Monday, November 28, 2016

Seven Brides for Seven Texans with Vicky McDonough ends December 5th



Please welcome my friend, Vicky McDonough to The Sword and Spirit blog! Vicky is giving away a copy of  Seven Brides for Seven Texans so ask Vicky a question or comment on her post to be entered. Don't forget to leave your email address to be entered and let me know if you are a feed burner follower for an extra entry!


Seven cowboy brothers living on a massive Texas ranch—what’s not to love?



When the concept for this collection was proposed to me and I was invited to be a part of it, I was immediately intrigued and agreed. Having done other collections about families, I knew it would be a bit daunting to keep track of so many brothers and their personalities, different looks and mannerisms, not to mention the ranch staff, and the townsfolk who lived in the closest town, named Hartville, after the Hart family, but it can also be quite rewarding. A collection like this takes extra work to keep every little detail straight. I thought you might enjoy a peek into how one of these closely connected collections is created.

The Master Document started with the most basic info. Note: Each brother had his own “color” and every time he’s mentioned, his name was highlighted to make it easy to find.

The authors and the story order in the collection:
1 - Gabrielle Meyer -  HAYS (Son #7) First Comes Love
2 - Lorna Seilstad - CHISHOLM (Son #6) The Heart of Texas
3 - Amanda Barratt - TRAVIS (Son #3) The Truest Heart
4 - Keli Gwyn - HOUSTON (Son #4) A Love Returned
5 - Susan Page Davis  - CROCKETT (Son #5) For Love or Money
6 - Vickie McDonough - AUSTIN (Son #1) Mail Order Mayhem
7 - Erica Vetsch - BOWIE (Son #2) Love at Last

The group coordinator, Erica Vetsch, created a thirty-one page, highly-detailed master document, which contained a timeline of the stories, a synopsis of each novella (obtained from the authors), and much more. Here’s the story concept that was included:

Patriarch of the Hart family, George Washington Hart isn’t getting any younger. He’s got seven strapping sons, and not a one of them has had the decency to marry and produce an heir. It is time for George to meddle. He will divide his massive ranch in the Texas Hill country, the 7-Heart, among his sons with the provision that each one marry and settle on the land within the next year. The men, ranging in age from 21-34, all named after famous Texans, are resistant to the idea of settling down, but they’ll be hanged if they’ll lose their inheritance! Each sets about finding a bride in his own way, and in the end, each finds love deep in the heart of Texas.

Erica also created a detailed timeline of the family’s history in Texas. I added the info in parentheses for reader clarity. Here’s a little peek:

1858 Regalo(The Hart’s fancy home) is built as a gift from GW to Victoria (his wife)

1860/61 Houston Hart leaves Texas for California just days before his 18th birthday.

1861 The Civil War begins, Austin, Bowie, Travis enlist in the Confederate Army to fight for Texas’ freedom.
Part of General Hood’s Texas Brigade, they fought at every major battle of the Northern Army of Virginia except Chancellorsville. (Infantry)

1863 Bowie Hart wounded and captured at Gettysburg, spends the rest of the war in a Union Prison. First at the Fort Slocum hospital in NY, then at Elmira Prison. Family is told Bowie died at Gettysburg.

1863, Crockett Hart enlists the day after they bury his mother, Victoria Hart, dies.

Each novella had a section that included a picture of the hero and heroine, a short summary, and the full synopsis. Here are pictures of my main characters, Austin Hart and Rebekah Evans.




At the end of all the synopses info, was a section titled: EXTRAS: Characters, places, pictures and maps. It included detailed info of the various secondary characters that worked on the ranch and lived in Hartsville. Here’s a sample:

RANCH HANDS:
Cody - A young cocky blond haired/blue eyed cowboy who tends to flirt with the potential brides.
Gage A hardworking wrangler in his early twenties with dark blond hair, which stands straight up in a short haircut. He's Hays Hart's best friend and loves to play practical jokes around the ranch.

We had pictures of the massive Hart home, both inside and out. There was also a blueprint of the home to refer back to so that we kept the rooms straight from one story to the next, as well as a map of Hartsville. We even had pictures of the longhorn cattle on the 7-Heart Ranch and Bowie’s dogs. Massive kudos go to Erica for creating the Master Document. I shudder to think how convoluted things might have gotten without it.



