GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: Author Gina Holder

My Own Personal Time Machine

(Guest Post by Gina Holder)

I stepped across the damp cobblestone floor. The musty air filled my lungs as I drew a deep breath. I did nothing to hold back the tears. I stood in a place that still to this day the name alone brings a sense of foreboding. Auschwitz.

I love history! I have for as long as I can remember. I have a photo of myself with my hair braided like Laura Ingalls Wilder, one braid on each side of my head, wearing a plain old-fashioned floral dress, and trying to get a ball on a string into a cup. For my 14th birthday, I had an old-fashioned tea party (pictured). I wore a peach Victorian dress borrowed from a friend. Everyone had to wear a hat and we drank tea from china teacups. About that same time, I wanted to join a group who did Civil War reenactments. I remember meeting one of the ladies at the county fair. She said I would make a good Rose, the daughter of Rose O’Neal Greenhow, a confederate spy. I held my wedding reception at the Landon House, a Civil War plantation in Urbana, Maryland, best known for hosting the “Sabers and Roses Ball” in 1862.

Perhaps, I love history because I grew up smack dab in the middle of it. I was born in Washington, D.C., our nation’s capital city. My hometown of Frederick, Maryland, is the burial grounds of Francis Scott Key and Betsy Ross. I grew up within a half-a-day’s drive of historic locations like Gettysburg, Antietam, Williamsburg, Jamestown, Mount Vernon, and Harper’s Ferry. My favorite place to visit was the Rose Hill Manor Park and Children’s Museum, once the retirement home of Thomas Jefferson.

I’ve also visited the Alamo, Plymouth Plantation and the Mayflower, Carnton Plantation in Tennessee, the Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Fortress of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, Cades Cove, Tennessee, Mount Rushmore and the Badlands, Ford’s Theatre, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Verona Arena in Verona, Italy… I’ve seen hieroglyphics, petroglyphs (Indian drawings), the names of the pioneers and covered wagon tracks carved into sheer rock on the Oregon Trail. I’ve walked through the ruins of castles in Europe. I’ve seen blood stains on floorboards in a plantation house-turned-hospital.

When I’m in these places, I imagine what it was like to live there… to see life through the eyes of those who lived so long ago. And although we can visit these historical locations and get a feeling for how things were, it’s impossible to go back in time and experience their lives… or is it?

Historical fiction breathes life into history. It becomes real. It’s your own personal time machine where you can travel to any era or event you want. Of course, most of the characters are fictional, still you can experience life the way they lived it. You can answer Alexander Graham Bell’s first phone call. You can sit in the theatre when Abraham Lincoln was shot. You can catch the first look of shoreline after weeks on a schooner or a merchant ship. You can feel every bump and jostle as you cross the open prairie. You can hear the clang as the gate of Auschwitz closes behind you. You can feel the warmth of a campfire and hear the lowing of the longhorns as they settle down for the night. You can feel the damp chill of a stone castle. You can taste the corn for the very first time that the Indians taught your family to plant. You can go anywhere and any “when.”

My favorite eras are the Civil War (love me some hoop skirts) and the Pioneers (who hasn’t dreamed of crossing the prairie in a covered wagon, right?)

Is it any wonder that with my love for history, my debut novel is a historical romance?


Welcome to my blog, Gina! It is so good to have you here today. And thanks for the guest post. You have a historical romance friend in me for sure 🙂 So tell me about your novel. Could you share the more historically significant events behind your story?

Whither Shall I Go? takes place in the years shortly before and after World War I. I used this era because it represents a lot of change in America, paralleling the changes the main character experiences throughout the story.

I am always asked about my inspiration, and I am also intrigued by what other writers find inspiring. What was your inspiration for Whither Shall I Go?

Psalm 139. My desire was to tell a story that showed this passage of scripture in action—how God is with us anywhere that life takes us and that he has a plan even when things seem out of control.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

Yes, though at times I also wanted to be a zookeeper or open a horse farm orphanage.

How long does it take you to write a book?

My debut novel took me two-and-a-half years consistently, however I started writing the book about fifteen years ago when I was eighteen.

Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

One of the biggest struggles Ellie faces in the book is getting along with the missionary’s wife, Judith. Judith is critical of everything Ellie does and Ellie can’t figure out what she’s done to offend the woman. Can Ellie and Judith work things out? It takes a near death experience to bring them together.

Thank you again for being on the blog and answering my questions. I am eager to learn more about the book!


Whither Shall I Go?


In 1911, Ellie Williams struggles to see God’s hand in her life when she loses both parents and is sent to live with her wealthy, estranged aunt, who transforms her from awkward country bumpkin to socialite heiress. Six years later, she meets a young preacher and finds hope as they serve the Lord together.

Robert Hampton is deeply devoted to God and desires to take the gospel to the unreached natives of Brazil. He didn’t expect to fall in love. When he is drafted, Robert is torn between his duty as a soldier and his budding affections for Ellie. Will Robert survive the trenches? Will he lose the only woman he’s ever loved?

Ellie’s journey takes her from her home in Cades Cove, Tennessee, to the concrete jungle of New York City, and finally to the harsh unforgiving world of the Amazon River Basin, where she meets Paul, a doctor who’s lost his way, and Jack, a soldier with amnesia. Encountering anacondas, jaguars, and an antagonistic shaman, will Ellie give in to the fears that threaten to overwhelm her?

Or can she depend upon God’s grace to bring about His will for her life?

