I do not read every book/author I spotlight or book tour I host!
Readers, Please research and use wisdom before buying

Saturday, November 27, 2021

#SaturdaySpotlight is on Kathleen Neely @NeelyKneely3628 & Arms of Freedom!

Good Morning!

I pray your Thanksgiving was Blessed and you're not too worn out from Black Friday shopping to welcome our spotlight guest. Kathleen Neely has visited before but today she's sharing with us her latest release, Arms of Freedom.

Welcome back Kathleen...

With each page of the age-old journals, Annie discovers all that unites her with a woman who once lived in her farmhouse. One lived with wealth and one with poverty, but both knew captivity. Both longed to be free. 

Miriam yearns to escape her life as a super model. She drops the pseudonym and uses the name she gave up years ago—Annie Gentry. Then she alters her appearance and moves to rural South Carolina to care for her grandmother. Can she live a simple life without recognition? Can she hide a net worth valued in the millions? Love is nowhere in her plans until she meets a man who wants nothing more than Annie Gentry and the simple life he lives.

Charlotte lived in the same farmhouse in the tumultuous 1860’s. The Civil War was over, but for a bi-racial girl, freedom remained elusive. She coveted a life where she wouldn’t bring shame to her family. A life where she could make a difference. As she experiences hope, will it be wrested from her?

The journals stop abruptly with a climactic event, leaving Annie to search for information. What happened to Charlotte? Did her life make a difference?  Did she ever find freedom?


The key turned in the lock, but the attic door still required a strong arm to open it. Years of dried paint scraped the door jamb. The bottom rebelled against the threshold, clearly in need of a carpenter to sand it down or re-align it. She propped it open, hit the light switch and immediately met years of stagnant air. A musty smell caught in her throat activating a gag reflex. She coughed, then hoisted the cardboard boxes to shield her nose and mouth. As the still air began to dance in its new freedom, the disturbed dust mites floated in dull light beams. She’d have to deal with this sometime. She’d take the boxes and drop them upstairs. The attic needed a good airing out before she could look around. With the boxes held high in her arms, Annie climbed the steep wooden stairs.

The dim light cast shadows, enough to know that the room wasn’t empty. Annie plopped the boxes down and felt along the wall for another light. Instead, she found a string dangling from a single bulb mounted on the ceiling. She tugged the string and the room came to life revealing a lightly-cluttered attic. Sheets covered surfaces in their attempt to protect them from years of dust. Her initial inclination was to leave this for another day. Or another year. Low priority with all she had to do.

Yet something compelled her to stay. A few boxes and a storage chest. You would expect those in an attic. But a large section of the room held an air of familiarity. Children’s furniture had been stacked against one wall. A wooden table, four chairs, two turned upside down to nest on the other two, and a bookshelf. A carpet, about six-foot square, spread out on the floor in front of the furniture. Why was everything so familiar? She had only visited here twice when she was around five years old. And she was certain she’d never been in the attic. Eleanor would not have allowed it.

Annie opened an old chest that sat on the carpet. She lifted the dusty lid and saw the toys, mostly wood and metal. A toy tea set, a sorry looking stuffed teddy bear, and wooden building blocks with faded alphabet letters. A smaller chest sat beside it. She picked up a yo-yo, the string discolored and stiff, marbles in a cardboard box, a metal spinning top, void of color. These were definitely old, perhaps antiques. She lowered the lid, puzzling over this discovery. Another box held two items, both wrapped in cloth. She lifted one and removed the flannel to discover a baby doll. An image formed in her mind. She had seen this doll. She was certain of it. She could see a vision of the doll sitting on one of the wooden chairs. She knew she’d find another when she unwrapped the other flannel—one with red, curly hair.

As she unpacked the second doll, it all came back to her. A picture. She’d seen the items in a painting at Nana’s home, the home she had in Pittsburgh before she moved to Roswell House Assisted Living. The painting mirrored Andrew Wyeth’s style of down-home realism with rustic details. The table and chairs on the same carpet where Annie stood today, the tea set in the center, and two dolls seated with teacups before them. The gritty window in the background of the picture with its yellow-gold curtains matched the window a few feet away. The gold had faded to a drab shade and held years of dust, but it was the same curtain. The same window. That meant a child’s play area had been in this attic. Why would anyone set up a playroom in an attic? Or perhaps this space served as an artist studio, the dolls and tea set staged for a picture. But another thought marched to her brain. Her grandmother’s words. Those walls hold secrets.

Annie turned and pulled the string, extinguishing the upstairs light, then made her way back down the steps to the other light switch. She shoved the scraping door closed, still baffled about the set up. Who had painted the picture that hung in her grandmother’s kitchen? The locked door and separated key indicated that renters had no access. Had her grandmother locked this area away when she left over two decades ago?

Kathleen Neely is a retired elementary principal, and enjoys time with family, visiting her two grandsons, traveling, and reading.

