Sunday, May 30, 2021

WINNERS!!!

IMPORTANT: Instructions for winners  - When you send me the email, make sure your subject line says this: Winner - (book title) - (author's name) If you do n't do this, your email could get lost in my hundreds of emails per day. I WILL SEARCH FOR POSTTITLES STARTING THAT WAY.

Some people don't read the instructions of how to enter. Unfortunately, they don't have a chance to win. so next time you come and leave a comment, be sure to read all the instructions if you want a chance to win.

Stephanie (NY) is the winner of To Love a Prince by Rachel Hauck. 

Janie (KS) is the winner of Princess Lillian and Grandpa's Goodbye by Jenny Fulton.

Alison (MI) is the winner of The Storm Breaks Forth by Terri Wangard. 

Valri (TX) is the winner of Present Danger by Elizabeth Goddard.
 
If you won a book and you like it, please consider giving the author the courtesy of writing a review on Goodreads, Amazon.com, Christianbooks.com, Barnes and Noble, or other Internet sites. Reviews are such a blessing to an author.

Also, tell your friends about the book you won ... and this blog. Thank you.

Congratulations
, everyone. If you won a print book, send me your mailing address:
Click the Contact Me link at the top of the blog, and send me an Email.

If you won an ebook or audio book, just let me know what email address it should be sent to. Remember, you have 4 weeks to claim your book.       

Thursday, May 27, 2021

MADE FOR EACH OTHER - Karen Cogan - One Free book

Welcome, Karen. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters. I write bits of myself into many of my main characters. They may have opinions I share and habits that I have. I write my favorite meals into my books as well as habits I had as a child. 

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done? The quirkiest thing I’ve done is having our house painted vivid blue when my husband was out of town. He was surprised by how “blue” it turned out. I love blue!  

When did you first discover that you were a writer? I became a writer before I could write. I made up stories and told them to my older sister so that she could write them down. Then, I wrote my own stories in elementary school. 

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading. I enjoy a variety of literature. I like clean contemporary and historical romance, Christian romance, and psychological suspense. 

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?  I don’t. There are some days I hardly have time to get a drink. I still make time to write or to record audio books each day. That is one of the things that keep me sane. The other things are my faith in God and the company of my family. 

How do you choose your characters’ names? My characters’ names must fit the role and personality they will have in the story. I try different names and imagine them with the name. If it doesn’t fit, I try again. I know when it matches how I imagine them.  

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of? I am most proud of raising four God-loving children. If all of my other dreams had come true and yet my children were not people I respected, I would not feel proud of anything. 

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why? I believe I would be a cat. Cats lie around and do exactly what they please. Our cat hops up to get petted when she feels like it. She gets service as soon as she lets me know she is hungry, and she tells me when she wishes to play with her favorite toy. What a life! 

What is your favorite food? My favorite food is baked potatoes. I have loved them ever since I was a young child. My mother made them with crusty skins, and she put butter, salt, and pepper inside. They always tasted amazing.  

I love baked potatoes, too. I put grated cheese in mine for the protein. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it? My greatest roadblock has always been finding time to write. I’ve found that if I can snatch a moment here and there, and sometimes, a larger block of time, I can make progress on finishing my novels. 

Tell us about the featured book. This novel is a contemporary Christian romance. In the story, a young woman is transferred to a small city to further her career. Her grandmother lives in the city and Lissa stays with her. She never expects anything to stand in the way of her driving desire to be successful in her career and make a salary that will make her feel secure. She does not expect to meet a man who can make her question her consuming devotion to her work. 

Please give us the first page of the book. Here it is:

Lissa Davis descended the puddle-jumper’s narrow stairs to arrive on the tarmac, then stopped and took in a deep breath, before exhaling. It had been a bumpy ride from Albuquerque to Farmington, New Mexico. She took a moment to regain her composure before heading for the glass doors into the airport arrival section. She walked past the narrow gate area and straight into the lobby, scanning faces for the young man Grandma Mandy described when she called to say she was too ill to meet the plane herself. 