Enjoy an Excerpt

An hour later, they stood on the steps of her home. The Hampton’s were dining out, so Robert suggested they drop Ellie off on their way. “Thank you for sharing your passion with me, Brother Hampton. I enjoyed the time.” She cupped her hands over her eyes to block the setting sun.

“You’re welcome.” Brother Hampton shoved his hands into his pockets. “By the way, you can call me Robert. Brother Hampton makes me feel old.” He glanced towards his aunt and uncle waiting in the car, then back at Ellie. “Miss Williams, how would you like to do this more often?”

“What do you mean?” Ellie tipped her head to the side, her eyes filled with anticipation.

“I thought maybe you could assist me in getting this Sunday school off the ground. We could study the Word of God together, plan lessons, and spend time praying for the students. You teach the girls and I’ll teach the boys.”

She smiled and said, “I would love to. And please, call me Ellie.”

Buy Links



More about the Author

Gina Holder was raised in Maryland, but spent a few years in Pennsylvania. As an adult, she served for three-and-a-half years alongside her parents as missionaries in the Czech Republic. She currently resides in Kentucky with her husband and daughter. She loves music, reading Christian fiction, and watching movies. She plays the piano and sings. She’s visited 43 out of 50 states.

Connect with Gina



Comment with your favorite era for a chance to win a signed copy of my debut novel, “Whither Shall I Go?” Entries will be accepted until Thursday, November 23, 2017 at 11:59 pm CST.

Fiction Inspired By Life: Grieving

As we approach the holiday season, it is a joyous time for many, but it is also a time of sorrow for others. For some are spending their first holidays without a key member of their family. It will not be easy. Everything about the routines, the traditions, the get-togethers…nothing will be the same. And it’s not fair. Nothing about it is fair.

And so, I find myself sharing about grief again. Only this time, I want to talk about how my own experience with grief has bled into my writing.

A Convenient Risk

One of my latest novels, A Convenient Risk, has a thread of grief and the grieving process running through it. I wrote this novel about a year and a half ago. At that time, I was only somewhat acquainted with grief. I had experienced the loss of four grandparents (all of whom I was very, very close to). And I had said an eternal farewell to a close friend who drowned at the age of 19.

I’ll be honest, as a empathetic personality, grief has always been a struggle for me. I have never done well with the process and moving on from it. Until I started going to a counselor. But this is all another post for another time. Which, I promise, I will get into. But this is where I was.


The lead female character in A Convenient Risk, Amanda, loses her husband in the first scene of the novel. And, in this time period, the late 1800’s, there are not many options open to a woman, especially one who must support a child (which she does). So, she has to find stability for she and her son. When a decent offer of marriage comes along, she is hard pressed to take it.

In this book, Amanda struggles through her grief in finding new normal, in the fact she has a new marriage. She is also challenged in the area of belief in a heavenly Father who could love her. This makes her journey even harder.

Here is an excerpt from the novel:

Cold. The air whipping her hair chilled her face, but it couldn’t touch her heart. That was already lost. Was this all she would ever feel? Perhaps that’s what she deserved.

A small hand pulled at her skirt. Samuel. She couldn’t forget him. He deserved better. More than what life had dealt him. Leaning down, she swept him into her arms and held him to her chest. If only there were some semblance of warmth there for him. It couldn’t be helped.

“Don’t cry, Mama.” His tiny voice broke through the silence. Small hands framed her face. “Pa’s in heaven, right?”

Nodding at her son with his simple faith, she set her forehead on his, closing her eyes so he couldn’t see her tears.

Movement to her left gave her pause. But she dare not look. Probably another well-meaning friend come to comfort her. A face among many.

“They need to start.” It was Reverend Mason.

Men with their shovels clanging fell into step behind him. Why now? Could she just have a few more minutes before time continued? Before the inevitable swept her along?

“Ma’am?” The preacher’s voice was kind, but insistent.

Didn’t he know her world was falling apart? That nothing would ever be the same? That she had lost the only one who ever knew…who ever understood…

A hand fell upon her arm, and she did not try to resist as the reverend tugged at her, pulling her away from the graveside.

She snuggled Samuel closer to her chest, placing a hand behind his head and pressing his little face into the crook of her neck. He didn’t need to see. No, she couldn’t let him see as the two men scooped dirt onto his father’s casket.

“Mama, you’re hurting me,” came the muffled little voice.

She loosened her grip. And guilt slammed into her—she had caused enough pain, enough grief. No more. And certainly not for Samuel. He was everything.

“The next few days will be hard, Mrs. Haynes. Don’t expect anything different. You will have to find a new normal. Life as you knew it is gone.”

Amanda nodded numbly as she pressed a kiss to the side of Samuel’s head. New normal. What did that mean? What was normal? Her husband had been ill for near three months. She had watched him waste away. And her child watched his father suffer until death released him.

Shouldn’t they welcome a new normal? But Amanda would give anything to have Jed back. Not to hear his voice, or feel his arms one more time, but to know that everything was going to be all right. Was that selfish? Because right now, the future looked grim. How was she to care for Samuel? For herself? For the ranch?

~ Turnquist, Sara R. (2017)

Some things that come to light for me from this passage are how many emotions come through in grief: sadness, guilt, anger, frustration, bitterness, regret… We also remember good times, which brings us something akin to bittersweetness. And happiness that is laced with pain. (Not that Amanda in this scene has any semblance of that.)

It is true…

But it is true also that life does go on. She has to care for Samuel. She has to find a way to live. That is one of the harder things about grieving. Especially for those of us in a position of responsibility – we have to return to work, we have to wake up and take care of the kids, classes and homework wait for us. Bills and taxes still have to be paid. As much as we wish the world would stop for us to just pause and let ourselves go, it won’t. So we have to find the moments, make the time.

