Thursday, September 15, 2022

 September 2022 New Releases by Members of American Christian Fiction Writers

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

Contemporary Romance:

A Heart to Trust by Judith McNees -- Can two broken hearts learn to trust each other…and God? Grace Morgan has a closely guarded secret. One that also makes her good at guarding her heart. After all, she has what she needs to be content. She won’t make the mistake of falling for another man at work…until the hunky new guy she’s trying not to notice moves in across the hall. Tyler Danby has a secret, too. Left by his wife, who takes away everything he cares about, he’s nursing his wounds and starting over. When he strikes up a friendship with his quirky neighbor, he wonders whether God might be giving him a second chance… (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Breath of Heaven by Deborah Raney -- After a joyful wedding in Kansas, Natalie Camfield Chambers is back in the village of Timoné in South America with her beloved husband, David Chambers. But the adjustments to married life while serving on the mission field in a remote Colombian village along the Rio Guaviare are more than either Natalie or David bargained for. The growing unrest in the country only adds to the challenges they face. When the village is invaded by guerrilla soldiers and one of their Timoné neighbors, a young mother, goes missing, Natalie and David find themselves caring for her small daughter, even as Natalie has begun to suspect that she is carrying their own child. When a trip by boat on the Guaviare turns treacherous and ultimately deadly, Natalie and David face the fight of their lives. Their faith—and their love—will be tested in ways they never dreamed, and the decisions they make will echo for generations to come. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Harvest Moon by Denise Hunter -- When a tragedy leaves a divorced couple with guardianship of their friends’ little girl, Laurel and Gavin drop everything for the sake of the child. While searching for a more permanent arrangement, the estranged couple move into their friends’ home to provide temporary care for Emma and manage the on-property apple orchard. As they work together to comfort the grieving child and manage the busy harvest, tempers flare—as does the passion they both remember so well. But will the seeds of love, still growing inside them, thrive and flourish? Or will grief and regret strangle the feelings before they can fully blossom? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson and Zondervan))

Love in Any Season by Amy Anguish, et. al. -- Spring Has Sprung – by Regina Rudd Merrick: What does he want more—for Laurel to fall in love with his favorite season? Or him? The Missing Piece – by Amy R. Anguish: With each stitch taken, they work toward more than just a completed blanket. A Sweet Dream Come True – by Sarah Anne Crouch: Can Mel and Isaac trust in God’s provision and make a leap of faith? Will their partnership end in disaster, or will it be a sweet dream come true? Sugar and Spice – by Heather Greer: With gingerbread and Ryker together, can Emmie make it through the festival with her mind and heart intact? (Contemporary Romance from Scrivenings Press)

Midnight Blue by Suzie Waltner -- A series of heartbreaking setbacks behind her, Scarlett Sykes is now focused on creating the best life possible for her daughter. One where innocence and joy is not colored by rejection or loss. While finances are tight and Scarlett’s job isn’t ideal for a single mother, her child will always know she’s loved. Especially since Harmony’s father wanted nothing to do with them. As lead singer and the face of a successful country band, Jake Turnquist’s closest friends depend on him, but life in the spotlight is quickly losing its appeal. At a party celebrating another accomplishment, he’s stunned to discover Scarlett assisting the caterer. Almost ten years have passed, but he’s never forgotten his first love. In the hours after a surprise revelation, Jake scrambles to orchestrate a way to spend time with Scarlett and Harmony—the family he’s always wanted but never knew he had. He once gave her up to pursue his music. What will he have to surrender to win her back? (Contemporary Romance, from Anaiah Press)

Muskoka Shores by Carolyn Miller -- Serena Williamson loves working at Muskoka Shores, the fancy resort on Lake Muskoka, and making couples dreams come true. But after returning from a celebrity wedding to find her own hopes crumbling to dust, she sets out for self-improvement, and to prove her ex was wrong. But when a misunderstanding concerning the new assistant church minister leads to more self-doubt, can she ever really trust a man again? Joel Wakefield is looking forward to a fresh start for himself and his sister in this beautiful small town beside Lake Muskoka. He hadn't counted on meeting a curvy cutie with a gift for hospitality and a gracious heart. Can he show her that it's what is inside that truly counts? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Off the Record by Susan Page Davis -- Wynne Harding is just doing her job. Wynne is new at the newspaper, and she deals with some challenging assignments. Sent to report on a farm accident, she learns a little girl has been injured in a fall. The father, Andrew Cook, has cause to hate reporters. His farming grandparents want Wynne in the family, and she adores Andrew's four-year-old twins, but she isn’t comfortable around him. When her assignments get tougher and troubles surface at the farm, the two need to seek God's guidance ... but can they overcome their differences? (Contemporary Romance from Tea Tin Press)