“Lissa?” 

She turned her head, startled by both his warm voice and strong, good looks. “Yes.” 

“I’m Jason Carlisle.” 

His friendly smile disarmed her while his crystal blue eyes captured her gaze. She and Jason stepped out of the way and she extended her hand. “You must be Grandma Mandy’s friend. I hope it isn’t a bother to give me a ride.” 

“None at all. Let me help you with your bag”. 

She shook her head. “This one isn’t bad. I could use a hand with the luggage. She indicated the baggage claim station. How’s Grandma Mandy feeling?” 

The masculine scent of his sandalwood aftershave drifted to her as Jason followed to collect her bags. 

As they waited for the carousel to deliver the bags, he said, “She’s over the worst of the stomach bug. She’s disappointed she’s still too weak to pick you up today.” 

Lissa glanced over her shoulder. “I appreciate you helping us out.” 

“It’s my pleasure.” He gave her a killer smile that piqued her curiosity as to whether his inner core was as attractive as his outer. 

Grandma Mandy had mentioned he was single when she told Lissa that Jason would be giving her a ride to the house. Perhaps she had plans to set them up. If so, she’d be disappointed. Since Lissa would be returning to Houston after a short work term, it would be foolish to form a relationship. If she’d learned anything from her mother’s experience, it was that it was important to succeed in her profession and stand on her own feet. 

Jason brushed a hand through his short, blond hair. She wondered what he was thinking when his gaze locked with hers. Though some men were deterred by her breezy manner, it didn’t seem to give him a moment’s pause. Since she knew no one in this small city except Grandma Mandy, having him for a friend might be nice. 

She pointed out two canvas, navy suitcases for Jason to snag. He got each on the first try and swung them beside him. He pointed to the plate-glass doors. “I’m parked out front. “It’s this way.” 

Glare from the fall sunlight and the crisp, dry air greeted her. Squinting, she rustled through her purse and found her sunglasses. Farmington was bright, with a clear blue sky. In contrast, she found the brown, rocky, landscape unappealing. Where she was from, thick, green vegetation filled every nook. 

The view atop the airport mesa revealed more scant foliage, low brush, and scrubby trees she didn’t recognize. In contrast, the San Juan Mountains to the south sparkled under glittering mantles of snow. “Is it always this dry and…well, brown?” she asked. 

“A lot of people can’t see the beauty of the desert right under their noses. The color of the rocks and the varying hues of sage are only part of the scenery you don’t see in the rest of the country.” 

They had an awkward moment of quiet. Then Jason changed the direction of their conversation. “Mandy told me you’re a petroleum geologist. What does a petroleum geologist do?” 

“I find the location and size of crude oil deposits by taking samples of surface rocks. Then, I go back to the lab to evaluate them for hydrocarbons and other minerals that indicate they’re oil rich. I also, use computer technology to analyse the region and read well logs. Then I can advise the company where to drill.” 

From what she understood, they had several potential wells to consider. She would be expected to make a recommendation about which to pursue and advise the boss. 

“Your work sounds interesting. I think it’s great you transferred to be close to your grandmother. She’s happy to have family here.” 

Lissa bit her lip. “I love Grandma Mandy with all my heart, but I took this job because my boss told me it would help in getting a raise and a promotion in the Houston office. I’m only here long enough to finish this project.”  

Again, there was an uneasy silence. 

“This is a nice car. What do you do for a living?” she asked.  

“I’m an artist.” 

“Oh.” Lissa raised a brow. “That sounds interesting. What kind of artist?” 

“Landscape, mostly. The southwest is my favorite subject matter. As far as I’ve seen, it has the most beautiful scenery on earth. I’m blessed to spend time outdoors admiring God’s creation and capturing it on canvas.” 

He grinned, showing even white teeth. “I get paid to do it, too.” 

“I can’t imagine how you compose a painting. It sounds fulfilling to pick up a brush and make scenery come to life.  It must be a natural gift. What else do you do?” 

