you for agreeing to spend time with our readers this week, and for offering a copy of your book as a giveaway.
Okay, for a chance to win, leave a question or answer for Katt, and be sure to include your email addy. For extra chances to win, follow this blog or Katt’s, and post this blog entry to twitter or facebook. That means you have five possible ways to enter. Drawing will be on Monday November 12 at noon ET, where I select a name from from among all the entries. Good luck!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Flight of Fancy by Laurie Alice Eakes and giveaway, ends November 5 noon

Oh, so few books keep you truly guessing until the very last page, and give up their secrets grudgingly one titillating hint at a time. But Laurie Alice Eakes has mastered both intrigue and suspense, dramatic and expertly timed to sweep you to the very heights of anticipation and passion in this thrilling Regency romance.

Cassandra Bainbridge is enamored with learning Greek and physics as much as she is enamored with the man she used to know as Geoffrey Giles, the second son of Lord Whittaker. But when Geoffrey inherits the estate unexpectedly, Cassandra's dreams of aeronautic pioneering come under jeopardy since she must assume an uncomfortable societal role as the wife of an Earl. Soon, not just her dreams are threatened, but her very life, as accidents and intrigue surround both her and Whittaker.

Set in the backdrop of the Luddite rebellion, as well as the advent of ballooning science, this beautiful and stirring story shimmers with details of a rich history. Each page delivers compelling scenes with characters as fascinating and accessible as the best of Masterpiece Theater, or even Downton Abbey. Themes of seeking forgiveness abound--forgiveness from God, from one another, from an unforgiving society, and even from oneself. Flight of Fancy is a rare story that explores the healing grace of God on scars both internal and external, and the difference between love and lust, all done in a beautifully redemptive and uplifting way. I was left with the renewed conviction that there is no past too corrupted for the Lord to make clean, nor any earnest soul too rebellious for God to restore.

If I read this book over and over the rest of my life, I would still be catching the nuance and layers this master storyteller has woven into this superb novel. If ever there was a story that begs for the big screen, it is this. You will not want to miss one savory moment of Flight of Fancy. It will truly take you up from mundane reality and sweep you away!

Enter for a chance to win my gently used copy of this charming romance by leaving a comment with your email addy. Winner will be drawn by on Monday Nov 5th at noon. Extra entries for sharing this on twitter and facebook, as well as for following this blog.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Review A Light in the Window by Julie Lessman and contest

              New England at Christmastime invites a special romance all its own, and this story set in turn of the century Boston captures the imagination and the heart. Characters that fill a literal stage with warmth and endearment, Marceline Murphy and Julie O’Rourke are best friends reunited after several years apart. Right away Julie fills Marcy in on gossip about her brother Sam—Marcy’s schoolgirl crush, and Sam’s handsome and charming best friend Patrick O’Connor. The two are rogues, Southie’s delightful Lotharios. And Marcy vows to stay clear of trouble, until the street-smart and saintly wise Father Fitzgibbons throws them all together as volunteers for the Christmas play.

                Spending time with both of the devilishly charming young men causes Marcy to second-guess her resolve to avoid romance. Both Sam and Patrick vie for her attention and Marcy wants to believe more than anything that Julie’s brother has turned over a new leaf. She dreams of marrying into her best friend’s big, welcoming family and needs little encouragement to fall head over heels for Sam’s flattery. But she can’t quite put Patrick’s devastating good looks and good-hearted gestures from her mind. Two men claim to love her, but only one can possess her heart.

                Set amidst a wonderfully realistic parish of Irish families with charitable outreaches and plot twists, secrets, betrayal, and redemption, this story kept drawing me in with each turn of the page. I couldn’t wait to see what would happen not only to the main characters, but also to a cast as rich and warm as Julie Lessman’s writing is imaginative and lively. From little waifs with precocious tongues to grandmothers who bake oven-fresh treats, Ms. Lessman crafts each of her many unique and memorable characters until they become family. But at the center is a hero as unselfish and deserving as ever a Christmas story depicted since that very first hero born in a manger for the sins of the world.

                I have seldom read a book that exudes all the love, family tradition, and heart-stirring affection that embodies Christmas itself as A Light in the Window beams. This wonderful Christmas romance will warm your holiday season and will stand as a classic for many years to come.