The Baby’s Christmas Blessing by Meghann Whistler -- Nothing will be merry about Steve Weston’s Christmas if he doesn’t find a nanny for his newborn nephew fast. But the best choice is Chloe Richardson, the woman he pushed away years ago. He has a second chance at making the season’s joy last for a lifetime—unless he allows old wounds to separate them once more... (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))

To Win a Prince by Toni Shiloh -- As a fashion aficionado and best friend of the queen of the African island country Oloro Ilé, Iris Blakely dreams of using her talent to start a business to help citizens in impoverished areas. But when she discovers that Ekon Diallo will be her business consultant, the battle between her desires and reality begins. Ekon Diallo has lost everything: his princely title, his material possessions, his friends, and the respect of his countrymen. To pay for his actions against Oloro Ilé, he's forced to assist the charismatic Iris Blakely--but he can't allow his heart to distract him from regaining his status. As Iris strives to get her business off the ground while keeping her heart intact, will her dreams of happily ever after survive the challenges she faces? (Contemporary Romance from Bethany House (Baker) Publishing)

Historical Romance:

As Silent as the Night by Danielle Grandinetti -- Chicago, 1933―Lucia Critelli will do anything for her ailing grandfather, including stand in a breadline to have enough food to make him a St. Nicholas Day meal. When she catches the eye of a goon who threatens her grandfather, she discovers the end of Prohibition doesn’t mean the end of the mafia’s criminal activity. Retired Marine Scout Giosue “Gio” Vella can find anything, especially if it helps a fellow Italian immigrant, so he has no doubt he can locate his neighbor’s granddaughter, who has gone missing from a local church. Keeping her safe is another matter. Especially when he chooses to hide out with his Marine buddy in Eagle, Wisconsin, the site of a barely-held truce among striking dairy farmers. Will Christmas bring the miracle they all need or will Gio discover there are some things even he can’t find, particularly when he stumbles upon the most elusive gift of all: love. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Calm in the Mountain Storm by Misty M. Beller -- his epic journey will test his ability to protect his children—and they’re all he has left. Missionary Elise Lane returns with her team to the Rocky Mountain native tribe they serve to discover the entire village—including the children she’s come to love—has been massacred. A fierce brave standing at the edge of the devastation has taken the only surviving child. Goes Ahead returns home with his son to find his worst fears have come true—his entire village has been slaughtered, including his wife. Only their infant daughter has survived. But there’s no time for grief or vengeance. He must get his children across the mountains to the protection of his family. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Estelle’s Endeavor by Linda Shenton Matchett -- Will a world at war destroy a second chance at love? Estelle Johnson promised to wait for Aubry DeLuca, but then she receives word of his debilitating injuries. Does she have the strength to stand by him in his hour of need? Aubry DeLuca storms the beaches at Normandy, then wakes up in the hospital, his eyes bandaged. Will he regain his sight? Will the only woman he’s ever loved welcome him home or is he destined to go through life blind and alone? (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

Heart’s Journey by Linda Hoover -- In June, 1880, newlyweds Jacob and Julia go to Iowa to fulfill Jacob’s dream of having his own farm. Their original plans fall apart when they get there, and Jacob wonders, will he be able to keep the promise he made to Julia and her family? Jacob and Julia spend much time in prayer, and God provides a better plan. Now, upper-class Julia allows herself to consider her role. She’s never been in a kitchen, let alone on a farm. How will she manage their home? After many mishaps, Julia asks a neighbor for help, and gains confidence as she learns to cook, garden and handle other household duties. Jacob and Julia grow closer, but a personal loss for Julia triggers a disagreement leading to estrangement and deeper issues Jacob must confront. Can their faith in God bring forgiveness and reconciliation? (Historical Romance from Linda Hoover Books)