And, in those times, lean into the grief and not turn from it. Let it wash over us.

So we can then begin to heal.

INTERVIEW & SPOTLIGHT: Author Emerald Barnes

Hello, all! I have an author on today who I met through the Clean Reads Publishing family. It really does feel a bit like a family, all of us authors who have published with Clean Reads. We help each other with marketing tips, answer each other’s questions, give each other recommendations and tips on where to get stuff printed, what blog tour service was worth the money, and so on and so forth. I have enjoyed being a part of this group.

Back to my guest. Emerald Barnes is the author of the Knight’s Academy Series and is here to share with us about the newest book in that series, The Hunted. So, without any further rambling from me, I’ll jump right in.

Hello, Emerald. Thanks for being on my blog today. First, can you tell us a little about your novel.

My novel, The Hunted, is the second book in the Knight’s Academy series, and it follows Myka after she’s found out the meaning of her birthmark and the truth of the Knight’s Academy. She’s on the run from the vicious vampires who want her, and she finally discovers the truth of who she is.

Such an interesting and unique story! What was the inspiration for The Hunted?

My novel, the entire series actually, was inspired by a dream I had where a vampire saved a human from being a captive, which was probably inspired by Twilight and The Vampire Academy series.

Hmmm…I do dream about my genre and I know I think in the dream “this would be a good story”, but I don’t often remember enough of the dream to capture it 🙁

Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

Actually, I started out wanting to be an archaeologist. I had read books about kid archaeologists, and it was something that struck a chord with me. But then, I realized that writing and entertaining others like those books did for me was what I really wanted to do. That was probably in high school, though.

What made you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

In high school, I started writing stories, and when I injured my foot, I ended up with this paranormal story I wrote because I couldn’t do anything else. That was when I knew writing was for me.

I know there are things we all love about writing…and things we don’t love so much. What part of the writing process do you dread?

Editing. It’s totally essential and probably the most important step, but it’s so tedious.

I hear ya’. I’d rather write three novels than edit one.

As much as I think writers learn from doing and from craft books, I think we learn intuitively from reading other writers. What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading Kitishi Island by Jordan Elizabeth.

What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

It depends. I have a mix for my Knight’s Academy series, which you can listen to on YouTube. But lately, it’s been Brett Young and Christian Kane that have dominated any playlist I have!

Can you share with us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

My main character, Myka, finds out who her real parents are in this novel.

And, lastly, do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

I’m currently working on book three, The Chosen, in the Knight’s Academy series and a Christmas novella called Christmas Beginnings.

Busy lady! I love it! Thank you so much for visiting with me today and I look forward to sharing more about your books!

The Hunted

Myka Williams has been forced out of Knight’s Academy and is on the run, constantly moving to keep the vampires off her trail until Preston’s venom is no longer coursing through her veins. But she isn’t alone.

Brent Jacobson is her protector, training her and teaching her how to be the werewolf she’s destined to be. He’s annoying, stubborn—and hot. But there’s something he isn’t telling her.

Myka has to come face-to-face with the truth of who she really is. Will she find safety, or will she always be hunted?

Buy Links


Amazon UK




Clean Reads


Enjoy an Excerpt

Preston jerked Myka’s arms behind her back roughly. He wrapped her wrists in duct tape, and the memories of that day, where he was about to rape her, flashed in her mind. She wasn’t going to let Preston hurt her again.

After he’d secured her, he moved her hair off of her neck and whispered in her ear, “Oh, I’ve been waiting too long for this, dog. You’ve been hard to find. Too hard. Guess all that venom I pumped you full of has worn off. Lucky for me, I knew you couldn’t resist seeing your dear ole parents again. No matter what you are.” His hot, excited breath made her shudder. He shoved her into a chair and turned her around to face her parents.

He nipped her neck, and she jumped. He laughed, and Barry said, “Get your hands off my daughter.”

Myka closed her eyes. Preston wasn’t going to like being told what to do. A harsh smack of skin on skin sounded, and she screamed, “Preston, no!”

Hot tears burned her eyes, but he paused. He stared at her, anger rolling off his body in waves, but at least he stopped hitting her dad. Barry’s face was red from the punch.

“Please don’t hurt them,” she begged.

Preston rubbed his hand through Jilly’s hair, and a sob escaped her lips. Myka’s heart sank in her chest. She had to do something. These monsters weren’t going to keep their word. They would kill her parents, and she would die before she let that happen.

“Okay. But you have to come back to Knight’s Academy with me, pop out little hybrid babies, and never leave my side,” Preston said, running his finger over her cheek.

“You know I won’t agree to that,” she said, staring at her parents.

“Then you will watch them die.” He leaned over Jilly and stared at Myka with black eyes, and his fangs were protruded, ready for the bite.

“Preston, please. Please don’t do this!” she begged.

“Leave her alone, monster! I’ll kill you if you touch her,” Barry said.

Preston laughed harshly. He lowered himself closer and closer to Jilly’s neck. Myka screamed; her body tingled, ready for the change. A loud howl rumbled through the kitchen, just as wood and glass shattered around them.

In case you missed The Marked:

Myka Williams has never fit in with her peers, and although her adoptive parents are loving and supportive, she feels most at home alone in the woods.

When she’s offered a full scholarship to Knight’s Academy in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, she takes the opportunity for a fresh start. She soon learns that Knight’s Academy is more than just a school. Within the stone walls of the institution, humans and vampires are mixing, and their offspring are going unnoticed.

