Monday, November 19, 2018

Snow Angel by Davalynn Spencer ends 11/26

Be sure to read on down to see how to enter to win Snow Angel. 

Many little things from my life make it into my historical novels and novellas, including something as simple as the smell of wood smoke on a chilly fall morning.

When I step outside to take my Queensland heeler, Blue, for a walk, that sweet woodsy smell greets me from my own chimney. Though I have electric heat, it’s only a backup, and I warm my home with a woodstove. There is something cozy and companionable about building a fire each cold morning, pulling my rocker close, and watching through the stove’s glass door as bright flames embrace the logs.

Some mornings, dawn arrives with spectacular beauty, washing the horizon in blazing red and gold. A sunrise like that usually signals a storm, so after walking Blue up the hill, around the bend, and back, we return home where I split firewood. Fall temperatures in Colorado can fluctuate overnight as much as 30 to 40 degrees, so preparation is key.

My recently released Christmas novella, Snow Angel, is peppered with such details – the scent of wood smoke, a rocker by the fire, the chock of an ax splitting wood, and a companionable dog. The story is set in the 1880s along Colorado’s Front Range, and yet these same details fill my life now in the twenty-first century. I count these simple elements as the Lord’s timeless blessings, and they warm my heart as much as my home.

Do you have a special tradition or everyday task that warms your heart in a simple way? Or is there something you do to prepare for colder weather and seasonal change – maybe reading Christmas stories – that prepares your heart as well as your mind? I’d love to hear what those traditions are in the comments below. Thanks for reading! 

GIVEAWAY: Answer the above question for a chance to win an e-copy of Snow Angel. Don't forget to leave your email so we can contact you should you win!

As a child, she lost something precious at Christmas. Twenty years later, she's about to lose her heart.
Lena Carver works as her physician brother’s medical assistant, housekeeper, and cook despite her disfigurement from a childhood accident. Each year, the Christmas holidays come with contradictions—cherished memories of a mysterious encounter and painful recollections of a great loss. She lives with the belief that she is beyond love’s reach, until a dark-eyed cowboy arrives broken, bruised, and bent on changing her mind. 
Wil Bergman wakes in a stranger’s house with a busted leg, a bullet-creased scalp, and no horse. Trail-weary, robbed, and penniless, his dreams and plans for a future are suddenly unattainable. Forced to recuperate in the home of a country doctor, he finds himself at the mercy of a surgeon whose sister’s healing touch has power to stitch up his lonely heart and open his eyes to the impossible.
Davalynn Spencer is the award-winning author of ten inspirational Western romance titles, both contemporary and historical. She is a former journalist, the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, and chief wrangler of Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. Contact her via her website at .
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Monday, November 12, 2018

Make Haste Slowly by Amy Rognlie ends 11/19

Please welcome Amy Rognlie to my blog this week. Amy is giving away a pdf copy of Make Haste Slowly. Be sure to leave your email and a comment to enter. 

Setting in Real Life

Fiction writers know the importance of setting. If the same storyline with the same characters was set in Victorian England, it would somehow be a totally different story than one set in the 1900’s in wilds of Alaska, wouldn’t it?

Anyway, as a writer, I got to thinking about the importance of setting in my own life story. I have author friends who can write anywhere at any time. I have difficulty with that, probably since I am such a homebody at heart. Writing in the same room at the same desk day after day helps me stay focused. I enjoy the physical setting of my office; my sense of “settledness” when I’m there. I’m blessed to have a dedicated space for writing and thought you might enjoy a little peek inside.

Otherwise known as "the office," the place where I create characters, plots and titles draws me in with open arms. Sunshine streams through the divided-pane windows, as the salmon-pink geranium, crowded next to the aloe plant, soaks up more than its share of the hot light, barely shaded by the lacy curtains. The African violets lift their velvety leaves in the morning, then shrink back into the shadows in heat of the afternoon, while I type words and paragraphs, and more words and paragraphs and sometimes a whole book.

The books crammed onto my shelves reflect the various interests of a lifetime...theology, World War II history, knitting, prayer, gardening, writing, teaching, and a row of colorful journals, chronicling my inner life. Some of the journals are wire-bound, making it easy for me to flip through the bygone years of my life. Three other journals are cheap and flower-covered, from the bargain bin at the craft store. But it's the words that are important. The smell of the ink and the decades-old pages...the blurred spots where tears have dropped onto the pages, the litany of prayers prayed, and answers received. I run my hand along the shelf, and dust sticks to my fingers. Life has been too busy lately. 

I close the door against the sounds of my life...the dog's nails clicking on the hardwood floor, the baseball game droning along on the TV with no one watching it...the whoosh and whirr of the air conditioning. I am in my own world of quiet, alone with my thoughts, yet spurred on by my goals. 