Love in the Bargain by Lucette Nel -- Driven to rekindle her relationship with her ailing grandfather, Amelia Scott returns to her childhood home. However, her unyielding grandfather is determined to control her future and poses an ultimatum. Marry and inherit the iconic Scott Hotel or return to New York penniless. Amelia is determined to stay, and formulates a plan to ensure proprietorship of her last connection to family. But love is not a part of the deal. She can’t risk another man having control of her. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)


A Night to Remember by Danny & Wanda Pelfrey -- With her college friend arriving, Riley is anticipating a reprieve from the rigors of law school. Then one of her Sunday School girls is kidnapped. The circumstances that follow put Riley and her friends through a series of fast paced, dangerous episodes as they scurry to rescue the child. (Mystery from CrossLink)


Covert Danger by Jerusha Agen -- An assassin is on the loose in the Twin Cities, aiming to kill FBI witnesses the Phoenix K-9 Security and Detection Agency is hired to protect. Rogue CIA agent Amalia Pérez and her protection K-9 must get the edge on this deadly opponent before he kills her childhood best friend—the only man who knows her true identity. Investigative journalist Michael Barrett can’t believe his eyes when the woman he’s spent years searching for walks back into his life. But he soon fears the woman he loved is lost forever beneath the secrets Amalia wears like armor. As the assassin closes in, Amalia will risk anything to keep Michael safe—anything except believing in the God he trusts. When the layers of deception become as dangerous as bullets, can Amalia and Michael uncover the truth in time to stop the assassin from completing his lethal mission? (Thriller/Suspense/Romance, Independently Published)

Grace Immeasurable by Gina Holder -- She’s a modern-day damsel. He’s her self-appointed knight. Who will rescue whom? Kylie just wants to run her café without people thinking she’s a damsel-in-distress. That proves difficult when a man claiming to be her half-brother reveals buried family trauma and forces Kylie to face the scars of her childhood. Peter doesn’t mean to be a knight in shining armor, but as her proverbial big brother, he decides to uncover the truth about Kylie’s semi-sibling, while trying to make peace with his own mistakes.
Unearthing the past leads to a danger greater than either ever expected. In the end, who will rescue whom? (Thriller/Suspense/Romance, Independently Published)

Two Believe by Luana Ehrlich -- It was no ordinary robbery. The suspect is no ordinary thief. The investigator is no ordinary detective. He’s Silas McKay, head of operations for Discreet Corporate Security Systems in Dallas, Texas. Silas doesn’t usually investigate stolen merchandise, but when his boss asks him to look into a jewelry heist at Gadise Diamonds, a high-end store in the Dallas area, he makes an exception. When Silas learns this was no ordinary robbery, and the suspect is no ordinary thief, he enlists the help of Ashley Davenport, who’s no ordinary woman. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance, Independently Published)

Sinister Secrets by Paige Edwards -- 3 Novellas: Secrets of St. Augustine: FBI Special Agent Doug Valdez is in France looking for money launderers. The last thing he expects is to find a young girl fleeing for her life or the deadly game of cat and mouse that ensues. Hounded: Recently retired Army Ranger Renn Huitt has found the perfect job. Working for Bob, a private investigator nearing retirement, should be easy. But Bob has put a lot of people behind bars--people who hold a grudge. And now they are coming for him. In Plain Sight: Jaclyn Girard was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and now she's caught in the middle of a deadly investigation. With danger mounting, she must work alongside FBI operative Cody Ackert if she hopes to survive. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Covenant Communications, Inc.)

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
A Fallen Sparrow by Lynn Basham Tagawa, Three very different people, a printer's daughter, a Shenandoah valley farmer, and a British spy, must deal with questions relating to the time of the Revolution: when is it biblical to resist tyranny? (General Historical)

Falling for Chet by Christine Schimpf, A failed card shark, home to make things right with his family, is thrown together with a displaced literary agent seeking a fresh start after losing her job. The pair team up to save his family farm from financial ruin and on the way, discover a forever love that changes everything. (Contemporary Romance)

Forgotten Memories by Penny Zeller, Some memories are best forgotten… The Wyoming Territory is rife with lawlessness and disorder, something Annie Ledbetter and her parents discover when their wagon train is robbed. (Historical Romance)

Lily’s Mechanic by Seralynn Lewis, Sometimes you have to go home again and find the one who loved you first. (Contemporary Romance)