He tilted his head. “What do you mean?” 

“For a job?” 

“That is my job. I’m a full-time artist.” 

She blinked. “That’s impressive. You’re young and you’re making a living in a difficult market. What if it doesn’t last? It doesn’t have the security of working for a company.” 

“I believe God called me to it. I trust Him to take care of me as long as I’m in His will. I’ve never missed a meal.” 

Lissa contemplated his apparent faith in a job that could dry up any time the public stopped buying his work. “I admire your confidence. I prefer a career with a steady paycheck.” 

It took more courage than she would ever have to take a route like that. She didn’t have that much trust in a Divine Deity or her understanding of what God wanted for her. She’d dreamed of a singing career when she was in high school. Her teachers had encouraged her to take voice lessons and perhaps go to a fine arts college.  

She gave herself a mental shake. She couldn’t let her thoughts go there. There was one fact she’d learned from her mom. Adults stayed focused and put their time into work and saving for the future. 

“Do you like art?” he asked. 

“I do. I’ve never met anyone who does it full-time.” 

He’d seemed like an average sane guy until he mentioned his job. As he took a road past the city terminal and downhill to an area of handsome older homes, she wondered how he could stand the insecurity of such a risky profession. 

They drove along a street where trees clustered in low areas beside the road. “We must be close to water,” Lissa observed. 

Jason nodded. “We’re passing an area called The Glade. Rainwater washes through here from Choke Cherry Canyon. It’s natural irrigation.” 

“That’s what we have in Houston. We don’t have to worry about water except for an occasional drought.” 

She liked frequent rain showers. Her stint here would be a trial. Jason seemed to believe there was something of beauty in every part of creation. Perhaps he was right, and the area would grow on her. 

“I didn’t bring rainwear,” she continued. “However, I was told to bring a warm coat. I can already tell it will get plenty of use.” 

They turned onto a wide street and passed shopping strips with small stores, and a large grocery store. To break the silence, Lissa said, “I’ve never seen where Grandma Mandy lives. She and Granddad came to see us after they moved. We never came here to visit. Dad’s great-grandfather raised his family in the house where Grandma now lives. Before that, aunts and uncles lived in it until it fell back to Granddad.” 

Jason waved a driver over who needed to change lanes. There was more to him than striking blue eyes and a strong jaw. He had manners. “The old family home has a rich history, then?” 

“Yes. It means a lot to my dad because it’s been in the family for several generations. Grandma Mandy lived there as a little girl.” 

They passed a large brick church and turned into a neighborhood with mostly gravel landscaping. The houses were stucco, and many had flat roofs. He pulled into the driveway of a beige house with a large plate-glass window. Moments later, her grandmother opened the door and stepped onto the flat concrete porch. Lissa hurried from the truck to greet her. 

She looked thinner than Lissa remembered. They clutched each other in a hug. “You’re as pretty as ever,” Grandma Mandy said. 

“Thanks. I’ve missed you. Are you feeling better? I was worried when you told me you’d been sick.” 

How can readers find you on the Internet? My books are carried on all the major online sites. Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Karen-Cogan/e/B001JSB9XE%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share 

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/author/karen-cogan/id393752956  

Audio available on Apple site. 

Barnes and Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Karen%20Cogan 

Thank you for sharing your book with my blog readers and me.

Readers, here are links to the book.

https://amzn.to/3yFr8Ke - Paperback

https://amzn.to/3fPif8h - Kindle (free right now)

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside North America. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link: Http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

HALLOWED HALLS - Hannah Alexander - One Free Book

Dear Readers, I’ve loved every Hannah Alexander novel I’ve read, and it gives me great pleasure to introduce this writing duo to you. You’ll love their books, too.

As an author, I know it takes a lot of people to birth each book. Who were the people involved in the birthing of this book, and what were their contributions? Since my husband and I work together on each book for the pen name of Hannah Alexander, Mel is my sounding board, my encourager, my resident expert on all things medical. He edits, checks for typos, markets. He is the “Alexander” of Hannah Alexander. We also have a group of friends who are novelists who brainstorm with us. We call them the “Kansas Eight.” They know who they are.