She is the author of The Street Singer, Beauty for Ashes, The Least of These, Arms of Freedom, and In Search of True North. Kathleen won second place in a short story contest through ACFW-VA for her short story “The Missing Piece” and an honorable mention for her story “The Dance”. Both were published in a Christmas anthology. Her novel, The Least of These, was awarded first place in the 2015 Fresh Voices contest through Almost an Author. She has numerous devotions published through Christian Devotions.

Kathleen continues to speak to students about writing and publication processes. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. 

Find out more about Kathleen by visiting her Website or connecting with her on  Facebook, Twitter  & Instagram.

Check out Kathleen's previous visits to our blog HERE!

Get your copy of Arms of Freedom at Amazon.

Congrats on your new book, Kathleen, it sounds amazing! We wish you the best of luck and God's blessings with it and all of your writing.

Hope you enjoyed Kathy's spotlight friends and that you'll check back weekly for Wednesday Words with Friends and Saturday Spotlight. 

Until next time take care and God bless.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

#WednesdayWordswithFriends Welcomes @KarenMalley Karen Malley!


I pray your TG week has been going well. I'm making potato salad and banana pudding to go with Gumbo for family meals this week. Yeah, I know, Gumbo is not traditional Thanksgiving meals but it's what everyone wants. Except me. I'll eat it but Gumbo is not my favorite food. No worries though, just being with family makes any meal wonderful.

Speaking of wonderful, it's such a pleasure to introduces today's guest. Karen visited in April so please welcome her back.

Psalm 118:1

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.



Last year I wrote a devotional about how Thanksgiving was different in 2020. No big family gatherings, no mismatched tables strewn end to end across the dining room with aunts and uncles and cousins. A year later, we’re in a different place. Still not back to where we were in 2019, but not where we were last year, either. We all have nostalgia from Thanksgivings past. Many of those we’ve celebrated with in past years are no longer with us. Our reasons to be grateful are still present, however. God is faithful, and is in control, and deserves our gratitude for the blessings we still enjoy.


Gratitude has been scientifically proven to make us happier, increase our self-esteem, improve our relationships – with family, friends, and even make us more effective at work. In addition, gratitude improves our health – reducing depressive symptoms, reducing blood pressure, and improving our sleep! With all these benefits, God certainly knew what he was talking about when he said:


1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.


No matter what your Thanksgiving looks like this year, take the time to be grateful.


 As the apostle Paul said in 1 Colossians 3:15-17, help us to remember the following:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.


Praying you have a blessed Thanksgiving, no matter what it looks like!


Here’s a short Thanksgiving excerpt from my latest novel, Sunflowers and Suspicions:

Thanksgiving morning, Julie packed up the pies she baked the previous evening and made the thirty-minute drive to her parent’s house. Yes, Matt’s family invited her, as Mia foretold, but today represented a turning point in her family, and she couldn’t miss it. When was the last holiday Amy was home? It was hard to remember.

When she opened the front door, the smell of roasted turkey greeted her. Her father rose from his recliner and squeezed her tight. “It’s so good to have all my girls here.” Julie hugged him back and peered over his shoulder into the kitchen beyond.

“Amy’s already here?”

“She came last night. Said she wanted to help out.” Harold nodded at the ladies in the kitchen. “She and your mother worked together all morning.”

A twinge of guilt flitted through Julie’s stomach. “I’m sorry. I should’ve come earlier.”

“Nonsense,” Harold said. “This is good for them.”

He was right. Amy never spent time in the kitchen with their mother. Julie carried the bag with the pies into the kitchen and hugged her mother and sister. “It smells great, you two. What can I do to help?”

Soon Julie was peeling potatoes and the small family started reminiscing about Thanksgivings when the girls were growing up. Even Harold left his recliner to help, despite the close quarters of the kitchen.

When the meal preparations were over, the Wagners carried the food to the dining room table and Harold asked the blessing.

“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for this bounty of food, and thank you for surrounding me with these three lovely ladies. Thank you for bringing our girls home. Amen.”


Blurb for Sunflowers and Suspicions

A Deception Revealed ...

When Julie Wagner's identical twin Jade goes missing, Julie travels to New York pretending to be her sister so she can discover the truth. There, she meets the only person who has ever been able to tell them apart. Together, can she and her sister's neighbor unravel a shady restaurant owner's mysteries and find Jade?

A Fractured Family Healed ...
Matt Callahan has lived across the hall from Jade Wagner for a year, but never understood the pain behind her eyes. When her sister appears in his apartment building, he is amazed at the differences he sees in the twins. As he helps Julie find her twin, he discovers she just might be the answer to helping his own fractured family.

Sunflowers and Suspicions is the third book of the Pine Springs Series, but all the books can be read as standalone novels. Get your copy at Pelican Book Group or Amazon.

Karen lives in Southeastern Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. She works full time as a scientist, but enjoys writing in her spare time whenever she can find some! When not writing (with her left hand), she enjoys baking, volunteering at her church, camping, hiking, playing board games, and reading. She loves reading faith-based stories, because we can all use a happy ending.