She Gets July by Susan Page Davis, Things come to a head at the cottage, where he gets June and she gets July. (Contemporary Romance)

Thatcher… and so it Begins by Cheryl S. Birch, The place is an innocuous farming village called Thatcher. A baby is born—the first Shining Warrior in 300 years. (Speculative Fiction)

Tracking a Killer by Elizabeth Goddard, Can an officer and her furry partner survive a killer and the wilderness? (Thriller/Suspense/Romance)

Thursday, September 1, 2022


Dear Readers,

My husband and I traveled to the cities in the novel, including Amsterdam, Budapest, Salzberg, and Vienna. Actually, a visit to an Oklahoma City art museum two years ago started me thinking. How possible is very good fraudulent fine art?

(Very possible. Some experts estimate up to half of all art in museums is fake.)

And exactly how much copying is legal?


Dr. Richard Reed, wealthy professor and connoisseur of fine art, becomes a temporary member of Interpol's Experts Group to stop the flow of fraudulent paintings. He feels sure he has found a master copyist when he zones in on an attractive tourist, Kendra Cooper.

Kendra, who scrimped for years to travel to Amsterdam and study originals of the great masters, has much to teach the professor. His most likely suspect becomes his strongest asset in the fight against frauds until a dealer in counterfeits strikes back. Kendra becomes his target by cutting off the flow of unearned millions.

As professional partnership grows into personal devotion, Richard and Kendra combat greed to gain what cannot be bought.

As with all Lee Carver's books, Counterfeit is available from in both print
and Kindle versions.

This novel needs honest reviews on Amazon and Your review would be most appreciated.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Rebecca's Redemption

Call to the Jungle

Book 3

Published in both print and ebook

A nurse seeking redemption for past sins joins a doctor
contending against the jungle.
Both healers need healing.

Rebecca Singer once was the kind of nurse who partied all weekend and closed the bar with the last karaoke tune. Then she met the Lord and vowed to make up to Him for those wasted years by serving in the worst place in the world. She determined to earn her redemption in the Brazilian Amazon jungle.

Dr. Ed Pierce, a widower with two young daughters, operates a Christian hospital in the Brazilian Amazon. A lifelong believer, he struggles with the tragedy of losing his wife—his love, the mother of his children. When the mission board agrees to hire a nurse, he requests an American who can split her time between the hospital and home schooling his children.

Buy it now for only $0.99:

Saturday, February 12, 2022

The Magic Number

I was requested again this year to write a romantic short story and read it as part of the program for my church's annual tea for ladies. Some of the women who missed the tea want to read the story, so I've copied it here:

The Magic Number

Dave scanned the message that appeared on his cell phone.
Hi, I’m Julia Barnett, a friend of Megan’s, and she asked me to invite you to a party in her honor. It will be at my home this Friday, 7 p.m. No gifts. Can you come? The Fort Worth address followed.
Puzzled, he clicked the sound off to avoid interrupting his business conference again. He’d answer it later. Funny. He thought his sister and brother-in-law had already left on their anniversary cruise in Europe.
After the construction contract had been agreed upon and hands shaken, both parties went to an exceptionally fine restaurant to celebrate. It wasn’t until later, in his hotel room, that he read the message again.
Absolutely sure Megan’s cell phone would be turned off as an economy measure, he called her anyway and got a taped answer. Well, maybe the party was after she and Sam returned, but he thought that was next week.
When this business trip came up, Dave had tried to make plans to see them, but it wouldn’t work out. He didn’t come back to Fort Worth often, though it still felt like home. Maybe with this new business plaza contract, he’d be here enough to make contact with his old high school buddies.
With that warm, fuzzy thought he zapped back a quick text:  Thanks for the invitation. See you Friday. Then he tossed his cell on the tapestry bedspread and headed for a steaming shower.