Being a former bookkeeper, I like spreadsheets, so I created a quick-reference chart with key details. I’m posting the majority of the chart but I left off a few things like eye & hair color so it would fit on the page, but this gives you a good idea of what it looked like:

Birth Order
Author & Story order
Name
Age

Birth Yr
Personality-Positive
Personality-Negative
Personality-Negative
1
Vickie - 6
Stephen "Austin" Hart
34
1840
Leader, tough, decisive, protective of family
Bossy
Bossy
2
Erica - 7
James "Bowie" Hart
33
1841
Reliable, tough, watchful
Doesn’t want help
Doesn’t want help
3
Amanda - 3
William "Travis" Hart
31
1843
Calm, steadying demeanor
Reserved. To heal and help people after war took so many lives
Reserved. To heal and help people after war took so many lives.
4
Keli - 4
Sam "Houston" Hart
30
1844
Idealist, intuitive
Avoids conflict
Avoids conflict
5
Susan - 5
Davy "Crockett" Hart
28
1846
Hard worker, very loyal
Lacks confidence, feels overshadowed by his dad and brothers
Lacks confidence, feels overshadowed by his dad and brothers
6
Lorna - 2
Jesse “Chisholm” Hart
25
1849
Easy-going, fun, cool-headed, duty-bound
Feels like he can never measure up
Feels like he can never measure up
7
Gabrielle - 1
John Coffee "Hays" Hart
23
1851
Easy-Going, confident, charming, fiercely loyal
Doesn't like confrontation, will stuff his true feelings if he thinks they will hurt someone he loves


There you have it. Collections that are closely connected are lots of fun for readers, but they can be a bit daunting for the authors who create them. But as with any task, hard work usually results in something you can be proud of. Time will tell what readers think of Seven Bride for Seven Texans. It releases on December 1st, but you can pre-order it now.




Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Seven-Brides-Texans-Romance-Collection/dp/1634099656/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479404938&sr=8-1&keywords=7+brides+for+texans

Check out the Seven Brides for Seven Texans Pinterest page that Erica Vetsch set up: https://www.pinterest.com/ericavetsch/7-brides-for-7-texans/

Bio:
Bestselling author Vickie McDonough grew up wanting to marry a rancher, but instead married a computer geek who is scared of horses. She now lives out her dreams penning romance stories about ranchers, cowboys, lawmen, and others living in the Old West. Vickie is an award-winning author of more than 40 published books and novellas, with over 1.5 million copies sold. Her novels include the fun and feisty Texas Boardinghouse Brides series, and End of the Trail, winner of the OWFI 2013 Best Fiction Novel Award. Whispers on the Prairie was a Romantic Times Recommended Inspirational Book for July 2013. Song of the Prairie won the 2015 Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Gabriel’s Atonement, book 1 in the Land Rush Dreams series placed second in the 2016 Will Rogers Medallion Award. Vickie has recently stepped into independent publishing.

Vickie has been married for forty-one years to Robert. They have four grown sons, one daughter-in-law, and a precocious granddaughter. When she’s not writing, Vickie enjoys reading, antiquing, doing stained glass, watching movies, and traveling. To learn more about Vickie’s books or to sign up for her newsletter, visit her website: www.vickiemcdonough.com

Monday, November 21, 2016

Love in the Seams by Jodie Wolfe ends 11/28





 Love in the Seams by Jodie Wolfe
Welcome back, Jodie and thank you for offering to give away a print copy of your new book (US only). It's been about six months since you were last featured on my blog. What has changed in your life since then?

Thank you for having me back, Debbie. Much has happened in my life over these past months. The most exciting is that I had a new granddaughter added to our family in August. She's a sweet blessing.

On the writing front, I found out I finaled in three contests I had entered. I signed a book contract with Celebrate Lit, and my new novella came out on November 2nd.

Wow! You have had a lot going on. Can you tell us a little bit about your new book?

I'd love to. Here's the back cover copy.