Find out more about Karen by visiting her Website and connecting with her on Twitter, FaceBook, GoodReads and BookBub.

Thank you for the lovely post and excerpt Karen. We certainly wish you the best of luck and God's blessings in all things.

And, Thank You, Friends for stopping by. Oh, btw, Keri's Christmas Wish is available in audio! I have free codes for anyone who will review the book. Comment here or email me.

Until next time, take care and God bless.


Saturday, November 20, 2021

#SaturdaySpotlight is on Izzy James & Garrett

Good Morning and Welcome!

As we head into Thanksgiving week, let's take an extra few moments each day to meditate on what we're grateful for. For me, dear friends, that's YOU! 

Today's guest have been in our spotlight a few times and now Izzy James returns with a sneak peek into her latest release Garrett ~ a Yorktown Christmas Time Travel Novella. Take it away Izzy!

Garrett Tyler thought he was leaving Ballard House for home, secure in the knowledge that love had finally won-out for his long-time friend Olivia. He steps out the door and into the past, 1769 to be exact. While finding his bearings Garrett stumbles upon a beautiful woman being attacked. He makes sure she gets home and because of his kindness, she allows him to stay in an outbuilding—even believing his time travel story—while he figures out how he will get back to his life in the future. The more time they spend together, the deeper friendship they build, but one thing is going to rip her world apart.

Mercy Hansford is a confidant, independent woman running her own tailor shoppe. Her world is shaken when she is brutally attacked after delivering one of her sought-after shirts. The consequences of this night could be more far-reaching than either of them can guess.

Should Mercy trust a man she barely knows?


Max shimmered by him as Garrett stepped down from the back steps into what should have been the back yard. His foot landed on a polished wooden floor instead of the grass he’d helped plant at the Ballard House. A room took shape around him. The chamber was as Olivia’s grandmother had described. Windows on three sides. A piano decked one wall. It must be Max’s conservatory. Max must have come back through time once again to meet Olivia. Garrett spun to follow Max, to see the look on Olivia’s face. It was only, what, an hour ago she’d told him she’d despaired of ever seeing Max again? One look into the adjoining room stopped him cold. 

It was all wrong. The room was full. Furniture. Papers. Books. Stu. All the historic houses he knew were basically empty accept for a few well chosen period pieces. He grabbed his head to ground the floating. 

An Elizabethan voice sounded from somewhere beyond the door. Garrett dodged back into the conservatory. 

A lurch in his stomach told Garrett his organs were all in place. He flattened palms against his middle and decided then and there that beaming around the universe was definitely not for him. 

Garrett dropped to get as far below the wall of windows facing him as he could. He slipped into a corner next to a table with long legs to gather his thoughts. He ducked under the table as a man dressed in breeches and large white shirt stepped into the room. 

“He’s not here.” The man called back. Spun on his heel and left. 

Garrett slid moist palms down his cotton pants and tried to calm his breathing. At least he’d arrived at whatever time this was in his docent costume. He pulled out his phone. 

No bars. Full battery . 

He rolled his eyes. Of course there were no bars. He didn’t know what year it was, but by the looks and sounds of things it had to be the seventeen somethings. 

Fear clenched his stomach. What would they do if they found him with a phone? 

Izzy James is the pen name of Elizabeth Chevalier Hull. Elizabeth grew up in coastal Virginia surrounded by the history of the founding of our nation. She still lives there with her fabulous husband in a house brimming with books.

Connect with Izzy via her Website, FaceBook, Instagram  izzy.james, Gab @izzy_james, or by signing up to receive her Newsletter.

Get your copy of Garrett at Amazon.

Thanks for stopping by friends! Hope to see you next week for another edition of Wednesday Words with Friends and Saturday Spotlight.

Until then, take care and God bless.


Wednesday, November 17, 2021

#WednesdayWordsWithFriends ~ A Personal Post

Good Morning,

I'm currently sitting at the table in a brand new camper looking out as the sun rises over the trees at Indian Creek campground in Woodworth, LA. Such a beautiful place!

Since I joined Bryan Cohen's Amazon Ad School, life has been filled with learning a whole lot about covers and sales pages, writing ad copy and researching then setting up ads. Whew!

Therefore, this post will be a short and sweet update.

Tempered Truth is now available in Audio and I have codes for a free audiobook in return for a review.

I proofed and approved the files for Keri's Christmas Wish audiobook. It should be available for listening within a couple of weeks so if you want a code for that book too, just let me know and I'll put you on a list and send it to you ASAHP.

I've completed the first draft of Kyleigh's Cowboy and sent it out for feedback from my critique partners. The plan is an early 2022 release so I'll keep you updated on that!

That's about all for today. My newsletter will go out tomorrow for those of you who've signed up. I'll be asking for feedback from my subscribers and (at least) one lucky person will win a gift card to use for themselves or help with their Christmas shopping. So if you haven't signed up, do so now!

That's about it for now. I'll have a guest post next Wednesday so I'll take a moment to wish you and yours a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!