Three days passed in a flurry of activity. He only thought of the party invitation at night, when he collapsed on Hilton’s deeply tufted mattress. Every daylight hour passed in controlled confusion of puzzling over the architectural schemes to give the builder exactly what he wanted.
On Friday, he asked the client’s secretary to have flowers sent to the hostess’ home in his name, and he made sure to break away early enough to arrive on time. But Megan still didn’t answer her home phone or her cell. Maybe they were sleeping off the intercontinental flight.
Arriving at the Westover Hills address, he found a tasteful home. Large, but not a mansion like some of its neighbors. He touched the bell and an attractive woman in her sixties opened the door wide. The smile on her face froze. He didn’t recognize her, and she obviously didn’t know him.
She extended her hand. “Good evening. I’m Julia Barnett.”
“Dave Copeland, Megan’s brother.”
“Oh.” He could see wheels turning in her head. She stepped away and turned to the guests chatting in the living room, allowing him to enter. “Megan? Your brother, Dave Copeland?”
A colorfully-dressed woman broke from her conversation with a smile still on her lips, but curiosity on her brow. “I don’t have a ... Excuse me. Who?”
She and a burly gentleman with a scowl approached Dave. They did not offer their hands.
This wasn’t Megan. Not his sister Megan, anyway.
The man broadened his chest and took a square stance. “What is your business here?”
Thoroughly confounded, Dave searched for words. “I was invited to Megan’s ... ” He reached for his phone, and the man slipped a hand under his own left arm as if to a gun holster there.
“Just my phone. Sorry. I’ll show you the text.” Slowly and avoiding jerky motions, he extracted his cell phone. The fellow’s shoulder relaxed, and he repositioned whatever he had almost drawn out. Dave was sure it was a gun.
Displaying the invitation text message, Dave showed it first to him and Megan and then to the hostess. A crowd gathered, and his phone was passed to several people.
“Oh. You sent the flowers?” Julia indicated an arrangement on the coffee table. “I wondered who ...” Her face flushed three shades of red.
“Didn’t they have my name on the card? It was supposed to be signed.”
“Well, yes, but we didn’t know who Dave Copeland was. That is the message I sent, but—”
He looked toward the breathy voice.
“Dave, is that you?”
Definitely not his sister. Trisha March, his girlfriend from Arlington Heights High School, stepped from the circle of guests. Younger than the other guests, as he was, and the most beautiful woman in the room. Her hair, still silky, light brown, came below her ears but not loosely to her shoulders as when he had last seen her.
The night her father poked him in the chest and told him never to come to their home again.
“Dave Copeland. It’s so good to see you again. What brings you here?”
He took his cell phone from a man and handed it to her. He couldn’t speak anyway.
“I think there’s been a miraculous mistake,” she responded after reading the text. A smile of wonder lifted her eyes. “This is the retirement party for Megan Warner, my boss.” She indicated the Megan whose brother he was definitely not. “You got this message and thought it was for your sister, Megan?”
“Right. I tried to call her several times, but she and Sam had gone on a cruise for their twenty-fifth anniversary. I thought— Look, folks, I’m sorry. I’ll just make a U-turn. Y’all get back to your party.” Feeling his face burn, he reached for his phone. “’Scuze me, Trisha. Sorry about this.”
“Oh, you can’t leave. I haven’t seen you for some twenty-six years. Please stay.”
The hostess broke out of her trance. “Indeed. You must stay for dinner. The caterer is about to serve the most magnificent dinner, and I have a place for you.” She took him by the arm and the room breathed again. She led him to the bar, followed by Trisha. “What can I get you?”
Every sort of liquor and wine stood at attention waiting for his order. “Coke?”
The other Megan’s escort filled a glass with ice and poured his drink. “Hi, I’m Bill Warner, Megan’s husband. And Fort Worth Police. Sorry about that.” He nodded toward the place where they’d stood before.
Trisha came to Dave’s other side. “Bill, would you pour me a Diet Coke, please? I need to get reacquainted with my old boyfriend.”
She placed her hand on the sleeve of his sport coat, and it warmed him down to his tingling feet. The next moment his fledgling hopes crashed to the ground. That hand bore wedding rings.
She accepted her Coke and took a sip. “Have you moved back to Fort Worth? You haven’t come to any of the class reunions.”
“I have an apartment in Cincinnati, but I fly around a lot since my wife passed.”
Trisha’s expression clouded, and she murmured the sort of thing people say.
 “Our sons are in college, so I’m free to leave when I need to,” he continued. By peripheral vision, he noticed the hostess, Julia, switching place cards at the dining table with a dozen seatings. He still felt the polite thing to do would be to leave.
But Trisha looked up at him and her eyes were still as green as ever. He couldn’t leave yet.
“How many sons do you have?”
He chuckled. “Two. They’re twins, and they were always a houseful. How about you?”
“One of each. They’re still in high school.” She backed away from the bar, drawing him out of the traffic. “And yes, they’re a houseful. Especially dealing with their father’s sudden death.”
“I’m sorry. But I see you’re still wearing rings.”
“Well, I still have the children. And it was only a couple of years ago. I wasn’t ready to appear available yet.”
Julia Barnett invited them to the dining room, and she had indeed put his place card next to Trisha’s. As much as he wanted to corner her with a thousand questions about her life since high school, they both engaged in conversation with the other guests. Everyone was too polite to ask how or why he came to the party. Or perhaps they thought he was Trisha’s date. He hoped that could be arranged in the future.