I have been meeting with long-time friends who graduated from high school with me. Six or seven or ten of us girls get together for a pajama party once a year, and we realize that we still like each other after all this time. They have been my inspiration for this whole series. I wish to show how the solid foundation of friendship can work. So Sherry, Doris, Tess, Sheila, Linda, Deb, Vickie, Marie, Corinne, Peggy, thank you for being my friends.

If you teach or speak. What’s coming up on your calendar? We have a move coming up on our calendar. I learned a few years ago that I am too scattered to speak plus write, and so when we moved from Missouri to the wilds of Nebraska Panhandle, and then later to Wyoming, I left my speaking life behind.

If you had to completely start over in another place, where would you move, and why? What a great question, since we are completely starting over once again. We plan to move to Phoenix, Arizona, before the end of the year. We have discovered that my Southern California bones don’t do well in cold weather. Wyoming is winter about eight months of the year, complete with thick ice on the street for many months. Mel works in the ER, and has seen so many broken bones from falls on the ice that I don’t like getting outside during the winter. I’m so thankful that we have several friends and family members where we’re moving, so we won’t feel alone at all.

Neither James nor I do well in the cold either. If you could only tell aspiring novelists one thing, what would it be? Get edited. I put so many books down because of the writer’s inability to form a good plot, write good dialogue, create lovable characters, or even write a good sentence. A good editor can help with all of that.

That is so true. You’ve been asked to be in charge of a celebrity cruise. Who would you ask to take part, and why? (AS in what program, singers, etc. [it doesn’t have to be writing related]) My dream come true would not be an ocean cruise. I have wanted to go on a riverboat cruise for many years. The idea of sitting on a deck of a boat with far fewer people is paradise for me. I would love to see the shore at all times, the animals along the way, the towns, the other boats. My celebrities would most definitely be some of my favorite novelists, and we would sit together on the decks and form brainstorming teams and develop lasting friendships. Jerry Jenkins would be keynote speaker. For entertainment, I would have karaoke with many of my favorite writers singing—Angie Hunt, Karen Ball, Dave Lambert, Jim Bell, Bob Elmer, Brandilyn Collins, Nancy Moser—and we will all join in and sing along and rock the place!

Sounds like fun. I’ve wanted to do the riverboat cruise, too. Tell us about the featured book. Hallowed Halls is the first book in the Hallowed Halls Series. When Dr. Joy Gilbert is fired from a lucrative position in Kansas City, she returns to her small med school town on the Missouri River to find her former fiancĂ©, Zack Travis, single; her once vivacious mother, Molly, struggling financially and physically; and Tressa, the fifteen-year-old daughter of the boss who just fired Joy, popping out the back door of the car. Tressa refuses to return to the city, where her divorced parents continue to battle one another in the aftermath of her brother’s death.

The girl’s rebellion threatens Joy’s medical license, but that threat means nothing when Tressa starts getting sick, and it appears that her parents might lose another child.

Will Joy and Zack be able to work together again in time to save Tressa’s life?

Please give us the first page of the book. Fury surged through Dr. Joy Gilbert like a rifle shot as she shut her office door and yanked the stethoscope from around her neck, suppressing a rebel yell. She stormed to the wide windows and sucked in her breath, ready to throw open the panes and shock the world. But an inquisitive squirrel leapt from one branch to another on a tree behind the clinic.

With a comical tilt of his head the furry critter broke the force of her outrage. Joy released her breath and deflated. As a child, she’d helped Mom bottle-feed an orphaned gray squirrel, and the little thick-tailed acrobat had often made her laugh.

Why scare the squirrels because she was angry with the ridiculous accusations of a hostile patient? The man was unbelievable.

Her intercom buzzed, jerking her back to complete maturity. “Dr. Gilbert, honey, you okay in there?” It was Betty, her favorite nurse.