Before I sign off, I'd like to share with you a lovely Children's Christmas Book I received from my narrator. I've read and reviewed Fraser the Fir and it will make a lovely gift for children or grandchildren. Check it out!

Be sure and tune in for this week's Saturday Spotlight! Until next time, take care and God bless.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

#SaturdaySpotlight is on Katie Clark @KatieClarkBooks & her Upcoming Release - A Dim Hope!

Good Morning,

Today's guest is not new to our blog but hasn't been here in a while so please welcome Katie Clark back with a peek into her upcoming release, A Dim Hope!

Amber is in trouble. Her sister is dying—and so is her homeland. 

The Lifeforce stones that power their world are waning, and no one knows why. When the rulers of the land prepare a scientific expedition to study the place where the veins of the Lifeforce run deep, Amber’s
master forces her to travel as a servant with the expedition. Though Amber has longed to live a life of adventure, her dream always included her sister. Now her only wish is to return home with 
a cure before it’s too late.

Crops are wilting, food is scarce, and sandstorms, avalanches, and earthquakes threaten to doom the expedition. Besides this, there are more sinister forces at work. Quiet arguments and missing supplies lead Amber to believe their efforts are being sabotaged. She uncovers clues, but the real source of their trouble—and hope—lies in places she never expected.

KATIE CLARK started reading fantastical stories in grade school and her love for books never died. Today she reads in all genres; her only requirement is an awesome story! She writes young adult speculative fiction, including her romantic fantasy novel, The Rejected Princess, her Beguiled Series, and her dystopian Enslaved Series. 

Check out Katie's other books and watch for news on this upcoming release by visiting her Website or following her Amazon Author Page or connecting with her on FaceBook or Twitter @KatieClarkBooks 

Sounds like another amazing book, Katie! We certainly wish you the best of luck and God's blessings with it.

Thanks for stopping by friends. Hope to see you next week for another edition of Wednesday Words with Friends and Saturday Spotlight. 

Until next time, take care and God bless.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

#WednesdayWordsWithFriends Welcomes Carolyn Miller!

Good Morning and Welcome!

Carolyn Miller was in our spotlight back in June with a peek into her latest novel, Dusk's Darkest Shores. Today she brings us the story behind the story. Take it away, Carolyn...

While most stories set in Regency England focus on the rich, the young, and the beautiful, award-winning author Carolyn Miller decided she wanted to give readers something different for a change. Her new Regency Wallflowers series follows the commoners, away from the hustle and bustle of 1810s London, out in the Lake District of England. The new trilogy begins with Dusk’s Darkest Shores (Kregel Publications/May 18, 2021/ISBN: 9780825446535/$15.99), which tells the story of a meek wallflower who finds herself helping a returning war hero whose dreams have been plunged into darkness.


Q: Please introduce us to your new Regency Wallflowers series, and specifically to your latest release, Dusk’s Darkest Shores.

After writing nine books in the Regency Brides trilogies, I wanted to focus on stories that were less about the rich, beautiful, and titled aristocracy and more about ordinary people. Specifically, I wanted to tell the stories of women who were slightly older and who were considered “wallflowers” or those with very few, if any, matrimonial prospects. I have found that Regency fiction is often populated by an amazing number of single, rich, young, and handsome dukes instead of these far more relatable women and situations. With the Napoleonic Wars having killed many young men in Regency times, it seems a fair assumption that not all women would have married, so I wanted this new series to focus a little more on what that would have been like, and the challenges a woman might have faced given these extremely limited circumstances.

For Mary Bloomfield, the heroine of Dusk’s Darkest Shores, she is crucially aware that her age and situation mean she is unlikely to wed. She helps her father, the local doctor, and is content with her lot in life, until Adam Edgerton, a local war hero, returns. He’s the victim of an insidious disease which has crippled his prospects. As Mary helps Adam fight to find a future, frustration and antipathy develop into friendship and esteem, then into something deeper. This story is set in England’s beautiful Lake District, and the setting as well as the social and medical challenges of that time make for fascinating reading—something I really enjoyed researching, and I’m sure readers will enjoy too.


Q: What drew you to write Regency fiction? What are some of the popular trademarks of stories set in the time period? 

I’ve been a fan of Jane Austen’s works for many years (decades!), and then my sister introduced me to Georgette Heyer, a British novelist whose books essentially established the Regency genre. Once I started reading Heyer, well, I knew I had found my niche. After writing several prize-winning contemporary romance stories, I was told that US publishers wouldn’t want them due to their Australian settings and characters, so I challenged myself to write a Pride and Prejudice–style novel, with some of Georgette Heyer’s wit, and an unapologetic faith thread. That first book drew a publisher’s attention and became The Elusive Miss Ellison, the first book in the Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace series, which led to two more Regency Brides series.