For rules on Julie Lessman's contest, please go to the following link:
Up for grabs are a Kindle Fire, an amazon gift card, and an e-copy of this charming Christmas romance. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Interview with Carrie Fancett Pagels plus giveaway! Ends Oct 23

Carrie Fancett Pagels writes “romantic” Christian historical fiction and is represented by Joyce Hart, Hartline Literary Agency. ACFW MidAtlantic Zone Director. Administrator of the group blog “Colonial Quills” ( and international blog “Overcoming Through Time—With God’s Help” (

Welcome, Dr. Pagels, or as I have been privileged to call you, Carrie  :D

Q: coffee, tea, soft drink, water, or home juiced vegetables?
Until recently it was coffee at breakfast, water all day long, and hot tea in the afternoon.  But I am off coffee now and drink water, tea, and juice throughout the day.

Q: When did you first know you were a writer?
When I was a little girl and finished reading Anne of Green Gables and I wrote an epilogue in the back of my book!

Q: How do your roles of mother, wife, professional, daughter of Christ, resident of Virginia etc. play into your writing? 
                 “Overcoming Through Time—With God’s Help” ( is my blog address. A little over a year ago I began to invite others to join me there. And I have been so blessed to now share this blog ministry with two wonderful American reviewers and two international reviewers!  We are trying to reach people who are dealing with some of life’s difficult blows but with Christ’s help are overcoming—and who enjoy reading Christian fiction as part of that process.  We love sharing writers’/authors’ interviews in which they share their own journeys and difficulties.  We are in the process of renaming our blog because my tagline for my fiction writing is Overcoming Through Time – With God’s Help and we need to use that for my brand spanking new website, which I am very excited about! 
                Recently I realized that I was no longer anyone’s daughter (anyone living) but that I am God’s daughter.  That was a weird feeling to know I no longer have that role. A sad feeling.  As a resident of Virginia I am blessed to have so much cool historical stuff nearby, including Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown Settlement, Yorktown Victory Center, Shirley Plantation, and other great sites!  I was raised in upper Michigan and am a former Yooper, which has greatly impacted my life.  But I was raised by a Kentucky-born mother.  And although my father was Yooper born and bred (and you’d be surprised to know that most are NOT the rednecks they are sometimes portrayed as being) my father’s maternal side was from Kentucky, within a short distance of where my mother’s people lived but they didn’t know that until after they wed. 
                During some genealogical research, which I did because my mother’s side of the family wasn’t well documented, I found out I had ancestors whose nine sons participated in the American Revolution. Between that and living in the colonial triangle of Virginia, that got me started on writing a fictionalized account of these ancestors’ journey to colonial America.  That manuscript and three book proposal is out on submission.  As the administrator and contributor for the group blog “Colonial Quills” ( I love seeing us get out more information about this era and promoting this subgenre in Christian fiction!

Q: You love history, as do I. If you could sit down and interview any figure from any time, real or fictional, who would that be and what is the first question you would ask?
I would want to ask my ancestor, Johan Rousch, who I wrote about.  I’d like to hear why he left Germany to come to the colonies and how he felt about it.  Can I cheat and also ask to meet Susanne, his wife? I find it horribly unfair that he was recognized by the SAR but I don’t believe anything was done by the DAR for her.  And she birthed the nine sons who fought in the American Revolution!

Q: Who have been your mentors, and how did they help you most?

I had AMAZING English teachers growing up in my hometown. The high school teachers, in particular, were so good.  I took the CLEPP exam and was allowed to exempt college English (at age 17.)  However, I ended up enrolled in a freshman English class.  Day one when I arrived at class I was met by the frail and elderly professor and when he heard my name he took me aside.  Told me that my essay was the best he had read, ever, at the college. I think I blinked at him.  I hope I thanked him!  That has never left me.  God must have prompted him to say something.  Within about six weeks he had passed away.  It was rather surreal. When he had asked me my major and I told him psychology he’d seem so disappointed and had encouraged me to write.
I met my agent, Joyce Hart, at the Philadelphia conference Write His Word, four years ago.  She gave me some of the best advice about my writing that I ever could have received.  She took me on as a client in 2011 and I consider her a mentor.
Laura Frantz is someone I consider a mentor although she might scoff at that.  I met her via Rachel Hauck’s directive in an ACFW online class that we track down comparable books to our own MSes.  I found Laura’s “The Frontiersman’s Daughter” for pre-order online.  At first I was like—oh nooooo—someone has something similar to what I am doing. Is it too similar?  Then I got in touch with Laura and we began an email correspondence. I have learned a lot about the everyday life of a published author from her, especially like what it is like to transition over from a non-published writer to author. 
Lena Nelson Dooley gave me a paid critique at the ACFW conference in 2010 and I won a critique with her and did that in 2011.  She was the first person to offer me endorsement, which I will never forget.  She also spent a lot of time with me at conference last year and is such an encouraging person. 
As far as my writing, both Vickie McCollum and Lynn Squire as the leaders of the Fellowship of Christian Writers critique group were the first people to say to me “You are ready to be published.”  Their mentorship was critical in getting me to the next big steps I needed to make from a writer with a ton of unfinished manuscripts to someone who had clarity and purpose and finally moved forward to begin the process of preparing those for publication.