Mae Stafford longs for the companionship and unconditional love her sister has found in her new husband. But after years of refusing potential suitors because of a pact they made as children, Mae no longer has any choices left once their agreement is broken. She's given up hope that God will give her what she desires most, a family of her own. Instead of dwelling on what she doesn't have, she throws herself into her work as the recent sole owner of the local dress shop.

As a promise made to his late wife, Johannes Mueller agrees to travel west to be a school teacher in Calder Springs, Texas, away from the bigotry associated with being an immigrant in New York City. He hopes to improve his life and forget his loss. Johannes isn't counting on his five-year-old daughter's search for a new mother when they arrive. His little LillyAnn finds ways to bring the seamstress and him together…often. Can he learn to embrace his German heritage and unlock his heart to love again?

I understand this is book two in your Twins & Needles Series. Do you plan to have a book three?

I left the possibility open to have an additional book. We'll see whether readers want ranch hand, Slim to have his own happily-ever-after. :) For now I'll be working on my contracted story and other ideas are brewing.

Could you give readers a sneak peak to Love in the Seams?


It would be my pleasure. Here's the opening page of my story.

October 1875, Calder Springs, Texas
“Will you be my new mama?”

Mae Stafford startled at the small child standing beside her elbow and nearly dropped the garment she’d been sewing. She hadn’t heard the bell chime on the door to her dress shop. Golden strands slipped free of the single plait running down the girl’s back. “Why, I … ”

Nein, mein tochter.” A towering blond man placed a hand on the pixie’s shoulder. The gruff sounds of his language were somehow soothing.  “You’ll have to excuse my daughter.” His gaze didn’t quite meet Mae’s. “Sometimes she forgets—”

“But, Papa. She’s the lady we saw a few months ago with the beautiful white dress.”

Warmth flooded Mae’s cheeks, and she cleared her throat. “You must be thinking of my twin sister, Ellie. She, uh, got married in the beginning of summer.”

“What’s a twin?” Her nose wrinkled.

“It means that both my sister and I were born at the same time. We look alike, although not all twins do.” Mae refrained from touching the child’s shoulder.

The girl leaned against Mae’s leg and stared at her face. “Do you have a husband and children?”

You have me intrigued. How can readers stay in touch with you?


Thank you for hosting me here today, Debbie. I truly appreciate it. May God bless you and your readers.

Monday, November 14, 2016

A.M. Heath



 
Please welcome A.M. Heath to my blog this week. It's always fun to have a new face on my blog! 




Is it too early to start spreading the Christmas cheer? I'm bringing a touching short story to you. This small scene was originally part of my novel, Where Can I Flee. I pray it warms your heart and helps center you on what is most important as we move into the Christmas season.