Some of the hallmarks of Regency fiction include the focus on aristocracy and its trappings, such as the country estate and the town house, balls, and marrying for money versus marrying for love. Many of these books try to emulate Georgette Heyer’s witty dialogue, and focus on the importance of social behavior and its impact on society as much as on the details of gowns. It seems rare to find Regency fiction that focuses on the lives of the working classes or those for whom finances were not so easy to attain, probably because it doesn’t offer the glamour of a Mr. Darcy–type strolling around the hallowed halls of his magnificent Pemberley estate. Many of those Jane Austen–style romances lead people into a fantasy of life in the Regency era. While I’ve written my share of fairy-tale-type fiction, I like to write stories that present relatable people with realistic challenges, woven with faith, love, and humor.


Q: Tell us more about England’s Lake District in the 1810s. What was life like for women especially?

Like many places of this time, the Lake District in the north of England was suffering the effects of many of its men being involved in war, which severely impacted the small villages and rural farming communities. These sheep-tending communities saw the women take on roles that perhaps were not considered as usual when the men were around and able to fulfil their farming and regular duties.

For many women in this time period, their lives were certainly not focused on the latest fashions from London but rather on ensuring they had enough food to feed their families by whatever means possible. Families might grow some of their own food, but many women had to turn their hand to whatever they could to make ends meet. It was a hard life, a very practical life, with little room for whims and fancies, especially for those in the middle and lower classes. That is why village functions such as dances were considered the ultimate in entertainment. Women were often at the beck and call of their family and social obligations, with little room for indulging the softer emotions, let alone the luxury of falling in love.

Q: Can you tell us more about your leading lady, Mary Bloomfield, who is quite self-sufficient and, in some ways, independent?

As the daughter of the local doctor, Mary Bloomfield is put into situations that many “proper” young women would never be exposed to. But as her practical, no-nonsense father values her commonsense and useful ways, she is placed in circumstances most unusual for a woman. This includes the preparation and mixing of medicines, as well as the care of patients that leads her to adopt far more independent conduct than most other women her age and younger.

Mary is naturally compassionate; her older age, steady temperament, and caring nature mean she is well respected in the community, allowing her some degree of leeway from the usual social expectations. Like Elizabeth Bennet, she is partial to an unchaperoned stroll, although Mary always has a purpose, such as visiting a sick neighbor, and usually has her basket on hand (filled with medicine or supplies).


Q: What are Mary’s views on marriage? Does being past “marriable age” bother her?

In Regency times, many women were thought to be “left on the shelf” if they remained unwed many years past twenty. Mary is wryly aware of her lack of marriageability, especially as she is older and is considered less attractive than other single ladies in the village. She has accepted her lot in life, is content, and has quite given up any notions of romance.

She does not allow this to bother her, instead busying herself in good works, helping her father with his work, visiting the sick in their community, and helping to care for them in the little cottage infirmary that is part of their house. She’d rather use her time for the benefit of others than wistfully daydream on what she knows can never be.


Q: The Bloomfield sisters at first appear to have many differences but are more alike in some ways than they would ever like to admit. Can you tell us a little bit about the sisters and how they butt heads?

Mary’s own mother died when she was very young, so when her father remarries and another daughter is born many years younger than Mary, it is not surprising that they don’t always see eye to eye. Joanna Bloomfield seems to be somewhat spoiled and focused on flirting and fashion. Mary is keen to encourage her sister to think of how her time could be spent more productively—which is not always well received. One of their chief challenges concerns how Joanna treats her would-be suitor, and they also clash over Joanna’s friend Emily and the advice Mary offers her when Emily’s injured sweetheart returns from war. 

Deep down, Joanna has a moral compass almost as strong as Mary’s own, and she is equally candid in her assessment of what she perceives as Mary’s shortcomings. But she is also loyal and loving, and doesn’t hesitate to step beyond the realm of propriety to interfere when it seems as if Mary is about to lose it all. I enjoy writing stories about sisters, having a sister of my own and two daughters. It’s the ups and downs of such relationships that readers have responded to so well, especially in sister-based series such as Regency Brides: Daughters of Aynsley. I’m sure readers will connect warmly with these sisters in Dusk’s Darkest Shores, too.


Q: How does Mary’s faith play a role in her daily life? What kind of spiritual promptings does she receive?

Mary is a Christian, someone who tries to follow what Jesus says in her daily life and practice rather than merely offering lip service and an appearance in church each Sunday. She wrestles with her faith, believing far more than what the church edicts allow for, especially in things pertaining to healing and the like.

Mary prays, pauses to listen for a response, and is quick to follow those inner urges to do certain things, such as visit a particular villager or pray for someone. She is conscious that the Holy Spirit has used her to see others healed in the past, and this has built confidence that God will use her in this way again. I love the fact that I can use fiction to talk about some very true things, and some of the incidents mentioned in this book reflect the healings my husband and I have seen in our ministry work.


Q: Adam Edgerton comes back from the war with an illness that has changed his life. What challenges would someone in Adam’s situation face in 1811?