“Give me a sec—”

“The boss is on his way to the clinic, sweetie. I want to rush Mr. Bezier out the door before he can waylay Mr. Cline.”

Joy winced. Along with half the clinic staff and several patients in the waiting room, Betty had clearly heard Frank Bezier berating Joy for her refusal to write him a script for a half-year’s supply of Percocet. He wouldn’t listen when she explained that was illegal.

Where can we find you on the Internet?

You can find us at www.hannahalexander.com

You can also find Hannah Alexander on Amazon.com

Email us at askhannah@hannahalexander.com

Thank you, Cheryl, for sharing this book with my blog readers and me.

Readers, here are links to the book.

https://amzn.to/3fR8cQb - Paperback

https://amzn.to/3yCMs30 - Kindle

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside North America. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link: Http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com 

Friday, May 21, 2021

THE WARDROBE DINNER THEATER collection - Candee Fick - One Free Kindle Edition

Welcome back, Candee. Why do you write the kind of books you do? I write Christian romance (both historical and contemporary) in order to share stories of faith, hope, and love with my readers. Life can be hard, but being reminded that there is a God who loves you and this world is only temporary sure can help get us through difficult circumstances.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life? Great question and several come to mind including the day I got married, the day my oldest son graduated from college and all the important people in my life were there to celebrate, and the day an editor called to offer my first book contract. Yes, that’s cheating but they were all happy for very different reasons after long seasons of adversity beforehand.

How has being published changed your life? It’s been such a blessing to be able to do what I love and get paid for it. I’m truly living the dream now as an author and editor, getting to create my own fictional worlds and then mentor other writers as their stories find a voice. And it sure beats the industrial hygiene research where I had to read mountains of depositions in asbestos cases. Sure don’t miss that day job.

What are you reading right now? Right now I’m reading Autumn Skies by Denise Hunter and Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado. I’m an avid fiction reader who usually devours 100 plus novels a year in addition to what I write as an author or evaluate as an editor, but there are always those non-fiction books that I have to digest more slowly.

What is your current work in progress? I just wrapped up the 4th book in my Within the Castle Gates series and am already tweaking the outline for the 5th book. Saving Grace is a contemporary romance set at a Colorado castle with definite historical influences as the heroine learns put aside other people’s stories and live her own.

What would be your dream vacation? A cabin in the mountains near water (either a lake or a trickling stream or even a waterfall) so I could soak up the peace and quiet, hike in nature, and then relax on the porch or by the fire with a good book. My normal life has so much chaos and activity that unplugging from it all would be perfect.

How do you choose your settings for each book? My first few contemporary titles were set near where I live since I was familiar with the area and could focus my research on other aspects of the story. However, my historical titles found their settings based on the story needs. As in “I need a place in the north of England with waterfalls, rugged cliffs, and still access to the sea for ships…oh, look, here’s a valley in Cumbria and it really has a castle already there. Bingo!”

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why? Hmm. I’d have to choose Susan May Warren so I could thank her for how her writing craft books changed the trajectory of my career, and then pick her brain for how to juggle family and writing and diversifying her business. Oh, and the story ideas we could bounce around so I could decide what project to work on next…

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading? You just had to take reading off the table. After that, I’d have to say crochet and baking. Although after eating too many baked goods, I’d better move hiking up that list just to keep my body moving while exploring my Colorado outdoors.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it? My biggest obstacle is the fact I’m also full-time caregiver to my adult daughter with special needs. I love how I can fit my work around her schedule…but depending on her mood (autistic characteristics plus anxiety that was only made worse thanks to COVID restrictions), she can drain all the creativity from my brain in a single hour. I have to schedule my writing time for when she’s at work or her day program, otherwise I’m frequently interrupted. And then I have to give myself a lot of grace when the to-do list remains undone.