As Myka falls prey to the evil plan of the school, she makes a chilling discovery about her own heritage and realizes that she’s at the Academy for more than just an education. Myka must yield to her birthright at the risk of losing everyone she loves or succumb to the fate that Knight’s Academy has in store for her—a fate worse than death.

The Marked Buy Links:


Amazon UK





Clean Reads


Paperback links:


Barnes and Noble

More About the Author

Emerald Barnes resides in a small town in Mississippi and has the accent to prove it. She’s an auntie, a youth leader, a Whovian, a little bit of a nerd, a reader, a writer, and a family-oriented person. God is number One in her life, and she thanks Him continuously for His love and favor. She’s addicted to tv and binge-watching shows, and she has a thing for superheroes.

Connect with Emerald and her books






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Hello, again. I hope you have gleaned something from my thoughts and experience with depression. It is time, I feel, to turn to another biggie that is difficult (if not impossible) to overcome. I would, in fact, argue that you never overcome grief…you walk through it.

The thing about grief is that we all go through it. At some point in your life, someone you care about has died, or someone close to you is going to die. It is inevitable. That is why they say “death is just a part of life”. It is.

One of the hardest things when that loved one passes(in my opinion) is that the world goes right on turning. Everyone else will go to work the next day, the kids will go to school, and everyone else carries on as if your world has not come to screeching halt. Because life moves on. And, eventually, yours will too. BUT…it will never be the same. You will have to find NEW NORMAL. A new state of being without that person.

Don’t bog yourself down with trying to find whatever balance you had before. You will NEVER get there. When you are ready to pick yourself up, it is time to focus on new normal and what that looks like for you. It will be different for everyone. Even for everyone who lost that person. Hopefully, as you grieve together, you can find your unique new normals together.

When people think about grieving, their first thought is the stages of grief. And these are well laid out, typical stages that people go through. But there are some misconceptions. A couple of months ago, I wrote a post about the stages of grief and my experience at that point with those stages. You can find that post HERE. Glean whatever you can from my findings and let it facilitate your journey.

But know that it (your journey) will not look like mine.

Or like anyone else’s.

And that’s okay.

INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Carrie Fancett Pagels

Welcome back! I have the privilege of hosting author Carrie Fancett Pagels today. If you are anything like me and have enjoyed the Barbour Collections, you may recognize her name from some of those wonderful books. I “met” Carrie through the ACFW Historical Fiction Facebook page.

If you are writing and would like to be involved in a group that has monthly online classes, has a place where you can be held accountable for daily word counts or editing, join online critique groups, or connect with other writers/authors in your genre, ACFW is a great organization to check out. Their annual conference as well, is just phenomenal! But let me turn the spotlight back on Carrie and dive right in.

Welcome to my blog, Carrie. First, can you tell us a little about your novel.

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude’s Mooring is set in 1895 on beautiful Mackinac Island, in the Straits of Mackinac in Michigan.

My genre is historical romance/fiction both to read and write. So, I’m thrilled to hear more about your novel. Care to share the more historically significant events behind your story?

The story is not really set against “big events” but part of the backdrop is the nature of Yellow Journalism and Gilded Age lies in romance—where both men and women are pursuing wealthy spouses. In my story, Mark Twain makes an appearance, and he really did come to the Grand Hotel, where my story is set, that summer. Also, the Round Island Lighthouse really was constructed that year in the Straits of Mackinac by Mackinac Island. By the way, I am now under contract for a story set at the Round Island Lighthouse!

One of the questions I get asked most often is “where do you get your inspiration?”. It just fascinates people. And I’m no exception. I love hearing from other authors and where their inspiration comes from. What was the inspiration for My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude’s Mooring?

Oh my! I grew up not far from there and worked on the island when I was sixteen. I’ve returned many times since. I was a psychologist for twenty-five years and one summer, my friend Rosemary, whose family was from the island, gave me her own personal tour. One of the places we stopped was at the Windermere Hotel, the inspiration for Maude’s Winds of Mackinac. I’d had a story in my head for years.

Wow! What a neat, personal touch! So, did you always want to be a writer?

I did want to be a writer when I was a kid. I was a book devourer.

I’m also intrigued by what other authors consume. Never a bad idea to get a good recommendation 🙂 What are you currently reading?

I am listening to Jan Karon’s latest novel! I used to get her audiobooks from the library, over a decade ago, and listen to them over and over again.

When I write, I just have to set the mood. Music is a big part of that for me. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I usually go to YouTube to find era-appropriate music. I sometimes buy historical music CDs or downloads, like musician Timothy Seaman’s duldimer CDs.

I always ask my guests this next question…always trying to get the inside scoop, you understand. Can you tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

This book was a “Problem Child” book and Maude’s characterization got an overhaul. I originally had her as a more anxious young woman and was advised against portraying her in that manor. So she had to go to “rehab”!

And, lastly, do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

Yes, I have another brand new release, Love’s Escape, in The Captive Brides collection. This novella is from Barbour Publishing as are the four novellas I have releasing in 2018. I am completing edits from the editor on Shenandoah Hearts, part of the Backwoods Brides collection which I spearheaded and had on my heart for years to do. Authors are all from the Colonial American Authors group which I founded seven years ago. I’m writing The Sugarplum Ladies part of the Victorian Christmas Brides collection right now and I’m loving this story! I have galleys coming soon for His Anchor part of the First Love Forever collection which includes Sadie’s story—Maude’s best friend from My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island. Next I’ll be writing a story set at Round Island Lighthouse in the Straits of Mackinac!