Amy Rognlie writes inspirational fiction, including mysteries and historical novels. When not writing, she is teaching middle school language arts or leading a Bible study at the local jail. Amy lives in Central Texas with her husband, dogs (including a pug, of course), and a plethora of plants, yarn, and books.

Where There's a Will BCC: A mysterious postcard,
a decades-old mystery, and a cranky realtor have suddenly thrown Callie Erickson’s plans into a tailspin. Callie, Todd and friends have their hearts set on building Hope House, a home for sex-trafficking victims. But before they can make much headway, Callie is confronted with the mysterious death of someone much closer to her than she’d like.

Was it murder? Callie isn’t so sure, but with Todd’s help, she’s doing her best to find out, even as she is drawn deeper into their relationship. Can she trust herself to love him? In the meantime, Aunt Dot and Harry are dealing with intrigue of their own. Will Harry’s missing relatives ever be found? As Callie delves deeper, she learns startling answers to these questions and to the questions of her own heart.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Stagecoach to Liberty by Janalyn Voigt

A Little-Known Story from the Wild West

Have you ever relocated, only to have it not work out to your advantage? Most of us move to improve our circumstances, but sometimes we run into problems. When the new home is in a foreign country, add in the element of the unknown, and troubles take on a certain intensity. I learned this when I moved to the Australian Outback with my husband for a stint at a remote military station. Going to town on the bus turned into a traumatic experience when I couldn’t remember my address on the return trip. I’m sure I left my handprint embedded on the steering wheel after driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. And I’ll never forget the tall ostrich-like bird that chased me. How was I to know he was the neighborhood’s pet emu with nothing on his mind but the possibility of a handout?
Traveling to a foreign country drains a person of energy, and navigating one threatens your self-confidence. On top those challenges, what if the people who brought you there betrayed you? That was the case for some of the girls who entertained in Wild West dancehalls. 
While researching Montana Gold, a western historical romance series, I stumbled across a reference to the young women who traveled to America from Hesse, a part of Germany. During impoverished times, the ’hurdy-gurdy girls’ played and danced to draw crowds of customers to buy their homemade brooms. These women came to the notice of unscrupulous people who promised them a better life in America and money to send home to their families. The women arrived in America with little recourse but to rely on those who had brought them.
The fate of the hurdy-gurdy girls largely depended on the treatment they received. Some lived well, but others fell into poverty. Often sick, the less-fortunate among them lived a hard life far from their homeland. Not all became prostitutes, but some did.
What I learned changed my image of dancehall girls in the Wild West. I’d accepted the stereotypical image of them as willing prostitutes. The reality was far more complicated. Not all hailed from Germany. Most were American women drawn from farms or mills by handbills promising easier work in the West. Widows or single women of good background also wound up in dancehalls.  
Stagecoach to Liberty gives a different view of the hurdy-gurdy girls of the American West. Elsa, the heroine of Stagecoach to Liberty, wants to remove herself from a burden on her widowed mother and to help support her younger siblings. Heartsick and far from home, she doesn’t trust the man and woman who lured her and others from their village. Bound by the contract she signed and obligated by the cost of her fare, Elsa feels trapped. When she meets a handsome stranger with an Irish accent on the stagecoach, however, her hope to escape revives.
The perspective I’d gained from overseas travel gave me a window into the trials of the hurdy-gurdy girls. Their story was largely untold but I felt an important one.
About Stagecoach to Liberty
Can a desperate young woman trust the handsome Irish stranger who wants to free her from her captors?
Elsa Meier, a talented young Hessian girl who plays the hurdy-gurdy and dances, signs a contract to entertain miners in the Wild West. Elsa travels to America in the company of Miles and Alicia Peabody, the brother and sister who persuaded her mother to allow her to go. Elsa hopes for freedom and the chance to send money home to help her family. Instead she comes to the attention of a wealthy and unscrupulous man. On a stagecoach traveling into Montana Territory, Elsa conveys her peril to a handsome stranger with an Irish accent. 
Con Walsh, on a quest to find out the truth about himself, stumbles into a dangerous situation involving a frightened young woman in need of rescue. Despite his own pressing troubles, he finds that her safety matters to him more than his own.
Set in Montana during its gold rush -- a time troubled by outlaws, corruption and vigilante violence, Stagecoach to Liberty explores faith, love, and courage in the wild west. This story can stand alone or continue the saga that began with Hills of Nevermore and Cheyenne Sunrise.
About Janalyn Voigt
Janalyn Voigt’s father instilled a love of literature in her at an early age by reading chapters from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Robinson Crusoe and other classics as bedtime stories. When she grew older and her father stopped reading stories at night, she continued putting herself to sleep with tales she ‘wrote’ in her head. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Janalyn became a voracious reader, something she credits with teaching her to write. She trained as a classical vocalist, which explains why her writing is often described as musical.
When she's not immersed in one of her story worlds, Janalyn can usually be found weeding the garden, spending time with her family, or reading.
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