What advice would you give to a beginning author? Read a lot in your preferred genre. It’s amazing how much you absorb about the market, pacing, story structure, and even how not to tell a story by reading. Then I’d say to write the story you are most passionate and excited about. You’re going to spend A LOT of time with those pages revising and honing your craft, so make it a story you’re less likely to dread coming back to. And finally, find a writing group that actually teaches and encourages you. This industry is tough enough without others offering bad advice or tearing you down so they can look smarter.

That is so true. Tell us about the featured book. The featured book is actually a boxed set collection of contemporary romances that contains a complete series including three main stories and two follow-up Christmas novellas. Readers can step inside the Wardrobe Dinner Theater and experience the backstage diva drama as three actresses embark on a faith-filled journey to find what matters most in life. Because some things are more important than the spotlight...

Please give us the first page of the book.

(This is from Dance Over Me, the first book in the series.)

Danielle Lefontaine wiped sweaty palms on her short skirt. Auditions always put her off balance.

“Next up. Number seventeen.”

Dani rolled her shoulders once, gave each leg a shake, took a deep breath, and clicked her way up the three steps to the polished hardwood. Approaching center stage, she scanned the house and zeroed in on the older couple seated behind a table on the second level.

“And what will you be showing us this morning?”

Dani’s gaze skipped over the tall woman who’d checked her in earlier and focused on the middle-aged director who was busy rolling a pen between his fingers. She swallowed hard to dissolve the cotton-like feeling in her mouth.

“I’ve prepared a series of tap combinations.” Dani did a quick shuffle step to draw attention to her footwear and break the tension that seemed to have paralyzed her body.

A snort of laughter erupted from an area to the right of the judges’ table.

Dani shifted her gaze to the critic. Female. About her age. The blonde bombshell diva-type leaned over to whisper something in the ear of the dark-haired man beside her as two other women giggled behind them. Based on the logo on their T-shirts, they were part of the theater company and therefore in a position to enjoy watching the auditions without the fear of dashed hopes.

“Do you have accompaniment?” The director rested his chin on folded hands.

“I do.” Heat from the stage lights sent a trickle of sweat down Dani’s back.

“Whenever you’re ready.”

She glanced at the cluster of actors. The diva picked at her nail polish, and the others looked equally bored. Time to let her feet do the talking.

She stepped into position and nodded in the direction of the soundboard on the third level at the back of the room.

Okay, God. Here we go.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

The best place is my website at https://CandeeFick.com with my blog, information about my books, and where you can sign up for my biweekly email with exclusive subscriber deals. I’m finding myself less and less on social media these days, but readers can still find me on Facebook, Twitter, and more recently Gab and MeWe.

Thank you, Candee, for sharing this collection with my blog readers and me. I have a background in live theater, so I’m eager to read it.

Readers, here are links to the book.

https://amzn.to/3yxqb6P - Kindle Edition

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside North America. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link: Http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com 

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

DUSK'S DARKEST SHORES - Carolyn Miller - One Free Book on this blog + another giveaway

 Dear Readers, 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: Carolyn, please introduce us to your new Regency Wallflowers series, and specifically to your latest release, Dusk’s Darkest ShoresAfter 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 fulfill 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: 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)

Thank you, Carolyn, for sharing this story with my blog readers and me.



There is a special giveaway with the release of the book:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here's what is included in the giveaway:

Enter to win a fun prize pack inspired by the book and its English setting that includes: 

 

- a copy of Dusk’s Darkest Shores

- a canvas bag to carry your latest reads

- a fun pair of Jane Austen socks

- Novel Teas’ English Breakfast tea

- “Drink tea, read books, and be happy” tea spoon

- “Let your faith be bigger than your fear” mug

- Black currant preserves from England

- Wax Lyrical candle from England

Readers, here are links to the book.

https://amzn.to/3tZXUSU - Paperback

https://amzn.to/3yiC8Nz - Kindle edition

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside North America. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link: Http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

WHEN THE COWBOY RIDES AWAY - Molly Noble Bull - One Free Book

Dear Readers, I wrote an endorsement for When the Cowboy Rides Away when it first released. I’m happy to be part of the re-launch. Here’s what I wrote: Molly Noble Bull produces another western novel that is so authentic I felt as if I were there in South Texas. I’ve been there a number of times, and she has the setting perfect. I loved the characters who tugged at my heartstrings through the story, and I kept turning pages to find out how it would all end.