I cannot tell you how much I love the Barbour Collections! I am eager to dive into this one.

Thank you, Carrie, for joining us today and for sharing about your book. And now, we’ll take a peek at The Captive Bride Collection and Carrie’s contribution, Love’s Escape.

The Captive Bride Collection

Enjoy an Excerpt

An Except from Chapter 2 of Love’s Escape in The Captive Bride Collection (Barbour, October, 2017)

The stench of slavebroker Hiram Cheney’s tobacco, sweat, and alcohol was only intensified by his heavy use of bergamot oil. Lettie held her breath as she backed away from the open entryway, through which the paunchy man was shoving Beneida, the Dolleys’ servant. Lettie released a gasp. She’d met the beautiful young slave several times – the first time when Lettie accompanied old Mrs. Burwell to see her dressmaker, in Richmond.

Today Beneida wore a pink and yellow checked day dress that was as fine as any Virginia society belle’s. Lettie pressed a hand to her throat. She couldn’t voice her question – what was Beneida doing in their kitchen?

“Where’s Burwell?” The irksome man pulled a heavy watch from his purple and sky-blue plaid vest.

Lettie backed up to the kitchen window and startled when her apron strings tapped against the glass.

Nestor dipped a little curtsey and ducked her head. “He where he usually be, Mr. Cheney – up in the Big House.”

The man grinned, his pock-marked ruddy face one Lettie had encountered in her nightmares. The other slaves told stories of the man as though speaking of the devil himself. No one wanted to be taken from Burwell Plantation by this man and sold elsewhere. Who knew what all he would do before they ever reached their destination?

“Why lookie here.” He chucked Nestor under her chin. “Things has worked out fine for ya here, ain’t they?”

“Yes sir.”

Lettie must have been staring, for Cheney growled as he looked at her. She quickly glanced away and moved away from the window to the stove.

“I’d say I was sorry about your mama, Lettie, but I ain’t a man to lie.” He patted the pockets of his burgundy coat.

She chewed her lip, willing the tears to stay put.

“Fact is, I was surprised it ain’t happened earlier.”

“Mr. Cheney, you want to try my new sugar biscuits?” Nestor’s voice was tight.

Lettie heard the man’s boots ground into the brick floor. “Why, if I had more time, I’d gladly savor some of your sugar biscuits, Nestor.”

Lettie cringed at the insinuation in the insufferable man’s voice. She heard Beneida sniffling in the corner.

“But I got to hand off this handsome gal and git on back to Richmond afore the boat departs. Got me a hundred—” he used a derogatory term that set Lettie’s teeth on edge “—to take down to Charleston.”

Lettie turned to cast a sideways glance at the man, who was touching Beneida in an all-too-familiar manner. “Just remember your place and don’t be puttin’ on no fancy airs here, girl, and Miz Burwell might keep you.”

As beautiful as the young woman was, who knew what shame Beneida would know at this plantation? Or had already suffered at Cheney’s hands. Mama had somehow been able to keep the young Burwell men from her, and up to now had prevented Durham from getting near her, but now. . . Tears flowed down her cheek and she bent to stir the stew simmering on the hearth.

“Goin’ up to the fields. Burwell wasn’t at the house when I stopped.” Cheney spit a glob of tobacco onto their clean kitchen floor. “Wipe that up girl.”

He pushed Beneida toward the filth. When she hesitated, he kicked her. “Use that fancy gown of yours. Ya won’t be wearin’ it here.”

Beneida grabbed a handful of the taffeta fabric, but found what Lettie knew – the stiff fabric wouldn’t pick it up – it merely smeared the foul substance around.

Spinning on his heel, Cheney cackled as he heavy-footed it out of the kitchen.

Lettie whooshed out a breath. She grabbed a wet rag and brought it over to wipe up the tobacco clump.

Nestor offered their newcomer a hand up. “You be Beneida?”


Lettie bent and wiped up the dark stain. If only life’s messes were that easy to clean up. If only God could blot out the sins of men and restore them to right reasoning. Would they realize enslaving people was wrong?

“I heard about you.” Nestor lucked at her shabby gray cotton skirt, beneath her stained apron.

“How so?” Beneida nibbled her lower lip.

“Lettie say you gonna be free. That you go to England.”

Her oval face paled. “I did. But we returned. Mr. Dolley died. And his wife sold me to the Burwells.” Tears streamed down her face and little Nestor patted her arm.

Beneida stared out through the windows. “I’ve never lived anywhere but in town.”

Lettie followed her gaze. Outside, well-muscled field slaves pushed carts of produce to the back of the kitchen house. A number of men sat on the ground, by the well, drinking their fill of water before they headed back. Across the yard, female slaves carried baskets of laundry atop their heads and into the laundry building. Smoke curled up where huge pots of water boiled for the task.

Chauncey Burwell rode up the center lawn astride his white gelding, waving his hat high. He circled the square and the kitchen workers all quickly turned their attention to chopping vegetables on the counter. Even Beneida picked up a knife, in pretense.

“You look ridiculous in that outfit, in here.” Lettie pointed to the hall.

“Everything I brought in my bundle is this fancy or more so.” Beneida gingerly fingered the glossy bow on her right shoulder.

“I’ve got extra clothing upstairs you can use.”

“She got more problems than clothing if she stay here.” Nestor pointed toward the overseer, who was ducking into the laundry building. Where he had no business to be.