Q:  What do you hope your readers will take away from their time and investment in your books and blogs?
Overcoming With God blog--I hope readers will feel like they had just spent a visit with friends and shared words of encouragement as well as their love of Christian fiction!
In my MSes, which Lord willing will be published, I hope that readers will feel, really feel, what my characters are going through and see how God could deliver the characters and themselves.

Q: Since your blog is about overcoming, can you share with us here what is the biggest thing you have had to overcome and how?
Kathy, what I deal with daily is overcoming, one day at a time, the effects of multiple forms of arthritis.  Only with God’s grace do I literally put one foot in front of the other each day.  I don’t know why He hasn’t (yet!) removed this difficulty from me, but I trust Him.  We also have a child with different issues, but he is doing great—literally overcoming with God’s help, through time!  The hardest thing was when our little guy was in the throes of full blown autism and having meltdown and other unsavory issues and life was a daily horrendous battle.  And no one seemed to understand.  You are isolated and dealing with severe issues that others might have no clue about.  I thank God we are past the most severe stage and that He has enabled us to receive multiple treatments and that He has brought about much healing.
Kathy, you and others ask how I do so many things—I am the ACFW MidAtlantic zone director, have the two blogs, and a special needs child. We also travel and I go to historical sites frequently for research. And I have been completing manuscripts at the rate of about one every seven or eight months, which is getting faster for me.  But because of my physical limitations I am not as mobile as other people. God has limited my span of activities and so my butt in the chair time is likely much higher than other writers’. 
And I want to give a praise here.  Since I started writing this interview only three weeks ago, I have gone through some things that are resulting in improvement in my arthritis symptoms, praise God!  Although some has been really difficult to go through, I am seeing results from where God has taken me and moved me to.  A lot of this is in dealing with food and medication allergies.  And I am on very little medication for my Rheumatoid arthritis right now, thank you Jesus! And my mobility is greatly improving!!!

Kathy, you are such a sweetheart.  Thanks so much for having me on your blog!  Many blessings!

Carrie, you are a delight and an inspiration to me, and to many! Thank you for being so gracious with your time.

In honor of Carrie's visit, and because of our shared love for Colonial history and romance, I am offering our visitors a chance to win a gift basket. Bon bons, a coffee/tea packet and a lovely antique porcelain Colonial figurine reading couple will be mailed to one winner within the United States who leaves a comment or question for Carrie, plus your email addy. You can increase your chance of winning by following either of Carrie's blogs or both, and my blog here, and by sharing this blog post on twitter or facebook. A maximum of six entries per person possible. Winner will be drawn Tuesday Oct 23rd

I have just drawn the winner on and it was #27, which when I calculated all 85 qualified entrants, turns out to be Debbie Lynne Costello! LOL  I hope no one thinks there is any collusion going on here. I truly drew her number fair and square. Congratulations, Debbie Lynne!

Thank you everybody for visiting as we had such a wonderful week with Carrie. Thank you, Carrie, for being such a wonderfully warm guest and for all the wit and wisdom you brought. Lord bless you dear lady as you connect so many in the CBA with your blogs and reviews and gracious personality. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Interview with Debbie Lynne Costello, and two giveaways, Ends Oct 16th

Debbie Lynne is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. She has been mentored by Carol Award Nominee Laurie Alice Eakes and Christy Award Nominee MaryLu Tyndall. To hone her craft she has worked with a private editor. She is an active member of ACFW. She co-founded CROWN Marketing which promotes CBA historicals. Debbie Lynne has two websites and two blogs and works actively on building her platform. She and her husband live in South Carolina with their shelites and near their four children. They often vacation in the Charleston area where her stories are set.

Q: coffee, tea, (diet) soft drink, water, or home juiced vegetables? (gack!)

    LOL! I love my hot tea in the morning. I admit, I’m addicted to my Lipton. I drink a ton of water. Enough that my hubby put an RO unit in our kitchen. Love sweet tea and it loves my hips so I only drink it when we go out to eat.