For the men who fought during the Napoleonic Wars, there were many diseases that could fell more soldiers than bullets would. Flushing sickness, or Walcheren fever, was one of those illnesses. Very little was known about it at the time, given that it held similar characteristics to malaria, typhoid, and typhus. The lack of medical knowledge meant there was a lack of medical assistance to be offered, leading to thousands of men dying from disease rather than war. Some of these men who recovered enough were then sent from the Netherlands to fight in Portugal, while others were forced to return to England, where they continued to be plagued by fevers which gradually weakened many of the men and led to early graves.

For soldiers like Adam, who were used to being strong, healthy, and independent, being forced to become dependent on others would have felt humbling. To lose one’s hope is one of the most devastating things in life, and for returned soldiers who could not fulfill the roles they always imagined themselves doing, it was traumatic. How could one provide for a family if you could not keep a job? In 1811, obviously the social and financial situations of families and individuals were not supported by a form of social security, so it became very necessary to rely on the support of one’s neighbors and the church. For men returning from war who were facing physical, mental, and emotional challenges, their transition back into a peaceful community would have been most trying. Not only were they facing the impact of illness and injury on their own lives but also on their families, including such things as the future legacy of a farm that had existed in the family for generations. 


Q: Mary’s father is the town doctor who treats Adam. Can you tell us more about the medical treatments of the day and what kind of training doctors would have? How much research did you have to do in regard to that part of the story?

In Regency times there were a number of ranks of medical professionals. A surgeon was often apprenticed to an older doctor, learning on the job to eventually attain a role equivalent to our modern-day general practitioners. An apothecary is like our modern-day pharmacist, and they mixed herbs and the like to create medicines to be sold to the public. A physician underwent the most training of all and was skilled in such things as anatomy, physiology, and surgery, and had experience in hospitals. Some of the best hospitals for training included Guy’s Hospital in London (where poet John Keats studied) and Edinburgh, where Mary’s father trained.

Medical treatments in the Regency era varied, as did their effectiveness. Doctors might not receive a great deal of formal education, but they could be well versed in the use of folk remedies and practices that had proved themselves in the past. Without anesthesia, antiseptics, or antibiotics, doctors used a blend of observation, experience, and whatever training they had to diagnose and treat patients. I found The Complete Herbal by Nicholas Culpeper to be extremely helpful in understanding some of the treatments of the day, such as the use of flowers like feverfew in reducing inflammation and temperature. Reading some of the journals, letters, and medical accounts of those suffering from Walcheren fever were invaluable in understanding more about the disease. It was really interesting to weave Regency-appropriate medical knowledge and treatments into this story, and to detail the making of some of the medicines.


Q: Due to his condition, Adam finds himself in some dark places, in more ways than one. What does he struggle with spiritually?

One of the biggest questions a person can face when confronted with challenging circumstances is “Why is this happening to me?” Linked to this is the question of purpose, and when one’s purpose seems to be ripped away, the question becomes, “Who am I anymore?” Adam always thought he’d be a certain type of person and have a certain kind of life, and when the consequences of war affect this, he’s forced to confront these questions of purpose and lost hope.

Connected to this is his challenge to trust God when he feels like God has failed him. It takes time for him to realize that God has placed people in his life who can help him envisage a new future, learn to trust God (and those people), and understand that God’s ways and a future entrusted to Him can lead to a life so much greater than what we can know or understand.


Q: How does the relationship between Mary and Adam evolve from nurse and patient to friends?

Mary is no simpering, fainthearted miss—she might appear meek to some people, but she is well able to speak honestly and with bluntness. Adam needs someone like Mary to speak the truth others are too afraid to, and he reluctantly starts to appreciate the fact that she doesn’t tiptoe around him. Her ability to help him almost like a modern-day physical therapist means they spend a great deal of time together. He soon learns to value her wry humor and kind ways, and he discovers that the things he once thought important were less than necessary after all. They ultimately are a great match of wit, intelligence, faith, and others-focused service, which deepens their friendship into esteem and then love.

I enjoyed writing and developing these scenes, and have had early readers and endorsers write to me to say they found the final scenes of Dusk’s Darkest Shores to be among the most romantic they have read, so I hope other readers enjoy this too.


Q: Without sharing too much, what kind of scandal do Mary and Adam find themselves in?

In Regency times it was considered somewhat scandalous for a single man and woman to spend time alone together. Even writing a letter to a single gentleman or lady would raise eyebrows! So, when one of Mary’s training sessions goes awry, they are forced to explain themselves in the only socially acceptable way possible—for which Mary does not wish to oblige.

Older, wiser, and already aware that she is “on the shelf,” Mary is unwilling to bow to social expectations and accept the role her small-minded village neighbors think she now must play. She has now realized that she does not want scandal or the opinions of others to influence the rest of her life, and she is willing to pay the price, heartbreaking as that might be. It was really good to write a story of an empowered woman, someone who stood against the societal flow and made her own choices, given that wasn’t an option for many women at that time at all.


Q: What can readers expect as the Regency Wallflowers series continues? What else can your readers look forward to later this year?