More about the Author

Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D., is the award-winning author of fifteen Christian historical romances, including ECPA bestsellers. Twenty-five years as a psychologist didn’t “cure” her overactive imagination! A self-professed “history geek,” she resides with her family in the Historic Triangle of Virginia but grew up as a “Yooper,” in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula. Carrie loves to read, bake, bead, and travel – but not all at the same time! Her latest novel, My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude’s Mooring is a Romantic Times Book Reviews Top Pick. You can connect with her at

Connect with Carrie and her books


Blogs: Overcoming With God and Colonial Quills

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Carrie will be giving away one of her books (winner’s choice!) to a randomly chosen entrant. And I have been trying to figure out a better way to do these giveaways. Finally, I have decided to run rafflecopters. You probably know how they work…entries will be accepted until Thursday evening November 9, 2017 at 11:59pm (CST).


a Rafflecopter giveaway


I want to start this post off by saying that there is no “prescription” for “how to overcome depression”. The recovery from depression is different for everyone. But there are some things that seem common between most people and things that were a huge help to me. So, I have decided to “talk” through a few of those things in hopes that someone out there may find similar help from some of these things.

First, let me tell you that there is nothing, nothing, nothing you did to cause clinical depression. It is a chemical imbalance in your brain. There may be contributing factors, but the cause is something biological. Nor, do I believe that depression is a sign that you are “not a good Christian” or that “God is punishing you”. The Bible just does not teach that.

A few things that can help ward off the recurrence of depression and help in the recovery process are:

  • ensure good social support – a strong support system can work for you in a couple of ways
    • they can help identify when your mood is dropping before it “bottoms out”
    • they can assist with your care and help be a sounding board for you
    • they help you know you are loved and cared for when intrusive thoughts tell you otherwise (help you combat the lies with truth)
  • get sufficient rest/sleep – this one is self-explanatory, but one thing to note is that sometimes depressed individuals aren’t actually getting quality sleep though they may be getting plenty of it
  • cut down on less important responsibilities, but do NOT give up things that feed your soul
    • delegate what you can, when you can
    • maintain quality time with friends, hobbies, etc…the things that make you feel alive
  • get timely mental health care
    • this means counseling and medical care
    • the sooner you reach out, the better and more likely you will stave off a deeper depression

Now, let’s get practical…

When I was in the recovery process, some things that really helped me were:

  • taking my thoughts captive
    • you know that those intrusive thoughts only make things worse
    • 2 Corinthians 10:5 – We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ
    • pray about the thought
    • tell someone about it – the thought only has power over you as long as it is secret
    • think on something pleasant (Philippians 4:8)
  • make a playlist of music that spoke to me in this season and edified me
  • spend time in the Bible
    • the only way to combat lies is with truth
  • monitor my expectations
    • “expectations are pre-meditated miseries” ~ unknown
    • your expectations, or holding on hard to your expectations of yourself, your life, etc, sets you up for failure; expectations are not bad, as long as you are realistic and flexible with them
  • know the truth that you are not alone
    • 1 in every 5 Americans has first hand experience with depression, bipolar disorder, or another mood disorder
  • setting up something for myself to do each day and doing it
    • no matter that I didn’t FEEL like it, or didn’t really want to, I made myself do things I used to enjoy, get out, see friends, etc.
  • set a routine up and followed it
    • having a basic routine is key and when I mean basic, I mean BASIC
    • get out of bed, shower, brush teeth, put on clean clothes, etc.

These are just a few of the things that helped me. The more practical ones. Out of my season of depression, I have written over 130 individual devotionals. I do hope one day to get them compiled and published. My heart hurts for those who are in this darkness and struggling for a glimpse of light. I have been there. And I would be lying to say that every day is a good day since. But the days are much better, brighter. And I can embrace the hope that I could, at that time, only name.

SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: Author Lucie Ulrich’s “Finding Hope”

Hello, all! Here is another Clean Reads author, Lucie Ulrich, sharing about her latest release and offering a GIVEAWAY!!! (Giveaway details are below.) The book on spotlight today is Book 2 in The Cooper Family Series. So, let me step out of the way and let you check out the book!

Finding Hope

Nearly sixteen years after relinquishing the rights to his unborn child, Noah Cooper is stunned to discover his daughter, Hope, wants to meet him. With the love and support of his family, Noah sets off from Elk Flats, Montana to Albany, New York, having no idea what changes are in store for him.

Cancer survivor and widow, Beth Peterson, is more than a little nervous to meet her daughter’s birth father. Their initial meeting goes well, but things decline in a hurry when Noah invites Hope to spend time at the ranch without speaking to Beth about it first.

Determined to meet her new family, a battle of wills ensues between Hope and her mother. While Hope longs for a connection, Beth fears losing her daughter to virtual strangers—strangers who live two thousand miles away.

Struggles and misunderstandings abound between Noah and Beth, despite their growing attraction for one another. Noah is ready to commit, while Beth can’t let go of the memory of her husband and the imperfections cancer has forced her to live with.

Will hope, patience, and prayer be enough to pull this family together?

Enjoy an Excerpt

Over dinner Hope chatted on about school, her dreams to become a veterinarian, and the school play she was taking part in. “I have a really good part. Do you think you could come back to see me, Noah?”

“As much as I’d like to, I’m not sure I could get away so soon.”

“Honey, that’s a lot to ask. The play is only a month away, and Noah doesn’t exactly live across town.”

“Sure.” Hope swirled the mashed potatoes on her plate with her fork. “I understand.”