Q: When did you first know you were a writer?

   That’s a tough question. I started writing stories when I was in about second grade. And to go off on a rabbit trail, my mother saved those stories and gave them to me about a year ago. What an awesome surprise! But back to the question. I took every creative writing class I could in high school, and in college I studied journalism. So I knew I wanted to write as far back as then. But to be a fiction writer? I’m  going to say about 5 years ago when my husband told me I should write a book and I did.

Q: If there were a writing fairy, and you captured her and fed her chocolate coconut cookies until she granted you three wishes, what would those wishes be?

    Yikes! That is a toughie, too. Can one of my wishes be 3 more wishes. LOL. Okay, I think that was a no. 1) I have several friends and family members suffering from some terrible diseases. My first wish would be for total healing for them. (Hope that can count as one wish. I think this is a very generous writing fairy. Heehee) 2) I’d wish for a revival to hit this country like never seen and we’d turn our hearts and face to God as a country. 3) This is a writing fairy so I wouldn’t want to insult her! I’d wish for you and I to go hand in hand both receiving a contract this year. ;o)
Q: How do your roles of mother, wife, cheerleader, patriot, daughter of Christ, resident of (SC) etc. play into your writing? 

     OMGoodness girlfriend! Are you wanting a book? Lol. I’ve learned a lot from being a mother and wife and many of those lessons find their way into my stories. As you know I am a fanatical patriot. I love my country and even though it has many problems it’s still the greatest nation in the world to live in my opinion. So I hope my love for my country shines through by the research I do into its history. Cheerleader and daughter of Christ—is the reason I write. In hope to touch someone’s life when they need it most. I want my work to have purpose, not just entertainment. Though, I do want to entertain, too. Lastly, resident of SC. Most of my stories thus far are set in SC and the one that isn’t, is right next door in Savannah. I love Charleston, South Carolina and I believe it shows in my stories.

Q:  What do you hope your readers will take away from their time and investment in your stories? 

    I try to write stories of real people with real problems. I hope that my story will resonate truth with some readers when they travel through a similar valley that one of my characters has recently taken. And I hope that regardless they will take away something that strengthens their faith in the Lord and help them trust in the promises He’s given us.

Q: You love history, as do I. If you could sit down and interview any figure from any time, real or fictional, who would that be and what is the first question you would ask?

    I’d say Jesus but I’m afraid I’d be speechless with my face buried in the sand. So I think I would say David. I’d love to ask him why God said that he (David) was a man after His (God) own heart. I’d love to know David’s secret. He obviously had many weaknesses to sin. What was it that David had that others in the bible didn’t?

Q: Who have been your mentors, and how did they help you most?

  MaryLu Tyndall was my first mentor. She took the time to tell me what I needed to do as I tried to learn the ropes. She was and is a huge blessing to me, answering my questions, praying for me, and encouraging me. Today she is one of the dearest friends. Laurie Alice Eakes was my next mentor. She helped me so much with my writing. Showed me my weakness and helped me become stronger in those areas. She too has become a very dear friend. God is so good! I’ve made some of the best friends in my life since I’ve started writing.

Q: In the spirit of paying that mentorship forward, do you have any advice for the beginning writer? 

   Read some good books on writing. Ask questions to knowledgeable authors. Be tough! This business isn’t for sissies. You have to have tough skin and be able to take criticism. And lastly, be patient and don’t give up. There are some stories of writers who get published on their first story, but that’s rare. If you don’t get an agent or contract on your first story don’t quit. Listen to what you’re being told and work to fix the problems and keep writing. Chin up!

To learn more about Debbie Lynne, go to her website or blog

Debbie Lynne has graciously offered to do a beautiful basket giveaway for our readers this week. The basket has a pumpkin candle, bath basket with soap, lotion and spray, journal, stationary, HOPE plaque, autumn "believe" mug, "Happy Harvest" hanging, a fall flower necklace, and the book Coming Home by Stacy Hawkins Adams. 
I am doing a second giveaway for another lucky commenter--two of Debbie Lynne's favorites--a Lindt chocolate candy bar and a small box of Lipton Bedtime Story Tea, plus an autumn mug. Perfect for your reading getaway!
To be entered for a chance to win one of our two giveaways, please leave a comment for Debbie Lynne with your email addy. For extra entries, please follow this blog, (see follow button to right side), and/or, and tell us if you tweeted or facebooked this blogpost. 1 entry for each of these. Total of 6 entries possible if commenter follows all three, plus shares on twitter and facebook. Winner will be selected by on Tuesday, Oct 16 at noon EST

We have two winners!! Melanie Dickerson, you have won Debbie Lynne's fabulous fall basket. And Teddy, you have won the tea, chocolate and fall mug. I will send emails shortly! Congratulations, ladies, and thank you to everyone who came and made this such a wonderful week.  Blessings!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Giveaway of Laura Frantz's The Colonel's Lady ends Oct 8

Seldom have I been so immersed in a story world. I am so thankful this was not a quick read for me. It was long, luxuriant, and utterly consuming.