I’ve really loved turning the focus from aristocratic foibles to those situations and people that are far more relatable. Next year sees the release of Midnight’s Budding Morrow, a Gothic-inspired romance set in a crumbling castle by the sea in Northumberland, which delves into matters of belonging, acceptance, and family. The following year sees the release of Dawn’s Untrodden Green, which sees a very different Regency wallflower encounter someone who may change her mind about marriage, in a book I consider to be one of my most humorous yet.

Later this year, I’m launching two more contemporary releases as part of the Independence Islands series, Regaining Mercy (about what happens when a failed reality TV star returns to her narrow-minded community) and Restoring Hope  (which asks whether opposites who attract can ever really last). Just in time for New Year’s, I have another contemporary romance releasing, The Break Up Project, the first in the Original Six series, set in Boston and involving a preschool teacher and a hockey player.

Lots of happy reading ahead!

Learn more about Carolyn at www.carolynmillerauthor.com, or find her on Facebook (Carolyn Miller Author)Instagram (@CarolynMillerAuthor), and Twitter (@CarolynMAuthor)

Hope you enjoyed Carolyn's interview as much as I have, friends and that you'll check back weekly for more Wednesday Words with Friends and another Saturday Spotlight. 

Until next time, take care and God bless.


Saturday, November 6, 2021

#SaturdaySpotlight is on Lynn Austin @LynnNAustin & The Wish Book Christmas!

Good Morning!

We've been bombarded with Christmas since July and, baby, it's cold outside so what better time than to feature the lovely and talented Lynn Austin with her nostalgic Christmas novella, The Wish Book Christmas to remind us all of the true meaning of Christmas. Take it away, Lynn....

Best friends Audrey Barrett and Eve Dawson are looking forward to celebrating Christmas in postwar America, thrilled at the prospect of starting new traditions with their five-year-old sons. But when the 1951 Sears Christmas Wish Book arrives and the boys start obsessing over every toy in it, Audrey and Eve realize they must first teach them the true significance of the holiday. They begin by helping Bobby and Harry plan gifts of encouragement and service for those in their community, starting by walking an elderly neighbor’s yellow Lab—since a dog topped the boys’ wish list for Santa.

In the charming tale that follows, Audrey and Eve are surprised to find their own hearts healing from the tragedies of war and opening to the possibility of forgiveness and new love.

Excerpt: Harry finished his lunch first, leaving the crusts of his bread behind. Bobby copied him—he hated the dry
crusts, too—then followed him into the living room, after putting his dishes in the sink. They were trying 
to decide what to play when Harry spotted a colorful magazine on the coffee table that hadn’t been there when they’d left for kindergarten that morning. “Look, Bobby! That’s Santa Claus—see? He’s the one who’s going to bring us toys for Christmas. Now do you remember?”

Bobby picked up the magazine and studied it. The cover showed a fat, white-bearded man in a red suit 
putting presents beneath a Christmas tree. Santa held one finger to his lips as if saying, “Shh . . . these presents are a secret . . .”

“He looks sort of like Father Christmas,” Bobby said, “with his white beard. But Father Christmas wears 
a green coat, I think. And he isn’t this fat.” He opened the book to see what was inside and saw pictures of all sorts of toys.

Harry grabbed the book from him. “Oh, boy! Look at all these cars and trucks!”

“Mummy, is Father Christmas the same as Santa Claus?” Bobby asked as she walked through the living 
room. She was carrying a basket of dirty laundry on her way to the basement.

“Yes, love. Children call him by different names in different countries. By the way, did you and Harry forget that we’re going to see Santa Claus in the Christmas parade tonight?”

“Tonight?” Bobby asked.

“Yes, after we eat supper.”

“Yay!” Harry cheered, bouncing in place. “We can sit on his lap afterwards and tell him all the toys we 
want him to bring us.”

Taken from The Wish Book Christmas by Lynn Austin. Copyright © 2021. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries.  All rights reserved.

Lynn Austin has sold more than one and a half million copies of her books worldwide. A former teacher who now writes and speaks full-time, she has won eight Christy Awards for her historical fiction and was one of the first inductees into the Christy Award Hall of Fame. One of her novels, Hidden Places, was made into a Hallmark Channel Original Movie. Lynn and her husband have three grown children and make their home in western Michigan. Visit her online at lynnaustin.org or on Facebook, Twitter @LynnNAustin, 

Check out Lynn's previous visits to our blog HERE.

The Wish Book Christmas sounds amazing, Lynn. Thank you for sharing it with us! We certainly wish you the best of luck and God's blessings on this book also.

Hope you enjoyed Lynn's visit, friends and that you'll check back each week for Wednesday Words with Friends and another Saturday Spotlight.

Until next time, take care and God bless.


Wednesday, November 3, 2021

#WednesdayWordsWithFriends Welcomes Amanda Wen!

Good Morning,

Fall is definitely in the air over here in SW Louisiana. Our area was hit with 3 tornados last week. Seems like Mother Nature will not give us a break! Prayers please for those people who'd JUST gotten back in their homes after last year's hurricanes and are facing repairs or rebuilds again.