The Hands and Feet of Christmas
December 25, 1862; Maple Grove, Tennessee 
Luke Prider bounded off his bed, too excited to feel even the cold wood against his bare feet. It was Christmas morning. His sister, Sue Ellen, had said that Santa wouldn't visit them. Even his momma had tried to convince him that the Union blockade held a tight line and wouldn't allow Santa to visit those in the South. But what did they know? They were only girls. They couldn't possibly understand the power of a man on a mission.
His daddy was out there, even now, dealing with those Yanks. Sue Ellen may not have faith. His momma might have given up, but not Luke. He believed in Santa, just like he believed in his daddy. Santa came last night. He just knew it.
His feet pounded on the rough wooden floor as he ran to the tree. But the tree sat alone. Dark without the aid of the candles, the short cedar tree stood in the shadows in the corner of the room. Without his daddy to bring in a nice tall tree, they had to make due with whatever his momma and sister could manage alone. His little chest heaved as he took in the sight of the lone tree. Brushing a lock of blond hair away from his eyes, he turned to the fireplace. He had insisted they each hang a stocking above the fireplace, but they too were empty. There had to be something. Somewhere.
Dropping to his knees, he scurried under the tree, his hands patting the floor in front of him. Nothing. Backing away from the tree, he pulled his legs up to his chest and rested his chin on top. What happened to Santa? Luke tried his hardest to be good. He just knew he was better this year than last year. Santa came all those years before, so he couldn't have put him on the naughty list this year.
Did he decide not to show because of Sue Ellen's attitude? Luke's frown deepened into a scowl. His sister would ruin something as important as this. But what if it wasn't her? What if his daddy was hurt and couldn't help Santa? What if those awful Yanks shot down Santa for trying to help the kids in the South?
Luke heard a soft, pitiful meow coming from outside. General, his kitten, must have left the barn and wandered up to the house in search of food. They were all searching for food these days. Momma kept making meals out of a little cornmeal and the remaining vegetables they kept from the meager crop this year. General wouldn't find anything to eat, but he could at least come in out of the cold. Luke quickly rose from the floor and opened the door to let in the orange kitten. His momma would have a fit if she found out, but it was Christmas morning; somebody should receive something special today.
~~~
“Santa came! Santa came!” Luke shouted, running through the house. Suanne Prider could barely open her eyes before her eight-year-old son leaped onto her bed, jumping and shouting all the more. “Santa came! Santa came! He really did; just like I said he would!”
Suanne rubbed her weary eyes and sat up. “Luke, what on earth are you talking about?”
He let out a deep sigh, and his shoulders slumped. Frowning at her, he answered, “Santa came.”
Suanne held a hand to her forehead and winced. He said that already. Several times actually, but it still failed to make any sense. She didn't have anything to set out under the tree. She had tried her hardest to make the boy understand. They haven't had meat on their table in over three months. Their savings had long since run dry, and Harry's paychecks were becoming scarce. The Confederacy was running low on funds just as the rest of the South.
She wanted to get something for the kids this year to help make up for their father's absence. With a heavy heart, Suanne had decided that any money found in their home would best be spent on clothes, shoes, or food. A simple gift would be too much to hope for.
Regardless of what she had said, the child went to bed last night holding out hope that Santa would indeed visit him. She didn't look forward to a disappointing day, and it appeared as if Luke would make things even more difficult than necessary.
Her daughter, Sue Ellen, glided in next and carefully sat on the edge of the bed, her eyes showing her concern. Her fifteen years understood more than a young girl should. She remained silent and at least that was a comfort.
Taking a deep breath, she let it out in a rush. “Luke, honey, Santa couldn't have come last night.” She prepared herself for his disappointment and for an onslaught of tears.
“But he DID, Momma. Won't ya listen to me. He DID come last night.”
She held a hand up, wearily, but the little boy rushed on. “I done been outside. I saw the presents he left us. He left them on the porch.”
Her brows turned down in confusion, and she met Sue Ellen's worried glare. “What are you talking about?” she asked, throwing the covers off and sliding out of bed. She threw a thinning wrapper around her shoulders and tied it snugly around her waist before turning to the boy.
Luke leaped off the bed in the same way he got on. “Santa must've been in a hurry last night cause he didn't come in and set the stuff down by the tree like normal. But I knew he'd come. I just knew it.”
“Luke, please,” she said impatiently. “None of this is making any sense.”
“Well, come on. You'll see.”
“Momma, I don't know,” Sue Ellen said cautiously.
Luke rolled his eyes. Turning to his sister, he said, “You think you're so smart, Sue, but you're not. I know stuff too. I'm the man here now till Daddy gets back home. You should be showin' me more respect.”
She huffed and crossed her arms over her chest. “That's not gonna happen,” she muttered.
“Children, please,” Suanne said before the fight could escalate. Thankfully, they were more concerned about the mysterious gifts so they dropped their argument without further prompting.
“Lead the way, Luke,” she ordered. The boy eagerly left the room, scooping up General on his way to the door. “Luke,” she growled, “you know I don't allow the animals in the house.”