My pool deck, my bedroom, the doctor's office, and every spare minute in the car turned into the Kentucky wilderness this summer. I experienced Roxanna Rowan's vulnerability to heartache, imminent Indian attack, a Spartan existence within the stockade walls of a military fort, but most alarming of all, the dangerous charms of Colonel Cassius Clayton McLinn.

McLinn is a man among men, redoubtable in stature, in reputation, in authority, and in making Roxie's sensible heart betray her. The daughter of a soldier, she proves herself as determined and formidable as he in a contest of wills and of romance.

What I found most appealing was the way the author crafts relationships. Believable and sympathetic supporting cast, such as Bella the freed slave woman who befriends Roxie, almost steal scenes with their pithy humor and poignant roles. The setting itself assumes a character-like quality. The harsh frontier winter slowly yields to the change of seasons, mirroring a theme throughout the story of redemption
from darkness and despairing circumstance.

This is a book that almost defies genre, because it is so much more than a romance, though the romance itself pulled at my heart so relentlessly I could never go long without turning another page. Heart-achingly beautiful and sorrowful and so full of longing, the hero and heroine move beyond sympathetic to saturating, engaging the reader's highest hopes and deepest longings.

And yet, this is a story of the power of hope itself. Hope in God. Hope in the future. Hope in the better angels of our nature. And for me, hope that more novels of this caliber will continue to flow from a master storyteller like Ms. Frantz.

In fact, Laura has a new one out--Love's Reckoning--which promises to be as good or better.
Enter for a chance to win my gently used copy of The Colonel's Lady, and rush out to buy your copy of Love's Reckoning! Leave a comment here for one chance to enter, and follow by blog for another chance, share this post link on facebook or twitter for another. Tell me what you did and how many entries I owe you. :) Winner announced Monday Oct 8th noon EST

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Elmira Female College 1855- present

      One blog post will never be able to tell the story of this innovative and venerable institution. Let this serve as an introduction to an immense topic, and establish the distinction of Elmira's role in pioneering education for women.

      I’ve just read a fantastic book published in 1955 on Elmira College’s centennial called Elmira College: The first 100 years by E. Charles Barber. Written in an engaging and at times almost deadpan humorous way, it chronicles this historic institution which was the very first to offer women a baccalaureate degree equal to that of a man.
       Although Oberlin offered women a baccalaureate in 1837, the difference lies in the academic rigors which Elmira demanded of its female students. From 1855 Elmira offered two courses of study, classical and scientific. In the classical curriculum, a young lady would have studied Greek and Latin, and in the scientific course, only Latin. Both would include mathematics, rhetoric, English literature, philosophy, history and the natural sciences such as botany and astronomy. Add to that optional courses in music and studio art, as well as modern languages.
      Vassar, often cited as another first to offer women a man’s degree, didn’t open until a full decade after Elmira in 1865, and in fact, according to Barber, drew much if its curriculum from Elmira’s. They shared a professor, Charles S. Farrar, who also served as chief architect of the original building in Elmira, Cowles Hall, as well as an observatory which came shortly after. A clear connection exists in the exchanging of ideas between Elmira and Vassar. The chief difference seems to be that Vassar’s patron and namesake funded it far more lavishly than Elmira’s founder Simeon Benjamin could, and therefore earned Vassar greater notoriety.
        Filled with amusing and poignant anecdotes and biographies, Barber’s book brings to life the early college and early Elmira itself. A canal and rail town, Elmira boasted connections, commerce, and culture, but also transient laborers and their seamy amusements. The dual nature of the town demanded a delicate balance for its fair student body, which was achieved under the artful direction of its first president Dr. Augustus Cowles.
        Over 280 pages, this book pays homage to the times in the mid 19th century when progressive ideas fought their way through a white-dominated, patriarchal society, but makes a point that “enlightened” modern historians fail to notice. These progressive ideals were championed by men of deep Christian faith, soft-spoken men of great educations and fine minds who believed deeply in causes such as abolition and equal educational opportunities for women. Here the Victorian standards of modesty and charity for women are treated without the disdain of modern viewpoint.
         This experiment on Prospect Hill in a burgeoning mid-nineteenth century New York rail town proved once and for all that women were capable of great intellectual accomplishment. For women everywhere, Elmira has become a light to the world, a city set on a hill whose light cannot be hidden.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Giveaway: Wedded to War by Jocelyn Green