Welcome back, Molly. Tell us about your salvation experience. I had a rather unusual salvation experience that some might find hard to believe. The entire experience might be explained in a Bible scripture—Romans 10:17. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. I cannot say for sure, but maybe hearing the Lord’s voice was the only way I could have truly come to Him.

I was unable to find the Lord in our liberal denominational church. As a result, I went looking for God elsewhere, reading books on the occult and trying some of the weird things suggested in some of the books. I even joined an occult book club, and as a new member, I was given a small round crystal on a chain. But I never stopped praying. I was thirty-three years old then.

Charlie and I lived on a small farm in South Texas, and the two oldest of our three sons were already born. I was teaching in an elementary school when I came down with a bad case of the flu. I had a high fever and had missed five days of school.

On the night the fever disappeared, I went right to sleep. But I was wakened in the middle of the night. I sat up in bed; Charlie snored peacefully beside me. But somehow, I knew there was a presence in the house, and that presence was standing in the open doorway between bedroom and the hall. I saw nothing. Yet I knew He was there.

He finally spoke, and his voice seemed to come from near the top of the doorframe. 

“I came because you knocked,” he said, “and you have been chosen.”

I was too stunned to make a reply.

“But I chose you. You did not choose me.”

I still said nothing.

“And you don’t need to shout. I can hear you.”

I knew exactly what he was talking about because I had been doing a lot of shouting. asking the Lord questions while continuing to read those strange books. I’d especially asked the Lord my purpose in life, and on that night He answered that question.

“Your purpose in life is to be a Christian wife and mother, and you must throw away those things you have.”

He was talking about those books and that horrible crystal on a chain.

Here I was face-to-face with the Lord. I guess I could have asked him anything. Yet there was only one question on my mind at that moment.

“You mean now?” I asked.

“Yes, right now.”

So I got up out of bed, went into the living room, where the books and the crystal were kept, grabbed them, went into the kitchen and threw them in the garbage can. Then I started trembling because I realized I had just had a conversation with the Lord. I had never known anyone who had an experience like mine, including those in our church, and knew nothing about the Bible. But now there was something new that I did know. God was real.

Later, I discovered that many of the things He said to me on that night came straight from the Bible.

“I came because you knocked.” (Matthew 7:7 and Luke 11:9)

“And you have been chosen.” (1 Peter 2:9)

“But I chose you. You did not choose me.” (John 15:16 and Romans 10:20)

Nobody hates the occult more than those who once sampled it, and faith really does come from hearing, at least for me. I will follow the Lord forever.

I love hearing testimonies about when God confronts people and calls them to Him. You are planning a retreat where you can only have four authors. Who would they be? I would choose Lena for sure. The other two would be Kathi Macias and an Indy author friend by the name of Teresa Slack.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you and how did you handle it? I’m comfortable in old clothes and hardly ever throw them away. I keep wearing them. I especially like slacks with elastic around the waist because they always fit perfectly. But elastic wears out—continues to stretch but stops snapping back. In time the circle of elastic grows bigger and bigger, but I keep wearing my slacks.

One night at a family dinner at the home of one of our sons, I got up from the table to go to the bathroom, and my pants slipped down to my knees. Lucky for me, I was wearing a very long shirt. So, I reached down and pulled off my pants. Then I lifted my head and hurried to a nearby room. Then I called out to one of our daughters-in-law.

“Linda, will you come here a minute?”

She came, and I said, “Please bring me the biggest safety pin you can find. I need to fix my pants.”

She brought the pin; I fixed my pants and went to the bathroom. Then I went back to the table to finish my meal, and nobody said a word.

People are always telling me that they’d like to write a book someday. I’m sure they do to you too. What would you tell someone who came to you and said that? I would say, “Write that book, keep writing, and never give up.”