Enough gloom and doom though. Hope you made it safely through the ghosts, goblins and other creatures haunting your home in search of candy. I miss those days but don't get trick-or-treaters where I live. Which is OK LOL!

Today's guest was in our spotlight in May to share a peek into her book, Roots of Wood and Stone so please welcome her back with some wisdom about fear standing in our way. Take it away, Amanda!

What Would You Do if Fear Weren’t Standing in Your Way?

What would you do if fear weren’t standing in your way?

To be honest, this question has always bugged me. As a naturally anxious person descended from a long line of naturally anxious people, fear has been a constant companion. Thanks to the aforementioned natural anxiety and my active writer’s imagination, I’m able to leap from zero to Worst Case Scenario in record time. 

But sometimes God forces you out of your comfort zone, like he did for me in 2014. That year, my brother-in-law married the girl of his dreams…in New York City. 

Now, NYC may be a dream destination for many of you, but for this lifelong denizen of smallish Midwestern cities, New York was someplace I would have been perfectly happy to never visit. Constant noise. Insane traffic. People everywhere. It’s like a different planet. And did I mention we’d be flying? With three children, ages 5, 3, and 15 months? If it weren’t for family, that trip would’ve been a hard pass.

But it was for family, so we went.

And yes, it was noisy, and stressful. None of us slept. We got claustrophobic in our tiny hotel room. Our baby was fussy most of the time, which meant I watched my sister-in-law join our family from the very back of the reception hall, frantically pushing our daughter in the stroller, hoping against hope a scream from her wouldn’t ruin the whole thing.

It was uncomfortable and hard, but we did it.

And when we got back home to Kansas, back to clean air and quiet streets and personal space, God and I spent a lot of time sorting out my fears of that trip and how, despite the hassles, He’d been with us every step of the way. It was then that I made a deal with Him: If fear was the only thing stopping me from doing something, I’d go ahead and do it anyway.

That decision led to several new-to-me experiences: running my first 5K and even a 10K (after being an avowed non-runner for my entire life), sending my kids to public school, and one decision a year and a half later that’d be the most life-changing of them all. 

I’d been writing for a while at this point, but not really letting anyone read my work except my best friend, herself a multi-published general-market historical romance author. After I got the guts to show her my work, she gently corrected my newbie writing errors, mentored me through the next couple manuscripts, and finally started suggesting/encouraging/nagging me to enter it in a contest.

I had heard horror stories about contests, though. Entries that got ripped to shreds by judges who might or might not have even read the guidelines. People who grew so discouraged by the negative feedback that they quit then and there. But another critique partner told me about the ACFW First Impressions contest, one that only required a five-page entry. I can do five pages, I told myself. If they rip apart five pages, that’s okay, because I’ve got another 300-ish they won’t see.

But to my surprise, that entry didn’t get ripped apart. I was shocked to final in the contest, even more shocked to win, and stunned literally speechless when one of the final round judges—a well-known agent in the Christian writing world—requested my full manuscript.

That agent ended up becoming my agent. 

And the book to which those first five pages belonged? It went nowhere. 

But that was okay, because the initial fear—letting someone in the industry read my work—was gone. I had an agent in my corner who believed in my talent and God’s plan for it even when I didn’t. And the next book I wrote? The one where I experimented with a totally different genre—split-time—that I’d never written before, but always loved? 

That one became my debut novel.

My seven-years-ago self would never have dreamed that the decision she made, the surrender to God’s plan regardless of her own discomfort, would have such far-reaching implications, nor that a trip to New York with three little kids would lead to becoming a published author.

So, I’ll ask again: what would you do if fear weren’t standing in your way?


Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of inspirational romance and split-time women’s fiction. She has placed first in multiple writing contests, including the 2017 Indiana Golden Opportunity, the 2017 Phoenix Rattler, and the 2016 ACFW First Impressions contests. She was also a 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest finalist.

Wen is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and regularly contributes author interviews for their Fiction Finder feature. She also frequently interviews authors for her blog and is a contributor to the God Is Love blog. Her debut novel is Roots of Wood and Stone.

In addition to her writing, Wen is an accomplished professional cellist and pianist who frequently performs with orchestras, chamber groups, and her church’s worship team. Wen lives in Kansas with her patient, loving, and hilarious husband, their three adorable Wenlets, and a snuggly Siamese cat.

To find Amanda Wen’s blog and short stories, visit www.amandawen.com. Readers can also follower her on Facebook (@AuthorAmandaWen), Twitter (@AuthorAmandaWen), and Instagram

Roots of Wood and Stone can be found at Amazon and where other great Christian fiction is sold.

It's amazing how God gets us out of our comfort zone, isn't it? Thank you, Amanda for sharing your story and what you learned from your trip to NY! Wishing you the best of luck and God's blessings in all things.

Hope you enjoyed today's post, friends and that you'll check back weekly for more Wednesday Words with Friends and Saturday Spotlight.

Until next time, take care and God bless.