I am giving away my gently used copy of this fabulous Civil War novel to a random name draw. Leave a comment with your name and email addy. Contest ends Wednesday Sept 26th.

Jocelyn Green is on my figurative dart board. She has written the consummate portrait of a Civil War nurse, and that riles me, as a long-time student and writer of Civil War era fiction. Her attention to detail and stellar research truly saturate each page of this story. Her debut fiction novel is based on the diary of Georgeanna Woolsey, a young lady of privilege from Manhattan who leaves behind her posh salons and world-class dining and theater to forge the way for women to serve the war effort. So my first dart aimed at this author is, I admit, aimed in pure jealousy, because I long to write with that level of immersion.

But the next dart I aimed, instead of jealousy, is all admiration. She has set the bar high, and I aim to meet it. Her heroine Charlotte Waverly has all the pluck necessary to not only leave her pampered life behind, but to take on the most odious work for the Union Sanitary Commission, all under intense persecution from men who view women like her as interlopers, inept and easily dismissed. the background story of love interests, courtship, social and gender prejudices, and of course epic war, keep the tension sizzling on every page.

My dart arsenal fires again for the romance thread--a dead bullseye. She creates a wonderful hero in Caleb Lansing, Charlotte's long-time friend who now serves as a Federal army surgeon. Though we don't get to see him much due to Charlotte's engrossing story and a full cast of characters and subplots, Caleb's presence is felt throughout. He is the one she longs for, the one who represents comfort and goodness and the pursuit of her dreams. His acceptance and encouragement of her avocation in a world dominated by men makes him truly heroic--the reader will keep going to the very end to see how they overcome courtship rivalry, war logistics, sickness, and their own insecurities to find their happily ever after.

And finally, one last dart aimed at Ms. Green's way of making each character three dimensional and sympathetic--even the antagonistic Mr. Phineas Hastings. I loved her treatment of the Irish immigrant, Ruby, whose husband serves in the NY "Fighting" 69th. Since my own great grandfather John Cronin served in the 69th it held personal interest to me. Glimpses into Frederick Law Olmsted, the head of the Sanitary Commission, and also the hospital chaplain Edward Goodrich add dimension to the story.

This really is a must read for any student of the Civil War, of women's rights, and of the advent of modern medicine. Meticulously researched and engaging, Wedded to War hits the mark on every score.

CONGRATULATIONS, Jes, your name has been drawn by generator to win our giveaway! I will be emailing you shortly.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Giveaway of Short-Straw Bride by Karen Witemeyer, ends Monday July 16

Drama, Chemistry, Action!
Did I say chemistry? Oh, mercy, does this book cook on a Bunson burner of romance and suspense!

Meredith has loved Travis Archer since she was a child, rescued by his gallantry after schoolyard bullies caused her a mishap on Archer land. A decade later, she must come to his rescue when a wicked man's ambition puts the Archers in the crosshairs. Her unchaperoned arrival would compromise her reputation unless one of the bachelor brothers agrees to marry her. The Archer men draw straws for her hand, and the rest of the story explodes off the page with color, effervescence and sizzle you won't want to miss!

Passion abounds in Texas between a rugged rancher and one feisty girl. Travis must learn to release the death grip he holds on everything under his control. Behind his uber-masculine facade beats a deliciously vulnerable heart, one that the reader will latch onto with the same tight hold. Meri longs to believe that she is desirable and not merely a responsibility. The emotion and tension simmer until that last satisfying page turn.

This is the best book yet by a very gifted writer, Karen Witemeyer. Still holding my smelling salts close after swooning hard for this one!

I have read all of Karen's books, and this is my favorite so far. She holds a Masters degree in Psychology, and it really shows in the depth of her characterization.  I really wanted to keep my influencer copy, but then I decided this story is so good, someone else deserves a chance to read it. I am giving my gently used copy away to one random commenter, to be chosen on Monday, July 16th. Please be sure to leave your email addy with your comment so I can contact the winner.