Tell us about your featured book. My father and my maternal grandfather were cattle ranch foremen, real Texas cowboys. I spent part of my growing up years on a sixty-thousand-acre-cattle ranch, and all three of our grown sons are involved in ranching in Texas today. It is not surprising that my featured book, When the Cowboy Rides Away, is a historic western. Below is the back-cover information.

Maggie Gallagher, twenty-one, runs the Gallagher Ranch in South Texas and has raised her little sister and nephew since her parents and older sister died. No wonder she can’t find time for romance!

When the Cowboy Rides Away opens two years after Maggie loses her family members. Out for a ride with her sister, she discovers Alex Lancaster, a handsome cowboy, shot and seriously wounded, on her land. Kind-hearted and a Christian, Maggie nurses him back to health despite all her other chores. How could she have guessed that Alex held a secret that could break her heart?

Please give us the first page of the book.

Southern Texas

Early May 1880

Somebody was coming.

Maggie Gallagher slowed her sorrel mare. A small dust cloud hung over the north pasture like a puff of smoke. As she continued to eye the trail of sand and dust, it grew larger. 

She glanced back at her younger sister. “Hurry up, Sarah. A rider’s headed this way. See if you can get ole Short Legs to trot.” 

The little red-haired girl yawned.  “I said I was coming.”

“Well, can you get that pony of yours to move a little faster? We need to go on out to the cemetery, leave our flowers, and rush right home. A caller will probably be waiting for us at the house when we get back.”

The main house was over a mile from the ranch cemetery and a mere twenty miles from the Gulf of Mexico—and it was almost always windy there. In fact wind and South Texas were like many married couples—together, but sometimes fighting.

The morning breeze felt cool on Maggie’s face, but that wouldn’t last long. By noon the temperature could reach 100 degrees. Her aunt often said that South Texas was the only spot on earth where the wind could be hot, even in the shade.

She loosened the bow under her chin and pushed back her blue-flowered bonnet. She might as well sit back in the saddle and enjoy herself. It was obvious Sarah was in no hurry. 

Maggie thought about the dust cloud she’d seen. She wasn’t expecting visitors. But since company appeared to be on the way, she hoped it was Roger. He’d said he might ride into town. On the way back to his place, he often stopped by the Gallagher Ranch to leave Maggie the mail he picked up for her, and she was hoping for a letter from Aunt Violet. 

***

He’d watered his horse in a creek with only a trickle of water in it and crossed a bridge. Now, Alex Lancaster guided his black stallion through thick brush, leaving a trail of dust and sand behind. He had to find Dee. Until he did, nothing else mattered.

But his horse needed rest. The animal wouldn’t hold up much longer without it, and he’d pushed him relentlessly since he rode north from the border, stopping at creeks and lakes when he found them, sleeping and then moving on again. 

Now he wasn’t sure exactly where he was. The entry gate said Ranch Headquarters, One Mile, but it didn’t include the name of the ranch.

He thought the ranch he was searching for was at least fifty or so miles north of here, but as long as he was in the area, he might as well stop and check. At the least he could water his horse again, and maybe the ranch owner would give him directions.

Alex could barely see the outline of a two-story house in the distance, but that was enough to keep him moving forward. He would talk to the folks at the headquarters, cool off for a while, and then head out and keep going until he found her.   

But would she let him explain what happened? Would Dee be able to forgive him?

Alex blinked, sucking in his breath. Would he ever forgive himself?

***

How can readers find you on the net?

To find When the Cowboy Rides Away, click here.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1649171005/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i11

To find Facebook: facebook.com/molly.n.bull  

My website: www.mollynobleull.com

My page at Amazon: http://bit.ly/mollynoblebull

Thank you, Molly, for sharing the book with my blog readers today. I know they will love the story as much as I did.

Readers, here are links to the book.

https://amzn.to/33xTt6S - Paperback
https://amzn.to/3o78SEN - Kindle Edition

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside North America. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link: Http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com