* * *

Trisha again relived the night her father sent Dave away, shouting that he was never to call or see her again. His father was a drunkard who didn’t provide well for his wife and children. Rumors of violence traveled through school, too. Dad said everyone knew drinking problems passed through the genes or rearing or something. He didn’t want her stuck with a loser.
Since Dave declined the fine wine at the dinner, she did, too. Was he an alcoholic on the wagon? How could she ask without sounding like it was the most important question of the century, which it was to her?
Eventually the caterer’s waiter came around with the wines again, and showed off the label to Dave.
“No, thank you. But I’ll have some more water when it’s convenient,” he said.
She took the chance and asked. “You’re not accepting the wine?”
“Never touch the stuff. I saw what it did to my father and the effect on the family. I never had any interest in trying alcohol. But please go ahead and enjoy it. Don’t refrain on my behalf.”
“It isn’t important. Never has been to me. I’m okay with the Diet Coke.”
Inwardly, she sighed her relief. She’d never known him to lie about anything, ever. She could hardly believe her good fortune in finding Dave again. She watched his interaction with the others and admired his well-developed social graces. The lean, gangly teenager had become a man. A gentleman. And an architect with a master’s degree. Would he find her interesting after so many years and total separation? She hadn’t exactly been “rode hard and put up wet.” The extra time put on her hair and the slimming royal blue dress she wore tonight gave her confidence.
“So you work for this company, and this is a retirement celebration?” Dave interrupted her musings. “What do you do?”
“Human resources, with a specialty in data management. But I do a lot of person-to-person consulting as well. Megan has been my boss as long as I’ve been with the company. We all regret losing her, but she deserves a good retirement.”
They swapped a few facts, like how he had remained in the Methodist church and reared his sons under that umbrella. She was still in the same one where they’d attended youth group together.
Rather than become grounded and calmed as light conversation continued, she developed an inner quiver. The boy of her girlish dreams had become a handsome, polished professional. Parts of her she’d thought died with her husband stirred and stretched as if from a long sleep.
After the dinner of cordon bleu came a rich chocolate confection. Then coffee and liqueurs were served in the living room. Dave and Trisha sat together on the sofa. Soon the guests began to thank Julia, cover Megan with good wishes, and slip into the night. Trisha didn’t want the party to end.
You can’t let him go. He can’t just leave again. Please, God, make him ask for my number, my e-mail, anything.
Only Megan and her husband, Julia and Doug Barnett, Trisha and Dave remained in the living room. “I should go.” She tried not to look and sound as reluctant as she felt.
“Oh, but first I have to explain.” Julia came to where they were sitting, bringing her cell phone and a list of names and scribbled notes. “Here’s the message I sent from my phone, the invitation I sent you, Dave. I made a mistake in one number when I intended to send it to Alice. You didn’t meet her. She’s recovering from surgery and couldn’t come. But you see the number on my list?” She held it out for him to inspect. “There’s only one number different. You still have the 817 area code?”
“I got this phone in Fort Worth, and have kept the same number ever since. I never had a reason to change. Since you mentioned Megan in the message, I assumed the party was for my sister and her husband’s anniversary. I should have checked.”
Trisha looked up, noting that he hadn’t lost the dimple she loved so much. “I’m glad you didn’t. We wouldn’t have met if it hadn’t been for this marvelous mistake.”
“I don’t know, Trisha.” His eyes connected with hers for a long moment. “I have a feeling God would have worked it out somehow.”