The downward bent of Hope’s mouth tore at Noah’s insides. He’d barely made contact and was already letting her down. He swallowed his final bite of meat. “Maybe you could spend some time at the ranch over the summer.”

Hope’s frown quickly turned to a face-splitting grin. “That would be amazing. I can’t wait to tell Jenny.”

Fire practically shot from Beth’s eyes, and Noah knew he’d put his foot in it big time.


Beth asked Hope to clear the table and clean the kitchen. “I’m going to show Noah the garden. We’ll have dessert when we come back.”

“Sure, Mom.”

“The garden’s this way.” Beth walked past Noah toward the sliding glass door. She opened it with more force than necessary, causing the door to slam into its metal casing. Cringing at the racket, she was less forceful with the screen.

Noah followed her onto the deck. “Look, I know I spoke—”

“Not here.” She descended the stairs at a brisk pace and walked across the yard until she reached the gazebo. The walk and cool air did nothing to calm her nerves. Spinning around, she faced him. “You had no right to extend an invitation like that without speaking to me first.”

“I know, and I’m sorry. The words just came out before I had a chance to think about what I was saying.”

“Yeah, well, sorry isn’t going to help when I have to tell Hope she won’t be going. I opened my home to you so that you could meet your daughter, not for you to whisk her away at the first opportunity.”

He held up his hands. “Whisk her away? No, you’ve got it all wrong. I expect you to come with her. Hope has other family, which means you do, too. I think she’d enjoy a couple of weeks of ranch life, and you’re both going to love my family.”

“You assume a lot for someone who’s barely known me for twenty-four hours and my daughter half that amount of time. And, yes, I did say my daughter. You may have fathered her, but I raised her.”

“That’s a low blow, Beth.” Noah’s easy smile vanished. He leaned against the railing and crossed his arms over his chest. The mixture of hurt and anger in his eyes pained her. She knew she was overreacting but couldn’t help herself. He was moving too fast. Surely he realized that. “I think it might be best if you don’t stay for dessert. I’ll explain to Hope.”

“I’ll be the first to admit that my enthusiasm may have gotten the better of me.” He uncrossed his arms and pointed to her. “But you’re the one who invited me into Hope’s life. You asked if I was in for the long-haul, so I assumed you understood I’d want to bring Hope to Montana from time to time.”

“It’s too early for this to be about what you want.”

Buy Links






In case you missed the first book, The Rose Ring

With a will that reads like a piece of fiction, the return of his long-lost brother, and the possibility of losing the family ranch, Micah Cooper calls on high school friend, Sky Baxter, to bail him out of a bad situation.

Though her brain tells her no, Sky’s heart says yes. She accepts Micah’s in-name-only proposal, knowing it’s unlikely anything permanent will come of it. She’s been in love with him since the ninth grade, and if he hasn’t figured it out by now, there’s little chance he ever will.

When an unexpected kiss ignites a spark, giving Micah hope for a possible future with Sky, a tragic accident threatens to take it all away. Torn between following his heart, doing the right thing, and forgiving the past, Micah is lost in a whirlwind of pain and emotions. Will he make it through the next two years, or will a long-kept family secret be the undoing of all of the Cooper Family?

Find it on Amazon or other online retailers

About the Author

Lucie Ulrich is an award-winning author of inspirational fiction. Her books are filled with stories of faith, family and forgiveness. She was honored to receive a RONE Award for her second novel, “The Rose Ring.”

A former performing arts director, Lucie now enjoys going on photo shoots with her husband, and taking long (or short) road trips. She continues to find inspiration as she and her husband explore the four corners of the United States.

Connect with Lucie and her books






Lucie Ulrich is offering an e-copy of “The Rose Ring” and “Finding Hope” to a single winner. The winner will be selected at random from those who comment on this post. Entries (comments) for the contest will be accepted for the giveaway until November 2, 2017 at 11:59 pm (CST). Please feel free to share your thoughts on the post or answer this question:

If a secret from your past showed up in the present would you embrace it or run from it?

INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Kinsey Corwin

Hello! Here I am with author Kinsey Corwin. I met Kinsey through my publishing company Clean Reads and invited her on to talk about her new release, What if We Break. This Holiday themed short novel seems to be just what the season ordered. I, myself, am eager to learn more about it. Kinsey has also offered a Kindle e-copy of the book as a giveaway (see below for details on how to enter). So, without further ado, let’s check in with Kinsey.

Welcome to my blog, Kinsey. First, can you tell us a little about your novel.

What if We Break is the story of an estranged married couple. Dakota and Kreed Bryant have faced some tragedies that drove them apart. When two of their closest friends get married, they have to face each other and the things that drove them apart.

Oohh…interesting. Sounds like a good set up.

Did you always want to be a writer?

No. I wrote on and off in my teens. But didn’t realize I wanted to write until after my children were born.

So similar to my story…I totally get it. What did you want to be when you were a child?

When I was younger, I really wanted to be a marine biologist or an artist like Robert Wyland. His art fascinated and inspired me.

True story…my degree is in biology. And I worked in a zoo for 15 years, teaching, while I continued to write. I have a real passion for wildlife and wild places, but the lure of the muse kept pulling me.

Now, I know we all enjoy many things about the process (or else we wouldn’t be writing, right?), but there are things we don’t necessarily like. What part of the writing process do you dread?

Plotting. I’m such a fly by the seat of my pants kind of writer, but it sometimes causes serious plot issues. So I’m trying to learn to be a little better about plotting, which has been really hard.

By nature, I am a “pantser” too, but I have become a “plantser” as I call it. I plot out/develop my characters and their arcs before I start writing. Then I pants everything else. It seems to help.