He turned slowly to her with an impish little grin on his face. “It's Christmas, Momma. Have a heart, would ya?”
Her frown deepened, but she said nothing more. When had she grown so hard? So joyless? Had Harry's absence done this to her? The stress of struggling to raise two kids on no money? The worries and uncertainties of war? With a sigh, she whispered another prayer for peace and perseverance. It seemed like all she could do anymore was beg for the ability to continue.
Luke threw open the door and walked out, pointing excitedly. “See, I told ya! See! See!”
Suanne walked through the door and then stopped and stared where he pointed. A new stack of firewood rested on her porch. She held one hand over her quivering lips, her eyes burning with unshed tears. There would be enough wood here to keep them warm for at least a month.
“Look at that on top, Momma.”
In a daze, Suanne moved closer to the bundles lying on top of the stack. She ran her hand over the two large folds of material. A tear slipped down her face as she glanced down at her children, knowing their ankles peeked out from under their clothes. She hadn't the means for making anything new for them, or even for lengthening their current wardrobe. She swallowed the lump in her throat as she ran her hands across the cold jars of peaches and green beans. But it was the neatly wrapped, plucked chicken that opened the floodgates. She caressed the package with trembling hands.
“See, I told ya. I knew Santa would come.”
“No, son,” she whispered. “Someone much greater than Santa had been here last night.”
She felt his curious eyes on her. “Huh?”
“It was Jesus. Only the hands and feet of Christ could have seen to our needs like this.” Swiping at the falling tears, she reached for the chicken with one hand and patted his boney shoulder with the other. “Come, we've got a Christmas chicken to cook.”
Together they gathered their precious gifts and returned inside, General trailing happily behind them.
 ...and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23
Who acted as the hands and feet of Christ for the Prider family? Read Where Can I Flee to find out!
If you're looking for Christ-focused historical fiction or Civil War Fiction then you'll enjoy the Ancient Words Series. You can catch both of my books on sale this week on Amazon. Where Can I Flee is only .99 or grab both for $3.
Where Can I Flee sales link: https://www.amazon.com/Where-Can-Flee-Ancient-Words/dp/1499369506/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1478702032&sr=8-1&keywords=Where+Can+I+Flee




Where Can I Flee:
War is on the horizon during the spring of 1861. It will be an event that will change the lives of everyone in its path. The Harper family included. Frank Harper is a young man full of dreams and ambitions. Even when the country is split and war breaks out, Frank will do whatever is necessary to see his dreams come true, even when that means putting on a uniform and leaving home. For the first time, Claire Harper is forced to consider the reasons behind such a conflict. Should slavery be abolished? Which side should she be on, and what does God have to say about this? Claire is torn between her own opinions and those of her family. The struggle within her only increases when she repeatedly runs into a kind and handsome Union soldier. She longs to see her brother turn to Christ before it is too late. Desperate to reach her brother with the gospel, Claire pens a series of inspiring letters. Will she be able to handle all the obstacles of war and continue to be a witness to those around her? How long can Claire last when her heart is torn in half and she is burdened for her brother's soul? How long can Frank resist his sister's urgent pleas or the gentle tugging from within? Can a man really outrun a holy God?

In the Shadow of Thy Wings:
Devastation sweeps across the land, and the families of Maple Grove cannot escape when war arrives at their front doors. After her father entrusts her with a new and dangerous task, Sally Chandler must find the courage to obey despite her fear. Meanwhile, her best friend, Claire Harper, is determined to serve others, even if it means putting herself in danger. But with a certain handsome Union soldier stationed nearby, Claire finds her heart in danger of falling for the enemy. Their differing loyalties create complications that neither could expect; her twin brother fighting for the Confederacy is only one of them. Frank Harper left home with one goal in mind – to become a prosperous plantation owner. Two years later, not only is he further from his goal, but he's beginning to question his own desires--something that becomes more complicated when his heart becomes involved. The families of Maple Grove must learn how to survive the uncertainty of war and a country split in two. While the war in the nation rages on, the battle within grows stronger. Will they learn that the only safe place to hide is in the shadow of Thy Wings? *The Ancient Words Series is best read in order. Please look for Where Can I Flee


More about AM Heath:
Besides being an Indie Author, I’m a wife, mother of four, children’s Sunday School teacher, sweet tea drinker, history fanatic, romantic, bubbly, lover of broccoli, and cake decorator who has a soft spot for Christmas trees, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. 
What I’m not is a laundress (or at least not one who keeps up very well), a duster, tall, or patient in a doctor’s office.


Upcoming Event:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1225211817520959/

You can connect with me online on Goodreads, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and my weekly blog. But you'll find me most active on Facebook and my blog.
Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/AMHeathfanpage/
Blog: https://amheathblog.wordpress.com/