Monday, May 2, 2016

In Times Like These

Gail Kittleson has written a beautiful novel based in hometown USA during World War II. Layered over the WWII setting, she addresses the issue of verbal abuse in a marriage. In fact, this novel has the endorsement of Patricia Evans, author of The Verbally Abusive Relationship, Controlling People, and other books. Ms. Evans coined the expression "verbal abuse."

Gail, I understand that you have developed a strong relationship with Addie, the heroine of your historical fiction release. Please tell us about her.

Addie first whispered her story to me four years ago. A couple of years later, I thought I’d completed the novel . . . wrong!

Elie Wiesel wrote, “There is a difference between a book of two hundred pages from the very beginning, and a book of two hundred pages which is the result of an original eight hundred pages. The six hundred are there. Only you don’t see them.”

Boy, can I relate. With further editing and research, the word count diminished, but each word’s power increased. My internal editor, always at work, joined several editors in making suggestions. True, that meant rejection, but I so appreciate them taking the time.

One agent suggested I chuck this story, count it a learning experience, and start over fresh. But Addie wouldn’t let me. She’d become far too real. So I plunged ahead, changed the title, layered the moral premise deeper and deeper, and labored to give each character several dimensions. Addie’s controlling, egotistical husband Harold challenged me, since his verbal abuse arose from wearing blinders to anyone else’s needs.

Still, he wants to fight the Axis because of patriotism, and having his desire squelched drives him to the edge. But the big question was, how could Addie find her voice and claim her God-given right to be herself? How could the tamped-down music in her soul burst forth into everyday joy?

The backdrop of World War II and Iowa’s severe winter weather highlight the victory garden Addie plans. Her best friend Kate’s letters from London support her through the roughest times, and Addie’s older gardening neighbor offers her pithy life philosophy along with advice about flowers.

All along, I believed Addie assured me she’d make it—I just knew she would. That certainty played in my ears during the whole time of creating and conjuring, editing and honing. Then a professional editor tweaked some things I’d still missed.

But finally, Addie’s out there, ready to meet readers. I’m very grateful, and hope they cheer her along her path to victory. I’d so enjoy hearing first impressions of her story from your blog readers.

Would you give us a sample of the story?

This excerpt is taken from the beginning of the second chapter, as we begin to see that Addie's marriage to Harold is not the dream world she had anticipated:

Harold burst into the big farm kitchen with a practiced scowl and accepted a steaming cup of coffee. He took a miniature spiral notepad from his overall pocket and scribbled, speaking as he wrote. “January 13. Temperature -22. If it gets any colder, we’ll lose some stock.”

“Did you get all the sheep out of the drifts?” He flung back the shock of sandy hair brushing his steel-gray eyes and disregarded Addie’s question. Maybe this pie would ease his mood, but today’s crust turned as cantankerous as the weather.

Berthea’s warning . . . more than two tries toughens the pastry tensed Addie’s shoulders.
Aware of snow clumps from Harold’s blue and white striped overalls forming pools on the faded gray linoleum, she muttered, “Come on, you stubborn crust—cooperate.”

Fern, the Esther Circle leader, said cleanliness and good food made for a happy husband, but those muddy splotches on the floor would have to wait. Harold moved closer, jutted out his chin, and spread his feet wide apart.

“Last night I read about the unjust judge finally giving in to the persistent widow. Maybe today, the draft board’ll take me, although if Pearl Harbor didn’t change anything, I don’t know what would.”

His volume increased as cinnamon wafted like incense. Addie stirred an ample spoonful into the apple filling. She folded the crust in half, lifted it into a glass pie plate and patted the soft, curved edges.

The Golden West Coffee tin holding her egg money caught her eye. Its beaming cowgirl belied the tight knot cinching her stomach, and the irony struck—like this gaping pie shell, she waited to be filled.

A few biographical notes about Gail:
After instructing English as a Second Language and college expository writing, Gail Kittleson lives in Northern Iowa with her husband, where they enjoy family and friends. In winter, Arizona's Ponderosa pine forests provide another setting for her historical women's fiction stories. Gail also instructs a creative writing class and facilitates women's workshops on spiritual growth, creativity, and memoir/fiction writing. She's a fanatic about grammar and quotes, and does a little editing on the side. If you'd like to know more, please visit her website at or contact her through Facebook.