I am forever gleaning what I can from other writers. Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

Devour the authors you love, in your genre out of your genre. If you love them, read them. There is much to be learned from the authors we turn to when we want to escape for a little bit. The books you read and aren’t fond of…learn from them as well. What didn’t you like? What worked? What would you do differently? Take classes and workshops. Delve into some craft books, keep them handy for reference when you are struggling. Surround yourself with a good support system. And remember that even struggles will get you closer to achieving your publishing dreams. As they say…Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your novel and writing career won’t be either.

Good advice! I like it! Speaking of which…what are you currently reading?

Right now I’m really enjoying the Hawk Elite series by Beth Rhodes. I’m on the second book, Strike Fear, and anxiously looking forward to more.

To get in my writing head space, I often have to “set the mood”. That includes music for me. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

Music in my house is almost always on country, even when I’m writing. When the muse demands something else, it is usually along the lines of The Chainsmokers, Twenty One Pilots, Fall Out Boy, Panic at the Disco, or P!nk. And if I’m really in a music pickle, I rely on my niece to provide me with a list of go to tunes that they are listening to.

What else helps you set the mood? Do you have a favorite time of day to write?

I love to write in the morning. It seems to be when I have the least distractions. Sadly, I don’t get the opportunity to do so often because I still work a day job.

What about a favorite place?

I love to write from my couch or at a local coffee joint (such a typical author response it seems). When I am visiting my parents, I love to sit in their backyard and write.

I have a really nice set up at home, too, but I seem to think better at the local coffee shop too.

Something that always intrigues non-writers is the creative process and how long it takes. So for you, how long does it take to write a book?

Writing my books tend to take anywhere from a month to a year depending on the genre and how detailed the book is.

Do you have any current projects your working on? Care to share?

Yes. I am currently working on the second book in the Serendipity series. It follows Justice Morgan, who readers are introduced to in What if We Break. She hasn’t had the easiest life and really feels like she is unlucky when it comes to the opposite sex.

Thanks for sharing. And thanks for being on my blog today! I am excited to share more about Kinsey’s book, so I will go ahead and step out of the way (proverbially), and give you a chance to check it out!


What if We Break

Sometimes the holidays can be complicated…

Dakota Bryant has had more than her share of heartache, especially around the holidays. With her best friend’s wedding quickly approaching and her estranged husband in the wedding party, she’s not likely to catch a break. Hopefully she can survive the Christmas week with her heart and sanity still intact.

War and loss left Kreed Bryant a shell of the man he once was. Returning home for the holidays to play his role as best man to his closest friend is simple. Facing his biggest challenge… setting things right with the one woman he vowed to move Heaven and Earth for is a lot more complicated.

To find their way back to the love they once had, they will have to be honest about who they are and learn that every journey to happiness is not easy or without heartache.

Enjoy an Excerpt

This is an encounter between Kreed and Dakota towards the beginning of the story. One of the reasons I love this so much is because for me, it gives a very small glimpse into the push and pull that exists between these two.

Kreed tapped Chase on the shoulder. “Mind if I cut in?”

“Sorry, this little lady is spoken for.” Chase wrapped her in a bear hug. “And I don’t think her husband would appreciate it.”

Dakota laughed and wrestled her way out of Chase’s grasp. She looked at him, her eyes wary. “You can cut in. But I have a condition. Don’t spoil it. No talking.”

Thankful for the small reprieve in her desire to run from him, Kreed pretended to zip his lips as he pulled her into his arms. A Christmas tree was nestled in the corner next to the jukebox and multi-colored strands of lights were strung overhead. He remembered the bar looking almost the same the night he told her they would be relocating to a base outside of the only home she’d ever known. He ended up losing so much more than he’d ever imagined while serving his country. The music pumped through the speakers playing a song he was quite familiar with. The lyrics talked about sitting in darkness with a broken heart and every word rang through to his core. Fitting that it was the song he and Dakota would dance to. He pulled her closer as they moved to the music. Her body pressed against his as they let the music take them away.

“Careful, we might pick up right where we left off,” he murmured against her ear as he slid his arms around her waist.

“Shhh…you agreed no talking.”

“I know.” He sighed. “But this…we were always good at being in the moment. We used to be good at a lot of things.”

He spun her out of his arms then drew her back in.

“I know.” She laid her head against his shoulder.

Kreed laughed. “One day at a time.”

“Things didn’t work out so well for us last time. Too much unsaid between us. And what we did say…”

Cut deep. Not one of his finer moments.

She let out a slow shaky breath. “I’m sorry. I can’t do this tonight.”

Dakota slid out from his arms, hurried to the bar, gathered her purse and was gone before he could fight his way through the crowd.

Buy Link


More about the Author

Author. Hopeless romantic. Overall mess.

That sums Kinsey Corwin up in a nutshell. But, if you would like a little bit more info on her, she was born in San Antonio, lived in the Southwest most of her life with a brief stint in Panama and California during her childhood. The majority of that time has been among the glitz and glam of Neon Lights known as Las Vegas, until recently when she relocated to a small college town in Southern Utah.

She loves baseball, has an obsession with the Boston Red Sox although she’s never been to the East Coast, and she had a real ugly cry going when Big Papi retired.

Connect with Kinsey and her books









Okay, giveaway time. Kinsey has generously offered a Kindle e-copy of What if We Break to one person, randomly drawn from the individuals who comment on the post. Entries will be collected through Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 11:59 pm (CST). You may comment on the interview or answer this question:

What is your favorite author?